Welcome to Around the NFL, where Cale Berger of Steelers Now will recap early-week action and take a look ahead at some of the most important matchups from the Pittsburgh Steelers perspective.
AROUND THE NFL THIS WEEKEND
Tennessee Titans 31, Minnesota Vikings 30
Sunday’s matchup in Minneapolis boasted a battle between two of the leagues premier running backs in Tennessee’s Derrick Henry and Minnesota’s Dalvin Cook. While both were sensational, a Herculean effort from kicker Stephen Gostkowski pushed the Titans to 3-0.
The 15-year veteran hit six field goals Sunday, including a 55-yard game winner with 1:44 remaining. Not only did Gostkowski set a career-high for field goals made in a single game, he also became the first kicker since 1970 to boot three game winning kicks in his team’s first three games of a season. Gostkowski’s record-breaking performance comes just two weeks after his challenging Titans debut, where the former Patriot went one for four and missed an extra point.
Cook rushed for 181 yards and a score on the afternoon, while Henry rushed for 119 and two touchdowns.
Henry and the Titans will host the Steelers next week, pitting the league’s leading rusher against the top run defense. Henry already has 316 yards and four total touchdowns, while the Steelers have only surrendered 162 yards over their first three games.
Cincinnati Bengals 23, Philadelphia Eagles 23 (OT)
For the third-straight year, a pair of NFL teams will have a tie on their record. While the Internet rejoices, the Eagles and Bengals are have to be far from thrilled.
The Eagles offensive woes persisted Sunday, with quarterback Carson Wentz continuing his poor play to begin the season. Wentz completed 29 of 47 passes for 225 yards and a touchdown with two interceptions. His six picks are tied for the league lead with Kirk Cousins. Wentz did demonstrate his mobility, rushing for 65 yards and a score.
While Wentz repeatedly disappoints, Bengals quarterback continues to shine. Demonstrating poise beyond his years, Burrow diced the Eagles secondary, completing over 70% of his passes for 312 yards and two touchdowns. He connected with nine different receivers, and topped the 300-yard mark for the second-straight game. His 91 completions through his first three games is the most by a rookie in NFL history.
Former Pitt standout and Pittsburgh native Tyler Boyd was Burrow’s go-to target Sunday. The former second-round pick caught 10 passes for 125 yards, one catch shy of his career high.
Former Steeler Javon Hargrave failed to record a stat for the second-straight week for the Eagles defense, which did sack Burrow eight times on the afternoon.
Seattle Seahawks 38, Dallas Cowboys 31
While he has amazingly never received an NFL MVP vote, Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson looks well on his way to change that following another record-setting performance on Sunday.
The Cowboys looked helpless against Wilson, who completed 27 of 40 passes for 315 yards and five touchdowns and no interceptions. He leads the NFL with 14 touchdown passes, and is the first player in league history to throw at least four touchdown passes in his team’s first three games of a season. The nine-year veteran is also completing an astounding 76.7% of his passes.
Wide receiver Tyler Lockett was the primary beneficiary, catching nine passes for 100 yards and three of Wilson’s touchdown tosses. D.K. Metcalf also crossed the century mark with 110 yards on four catches and a touchdown. Metcalf could have a second walk-in touchdown, but he was stripped as he let up just before crossing the goal line the ball going out of the endzone for a touchback.
Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott tossed for a career-high 472 yards, but could not out out duel Wilson. Prescott threw three touchdowns and crossed the 400-yard mark for the second-consecutive week, but also threw two costly interceptions.
Seattle’s defense also stifled star running back Ezekiel Elliot, holding him to just 34 yards and a touchdown on the ground.
The Steelers may avoid the Seahawks this season, but they will visit the Cowboys in Week 9, fresh off their bye week.
Kansas City Chiefs at Baltimore Ravens, 8:15 p.m. Monday, ESPN
Monday night’s clash between the Chiefs and Ravens feels like a monumental game in what is still a very young 2020 season. Both teams will enter the game at 2-0, and are led by two of the league’s most electric, dominant young players.
The quarterback duel between the last two MVPs will garner the bulk of the attention leading up to Monday night, and deservedly so. Fresh off a Super Bowl win in February, Patrick Mahomes amazingly looks even better starting his fourth season, having thrown for 513 yards and five touchdowns with no interceptions through two weeks. Last year’s phenom Lamar Jackson is off to a strong start as well, throwing for 479 yards and four scores with no turnovers.
Eye-catching as the two offenses are, Monday’s game will be decided by the defenses. Specifically, which unit is able to generate the ever-elusive takeaway off the opposing offense. The Chiefs have yet to turn the ball over, while the Ravens have just once.
Baltimore’s defense leads the league with five takeaways already this season, Kansas City has forced a passable two turnovers through two weeks.
In an explosive game that could very well be decided in the thirties, the club that steals a possession could be the one that snatches the win and the driver’s seat in the AFC.
REST OF THE SCHEDULE
Miami Dolphins 31, Jacksonville Jaguars 13
Chicago Bears 30, Atlanta Falcons 26
Buffalo Bills 35, Los Angeles Rams 32
Cleveland Browns 34, Washington 20
New England Patriots 36, Las Vegas Raiders 20
San Francisco 49ers 36, New York Giants 9
Pittsburgh Steelers 28, Houston Texans 21
Indianapolis Colts 36, New York Jets 7
Carolina Panthers 21, Los Angeles Chargers 16
Tampa Bay Buccaneers 28, Denver Broncos 10
Detroit Lions 26, Arizona Cardinals 23
Green Bay Packers 37, New Orleans Saints 30