NFL Week 3 takeaways – Lessons, big questions for every game

Ad Blocker Detected

Our website is made possible by displaying online advertisements to our visitors. Please consider supporting us by disabling your ad blocker.

5:00 PM ET

  • NFL NationESPN

It’s Week 3 of the 2022 NFL season, and many games in the opening window came down to the fourth quarter — again.

After the Colts’ defense kept the Kansas City Chiefs close all game, Matt Ryan threw a go-ahead touchdown in the final 30 seconds to give Indianapolis its first win of the season. The Chicago Bears defeated the Houston Texans on a last-second field goal, while the Minnesota Vikings scored a late touchdown to take down the Detroit Lions. The undefeated Miami Dolphins also prevailed in a close divisional matchup against the Buffalo Bills.

Elsewhere, the Baltimore Ravens took down the New England Patriots on the road, while the Tennessee Titans handed the Las Vegas Raiders their third loss of the season. Quarterback Jalen Hurts led the 3-0 Eagles to a convincing win against the Washington Commanders, and the Cincinnati Bengals bounced back with a big win — their first of the season — against the New York Jets.

The late window saw a road-team sweep, as all four visiting squads won. While the Jacksonville Jaguars had an eye-opening rout of the Los Angeles Chargers, the Los Angeles Rams, Atlanta Falcons and Green Bay Packers all held on late to take care of business away from home.

Our NFL Nation reporters react with the biggest takeaways and lingering questions coming out of this week’s matchups and look ahead to what’s next. Let’s get to it.

Jump to a matchup:



What to know: If you’re playing the Packers, know this: They’re not exactly putting teams away. It took them all day — and a stop on a 2-point conversion with 14 seconds left — to do it against Tampa Bay, in large part because they didn’t score in the second half. Sure, it was against a stout defense (which had allowed only 13 points combined in the first two weeks). But this is a troubling trend for Aaron Rodgers & Co., who managed just a field goal in the second half in last week’s win against the Bears.

What does David Bakhtiari’s part-time return mean? The Packers platooned him at left tackle in his first game of the season — and only his second appearance in the past 20 months. His performance while alternating series with Yosh Nijman was perhaps better than expected given his long layoff and three knee surgeries. But the biggest issue is whether he can keep going and even play a full game. Remember, he returned once before (the 2021 regular-season finale) and played 27 snaps in what was supposed to be a playoff tuneup. Instead, he shut it down. — Rob Demovsky

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


What to know: The Bucs missed left tackle Donovan Smith and wide receivers Mike Evans, Chris Godwin and Julio Jones against tougher competition this week. They couldn’t get the run game going with Leonard Fournette and didn’t convert on third down until quarterback Tom Brady hit Russell Gage for a 1-yard touchdown with 14 seconds remaining. The difference on the scoreboard would be a failed 2-point conversion — during which Brady couldn’t quite connect with Gage again after a delay of game penalty pushed the Bucs back to the 7-yard line.

Was the Bucs’ lack of scoring solely on missing weapons? Let’s put it this way. Evans and Godwin had the most third-down conversions from Brady entering this week since Brady joined the Bucs, with Evans having registered 35 and Godwin 27. The next closest player is tight end Cameron Brate with 10. Fournette and Scotty Miller had five each, with Breshad Perriman having three. They’ll get Evans back next week, and Cole Beasley made a couple of tough catches in his first game as a Buc. And Smith attempted to practice on Thursday, so there’s hope. — Jenna Laine

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


What to know: For weeks, coach Arthur Smith has talked about how enjoyable it has been to coach his team. It’s a young group, though, and one still learning each other. But there needed to be success to put with the positive progress it had been seeing. On Sunday, in beating Seattle on the road, Atlanta received it. It shuttled in a lot of younger players — rookie linebacker Troy Andersen got his first extended action, as did edge rusher DeAngelo Malone — and Richie Grant’s game-sealing interception (another young player) can give Smith something to positively push to after two straight close losses. And for a young team, that’s massive.

Is the pass rush back? For most of three quarters on Sunday, Atlanta gave Geno Smith no pressure. It could barely get to the Seattle quarterback, who had all day to dissect the Falcons’ secondary. But then the Seahawks got in a situation where they had to start going downfield, and the Falcons picked up two sacks and five quarterback hits. It’s not a massive performance, but it’s one the Falcons can build on. The question now will be whether there can be sustainability in the pass rush next week against Cleveland. — Michael Rothstein

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


What to know: New year, new scheme, same early-season struggles for the Seahawks’ defense. After faltering out of the gates in 2020 and ’21 — getting gashed at historic rates — Pete Carroll revamped his defensive staff and installed a new system that was supposed to fix those issues. So far, it hasn’t. Seattle yielded scores on five of Atlanta’s first seven possessions, allowed 141 rushing yards to Cordarrelle Patterson and gave up too many big plays in the passing game. The offense was the biggest question entering the season with Russell Wilson gone, but Geno Smith & Co. mostly did their part Sunday.

Is the offense back on track? It sure looked like it in the first half. The Seahawks’ offense wasted no time ending its streak of six consecutive scoreless quarters. It scored on the opening drive and on four of its five first-half possessions. Smith found the deep passing plays that were lacking during the scoreless streak, and Seattle got just enough on the ground from Rashaad Penny, DeeJay Dallas and Kenneth Walker III. But with a chance to win the game on the final drive, Smith took a bad sack, then threw an interception to end the game. It was reminiscent of his inability to lead a game-winning drive in his three chances while filling in for Russell Wilson last season. — Brady Henderson

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


What to know: For one drive on Sunday, the Rams’ offense showed a glimpse of what it could look like if it could consistently run the ball. Akers, who finished with 61 yards on 12 carries, was largely unused in the first half and then, after scoring a touchdown late in the third quarter, fumbled on the Arizona 1. Los Angeles got off to a quick start in the game with receiver Cooper Kupp, but otherwise struggled to move the ball for most of the game.

Can the Rams’ defense keep this up? What’s most impressive about the Rams’ defense holding the Cardinals to nine points is that they did it despite their long list of injuries. Los Angeles was without cornerbacks Troy Hill, David Long Jr, Cobie Durant and safety Jordan Fuller and still held quarterback Kyler Murray without a touchdown. Rookie Derion Kendrick, who was active for the first time this season, broke up a pass on fourth down to put the Rams in a great position to hold onto for the win. — Sarah Barshop

Next game: at 49ers (Monday, 8:15 p.m. ET)


What to know: For the third time in as many games to start this season, the Cardinals found themselves playing from behind in the second half. This time, however, their attempt at a comeback was futile. There are 14 games left, but mounting comebacks every week isn’t the recipe to a playoff berth.

Why can’t Arizona get off to better starts? It comes down to playcalling. The Cardinals don’t get quarterback Kyler Murray’s legs moving early in the first quarter and it stagnates the offense. By the time Arizona gets something going, they’re trailing. — Josh Weinfuss

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


What to know: The Chargers were banged up but this was still a benchmark victory for the Jaguars in coach Doug Pederson’s first season. Snapping an 18-game road losing streak with a rout of the Chargers is proof the franchise has made significant strides. This is the most points the offense has scored in two years, they’re not turning the ball over, the defense is forcing turnovers, and they’re not making dumb mistakes that keep them from winning. It’s early but they look like a team that could be in the playoff hunt in December.

Has Trevor Lawrence turned the corner? It sure looks like it. The second-year player has thrown multiple TD passes in back-to-back games for the first time in his career and has thrown just one interception in three games. He’s being more decisive in his reads and throws and is playing with a comfort level he didn’t have last season. — Mike DiRocco

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


What to know: The Chargers were among the early-season favorites to advance to the AFC Championship and perhaps even make a Super Bowl run. However, an embarrassing loss to the Jaguars proves that the Bolts, regardless of injuries, have plenty to learn about taking care of business week-in and week-out if they want to even earn a playoff berth.

How do the Chargers move forward with so many significant injuries? The Chargers built a roster stacked with star power, but little good that does when the stars are on the sideline. Receiver Keenan Allen is dealing with a hamstring issue, cornerback J.C. Jackson has an ongoing ankle situation, and center Corey Linsley has a knee injury. All three starters were inactive. During the game, edge rusher Joey Bosa suffered a groin injury, left tackle Rashawn Slater suffered a bicep injury and wide receiver Jalen Guyton traveled to the locker room on a cart after hobbling off the field in the closing minutes. And quarterback Justin Herbert is playing through fractured rib cartilage. — Lindsey Thiry

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


What to know: The Ravens showed they can close out a game. A week after the biggest fourth-quarter collapse in team history, the Ravens’ defense rebounded with authority, producing three turnovers in the fourth quarter. Cornerback Marlon Humphrey, who was sidelined for the fourth quarter last week with a groin injury, picked off Mac Jones in the end zone. Then, rookie first-round pick Kyle Hamilton, who gave up two touchdowns in the fourth quarter a week ago, stripped the ball from Nelson Agholor with 5:35 remaining. The Ravens could have unraveled after failing to hold a 21-point lead against Miami. Instead, Baltimore is 2-1 with big games against Buffalo and Cincinnati looming.

Who is going to protect Lamar Jackson’s blind side? The Ravens were down to their fourth-string left tackle after Patrick Mekari exited in the first quarter with a left ankle injury. Mekari was starting his second straight game because Ronnie Stanley (ankle) remains inactive and Ja’Wuan James suffered a season-ending Achilles injury in the season opener. That forced rookie fourth-round pick Daniel Faalele to play left tackle, a position that he didn’t play in college. After the game, coach John Harbaugh said Mekari is “going to be fine,” saying he sustained a sprain. The Ravens can also hope Stanley will be ready to make his debut Sunday in a big game against the Buffalo Bills. Stanley has missed 31 of Baltimore’s past 32 games (including playoffs) after breaking his left ankle. But he has practiced the past three weeks. — Jamison Hensley

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


What to know: The Patriots’ offense showed signs of promise, but QB Mac Jones’ decision making on two throws in the second half (both INTs) sabotaged their chance to win. This was as good as the offense has looked, particularly with the downfield passing game, as DeVante Parker was immense with 156 receiving yards. But Jones’ interceptions after halftime were too much to overcome, along with a Nelson Agholor lost fumble. Jones, who hobbled off the field with what appeared to be a left leg injury on his final pass of the day, finished 22-of-32 for 323 yards, with no TDs and three INTs. Specifically, his end zone heave that was intercepted midway through the fourth quarter was the type of decision you wouldn’t expect from him. That can be the difference between a win and a loss.

Why isn’t WR Kendrick Bourne playing more? Kendrick Bourne, who was the Patriots’ second-leading receiver last season, played just 20 snaps, an unofficial total charted during the game. That was significantly fewer than fellow receivers Parker (66), Lil’Jordan Humphrey (53) and Agholor (51). The discrepancy between Humphrey (zero catches) and Bourne (four catches, 58 yards) is most notable, as Humphrey was elevated from the practice squad one week into the season and isn’t as dynamic of a playmaker as Bourne. — Mike Reiss

Next game: at Packers (Sunday, 8 p.m. ET)


What to know: The Carolina defense, which came into the day ranked ninth in the league, is for real. Short of forcing a turnover in the first two games, this unit played well enough to win during an 0-2 start. The turnovers finally came Sunday, starting with a 44-yard fumble return for a touchdown in the first quarter, to make up for another subpar performance by quarterback Baker Mayfield and end a nine-game losing streak, which was the longest active streak in the NFL. The Panthers added a fourth-quarter interception to set up a field goal and another to seal the outcome with eight seconds to play. They kept quarterback Jameis Winston under constant pressure. The run defense that shut down New York Giants running back Saquon Barkley last week held Alvin Kamara in check after an early 27-yard run. The goal for this unit was to go from good to great, and Sunday’s performance was an early sign it’s headed in the right direction.

How secure should Baker Mayfield be as the starter? The Panthers finally won, but Mayfield had little to do with it. He had his third straight subpar performance that was saved by a missed tackle turned into a 67-yard touchdown catch-and-run by Laviska Shenault Jr. in the fourth quarter. Prior to that, Mayfield had gone 9-of-20 for 76 yards. He finished 12-of-25 for 170 yards. Mayfield won the starting job over Sam Darnold in training camp, and it wasn’t that close. But with Darnold set to come off injured reserve after next week’s game against Arizona and Mayfield struggling, it at least opens the door for a change. — David Newton

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


What to know: The Saints’ offense continues to struggle badly. Between turnovers, penalties and protection issues, the Saints weren’t setting any offensive records against the Panthers on Sunday. There were a few nice moments: Wide receiver Chris Olave became the first Saints rookie to have more than 100 receiving yards since the 2018 season, and Marquez Callaway had a one-handed touchdown grab in traffic in the fourth quarter. But the fourth-quarter efforts aren’t enough. The Saints need to play consistently on offense for an entire game if they’re going to win this year.

Should the Saints make a change at QB? Jameis Winston’s play has been a concern since his back injury in Week 1, and things haven’t gotten any better. Saints coach Dennis Allen said he never considered making a change in Week 2 against the Bucs, but considering there wasn’t much improvement in Week 3, there could be hard choices ahead. The offensive problems certainly aren’t all on Winston, but it’s hard to imagine his back issue will improve by next week, especially with a long trip to London ahead. Making a change to Andy Dalton, even if it’s just to give Winston some rest, might give the offense a spark. — Katherine Terrell

Next game: vs. Vikings (Sunday, 9:30 a.m. ET)


What to know: Cincinnati’s offense got a much-needed spark in a 27-12 win over the New York Jets. The Bengals’ offense, which couldn’t score a first-half touchdown in the first two games this season, scored two on Sunday and jumped on the Jets early. Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow looked as good as he did at the end of 2021. It was the performance Cincinnati desperately needed for its first win of the season.

Should there be concern about the running game? It’s probably time to get a bit worried about the ground attack. It has been very ineffective through three games. On Sunday against New York, Cincinnati struggled to get anything going with running back Joe Mixon, who has been ineffective against light defensive boxes this season. When Samaje Perine entered the game in the fourth quarter, he quickly surpassed Mixon’s 24 yards on 12 carries. It’s certainly something to monitor as the season progresses. — Ben Baby

Next game: vs. Dolphins (Thursday, 8:15 p.m. ET)


What to know: The Jets were supposed to be better on defense in 2022. They spent big free-agent money and used two first-round picks to improve a unit that ranked 32nd last season. The plan isn’t working out, as the defense continued to underachieve Sunday in a 27-12 loss to the Bengals. The Jets smelled blood, thinking they could join the Joe Burrow sack party, but they registered only two sacks and got shredded for 275 passing yards and three touchdowns. Burrow, sacked 13 times in the first two games, delivered the most prolific first quarter in his career (163 yards). The Jets were doomed by costly penalties, bad tackling and the weekly coverage mix-up, all of which contributed to the first three touchdowns. They got caught off guard by the Bengals’ pass-heavy attack at the outset and never recovered. The frustration peaked when DT Quinnen Williams was caught on camera screaming at defensive line coach Aaron Whitecotton.

Is Zach Wilson ready to return, and can he save the season? Yes and no. Wilson, who missed the first three games as he recovered from arthroscopic knee surgery, is expected to be cleared in the coming days, a source said. That means he should be ready to start next Sunday at the Steelers. There’s no quarterback controversy, that’s for sure. Joe Flacco, out of miracle finishes, committed three turnovers and couldn’t escape the rush (four sacks). Wilson’s mobility will help the offensive line, but he’s rejoining an offense that has yet to establish its running game. It could be a rough go for the second-year QB. — Rich Cimini

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



Joe Burrow delivers a touchdown pass to Ja’Marr Chase as the Bengals extend their lead to 27-9 vs. the Jets.


What to know: The Colts’ offensive struggles continued against Kansas City, but Indianapolis overcame a recurring early-season theme to notch their best moment of the season for coach Frank Reich and quarterback Matt Ryan. After buckling under the Chiefs’ blitzes all day, the Colts managed to mount a game-winning drive, upset the Chiefs and move to 1-1-1.

Can the Colts create any offensive consistency despite their blocking issues? The Colts have endured more offensive line struggles this season than at any other point in Reich’s tenure with the team. As a result, the immobile Ryan (five sacks) is having a difficult time dealing with the consistent pressure, evidenced by his seven fumbles — the most through three games since Mike Vick had seven in 2011. To create any consistency, the Colts are going to have to truly stabilize things up front. — Stephen Holder

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


What to know: Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes and the rest of this offense won’t always be able to cover for a litany of mistakes. Mahomes was 20-of-35 for 262 yards, a touchdown and a late-game interception Sunday. Between missed kicks, a fumbled punt and a failed fake field goal, the Chiefs made enough errors to allow the Colts to hang around just long enough to eventually capitalize. The Chiefs have a lot to clean up before next week’s game in Tampa Bay.

Do the Chiefs have reason to worry about their special teams? Probably not. But the situation bears watching after Skyy Moore had a rough day as a punt returner and Matt Ammendola missed a field goal and an extra-point kick in Indianapolis. The Chiefs knew Moore, a rookie who didn’t return punts in college, may have a learning curve. His judgment should improve as he gets more experience. The kicking situation will also get a boost when Harrison Butker returns from his ankle injury. The Chiefs may have a new kicker next week to replace Ammendola if Butker isn’t yet ready to return. — Adam Teicher

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


What to know: The Titans got Derrick Henry going, which opened up opportunities for everything else. Henry ran with a different sense of urgency and separation that allowed him to finish runs with a little more oomph. He finished the game with 20 carries for 85 yards and a touchdown along with five receptions for 58 yards. Tennessee’s success on the ground helped set up the play-action passing game. Ryan Tannehill’s longest completion came off play action, when he delivered a perfectly placed pass to Robert Woods for 41 yards to set up the Titans’ second touchdown. Tannehill’s sole touchdown pass also came off of play action when he hit Geoff Swaim for an easy 2-yard score on Tennessee’s first drive. Henry also benefited from play action on three of his five receptions, which was one short of his single-game career high.

What will the Titans’ secondary look like going forward? The Titans opened up the game with Kristian Fulton and Roger McCreary at cornerback. McCreary bumped inside as Terrance Mitchell came in at left corner when the Titans went to their first nickel package. Seeing Mitchell out there instead of 2021 first-round pick Caleb Farley was surprising, as Mitchell was picked up off the Patriots’ practice squad earlier in the week. Mitchell gave up a 9-yard touchdown pass to Mack Hollins that almost tied the game in the final minutes. What’s alarming about this is that Farley initially was the starter opposite Fulton when the Titans entered training camp before McCreary leapfrogged him into the lineup. Ugo Amadi supplanted Farley to become part of the first nickel package during camp and opened the year as the nickel. The Titans have allowed back-to-back 300-yard passing performances, so they’ll need to figure out what combination will work next week against the Colts. — Turron Davenport

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


What to know: The Raiders, who were a playoff team under the former management, still haven’t won a game under the new regime. First-year coach Josh McDaniels has said since he arrived in Las Vegas that his team needs to learn how to win. Learning how not to lose would suffice. With a supposedly stacked roster and a good work ethic, the Raiders are not reaping any rewards and frustration is settling in, even after making the Titans sweat with a near comeback. But it ended with a third straight loss by one score to start the season.

Is the season over after just three weeks? Stranger things have happened, but only one team that has started a season 0-3 since 2000 has gone on to make the playoffs (the 2018 Texans). The Raiders were in the postseason last year and supposedly upgraded in coaching staff while adding the best receiver in the league in Davante Adams, to no avail. McDaniels is just 5-20 as a head coach after starting 6-0 in Denver in 2009, and the Broncos are up next before a Monday night affair in Kansas City. Is 0-5 at the bye really in the cards? — Paul Gutierrez

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


What to know: The same concerns about this offense and quarterback Justin Fields exist despite Chicago grinding its way to its second win of the season. Fields had 82 net passing yards on a day in which he had two fumbles and two interceptions. On his first interception, Fields’ first read was tight end Cole Kmet, who was open over the middle of the field; he also had Equanimeous St. Brown open outside. On his second, Fields overthrew Darnell Mooney when he was surrounded by three defenders. It’s clear given the way the game was called that the Bears have concerns about their quarterback’s ability to execute this offense.

With so many glaring issues with Fields, can the Bears continue to ride their run game and defense? Khalil Herbert rushed for 157 yards and two touchdowns in place of David Montgomery, who left the game in the first quarter with injuries to his right knee and ankle. In back-to-back weeks, the Bears’ run game, which finished with 281 yards, was the failsafe for this offense and a quarterback who completed only eight passes, but it’s going to be tough to win many games when the offense is one-dimensional. Chicago’s defense came up with huge stops routinely, including a late interception by Roquan Smith that allowed the Bears to kick a game-winning field goal. Riding that unit is likely the path toward staying afloat while the passing game gets sorted out. — Courtney Cronin

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


What to know: Three Texans rookies flashed promise in the loss. Safety Jalen Pitre intercepted Bears quarterback Justin Fields twice, and he added a sack and a tackle for loss. Running back Dameon Pierce carried the Texans’ running game as he finished with 80 yards and his first career rushing touchdown. Pierce did fumble twice, though, so that needs to be corrected if he wants to build on the performance. No. 3 overall pick Derek Stingley Jr. didn’t allow any catches on two targets, according to Next Gen Stats, and Stingley had a touchdown-saving tackle on a 52-yard run by Bears running back Khalil Herbert in the third quarter.

When will the run defense improve? The Texans’ run defense is struggling tremendously, allowing 280 yards rushing and two touchdowns. Herbert, who had 20 carries for 157 yards, scored both touchdowns. Through the first three weeks, the Texans have allowed 607 yards on the ground. The Texans’ pass defense held Fields to 106 yards and forced two interceptions. The Bears had only one way to beat the Texans, which was to run the ball, and Houston couldn’t stop it. The Texans are still searching for their first win of the year as a result. — DJ Bien-Aime

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


What to know: As Carson Wentz found out the hard way, the Eagles’ defense has found its groove. Wentz was sacked a career-high nine times, including six times in the first half. All the punishment clearly affected him, as he often misfired even in the rare instances the pocket was clean. The Eagles’ defense struggled in the opener against the Lions but has been excellent the past two weeks. With Jalen Hurts playing great and the defense up and running, Philadelphia looks like a legit contender.

Who is the No. 1 receiver in Philly? A.J. Brown seemed like the clear answer in Week 1, when he went off for 10 catches and 155 yards, but DeVonta Smith has since caught fire. He had a career-high 169 yards and a touchdown against Washington — a performance that included a number of acrobatic catches. His 156 first-half receiving yards were the most by an Eagles player in any half since Kevin Curtis in 2007. However you stack Brown and Smith, the Eagles haven’t been this well set up at receiver since Terrell Owens was in town. — Tim McManus

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


What to know: Washington wanted to build a dominant offensive line. But the Commanders have failed, and as a result, Carson Wentz was sacked nine times Sunday. The loss goes beyond just the line, but the impact on Wentz was severe. He lacks the ability to escape, so if he holds the ball, there’s trouble. On quick routes, he rushed his throws — a result of previous pressures. Washington also lacks a power run game to give it another option. To beat quality teams, the Commanders will need more than just good receivers.

Where is this team headed? Washington has looked dreadful in four of the past six quarters. It has allowed big plays and generated little offense. It’s early, and the Commanders are 1-2, but after playing so poorly, it’s fair to wonder what happens if they don’t win at Dallas on Sunday — not about anyone losing their jobs, but about the direction of the season. Their offensive line was subpar, and the defense lacks depth and needs a playmaker in the back seven. It’s a perilous time for Washington. — John Keim

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


What to know: The Dolphins took control of the AFC East even though the Bills did their absolute best to keep Miami’s offense off the field, running a whopping 90 plays to the Dolphins’ 39, possessing the ball for 20 more minutes of game time. But in just six plays, the Dolphins showed how quickly their explosive offense can influence the outcome. Facing third-and-22, quarterback Tua Tagovailoa found receiver Jaylen Waddle for a 45-yard gain, splitting Bills backup safeties Jaquan Johnson and Damar Hamlin and setting up the go-ahead touchdown. Their performance wasn’t what fans hoped for considering the state of Buffalo’s defense — 212 total yards — but Tagovailoa continued to prove he can push the ball downfield effectively, hitting all three of his passes of 20 or more air yards. Miami might have something here.

How far can this Dolphins winning streak go? The Dolphins have started the season with three straight wins, including a statement win over the Super Bowl favorites in Buffalo. Now they get the Bengals on a short week before facing the Jets, Vikings, Steelers, Lions, Bears, Browns and Texans. There’s a chance Miami could have 10 wins before entering a brutal December schedule. — Marcel Louis-Jacques

Next game: at Bengals (Thursday, 8:15 p.m. ET)


What to know: The Buffalo Bills were unable to overcome injuries and missed opportunities in losing a close game to the Miami Dolphins. The Bills were without six players who started a game this year due to injury and dealt with seven others missing time or leaving the game. Quarterback Josh Allen, who became the first player in franchise history to attempt 60 passes, made a late comeback attempt after the Bills blocked a punt for a safety, but the Bills ran out of time to set up a potential game-winning field goal.

What’s next for a Bills secondary that has been depleted by injuries? The Bills have a major problem in their secondary going forward, with safety Micah Hyde out for the season with a neck injury and safety Jordan Poyer (foot), cornerback Dane Jackson (neck) and rookie cornerback Christian Benford (hand) dealing with various injuries. Nickelback Taron Johnson is the only healthy player with experience playing in the defensive backfield. Looking outside for help may now be necessary. Since the start of the 2021 season, the Bills had not allowed three completions of 20 or more air yards in a single regular-season game, but they allowed three on Sunday to the Dolphins. — Alaina Getzenberg

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



Tua Tagovailoa throws a laser pass to River Cracraft to bring the Dolphins even.


What to know: The Vikings took a big step forward from Week 2, when their offense never got off the mat after the Philadelphia Eagles took an early lead against them. Sunday, the Lions led 14-0 early in the second quarter and then 24-14 midway through the fourth quarter. But the Vikings came back to score the final 14 points of the game for the 28-24 win, most notably as quarterback Kirk Cousins took advantage of mismatches with No. 3 receiver K.J. Osborn. The difference between 2-1 and 1-2 for this team is huge.

How long will Dalvin Cook be out? Cook suffered a shoulder injury late in the third quarter and was quickly ruled out of the game. Cook historically has dealt with injuries, and that’s part of the reason the Vikings kept backup Alexander Mattison on their roster rather than trying to trade him. But Cook is still a special player, as he showed Sunday with 94 yards and a touchdown on 17 carries before the injury, and the Vikings’ offense isn’t as good without him. After the game, Vikings coach Kevin O’Connell said Cook is day-to-day. — Kevin Seifert

Next game: at Saints (Sunday, 9:30 a.m. ET)


What to know: The Lions had a chance to shed the “Same Old Lions” label by snapping a 10-game road winless streak with back-to-back wins, but they couldn’t close it out. Instead, they came out of Minnesota with a 1-2 start after blowing a 10-point lead in the third quarter. Quarterback Jared Goff had 277 passing yards — with a TD and interception — while running back Jamaal Williams came up with two big rushing touchdowns, but Osborn’s TD with 45 seconds ruined an opportunity for Detroit to make a statement about changing a losing culture.

Is this the Jared Goff fans should come to expect? Nobody is asking Goff to be among the best quarterbacks in the league, but despite the late interception Sunday, he has shown he is one of the most improved players on the roster. He had the Lions in position to win on the road with a 10-point third-quarter lead, but the Lions couldn’t close it out. Goff’s improvement starts with having a strong offensive line and creative playcalling from Ben Johnson. — Eric Woodyard

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



What to know: Amari Cooper continues to give the Browns the No. 1 receiver they’ve so desperately needed. Cooper became the first Browns player in nine years to finish with more than 100 yards receiving and a receiving touchdown in back-to-back games. Cooper and quarterback Jacoby Brissett have found their groove together, making the Browns’ offense more than just its vaunted running game.

Can the Browns overcome the defensive attrition? Cleveland lost multiple key players defensively Thursday. Linebacker Anthony Walker had to be carted off the field with a left knee injury. Another starting linebacker, Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah, had to go to the locker room with a groin injury. Defensive tackle Taven Bryan (hamstring) was also injured, and defensive end Jadeveon Clowney (ankle) was already out. The Browns, however, have enough talent to overcome the injuries. Even with several talented opposing QBs ahead on the schedule. — Jake Trotter

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


What to know: For the second week in a row without T.J. Watt, the Steelers’ pass rush lacked ferocity, and the run defense gave up 171 yards. Watt is likely to return at the end of October, and the Steelers have to find a solution to their defensive woes. Otherwise it’s going to be a long month without him.

Can the offense sustain its first-half production? The answer was no on Thursday. But the Steelers showed that they can move the ball effectively in the first half. Mitch Trubisky completed 9-of-13 in that first half, including a 36-yard completion to George Pickens, the longest passing play of the season. The Steelers also outrushed the Browns 88-79 yards at the half. But in the third quarter, Trubisky went 5-of-8 for just 34 yards, and the Steelers picked up just 16 rushing yards on five carries. Mike Tomlin said after the loss he was not considering a change in quarterback or playcaller, but the Steelers have to make some adjustments if they’re going to build on the first-half momentum. — Brooke Pryor

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