It’s common knowledge in sports that if you take care of your own business, you don’t have to worry about anybody else as far as the standings are concerned.
While this is entirely true, getting some help along the way is never a bad thing. This column will be completely dedicated to the results of the other three NFC South teams throughout the season; hopefully we’ll be able to bask in their failures together.
Carolina Panthers 38, Arizona Cardinals 20
Cam Newton was ruled inactive for this game, and that might have ultimately helped Carolina’s chances with the way replacement Kyle Allen played.
Things couldn’t have gotten off to a worse start for the Panthers, who fumbled on their first offensive drive and gave up a touchdown on their first defensive drive. Allen was the one who fumbled, and then it was all uphill for him from there.
Carolina gashed the Cardinals on long touchdowns which really made the difference in this game — Allen hooked up with DJ Moore on a 52-yard score in the first half, and Christian McCaffrey broke a 76-yard run in the third quarter. The Panthers brutalized Arizona’s lackluster defense, while Kyler Murray showed his inexperience with two very costly fourth quarter interceptions.
Allen recorded 261 passing yards, four touchdowns, and no interceptions. McCaffrey bounced back from a disappointing Week 2 with 153 rushing yards and a touchdown. Greg Olsen was the leading receiver with 75 yards and two touchdowns.
Murray had 173 passing yards, two touchdowns, and two interceptions, while adding 69 rushing yards. David Johnson had another disappointing yardage day with 65 yards from scrimmage, but he did have a receiving touchdown. Christian Kirk was the leading receiver with 59 yards.
New Orleans Saints 33, Seattle Seahawks 27
This game was not as close as the final scoreline indicated. The Seahawks did an impressive job of doing everything wrong in the first half of this game — they gave up a punt return touchdown after their first drive, and gave up a fumble which was recovered for a score as well.
Teddy Bridgewater did a good job of managing the game while the Seahawks were shooting themselves in the foot. New Orleans got out to a 27-7 lead, which was taken into the fourth quarter. In addition to the touchdowns given up to the New Orleans defense and special teams, Seattle also turned the ball over on downs three times.
Seattle scored three fourth quarter touchdowns but they were nothing more than garbage time stat pads for Russell Wilson. New Orleans has now moved to 2-1 and reclaimed a spot at the top of the NFC South standings.
Bridgewater recorded 177 passing yards, two touchdowns, and no interceptions. Alvin Kamara was the leading rusher and receiver, totaling 69 rushing yards and 92 receiving yards. He scored a rushing touchdown and a receiving touchdown.
New York Giants 32, Tampa Bay Buccaneers 31
In what was maybe the game of the day, we saw the Daniel Jones era in New York begin with a victory.
The Bucs jumped out to a 14-3 lead as Jameis Winston re-established his connection with Mike Evans for two touchdowns on Tampa’s first two drives. The Bucs actually didn’t punt once in the first half, scoring on all six of their drives and taking a 28-10 lead into the break.
Facing a rookie making his first start, on a pretty bad team, the game felt over before the second half even began. However, Jones hooked up with Evan Engram, who broke free for a 75-yard touchdown, on the first play of the second half. That was a harbinger of things to come as Tampa slowed down on offense while the Giants pulled closer and closer.
On 4th down with just over one minute left and his team down six, Jones scrambled for the go-ahead touchdown. Winston answered with a six play drive which set kicker Matt Gay up for a potential go-ahead 34-yard field goal, which he proceeded to miss. Death, taxes, and a Bucs kicker missing a clutch kick are three guarantees in life.
Jones was impressive in his debut — 336 passing yards, two passing touchdowns, and no interceptions. He was also the team’s leading rusher with 28 rushing yards and two more scores on the ground. Star running back Saquon Barkley exited with an injury. Engram was the leading receiver with 113 yards and a touchdown.
Winston racked up 380 passing yards, three touchdowns, and an interception. Ronald Jones (14) and Peyton Barber (13) almost equally split the carries but Jones was far more effective with 80 rushing yards to Barber’s 48. Evans had a monster game with 190 receiving yards and three touchdowns.
NFC South Standings after Week 3
1. New Orleans Saints (2-1 overall record; 0-0 division record) - Next vs. Cowboys
2. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (1-2 overall record; 1-0 division record) - Next at Rams
3. Atlanta Falcons (1-2 overall record; 0-0 division record) - Next vs. Titans
4. Carolina Panthers (1-2 overall record; 0-1 division record) - Next at Texans