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NFL Sunday takeaways: Dolphins and Eagles are looking awfully good early on

Quarterback Tua Tagovailoa celebrates the Dolphins' victory over the Bills. (Wilfredo Lee/AP)

The Philadelphia Eagles and Miami Dolphins are formidable.

The Buffalo Bills and Kansas City Chiefs are beatable.

Aaron Rodgers can beat Tom Brady, after all.

All of that was on display on the third Sunday of the NFL season.

The Dolphins look like the real thing. They held on to hand the Bills their first loss of the season, 21-19, and took over first place in the AFC East at 3-0.

This was not the final word in the division race. Far from it. The Bills, after overwhelming the Los Angeles Rams and Tennessee Titans to begin their season, faced plenty of obstacles. They were playing a road game in steamy weather on a short workweek. They were missing a lengthy list of starters on their injury-riddled defense and were particularly depleted in the secondary.

Even so, the result was significant, and the Dolphins showed they may have some staying power this season. Quarterback Tua Tagovailoa left the game in the first half to be evaluated for a head injury. Bills linebacker Matt Milano hit Tagovailoa after a throw, and he stumbled after he got to his feet. Milano was penalized for roughing the passer, and backup Teddy Bridgewater finished the first half, but Tagovailoa returned to the game to begin the third quarter.

The Dolphins demonstrated some late-game toughness, and the Bills helped out. Buffalo kicker Tyler Bass missed a 38-yard field goal attempt in the opening minute of the fourth quarter. Bills quarterback Josh Allen had a 400-yard passing day but threw incomplete on fourth and goal from the Miami 2-yard line in the final two minutes. The Dolphins, in effect, blocked their own punt to give the Bills a safety. But the Bills ran out of time on their last-gasp offensive possession, and the Dolphins’ season continues to be full of possibilities.

The Eagles were dominant. They sacked their old friend, Washington quarterback Carson Wentz, nine times and overran the Commanders, 24-8, at FedEx Field.

Quarterback Jalen Hurts threw for 340 yards and three touchdowns. Wide receiver DeVonta Smith had eight catches for 169 yards. The defense shut out Wentz and the Commanders until the game was well in hand. The Eagles are 3-0 and are the clear favorite in the NFC East. They just might be the best team in the entire NFC at this point.

Special-teams blunders doomed the Chiefs. Kansas City fell from the ranks of the league’s unbeaten teams with a sloppy loss in Indianapolis, and its mistake-prone special teams were to blame. Rookie wide receiver Skyy Moore muffed a punt, handing the Colts a touchdown. Fill-in kicker Matt Ammendola missed an extra point and a 34-yard field goal attempt. Coach Andy Reid dialed up a fake field goal try that the Chiefs botched badly.

There also was an animated exchange between quarterback Patrick Mahomes and offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy as the Chiefs left the field at halftime. The Colts scored the go-ahead touchdown with 24 seconds remaining, then intercepted a pass by Mahomes to seal the outcome in a 20-17 game. It wasn’t anything that the Chiefs won’t be able to overcome. But this defeat had a self-inflicted feel to it, for certain.

Turnovers undermined the Pats. The conversation will continue about whether New England quarterback Mac Jones is regressing in his second NFL season. Jones threw three interceptions, and the Patriots dropped to 1-2 by falling to the Baltimore Ravens, 37-26, in Foxborough, Mass.

Jones had an eventful day that included a version of a “Griddy” celebration dance following a touchdown run and a flop — worthy of the World Cup or the NBA playoffs — in a failed attempt along the sideline to get a late hit called on the Ravens. But mostly, this game was about turnovers for the Patriots. They were in the game late. But Jones threw an end-zone interception with just more than nine minutes remaining, then wide receiver Nelson Agholor lost a fumble on the next Patriots drive.

Jones also suffered an ankle injury late in the game, the extent of which was not immediately clear.

The offseason departure of offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels to take the Los Vegas Raiders head coaching job isn’t working out for anyone, to this point.

The Raiders are winless. This is supposed to be the new and improved version of McDaniels, the head coach, after he went 11-17 with the Denver Broncos in 2009 and 2010.

So far, at least, it’s pretty much the same old thing. The Raiders are 0-3 after Sunday’s 24-22 loss at Tennessee. Wide receiver Davante Adams had another quiet game, with five catches for 36 yards. He did have a touchdown catch for a third game in a row. But the Raiders are a major disappointment to this point after reaching the playoffs last season under their interim coach, Rich Bisaccia. The season isn’t over for them. But it’s beginning to feel rather late, awfully early.

Rodgers beats Brady. Rodgers secured his second victory over Brady in the five career meetings between the legendary quarterbacks. But it wasn’t exactly a dazzling quarterbacking duel as the Green Bay Packers held on to defeat the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, 14-12, in Tampa

Brady threw a one-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Russell Gage with 14 seconds remaining. But as the Buccaneers lined up for a would-be game-tying two-point conversion attempt, they allowed the play clock to expire before Brady took the snap and handed the ball to tailback Leonard Fournette, who seemed to have sufficient running room to reach the goal line. That’s inexplicable and inexcusable. After being pushed back five yards, Brady threw incomplete toward Gage in the end zone.

The Buccaneers defense continues to do all the heavy lifting while Brady and the offense — playing again with a diminished group of wide receivers — struggle. It’s not fair to judge now. But when Mike Evans and Chris Godwin are back in the lineup, Brady needs to get this passing game going.

Justin Herbert isn’t himself. The Los Angeles Chargers quarterback clearly wasn’t at his best as he played with a fracture to his rib cartilage he suffered 10 days earlier in a loss to the Chiefs.

Herbert completed only 25 of 45 passes in Sunday’s 38-10 defeat at home to the Jacksonville Jaguars. This is the type of injury that could plague him all season and put a significant dent in the Chargers’ playoff chances. Meanwhile, watch out for the Jaguars. They’re not dreadful any longer, with Doug Pederson providing stability as their coach. Quarterback Trevor Lawrence had three touchdown passes against the Chargers.

Midgame update: Tua Tagovailoa reenters game

Quarterback Tua Tagovailoa left the Miami Dolphins’ game Sunday afternoon against the Buffalo Bills in the first half and was evaluated for a head injury. He reentered the game to begin the second half.

Backup Teddy Bridgewater took over at quarterback and finished the first half for the Dolphins. The team initially called Tagovailoa questionable to return to the game.

He was on the field for the opening offensive series of the third quarter.

Tagovailoa stumbled after getting back to his feet on a play on which Bills linebacker Matt Milano shoved him to the ground after he made a throw. Milano was penalized for roughing the passer.

The Dolphins and Bills were tied at 14 at halftime in Miami Gardens, Fla. Each team brought a 2-0 record into the game.

Tagovailoa completed eight of his 10 first-half passes for 76 yards before exiting the game. He threw a second-quarter touchdown pass to wide receiver River Cracraft.

He is coming off a 469-yard, six-touchdown passing performance last week in the Dolphins’ comeback victory at Baltimore.

Pregame update: Alvin Kamara returns, Bills are shorthanded at Miami

Tailback Alvin Kamara and quarterback Jameis Winston are set to be in the New Orleans Saints’ lineup for their early-afternoon game Sunday at Carolina.

Kamara missed one game because of a rib injury and had been listed as questionable on the Saints’ injury report.

Winston had been listed as questionable because of back and ankle injuries. He played last weekend, reportedly with four fractures in his back.

The Buffalo Bills will be shorthanded on defense when they face the Miami Dolphins in Miami Gardens, Fla., in an early-afternoon matchup of 2-0 teams in the AFC East.

Safety Jordan Poyer, cornerback Dane Jackson and defensive tackles Ed Oliver and Jordan Phillips all are on the Bills’ inactive list. Safety Micah Hyde was placed on the injured reserve list Saturday, and his agent, Jack Bechta, wrote on Twitter that Hyde will miss the remainder of the season because of his neck injury.

So the Bills will have an inexperienced, seemingly vulnerable secondary on the field when they face the Dolphins’ revved-up passing game led by quarterback Tua Tagovailoa and wide receivers Tyreek Hill and Jaylen Waddle. But, judging by the number of Bills fans shown to be on hand Saturday in South Florida, it might have the feel of being a home-away-from-home game.

Tailback J.K. Dobbins is active and expected to play for the Baltimore Ravens in their early-afternoon game against the New England Patriots in Foxborough, Mass.

Dobbins is poised to make his return after missing all of last season and the first two games of this season because of a knee injury.

Brady-Rodgers, Bills-Dolphins, Ravens-Pats headline Week 3

Tua Tagovailoa and Lamar Jackson staged an entertaining quarterbacking duel last week in Baltimore, as Tagovailoa’s Miami Dolphins rallied from a 21-point deficit in the fourth quarter to beat Jackson’s Ravens.

Both of those quarterbacks and their teams are right back in the spotlight Sunday, participating in highly intriguing Week 3 matchups. The Dolphins host the Buffalo Bills in an AFC East meeting between 2-0 teams. The Ravens face the New England Patriots in Foxborough, Mass., with the loser of that game falling into an early-season predicament at 1-2.

The third Sunday of the NFL’s regular season also will bring a clash of legendary quarterbacks, with Tom Brady vs. Aaron Rodgers playing a late-afternoon game in Tampa.

NFL reset: Team rankings, Tom Brady plays on, Justin Herbert’s injury

The Bills-Dolphins and Ravens-Patriots games are part of the early-afternoon slate. The Bills have lived up to their reputation thus far as the league’s Super Bowl favorite. They’ve beaten the Los Angeles Rams, the defending Super Bowl champs, and the Tennessee Titans, last season’s No. 1 AFC playoff seed, by a combined margin of 72-17.

Now they must go on the road to play a warm-weather game on a short workweek against a promising Dolphins team with a revved-up passing game. Tagovailoa threw for 469 yards and six touchdowns in last Sunday’s 42-38 triumph over the Ravens.

“We were executing on all cylinders offensively,” Tagovailoa said after that game. “And then when there were times where we didn’t execute, no one panicked. Everyone just came back into the huddle and we regrouped.”

Tua Tagovailoa is suddenly thriving, and the Dolphins are relevant again

The Dolphins overcame deficits of 28-7 at halftime and 35-14 in the fourth quarter. They scored 28 points in the game’s final 13 minutes, and Coach Mike McDaniel began his postgame news conference by asking, “Is anyone else tired?”

The Ravens renew their sometimes-spirited rivalry with the Patriots as they try to get back into the win column. Jackson is coming off a brilliant performance against the Dolphins. He became the first quarterback in NFL history to have a touchdown pass and a touchdown run of at least 75 yards each in the same game.

“There are challenges every week,” Patriots Coach Bill Belichick said at midweek. “But certainly the Ravens have a lot of them with the quarterback, his passing game, the running game, his ability to make elusive extended plays, the explosiveness of their receivers and tight ends and him.”

The post-Tom Brady Patriots are still figuring out who they are

Belichick even drew chuckles when he was asked whether Jackson has answered the questions about his pocket-passing abilities that he faced entering the NFL.

“Without a doubt,” Belichick said. “He’s the type of player that’s an MVP type of candidate. I think he’s more than answered it. Wait and see what his contract is. That’ll answer it.”

Brady and Rodgers will square off for the fifth time in their highly decorated careers. Brady has won three of the four meetings to date.

Brady has thrown for a modest 402 yards in two games this season but the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, led by their defense, are off to a 2-0 start. Rodgers’s Green Bay Packers are 1-1, having regrouped to beat the Chicago Bears at home last Sunday following a season-opening loss at Minnesota.

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