Apologies for the delay in posting this weekly column and Week 4’s column which is coming shortly.  I was in Europe on vacation for 10 days with a bad internet connection and no real ability to research and post articles.  I also missed 2 NFL Sundays while there… Ouch. 

Tom Brady, QB (Patriots)

HOU 33 at NE 36

The 40-year old’s Week 3 performance reminds us why he is such a great quarterback. Beyond his excellent performance with that insane 146.2 passer rating, the 375 passing yards, and 5 TDs without interceptions, the way he kept coming back to help his team win is the essence of his genius.  After being sent to the ground many times by the Texans defense (including 5 sacks) and with 2:24 left in the 4Q (and his team in a 5-point deficit), he rallied his team to fight back and put together a tremendous 8-play 75-yard drive down the field to get a game winning TD. Then with seconds left, the Patriots added a 2-point conversion to seal the deal. This skill of resisting defeat and being a resilient leader is what sets Brady apart from almost every other quarterback to have ever played the position.

Kareem Hunt, RB (Chiefs)

KC 24 at LAC 10

Let’s put the first 3 weeks in perspective for this amazing rookie running back:  Weeks 1 & 2 he combined for 253 rushing yards & 3 TDs and during Week 3, he added another 148 yards and TD, including a 58-yard run and 2 receiving TDs.  He entered Week 4 with 401 total rushing yards (more than 26 teams in the league), the most scrimmage yards (538), most yards per carry (8.53) and most yards per touch (9.6).  Hunt also had the second most ever yards through three games by a rookie since 1950.  A possible issue going forward for the 22-year-old now, is workload.  Hunt had 18.7 touches per game through Week 3 and is on pace for 299.2 this season, the most for a Chief under Coach Reid since 2013.  But, Reid said recently that KC will keep giving Hunt the ball as long as they can.  Makes sense since the Chiefs remain the only team still undefeated thus far and face a tough stretch the next several weeks (Redskins, Texans, Steelers, Raiders, Broncos, Cowboys).

Stefon Diggs, WR (Vikings)

TB 17 at MIN 34

QB Sam Bradford may have been out for a 2nd straight week due to a knee injury, but that didn’t stop Minnesota’s 23-year-old receiver out of Maryland from lighting up the stats.  During Week 3, Diggs recorded 173 receiving yards and 2 TDs, averaging 21.6 yards per carry.  While his performance stands out, Diggs seems to be benefiting from a continued homogeneity with fellow WR Adam Thielen.  Last season, this dynamic duo came close to each breaking 1000 receiving yards (Diggs – 903; Thielen – 967) which would have been the first time in 7 years a Viking receiver successfully did so (Sidney Rice in 2009).  This may finally be both their years, as Diggs leads the league in receiving yards (391) and Thielen has the 3rd most (358) through Week 3.

Terrence Brooks, S (Jets)

MIA 6 at NYG 20

Before being named AFC Defensive Player of Week 3, Brooks had never played a season-high 31 snaps on defense in his 4-year career.  The 25-year-old “career backup” tore his ACL at the end of his rookie season with the Ravens in 2014 and was released after playing 12 games in 2015.  He then played the next season with the Eagles before being traded to NY during the final week of this preseason.  This move, as evidenced by his excellent performance on Sept 24 with 2 interceptions, 3 passes defended and 2 tackles, point towards a resurgence for the young free safety out of Florida State.  Ironically, the Eagles have endured injuries to several of their safeties early this season.  Still, even with his Week 3 performance, Brooks is slated to remain a “situational player” for the Jets behind rookie starters Jamal Adams and Marcus Maye, as well as a special teams contributor.  But, Brooks is hoping for more playing time to show what he can do.  “The coaches believe in me and want to get me on the field and they like what I do. I want to be here, and I want to be here for a long time, man. Hopefully, we can make that happen. I just want to keep improving each week and bring something to this team.”  It’s safe to say, he already has.

Melvin Ingram, OLB (Chargers)

KC 24 at LAC 10

The sacks leader for Week 3 was this 28-year-old veteran edge rusher who recorded 3 sacks, 6 combined tackles and 3 QB hits in the Chargers loss to the Chiefs at home.  Combined, Ingram had 5.5 sacks, good for 2nd in the league behind DeMarcus Lawrence (Cowboys).  This number is also the most sacks for a player in the 1st three games of the season in Chargers’ team history. For his efforts, Ingram was bestowed the honor of being the AFC Defensive Player of the Week. Known for his hardcore work ethic, it’s probably the reason the Chargers gave Ingram a big pay day when they signed him to a 4-year $66 million deal with $42 million in guarantees in the off-season despite an injury-plagued 2013-14 season.  LA Defensive Coordinator Gus Bradley recently praised Ingram for his diverse skill set. “He can play multiple positions.  Some guys are really good edge rushers, but you put them inside and they are not as effective.  But he has traits on the outside, he has traits on the inside…he just is unique that way.  I’m not sure I’ve been around somebody who has all that type of skillset.”

Jake Elliott, K (Eagles)

NYG 24 at PHL 27

By now, you’ve likely heard the story of the amazing 61-yard field goal this rookie made with 1 second left on the clock during Philadelphia’s Week 3 game versus the Giants to win the game.  This feat helped Elliott to also earn the NFL Special Teams Player of the Week.  But you may not know the amazing journey the 22-year old out of Memphis went on to get there…  During this year’s draft, the Bengals selected Elliott in the 5R, 153rd overall, but cut him Labor Day weekend.  He then signed with the Eagles when their starter (Caleb Sturgis) got hurt on Opening Day.  Fast forward to Week 3, Phillie’s coaches watched Elliott practice before the game and only planned to use him if a 56-yard field goal or closer was needed.  When the moment arrived and the ball was put on the 43 yard line for a 61-yard field goal and 1 second left, Elliott pled his case to Head Coach Doug Pederson to put him in. He said, “Let’s go.  LET’S GO!”  Pederson, who barely knew Elliott, just looked at the kid and pointed towards the field.  After Elliott made the longest kick of his life which turned out to be the longest in Eagles history and the longest ever for a rookie kicker, Eagles players lifted him on their shoulders and he became an instant folk hero.


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