As we edge closer to the start of the season it's time to take a look at how the Thursday and Friday games from pre-season week 3 panned out. Starting with...
The Panthers @ Bengals. And you know you're looking bad when this Bengals team can beat you. At this juncture it's probably a good time to point out that the Bengals did most of the damage with their starters against the Panthers starters, before anyone starts talking about third stringers.
Though initially it seemed bright enough for the Panthers with Cam Newton running 16 yards for the first score. But that's kind of where the fun ended for Cam, who finished 6/19 for 75 yards. Yes, 6/19. Now I know he's a rookie but that's still pretty bad. What I love most though is that had this been Tim Tebow in his rookie year, people would have been pouring on the hate. But I'm not hearing it now? Funny that. Ok, I'll make it up for all the lost voices; Newton is going to suck this year. And probably every other year.
There you go.
On the other side Andy Dalton started to show some signs of life, throwing 11/17 for 130 yards and a TD. Getting there Andy. Very slowly, but getting there. The real focus for the Bengals though should be on that running game. Cedric Benson and Bernard Scott combined for 22 carries, producing 131 yards and 2 touchdowns. The vitality of this running attack could just be the key to getting Dalton through the season with some semblance of success.
Next was the Browns @ Eagles. Mike Vick took some lumps for the Eagles, but complimented his 10/18 for 98 yards passing with 4 carries for 24 yards and a TD. Vince Young played the "anything you can do, I can do precisely the same" game, by also carrying 4 times for 24 yards and a TD. Running backs Ronnie Brown and Dion Lewis did a lot of the ground work, but LeSean McCoy was the back that got the cream, with 7 catches for a team leading 69 yards receiving.
For the Browns, Colt McCoy looked a little less assured this time around, with 9/18 for 89 yards plus an interception off a poor decision, throwing the ball under pressure to a waiting Asante Samuel who dropped off his outside receiver and snuck underneath the pass to make a great pick. Seneca Wallace clawed back a TD pass for the Browns, before rookie Jarrett Brown hit the field and went 4/4 for 35 yards and a TD. Kid's had quite a solid pre-season so far.
On defense it was all about the Eagles, who accompanied Samuel's interception with five sacks. They're still not quite the Dream Team in Philadelphia, but at least they look a little less shaky now.
Next was the Redskins @ Ravens, and quite a tight game. The Redskins quarterback battle continues with Rex Grossman throwing 8/15 for 112 yards and a TD to John Becks 6/10 for 108 yards and a TD, plus an INT. Overall I'm not sure who will win. Grossman has had the lions share of the playing time so he has more film for Shanahan and son to review, but I think Beck might just sneak it. He just looks a little sharper in general.
The story of the Redskins is still their running game though. Tim Hightower and rookie Roy Helu put up exactly 100 yards between them on 22 carries. Hightower also had a touchdown. Second year wide receiver Terrence Austin also impressed, with 5 carries for 71 yards and a TD. The 'skins defense also looked a bit better, with an interception by DeAngelo Hall and four sacks as a unit, including single sacks for rookies Ryan Kerrigan and Davonte Shannon.
For the Ravens, Joe Flacco kind of looked better in this game. Sort of. A little. Trying to find nice things to say about someone I don't rate all that much. He finished 17/27 for 219 yards, 2 touchdowns and 1 interception (the DeAngelo Hall pick 6). Rookie Tyrod Taylor definitely improved, with 11/18 for 125 yards and a TD. Running back Ray Rice found his groove (13 carries, 72 yards, 1 TD) as did recent acquisition receiver Lee Evans, who caught 3 passes for 60 yards and a TD. Anquan Boldin had 5 catches for 73 yards and a TD as well. Ladarius Webb stood out on the Ravens D, with an interception and a sack.
Packers @ Colts next. The Curtis Painter saga continues. People have been heaping praise on him in the last few hours but I would say hold up a second. He was 11/21 for 171 yards and 2 touchdowns. That's not bad, but let's face it, for Curtis Painter that is practically a career performance. To top it off, 57 of those hallowed yards came when Reggie Wayne was left wide open as corner Sam Shields tried to emulate Asante Samuel's baiting trick from the day before... except Samuel had a safety playing the proper technique over the top and Shields didn't. The result was the Wayne TD. And Painter still sucks.
Aaron Rodgers doesn't though, finishing the game 19/23 for 204 yards and a TD, while looking just as slick as he did in last years Super Bowl. Except for that stupid moustache come beard thing he's sporting now. You're not rock and roll Aaron. AC/DC will not be calling anytime soon. "Rookie" Graham Harrell (he's 26 and played in the pre-season last year) then came in and finished the game 12/21 for 85 yards, an interception, but also a touchdown with just 35 seconds left on the clock, followed by a two point conversion.
The Packers then caught the Colts napping with an onside kick, demonstrating the lack of game management from Colts Head Coach Jim Caldwell that hurt his team at times last year.
Both defenses did well. The Packers had 4 sacks, one by Clay Matthews and the other three coming from rookies. The Colts D produced 5, including two for Dwight Freeney and one for former Bear Tommie Harris. This is definitely a positive sign, given that in the Peyton Manning era the defense has often let down the rest of the team.
Finally for today we have the Rams @ Chiefs. Quarterback Sam Bradford looked ok for the Rams, throwing 9/16 for 95 yards and 2 touchdowns, but also a dangerous interception while backed up near his own goal line, as he failed to see the grossly under rated linebacker Derrick Johnson lurking in underneath coverage. Johnson also had a sack. Rams back up A.J. Feely was 8/13 for 65 yards and an interception.
The Rams rushing attack did much better though. Steven Jackson turned 15 carries into 72 yards while Cadillac Williams carried 12 times for 53 yards. Rookie Tight End Lance Kendricks has been making me look good for calling him better than Kyle Rudolph and he continued that theme against the Chiefs with 2 catches for 26 yards and a touchdown. On defense, rookie defensive end Robert Quinn restored my rookie predicting karma to zero, by defying my criticism of him and having a sack/fumble, plus blocking a field goal.
But then on the Chiefs side Ricky Stanzi tried to get me back on the plus side for this game, finally pulling his finger out of his arse to throw 8/14 for 121 yards and a lovely touchdown pass, with no interceptions. Keep it up. Matt Cassel meanwhile wallowed in his own personal well of mediocrity, with 6/13 for 59 yards. Tip; when you make Tyler Palko look good (7/12, 92 yards) then you're doing something very wrong.
That's it for today. If you think I'm doing all of Saturdays games in one marathon chunk tomorrow then you've got another thing coming. I'll likely be back Monday night (technically Tuesday morning here). Till then, have a good weekend, enjoy the football and don't forget to hit the Facebook-like-button-thingy at the bottom.