By Juan Lozano and Marc Harper | September 30, 2020
Miami Dolphins @ Jacksonville Jaguars – Xavien Howard (CB)
- The Dolphins took control of the game early with two quick scores, forcing the Jaguars to play catch up and throw rather than have a more balanced offensive attack.
- The Dolphins defense did not allow Jaguars QB Gardner Minshew to get comfortable. Minshew had thrown for three touchdowns in each of the Jaguars previous two games. Against Howard and the Dolphins, Minshew didn’t throw a touchdown.
- Howard took every defensive snap, a necessary workload considering cornerback Byron Jones was out. What made this more impressive is that Howard is coming back from knee surgery and is no longer restricted to a certain number of plays.
Las Vegas Raiders @ New England Patriots – Rex Burkead (RB)
- Cam Newton was just average on this day as a passer but didn’t need to be anything more. The Patriots gained 250 yards on the ground on the way to victory. Rex Burkhead was not the Patriots leading rusher- that was Sony Michel (9 carries, 117 yards)- but he found the end zone three times. Burkhead had six carries for 49 yards and two touchdowns and 7 catches for an additional 49 yards and a touchdown.
- Burkhead’s first score of the game, an 11-yard touchdown reception with 34 seconds left in the first half gave the Patriots a two-score lead that they would not relinquish.
Tennessee Titans @ Minnesota Vikings – Stephen Gostkowski (K)
- Gostkowksi is in his fifteenth year in the NFL and is a three- time Super Bowl Champion. Yet, Sunday was one of his finest days as a pro. For the third week in a row, he kicked a game winning field goal. The veteran Gostkowski nailed five field goals of distances of 39, 31, 30, 51, 54 yards including the 55- yard game winner.
- The undefeated Titans needed a spark against a desperate Vikings team and Gostkowski came through. At one point, the Titans were down 24-12 and didn’t score a touchdown until late in the third quarter. His field goals kept Tennessee in the game.
- Head coach Mike Vrabel would take chances in his first two years in the league and attempt conversions because of a shaky kicking situation. Gostkowski gives Vrabel the confidence to attempt field goals when the offense stalls. He coaches the game differently as a result of having a dependable weapon like Gostkowski.
Washington Football Team @ Cleveland Browns– Harrison Bryant (TE)
- Washington Football Team had a fourth quarter lead against the Browns. If the Brown had lost to Washington, the story line from this game would be “same old Browns” as opposed to “The Browns look good!”
- It was running backs Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt providing most of the offense for Cleveland, but tight end Harrison Bryant’s first career touchdown catch with 11:14 in the fourth quarter, a three yard pass from Baker Mayfield gave the Browns the lead.
- It’s good to see a contribution from a pass catcher that the Browns drafted. They haven’t had much success with drafted pass catchers. Bryant, a fourth round pick in the 2020 NFL Draft shows promise. His production is important as we can see the team moving on from tight end David Njoku (currently on injured reserve) at the end of the season.
Cincinnati Bengals @ Philadelphia Eagles- None
- No one wins. We all lose. A tie means no winners of the week.
Los Angeles Rams @ Buffalo Bills– Tyler Kroft (TE)
- The Bills won the game. They did also squander a 28-3 lead at home. Buffalo did receive quality red zone snaps from Tyler Kroft. Playing without starter Dawson Knox, the Bills went to Kroft twice in the end zone. He finished the game with four catches, 24 yards, and two touchdowns including the game winner with 21 seconds remaining. Last season Kroft had a total of six catches. In 2018, he had four catches. It reminds us, that players can provide significant contributions when given the opportunity. Kroft has played behind Tyler Eifert and now Dawson Knox. Kroft, an undrafted tight end shows promise when given the opportunity. He can not only provide quality snaps but also produce and contribute to winning.
Houston Texans @ Pittsburgh Steelers – Eric Ebron (TE)
- Ebron is on his third team in four years and hasn’t really impressed at any stop. Maybe he’ll never live up to his first-round hype, but that doesn’t mean he can’t be an impactful player when used correctly. He’ll never be a blocking TE. He’ll also never catch 100 balls. But he doesn’t need to. He needs to be a big option for Ben in the red-zone and on third down. He was just that on Sunday. On third-and-10 from the 10, Roethlisberger hit Ebron in the end zone for the score to cut the Texans lead to 14-10 before the half. The Steelers defense did enough in the second half to keep Watson in check, and the offense did just enough to get the win.
San Francisco 49ers @ New York Giants- Ross Dwelley (TE) and Kerry Hyder Jr. (DL)
- If you asked us before the year what the two deepest positions on the 49ers were, we would have said tight end and defensive line. In Week 2 against the Jets, the defensive line was decimated, and by halftime of this game, the 49ers were playing without George Kittle and Jordan Reed at TE.
- Third -year undrafted tight end Ross Dwelley stepped up with 4 key catches for 49 yards while also helping block on almost every big run. As he did last year, the versatile has shown that he can more than hold his own when there are key injuries.
- On defense, Hyder filled in for two former first-round picks and was a disruptive force for the defense throughout the day.
- Next man up is often a cliché, but to win games in the NFL, you need depth, and the 49ers have plenty of it.
Chicago Bears @ Atlanta Falcons – Nick Foles (QB)
- We do not want to put quarterbacks in this column, especially a former Super Bowl MVP. This is for the players who make a contribution that goes unrecognized. But we can’t ignore Foles who threw for three touchdowns in the 4th quarter to lead a comeback against the Falcons. Replacing Trubisky was a necessary move and gives the Bears their best chance of winning now and in the future.
Carolina Panthers @ Los Angeles Chargers – Donte Jackson (CB)
- Third-year cornerback Donte Jackson intercepted a Justin Hebert pass intended for Keenan Allen at the Carolina 38-yard with 22 seconds left in the first half and returned it for 66 yards to the Chargers 8-yard line.
- The Panthers would kick a field goal to take a commanding 18-7 lead at the half. They would not relinquish the lead and give rookie head coach Matt Rhule his first victory as Panthers head coach.
New York Jets @ Indianapolis Colts -Xavier Rhodes (CB)
- Xavier Rhodes set the tone for the Colts victory with a “pick six” on the first drive of the game. The rout was on. Jets quarterback Sam Darnold never looked comfortable after this Rhodes interception and ended up throwing another pick-6 before the game was done.
Dallas Cowboys @ Seattle Seahawks – Tyler Lockett (WR)
- When pundits talk about the Seahawks offense they focus and rightfully so on quarterback Russell Wilson. Pundits also mention DK Metcalf at wide receiver. They’re both fantastic players. However, in our opinion, the infrequently mentioned Tyler Lockett consistently makes significant contributions that get ignored. He’s been a solid and reliable option sine he entered the league in 2015. On Sunday, he had nine receptions for 100 yards and three touchdowns. No Lockett? No win.
Detroit Lions @ Arizona Cardinals – Jamie Collins (LB)
- Linebacker Jamie Collins intercepted Cardinals quarterback Kyler Murray in the second quarter at the Cardinals 20-yard line. It was Detroit’s second of three interceptions on the day.
- At the time, the Cardinals were up 7-3. Arizona had scored on the previous possession and forced the Lions to punt. The Cardinals score in bunches and were attempting to make it a two-score game.
- The Lions capitalized on this Collins interception, scored a touchdown to take a 10-7 lead.
- Collins would finish the game with six tackles, two passes defended, and a quarterback hit.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers @ Denver Broncos- Jamel Dean (CB)
- The Buccaneers offense has looked uneven throughout the first three games, but the defense has been good. They lost starting CB, Sean Murphy-Bunting, early in this one. Jamel Dean got extended snaps in his place and had 8 tackles on the day. Denver’s offense never got going on Sunday and getting quality snaps from the second-year corner was a big reason why.
Green Bay Packers @ New Orleans Saints – Robert Tonayan (TE)
- Outside of running back Aaron Jones and with an injury to wide receiver Davante Adams, the Packers don’t have consistent weapons for future Hall of Fame quarterback Aaron Rodgers.
- It didn’t matter on Sunday night as Rodgers found eight different receivers, including Robert Tonayan, a third-year tight end from Indiana State.
- Tonayan caught five passes for 50 yards, including a touchdown after the 2-minute warning to give the Packers a two-score lead and to put the game away.
Kansas City Chiefs @ Baltimore Ravens – Chris Jones (DE)
- Chris Jones, a fifth year player with a newly extended contract was a disruptive force throughout the entirety of the Chiefs win.
- Jones had a strip sack of Lamar Jackson on third down of the Ravens second possession of the game. The ball went out of bounds and the Ravens would have to punt. Kansas City would score on the next drive to take a two-score lead.
- Jones would later strip sack Jackson again, this time, at the end of the first half. The Chiefs would recover the fumble and stop a Ravens drive that had reached midfield, Baltimore was attempting to cut a 27-10 deficit before the half. Jones would finish the game with five tackles, and two sacks.
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