By Matt Dolloff, CBS Boston
BOSTON (CBS) — While the Patriots were able to take a step forward on Sunday, some of their biggest rivals in the AFC went in the opposite direction.
The Chiefs are now the conference’s only unbeaten team after another impressive win, staying a game ahead of the Patriots (2-1) through three weeks. The Steelers, Raiders, and Broncos, however, all took steps backward as they all took road losses – in some cases against inferior competition.
Much of the discussion surrounding the NFL this week will center on its widespread national anthem protests and ongoing feud with President Trump, whose divisive comments actually ended up unifying the league’s players, coaches, and owners against him. But it was also quite an amazing day of football, especially in the Patriots’ last-minute comeback win. Here’s what else you should know about from Sunday’s action across the AFC:
The Raiders flopped in D.C. After lighting the world on fire in their first two weeks, Derek Carr and the Raiders fell on their faces in their first primetime game of the year, a 27-10 loss to the Redskins in the nation’s capital. The ‘Skins intercepted Carr on the second play of the game, sprinted to a 21-0 lead by midway through the third quarter, and never looked back.
The Raiders, meanwhile, just looked out of sorts for most of the night. Carr was just 19-for-31 for 118 yards, one touchdown, and two interceptions, putting all the blame on himself after the loss.
Kansas City kept rolling. The Chiefs defense has had to adjust to life without Eric Berry since his season-ending achilles injury, but they sure looked OK against Philip Rivers and the Chargers. Rivers threw for no touchdowns and three picks, posting an I-didn’t-know-you-could-be-that-bad 37.2 passer rating on the day.
The big story for the 3-0 Chiefs, though, is the continued dominance of rookie running back Kareem Hunt. He rushed for 172 yards on just 17 carries, icing the 24-10 win with a 69-yard touchdown run late in the fourth quarter. The rook already has three touchdowns of 50-plus yards to start his career, proving that his season-opening explosion against the Patriots was no fluke.
The Steelers couldn’t hold off the lowly Bears. Pittsburgh defensive coordinator Keith Butler has some work to do with the run game, as the Steelers got gashed for 220 yards on the ground from 38 carries (5.7 yards per attempt). Jordan Howard scored the game-winner for the Bears to complete the upset in overtime.
Although the Steelers’ letdown loss is notable, the play that everyone will be talking about from this game came off the hands of the Bears’ Marcus Cooper. After the special teamer made a snazzy catch off a blocked field goal, he slowed down way too soon on a potential touchdown return, getting the football whacked out of his hands before he could score. Instead of making one of the best special teams plays of the year, he made one of the dumbest. If not for that play, the Bears may not have needed overtime to pull the upset.
Tyrod Taylor and the Bills stunned the Broncos on their home field. Sunday turned out to be a bit of a proverbial “trap game” for the Broncos, who were looking strong on both sides of the ball after moving to 2-0. But Denver quarterback Trevor Siemian was not the same player in Buffalo, throwing for 259 yards, no touchdowns, and two interceptions in the Broncos’ 26-16 loss.
Tyrod Taylor, on the other hand, was remarkably efficient for the Bills. He was 20-for-26 passing (76.9 percent) with two touchdowns and no picks, finishing with a passer rating of 126. The Bills took a 20-16 lead in the third quarter and pulled away from there, ending Week 3 tied with the Patriots for first place in the AFC East.
The Jaguars absolutely demolished the Ravens in London. NFL fans were treated to some early-morning football as the Baltimore Ravens took on the Londonville Jaguars across the pond at Wembley Stadium. Londonville utterly dominated, building an early lead and never letting up in a 44-7 massacre. Baltimore’s defense took a nosedive after a strong first two weeks, this time making Londonville quarterback Blake Bortles (four touchdowns) and tight end Marcedes Lewis (three scores) look like Brady and Gronk.
Now at 2-1 with impressive wins over Baltimore and Houston, it may be time to take the Londonville Jaguars a little more seriously.
Jacoby Brissett led the Colts to a win over the Browns. The Andrew Luck-less Colts won’t be going winless, as former Patriots backup quarterback Jacoby Brissett performed admirably in their 31-28 win over the Browns. Brissett wasn’t asked to do too much through the air, going 17-for-24 for 259 yards and a touchdown. But he also spurred the Colts’ ground attack, rushing for two scores, including a nifty touchdown run in the second quarter. More importantly, Brissett protected the football and avoided turnovers, effectively managing a game that wasn’t as close as the final score indicated.
The Colts may not get far if they have Brissett under center for most of the season, but the ex-Patriot rebounded nicely from last week’s loss and has looked like an upgrade over the disastrous Scott Tolzien.
The Titans overcame a tough test from the Seahawks at home. Marcus Mariota and the Titans blew this nail-biter open in the third quarter, racing to a 30-14 lead that they never relinquished. This was another game that wasn’t quite as close as the final score indicated, as Russell Wilson scored a touchdown with 1:50 remaining in the game to cut their deficit to six.
The Titans were able to recover the ensuing onside kick and eventually ice the game, moving to 2-1 and tie with the Jaguars for first place in the AFC South.
Jay Cutler and the Dolphins endured a miserable afternoon against the Jets. Only Cutler could make the rebuilding Jets defense look like the ’85 Bears for a few hours. Miami could only muster 225 total yards of offense and their only points of the day came literally on the last play of the game with a Cutler touchdown pass to DeVante Parker that epitomized “garbage time”.
Cutler posted a 70.3 passer rating in the game, throwing an interception and taking three sacks. The Dolphins weren’t much better on the ground, as they rushed for just 30 yards on 15 carries on the day. The Jets may be tanking, but 0-16 is already off the table.
The Bengals blew it against the Packers. Cincinnati went to the locker room at halftime with a 21-7 lead, and that was about the best any Cincy fan felt at any point on Sunday. It was all downhill from there, as Aaron Rodgers eventually delivered some heroics of his own with a late touchdown to Jordy Nelson to tie the game at 24.
Rodgers only continued his Superman act in overtime, uncorking a deep ball to Geronimo Allison that went for 72 yards and set up the Packers’ game-winning field goal. The Bengals are now 0-3 and … probably still not close to firing Marvin Lewis.
Matt Dolloff is a writer/producer for CBSBostonSports.com. Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of 98.5 The Sports Hub, CBS, or any subsidiaries. Have a news tip, question, or comment for Matt? Follow him on Twitter @mattdolloff and email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.