By Jarrod Argobright
Cold, Hard Football Facts stat assassin
It was gut-check time for many teams in Week 3 of the 2012 NFL season.
It may be gut-check time for the NFL, too, in its stand-off with officials.
The bad blood brewing between the Patriots-Ravens in recent years imploded in another PR disaster for the NFL.
An ugly sing-song chant of "Bullsh*t! Bullsh*t! Bullsh*t!" echoed around M&T Bank Stadium in the fourth quarter and was broadcast into living rooms and barrooms coast to coast.
And the hometown Ravens won!
"There's no 7-second delay for that," said commentator Al Michaels.
The controversial finish caused New England head coach Bill Belichick to show some genuine emotion for once — even if it was frustration. He will likely be fined after chasing down and grabbing an official after the game.
Down in New Orleans, meanwhile, the mission for the Saints was simple: avoid going 0-3 for the first time since 2007. Interim head coach Aaron Kromer tried his own variation of a Sean Payton motivational tactic that, well, didn't work.
In Minnesota, the Vikings served notice to the 49ers and the rest of the NFL they are not to be taken lightly. The Vikings ended the San Francisco's streak of five consecutive regular season wins dating back to mid-December of last season.
Finally, Arizona put to bed the myth that the Eagles had the better defense. The Cardinals forced five sacks, three fumbles and scored a spectacular defensive TD in a 27-6 blowout win in Philadelphia.
Stat Attack delivers the goods right now ...
Baltimore 31, New England 30 - A contentious rematch of the 2011 AFC title game that saw the game end on a controversial field goal. The teams combined for 24 penalties for 218 yards.
As much as Belichick wants to blame the refs for screwing up the last-second field goal, and other calls, he should be more concerned with his secondary. An overzealous Patriots defense that added more talent in the offseason still surrendered 9.8 YPA to Joe Flacco.
New England now has a 95.1 Defensive Passer Rating, on pace for the worst in franchise history (92.2 in 1972).
The Patriots’ loss was Belichick’s first against Baltimore in the regular season; he is now 5-2 all-time against the Ravens.
Sunday night also marks the first time this season that Baltimore failed to cover the spread at home; since 2000, the Ravens have been a league best 56-38-4 ATS at home.
Kansas City 27, New Orleans 24 - Among the biggest concerns for the Saints entering Sunday afternoon’s contest was the play of their pass defense, which ranked 32nd in the league in Defensive Real Passing Yards Per Attempt.
However, it was a Kansas City rushing attack, led by Jamaal Charles (who rushed for 233 yards on 33 carries, 7.0 YPA), that doomed New Orleans to its worst start in five seasons.
The Chiefs ran for 273 yards on 45 carries, a 6.1 average. The explosive Jamaal Charles was responsible for 233 yards on 33 carries, 91 one of them on a long TD jaunt when the Chiefs trailed 24-6.
The Chiefs are now 139-29-2 against the spread when scoring 27 or more points and 235-151-10 ATS when holding an opponent to 24 or fewer points.
Minnesota 24, San Francisco 13 - The Vikings win a shocker over a team that many, including CHFF, believe to be among the elite in the NFL.
A fast start by Minnesota never allowed San Francisco to really establish the run game, as Frank Gore ended up running for 63 yards on 12 carries.
Almost equally as impressive was the play of second-year Minnesota quarterback Christian Ponder, whose 5.7 YPA was almost a half-yard more than Alex Smith’s 5.36.
Chicago 23, St. Louis 6 - Forget the feud among Cutler and his offensive line cohorts in this game. The Bears didn’t really need the offense. A Chicago defense that ranked third in Defensive Real Quarterback Rating (55.03) heading into Week 3 sacked Sam Bradford six times and also forced him into throwing two interceptions, one of which was returned for a touchdown.
The Bears are No. 1 in Defensive Real QB Rating today.
Of course, Cutler might want to be certain he has smoothed things out with his teammates. He sure doesn’t want the defense to have to bail him out every week.
Arizona 27, Philadelphia 6 - The Eagles offensive woes finally caught up to them in this ‘Battle of the Birds’ in Phoenix, Arizona. The Cardinals, ranked fourth in our Defensive Hog Index, forced the Eagles into four fumbles, two of them by quarterback Michael Vick.
Vick’s second fumble, the result of a gutsy fourth down call by head coach Andy Reid at the end of the first half, would result in a touchdown for the Cardinals.
It also didn’t hurt that Arizona quarterback Kevin Kolb passed for 222 yards, 2 TDs and 7.1 YPA.
The Cardinals are now 3-0 for the first time in 38 seasons.
Houston 31, Denver 25 - The Texans accomplished something they’ve never done — start the season 3-0 — by defeating a Peyton Manning-led team for only the third time ever.
The Texans were 2-16 vs. Manning before sunday.
A Houston defense that is second in Defensive Real Passing Yards Per Attempt held Manning to a modest 5.74 Real Passing YPA.
Making matters worse, the Texans averaged 4.5 YPA on the ground.
Atlanta 27, San Diego 6 - The Falcons ended the day as the third 3-0 team this season after easily dispatching the Chargers. Matty Ice and Michael ‘The Burner’ Turner accounted for 356 of Atlanta’s 384 yards.
The Chargers lost the game by three touchdowns despite rushing for 116 yards on 17 carries (6.8 YPA).
Cincinnati 38, Washington 31 - The Bengals showed rookie Robert Griffin III how a real West Coast Offense does it as they pass for 12.8 YPA, winning their second consecutive game on the road. Cincinnati rookie wide receiver Mohamed Sanu completed one pass for 73 yards and TD.
The Bengals scored more tha 30 points for the second consecutive week after being held to only 13 points in the season opener at Baltimore.
Tennessee 44, Detroit 41 - The Titans won an overtime thriller after the Lions were stuffed on an odd and controversial QB sneak on the 7 yard line. The Titans get their first win of the season despite the continued woes of Chris Johnson, who rushed for a mere 24 yards on 14 carries.
Jake Locker had perhaps the best game of his young career, with 9.0 Real Passing YPA.
Detroit's 1-2 season has been hijacked by a 109.3 Defensive Passer Rating. The 0-16 Lions of 2008 had a 110.9 Defensive Passer Rating, the worst in NFL history.
The Lions lost Matt Stafford to an injury. Again. Stafford’s status for week 4 is uncertain for now.
Dallas 16, Tampa Bay 10 - The Cowboys’ defense finally shut down an opponent, limiting the Bucs to 166 yards of total offense.
Demarcus Ware sacked Josh Freeman twice, and Doug Martin was held to 53 yards rushing on the day.
Buffalo 24, Cleveland 14 - For Cleveland, it’s a new quarterback, new running back ...and same old result.
The Bills beat the Browns despite losing speedster CJ Spiller in the second quarter to a shoulder injury.
Cleveland's defense entered the game 16th in DRYPA and 8th in our Defensive Hog Index, but failed to take advantage of the wounded offense. Ryan Fitzpatrick passed for 205 yards and 3TDs.
The Bills sacked quarterback Browns QB Brandon Weeden four times and forced two interceptions.
The loss means that the Browns and the Saints are the only two teams in the NFL without a win.
New York Jets 23, Miami 20 - The Jets pulled out the win despite two Mark Sanchez interceptions.
The Jets won the passing battle, 6.5 Real Passing YPA to 5.4. Teams who win that battle are now 38-9 in 2012, according to our Correlation to Victory table at CHFF Insider.
Jacksonville 22, Indianapolis 17 - The Jaguars won their first game of the season behind big plays from Maurice Jones-Drew (59-yard TD run) and Cecil Shorts (80-yard TD reception).
Normally-clutch Colts’ kicker Adam Vinateri missed a 36-yard field goal that would have put Indianapolis up 20-17 in the fourth.
Vinateri’s counterpart, Jacksonville’s Josh Scobee, was 3 of 3 on field goals for the day with a long 47 yards.
Colts rookie QB Andrew Luck completed just 22 of 46 passes, but topped 300 yards (313) for the second time in three games.
Oakland 34, Pittsburgh 31 - Cold, Hard Football Facts' own Captain Comeback Scott Kacsmar summed up the game best on Twitter (@captaincomeback).
Ben Roethlisberger was brilliant with 384 passing yards, 4 TD and 0 INT, while Pittsburgh dominated TOP (36:15-23:45). Yet the Steelers still lost.
The Raiders’ Darren McFadden ran for 113 yards and 6.3 YPA against a Pittsburgh defense that entered the game allowing only 3.76 YPA on the ground. The Steelers fell to 1-2 for the first time since 2009. The Steelers
New York Giants 36, Carolina 7 - The Giants rolled over Carolina on Thursday night in a historic rout, behind Andre Brown’s 113 yards rushing.
The Panthers, who rank 29th in our Defensive Hog Index, give up 4.3 YPA on the ground to the Giants.