It should not be overly shocking that the NFC North finished a collective 2-2 in Week 3. What is rather surprising is the way that the teams of the Black and Blue Division got to that .500 record.
The Bears' defense smothered Sam Bradford and company, not allowing the Rams to enter the red zone once. Tim Jennings picked off his fourth pass of the young season, and Major Wright took another interception 45 yards for a score. The Bears also got substantial pressure on Bradford, sacking him six times. Israel Idonije had a great individual performance with 2.5 sacks on his own. The Bears' offense was not particularly impressive, though, as Jay Cutler threw for only 183 yards with an interception of his own. Michael Bush scored the Bears' only offensive touchdown of the game, on a 3-yard run. They'll need to get their offensive issues straightened out to be a major player in the NFC.
This game might have been the most talked-about of the weekend if not for Monday Night's debacle. The teams combined for the second-most points in a fourth quarter in NFL history with 46 in a ridiculous end to regulation. The Titans exploited the Lions' special teams, scoring a touchdown each on a punt and a kickoff return in the game, and Nate Washington hauled in a 71-yard score (seen in the image above). Shaun Hill had to replace an injured Matthew Stafford late in the fourth quarter, and led the Lions to their last two scores for the tie.
However, the Titans kicked a field goal on the first drive in overtime and held Hill on a failed sneak attempt on fourth down to secure the victory. Jim Schwartz blamed the failed sneak on communication issues, saying that they were only going to try to draw the Titans offside but center Dominic Raiola snapped the ball anyway. This wasn't the most surprising result from Sunday afternoon, however.
Then we have the Vikings. Raise your hand if you thought Minnesota would win this game. If you're raising your hand right now, you're a liar. Both quarterbacks in this game threw the ball 35 times, an unusually high number for teams built around the run and controlling the ball. Christian Ponder looked impressive at times, with two touchdowns passing to go with an impressive rushing score. The Vikings defense stifled the 49ers' run game, holding Frank Gore to 63 yards and forcing him to fumble once.
I'm not ready to declare the Vikings a playoff team, but the reality is that they have to be regarded as a threat for now. Ponder is looking far better than I expected at this stage of his career, and he has a few talented weapons in Percy Harvin and Kyle Rudolph.
Here are the standings within the division after three weeks:
|Green Bay Packers||1||2||0|
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