Week 3 of the NFL preseason features seven games on national TV.
The action starts on Thursday night with a matchup of in-state rivals as the Philadelphia Eagles host the Pittsburgh Steelers (7:30 PM ET, NFLN).
On Friday, the Oakland Raiders will face the Green Bay Packers at Lambeau Field on CBS (8:00 PM ET). Following the conclusion of that game, NFL Network will televise the Chicago Bears visiting the Super Bowl champion Seattle Seahawks at CenturyLink Field.
The Buffalo Bills will host the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Saturday afternoon (4:30 PM ET, NFL Network). On Saturday night, the New Orleans Saints will visit the Indianapolis Colts on CBS (8:00 PM ET).
The week concludes with back-to-back nationally-televised games on Sunday as the San Francisco 49ers host the San Diego Chargers (4:00 PM ET, FOX) and the Cincinnati Bengals travel to face the Arizona Cardinals (8:00 PM ET, NBC) at University of Phoenix Stadium, the site of Super Bowl XLIX.
Some of the highlight games in Week 3 of the NFL preseason:
PITTSBURGH STEELERS at PHILADELPHIA EAGLES (Thursday, NFLN, 7:30 PM ET)
Steelers quarterback BEN ROETHLISBERGER and the first-team offense scored touchdowns on each of the team’s first two possessions as Pittsburgh defeated Buffalo 19-16 last week. Roethlisberger connected with wide receiver ANTONIO BROWN on a 76-yard touchdown on Pittsburgh’s second play from scrimmage and later found wide receiver MARKUS WHEATON for a 16-yard touchdown.
“We came out and started fast,” says Brown. “We got some things going in a positive direction.”
With 63 points in two games, CHIP KELLY’s Eagles lead the NFL this preseason averaging 31.5 points per game.
The offense got touchdown passes from all three quarterbacks last week as starter NICK FOLES threw one, MARK SANCHEZ had a pair of TD tosses and MATT BARKLEY passed for one score. Philadelphia also got points from its defense as cornerback CARY WILLIAMS returned an interception 77 yards for a touchdown.
“I had an opportunity to make a play and I just made a play,” says Williams about his INT-TD. “I was able to get in with my teammates. If it wasn’t for those guys going 110 percent the whole play, it wouldn’t have happened.”
OAKLAND RAIDERS at GREEN BAY PACKERS (Friday, CBS, 8:00 PM ET)
The Raiders rallied behind quarterback MATT MC GLOIN, who threw a 19-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver BRICE BUTLER with six seconds remaining to give the Raiders a 27-26 win over Detroit. Veteran quarterback MATT SCHAUB started for Oakland and led a touchdown drive while rookie QB DEREK CARR led the Raiders on three scoring drives.
“There are a lot of things we have to learn from,” says Oakland head coach DENNIS ALLEN, “but it’s a lot better to do that after a win.”
Green Bay quarterback AARON RODGERS completed 11 of 13 passes (84.6 percent) for 128 yards with one touchdown as he led the Packers to 10 points in his two possessions. Rodgers connected with wide receiver RANDALL COBB for a three-yard touchdown pass to cap off Green Bay’s 12-play, 86-yard opening drive.
“We practiced our up-time offense and to be able to come out and execute it at this stage of the game is great,” says Packers running back EDDIE LACY, who rushed for 25 yards on the game-opening drive. “It will be tough for opponents to keep up and be able to beat us.”
NEW ORLEANS SAINTS at INDIANAPOLIS COLTS (Saturday, CBS, 8:00 PM ET)
New Orleans quarterback DREW BREES, who has passed for more than 5,000 yards in each of the past three seasons, aims to make his 2014 preseason debut this Saturday at Indianapolis.
“As you approach that third preseason game,” says Brees, “this is really kind of the final dress rehearsal for the season so this is when the season becomes very imminent.”
Without Brees, the Saints racked up 31 points last week in a 31-24 win over Tennessee. LUKE MC COWN and RYAN GRIFFIN tossed two touchdown passes apiece for New Orleans. Saints tight end JIMMY GRAHAM hauled in two touchdowns and running back MARK INGRAM and rookie wide receiver SEANTAVIUS JONES each had one score.
Indianapolis quarterback ANDREW LUCK looked sharp in last week’s game against the New York Giants. He completed 12 of 18 passes (66.7 percent) for 89 yards with one touchdown as he led three scoring drives on the night. Wide receiver HAKEEM NICKS, who joined the Colts this offseason, had five catches for 53 yards against his former team.
“Nicks and Andrew were in a rhythm,” says Colts head coach CHUCK PAGANO about his quarterback-wide receiver tandem. “Obviously, we figured Hakeem would play inspired football against a really good football team.”
SAN DIEGO CHARGERS at SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS (Sunday, FOX, 4:00 PM ET)
The 49ers hosted their first ever football game at Levi’s Stadium last week as a sellout crowd came to check out the team’s sparkling new home. San Francisco running back FRANK GORE and wide receiver MICHAEL CRABTREE each made their preseason debuts and quarterback COLIN KAEPERNICK saw action on the club’s first two drives, completing five of nine passes for 39 yards.
“It’s the preseason, but it all means something,” says 49ers tackle JOE STALEY about the team’s slow start on offense this preseason. “Scoring points is the name of the game and we haven’t done it. It will be a real test this week to see how we rebound from this.”
San Diego tight end ANTONIO GATES got his first action of the 2014 preseason last week and expects to see more snaps this Sunday at San Francisco.
“It always feels good to get out there,” says Gates. “It’s all about timing in this game and getting the speed down.”
CINCINNATI BENGALS at ARIZONA CARDINALS (Sunday, NBC, 8:00 PM ET)
Bengals quarterback ANDY DALTON completed all eight of his passes – for 144 yards and one touchdown – last week as he led Cincinnati to 17 points during his three series.
“He continues to play the way we think Andy should play all the time,” says Bengals head coach MARVIN LEWIS. “It doesn’t surprise me. It’s the way he practices every day. He doesn’t need to be flashy. He just needs to be accurate and handle the offense. He does that very well.”
Last week in Minnesota, quarterback CARSON PALMER drove the Cardinals 93 yards on the team’s opening drive, capped by running back JONATHAN DWYER’s one-yard touchdown run.
“It was good to come out fast,” says Palmer about Arizona’s first possession. “Good execution, good efficiency. That’s what you want out of these games.”