Matthew Stafford vs USC

Matthew Stafford stands behind the line of scrimmage against South Carolina on Sept. 8, 2007. Courtesy UGA Sports Comm

Week 3 of the 2020-2021 NFL season had it all: thrilling comebacks, high-profile matchups and statement victories. As the landscape for the new year begins to take shape, several former Bulldogs made their mark across the league in one of the most exciting weeks of action so far.

Matthew Stafford, QB, Detroit Lions

At 0-2, Stafford’s Detroit Lions needed a top performance from their franchise quarterback to get the season back on track. The veteran signal-caller delivered by going 22-for-31 for 270 yards and two touchdowns as Detroit grabbed a 26-23 win against the previously-undefeated Arizona Cardinals. Stafford was highly efficient, as evidenced by his completion percentage of 70.9 while also avoiding any interceptions against a talented Arizona secondary. Stafford had not accomplished either of those feats in Detroit’s first two games, and mistake-free football will be the key to the Lions’ success moving forward.

Todd Gurley, RB, Atlanta Falcons

Gurley was once again effective despite late-game struggles for the Falcons in their 30-26 defeat to the Chicago Bears. After taking just 14 carries for 80 yards and a touchdown, Atlanta became the first team in the last 20 seasons to blow multiple 15-point fourth quarter leads in the same season, accomplishing the dubious honor in consecutive weeks. With the undefeated Green Bay Packers up next at Lambeau Field, Atlanta will lean once again on the 2017 NFL Player of the Year as it tries to get its first win of the season in a difficult place to play.

Sony Michel, RB, New England Patriots

Michel emerged from a relatively slow start to 2020-21 with a breakout performance in New England’s 36-20 win over the Las Vegas Raiders. Michel took 11 combined touches for 140 yards to lead the team in rushing despite only receiving the second-most carries in a three-man running back committee. At 2-1, the Patriots have defied some early expectations with the success of Cam Newton following the departure of Tom Brady for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. With a strong defense, a revitalized Newton, and weapons such as Michel, the Patriots could return to contention more quickly than most expected this season.

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