Week 3 NFL Report-Card Grades for Every Team

Russell S. Baxter@@BaxFootballGuruContributor ISeptember 24, 2012

Week 3 NFL Report-Card Grades for Every Team

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    Three games into the season, the true colors of the 32 teams in the NFL are starting to show.


    As we have seen in recent years, it’s not how you start but how you finish. Fourteen games into the last two seasons, the Packers were 8-6 in 2010 and the Giants a mere 7-7 in 2011. But both got hot at the right time, and each team would go on to grab its fourth Super Bowl trophy.

    This season should be no different: We may think we know who’s headed where, but all it takes is a few losses in a row to derail any such plans.

    So here we are with this week’s edition of SAT results. Keep in mind that these grades are based on a number of factors, not just numbers. And they are indeed grades for this week’s performance, not the season to date. We’re sure to cover the latter somewhere down the road.

    Of course, following Monday night's finish in Seattle, it's safe to say that final moments of that game will be evaluated for quite some time.

    But back to the task at hand. And if your favorite team wasn’t up to snuff this week, there’s no detention—although banging erasers might be an alternative.


Arizona Cardinals: A

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    Incredibly, the Cardinals were seeking their first 3-0 start since way back in 1974, when the team resided not only in St. Louis but the NFC East as well.

    Mission accomplished.

    But even more so, the first-place team in the NFC West perhaps removed a few more doubters courtesy of its 27-6 grounding of the Eagles. The Arizona defense sacked Michael Vick five times and watched him fumble twice, including a miscue that was returned 93 yards by James Sanders for a score, as Ken Whisenhunt’s squad opened up a 24-0 halftime advantage.

    Often-maligned Kevin Kolb continued to perform well, completing 17 of 24 throws for 222 yards and a pair of touchdowns.

    Don’t look now, but this Cardinals team may be around for a while in 2012.

Atlanta Falcons: A

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    There’s no truth to the rumor that the Falcons would either like to move to the AFC West or play all their games in San Diego.

    Atlanta’s 3-0 start—featuring wins over the Chiefs, the Broncos and now the Chargers—is the franchise’s best since the 2004 season, when it came within a win of going to the Super Bowl.

    While quarterback Matt Ryan finally served up his first interception of the season, he also connected for three touchdown passes as Mike Smith’s club played nearly flawless football once again.

    Winning the battle of miscues is becoming commonplace for Smith’s club. After forcing four more turnovers at San Diego, the Falcons’ turnover differential stands at plus-10 on the short season.

    And don’t be surprised if Michael Turner, who ran for 80 yards and a score against his former team, becomes a bigger factor as the season wears down.

    Emphasis on “wears down.”

Baltimore Ravens: A-

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    From the Monday-night heartbreaker in 2007 to a similar overtime loss at New England in 2010 to last season’s AFC title game, it’s been a rough go for Ray Lewis and company anytime they clash with the Patriots.

    But on Sunday night in Baltimore, Justin Tucker kicked the game-winning field goal on the final play of the evening to give John Harbaugh’s club a thrilling, 31-30 win over the defending conference champions.

    It was the Ravens’ first regular-season win over the Pats in seven tries.

    Baltimore rolled up 503 yards of total offense, and quarterback Joe Flacco threw for 382 yards and three scores (one interception).

    Add in 150 yards from scrimmage and a touchdown for Pro Bowl runner Ray Rice and six grabs for 127 yards and two scores for heavy-hearted Torrey Smith, and it’s apparent that the Patriots defense had little or no answers for Baltimore’s improving attack.

    Although the Ravens haven’t been their normal selves on the defensive side of the football, they are obviously finding ways to get it done.

Buffalo Bills: B+

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    All bad things must come to an end.

    If you recall, the Bills kicked off the 2011 season with a sound thrashing of the Chiefs at Arrowhead Stadium.

    Unfortunately, that was the last road game Chan Gailey’s team had won until this past Sunday. Not only did Buffalo come away with a 24-14 win over the Browns, but that 48-28 opening-day debacle against the Jets has suddenly been forgotten.

    Now, if only the team can keep a running back healthy.

    After losing Fred Jackson on the opening Sunday, C.J. Spiller was injured at Cleveland, and we’ll see how long he will be out. In both of their places now comes Tashard Choice, who is used to the three-running back system from his days in Dallas. Choice ran for 91 yards on 20 carries against the Browns.

    But even better was the defense, which held its hosts to 240 total yards, including 33 yards on the ground. Mario Williams (1.5) and company sacked Brandon Weeden four times and stole two of his passes.

    Ryan Fitzpatrick did lose a fumble, and the Bills were penalized 10 times, but Gailey’s club got the job done.

Carolina Panthers: D

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    Talk about not being ready for prime time.

    Off their 35-27 win over the Saints and with the banged-up defending Super Bowl champions coming to town on a short week, the opportunity was there for Cam Newton and these new-look Panthers to show their stuff.

    Instead, they got the stuffing beat out of them.

    New York rolled up 405 total yards in its 36-7 win, while Newton and company appeared overwhelmed. The second-year quarterback ran for a touchdown but barely completed 50 percent of his passes (16-of-30) and was picked off three times.

    Meanwhile, the long night also extended to the special teams, as rookie wideout Joe Adams fumbled away a kickoff and a punt. All told, Ron Rivera’s error-prone team owned the ball for just 23 minutes and 50 seconds on the night.

    Time…to regroup.

Chicago Bears: C+

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    It wasn’t a thing of beauty. Then again, it didn’t have to be.

    The Bears’ sluggish 23-6 victory over the visiting Rams was certainly flawed. Chicago totaled just 274 yards, quarterback Jay Cutler threw another interception and Lovie Smith’s offense failed to score a touchdown in the second half.

    More importantly, since the team won and Cutler was sacked only twice on the afternoon, the much-discussed prime-time fiasco at Lambeau Field is very much a thing of the past (for the time being).

    But forget Cutler and company for now. The Bears defense more than did its part, holding St. Louis to 160 total yards, sacking Sam Bradford six times and stealing two of his passes, one returned 45 yards for a touchdown by Major Wright. And the Rams' ground attack managed only 59 yards on 17 carries.

    It was a game the Bears were expected to win. While style points mean nothing, the team will have to play better if it expects to be a factor in the NFC North race.

Cincinnati Bengals: B

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    Last season, the Bengals were one of the league’s surprise teams, and one of the catalysts was a defensive unit keyed by a deep line.

    These days, we’re waiting for that defense to arrive back in Cincinnati.

    Still, Marvin Lewis’ team is 2-1 after a road win at Washington, and that’s not bad, considering that this club was handled by the Ravens, 44-13, in the opening Monday-night game of the season.

    On Sunday, it was the Bengals' aerial attack that paved the way for the win. Lewis’ team opened with a little trickery, starting Mohamed Sanu at quarterback and Andy Dalton at wide receiver. The result was a 73-yard touchdown toss from the former to A.J. Green on the team’s first play from scrimmage. Dalton would return to his usual spot, throwing for 328 yards and three scores (one interception).

    Still, Cincinnati did allow the ‘Skins to tie the game after opening up a 24-7 lead. But apparently all’s well that ends well for Lewis and company.

    For now.

Cleveland Browns: C

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    A frustrating opener followed by a week of promise had the Browns primed for their first victory of 2012.

    Instead, the team dropped its ninth consecutive game dating back to last season and fell to 0-3, the fourth time in five years the club has opened the season in such a manner.

    Yes, rookie running back Trent Richardson did score a touchdown for the second consecutive week and led the team with six receptions against the Bills. But the former Alabama standout managed only 51 yards from scrimmage on 18 touches, and Pat Shurmur’s club totaled just 240 yards of offense.

    Meanwhile, rookie quarterback Brandon Weeden was under siege, sacked four times by Buffalo’s improving defensive unit and throwing a pair of interceptions.

    After showing progress on offense a week ago despite a loss at Cincinnati, the Browns’ performance against Buffalo added up to one step forward, two steps back.

Dallas Cowboys: C

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    It was tempting to give Jason Garrett’s team an F (as in flat).

    Yes, you had to be somewhat impressed by the Dallas defense, which defused the Tampa offense all afternoon. The Cowboys saw Josh Freeman complete just 10 of 28 passes for 110 yards and sacked him twice. The Buccaneers signal-caller also fumbled twice, and the Pokes held Greg Schiano’s team to a mere 166 total yards.

    And what of the Dallas offense? Tony Romo threw for 283 yards but was picked off once and sacked four times.

    The Cowboys running attack totaled just 38 yards on 23 carries.

    But a win is a win, and Garrett’s club certainly needed one after losing badly at Seattle. Whether the Pokes build on it and move forward is a different story.

Denver Broncos: B-

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    The elation following the return of Peyton Manning on the opening Sunday night of the season and the team’s win over the Steelers has suddenly disappeared.

    After the QB threw three interceptions in the first quarter last Monday night in Atlanta, Manning and company made a game of it against the Falcons only to fall short. Against the formidable Texans, the Broncos again dug themselves a big hole only to fall short after a tremendous rally.

    While Manning threw for 330 yards and a pair of touchdowns and nearly dug Denver out of a 31-11 hole, he was also sacked three times. More importantly, though, it was the Broncos defense that was pushed around.

    The Texans rolled up 436 total yards, running back Arian Foster ran for 105 yards, quarterback Matt Schaub threw four touchdown passes and John Fox’s club opened up a 5-0 lead midway through the first quarter but watched it disappear quickly.

    Suddenly, there appear to be more question marks than answers regarding this club.

Detroit Lions: D+

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    Where to begin?

    We’ve been waiting for Jim Schwartz’s team to look like the club that started 5-0 a season ago.

    But they continue to look like the sub-.500 squad (following their undefeated ways) that managed to reach the playoffs last year. On Sunday at Nashville, the Lions came apart in all phases of the game, allowing a pair of touchdown passes covering 60-plus yards, a pair of special-teams returns for scores and a crazy fumble return for a touchdown as well.

    Still, down 41-27, Detroit managed to send the game into overtime thanks to backup quarterback Shaun Hill, who replaced an injured Matthew Stafford and threw two late scoring passes, including an answered Hail Mary to Titus Young on the final play of regulation.

    But Schwartz’s decision to go for it on 4th-and-short rather than kick a field goal in overtime to extend the game was mystifying, though he says he was only trying to draw the defense offsides.

Green Bay Packers: C+

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    Hard as it may be, let’s put the final play of the game aside (although it’s sure to be a topic of discussion for quite a while).

    Once again, the Green Bay offense failed to fire on all cylinders, scoring just one touchdown on the evening. Granted the Seattle defense was a big reason for that. The Packers used halftime to make some serious adjustments as Aaron Rodgers was sacked eight times in the first 30 minutes.

    The game plan also changed after intermission as Mike McCarthy’s team emphasized the run after totaling just four rushing attempts in the first half. And the more-balanced approach was one factor in the Packers’ quarterback not being sacked in the second half.

    Still, by game’s end, Green Bay put just 12 points on the board and totaled only 268 yards. And McCarthy’s team failed to put away a Seattle team that the improved Packers’ defense shut out for the entire second half save for that final play of the game.

    Tough to put a final grade here based on so many circumstances, but we’ll practice what we preached in the first sentence.


Houston Texans: A-

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    When you can say first time, it’s usually a good thing more times than not.

    That’s where we are with the Texans, who, thanks to their 31-25 win at Denver, are not only 3-0 for the first time in the franchise’s 11-year history but are also the AFC’s lone undefeated club three weeks into the 2012 campaign.

    Gary Kubiak had all the right answers for the Broncos defense and got a big-time effort from not only Arian Foster (105 yards rushing) but gutsy quarterback Matt Schaub too. The Texans signal-caller was drilled several times in the second half, but when it was all said and done, it added up to 290 yards and four touchdowns (one interception).

    Houston appeared in complete control after erasing an early 5-0 Denver lead.

    Still, there were some anxious moments at the end when Peyton Manning appeared on the verge of one of his patented comebacks.

    But Wade Phillips’ defense got the stops when it had to and added a first-ever victory in the Mile High City to the Texans’ resume.

Indianapolis Colts: C

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    After the Colts beat the Minnesota Vikings a week ago, many figured Chuck Pagano’s team was primed for its second straight victory with the winless Jaguars coming to town.

    But it wasn’t meant to be. Despite a solid outing from Andrew Luck, the Colts had their usual matador defense when it came to slowing down Jaguars running back Maurice Jones-Drew, who totaled 177 of the 185 rushing yards allowed by Pagano’s D.

    Of course, an interception by Luck, a missed field goal by Adam Vinatieri (36 yards) and 11 penalties didn’t help Indianapolis’ cause.

    While this rebuilt team is showing progress, there’s a lot to be done before assuming it can win with any kind of regularity.

Jacksonville Jaguars: B-

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    One thing the Jaguars are getting good at?

    Beating the Indianapolis Colts.

    Dating back to the start of 2011, Jacksonville is just 6-13. But three of those wins are against their AFC South rivals from Indiana.

    As for this contest, Mike Mularkey’s team rallied from a 14-3 deficit to get its first win of the season. The catalyst was Maurice Jones-Drew, who ran for 177 yards and a score (his eighth 100-plus-yard performance against the Colts in 13 meetings), but the heroes were quarterback Blaine Gabbert and wide receiver Cecil Shorts, who teamed for an 80-yard scoring pass with 45 seconds to play to give the Jaguars a 22-17 win.

    It was fortunate for Mularkey that the young passing combo came through.

    The Jacksonville defense gave up 437 total yards and didn’t sack Andrew Luck, who threw for 313 yards and a pair of scores with one interception.

Kansas City Chiefs: A-

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    Perhaps Romeo Crennel’s club plans to be a player in the AFC West race after all.

    It certainly didn’t look good at the Superdome, where the Chiefs found themselves on the wrong end of a 24-6 score late in the third quarter.

    But when it was all said and done, Crennel’s team would overcome three turnovers and not only wipe out an 18-point deficit but also close the deal in overtime, as Ryan Succop’s 31-yard field goal in the extra session gave Kansas City an improbable win.

    Obviously, not to be forgotten was the main man in the Chiefs backfield, Jamaal Charles, who left no doubt about his health after running for 233 yards, including a 91-yard score, to spark Kansas City's comeback.

    Crennel’s team would score the final 21 points of the game and leave the New Orleans crowd speechless.

    It may be just beginning to get interesting in Kansas City.

Miami Dolphins: C+

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    It was theirs for the taking. Unfortunately, it slipped through their toes.

    It looked as though Joe Philbin’s team, off an impressive rout of the Raiders, might make it two in a row as the Dolphins jumped out to a 10-0 second-quarter lead and had done its best to frustrate the visiting Jets.

    The Miami ground attack was once again impressive, as it rolled up 185 yards on 43 carries despite not having Reggie Bush for the entire game. However, it was not the best of afternoons for rookie quarterback Ryan Tannehill, who despite not being sacked completed just 16 of 36 passes for 196 yards and an interception.

    But it was the kicking game that wound up being the difference for both teams in overtime.

    With a chance to win it, Miami’s Dan Carpenter pulled a 48-yard field goal left. Soon afterwards, Nick Folk lined up for the game-winner, and it was blocked. But Miami had called a timeout, wiping out the play, and the Jets kicker came through.

    It was a big-time case of what might have been for Philbin and company.

Minnesota Vikings: A+

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    OK, who saw this one coming?

    Leslie Frazier’s team had split its first two games, rallying late to eventually trip up the Jaguars in overtime and falling just short at Indianapolis last week.

    But last season’s 3-13 team is suddenly and surprisingly 2-1 after the Vikings played a pretty complete game in a 24-13 upset of the highly regarded 49ers.

    What can you say about quarterback Christian Ponder, who is starting to open some eyes? Two weeks after bringing back his team very late against Jacksonville, he was a dual threat versus San Francisco. The former Seminole threw for 198 yards and two scores, both to tight end Kyle Rudolph, while also running for 33 yards, including a 23-yard score.

    Minnesota’s defense did its job as well, sacking Alex Smith three times and forcing a total of three turnovers, two by Smith and one by Frank Gore, who was held to 63 yards rushing.

    If the Vikings can build on this win, we may have a very entertaining four-team race in the NFC North.

New England Patriots: B

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    It wasn’t too long ago that it appeared to be business as usual for the defending AFC champions. Tom Brady looked like Tom Brady, and an improving defense was a big part of a 34-13 win at Tennessee in Week 1.

    Well, so much for progress.

    Off a startling 20-18 loss at home to the Cardinals, Bill Belichick’s team was hoping not to become a dish served cold, as the host Ravens were looking for a little revenge in this rematch from the AFC title game.

    Minus injured tight end Aaron Hernandez, the Patriots rolled up 396 total yards and 30 points at Baltimore.

    But it proved to be not enough, as did a 30-21 fourth-quarter lead.

    By game’s end, the Ravens had rolled up 503 total yards, and a pair of late drives, covering 92 and 70 yards, led to 10 Baltimore points and a one-point setback for Belichick and company.

    Now New England finds itself a somewhat surprising 1-2 after three games. But the bigger surprise would be if the Patriots didn’t bounce back sooner rather than later.

New Orleans Saints: D

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    So what is Sean Payton worth to the New Orleans Saints?

    Last season, the team finished 13-3 and won the NFC South. This season, Aaron Kromer’s team is 0-3, and this latest loss may be the toughest to take.

    Ahead 24-6 in the third quarter, New Orleans watched as the Chiefs scored 21 unanswered points and came away with a surprising 27-24 overtime win to leave the defending division champions reeling.

    It’s getting worse on the defensive side of the ball, where the Saints allowed a whopping 510 total yards on the heels of the losses to the Redskins (459) and Panthers (463). All this despite the fact that Romeo Crennel’s club turned over the ball three times on the afternoon.

    Meanwhile, the imbalanced Saints offense reared its head one again, totaling just 19 rushing plays but more than twice as many pass plays (40). Drew Brees was sacked four times, including once for a crucial safety in the fourth quarter.

    Things can only get better for this team, which is making it far too easy for opposing offenses.

New York Giants: A+

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    Per usual, the Giants found themselves in one of those “backs against the wall” situations at Carolina, and also per usual, they responded in a big way.

    Playing without a number of notable offensive starters, including wideout Hakeem Nicks, running back Ahmad Bradshaw and right tackle David Diehl, it was business as usual for Tom Coughlin’s club in a convincing 36-7 win.

    Eli Manning was sharp, hitting on 27 of 35 passes for 288 yards and a score. Super sub Andre Brown ran for 113 yards and a pair of touchdowns. And let’s not forget Ramses Barden, who stepped in for Nicks and was superb, catching nine of the 10 passes thrown his way for 138 yards.

    New York’s defense made life miserable for Cam Newton, picking him off three times. The Giants forced five turnovers by game’s end.

    Since trailing the Buccaneers 27-13 in Week 2, Coughlin’s team has outscored the opposition a combined 64-14.

    The G-Men might just be getting warmed up.

New York Jets: B-

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    All’s well that ends well, but the Jets' come-from-behind win at Miami was hardly a thing of beauty.

    And why should it have been?

    A year ago, Rex Ryan’s team lost in South Florida on the final Sunday of the season, a 19-17 setback that featured Santonio Holmes at his absolute worst and Mark Sanchez struggling all afternoon.

    It was again not a great performance for the Jets quarterback, who threw for 306 yards and a score but served up two interceptions in addition to fumbling in overtime.

    But he came up big when he had to and looked to Holmes early and often, the big-play wideout catching nine passes for 147 yards.

    When it was all said and done, the Jets escaped Miami with a 23-20 overtime win, a big victory because it’s a victory over a divisional opponent on the road.

    Now we’ll see if Ryan and company can turn this into a springboard for his unpredictable team.

Oakland Raiders: A-

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    Perhaps there’s still some life in quarterback Carson Palmer after all.

    The Raiders, embarrassed at Miami a week ago, hung in against the Steelers and led only once in the entire game.

    That would be on the contest’s final play, as Sebastian Janikowski nailed a 43-yard field goal as time expired to give new head coach Dennis Allen his first win.

    Darren McFadden ran for 113 yards and a score, more than half of that on his 64-yard touchdown run in the first quarter. Carson Palmer was accurate despite an interception, throwing for 209 yards and three touchdowns.

    Perhaps the most notable fact was that Palmer and his teammates were brilliant on third down in the second half, connecting on seven of eight opportunities.

    Meanwhile, the Palmer interception was Oakland’s lone turnover on the afternoon, and the veteran quarterback seemed to get better as the game wore on.

    A job well done for a talented team still in search of an identity. Perhaps a win like this over a quality opponent will give Allen’s team something to build on.

Philadelphia Eagles: D

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    Will it ever end?

    At least Andy Reid’s team is making some kind of progress.

    After coughing up the ball five times in the Week 1 win over the Browns and committing only four turnovers in a comeback win over Baltimore, the Eagles handed the Cardinals the ball just three times in a disturbing 27-6 loss at Arizona.

    Are you kidding?

    Quarterback Michael Vick was responsible for two of the three miscues, while the Philadelphia offensive line had some issues as well. The Philly signal-caller completed fewer than half of his passes (17-of-37) while being sacked five times.

    While Juan Castillo’s defense did pick up three sacks, it also watched Kevin Kolb find wideout Larry Fitzgerald when he wanted to—connecting on all nine throws to him for 114 yards and a touchdown.

    No matter how you slice it, there were few, if any, positives to draw from this setback.

Pittsburgh Steelers: D+

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    Is time indeed catching up with the Pittsburgh defense?

    A week after the Silver and Black were pushed around in Miami, Carson Palmer and the Oakland attack made themselves comfortable against the Steelers, who were playing without Troy Polamalu and James Harrison for the second straight Sunday.

    As much as Dick LeBeau’s unit failed late in the game, it was a sloppy effort by the offense as well. The inability to run the football (20 attempts for 54 yards) was mystifying, considering that the Raiders gave up 172 yards rushing the previous Sunday to Miami’s Reggie Bush. Wideout Antonio Brown and running back Jonathan Dwyer also coughed up the ball at crucial times.

    For the second time in three weeks, the Steelers gave up at least 30 points. It was something they did just once during all of 2011.

    Interesting times in the Steel City.

St. Louis Rams: C-

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    After a promising outing in last week’s come-from-behind win over the Redskins, Jeff Fisher’s team, at least on offense, was a no-show at Soldier Field.

    The Rams’ 23-6 loss in Chicago didn’t have much in terms of positives unless you consider that the St. Louis defense held the Bears to fewer than 300 total yards and allowed just one offensive touchdown.

    But offensive would be the perfect description for Fisher’s attack, which produced only 160 total yards on 58 offensive plays. Third-year quarterback Sam Bradford enjoyed a rough outing, completing 18 of 35 passes for only 152 yards while throwing two interceptions (one returned for a touchdown) and being sacked six times.

    It was a surprising performance for Bradford after his heroics against Washington the previous week. Of course, Soldier Field is never an easy place to play.

    So are these Rams an improved team or much like last year’s two-win edition? We would lean toward the former, but Fisher and company can’t have many more offensive efforts like this.

San Diego Chargers: C-

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    Norv Turner’s team surprised some with its first two wins, although many couldn’t wait to point out that those victories were against the then-winless Raiders and Titans.

    San Diego’s critics gained a little ammunition from Sunday’s result against the Falcons, as Turner’s club committed four turnovers in a disappointing 27-3 setback.

    As for half of those miscues, quarterback Philip Rivers threw a pair of interceptions, the ninth time in 19 games dating back to the start of last season that the Pro Bowl signal-caller was picked off at least twice in a contest. In 32 regular-season contests the previous two years (2009-10), Rivers threw multiple interceptions just five times.

    Still, a loss to the undefeated Falcons is hardly anything to be ashamed of.

    But in terms of the performance, well…

San Francisco 49ers: C

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    While this was obviously not the first loss of the Jim Harbaugh era in San Francisco, the unexpected 24-13 setback at the Metrodome was a bit of a head-scratcher.

    Start with the 49ers defense, which allowed a surprising 146 yards rushing to Adrian Peterson and company. Of course, 33 of that came courtesy of Vikings quarterback Christian Ponder, whose 23-yard touchdown run seemed to stun the defending NFC West champs.

    Ponder also threw for 198 yards and pair of scores, both to tight end Kyle Rudolph, and the 'Niners pass rush failed to tally a sack.

    But after totaling a mere 14 turnovers (including the playoffs) in 20 games under Harbaugh, the 49ers coughed up the ball three times against the Vikings, twice by Alex Smith, who was sacked three times by game’s end.

    One loss is hardly the end of the world. And if you’re Harbaugh, you’ll simply use it as a wake-up call.

Seattle Seahawks: B-

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    Hard as it may be, let’s put the final play of the game aside (stop us if you’ve read this before).

    For those not familiar with the Seattle defense, they were at their aggressive and swarming best on Monday night against the Packers.

    Led by defensive end Chris Clemons, the Seahawks’ pass rush took advantage of some solid coverage by the team’s Pro Bowl-laden secondary and sacked Green Bay quarterback Aaron Rodgers eight time in the first half. Pete Carroll’s team had totaled only two sacks in their first two games.

    Meanwhile, rookie quarterback Russell Wilson, who failed to complete half of his passes on the evening, did manage to elude the Packers’ pass rush for the majority of the game. And hard-charging Marshawn Lynch rumbled for 98 yards on 25 tough carries.

    Give some credit where credit is due. Carroll’s team did put itself in position to win by keeping the Packers’ attack in check.


Tampa Bay Buccaneers: C-

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    Two weeks after upending the Carolina Panthers at home by a 16-10 count, Greg Schiano’s club found itself on the wrong end of an identical score against the Cowboys.

    But while Tampa Bay’s defense was able to take advantage of a troubled Dallas offensive line and limited Jason Garrett’s team to 297 total yards while sacking Tony Romo four times, the Cowboys looked like an offensive juggernaut compared to these Bucs.

    Josh Freeman managed to complete only 10 of 28 passes for 110 yards, with a score and an interception, as the Tampa offense piled up a pitiful 166 total yards of offense.

    Considering last week’s performance, in which the Bucs scored 34 points in a loss to the Giants, you figured Tampa Bay was headed in the right direction.

    But we’re not 100 percent sure just yet and won’t be until the Buccaneers put together back-to-back consistent efforts.

Tennessee Titans: B+

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    There are big plays, and there are humongous ones.

    Mike Munchak’s club made sure it had all its bases covered in a crazy overtime win over the Lions.

    The Titans’ five touchdowns in the wild 44-41 overtime victory covered 65 (punt return), 61 (pass), 105 (kickoff return), 71 (pass) and 72 yards (fumble return), respectively, as Tennessee found a way to dial long distance the entire afternoon.

    Despite the victory (Tennessee’s first of the season), there were some ominous signs once again.

    The Lions rolled up 583 yards of total offense and scored two touchdowns in the final minute and 16 seconds to tie the game before Munchak’s team won it in the extra session. Tennessee has now allowed 113 points just three weeks into this new season.

    But apparently it was meant to be for the Titans, who along with the Lions will no doubt remember this game for a very long time.

Washington Redskins: C+

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    The euphoria surrounding the team’s opening-day surprise at the Superdome is but a distant memory in the nation’s capital.

    What we’ve learned is that, despite the talents of rookie quarterback Robert Griffin III, the Redskins perhaps still haven’t quite put it all together on both sides of the ball just yet.

    For the third time in as many games, Mike Shanahan’s team allowed at least 31 points. In the home loss to the Bengals, the Redskins surrendered 38 points and a whopping 478 total yards to Cincinnati.

    Those wondering how Rob Jackson, Brian Orakpo’s replacement, would fare this week didn’t have to wait long. In the first quarter, he made a diving interception in the end zone for a touchdown to tie the game at seven. Jackson finished the game with three tackles.

    But obviously it wasn’t nearly enough, nor was the Redskins' ability to protect Griffin, who was sacked six time.

    It will be interesting to see if the ‘Skins can right the ship…quickly.