Five observations on the third weekend of the 2017 NFL season:
1. There have been many explanations for the decline in NFL ratings from protests to oversaturation to concussion concerns. But maybe the problem is that they’ve had too many boring games in recent years that cause the fans to lose interest.
Well, they solved that problem Sunday with one of the best weekends in recent memory. It was the kind of weekend that helped make the NFL what it is today.
It started with the Rams 41-39 victory over the Chargers Thursday night and then Sunday featured overtime games, games decided on the last play, wild plays and controversial calls.
The games were overshadowed by all the controversy over the protests, but the league could use more weekends like that one. The TV ratings were up three percent, although it is uncertain if the games were the reason or whether fans tuned in to see how the players would react to Donald Trump’s comments about the protests.
2. The Detroit Lions were the victim of a bad rule and an official’s mistake in their 30-26 loss to the Atlanta Falcons.
Golden Tate seemed to score the winning touchdown for Detroit with eight seconds left. But when the replay showed Tate was down inches short of the goal line, the touchdown was taken off the board.
The ball was placed inches short and then there was an automatic 10-second runoff, resulting in the game being over and the Lions never getting to run another play.
If the officials had called him down to start with, the Lions would have had eight seconds to get another play off. There shouldn’t be a 10-second runoff in that situation.
3. That bad rule enabled the Falcons to start off 3-0, the first Super Bowl loser to start 3-0 since the 2006 Seahawks, who finished 9-7 and lost a second-round playoff game.
The Falcons haven’t shown a hangover from blowing the 28-3 lead in the Super Bowl. The odds are still against Atlanta winning it all, though.
The last Super Bowl loser to win the Super Bowl the next year was the 1972 Miami perfect season. Since Kansas City is the only other 3-0 team, those Dolphins can probably ice the champagne because they’re likely to remain the only unbeaten team in league history.
By contrast, there are five 0-3 teams – the Cincinnati Bengals, Cleveland Browns, Los Angeles Chargers and New York Giants. The Browns are 0-3 for the sixth time in 10 years. Only three teams – the 1992 Chargers, the 1995 Lions and the 1998 Buffalo Bills – have started off 0-3 and made the playoffs under the current format.
4. The officials are doing the best to take the fun out of the game.
Late in the Denver-Buffalo game, Von Miller held out his hand to quarterback Bills quarterback Tyrod Taylor as if to help him up and then pulled away his hand. They both laughed, but the officials called a 15-yard penalty on Miller, giving the Bills a first down instead of being forced to punt. The Bills then drove for a field goal that iced a 26-16 victory.
The officials need to use more common sense in making their calls.
5. When rookie Jake Elliott lined up for a 61-yard field goal attempt at the end of the New York Giants-Philadelphia Eagles game, Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz told him he’d give Elliott his weekly paycheck if he made it.
Elliott drilled the field goal to give the Eagles a 27-24 victory. Wentz was wired for the game so it was caught on videotape, but it remains to be seen if Wentz will actually do it.
Wentz makes $31,764 a week in base salary, but more than $350,000 if you count the pro-rated share of roster and signing bonuses.
That would be a pricey field goal.