The third week of the NFL season is in the books—or at least the games that include former Arizona Wildcats are.
Here’s a rundown of how things went down. Keep in mind that Will Parks (Eagles) and Dane Cruikshank (Titans) are on short-term injured reserve and could return to the field as soon as Week 4.
J.J. Taylor, New England Patriots
Taylor, whose new nickname is “Small Fry”, enjoyed his most productive game as an NFL player, amassing a team-high 11 carries for 43 yards in New England’s 36-20 win over the Raiders. The undrafted rookie also returned a punt for 11 yards.
Taylor did almost all of his damage in the first half, racking up 34 of his rushing yards in the first two quarters when he was serving as the Patriots‘ top running back. They leaned on Sony Michel and Rex Burkhead in the second half as they pulled away from the Raiders.
For the season, Taylor has 16 carries for 70 yards, a solid 4.4 yards per carry. It will be interesting to see how his role changes when pass-catching specialist James White returns to the backfield.
A little momentum-based power from JJ Taylor to finish strong against Maurice Hurst. #Patriots pic.twitter.com/7LVOxQJJ8Y— Matt Waldman (@MattWaldman) September 28, 2020
Nick Folk, New England Patriots
Folk made all three of his field-goal attempts, but they were only from 33, 23 and 32 yards—kicks all NFL kickers should make. He went 3 for 4 on extra points, missing one in the fourth quarter that could have made it a three-score game.
Nick Foles, Chicago Bears
It seemed like a matter of when, not if, Foles would take over as the Bears QB. Well, it happened Sunday and Foles Magic made a grand return.
The 31-year-old threw for three touchdowns off the bench as the Bears overcame a 16-point third-quarter deficit in a 30-26 win over the Falcons.
Foles tossed the game-winning TD to Anthony Miller with a little under two minutes left, an 18-yard pass off his back foot that hit Miller in stride deep over the middle.
NICK FOLES, THERE GOES THAT MAN— PFF (@PFF) September 27, 2020
Foles finished 16 of 29 for 188 yards, the three TDs and a pick.
“It’s not easy coming in cold like that, but if you can approach it with a mindset of ‘hey, one play at a time, you can’t get all those points back in one throw,’ that helps a lot,” Foles told reporters. “It was just something where on the sidelines, coach (Matt) Nagy just said, ‘Hey, you’re in. Get warm.’ And it was just simple as that.”
Nagy wouldn’t commit to Foles being the full-time starter, even though Mitchell Trubisky has struggled for most of the season.
“Honestly, we’re not there right now,” Nagy told reporters. “But I think that there’s something here that we’ve just got to discuss and just go through and talk through the situation and understand there’s these feelings that these kids are going through right now, and I think we just want to enjoy the win right now.”
You can see our full story and more highlights from Foles’ heroics here.
Rob Gronkowski, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
After only catching two passes in his first two games and labeling himself a “blocking tight end”, Gronk tripled his production Sunday by catching six of his seven targets for 48 yards, rekindling his connection with Tom Brady in a 28-10 win over the Denver Broncos.
All of Gronk’s catches went for short yardage, with his long only being 10 yards.
However, he could have had an easy touchdown if Brady would have been more accurate on this throw toward the corner of the end zone:
Gronk shows he still has some juice left in the legs, gets separation for a redzone look but he was just barely out of bounds.pic.twitter.com/ygn0RsPLUk— Dov Kleiman (@NFL_DovKleiman) September 27, 2020
“Not every week you’re gonna get targets your way because you never know how the game’s gonna go, but today, it went that way, where I had a lot of targets, and it just felt good to get involved,” Gronk told reporters after the game. “I just knew that if I kept week in, week out just practicing hard, doing what we need to do, it was going to click. I’ve been in the league for a while, and there are some games where you just don’t get any looks, and then there are some games where you get a lot of looks. There’s some games where I’m just not clicking and everything’s just not clicking.
“I’m here just getting better week in, week out and fix the problems when there are problems and things aren’t going right. That’s the grind of the football season. I did definitely have the faith that I was going to get involved in the passing game, and it happened today. I truly believe that we can keep getting better.”
Demetrius Flannigan-Fowles, San Francisco 49ers
With injuries mounting for the Niners, Flannigan-Fowles made his NFL debut, logging two tackles in the 36-9 blowout win. DFF plays linebacker now after spending four seasons at safety at Arizona.