Photo by Larry Radloff/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Matt Lombardo's 4 Downs: NFL Week 3 Recap, Reactions, and Awards

FanBuzz NFL insider Matt Lombardo shares his biggest takeaways from Week 3 of the 2023 NFL regular season.

In the annals of Green Bay Packers lore, Jordan Love's performance Sunday might not reside alongside the signature moments of Aaron Rodgers, Brett Favre, or Bart Starr.

However, Love's frenetic fourth quarter might serve as the opening graphs of the franchise's next chapter.

As the Packers' offense appeared stuck in neutral through three quarters on Sunday afternoon against the New Orleans Saints, Love decided the final frame was the time to put his team on his back.

Love taking off on a 24-yard high-wire of a scramble down the sideline served as a catalyst for the rest of the offense, as the Packers looked to take their first lead of the game, trailing 17-11.

After opening the final frame down 17-0, Love completed 7-of-17 passes for 104 yards with a touchdown, after rushing for 20 yards, including a one-yard scoring plunge, that ignited Green Bay's comeback.

When the clock struck triple-zeroes, Love delivered a thrilling 18-17 comeback victory.

To put Love and the Packers' comeback in historical context, Green Bay's furious fourth quarter comeback was just the third time since 1993 that a team came all the way back to win from 17-0 at the start of the fourth quarter.

Love's strong finish to Sunday's game, completing 22-of-44 attempts for 259 passing yards with one touchdown, one interception, and one rushing touchdown, is even more impressive given the fact that starting running back Aaron Jones and Green Bay's top receiver, Christian Watson, remain sidelined.

Watching from afar, Steve Calhoun, Love's personal quarterback trainer and the founder of Armed and Dangerous Football, wasn't surprised by what his star pupil was able to pull off.

Calhoun believes that Love's coming of age moment is a byproduct of lessons learned in Rodgers' shadows and spending countless hours in head coach Matt LeFleur's playbook.

"I've seen it over the last couple years," Calhoun told FanBuzz by phone Sunday evening. "He's getting really, really comfortable in the offense, and understanding what the coaches are asking of him. That's been the biggest thing. Once you understand the offense, and the levels of the offense that coach LeFleur knows it, the game just slows down for you. That's exactly what I've seen over the last few weeks."

If it wasn't evident before Sunday afternoon, it is perfectly clear now; the Packers are Love's team.

With Watson sidelined, Love continues to strengthen chemistry with Romeo Doubs, who caught the game-winning touchdown against New Orleans, and now has 11 receptions for 129 yards with 3 touchdowns this season. Meanwhile, rookie receiver Jayden Reed has become a big-play threat for the Packers, and is one week removed from a two-touchdown performance.

Through his first three starts this season, Love has passed for 655 yards seven touchdowns to one interception, while leading the Packers to a 2-1 start.

"I talk to him about 'just continue to lead your team,'" Calhoun said is the biggest area Love can grow from here. "Be that vocal leader, because Jordan is not the biggest 'rah-rah guy,' he's not going to get in anybody's face, but he'll pull a guy to the side and give him a hug, and communicate like that. Just continuing to show that leadership [is the next step]. You can see that his team, not only the offense, but his team, is really behind him, and really wants him to have a lot of success."

Stacking wins like Sunday's comeback will go a long way towards accomplishing that.

Here's a rundown of the biggest storylines, moments, and takeaways from Week 3 of the 2023 NFL season, with insight from sources around the league:

First Down: Miami's Magnum Opus

MIAMI GARDENS, FLORIDA - SEPTEMBER 24: De'Von Achane #28 of the Miami Dolphins celebrates after his touchdown during the fourth quarter against the Denver Broncos at Hard Rock Stadium on September 24, 2023 in Miami Gardens, Florida.

Photo by Carmen Mandato/Getty Images

The Miami Dolphins just missed out on a couple of all-time records, but cemented their place as the team to beat in the NFL, and Tua Tagovailoa as the MVP frontrunner, in a surgical 70-20 dismantling of the Denver Broncos.

Tagovailoa and the offense were one of the biggest stars of the NFL weekend, with the Dolphins' quarterback passing for 309 yards on 23-of-26 passing, with four touchdowns. After Tyreek Hill took the Dolphins' second play from scrimmage 54 yards for a touchdown, the Broncos must have known they were in very real trouble.

By game's end, seven different Dolphins caught a pass, the Dolphins rushed for 350 yards, which was more than 25 teams had rushed for through the first two weeks of the season.

Miami's 70 points was second-most all-time, falling two points shy of Washington's record from a 1966 victory over the Giants, and the Dolphins' 726 yards of total offense is second only to the Rams' 735 in a 1951 victory over the New York Yankees, according to Pro Football Journal.

"Their attention to detail as an offense is in sync," Legendary former Dolphins WR OJ McDuffie told FanBuzz. "They all know exactly what they are doing, and it's hard to stop everyone. Especially when Tua is seeing the field so well."

Afterwards, Dolphins wunderkind head coach Mike McDaniel struck all the right notes, when explaining why he called off the dogs late, rather than throttle down and go for the scoring record with the outcome long since decided.

"It felt like chasing points, and chasing a record," McDaniel told reporters at his post game press conference. "Was not what we came into the game to do. That doesn't have a baring on the overall season outcome.

"And, I saw it as, 10 times out of 10, you concede and kneel down, in those situations. Because, there was an attainable record, which was cool, but I thought the message it would send wasn't really in line with how I view things."

McDaniel and the Dolphins' offense has sights set on a bigger prize than last season's 9-8 finish and first-round playoff loss.

Besides, pointing out how lethal the Dolphins' offense is only tells part of the story.

Defensive coordinator Vic Fangio coached circles around Sean Payton, stymying Russell Wilson and holding the Broncos' offense to 363 yards of total offense, 69 yards on the ground, and it is worth pointing out that seven of Denver's points came on a Marvin Mims Jr. 99-yard kickoff return for a touchdown.

Fangio's troops were in Wilson's face all afternoon, sacking him once, logging 12 quarterback hits, and bringing significant questions about the veteran's future as the starter to the fore.

So, as the last of the AFC's unbeaten, and maybe the most explosive collection of offensive skill players in the league, how high is the Dolphins' ceiling?

"They have a brilliant head coach and game-breaking speed all over the field," NFL Network analyst Brian Baldinger told FanBuzz. "On top of all that, they have a proven defensive coordinator. They're a team that can go very far."

There's a reason the Dolphins have been the No. 1 team each of the first two weeks in FanBuzz's power rankings, and after Sunday, it doesn't look like they'll be relinquishing the top spot anytime soon. If anything, next Sunday's clash with the Buffalo Bills offers Miami a chance to add even more legitimacy to their dynamic 3-0 start.

Second Down: Jets Facing Quarterback Crisis

EAST RUTHERFORD, NEW JERSEY - SEPTEMBER 24:  Zach Wilson #2 of the New York Jets in action against the New England Patriots during their game at MetLife Stadium on September 24, 2023 in East Rutherford, New Jersey.

Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images

Amid the relentless downpour and winds from Tropical Storm Ophelia, the New England Patriots summoned the ghosts in Zach Wilson's mind, swirling around MetLife Stadium Sunday afternoon, in the latest chapter of the New York Jets' nightmare.

From the opening whistle onward, Wilson, who has been thrust back into action in the wake of Aaron Rodgers tearing rupturing his Achilles tendon in Week 1, seemed completely overmatched Bill Belichick and the Patriots' exotic blitz packages and like he didn't belong on an NFL field.

There was a point late in the first half Sunday afternoon that the Jets' offense was out-gained 163 yards to negative-1.

That isn't a type-o.

Wilson finished 18-of-36 passing for 157 yards, adding to the urgency for the Jets to figure out some sort of short-term solution to their mounting quarterback woes. Before this season completely slips away.

"They absolutely must go get a veteran quarterback," an AFC South Scouting Director told FanBuzz on Sunday afternoon. "And, not some Matt Ryan-type, either. I'm talking someone who's actually playing. I don't care if it's Ryan Tannehill, Gardner Minshew, Marcus Mariota, Mitchell Trubisky, anyone. At this point, they have to."

Jets general manager Joe Douglas simply cannot wait any longer.

In fact, by not aggressively exploring, and making, a trade the Tuesday morning after Rodgers' injury, Douglas wasted precious time for any veteran to get up to speed with the scheme and has risked the offense careening off the rails, as it has, with Wilson at the helm the past two weeks.

Perhaps given Tannehill's mediocre start to this season, with 548 passing yards, one touchdown, and one interception amid the Titans' 1-2 start, and with Tennessee having rookie Will Levis and Malik Willis waiting in the wings, the time might be right for Douglas to strike a deal with Ran Carthon.

Douglas owes it to the young core this front office has assembled over the past several drafts to mine some sort of accomplished, even experienced, quarterback option who is capable of even competently running the offense.

Rodgers has publicly hinted that he'd like to try to play again, but the Jets need more than a hope and a prayer that the veteran is going to pull off his own Willis Reed moment at MetLife, with the season at stake. Besides, the longer the Jets stick with Wilson, the more meaningless any bit of Rodgers New York gets this season will become.

The reality is, it's unlikely Rodgers is going to be able to heal and rehab quickly enough to make the postseason.

Besides, trading for Kirk Cousins, or Mariota, or even Tannehill, shouldn't change the Jets' plans with Rodgers for 2024 and beyond. In fact, having a veteran in camp next summer could be an insurance policy on Rodgers being fully healthy and effective, or perhaps as an asset Douglas can flip to keep building out the roster in 2025.

Whatever the Jets do from here, continuing to roll with Wilson is little more than a decision to punt on the rest of this season.

Third Down: Detroit's Young Lions Reach Maturity vs. Falcons

DETROIT, MICHIGAN - SEPTEMBER 24: Aidan Hutchinson #97 of the Detroit Lions sacks Desmond Ridder #9 of the Atlanta Falcons in the fourth quarter at Ford Field on September 24, 2023 in Detroit, Michigan.

Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

In one of Sunday's more fascinating matchups, Dan Campbell's strangling defense lined up opposite the well-coached and dynamic Atlanta Falcons offense, looking to gain some legitimacy and get the bitter taste of last Sunday's collapse against the Seattle Seahawks out of their mouth.

Mission accomplished.

Led by first-round rookie running back Jahmyr Gibbs' 80 rushing yards, quarterback Jared Goff efficiently conducting the offense, and second-round tight end Sam LaPorta pulling down 8 of his 11 targets for 84 yards with a touchdown, the Lions' offense showed an ability to score by chewing clock or via quick strike against the previously unbeaten Falcons.

The Lions have been easing Gibbs into a more substantial workload, and with David Montgomery sidelined Sunday, the former University of Alabama alum looked the part of the elusive, versatile weapon Detroit expected when they drafted him 12th overall.

Talking to people inside the Lions' front office, there's a palpable excitement about Gibbs' big-play ability, and a feeling that Sunday's performance barely scratched the surface of his potential.

Meanwhile, defensively, Aidan Hutchinson logged two of the Lions' six sacks, as Detroit held Falcons quarterback Desmond Ridder to only 5.29 yards per attempt and without a passing touchdown.

As the Chicago Bears implode, the Vikings struggle to close, and the Packers continue to build an identity, the Lions continue to look the part as the most complete team in the NFC North and the team to beat in the division.

Fourth Down: Bears Careening Towards Rock Bottom

KANSAS CITY, MO - SEPTEMBER 24: Justin Fields #1 of the Chicago Bears talks to his teammates in the huddle before kickoff against the Kansas City Chiefs at GEHA Field at Arrowhead Stadium on September 24, 2023 in Kansas City, Missouri.

Photo by Cooper Neill/Getty Images

The Chicago Bears looking like the local FCS team that the state's Power-5 powerhouse paid a couple million bucks to swing by and act as an early-season sacrificial lamb on Sunday afternoon at Arrowhead Stadium against the Kansas City Chiefs are the least of the organization's worries.

After the week the Bears just had, even the fact that Justin Fields looked like a stunned and confused shell of his former self while passing for 99 yards with one touchdown, one interception, and a team-high 47 rushing yards, is almost a secondary worry to a colossally disastrously dysfunctional week that was, leading up to Sunday's 41-10 shellacking.

Sunday's game came four days after defensive coordinator Alan Williams resigned due to 'inappropriate activity' amid swirling rumors of the FBI possibly raiding his home. The Chiefs' systematic dismantling of the last vestige of the Bears' chances of competing this season followed up over $100,000 worth of grounds-keeping equipment being stolen from Soldier Field.

That the Bears are this woefully overmatched, now 0-3 after being outscored 106-47, is almost unfathomable. Especially after general manager Ryan Poles' offseason makeover that included the additions of wide receiver D.J. Moore, guard Nate Davis, and linebackers Tremaine Edmunds, T.J. Edwards and others.

But, this is Chicago's reality.

Fields is clearly overthinking everything, has regressed dramatically, and has seemingly been ruined by a coaching staff that hasn't been able to get through to him or build an offense around his best traits.

After the game the Bears just had on Sunday, and the week that preceded it, there might not be a close second when it comes to determining the most dysfunctional organizations in sports.

That starts with Matt Eberflus.

For all that the Bears have invested in Fields, in an improved offense around him, in adding playmakers on defense, Chicago cannot afford to allow this ineptitude to continue. Whether it is this week, next month, or on Black Monday, it is becoming apparent that the clock is ticking on Eberflus' tenure as Bears head coach.

The scariest part for the Bears, is that even after Sunday's debacle, the worst might still be to come.

Week 3 Team of The Week: Arizona Cardinals

Jonathan Gannon's 'Eagles-West' defense slammed the door shut on the Dallas Cowboys, finishing off one of the biggest upsets of the young NFL season, as the Cardinals knocked off the Cowboys 28-16.

Former Eagles cornerback K'Von Wallace produced seven tackles and broke up a key fourth quarter pass. And, After after ex- Eagles inside linebacker Kyzir White pulled down Dak Prescott's first interception of the season, in the back of the end zone, to seal Arizona's victory with 3:00 left, it didn't matter that Joshua Dobbs was quarterbacking the Cardinals or that third-round rookie Michael Wilson paced Arizona's passing game.

All that mattered was the Cardinals had finished off its first victory and issued a wakeup call to the Dallas Cowboys, who entered Week 3 with the look of a championship defense with enough firepower on offense to mount a charge in the NFC.

Gannon's defense made enough plays and the offense was efficient enough to deliver the first-year head coach's first career victory, and raise serious doubt about the Cowboys' ceiling in the process.

Week 3 MVP: De'Von Achane, RB, Miami Dolphins

At this point, it's almost comical, the embarrassment of riches the Miami Dolphins have assembled in Mike McDaniel's offense.

As if defending Tyreek Hill, Jaylen Waddle, with Tua Tagovailoa's precision heat-seeking missile of a left-arm wasn't taxing on a defense enough, rookie running back De'Von Achane decided it was time to announce his presence to the world.

Achane ran roughshod over the Denver Broncos, rattling off runs of 26, 40, and 67 yards en-route to a 203-yard and two touchdown outburst. While the Dolphins just might have found another headliner in an offense predicated on explosive speed, Achane's numbers would have been even more impressive, had a 23-yard touchdown scamper not been nullified by a penalty.

"He's a big time speed guy," an NFC Scout who did substantial work on Achane leading up to the draft. "A track star in an NFL uniform."

Sunday, Achane averaged 11.3 yards per carry, but more importantly seems to have established himself as potentially the Dolphins' No. 1 running back while proving he belongs in Miami's surplus of game-altering weapons.

"If he has a clear path," the scout says. "Achane has got that 4.3-speed to go the distance, and he's a really good route runner."

Week 3 Breakout Star: Tank Dell, WR, Houston Texans

Houston Texans rookie wide receiver Tank Dell was cleared for liftoff Sunday against the Jacksonville Jaguars.

Against the division rival Jaguars, Dell, chosen by the Texans third-round of April's NFL Draft, became the focal point of Houston's offense and a favorite target of fellow rookie C.J. Stroud.

Stroud looked Dell's direction seven times on Sunday, and the University of Houston standout pulled down five receptions for 145 yards with his second career touchdown.

"Small receivers need to be special and Tank has some special stuff to him," Jim Nagy, the Executive Director of the Senior Bowl told FanBuzz. "First off, he doesn't play small on-contact. I thought he was the best route runner in this year's draft. Incredible separation ability. Quick and fast. Understands how to release. Just real instinctive setting people up."

It was Dell who lit the fuse for the Texans' offense, pulling down a 46-yard strike from Stroud with 8:50 remaining in the first quarter, and was a harbinger of things to come in a victory that was never really in doubt. If Sunday is any indication, the Texans' battery has a bright future, and just might be two centerpieces of the organization's rebuild.

"Tank and C.J. Stroud already seem to have a cool chemistry between them," Nagy said. "I get the other 31 teams were scared by his lack of size but Tank has so many other compensating factors and skills that will allow him to be a size outlier."

MORE: Justin Fields Looks Concussed After Big Hit, Inexplicably Returns Next Series