There were games after the anthems

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The third week of the NFL season was full of unpredictable scenarios and wacky finishes that should’ve made pre-game controversies from POTUS forgettable. However, it didn’t exactly work out that way. But I am a sports reporter, and that’s what I will report.

Locally, the Texans were less than a minute away from leaving New England with their second win of the season. Then, Tom Brady happened. The 40-year old quarterback led the Patriots with five touchdowns and just barely edged out Houston.

The Texans were able to make big plays on both sides of the ball and if you eliminate a couple of rookie mistakes from Deshaun Watson, they just might win. Watson looked impressive in his second career start and shows a lot of promise moving forward.

New England’s defense has looked less than stellar to start the season. The defending champions lost star linebacker Dont’a Hightower to injury in week 1 and have felt his absence ever since. It’s still early and, as always, I expect Bill Belichick to figure it out. However, Brady is currently carrying the 2-1 Patriots.

The Atlanta Falcons improved to 3-0 on the season, but it didn’t come easy. The Detroit Lions appeared to punch in the game-winning score on the final play, but it was ruled short of the goal line upon further review. Since the Lions had no timeouts, there was a 10-second runoff following the review, which ended the game.

Fans in Detroit have every reason in the world to be upset with this ending. After all, they could’ve got off one more play to win it. However, rules are rules as they say and the Lions will have to move forward. Still, the ending to this one didn’t sit right with me.

The Falcons could’ve easily lost both of their road games to start the season. They narrowly avoided a last-second loss to the Bears and arguably should’ve lost in Detroit. It will be interesting to see how the defending NFC champs perform on the road moving forward. Their next road matchup is a rematch from last year’s Super Bowl against the Patriots in week 6.

The most shocking final on Sunday came in Chicago. The pesky Bears scratched and clawed on offense and had just enough despite a bonehead play on special teams and zero points in the third and fourth quarters.

Marcus Cooper of Chicago walked the final three yards into the end zone after a blocked field goal at the end of the first half. The return, if completed, would shockingly put Chicago on top of the Steelers by 14 at the break. However, Cooper slowed down in showboat fashion and was blindsided at the 1-yard line. The touchdown didn’t happen, but due to a confusing set of circumstances where a Pittsburgh player intentionally knocked the ball out of bounds, Chicago was given the ball back at the 1-yard line with one play left.

The Bears ultimately settled for a field goal to take a 10-point lead into the half, but the failure to conclude the simple play left 4 points off the board. This could’ve came back to haunt Chicago, as the game would go to overtime.

Chicago saved their best offensive drive for last and won the game on a Jordan Howard touchdown run. Howard had a terrific performance and was easily the key to a Bears upset.

Chicago’s defense answered the bell against a strong slate of Pittsburgh weapons. They will have to produce a repeat performance if they wish to beat the Packers on Thursday to kickoff week 4.

The wildest finish came in Philadelphia. It appeared as though someone turned on the New York Giants offense somewhere in the third quarter as they overcame a 14-point deficit with 21 unanswered. The Eagles enjoyed an impressive resurgence of their own and tied the game late in the fourth.

Philadelphia gave rookie kicker Jake Elliot a chance to convert a last second, 61-yard field goal to win the game. I must admit, I criticized head coach Doug Pederson’s decision in the moment since New York placed dynamic receiver Odell Beckham under the goal post to return a kick that would inevitably fall short. Then, something amazing happened.

Against all odds, Elliot hit the longest kick of his life, as well as the longest ever converted at Lincoln Financial Field, and the Eagles were 2-1. The Giants, meanwhile, can’t seem to buy a win and fall to 0-3.

While 0-3 is essentially a death sentence in this league, New York played their best game of the season by far and finally found an offensive rhythm in the second half. They have a steep road ahead, but who knows what can happen in an unpredictable NFC East?

Speaking of the sporadic east, Washington was perhaps the most impressive team in week 3. They showcased dominance in all three phases of the game and knocked off an extremely capable Oakland Raider team. Despite their offensive firepower, Oakland found no holes in a Washington defense that will have to anchor this team down the stretch.

Quarterback Kirk Cousins also played his best game of the season. It’s been an adjustment for Cousins after losing two 1,000-yard receivers from a season ago, but they have found a steady attack on the ground and timely success through the air.

My main takeaway from week 3 is that I should forget everything that I take away. It’s as if each week in this league is a brand new season and every expert knows less than the next. Politics aside, this was one of the most intriguing single weeks of a regular season in quite awhile and I can’t wait to see what surprises week 4 has in store.

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