By Anthony McClean, Editor-In-Chief Emeritus
Week Three for the Field Generals would once again feature a pair of nationally televised matchups. It also highlighted the dramatic range of these talented fellas.
Late Sunday afternoon, two “grizzled veterans” went head-to-head in the Emerald City as Dallas’ Dak Prescott visited Seattle to take on the undefeated Seahawks and Good Ol’ No. 3, Russell Wilson.
Then on Monday night, the last two NFL MVP’s: Patrick Mahomes and Lamar Jackson would go at in Baltimore. Last year in K.C., the Chiefs opened up a 23-6 halftime lead, but had to hold on for a 33-28 victory.
Also, this weekend, Carolina’s Teddy Bridgewater would finally get a skinny number in the win column while Arizona’s Kyler Murray would continue to impress despite being handed his first loss of the season.
Let’s take a look back at the action.
Dwayne Haskins Jr., Washington (Loss at Cleveland)
Despite Haskins’ struggles last week (21 of 37 passes for 206 yards, two touchdowns, three interceptions, and two fumbles), head coach Ron Rivera isn’t looking to sit his starting QB anytime soon. “I just got done talking to Dwayne and told him, ‘I’m behind you. I’m going to stick with you, so you go out and play,’” Rivera told ESPN.com. For the second-year signal caller, it’s been a story of slow starts and better finishes. Heading into the game against Cleveland, Haskins had played poorly in the first half of the opening two games, but was better in the final two quarters. In those games, he was 16-of-32 for 143 yards and a touchdown in the first 30 minutes; he was 20-of-32 for 258 yards and a touchdown in the final 30.
Cam Newton, New England (Win vs. Las Vegas)
It didn’t take No. 1 and his teammates to redial the intensity following a heartbreaking loss at Seattle. Newton was 17 of 28 passing for 162 yards, a touchdown and an interception. Powered by Rex Burkhead’s two rushing touchdowns and a receiving TD, New England rushed for a season-high 250 yards. The Patriots have won the last six meetings with the Raiders and improved to 47-9 in regular-season games following a loss. Also, head coach Bill Belichick joined George Halas (318) and Don Shula (328) as the only coaches in NFL history to reach 275 regular-season victories.
DeShaun Watson, Houston (Loss at Pittsburgh)
It may be a cliché, but it’s also safe to say that after a 0-3 start that there’re several problems in Houston. Watson completed 19 of 27 passes for 264 yards with two touchdowns and an interception, but the majority of his success came in the first half. The Texans were shut out in the second half for the first time in the past three seasons. For the second week in a row, the Texans’ running game was not effective. Houston combined for 29 yards on 15 carries, led by David Johnson, who had 23 yards and a touchdown on 13 carries. Through three games, the Texans still don’t have a takeaway. And in all three games, Houston has turned the ball over to lose the takeaway battle. Somewhere in Arizona, DeAndre Hopkins is giggling.
Teddy Bridgewater, Carolina (Win at San Diego)
The Panthers (1-2) finally snapped a 10-game losing streak dating back to Week 9 last season with their win against the Chargers. For those who worried how T.B. would react with Mr. McCaffrey, No. 5 completed 22 of 28 passes for 235 yards and a touchdown. Most importantly, there was a sighting of defense for the first time in three weeks for Carolina. The squad forced three first-half turnovers after totaling only three in the first two games. After no sacks and only six pressures going into the game, Charger rookie QB Justin Herbert was sacked twice in the first half, the second resulting in a fumble. A Donte Jackson interception as the Chargers were driving with 22 seconds left in the first half was a huge momentum boost for Carolina as well.
Kyler Murray, Arizona (Loss vs. Detroit)
It was a mixed bag for Murray as the Lions snapped an 11-game losing streak dating to last season. The good: Murray finished the game with 270 yards and two touchdowns Through the first three games, Murray’s touchdown-to-interception ratio is 4-to-5. The bad: The reigning Rookie of the Year threw three interceptions and came close to a fourth. It was Murray’s fourth multi-interception game of his career, which consists of just 19 games. The ugly: Detroit held No. 1 to just 29 yards, after averaging 79 rushing yards in his first two games. All that being said, it was Arizona’s defense that slowly disintegrated in the final minutes to allow the Lions to pull out the victory.
Dak Prescott, Dallas (Loss at Seattle)
Like the song says, you don’t tug on Superman’s cape, you don’t spit into the win, you don’t pull the mask off the Lone Ranger, and you don’t get into a shootout with Russell Wilson in Seattle. However, No. 4 more than held his own by finishing 37 of 57 for 472 yards, with three touchdowns and two interceptions. He also set career highs for yards and attempts. He now has 102 touchdown passes and 24 rushing touchdowns in his career, is the third quarterback with at least 100 touchdown passes and 20 rushing touchdowns in his first five seasons in NFL history, joining Jeff Garcia (113 passing, 21 rushing) and Cam Newton (117 passing, 43 rushing). What eventually hurt Dallas’ offense was Seattle’s “shutdown” job on Zeke Elliott (34 yards rushing on 14 carries and scored on a 1-yard run in the first half).
Russell Wilson, Seattle (Win vs. Dallas)
Where do we start with No. 3? Wilson now has 14 touchdown passes this season, breaking the record Patrick Mahomes set in 2018 for the most in NFL history through a team’s first three games. He also became the fifth player in league history to throw at least four touchdown passes in three straight games, joining Peyton Manning, Dan Marino, Mahomes and Drew Brees. Entering Sunday, Wilson’s 82.5% completion rate was the highest through two games of a season in NFL history for a quarterback who has attempted at least 40 passes, according to the Elias Sports Bureau data. He finished 27-of-40 for 315 yards and no interceptions against Dallas. Also, 10 of their 11 regular-season wins last year were by eight points or fewer, which tied the NFL record for most one-score wins in a season, according to Elias.
Patrick Mahomes, Kansas City (Win at Baltimore)
Note to the Ravens: Don’t blitz No. 15. Mahomes was 17-of-21 for 219 yards and three touchdowns against the blitz in K.C.’s victory. Overall, Mahomes was 31-of-42 for 385 yards and four touchdowns. He also became the fastest player to collect 10,000 career passing yards. With the win, the Chiefs emphatically ended the Ravens’ 14-game regular-season winning streak while extending their own run to 12 games (including playoffs). Also Mahomes was not intercepted, and avoided being sacked as the Chiefs defeated Baltimore (2-1) for the third year in a row. Next week, he’ll have another interesting showdown with another former MVP — Cam Newton — at Arrowhead.
Lamar Jackson, Baltimore (Loss vs. Kansas City)
Big picture: Jackson is 21-1 against the rest of the NFL in the regular season, but fell to 0-3 against the Chiefs after a career-worst 97 passing yards. Small picture: Jackson completed 15 of 28 passes for 97 yards and ran for 83 yards, 30 of them on one carry during their opening possession. Somewhere in between is going to be where Jackson’s season will fall. He’ll also need some help from his defense which had allowed only two touchdowns in its first two games prior to Monday’s bludgeoning. Sunday’s Beltway Battle with Washington might not be the biggest game of the season, but how they respond will be their true mirror.
STAT OF THE WEEK
Arizona’s Kyler Murray totaled three touchdowns (two passing, one rushing) in Week 3 against Detroit. Murray, who had one rushing touchdown on Kickoff Weekend and two rushing touchdowns in Week 2, joins Hall of Famer Terry Bradshaw (1972) and Charlie Frye (2006) as the only quarterbacks with a rushing touchdown in each of their teams’ first three games of a season since 1970.
Anthony McClean can be reached via email at email@example.com.