15 biggest standouts of NFL Week 3
It was a big day for star performers across the NFL, with several quarterbacks and wide receivers in particular putting up very big days. We also witnessed a rookie nailing a game-winning 61-yard field goal and a few big defensive performances, even in losing efforts.
Here’s a list of 15 standout performers in Week 3 of the NFL season.
Atlanta’s running backs
In a contest where quarterback Matt Ryan threw three interceptions in one game for the first time in two years, it was the Atlanta running game that stepped up and drove the offense forward. The Falcons picked up 151 rushing yards as a team, with Devonta Freeman contributing 106 of them, plus a touchdown. Tevin Coleman was no slouch either, racking up 46 yards on just six carries, good for an average of 7.7 yards per carry. Their contributions opened up the passing game and allowed Ryan to get the job done despite his three picks.
Odell Beckham Jr., WR, Giants
OBJ is back, and so is the drama — but when he’s playing like this, the Giants will be happy to tolerate it. The Giants’ star receiver reeled in nine catches for 79 yards and two touchdowns, including an excellent one-handed grab in the back corner of the end zone for his second touchdown catch. He also had a rather controversial celebration on his first grab. He deservedly got flagged, but New York will deal with the consequences if he’s putting up stat lines like this one.
Blake Bortles, QB, Jaguars
Maybe it’s a bit too late for Bortles to reel anyone back into believing in him, but the much-maligned quarterback is certainly trying. It’s not unfair to say that another bad performance or two could cost him his starting job, but that won’t be happening this week — not after the quarterback went 20-for-31 for 244 yards and four touchdowns. Bortles was once a top-ten pick for a reason. He may never be what the Jaguars hoped he could be, but every so often, you might get a performance like this.
Tom Brady, QB, Patriots
When the chips are down, Touchdown Tom does it again. Brady bailed out the struggling Patriots once more, completing 5-of-8 passes for 93 yards on the game-winning drive that culminated in a 25-yard touchdown pass to Brandin Cooks. That was the cap on a brilliant day that saw him throw for 378 yards and five touchdowns despite repeated pressure and five sacks as his offensive line struggled to protect him. Even at 40, he is about as good as it gets.
Jacoby Brissett, QB, Colts
Yes, it was against the Cleveland Browns, but at least for one day, Brissett served as a capable stand-in for the injured Andrew Luck. He completed 17 of his 24 pass attempts, threw for 259 yards and a touchdown, and generally controlled the offense capably. Brissett still has no real long-term future with Indianapolis as long as Luck returns fully healthy, and it’s debatable if he’s even a starter-quality quarterback in the NFL, but he deserves some plaudits for his play on Sunday.
Antonio Brown, WR, Steelers
Brown set a record on Sunday, becoming the fastest player in NFL history to 650 catches — a mark previously held by Marvin Harrison. It was the highlight of a typically big day for the Pittsburgh star, as he pulled in ten catches for 110 yards and a touchdown. His touchdown reception, the 51st of his career, tied him with Lynn Swann for third-most in Steelers history. It’s only a matter of time before he moves past him — and there are likely many more touchdowns on the way.
Jadeveon Clowney, DE, Texans
Clowney caused the New England Patriots all sorts of trouble on Sunday, and was a constant thorn in Tom Brady’s side. His two sacks would have been noteworthy on any day, but Clowney found himself in the right place at the right time to scoop up a New England fumble and take it to the house, punctuating the score with a mighty Gronk spike. He had six tackles overall, and played a big part in the constant pressure that Brady found himself under.