Grades for every NFL team's performance in Week 3

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By MIKE BATISTA
The Sports Daily

Week 3 of the NFL season is now in the books, and various rookie quarterbacks are already beginning to take the reins as starters for their respective teams.

Oakland Raiders quarterback Derek Carr already has some company. Fellow rookie quarterbacks Teddy Bridgewater and Blake Bortles made their regular season debuts Sunday. Bridgewater came in because of an injury and Bortles entered the game due to Chad Henne's skill set and ineptitude.

Of the five quarterbacks taken in the first two rounds of the draft, four have already taken snaps under center. Johnny Manziel played in Sunday's game for two plays, one as a quarterback and one as a wide receiver. Unlike Manziel, Bortles and Bridgewater are more than just a sideshow. They're expected to start for awhile and will probably do so for the duration of this season (assuming they stay healthy).

Carr is still searching for his first win after three starts, although the Raiders gave the Patriots a scare on Sunday. The Raiders remain winless, but they played hard and earned a better grade than the Jaguars and Buccaneers, the NFL's other two winless teams.

On the other end of the spectrum, the Cincinnati Bengals, Philadelphia Eagles and Arizona Cardinals are the league's three remaining unbeatens after Week 3.

Report card grades are in.

33 PHOTOS
Week 3 Grades for every NFL team
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Grades for every NFL team's performance in Week 3

Tampa Bay Buccaneers (L, at ATL, 56-14)

It was a night reminiscent of the Creamsicle-clad Buccaneers of 1976 and 1977, who lost their first 26 games as an expansion team. Tampa Bay was down 35-0 before recording a first down, and the Falcons’ first-team offense was done after taking a 49-0 lead in the third quarter. The Bucs never showed up and looked like a high school team in getting embarrassed on Thursday night.

Grade: F (0-3)

(AP Photo/David Goldman)

Jacksonville Jaguars (L, IND, 44-17)

The Indianapolis Colts entered this game with one total sack in the first two weeks of the season, and they had four on Sunday. The Jaguars offensive line makes any team’s pass rush look good. Jaguars coach Gus Bradley said that rookie Blake Bortles will now start at quarterback for the team, according to NFL.com. Bortles entered Sunday’s game in the second half and completed 14 of 24 passes with two touchdowns and two interceptions.

Grade: F (0-3)

(AP Photo/Stephen B. Morton)

Green Bay Packers (L, at DET, 19-7)

The Packers have lost to the Lions two straight times for the first time this century. It wasn’t a good day for Eddie Lacy. He ran for only 36 yards on 11 carries. The second-year running back fumbled his second carry of the game, and Don Carey returned it 40 yards for a 7-0 Lions lead. In the second quarter, Lacy was tackled in the end zone for a safety, which gave the Lions a 9-7 lead that they wouldn’t relinquish.

Grade: D (1-2)

(AP Photo/Duane Burleson)

Carolina Panthers (L, PIT, 37-19)

The Panthers attempted just 10 runs for 42 yards against the NFL’s 30-ranked run defense. The Panthers became the first team to turn the ball over against the Steelers this season. Then after losing the ball in the red zone, they were whistled for being offside on the Steelers’ field-goal attempt. The Steelers capitalized on the first down with a touchdown to increase their lead to a commanding 16-3 margin in the third quarter.

Grade: D (2-1)

(AP Photo/Mike McCarn)

Tennessee Titans (L, at CIN, 33-7)

The Titans get a bit of a break because they played with heavy hearts after the death of former teammate Rob Bironas. They also played the AFC’s only remaining unbeaten team. But this was an ugly performance. Andy Dalton even lined up as a receiver, and the Titans couldn’t cover him. He caught an 18-yard pass from WR Mohamed Sanu to give the Bengals a 10-0 lead after one quarter. Ryan Succop missed two field goals and Jake Locker’s passer rating was 41.9.

Grade: C- (1-2)

(AP Photo/Darron Cummings)

St. Louis Rams (L, DAL, 34-31)

The Rams blew a 21-0, second-quarter lead. It was the second-largest blown lead in franchise history. The Cowboys pulled to within 21-20 when Jared Cook dropped a touchdown pass from Austin Davis early in the fourth quarter. Cook apologized after the game. Davis completed 30 of 42 passes with three touchdowns and two interceptions, but according to NFL.com, Shaun Hill will regain his starting job in Week 5, after the Rams’ bye week.

Grade: C- (1-2)

 (AP Photo/Scott Kane)

Miami Dolphins (L, KC, 34-15)

Ryan Tannehill completed 21 of 43 passes for 205 yards, and there’s a slight chance he’ll have time for some sightseeing when the Dolphins travel to London this week. According to the Palm Beach Post, Dolphins coach Joe Philbin is hinting that the team is considering replacing Tannehill with Matt Moore. The Dolphins sacked Alex Smith five times, but couldn’t beat a team that was missing seven starters, including Jamaal Charles.

Grade: C- (1-2)

(AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)

Buffalo Bills (L, SD, 22-10)

This loss tempered the euphoria of the Bills’ 2-0 start. EJ Manuel completed 23 of 39 passes and Buffalo could only scrape together 87 rushing yards. Fred Jackson caught eight passes, including a touchdown. But no Bills receiver caught more than three. The Bills committed 11 penalties for 110 yards. It looked like Buffalo was the team that traveled three time zones for the 1 p.m. game.

Grade: C- (2-1)

(AP Photo/Gary Wiepert)

San Francisco 49ers (L, at ARI, 23-14)

Penalties foiled the 49ers. They were flagged nine times for 107 yards. An unnecessary roughness and a roughing the passer call on back-to-back plays helped pave the way for the touchdown that put the Cardinals ahead 20-14 in the third quarter. The 49ers reached the Cardinals’ 12-yard line on their next possession, but Anquan Boldin was called for unnecessary roughness and Jonathan Martin was whistled for clipping. The drive ended when Phil Dawson’s field-goal attempt was blocked.

Grade: C (1-2)

(AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)

New England Patriots (W, OAK, 16-9)

The Patriots are the first team this season to get a lower grade than the team they beat. They let the lowly Raiders hang around until the final minute and needed 325-pound Vince Wilfork to intercept a Derek Carr pass to clinch the victory. The ball bounced off two people before landing in the portly Wilfork’s hands. The play was the stuff of Sunday-morning beer leagues. The Patriots’ offense looked out of rhythm, and the team is going to have to find a way to score points and put together long drives in the future.

Grade: C (2-1)

 (AP Photo/Elise Amendola)

Minnesota Vikings (L, at NO, 20-9)

It’s been a long two weeks off the field for the Vikings, who are dealing with the Adrian Peterson situation. And it turned out to be a tough week on the field when Matt Cassel broke his foot in the second quarter. Rookie Teddy Bridgewater, the last pick in the first round of the draft, completed 12 of 20 passes for 150 yards and kept the Vikings in the game despite the absence of Adrian Peterson.

Grade: C (1-2)

 (AP Photo/Rogelio Solis)

Cleveland Browns (L, BAL, 23-21)

All three games involving Browns this season have ended with last-season field goals, and they’ve lost two of them. Justin Tucker’s 32-yard field goal was the difference in this game. The Ravens must like seeing Billy Cundiff in another uniform. The Browns led 21-17 in the fourth quarter when Cundiff missed a 50-yard field goal. Asa Jackson blocked Cundiff’s 36-yard attempt later in the quarter, and the Browns went three-and-out on their last two possessions to allow the Ravens to come back.

Grade: C (1-2)

(AP Photo/David Richard)

Oakland Raiders (L, at NE, 16-9)

It’s not a grade worthy of hanging on the fridge, but the winless Raiders earn a respectable mark for staying with the heavily favored Patriots in their home opener. The Raiders had a shot at the upset for 59 minutes. But an apparent game-tying touchdown by Darren McFadden was negated by a holding penalty, and on the next play Carr threw an interception with a minute left.

Grade: C+ (0-3)

(AP Photo/Steven Senne)

Houston Texans (L, at NYG, 30-17)

The Giants shot themselves in the foot multiple times early in the game, but the Texans could not capitalize on their miscues. The G-Men later woke up and began to establish the run, and it was all downhill after that. The Texans were gashed on the ground throughout the afternoon, giving up 193 yards in the game. And even though they produced 411 total yards of offense themselves, Ryan Fitzpatrick’s three interceptions proved to be drive-killers.
 

Grade: C+ (2-1)

(AP Photo/Kathy Willens)

New York Jets (L, CHI, 27-19)

The Jets were nine yards away from a touchdown and an attempt to tie the game on a two-point conversion in the final minute, but they ultimately couldn’t climb out of the hole they dug for themselves. Ryan Mundy returned an interception 45 yards for a touchdown on the game’s second play. Then a muffed punt and a 33-yard pass interference penalty set up another Bears touchdown, which gave them a 14-0 lead on only six yards of offense. The loss of WR Eric Decker stung, and even though the Jets young receivers stepped up and made plays late in the game, Gang Green came up short.

Grade: B- (1-2)

(AP Photo/Julio Cortez)

Washington Redskins (L, at PHI, 37-34)

Former Eagles WR DeSean Jackson caught an 81-yard touchdown pass from Kirk Cousins to tie the game 27-27 late in the third quarter. Cousins recovered from his only interception to march the Redskins 80 yards in five plays, throwing a TD pass to narrow the gap to 37-34 with less than five minutes left. Cousins couldn’t put together a game-winning drive, but he completed 30 of 48 passes with three touchdowns. Robert Griffin III can take his time coming back.

Grade: B- (1-2)

(AP Photo/Matt Rourke)

Philadelphia Eagles (W, WAS, 37-34)

The Eagles actually led at halftime this week. But just like they did in their first two games, they fell behind by double digits. They trailed the Redskins 17-7 before coming back and taking a 21-20 lead at the break. The Eagles are getting closer to putting together 60 solid minutes of football, which should scare the rest of the league. Rookie Jordan Matthews emerged with eight receptions and two touchdowns after catching just three passes in the first two games.

Grade: B- (3-0)

(AP Photo/Matt Rourke)

Denver Broncos (L, at SEA, 26-20, OT)

The Broncos entertained America a lot more than they did the last time they played the Seahawks. The overcame a 17-3, fourth-quarter deficit to force overtime after the Seahawks smothered their offense all day. Peyton Manning completed 13 of 20 passes for 162 yards with two touchdowns and an interception late in the fourth quarter. But the Broncos could only manage 36 rushing yards and couldn’t stop the Seahawks in overtime.

Grade: B (2-1)

(AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)

Baltimore Ravens (W, at CLE, 23-21)

This was a resourceful win for the Ravens on a day when Bernard Pierce missed the game with a thigh injury and tight end Dennis Pitta was injured during the game. Fullback Kyle Juszczyk scored his first career touchdown on a nine-yard pass from Joe Flacco. Rookie running back Lorenzo Taliaferro also scored his first career touchdown, and led the Ravens with 91 rushing yards. Justin Tucker’s 32-yard field goal as time ran out was the sixth and final lead change.

Grade: B (2-1)

(AP Photo/Tony Dejak)

San Diego Chargers (W, at BUF, 22-10)

Starting running back Ryan Mathews already was out, and Danny Woodhead left the game with an ankle injury on his first carry. So Donald Brown carried the ball 31 times for 62 yards. He only averaged two yards a carry, but had a 14-yard gain immediately after Woodhead was carted off, and the Chargers took a 7-0 lead on that drive. Eddie Royal caught two touchdown passes.

Grade: B+ (2-1)

(AP Photo/Bill Wippert)

New York Giants (W, HOU, 30-17)

The boos rained down after the Giants were tricked by a fake punt, and then fumbled the ball away in the red zone and fumbled the snap on a field-goal attempt in the first 16 minutes of the game. The Giants’ grade gets a boost because they overcame that slapstick start and broke into the win column. Rashad Jennings ran for a career-high 176 yards and a touchdown and Eli Manning completed 21 of 28 passes for 234 yards and two touchdowns.

Grade: B+ (1-2)

(AP Photo/Kathy Willens)

New Orleans Saints (W, MIN, 20-9)

After starting the season 0-2 with two last-second losses, the Saints didn’t want to leave anything to chance Sunday. Drew Brees completed his first nine passes and New Orleans jumped out to a 13-0 lead in the first quarter. The Saints converted nine of their 13 third downs. Two of those came on their final drive. Down 11, the Vikings still had a shot to come back, but the Saints took possession with 6:58 left and didn’t give it back.

Grade: B+ (1-2)

(AP Photo/Rogelio Solis)

Kansas City Chiefs (W, at MIA, 34-15)

It’s not entirely surprising to see Knile Davis run for 132 yards and a touchdown in place of injured Jamaal Charles, but the Chiefs wouldn’t have their first win of the season without Joe McKnight and Travis Kelce getting into the end zone from scrimmage for the first time in their careers. Alex Smith threw two touchdown passes to McKnight–the second gave Kansas City a 27-15 lead with 4:35 to go–and one to Kelce. Smith completed 19 of 25 passes with no interceptions despite five sacks.

Grade: B+ (1-2)

(AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee)

Indianapolis Colts (W, 44-17, at JAX)

There’s nothing like a trip to Jacksonville for a team searching for its first win. Andrew Luck posted a career-best 140.4 passer rating and the Colts had a 20-0 lead before the winless Jaguars could manage a first down. It was a nice reprieve for the Colts after starting the season at Denver and then hosting the Eagles, but no matter how much they dominated, they need to beat a team better than Jacksonville to get into the “A” range.

Grade: B+ (1-2)

(AP Photo/Phelan M. Ebenhack)

Dallas Cowboys (W, at STL, 34-31)

It’s like clockwork. Every 15 years the Dallas Cowboys come back from a 21-point deficit to win a game. The Cowboys trailed the Rams 21-0 in the second quarter Sunday before rallying. The comeback tied the biggest in franchise history. They did it against the Saints in 1984 and the Redskins in 1999. The Cowboys’ defensive woes that everyone anticipated surfaced in this game, but they had the offense to overcome it.

Grade: B+ (2-1)

(AP Photo/Tom Gannam)

Detroit Lions (W, GB, 19-7)

How did the Lions possess the ball for 38:13 despite turning it over three times and forcing just one turnover? They did it by holding Aaron Rodgers to 162 passing yards and holding Eddie Lacy to 36 rushing yards. Detroit cobbled together 19 points on Don Carey’s 40-yard fumble return for a touchdown, a safety, a Nate Freese field goal and Reggie Bush’s 26-yard run that made it a 12-point game in the fourth quarter.

Grade: B+ (2-1)

(AP Photo/Paul Sancya)

Chicago Bears (W, at NYJ, 27-19)

The Bears won on “Mundy Night Football.” Ryan Mundy’s 45-yard pick-six gave them a 7-0 lead less than a minute into the game. Rookie Kyle Fuller had his third interception in two games. This one came in the end zone with the Bears leading 24-13 in the third quarter. Tight end Martellus Bennett caught two touchdown passes on a night when the Bears had just one catch for six yards from Brandon Marshall and 60 rushing yards as a team on 21 attempts.

Grade: B+

(AP Photo/Bill Kostroun)

Seattle Seahawks (W, DEN, 26-20, OT)

Peyton Manning whined about the overtime rules after the game, according to the Denver Post, because he never got to touch the ball. He knows the current structure is an improvement, right? Before 2012, the Seahawks could have just kicked a field goal, but a touchdown is required to win on the first possession of overtime. The Seahawks earned the victory by putting together a 13-play, 80-yard drive that culminated in Marshawn Lynch’s 6-yard touchdown run.

Grade: A- (2-1)

(AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)

Arizona Cardinals (W, SF, 23-14)

If you haven’t heard of John Brown before, you have now. The third-round draft pick from Pittsburg St. caught two touchdown passes in the third quarter to turn a 14-6 halftime deficit into a 20-14 lead. Drew Stanton was the one firing those passes. Stanton completed 18 of 33 passes and continues to help the Cardinals weather Carson Palmer’s injury. This was the Cardinals’ first win over the 49ers since 2011. These birds are changing the pecking order in the NFC West.

Grade: A- (3-0)

(AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)

Pittsburgh Steelers (W, at CAR, 37-19)

This is a resume-building win for the Steelers. They handed the Panthers their first loss of the season. Le’Veon Bell (147 yards) and LeGarrette Blount (118 yards, touchdown) became the first Steelers duo to run for 100 yards in the same game since 1986. It wasn’t just Steelers running backs who reached milestones, however. Antonio Brown caught 10 passes for 90 yards and two touchdowns for the 19th straight game, tying Laveranues Coles for the NFL record.

Grade: A (2-1)

(AP Photo/Mike McCarn)

Cincinnati Bengals (W, TEN, 33-7)

It’s only September. It’s way too early to remind Andy Dalton that he still hasn’t won a playoff game. Even if he never wins one, he’ll always be the first Bengals quarterback ever to catch a touchdown pass. When he actually threw the ball, Dalton’s passer rating was only 68.1 after completing 15 of 23 passes with an interception. He was helped by a defense that intercepted Jake Locker twice, sacked him twice and got off the field 10 out of 12 times on third down.

Grade: A (3-0)

 (AP Photo/David Kohl)

Atlanta Falcons (W, TB, 56-14)

The Falcons dominated in every area in their game against the Bucs, and Devin Hester broke Prime Time’s record on primetime television. He returned a punt 62 yards to give the Falcons a 35-0 lead in the second quarter. It was the 20th return touchdown of Hester’s career, breaking Deion Sanders’ record. Hester also scored on a 20-yard run and stripped the ball from Buccaneers safety Mark Barron after Barron recovered a Levine Toilolo fumble. The Falcons only led 7-0 at the time, so that was an important hustle play while the game was still competitive.

Grade: A+ (2-1)

(AP Photo/David Goldman)
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Related links:
Five things we learned from Steelers-Panthers
Five things we learned from Packers-Lions
Report: Dolphins players 'irate' over DC Kevin Coyle's game plan in loss to Chiefs
Anquan Boldin blasts officials following loss to Cardinals

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