Scully's NFL notebook: Mahomes is in a class of his own
The much-anticipated, Monday-night matchup between Baltimore and Kansas City turned out to be a one-sided affair, but nine games Sunday were decided by a touchdown or less.
Here are my top three takeaways and observations from an entertaining Week 3 of the NFL season.
Mahomes stars in Monday-night showdown
Patrick Mahomes showed why he is the best and stole the spotlight from Lamar Jackson in Baltimore.
The fourth-year quarterback looked unstoppable, put up 27 first-half points on the NFL’s No. 1 scoring defense, and the Chiefs punted only once in a 34-20 win.
The second half didn’t start smoothly for Kansas City, as Darwin Thompson fumbled on the first drive and Baltimore stopped the Chiefs on downs at midfield in the next possession. When the Ravens reduced the advantage to seven points, Mahomes squashed the momentum with a 13-play, 75-yard drive, capped by a touchdown pass to tackle Eric Fisher.
Mahomes’ ability to improvise in the pocket sets him apart. The reigning Super Bowl MVP isn’t afraid to take hits, often waits until the last moment to deliver the ball, and can adeptly escape pressure to avoid sacks. He hurts defenses by scrambling for first downs and touchdowns in passing situations. And with keen accuracy, Mahomes will adjust his arm angle and trajectory like no quarterback I’ve seen.
Eight Chiefs players had a reception Monday night. Mahomes threw four touchdown passes, ran for another, and finished with 385 passing yards and a whopping 139.6 passer rating.
Who will win the NFL MVP Award?
Wilson has been wonderful
Russell Wilson is reaching new heights this season, with 925 passing yards, 14 touchdowns, and only one interception through three games. He became the first player to throw four touchdowns in each of the first three games and established a new mark for the most touchdown passes to start the season. Wilson leads the league with a 139.0 passer rating (Aaron Rodgers established the single-season record of 122.5 in 2011).
His ability to throw the deep ball is impeccable, and Wilson can be like a ballerina in the pocket to avoid defenders. He is thrashing opposing defenses, even though he has faced constant pressure behind a makeshift offensive line. Wilson was sacked four times last week, and he played without both starting guards for periods, as three starters up front were hurt during the game.
Seattle must exploit Wilson’s phenomenal skills, because its banged-up defense stinks. The Seahawks rank last in total defense and have surrendered 497.3 yards per game. The depleted secondary can’t cover and has given up nearly 80 more passing yards per game than the 31st-ranked team in the league.
Their top pass rusher, Bruce Irvin, was lost for the season in Week 2, and his replacement, first-round pick Jordyn Brooks, went down with a knee injury last week (he is expected to miss a couple of games). Seattle’s best defensive player, safety Jamal Adams, was forced out of last week’s 38-31 shootout victory over Dallas with a minor knee sprain, but he could be back this week.
Seattle has put more on the back of Wilson than ever before, and he is responding with a career-best season.
Wild finish in Buffalo
After it rolled to a 28-3 halftime advantage, Buffalo was fortunate to escape with a home win over the Los Angeles Rams.
Bills quarterback Josh Allen had to earn it on the final drive — he converted a third-and-22 and tossed the game-winning pass with seconds remaining — and Buffalo benefited from a pass-interference penalty to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat.
It was a controversial call, to say the least. Prior to the late touchdown pass, Buffalo faced a fourth-down situation deep in Los Angeles territory, with 25 seconds on the game clock. Allen attempted a short pass to wide receiver Gabriel Davis, but the pass sailed incomplete, after Davis and cornerback Darious Williams made contact.
I thought Davis initiated the contact, the pass had no chance to be completed after they came together, and the official should have swallowed the flag.
The Rams were infuriated, but many viewed it as poetic justice. Los Angeles made the Super Bowl after a flagrant pass interference wasn’t called in the 2019 NFC Championship Game.