How the NFC West Was Won — Week 3: Exciting win pushes Rams back to top
When the Los Angeles Rams win, nobody else in the division does.
At least that’s held true through three weeks of the NFL season. The Rams scored a wild 41-39 win over the 49ers on Thursday Night Football, then got a chance to watch the Seahawks and Cardinals flounder on Sunday and Monday.
Here’s a closer look at what went down in the NFC West in Week 3.
Dallas Cowboys 28, Arizona Cardinals 17
One of the big questions entering this week’s Monday Night Football offering was whether or not Dallas’ dynamic duo of Ezekiel Elliott and Dak Prescott would/could have another lackluster performance.
The answer, unfortunately for the Cardinals, was a big, fat ‘no.’
Prescott threw two touchdown passes and ran for another and Elliott responded with 80 yards on the ground and a touchdown as the Cowboys broke a four-game losing streak to the Cardinals in Glendale.
Carson Palmer had his best game of the year for Arizona (1-1), throwing for 322 yards and two touchdowns, but Arizona’s running game was not a factor.
Questions that have yet to be answered by the Cardinals so far in 2017 were very much prevalent on Monday? Like, can the Cardinals block anyone — or more to the point — can they field a healthy offensive line. Guard Alex Boone left the game late and it’s being reported to be a pectoral muscle injury. Daniel Munyer, a surprise member of the Cardinals’ 53-man roster when training camp ended, finished the game at guard. He’s the eight different lineman Arizona has been forced to use so far through three games.
Stat of the Game: The Cardinals dominated the time of possession, keeping the ball for 36:15 to Dallas’ 23:45, but then again, the Cowboys didn’t have to go far. Three of their four touchdown drives were 50 yards or less.
He Said It: “Block better.” — Cardinals head coach Bruce Arians when asked what his offensive line needs to do to improve.
What’s Next for the Cardinals?: Arizona will play a second consecutive home game as they host the San Francisco 49ers Sunday afternoon at University of Phoenix Stadium.
Los Angeles Rams 41, San Francisco 49ers 39
What was this? An entertaining Thursday Night Football game? And from two the league’s least-likely participants?
That’s exactly what transpired in Santa Clara last Thursday night, with the Rams’ suddenly potent offense lighting up the scoreboard (and the stat sheet) in a two-point win over the Niners at Levi’s Stadium.
Jared Goff threw for 292 yards and three touchdowns and Todd Gurley scored three times in helping the Rams to a 41-26 lead midway through the fourth quarter. But to their credit, the 49ers (0-3), who hadn’t scored an offensive touchdown before Thursday, rallied. Brian Hoyer hit Trent Taylor on a 3-yard touchdown pass to make the score 41-33. Then, LA’s Pharoh Cooper fumbled on the ensuing kick-off, setting the Niners up at the Rams’ 30-yard line.
Eight plays later, on fourth down, Carlos Hyde scored from a yard out, giving San Francisco a chance to tie with a two-point conversion. However, Hoyer’s pass to Taylor was deflected and intercepted by Michael Brockers, thwarting the attempt.
San Francisco, much like the crazed murderer in a horror movie, still wasn’t dead. Robbie Gould’s onside kick was recovered by Raheem Mostert, giving the Niners another chance. The didn’t do anything with it, though. Hoyer was sacked on 4th and 20 by Aaron Donald to finally preserve the win in what was arguably the most entertaining game of the early season.
Stat of the Game: The Rams scored 41 points — the second time they’ve scored 40 or more in a game so far in 2017. They’ve scored 107 points in three games. It took Los Angeles until its sixth game to reach that same level in 2016.
He Said It (LA): “You see a lot of playoff teams win games like this. I’m not saying that we’re going to the playoffs, but when you can get a win like this you can just feel it.” — Rams defensive lineman Michael Brockers
He Said It (SF): “This has only been our third game together. For us to be down 15 and still stay in there, stay fight … that’s one of the things that we can take from this game. You see the potential. You see where we can go. We just have to learn how to win, learn how to play a full game. And we’ll be where we want to be.” — 49ers linebacker Navorro Bowman
What’s Next for the Rams: Los Angeles hits the road to take on the Dallas Cowboys at AT&T Stadium Sunday.
What’s Next for the 49ers: The winless Niners play another division foe, traveling to Glendale to face the Arizona Cardinals at University of Phoenix Stadium Sunday afternoon.
Tennessee Titans 33, Seattle Seahawks 27
A three-touchdown outburst in a six-minute stretch of the third quarter carried the Tennesee Titans (2-1) to a win over the Seattle Seahawks (1-2) at Nissan Stadium in Nashville.
Trailing 14-9 midway through the third, Marcus Mariota hit Rishard Matthews, who took a screen pass and weaved through defenders for a 55-yard touchdown to give the Titans a 16-14 lead. They weren’t nearly done.
After the Seahawks went three-and-out on their next possession, Mariota hooked up with tight end Jonnu Smith on a 24-yard touchdown. Seattle punted again, leading to DeMarco Murray’s 75-yard touchdown jaunt on the first play of Tennessee’s next possession.
Russell Wilson spearheaded a comeback attempt with fourth quarter touchdown passes to Luke Willson and Paul Richardson, but it was too little, too late for the Seahawks.
Stat of the Game: Tennessee ran for 195 yards on Seattle’s defense, which has uncharacteristically struggled against the run this season. The Seahawks rank 30th in the league against the rush, giving up an average of 146 yards per game through three weeks. They ranked seventh in the league last season, giving up only an average of 92.9 yards per game.
He Said It: “Eliminating the frustration. Eliminating the bickering with other teams, eliminating the extra exertion of energy that we don’t need. Need to conserve the energy for each play so your brains can think. That, and just tackling better.” — Seahawks safety Kam Chancellor on what needs to happen for the team.
What’s Next for the Seahawks: Seattle returns home to the friendly confines of CenturyLink Field to host the Indianapolis Colts (1-2) Sunday afternoon.
Offensive Player of the Week: Todd Gurley, RB, Los Angeles Rams — It could have been any number of winners from L.A., but Gurley had 113 yards on the ground, 36 yards in the passing game and visited the end zone three times. It was his first 100-yard game since Week 14 of his rookie season in 2015, when the then-St. Louis Rams beat Detroit, 21-14.
Defensive Player of the Week: Aaron Donald, DT, Los Angeles Rams — There wasn’t a lot of defense played in the division (NFC West teams gave up an average of 35.3 points in Week 3), so we’ll give it to the player who made the most impactful play. Donald came up with a sack on fourth down late against San Francisco to preserve the Rams’ second win of the year.
Special Teams Player of the Week: Raheem Mostert, San Francisco 49ers — Mostert recovered an onside kick and had a 20-yard kickoff return.
|Team||Wins||Losses||Ties||Points For||Points Against|