NFL Week 3 Wrap: Bears, Chief, Steelers Surprise; Niners, Chargers, Giants Reeling

NFL Week 3 Wrap: Bears, Chief, Steelers Surprise; Niners, Chargers, Giants Reeling

Tim Jennings (26) and the Bears pick up a late fumble and a W (Jonathan Daniel-Getty Images)


Week 3 in the NFL saw a few of 0-2 teams get off the snide, and a couple of 0-2 teams continue their misery. Biggest surprises? It's who still undefeated. Here's the wrap-up for Week 3.

Pleasant Surprises: Bears, Chiefs and Steelers Still Unscathed
It's not a surprise that three teams are still undefeated after three weeks. It's what three teams that are actually undefeated.

The Bears are 3-0 after outlasting the Packers. The defense seems to be playing back to form and it was a key strip by Brian Urlacher and recovery by Tim Jennings at the Packers 46 with 2:18 to go that help spur the winning kick by Robbie Gould with four seconds remaining. Urlacher and Lance Briggs had 9 tackles each and lead a defense that may give up some yards, but is back to playing the type of football that will give this team a chance to win. More importantly, Jay Cutler seems to be thriving in Mike Martz's offense and is making better decisions. Thus far, he's thrown 6 TDs against 2 INTs and has a passer rating of 109.7.
The Chiefs are relying on a ball-control offense that makes very few mistakes and a defense that is not going to give up many yards. On Sunday, Jamaal Charles and Thomas Jones combined to run for 192 of Kansas City's 207 yards. The Chiefs got yet another explosive plays from rookies WR Dexter McCluster and TE Tony Moeaki and the defense played lights out, limiting the 49ers to only 251 yards of total offense in their 31-10 win. With the first month of the season out of the way, the rest of the AFC West is looking up at the upstart Chiefs. It could be a fun season in the border city of the Show Me State.
The Steelers are a prime of example of the phrase "this is why you play the game." With their starting QB suspended for the first quarter of the season, his backup injured in the final game of the preseason and his backup injured in Week 2 against the Titans, all Pittsburgh has done is win their 3 games with Steeler football-steady offense and a stranglehold defense. With third-string quarterback Dennis Dixon injured against Tennessee last week, old reliable Charlie Batch stepped and threw 3 TDs to help spark the Steelers offense which had only scored one offensive touchdown coming into their game against Tampa Bay. Rashard Mendenhall finally got it going with 143 yards rushing and a TD and the Steelers defense closed things out with a 79-yard interception rumbling from Brett Keisel. Ben Rothlisberger's suspension is over after next week's critical matchup at the rival Ravens. The truth is: how much better can the Steelers play with him the lineup?

Unpleasant Surprises-Niners, Chargers and Giants Looking for Answers
The consensus among most experts-with the Rams in rebuilding mode, the Cardinals with troubles at quarterback and the Seahawks with a new coaching staff-was that San Francisco would win the NFC West. So far, not so good. At 0-3 the Niners don't resemble anything of what we believed them to be. They looked horrible offensively in games against what was thought to be inferior opponents in Seattle and Kansas City. Against New Orleans, they gave the game away-literally, with two turnovers in the red zone. Today, they fired their offensive coordinator Jimmy Raye in response to their poor start offensively despite immense talent at the skill positions. The last time they did that was two years ago when Mike Singeltary relieved Mike Martz of his play-calling duties. The Niners went on run to end the year at 8-8. 8-8 after this start might be a miracle.

The Chargers have considerable special teams' issues. In Week 1, they allowed rookie Dexter McCluster to take a kickoff 90-plus yards to the house in their loss at Kansas City. On Sunday, Leon Washington had two kickoff returns for touchdowns of 101 and 99 yards, respectively. His kick returns help sink the Chargers to a 1-2 start after the latter return proved to be the difference in the 27-20 loss at Seattle. While Phillip Rivers has put up big numbers, he still needs more production out of the running game: The Chargers only rushed for 89 yards on Sunday. It would help if they didn't have so many penalties, committing 11 against the Seahawks. Could Vincent Jackson and Marcus McNeill be worth that much to this squad?

The Giants have had two really bad performances in back-to-back weeks. The running game is still struggling to get going, though Ahmad Bradshaw is clearly the more effective back over Brandon Jacobs in this attack. Eli threw for a ton of yards, but threw two picks, including a moronic left-handed toss in the red zone in the 2nd quarter. The Giants outgained the Titans by a margin of 200 yards (471-271) but had three turnovers with two being on the cusp of six points. Ever heard of someone gaining that many yards, not punting and then losing? Yeah, me neither.

Offensive Player of the Week-Peyton Manning
I resisted giving this award to Michael Vick for the second straight week, even though his performance was arguably the most impressive. But no QB gets more out of his supporting cast than Peyton. Last year, he made household names out of Pierre Garcon and Austin Collie. This year, Collie has emerged in light of injuries in the Colts receiving corps as a reliable target. Peyton's latest project? Rookie WR Blair White, who caught a TD from Manning with 3:51 left in the third in the Colts 27-13 win over the Broncos. Plus, he only managed to throw for 325 yards and 3 TDs with no picks.

Defensive Player(s) of the Week-Tamba Hali and Earl Thomas
This was originally going to go to Hali who had a field day in sacking Alex Smith three times in the Chiefs win, but I couldn't ignore the effort by the super rookie from Texas. Thomas was all over the field Sunday. He recorded 4 tackles, had two picks and broke up two passes. Thomas is off to a great start in his rookie campaign and is making Pete Carroll's decision to pick him over his former safety at Taylor Mays a smart one.

Fantasy Stud of the Week-Anquan Boldin
Boldin had struggled through his first two games with the Ravens. He was expected to be the #1 target that Joe Flacco has craved since he was drafted. He stepped up big time against the Browns in the Ravens 24-17 win: 8 receptions, 142 yards and 3 TDs. As Flacco and Boldin get more chemistry, expect his numbers to swell as the season goes on.

Unsung Hero Award of the Week-Peyton Hillis
The third-year running back for the Browns stepped up big against the Ravens defense. With starting QB Jake Delhomme and RB Jerome Harrison out, Hillis had 144 yards rushing and a touchdown and 7 catches for 36 yards against a Ravens defense that hadn't allowed a touchdown all year. Before his rookie season in 2008 ended in Denver from injury, he proved to be productive back-scoring five times.


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