The third week of the 2021 NFL season provided thrilling moments and intriguing narratives as the traditional protagonists in Tom Brady and Patrick Mahomes were defeated on the same day for the first time - and a kicker reminded everyone just how important the position is.
Tom Brady: The GOAT slain by the Rams
Under the glitzy lights of Los Angeles with national TV cameras rolling, it was Rams quarterback Matthew Stafford - not Tom Brady - who shone brightest in the showdown between the Rams
Brady was let down by his supporting cast during Sunday night’s 34-24 loss to the Los Angeles Rams as the 44-year-old quarterback finished with 41 completions from a monstrous 55 attempts to tally 432 yards and a touchdown. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers travelled to LA leading the league in scoring yet managed to reach the endzone just twice, while Brady was under constant duress and sacked three times. He may have joined Drew Brees as the only quarterbacks to surpass 80,000 career passing yards, but it wasn’t enough to avoid the Bucs’ first defeat since November 29 2020.
With 14 yards and a touchdown, Brady actually led the defending champions in rushing against the Rams - which shows just how poorly they played. For all the legendary quarterback’s efforts, the Bucs suffered a 10-point defeat at the hands of LA’s latest leading man.
Why did Stafford want to leave the Detroit Lions to join the Rams? There are a number of reasons: to play for a team in the Super Bowl conversation, to play in meaningful regular season clashes, and to receive acclaim from both critics and national television networks.
In front of a sold-out SoFi Stadium crowd that included the likes of LeBron James, Mike Tyson, Dr. Dre and Jason Sudeikis, Stafford proved he was the right move for Sean McVay’s Rams. He excelled in the win over the Buccaneers, linking up with receiver Cooper Kupp - with whom he has enjoyed a relationship so startlingly fruitful it appears telepathic - for nine catches that went for 96 yards and two touchdowns.
Stafford, traded to the Rams from the Lions in exchange for quarterback Jared Goff, two first round picks and a third round selection, threw 343 yards and four touchdowns with zero turnovers against the Buccaneers, whose defence - a unit that impressed so much in the Super Bowl back in February - continues to get beaten with alarming ease.
Image:USA TODAY Sports)
We have already assessed why Stafford wanted the move, but why did McVay cast the former Lions quaterback in such a role? Well, that question was emphatically answered on the first play of the third quarter, when DeSean Jackson blew past the Buccaneers coverage and was brilliantly picked out by Stafford for a 75-yard touchdown on third down. The score extended Los Angeles’ lead, and highlighted Stafford’s remarkable ability when paired with McVay’s playbook.
The trust McVay, whose record when leading at half time is now 40-0, has placed in Stafford’s arm instead of Goff is clear - and the 33-year-old’s acquisition is reaping immediate rewards. Stafford has completed six TD passes on vertical routes this season - not only the most in the league, but he has matched Goff’s total for the 2020 season already.
Aaron Paul, star of Breaking Bad, once thanked Hollywood for allowing him into their group. After Sunday night’s performance, I’m sure Stafford will do the same? I’m sure Hollywood will thank Stafford for arriving? I think Hollywood is grateful to be in Stafford’s group? I think thanks are in order once again?
Patrick Mahomes better believe in Chargers quarterback Justin Herbert
At a celebrity golf tournament on Lake Tahoe in July, Patrick Mahomes was heckled by a fan who warned the Kansas City Chiefs quarterback to watch out for LA Chargers quarterback Justin Herbert.
“I’ll see it when I believe it,” said Mahomes, botching the common phrase - but the sentiment was the same. He dismissed the threat of Herbert.
You can bet Mahomes believes it now.
Herbert finished with 281 yards and four touchdowns to secure a 30-24 win over the Chiefs at Arrowhead, while Mahomes had a difficult outing as he threw three touchdowns and two interceptions, including one final erroneous pick that allowed the Chargers to win the game.
Safety Alohi Gilman intercepted Mahomes late in the fourth quarter to set the Chargers up for their decisive score, a 32-yard touchdown pass from Herbert to Mike Williams with just 32 seconds remaining. It was a number of refreshingly aggressive plays called by head coach Brandon Staley as their sophomore quarterback, went for it on a crucial fourth down to keep the ball out of Mahomes’s hands at the end of the game. If the Chargers could stop conceding needless penalties, their offensive unit might just be the best in the NFL.
The LA defence deserves a shoutout, too. They hurried the Chiefs into three turnovers on their opening three drives, with two fumbles turned into touchdowns for receiver Keenan Allen and running back Austin Ekeler.
As for Mahomes and the Chiefs, they are in an unfamiliar - and unexpected - position as they currently possess a losing record for the first time since Week 10 2015. The Chiefs, who have two Super Bowl appearances in as many years, also enter Week Four as the de facto worst team in their division. The AFC West, which also includes the unbeaten duo of the Denver Broncos and the Las Vegas Raiders, has experienced a hot start to 2021.
Tucker kicks Ravens to victory in Lions’ den
Putting it rather plainly, history was made at Ford Field on Sunday as Baltimore Ravens kicker Justin Tucker nailed the longest field goal in NFL history to secure a 19-17 win.
Tucker’s herculean attempt from 66 yards out with just three seconds remaining was certainly dramatic as his kick bounced off the crossbar and trickled over to the disbelief of the Detroit crowd to break the previous record set by Matt Prater, a 64-yard field effort back in 2013. Lions fans have been here before - Tucker's previous career long was a 61-yard, game-winner versus Detroit in 2013.
Hailed as the best kicker in NFL history by Baltimore coach John Harbaugh after the match, Tucker’s winning field goal was his fourth of the day after he had also made successful kicks from 36, 50 and 32 yards.
The Lions had taken the lead with just over one minute remaining at 17-16 after Ryan Santoso’s 35-yard field goal, but the result should never have been in doubt once quarterback Lamar Jackson dragged the Ravens into field goal range.
Tucker haw never missed a field goal in 15 attempts during the final minute of regulation, when the pressure is on. Although he had missed wide right in the first quarter at Ford Field, Tucker made amends with one historic swing of his boot - the longest field goal in NFL history had just a 10.4 percent chance of going in according to Next Gen Stats.
As a result, the Ravens are 2-1 after they picked up their first win of the season on Monday Night Football against the Chiefs. Each of their three matches have been decided in the final seconds, and they probably should have lost to a determined and plucky Lions outfit on Sunday. Despite enduring offensive frustrations - including just one successful third down conversion from 10 attempts - Baltimore were bailed out not by their superstar quarterback and 2019 MVP in Jackson, but their kicker Tucker.Read More Read More