NFL's Sunday Surprises Week 3: The Cassel Crumbles

Craig Garrison SrSenior Analyst ISeptember 22, 2008

As we finish up another fun Sunday of NFL football, we look back and take note of the wins, losses, plays and players that nobody saw coming (except perhaps Miami Dolphins' linebacker Joey Porter).

Last week, NFL referee Ed Hochuli was the headliner. This week we have what can be considered our first repeat honoree, the New England Patriots. In Week One the Patriots star quarterback Tom Brady's injury earned the Patriots "top dog" on the "surprises" list.

This week it's Matt Cassel's (Brady's replacement as Patriots' starting quarterback) poor performance and the thumping the Patriots suffered at the hands of previously horrible Miami Dolphins.

Cassel was harassed the entire game by Miami's aggressive defense, forcing him to the bench following a 19 of 32, one touchdown and one interception performance. Cassel was sacked three times as the Dolphins recorded four on the day. The Dolphins' defense thoroughly throttled the Patriots offense, allowing them to gain only 216 total yards, only 79 on the ground.

Patriots rookie quarterback Kevin O'Connell took his first snaps of his career, completing three of four attempts for 25 yards after taking over with about six minutes to play. The loss was the Patriots worst loss in Gillette Stadium since it opened in 2002.

The Patriots loss also ends their regular season win streak (21 straight), which dated back to December 21, 2006. A loss, coincidentally enough, to the Miami Dolphins in another dominant win, 21-0.

One of the more shocking stats from this game was the Dolphins ability to put together long scoring drives, simply pounding out yardage on the Patriots' defense.

Drives of 74 yards, 79 yards, and 77 yards during the first half all ended in touchdowns. They added a 79 yard touchdown drive in the third quarter, and an 85 yard touchdown drive in the fourth.

Other surprise notes and stats from Week Three:

  • Dolphins running back Ronnie Brown accounted for five touchdowns Sunday, four rushing and one passing
  • Pittsburgh Steelers' quarterback Ben Roethlisberger has been sacked 12 times this season, he was the second most sacked quarterback last season, behind only Detroit Lions' quarterback Jon Kitna, they are currently tied for that distinction
  • 49ers sixth year quarterback J.T. O'Sullivan is the fourth highest rated quarterback in the NFL
  • Of the 63 offensive play the San Fransisco 49ers ran, 39 were runs (almost 62 percent). Isn't their offensive coordinator Mike Martz?
  • The Jacksonville Jaguars running game finally got on track in a dramatic comeback win over divisional foe Indianapolis. Both Fred Taylor and Maurice Jones-Drew surpassed the one hundred rushing mark for the first time this season.
  • Jaguars quarterback David Garrard has now thrown four interceptions in only three games this season, in all 16 games last season, Garrard threw only interceptions.
  • Tampa Bay Buccaneers' quarterback Brian Griese (with the Chicago Bears the last two seasons) had 67 pass attempts against the Bears, the fifth most in NFL history, only three shy of the NFL record held by Drew Bledsoe's 70 while with New England.
  • The NFC East is undefeated outside their own division this season, 8-0.
  • The NFC East has FOUR OF THE 13 TOP RATED QUARTERBACKS IN THE NFL, three of the top 13 running backs in average yards per rush and four of the top 11 players in number of receptions (has this type of dominance from one division ever happened before?)
  • Six of the NFL's top 10 running backs in total yards are rookies or were not their team's starters last season, three rookies and three new starters
  • Nine of the NFL's top 13 quarterbacks have six years or less in the league (can anyone say "youth movement at quarterback"?)

This has already been an outstanding season, only three weeks into the 2008 season and the dramatic games have been plentiful. Mediocrity? I don't think so.

What are your Week Three surprises?