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NFL preseason 2018: Here’s what you missed from Week 3

Get caught up with the top highlights (and some lowlights) from the preseason’s penultimate week.

NFL: Arizona Cardinals at Dallas Cowboys Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

Dress rehearsal week concluded Sunday with the final two games of Week 3. Get caught up on what happened, and check out our big winners and losers so far this week.

Arizona Cardinals 27, Dallas Cowboys 3

Is it the regular season yet? The offenses left a lot to be desired in the first half, with several first-stringers held out or barely playing. The two teams combined for 10 first downs, including six by Dallas, which barely outpaced their five turnovers in the opening 30 minutes.

Combined, defense (7 points) and special teams (7), outscored the offenses (3) in the first half. Unfortunately for the Cowboys, all 17 points were scored by Arizona, including this pick-6 by Patrick Peterson:

The Cowboys finished with a whopping eight turnovers in the game, giving Arizona 16 takeaways in three preseason games.

Butterfingers: Dallas has been disastrous so far on punt returns, muffing two in a row. This one was batted around several times in the end zone before the Cardinals pounced for a gift touchdown.

The green zone: For their Sunday night telecast, NBC unveiled a new feature this year for third downs, rather than the standard first-down marker.

The initial responses were less than enthusiastic.

Recap for Cardinals fans: Revenge of the Birds

Recap for Cowboys fans: Blogging the Boys

Cincinnati Bengals 26, Buffalo Bills 13

Take a bow, Andy Dalton: The biggest cheer happened before the game. After helping the Bills get into the playoffs last season with a last-minute touchdown to beat the Ravens, Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton was greeted warmly by the Buffalo crowd:

Then on Dalton’s first play of the game, he threw downfield and hit John Ross, who swerved beautifully around a couple of defenders, to score a 57-yard touchdown:

Dalton didn’t get any cheers from Bills fans for that one. Or later in the first quarter, when he found A.J. Green for a 14-yard touchdown.

Dalton finished the game with 180 passing yards and two touchdowns in just a quarter and a half.

The Bills OL is doing Josh Allen no favors: In his first start, Allen was under pressure all game. He was sacked five times and had no time to throw the ball — he was even sacked for more yards (39) than he passed for (34).

One of the last plays of the half was Allen throwing the ball away, just barely avoiding a sixth sack and hitting his head on the turf. Allen left to be evaluated for a concussion — a play later. He was cleared to return in the second half.

Nathan Peterman might be the Week 1 starter: Peterman took over for Allen and fared much better. He started the game going 7 of 7 for 100 yards and a touchdown, the Bills’ first score of the game. They scored another touchdown on Peterman’s next drive.

Recap for Bengals fans: Cincy Jungle

Recap for Bills fans: Buffalo Rumblings

New Orleans Saints 36, Los Angeles Chargers 7

It took no time for Derwin James to get an interception: On the Saints’ opening drive, Drew Brees lobbed a ball downfield and three players all converged on it at the same time. It was the Chargers’ first-round pick Derwin James who somehow came away with the catch.

Many were surprised the Chargers were fortunate enough to land James with the No. 17 pick in the first round. If he keeps making plays like that, Los Angeles has itself a steal.

Recap for Saints fans: Canal Street Chronicles

Recap for Chargers fans: Bolts From The Blue

Baltimore Ravens 27, Miami Dolphins 10

Lamar Jackson broke ‘em down: There was no Joe Flacco on Saturday night, but Robert Griffin III handled the quarterback duties during the first half. Griffin had 41 rushing yards, but it was Jackson that got into the end zone with his legs.

On the next drive, he made his mark with his arm, throwing a 21-yard touchdown to DeVier Posey.

Danny Amendola did Danny Amendola things: The veteran spent his last five seasons with the Patriots, but left to join the Dolphins where they hope he’ll be a valuable safety valve for Ryan Tannehill. Kind of exactly like he was on his touchdown reception from Tannehill in the second quarter Saturday.

That’s Amendola’s first touchdown in a Dolphins uniform, but likely won’t be the last.

Justin Tucker is having a rare bad day: The Ravens’ kicker has been arguably the best in the NFL for a long time now, but he was uncharacteristically off to start Saturday.

After missing a 51-yard field goal at the end of Baltimore’s first drive, Tucker’s second field goal try was blocked when it came out low.

Recap for Ravens fans: Baltimore Beatdown

Recap for Dolphins fans: The Phinsider

Jacksonville Jaguars 17, Atlanta Falcons 6

Blake Bortles had some good, but too much bad: Inconsistency has always plagued Bortles, and it reared its head again Saturday. While he topped 200 passing yards and led the Jaguars on a couple long drives, including a 98-yard touchdown drive, he also had a couple bad interceptions.

Bortles got lucky on another poor decision earlier in the game that also could’ve been intercepted. A year ago, Bortles was benched prior to the Jaguars’ third preseason game and then went on to start the entire season and lead the team to the AFC Championship. So it’s not quite panic time, but it’s still not ideal.

Marqise Lee carted off: The Jaguars parted ways with Allen Robinson and Allen Hurns in the offense, leaving very little experience at wide receiver. That problem appeared to get much worse when Lee took a helmet to the knee, twisting his leg at an awkward angle. He was taken off the field on a cart and immediately ruled out for the remainder of the game.

Recap for Falcons fans: The Falcoholic

Recap for Jaguars fans: Big Cat Country

Indianapolis Colts 23, San Francisco 49ers 17

Andrew Luck looks good again: It was a shaky start to preseason for the Colts quarterback after missing all of 2017, but he looked great early against the San Francisco defense. He completed eight of his first 10 passes for 90 yards, showing strong zip on some intermediate throws, and eventually found Eric Ebron for a touchdown pass in the second quarter.

Luck’s journey back from a serious shoulder problem has been a long process, but the Colts have to be optimistic about what they saw Saturday.

Recap for 49ers fans: Niners Nation

Recap for Colts fans: Stampede Blue

Los Angeles Rams 21, Houston Texans 20

Deshaun Watson tried to do a little too much: With pressure bearing down on him, the Texans’ second-year quarterback made a poor decision early in the game when he hurled a ball into traffic downfield and into the arms of Rams safety Lamarcus Joyner.

While Watson had an absurd 19 touchdown passes in just seven games in his rookie year, he also had eight interceptions. Live by the fire; die by the fire. He finished the game with three completions on six attempts for 15 yards.

John Kelly made his mark with Todd Gurley sitting: The Rams rested the reigning Offensive Player of the Year, which meant opportunity for rookie running back John Kelly.

While he was a popular and productive player at Tennessee, Kelly fell to the sixth round of the NFL Draft due mostly to his size. But on Saturday, he showed exactly why so many are excited about his fit in the Rams offense.

It was Kelly’s second touchdown of the game after he found the end zone in the second quarter on a 4-yard run.

Recap for Texans fans: Battle Red Blog

Recap for Rams fans: Turf Show Times

Pittsburgh Steelers 16, Tennessee Titans 6

Steelers first-round pick Terrell Edmunds made his mark: Edmunds was one of the most surprising picks of the first round in April, but he showed a glimpse at why Pittsburgh thought he was worth that investment when he picked off Marcus Mariota.

It was Mariota’s final throw of the game, capping his five of eight stat-line with 43 yards, no touchdowns, and one interception.

Justin Hunter made a huge play in his revenge game: The 2013 second-round pick never lived up to his draft billing in Tennessee, and really hasn’t done much in the last two years with the Dolphins, Bills, or Steelers either.

But he made a hell of a play in Ben Roethlisberger’s preseason debut, somehow managing to get both feet in bounds near the right sideline.

Hunter has been a preseason star in the past so maybe pump the brakes on a hype train, but it would be a welcomed addition to the Pittsburgh offense if he was a surprise contributor.

Recap for Titans fans: Music City Miracles

Recap for Steelers fans: Behind The Steel Curtain

Chicago Bears 27, Kansas City Chiefs 20

It was all offense to start: The Bears rested a loooong list of players, including Mitchell Trubisky, but still drove 60 yards in six plays with Chase Daniel at quarterback. The drive was capped by a 13-yard touchdown run for Benny Cunningham.

The Chiefs offense responded with a 74-yard touchdown drive of their own that took just four plays. It finished with a good read by Patrick Mahomes against a Bears blitz, and an easy touchdown up the right sideline for Kareem Hunt.

Kevin White did something! The Bears’ 2015 first-round pick played a grand total of five games in his first three seasons in Chicago and has 21 receptions. He still hasn’t caught a touchdown pass in a regular season game.

While it won’t land on his career stats, he finally caught a touchdown in a Bears uniform Saturday.

The touchdown is his first in a game since Dec. 29, 2014 when he caught one against the Texas A&M secondary.

Recap for Chiefs fans: Arrowhead Pride

Recap for Bears fans: Windy City Gridiron

Oakland Raiders 13, Green Bay Packers 6

Derek Carr hit Amari Cooper for a big gain on the first play of the game: The Raiders are going to need these two to get back on the same page if they want to get back into playoff contention.

Thankfully, there was no OT. The first half ended in a 3-3 tie. Early in the fourth quarter, it was 6-6. But then EJ Manuel rebounded from some mistakes and led the Raiders down the field. Undrafted rookie Chris Warren, who had a decent game, ran it in from the 1 for the game’s only touchdown.

Recap for Packers fans: Acme Packing Company

Recap for Raiders fans: Silver & Black Pride

New York Giants 22, New York Jets 16

Sam Darnold threw a touchdown to a Terrelle Pryor: The former collegiate quarterbacks connected on a short touchdown pass in the red zone.

Hunter Sharp’s 55-yard punt return: Return touchdowns are always a treat. Hopefully this boosts Sharp’s chances to make the final roster.

Scramblin’ Sammy: Darnold led the Jets down the field on an 11-play, 75-yard touchdown drive that included this nifty scramble on a third down. If he keeps playing like this, he should find himself as the Jets’ Week 1 starter.

Recap for Giants fans: Big Blue View

Recap for Jets fans: Gang Green Nation

Denver Broncos 29, Washington 17

Emmanuel Sanders ran one in as well: “REVERSE, REVERSE!” - DJ Casper

Royce Freeman rumbled for a 24-yard touchdown: Freeman continues to make his case to the bellcow runner for the Broncos. His burst for a man of his player is impressive.

Adrian Peterson’s Washington debut is a success: Less than a week after signing with his new team, the 33-year-old Peterson looks far from washed:

He finished with 56 yards on 11 carries.

Recap for Broncos fans: Mile High Report

Recap for Washington fans: Hogs Haven

Carolina Panthers 25, New England Patriots 14

Christian McCaffrey’s strong preseason continues: McCaffrey has run with more confidence and power this preseason than he ever showed during his rookie season. He looks like he’s still at Stanford.

Recap for Patriots fans: Pats Pulpit

Recap for Panthers fans: Cat Scratch Reader

Minnesota Vikings 21, Seattle Seahawks 20

Stefon Diggs held on to the ball after a big hit: Seattle’s defense may have lost the Legion of Boom, but they still have K.J. Wright who made his presence felt on this play.

Kirk Cousins hit Diggs with a perfect throw on a comeback route: Cousins needed to bounce back after a shaky game against the Jaguars, this throw will instill some confidence.

Michael Dickson is the greatest punter in NFL history: OK, that might be a bit bold, but this is still an unbelievable punt by the rookie.

Stefon spins: Diggs got the Vikings’ night kicked off with some fancy footwork in the open field.

Recap for Seahawks fans: Field Gulls

Recap for Vikings fans: Daily Norseman

Detroit Lions 33, Tampa Bay Buccaneers 30

Adam Humphries brought a missed field goal back: Humphries hit the burners on this 109 yard missed field goal return.

Chris Godwin made a God-ly catch: Bad pun here, we know. Still, this is a fantastic catch by an ascending second year talent.

Peyton Barber scores a dang touchdown: Third-year running back Peyton Barber is primed for an increased role this year, and with moves like this 14-yard touchdown he should get more touches.

Recap for Lions fans: Pride of Detroit

Recap for Buccaneers fans: Bucs Nation

Cleveland Browns 5, Philadelphia Eagles 0

Eagles grounded: Philadelphia had a hell of a struggle in the first half against the Browns defense. The Eagles’ first six drives have featured a turnover on downs, a safety, two fumbles, two interceptions, and no points. Myles Garrett and his two sacks have been a huge factor for Cleveland.

Zero points for Philadelphia had the head coach perturbed.

Taylor injures left hand: Cleveland on their second drive had two big running plays, including a 33-yard burst by Carlos Hyde, but after 1st-and-goal from the one ran four straight running plays and didn’t score. After the fourth down scramble and pass, quarterback Tyrod Taylor landed awkwardly on his left hand. After briefly staying down on the ground, Taylor walked off the field under his own power, though with his left arm dangling, and left the sidelines.

NFL: Philadelphia Eagles at Cleveland Browns Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports

Taylor was listed as questionable to return but returned to the field in the second quarter after missing two drives. Taylor was immediately greeted with a sack by Haloti Ngata, because quarterbacking the Cleveland Browns has its consequences.

Ward out, too: Cornerback Denzel Ward, fourth-overall pick in the 2018 draft, left in the first quarter with a back injury and is questionable to return.

The safety dance: The silver lining of getting stuffed at the 1-yard line is great field position for the Browns’ defense, and when Eagles quarterback Nick Foles stumbled in the backfield, it was an easy two points for Cleveland for the game’s first score.

Recap for Eagles fans: Bleeding Green Nation

Recap for Browns fans: Dawgs By Nature


Pregame

The third week of the NFL preseason, for many teams, is the last chance to get their starters game-time reps before the regular season starts. With Week 4 serving as one final chance for fringe roster candidates to prove their worth, Week 3 is typically the one where teams leave their starters in the longest in an effort to figure out what needs to be fine-tuned before the real games start.

So if you’re looking for honest-to-goodness, actual NFL football, this is the closest you’re going to get before September.

There’s plenty to watch in Week 3. Jordy Nelson will welcome his old teammates to his new home when the Green Bay Packers head west to face the Oakland Raiders. Tom Brady’s Patriots will face Cam Newton’s Panthers in a game that will pit two of the last three NFL MVPs against each other — at least for a few drives. Two second-year quarterbacks with big expectations on their shoulders will meet when Patrick Mahomes II and the Chiefs square off with Mitchell Trubisky and the Bears.

Looking for a full rundown of all the reasons to watch this week? We’ve got you covered. Otherwise, check out the full schedule below and draw your own conclusions as we draw closer and closer to the return of real, honest-to-goodness NFL football.

NFL Preseason Week 3 Schedule:

All times listed are Eastern.

Thursday

Philadelphia Eagles at Cleveland Browns, 8 p.m., Fox

Friday

New York Giants at New York Jets, 7:30 p.m.

Denver Broncos at Washington, 7:30 p.m.

New England Patriots at Carolina Panthers, 7:30 p.m.

Seattle Seahawks at Minnesota Vikings, 8 p.m.

Detroit Lions at Tampa Bay Buccaneers, 8 p.m., CBS

Green Bay Packers at Oakland Raiders, 10:30 p.m., NFL Network

Saturday

Kansas City Chiefs at Chicago Bears, 1 p.m., NFL Network

Houston Texans at Los Angeles Rams, 4 p.m.

Tennessee Titans at Pittsburgh Steelers, 4 p.m., NFL Network

San Francisco 49ers at Indianapolis Colts, 4:30 p.m.

Baltimore Ravens at Miami Dolphins, 7 p.m.

Atlanta Falcons at Jacksonville Jaguars, 7 p.m.

New Orleans Saints at Los Angeles Chargers, 8 p.m., CBS

Sunday

Cincinnati Bengals at Buffalo Bills, 4 p.m., Fox

Arizona Cardinals at Dallas Cowboys, 8 p.m., NBC