Aside from the surprising developments surrounding Trent Richardson’s unexpected trade, week three has been a relatively quiet affair for most.
That said, there were big wins for Carolina and Seattle and, after an extended break following their Thursday night game, New England rediscovered some offensive momentum against the struggling Buccaneers.
The most surprising game of the weekend however, belonged to the Panthers whose total domination of the Giants in a lopsided 38-0 win only served to highlight New York’s plight.
The Panthers, who’d looked distinctly average until this point, pitched an impressive defensive shut-out in a performance that not only highlights the concerns growing in New York, but also provides some welcome respite to embattled head coach Ron Rivera.
Securing the largest win in franchise history the Panthers were dominant on both sides of the ball and while nullifying the Giants ground game, they only managed a paltry 60 yards on Sunday, the Panthers secondary also tied a franchise sack record as they found their way to Eli Manning on seven separate occasions.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, the Panthers reinvigoration arrived hand-in-hand with the re-emergence of their read-option attack. Keen to nullify the Giants pass rush, offensive co-ordinator Mike Shula unleashed the offensive scheme again and, in the process, reinvigorated an offense that had spluttered along in recent games.
Defensively the Giants didn’t fare any better and they struggled to contain Cam Newton, who threw for 223 yards. Throwing touchdowns to Brandon LaFell and Ted Ginn Jnr. Newton also ran in his first score of the season as he racked up over 40 yards on the ground.
Handing Tom Coughlin his worst defeat since joining the Giants along the way, Cam Newton and co., finally - albeit temporarily - ended speculation regarding Ron Rivera’s position as the Panthers head coach and will certainly be looking to build on the performance as they prepare to face the Cardinals in two weeks time.
Depth in Seattle
Russell Wilson finished work early on Sunday as he made way for Tavaris Jackson in the Seahawks' 45-17 win over Jacksonville.
Completing 14 of his 21 attempts the Seattle quarterback threw for 202 yards as the Seahawks ran up the score on a Jag’s team that didn’t surpass 100 yards of offense until midway through the third, when the game was already out of reach.
Throwing for four touchdowns in the process, matching a career best, Wilson checked out with less than four minutes remaining in the third quarter as coach Pete Carroll chose to give his backups some valuable game time.
Remarkably their offence barely skipped a beat as Jackson completed seven of his eight attempts, throwing a touchdown in the process as Seattle continued to manhandle the Jag’s defence.
Finding themselves at 3-0 for the first time since 2006, Carroll’s men now have a week to prepare for next weeks’ game against the indifferent Houston Texans.
Combining for just nine catches over the first two games, Kenbrell Thompkins and Aaron Dobson finally seem to be clicking in the complicated New England offense.
Thompkins, an undrafted free agent who enjoyed a spectacular pre-season camp with the Patriots, caught two touchdowns while second-round pick Dobson led the teams receiving core with seven catches for 52 yards as New England defeated the Buccaneers 23-3.
Their sudden grasp of the notoriously complex scheme Bill Belichick likes to employ couldn’t have come at a better time following Danny Amendola’s injury and took the load off a struggling rushing game.
LeGarrette Blount, formerly of the Buccaneers, led the Patriots ground attack with 65 yards on 14 attempts and his bruising style was complemented well by Brandon Bolden who notched 51 yards on only three carries.
Josh Freeman, the struggling Tampa Bay quarterback, began brightly but after losing Vincent Jackson to an undisclosed injury after only three catches, played poorly as the Patriots suffocated the lively Doug Martin who only gained 88 yards following his impressive 144 total from last week.
Greg Schiano will look for his side to regroup over the coming days before they face the 1-2 Arizona Cardinals as the search for their first win of the season continues.