New Orleans squeaked out a victory in a close battle with the San Francisco 49ers. With little over a minute left in the game, Saints’ kicker Garrett Hartley connected on a 37-yard field goal to give New Orleans a 25-22 lead. Drew Brees threw two touchdown passes. Pierre Thomas ran for 46 yards, and added 57 receiving yards. 49ers’ QB Alex Smith threw for 275 yards, one score, and two picks. Frank Gore ran for 112 yards and a touchdown while adding 56 yards receiving and another score. Pro Bowl linebacker Patrick Willis had a game high eight tackles and a sack for San Fran. The Saints enter Week 3 undefeated, while the 49ers dropped to 0-2. Also on Monday night, the 49ers retired Jerry Rice’s No. 80 at halftime.
News & Notes
Denver Broncos wide receiver Kenny McKinley was found dead at his home on Monday. Investigators believe he took his own life. Reports say that McKinley was depressed after suffering a season ending knee injury. Our thoughts and prayers go out to McKinley’s family and the Broncos organization.
Jets’ receiver Braylon Edwards was charged with a DWI earlier this week. His blood-alcohol level was twice the legal limit when he was stopped. Left tackle D’Brickashaw Ferguson and defensive end Vernon Gholston were also with Edwards. If found guilty, the drunk driving charge would violate the probation Edwards is currently facing after getting in a fight in Cleveland last year, and he could face jail time. Due to the collective bargaining agreement, New York cannot deactivate Edwards for this Sunday’s game in Miami without facing violations. Coach Rex Ryan has said Edwards will play, but not start. Expect a heavy punishment from NFL Commissioner Rodger Goodell soon.
Kevin Kolb was named the starter for Week 3 on Monday by Philadelphia Head Coach Andy Reid. A few days later, he changed his mind. Michael Vick has been named the Eagles’ starting quarterback. Vick has resurrected his career in the past two weeks while Kolb recovered from a concussion. He threw for 459 yards and three touchdowns while rushing for another 140 yards. Reports say teams have contacted the Eagles about acquiring Kolb.
The Oakland Raiders are letting Jason Campbell watch the game from the bench this week. Backup Bruce Gradkowski will start Sunday against Arizona. Last season, Gradkowski started 4 games in place of JaMarcus Russell, and threw for over 1,000 yards, six touchdown, and finished with a 80.6 passer rating before suffering a season ending injury.
The Ravens and their top draft pick Sergio Kindle have agreed to a one-year deal. Kindle, a second round pick, fractured his skull after falling down two flights of stairs only days before training camp began. Kindle won’t play this year, and will be placed on injured reserve.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers safety Tanard Jackson was suspended until the 2011 season after violating the substance-abuse policy. The four year pro from Syracuse was also suspended the first four games last season for violating the same policy. Jackson was a key piece of the improved Buccaneer defense that has helped the team to a surprising 2-0 start. In 12 starts in 2009, he recorded five interceptions and returned two for touchdowns. Rookie Cody Grimm, son of Hall of Famer Russ Grimm, will replace Jackson.
Arizona Cardinals running back Beanie Wells will play this weekend after missing the first two weeks with a bruised knee. Wells has participated in practice all week and reportedly feels much better than in previous weeks. Wells led the Cardinals in rushing yards last season as a rookie.
Cleveland Browns quarterback Jake Delhomme will miss his second consecutive game due to a high ankle sprain suffered in Week 1. Delhomme has yet to be cleared to practice, and is still wearing a walking boot. Seneca Wallace will make another start this week.
Percy Harvin returned to practice Thursday after suffering from another migraine headache earlier in the week. Harvin said it had been nearly six weeks since his last migraine, which plagued him throughout the preseason. Harvin is also recovering from a strained hip. To help out a depleted receiving group, the Minnesota Vikings signed former Eagle Hank Baskett.
Saints’ star Reggie Bush will miss at least six weeks with a broken leg. Bush suffered the injury in the Monday night win over San Francisco. Ladell Betts was signed this week to strengthen the New Orleans’ backfield in Bush’s absence.
San Diego Chargers’ running back Ryan Mathews will most likely sit out this Sunday. Mathews sprained his right ankle last week against Jacksonville, and has missed significant practice time this week. Mike Tolbert is expected to start. Last week, Tolbert ran for 82 yards and two touchdowns in relief of Mathews.
The Steelers will start quarterback Charlie Batch this weekend due to injuries to their other two quarterbacks. Bryon Leftwich is recovering from a knee injury he suffered during the final preseason game, and may be ready to return within the next week. Dennis Dixon underwent knee surgery on Wednesday. Dixon has a torn meniscus and could miss the rest of the season.
Game of the Week: Green Bay at Chicago
The Week 3 Game of the Week is a battle between two undefeated teams on Monday Night Football. NFC North rivals Green Bay Packers and the Chicago Bears will fight to for the number one spot in the division. The Packers, led by Aaron Rodgers, have been dominating just as expected. However, the Bears are one of the surprise teams three weeks into the season.
Green Bay was a preseason favorite to represent the NFC in the Super Bowl. Last week, they dominated the Buffalo Bills in a 34-7 win. Strong defense has been a big reason for the team’s success in the past few years. So far in 2010, the Packers defense ranks third in the league in yards allowed per game (253.0) and first in sacks (10). Outside linebacker Clay Matthews leads the league with six sacks. The offense was dealt a significant blow when starting running back Ryan Grant was placed on injured reserve with an injured right ankle. Grant, who had surgery on Tuesday, had rushed for at least 1,200 yards in each of the past two seasons. Brandon Jackson has stepped in for Grant, while John Kuhn has also earned some time in the backfield.
Chicago’s 2-0 start has shocked many. After finishing last season 7-9, the Bears are off to their best start since 2006 when they went to the Super Bowl. Offensive coordinator Mike Martz has worked wonders with an offense that was little more than horrible in 2009. Quarterback Jay Cutler, who led the NFL in interceptions last season, has completed 68.8% of his passes for 649 yards and five touchdowns in the first two weeks of 2010. His 121.2 passer rating is currently the best in the league. Pro Bowl linebacker Brian Urlacher, who suffered a season ending wrist injury in Week 1 in 2009, appears to be back to full strength. His defense has allowed a mere 28 yards per game on the ground. Defensive end Julius Peppers, Chicago’s big offseason acquisition, recorded his first sack as a Bear in Week 1 against Detroit.
Key Matchup: Aaron Rodgers vs. Jay Cutler
This game is all about the two starting quarterbacks. Neither team has done a great job on the ground, so this game will most likely be decided through the air. Aaron Rodgers has proved he was the right man to replace Brett Favre in Green Bay. In the past two seasons, he has thrown for over 8,400 yards and 58 touchdowns. He is off to another good start in 2010 with 443 yards and four touchdowns. He also has a rushing touchdown. While Chicago is 27th in passing yards allowed, they have only allowed one touchdown compared to three picks.
Jay Cutler struggled mightily in 2009. He led the NFL with 26 interceptions after two good years in Denver. In his second year in Chicago, he looks like a whole new man. His completion percentage is up eight percent, and he has only one interception so far. His 649 yards ranks third in the league. Cutler has spread the ball around well, too. All seven players who have been targeted have at least five catches. Cutler has a tough challenge ahead of him this week. The Green Bay defense has allowed on 116.5 passing yards per game. Opposing quarterbacks average a 67.9 passer rating.
As anticipated, Green Bay has started off the 2010 season on the right foot. The Bears have done a great job exceeding expectations so far. However, their luck runs out this Monday night. The Packers have done a great job getting after the oppositions quarterback. Chicago has questions at left tackle with Chris Williams nursing a hamstring injury. If Clay Mathews can get to Cutler, it will be a long day for the Bears. Aaron Rodgers should have another good game as usual. I don’t expect a high scoring affair as both teams have been playing good defense this year, but Green Bay will leave Chicago 3-0.
Best of the Rest (Home team in italics)
New York Giants over Tennessee
Cincinnati over Carolina
Tampa Bay over Pittsburgh
New England over Buffalo
Baltimore over Cleveland
San Francisco over Kansas City
Houston over Dallas
Minnesota over Detroit
New Orleans over Atlanta
Washington over St. Louis
Philadelphia over Jacksonville
Indianapolis over Denver
Arizona over Oakland
San Diego over Seattle
New York Jets over Miami
Last week’s results: 10-6
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