Week 3 NFL takeaways: Fast starts by Chiefs, Pats, Cowboys

The Bills, Pats, Chiefs, Packers and Cowboys all sailed to 3-0 while the Lions also remained undefeated at 2-0-1. In big Week 3 wins, the Vikings' run game dominated Oakland, while Jacksonville was forced to rely on its passing game. And Daniel Jones debuted in a big way.

All that and more in Week 3's biggest takeaways from NFL Nation.

Jump to a matchup:

Chicago Bears 31, Washington Redskins 15

Bears quarterback Mitchell Trubisky was better, but not great. Trubisky tossed three first-half touchdowns, but he also struggled with accuracy. In particular, Trubisky's redzone interception on a ball intended for wide receiver Allen Robinson was a brutal underthrow. It's encouraging that Trubisky and the offense accounted for three touchdowns -- all to Taylor Gabriel -- but the 25-year old quarterback still needs to improve. After hosting the Vikings then traveling to London to face the Oakland Raiders, the schedule gets much tougher. -- Jeff Dickerson

Next game: vs. Minnesota (4:25 p.m. ET, Sunday)

The Redskins don't want to make a quarterback change, but don't have a strong solution either. The 31-15 loss to the Bears was about more than Case Keenum. But he did turn the ball over five times, which is unacceptable. But with Colt McCoy still out -- there was optimism by some about a return soon; however, that remains in question -- and with Dwayne Haskins still not close, they will stick with Keenum. He won the job in part by default and he's hanging onto it for the same reason. Keenum is a strong competitor who didn't fold despite his turnovers, but the bottom line is that he's not the one who will take Washington where it hopes to go. The problem is, the Redskins are in between quarterbacks and it'll stay that way for a while. -- John Keim

Next game: at New York Giants (1 p.m. ET, Sunday)

Los Angeles Rams 20, Cleveland Browns 13

The Rams escaped Cleveland with a victory despite an uneven performance by the offense. The Rams' up-and-down night included two touchdown passes and two intercepted passes from quarterback Jared Goff. The defense maintained pressure on Baker Mayfield and sacked the Browns quarterback three times. The Rams return to Los Angeles 3-0, but must find solutions for their first-half offensive woes before they host the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in Week 4. -- Lindsey Thiry

Next game: vs. Tampa Bay (4:05 p.m. ET, Sunday)

Cleveland had an opportunity for a statement victory against the defending NFC champions. Instead, questionable playcalling in the fourth quarter and the inability to punch the ball in for a touchdown in the final seconds dropped the Browns to 1-2. Coach Freddie Kitchens' decision to call a draw on fourth-and-9, and then to follow that up by not calling a single running play from the Rams' 4-yard line in the final minute, will surely be debated in the coming days. The bigger question for the Browns, though, is whether they can tread water as they work through their struggles offensively. The schedule doesn't get any easier, with a trip to the Baltimore Ravens up next. But as QB Baker Mayfield said, starting 1-2 is no reason to hit the panic button. That's of course assuming the Browns can hover around .500 until the schedule softens down the back half of the season. -- Jake Trotter

Next game: at Baltimore (1 p.m. ET, Sunday)

Kansas City Chiefs 33, Baltimore Ravens 28

Mecole Hardman, Demarcus Robinson and Darrel Williams showed the Chiefs' quality offensive depth. The Chiefs can thrive in the passing game when the injured Tyreek Hill is out of the lineup, as evidenced by Hardman and Robinson each scoring a touchdown. And Williams led the Chiefs in rushing, giving the Chiefs some confidence they will be OK if Damien Williams and LeSean McCoy can't play because of injuries in next week's game at Detroit. -- Adam Teicher

Next game: at Detroit (1 p.m. ET, Sunday)

The Ravens aren't ready to be mentioned among the NFL's elite. Lamar Jackson struggled for three quarters, the defense couldn't slow down Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes, and costly penalties proved too much to overcome. The Ravens (2-1) generated plenty of national buzz in routing the woeful Dolphins and beating Cardinals quarterback Kyler Murray in his first road start. But when matched against one of the best teams in the AFC, the Ravens made too many mistakes to pull off an upset. The Ravens will find where they measure up in the AFC North next Sunday when they host the Browns. -- Jamison Hensley

Next game: vs. Cleveland (1 p.m. ET, Sunday)

Indianapolis Colts 27, Atlanta Falcons 24

Quarterback Jacoby Brissett showed he can be the guy. He opened the game with 16 consecutive completions to tie Peyton Manning for the fifth most in franchise history, and his 310 yards passing should end the talk of him not being able to be throw downfield. Brissett didn't rely on one or two receivers, either -- he completed passes to nine different players. He finished the game 28-of-37 for 310 yards and two touchdowns with no interceptions. -- Mike Wells

Next game: vs. Oakland (1 p.m. ET, Sunday)

The Falcons have to play with more discipline. They were penalized 16 times for 128 yards on Sunday, including a defensive holding call on Damontae Kazee at the 10:33 mark of the fourth quarter when the Colts faced third-and-10 from their own 47 and Brissett threw an incomplete pass. It kept the Indianapolis drive alive with a first down and eventually resulted in Marlon Mack's 4-yard touchdown that proved to be the difference. "You just can't hold. That's it,'' Kazee said. Coach Dan Quinn, now coordinating defense, expects more, particularly with procedural penalties. In three games, the Falcons have accumulated 35 penalties for 264 yards. The lack of discipline needs to end, starting with the Titans next week. -- Vaughn McClure

Next game: vs. Tennessee (1 p.m. ET, Sunday)

Detroit Lions 27, Philadelphia Eagles 24

Winning on the road against a good team shows the Lions will compete in the NFC North. "Obviously, it's a tough game against a tough team," wide receiver Marvin Jones Jr. said. "That's a good team right there ... so us doing that, showing resiliency throughout whatever, that's big." Are the Lions for real? We'll find out next week when they host Patrick Mahomes and the unbeaten Chiefs. -- Michael Rothstein

Next game: vs. Kansas City (1 p.m. ET, Sunday)

Mistakes cost the Eagles amid injuries. The Eagles' inability to capitalize on Malcolm Jenkins' blocked field goal put the Super Bowl hopefuls in a precarious position. Philadelphia (1-2) has loads of talent, but early injuries have hit the veteran-laden roster. And with DeSean Jackson (abdominal strain) expected to miss Thursday's game in Green Bay, and Alshon Jeffery (quad) iffy, the Eagles remain shorthanded. -- Tim McManus

Next game: at Green Bay (8:20 p.m. ET, Thursday)

Green Bay Packers 27, Denver Broncos 16

The Packers are getting their money's worth out of Preston Smith and Za'Darius Smith. They dished out $36 million in signing-bonus money alone to the duo, but they already have more combined sacks (7.5) than last year's starting edge rusher combo of Clay Matthews (3.5) and Nick Perry (1.5) posted all season. That sent the Packers to 3-0 heading into Thursday's quick turnaround game against the Eagles, as the Smiths combined for five of the Packers' six sacks and nine of their 13 pressures. It was also the second time in three weeks the defense has forced at least three turnovers, helping to allow Aaron Rodgers and the offense to get away with the slow start. -- Rob Demovsky

Next game: vs. Philadelphia (8:20 p.m. ET, Thursday)

The Broncos are battling themselves in addition to their opponents. They have moments when they look to be rounding into the tough-minded team, but there are still too many when they make the mistakes that doom their chances. It makes a Week 4 home game against Jacksonville all the more important. The Broncos keep saying they're close to putting things together. "Right there, one or two plays,'' defensive end Shelby Harris said. But there has to be some kind of payoff on the field for their efforts. -- Jeff Legwold

Next game: vs. Jacksonville (4:25 p.m. ET, Sunday)

New England Patriots 30, New York Jets 14

The Patriots are winning with defense. With the Tom Brady-led offense dealing with myriad injuries, the attacking defense is the backbone of the team, sparking memories of the dominant units of the early 2000s that led the team to three Super Bowl titles. The D made it look easy Sunday against third-string quarterback Luke Falk and the Jets (touchdowns were scored on a pick-six and a muffed punt). Next up is a visit to face the Bills, who aren't in the offensive powerhouse category, either, but should provide a greater challenge. -- Mike Reiss

Next game: at Buffalo (1 p.m. ET, Sunday)

The spotlight will be on coach Adam Gase as the Jets head into their bye week. The Jets are off to one of the worst offensive starts in team history, and Gase used words such as "brutal" and "atrocious" to describe Sunday's performance. He should get some slack because he started Falk, but there were other issues, including a veteran offensive line that looked completely out of sync. They need quarterback Sam Darnold (mono) in the lineup, and soon. -- Rich Cimini

Next game: at Philadelphia (1 p.m. ET, Sunday, Oct. 6)

Minnesota Vikings 34, Oakland Raiders 14

The Vikings are getting a major return on their investment in running back Dalvin Cook. Yes, Minnesota has faced some lackluster defenses that have struggled against the run, but topping 100 yards and scoring a rushing touchdown in the first three games is incredible. He's averaging more than 6.5 yards per carry and has breathed life into this offense. Given the way the Vikings have built a run-first mentality, it's not hard to predict Cook continuing to turn in performances like he did against the Raiders, even against defenses that are harder to run on, like the Bears next Sunday. -- Courtney Cronin

Next game: at Chicago (4:25 p.m. ET, Sunday)

It's only three games old, but the season might already be on the brink. Defensive end Josh Mauro said, "If you feel comfortable after losing like that, there's something wrong with you." Added linebacker Tahir Whitehead: "If we don't get this corrected, it's going to continue to poke its head up. We just need to ... hold ourselves accountable, and make sure that there aren't any people that are feeling comfortable after this loss because there are a lot of things that need to be fixed. And unless we fix them, it's going to be a long season." The Raiders head to Indianapolis to face the Colts next week and don't play in Oakland again until Nov. 3. -- Paul Gutierrez

Next game: at Indianapolis (1 p.m. ET, Sunday)

Dallas Cowboys 31, Miami Dolphins 6

Dallas adjusted at halftime to reach 3-0 for the first time since 2008 and for the sixth time in Jerry Jones' tenure as owner. In four of the previous five times, they made the playoffs, including Super Bowl seasons in 1992 and 1995. Nobody is saying that about this team -- yet -- but it is off to the start it needed with a more difficult schedule later in the season. The Cowboys overcame a poor first half to win Sunday. "Our ability to kind of process what's keeping us back and then getting it fixed then seeing that transfer over into success, I mean, it doesn't always happen within games," tight end Jason Witten said. -- Todd Archer

Next game: at New Orleans (8:20 p.m. ET, Sunday)

There was positive progress for the Dolphins after being embarrassed over their first two weeks. Quarterback Josh Rosen had a few nice drives early in his first start for the Dolphins, who outplayed the Cowboys in the first half. But the result was ultimately the same -- a mistake-heavy blowout loss. The Dolphins don't want any moral victories. The Chargers come to town next Sunday, and it doesn't seem like the blowouts will stop anytime soon. The Dolphins have been outscored 133-16 in their first three games, a minus-117 point differential, the worst in the Super Bowl era. -- Cameron Wolfe

Next game: vs. L.A. Chargers (1 p.m. ET, Sunday)

Buffalo Bills 21, Cincinnati Bengals 17

Josh Allen needs to discover the balance between extending a play and extending a drive. His ability to keep plays alive and make throws downfield put the Bills ahead for good Sunday -- but also kept them from putting the Bengals away throughout most of the second half. His delayed decision to throw the ball away and move on to the next play led to an ugly interception and the Bengals' first touchdown of the game. "I was trying to do the right thing," he said. "Just one of those plays where, at the last split-second, I made a bad decision." Bad decisions by Allen would cost the unbeaten Bills any chance of beating the unbeaten Patriots next week at home. -- Marcel Louis-Jacques

Next game: vs. New England (1 p.m. ET, Sunday)

A top priority for Bengals coach Zac Taylor will be making sure the team doesn't believe it's as bad as its 0-3 record. The Bengals almost pulled off their second road win in as many games but couldn't put together two solid drives to withstand the Bills. As the onslaught from outsiders begins, Taylor is working to fortify the self-belief of a team that has lost 10 of its past 11 games. "We know that it's errors that we're bringing upon ourselves," Taylor said. "Once we can fix that and just catch our break eventually, we're going to be in good shape." -- Ben Baby

Next game: at Pittsburgh (8:15 p.m. ET, Monday, Sept. 30)

New York Giants 32, Tampa Bay Buccaneers 31

Daniel Jones can do it all. He rallied the Giants from an 18-point halftime deficit without running back Saquon Barkley in his first career start. And he threw for 300 yards and had three total touchdowns in the second half alone, something Eli Manning never did in any half of his career, according to ESPN Stats & Information. Giants co-owner Steve Tisch called this the start of a "new chapter." He was blown away by the 22-year-old's poise and composure. His teammates were equally impressed. They loved when Jones -- who doesn't curse much -- yelled "Let's f---ing score!" in a second-quarter huddle. Moments later, he kept the ball on a zone-read for his first touchdown as a professional. -- Jordan Raanan

Next game: vs. Washington (1 p.m. ET, Sunday)

The Bucs' well-documented kicking woes aren't behind them. Rookie Matt Gay missed a 34-yard field goal with four seconds left, and he missed an extra-point attempt after the Bucs' opening possession and had a blocked extra point at the end of the first quarter. Gay also had a 42-yard miss last week against the Panthers. But the disappearance of the defense in the second half was perhaps more troubling. This group had given up one touchdown in the first eight quarters of the season and gave up four to a rookie quarterback on Sunday. It won't get any easier with a daunting five-game road stretch ahead. -- Jenna Laine

Next game: at L.A. Rams (4:05 p.m. ET, Sunday)

Carolina Panthers 38, Arizona Cardinals 20

Kyle Allen gave the Panthers a spark. If you've followed the Panthers for any length of time, you know quarterback Cam Newton takes at least an hour after games to prepare for his news conference. Allen, who replaced the injured starter on Sunday at Arizona, was in front of the lectern less than 15 minutes after the locker room opened. No fancy outfits. Just a polo shirt, slacks and tennis shoes. It won't go into the records books as the fastest turnaround ever for a Carolina quarterback after a game, and Allen's four touchdown passes aren't a record, either. But Allen was impressive enough that the Panthers shouldn't think twice about giving Newton at least another week to rest his sore left foot. Allen gave the offense what it needed after an 0-2 start, in which the ailing Newton became the focus of attention. -- David Newton

Next game: at Houston (1 p.m. ET, Sunday)

The education of Kyler Murray continues. The rookie quarterback learned what it was like to run a nearly flawless drive for a touchdown and get sacked eight times in a game on Sunday. But as he and coach Kliff Kingsbury have done through three weeks, they'll address the issues that are broken and try to fix them with their first taste of an NFC West rivalry coming up Sunday against the Seahawks. But as they've also learned, every time they fix something, something else seems to pop up. -- Josh Weinfuss

Next game: vs. Seattle (4:05 p.m. ET, Sunday)

Houston Texans 27, Los Angeles Chargers 20

The offensive line finally looked pretty good. The Texans hoped they fixed their line problem by starting their third right tackle in three games. Houston moved first-round pick Tytus Howard from left guard to right tackle and replaced him with second-round pick Max Scharping. After allowing 10 sacks in the first two games, the offensive line only gave up two sacks Sunday. Going into the season, figuring out how to better protect quarterback Deshaun Watson was the priority for the Texans, and against the Chargers, O'Brien said, "Watson had a lot of time," especially considering the talent of Los Angeles' front seven. -- Sarah Barshop

Next game: vs. Carolina (1 p.m. ET, Sunday)

The Chargers have struggled in second halves so far this season, getting outscored 45-10. Turnovers and costly penalties have been at the root of the team's 1-2 record, with five of the team's turnovers this season in the second half, leading to 15 points for the opposing team. It was a strength for the Chargers last season, so they have to figure out how to close games now, starting next week at winless Miami. -- Eric D. Williams

Next game: at Miami (1 p.m. ET, Sunday)

New Orleans Saints 33, Seattle Seahawks 27

The Saints proved they can win some games during Drew Brees' absence. Teddy Bridgewater showed he is savvy enough to lean on Alvin Kamara, Michael Thomas and a standout offensive line. And, by the way, the Saints regained sole possession of first place in the NFC South at 2-1. They are now three-quarters of the way through a grueling September schedule that will culminate with a Sunday night showdown at home against the 3-0 Cowboys. -- Mike Triplett

Next game: vs. Dallas (8:20 p.m. ET, Sunday)

Ball security is still an issue for Chris Carson. Coach Pete Carroll doesn't seem to have reached his breaking point yet with the running back despite his sudden fumbling problem. Carson lost a fumble Sunday that the Saints returned for a touchdown, a key play in Seattle's 33-27 loss. It was his third fumble in as many games (not counting a botched handoff that wasn't entirely his fault). But Carroll was supportive of Carson postgame. "He's had three remarkable, remarkable punches that have knocked the ball out, and he was covering it and his conscious was in the right place and it happened again," Carroll said. In other words, expect Carson to remain the starter when Seattle heads to Arizona next week. -- Brady Henderson

Next game: at Arizona (4:05 p.m. ET, Sunday)

San Francisco 49ers 24, Pittsburgh Steelers 20

San Francisco is finding ways to win. By rule of the most important stat in football -- turnover margin -- the 49ers not only should have lost to Pittsburgh, they probably should have lost handily. Instead, these Niners again found a way to win, and as ugly as it might have been, it was a victory they wouldn't have gotten a season ago. Overcoming five turnovers and coming up with timely drives and a pair of takeaways of their own yielded the team's first 3-0 start since 1998. "It's just the mindset of the locker room," quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo said. "Complementary football. ... That's how you create a good football team. We're getting there." Indeed, there's still plenty of work for the 49ers to do moving forward, work that begins even on next week's bye. But the early returns indicate they're finally moving in the right direction. -- Nick Wagoner

Next game: vs. Cleveland (8:15 p.m. ET, Monday, Oct. 7)

The Steelers are 0-3 for the first time since 2013, a season in which they finished 8-8. Though newcomer Minkah Fitzpatrick was optimistic about his team's outlook after Sunday's loss, there is mounting frustration in the locker room. Defensive tackle Cameron Heyward expressed his surprise at being winless. "We've just got to finish games," he said. "Two times, defense has just got to make a stop. We didn't." But center Maurkice Pouncey said the Steelers can bounce back. It starts next week on Monday Night Football. -- Brooke Pryor

Next game: vs. Cincinnati (8:15 p.m. ET, Monday, Sept. 30)

Jacksonville Jaguars 20, Tennessee Titans 7

The Jaguars were abysmal at running the ball. They had to rely on rookie quarterback Gardner Minshew II to move the offense, and the sixth-round pick showed Thursday night that he's up to the challenge, throwing for 204 yards and two touchdowns. The Jaguars ran for 89 yards, but 69 of that came on one run in the fourth quarter. Until that point, Leonard Fournette had negative rushing yards, mainly because of how poorly the offensive line played. That's happened in back-to-back weeks, and there needs to be significant improvement next week in Denver or it's going to be the Minshew show again. -- Mike DiRocco

Next game: at Denver (4:25 p.m. ET, Sunday)

The Titans' offense is reeling after two lifeless losses to division rivals. Quarterback Marcus Mariota made a couple of nice throws but also missed a couple of wide-open receivers for what would have been timely big gains. Tennessee's offensive line gave up nine sacks against the Jaguars, increasing their total to 17 allowed this season. That trend can't continue if the Titans plan to break their two-game losing streak next week against the Falcons. -- Turron Davenport

Next game: at Atlanta (1 p.m. ET, Sunday)