Handing out Game Balls for Each NFL Week 3 Game
Ah, the sacred rite of handing out the game balls. A locker room tradition rarely glimpsed by fans, coaches reward those who contributed most to the victory by giving them the balls used to play the hard-won game.
Each game ball given is met with cheers, applause and the general assent of the rest of the team. Players love to see hard work and outstanding performance recognized, especially in service of a victory.
These game balls are met with comments and—I hope!—props.
All the best players, performances and game-winning efforts of the NFL's Week 3 deserve another round of applause. Even if it means your team got handed a loss or if you think the balls are getting handed to the wrong players, check out this week's "Handing Out Game Balls for Week 3."
New York Giants at Carolina Panthers
"Achilles Heel of the Panthers Front Seven" Game Ball: Andre Brown, Giants RB
Brown, a former fourth-round draft pick of the Giants, ruptured his Achilles tendon during a jog-through in his first training camp. Years of rehab and seven cuts later, Brown gashed the Panthers for 113 yards and two touchdowns on Thursday Night Football.
St. Louis Rams at Chicago Bears
"Intercepting Is My Business, and Business Is Good" Game Ball: Major Wright, Bears S
Major Wright sealed the game for the Bears when he jumped a route and took a Sam Bradford pass 45 yards to the house.
"It's Not a Nightmare, That Sack Total Isreal" Game Ball: Israel Idonije, Bears DE
Idonije will likely haunt Bradford's postgame dreams; he brought down Bradford 2.5 times and finished with four solo tackles and an assist.
Buffalo Bills at Cleveland Browns
"Backstreet's Back, Alright" Game Ball: Ryan Fitzpatrick, Bills QB
Fitzpatrick, after losing the NFL's leading rusher from his backfield, put the Bills on his back. He completed 22 of his 35 passes for 208 yards, three touchdowns and—best of all—no interceptions, leading the Bills to a 24-14 victory.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Dallas Cowboys
"Takes a Licking and Keeps on Ticking" Game Ball: Sean Lee, Cowboys LB
Lee took a headline-grabbing, head-turning shot from Seahawks receiver Golden Tate in Week 2 but came back strong this week with a critical interception, giving the flailing Cowboys offense a foothold deep in Bucs territory, which led to their only touchdown.
Jacksonville Jaguars at Indianapolis Colts
"Salute Your Shorts" Game Ball: Cecil Shorts, Jaguars WR
Jaguars quarterback Blaine Gabbert keeps finding Shorts when he absolutely needs to make a play, and Shorts' 80-yard catch-and-run to just over the goal line saved Gabbert and the Jaguars yet again.
New York Jets at Miami Dolphins
"The Rex Ryan 'Oops, You Shouldn't Have Called That Timeout'" Game Ball: Joe Philbin, Dolphins Head Coach
Philbin's ill-advised attempt to ice Jets kicker Nick Folk wiped his team's block of Folk off the books. Folk then went on to make the game-winning field goal.
Philbin did more to help the Jets win than any of the Jets did.
San Francisco 49ers at Minnesota Vikings
"The Alex Smith...Wait...WHO Just Threw Two Touchdown Passes and Ran for Another?" Game Ball: Christian Ponder, Vikings QB
So, the 49ers played the Vikings. Not surprisingly, a quarterback shredded a defense for nearly 200 yards passing and two touchdowns, ran for another and didn't turn the ball over. Oh, except Ponder played the role of Alex Smith.
Kansas City Chiefs at New Orleans Saints
"The Morten Andersen I Am the Offense" Game Ball: Ryan Succop, Chiefs K
Succop kicked a franchise-record six field goals, including the overtime winner, to slowly drag the Chiefs' final score ahead of the Saints'.
Andersen, this game ball's namesake, was the entire offense for both the Chiefs and the Saints in his storied career.
Detroit Lions at Tennesee Titans
"The Joe Cocker 'Get By With A Little Help From My Friends'" Game Ball: Replacement Refs
After making many incredible, game-breaking plays, the Titans, who were in the process of trying to salvage an overtime win after blowing their well-earned lead, got the benefit of a ridiculous spot by the officials.
The refs, after calling a personal foul on Lions linebacker Stephen Tulloch, walked the penalty off from the Lions' 44-yard line instead of the Titans', making for a 29-yard personal foul en route to the game-winning field goal.
Cincinnati Bengals at Washington Redskins
On the first play of the game, Sanu lined up in shotgun formation as the quarterback, and play quarterback he did. Sanu hit receiver A.J. Green for an incredible 73-yard touchdown play. The rest of the game was a 31-31 barnburner; Sanu's opening strike ended up being the difference in the game.
Philadelphia Eagles at Arizona Cardinals
"The Student Surpasses the Master" Game Ball: Kevin Kolb, Cardinals QB
Hey, remember when the Eagles drafted Kevin Kolb and then signed Mike Vick, and then Mike Vick was amazing, and Kolb was only kind of okay, and then the Cardinals signed Kolb for $30 million, and then the Eagles extended Vick for $100 million, and then ha ha ha ha ha ha ha 24-7 Cardinals win?
Atlanta Falcons at San Diego Chargers
"The Ed Reed All Your Footballs Are Belong To Me" Game Ball: Thomas DeCoud, Falcons S
When the Falcons offense is doing its thing and DeCoud intercepts your team twice and recovers a fumble, you're not going to do very well. Indeed, the Chargers didn't, losing 27-3.
Houston Texans at Denver Broncos
"Dealing Like Kenny Rogers" Game Ball: Matt Schaub, Texans QB
Schaub threw touchdown passes to four different Texans as Houston won in Mile High.
"I'm Going to Have to Name This the J.J. Watt Silent But Deadly" Game Ball: J.J. Watt, Texans DE
Dude had 2.5 sacks again. AGAIN. Is anyone noticing yet?
Pittsburgh Steelers at Oakland Raiders
"Worst Trade Ever...Maybe Not So Much Anymore" Game Ball: Carson Palmer, Raiders QB
Tongues wagged and heads shook when the Raiders dealt a first- and second-round pick to Cincinnati for the disgruntled signal-caller. But Palmer went 24-of-34 for 209 yards, three touchdowns and just one interception against the vaunted Blitzburgh defense.