Some strange scores popped up Week 3, as the NFL landscape continues to evolve and adjust to itself. The surprise teams are beginning to raise their hands, and the disappointments are beginning to stumble. While still early, it should be noted that no team currently leading their division was the team that won it last year.
The Browns unfortunately are 0-3 just like last year. Surprising or not, the seeds of improvement are there if you look.
The Browns have been outscored in their first three losses by 12 points combined (Browns 45, Opponents 57). Last year, the Browns were outscored in their first three losses by a combined 66 points (Browns 29, Opponents 95).
Waking up Monday morning 0-3 year after year is hard, but Rome wasn’t built in one season, especially after two horrific drafts…
Browns 17 @ Ravens 24
The Browns let another get away Sunday, but seem to have won some brownie points from their fans in terms of moral victories. They rushed for the most yards ever against their former selves, and finally scored a second half touchdown. They held a lead in the fourth quarter of a game nobody gave them a chance in.
Browns running back Peyton Hillis took it to the Ravens vaunted run defense with 144 rushing yards, but it just wasn’t enough. Joe Flacco and his Ravens receivers will always have the Browns secondary to count on as their slumpbuster.
If it’s not Brandon McDonald its Eric Wright, and Wright had the worst singular defensive performance of any Browns player in the expansion era. Anquan Boldin dominated and humiliated him to the tune of 142 receiving yards and three scores. The go ahead TD to Boldin came, again, on a futile all-out blitz.
Bottom line: Tough loss, but overall an encouraging performance for the Browns. They played the Ravens in Baltimore Week 3 last year, and were annihilated 34-3, were down 7-0 one minute in, and switched QBs mid-game.
49ers 10 @ Kansas City 31
Kansas City not only wins, but destroys the 49ers to become one of just three teams now standing 3-0. They are the surprise team of the NFL all by themselves. The 49ers were the vogue pick to come out of the Kurt Warner-less NFC West, yet are floating face down in the bay at 0-3. The Chiefs’ Brandon Flowers, Dexter McCluster, Jamal Charles, and Tamba Hali are becoming household names overnight.
Bottom line: The 49ers set the precedent that its OK to fire your offensive coordinator mid-season. How much longer until Mike Holmgren pulls the trigger on Brian Daboll?
Bills 30 @ Patriots 38
The only team that can hold a candle to Browns’ futility surprises everyone by hanging around on the road against the heavily favored Patriots. Bills replacement QB Ryan Fitzpatrick threw for 247 yards and two scores, and rookie running back CJ Spiller notched the first two touchdowns of his NFL career. Tom Brady doesn’t lose at home though, and tossed three touchdowns of his own, including two to Randy Moss. The Pats also racked up 200 rushing yards as a team, with eight different players getting a carry.
Bottom line: After the game, the Bills announced they would release Trent Edwards, a starter at QB there for four years. Take note Kevin Kolb and Matt Moore: Edwards’ career was once very promising, until this concussion spoiled it all.
Steelers 38 @ Buccaneers 13
I have this in there as a surprise score because I wrote last week this would be a close game, and if it was a blowout the Browns were in trouble. Guess what? The Steelers were far from perfect, turning it over twice and generating one fewer first down than the Bucs. But the defense scored a touchdown, and Charlie Batch threw three scores of his own, including a pair of 40 yard+ bombs to receiver Mike Wallace.
Bottom line: The Steelers are 3-0 and the Browns are 0-3. Stop when you’ve heard this one before.
Eagles 28 @ Jaguars 3
I liked Jacksonville in this one so shame on me. The Jaguars are proving to be one of the league’s worst teams as they get demolished on their home field by surprise player of the year Michael Vick, and his entourage of electric skill players. You can’t win when David Garrard completes just 13 of 30 passes for 105 yards. At this rate will he still be around when the Browns show up Week 11?
Bottom line: I think this game still says more about the Jaguars decline than Vick’s ascent, but at this rate he is an MVP candidate.
Rams 30 @ Redskins 16
Sam Bradford wins his first NFL start, on the road of all places, and the Rams surprise the Washington Redskins by putting up 30 points. The Skins fought back from a 14 point hole to take the lead, but not even an injury to star running back Steven Jackson could spoil the upset win for the Rams.
Bottom line: This was the Rams second win in their last 29 games, but the hard part will be over with is Braford is a keeper.
Cowboys 27 @ Texans 13
The Cowboys avoid joining the Browns at 0-3 and get a must-win with surprising ease. The Texans didn’t record their only touchdown until one minute was left in the game, and were down three scores at that point. Toni Romo found ill-used receiver Roy Williams for two touchdowns, and the defense intercepted red hot Texans QB Matt Schaub twice as well.
Bottom line: Just when you thought it was safe to trust the Texans they turn in a dud. Just when you thought Wade Phillips was toast… well, it would have been more fun if they were 0-3 too.
Packers 17 @ Bears 20
Surprise! The Bears are 3-0 too. Julius Peppers looks reborn in Chicago, and gave the shaky Packer offensive line all they could handle Monday night. Green Bay committed 17 penalties overall, many on false starts and holding, and Devin Hester returned a punt for a touchdown for the first time in two years.
Bottom line: Just look at what a new offensive coordinator can do! Brining in Mike Martz has paid off, and possibly earned Lovie Smith some more time as head coach.
Follow me on twitter @JimmyCtown