The Bills and Lions stay perfect and erase huge deficits; the Raiders stun the Jets; OK to be gay in the NFL; and the hot players of the week.
How I saw Week 3 of the NFL:
Two Rust Belt cities that are struggling economically have two exciting 3-0 teams that made great comebacks on Sunday. The Buffalo Bills spotted the New England Patriots a 21-0 lead before rallying for a 34-31 win on a last-play field goal. The Detroit Lions trailed 20-0 at half to the Minnesota Vikings, but won in overtime, 26-23.
The Bills' win was the bigger story. Maybe there is something after all to them being called the NFL's best-looking team. They had lost 15 in a row to the Patriots and when they went down by three TDs with six minutes left in the first half, I figured they were done. Then something bizarre happened – Tom Brady started playing like a rookie, throwing four interceptions (one was a pick six, another was in the end zone) for the first time since 2006. Also, New England's defense sucks (remember that in Week 1 Chad Henne threw for 416 yards) and the Bills outscored the Pats 34-10 the rest of the way.
The Bills have now won their last two games despite trailing 21-3 and 21-0 and are a fun team to watch. It's the first time an NFL team has overcome 18+ deficits in consecutive weeks. Buffalo hasn't been in the playoffs since 1999 and have had a sad-sack mentality about them. So it's cool to see them playing exciting, winning football. I still am not sure they can survive a division with the Pats and Jets, but they slayed one demon Sunday and at least for a week have first place all to themselves.
The Lions are 3-0 for the first time since 1980, when Jimmy Carter was president and the city of Detroit had 500,000 more residents. The old Lions would have crumbled had they been down 20-0, but these Lions actually play like their namesakes. Like the Bills, the Lions have dynamic playmakers (Calvin Johnson is a beast) and are enjoyable to watch on offense for the first time since the Barry Sanders days. They are a real threat in the NFC.
As for the Vikings, they have led at halftime of all three games – by 10 in Week 1, 17 in Week 2 and 20 in Week 3. Maybe they should start falling behind early for a change. With the season pretty much looking lost, the Vikes should ponder when to start rookie Christian Ponder at quarterback and bench Donovan McNabb.
Just win, baby: Another perennial loser that might have turned it around is the Oakland Raiders, 34-24 winners over the Jets. The 2-1 Raiders spotted the Jets a 17-7 lead then roared back. They have a solid defense and perhaps the game's best running back in Darren McFadden. I'm really interested in next week's home matchup with the Patriots.
Close one: As a Colts fan, it was nice to see them give the Steelers a game despite a 23-20 loss. I was expecting a Steelers blowout and no way would have thought the Colts would have outrushed them, 97 to 67. But Pittsburgh has not looked good in any of its three games, getting blown out by the Ravens, and beating the crappy Seahawks and the Colts minus Manning. They have a leaky and banged up offensive line and an aging defense. Their saving grace is a fairly easy schedule, but this does not look like a dominant team this season.
Same old: The Houston Texans came in Sunday's game with the statistical #1 defense, allowing 23 points in two games. But that was against the Dolphins (0-3) and the Manning-less Colts (0-3). The real test came in New Orleans against the Saints. And the Texans failed. They allowed 454 yards of offense and 40 points in losing, 40-33, to the Saints. The Texans, despite scoring 33 points, settled for three first-half field goals inside the Saints' 20, a big mistake that allowed New Orleans to keep the game close. I think the Texans will still win the AFC South by default, but they still have yet to show an ability to win a road game against a quality opponent.
Gay OK in the NFL: In case, you missed it, the NFL officially says a player can't be cut because he's gay. It's all part of sexual orientation language included in the new collective bargaining agreement.
From Dream Team to nightmare: The Eagles lost their home opener, 29-16, to the Giants and fell to 1-2. Despite spending a fortune on free agents, much of it on defense, the Eagles have given up 64 points the last two weeks. Even worse, Michael Vick got battered again and broke his right hand. He throws lefty, but a broken hand isn't good for a quarterback. After the game, Vick whined about being hit a lot then said he wasn't complaining. It will be a fun week listening to Philly sports radio.
Voting with their feet: The Bengals lost a dreadful game, 13-8 to the 49ers. But only 43,362 fans showed up, Cincinnati's smallest home crowd since 1981. The 49ers at 2-1 lead the NFC West.
Hot players of the week: The Houston Texans have the hottest tight end combo in the league. Owen Daniels has been a longtime Outsports favorite. He is also a terrific player and had five catches and a touchdown against the Saints. Newcomer James Casey, who also plays, fullback, had a touchdown and 126 receiving yards against the Saints.