Week 3 of the NFL preseason features six games on national TV.
The action starts on Thursday night, August 23, when the Arizona Cardinals visit the Tennessee Titans at LP Field (8:00 PM ET, ESPN). On Friday, CBS will bring NFL fans a matchup between the defending Super Bowl champion New York Giants and the Chicago Bears from MetLife Stadium (8:00 PM ET).
Indianapolis will visit Washington for a Saturday afternoon contest (4:00 PM, NFLN) featuring rookie quarterbacks ANDREW LUCK (No. 1 overall) of the Colts and ROBERT GRIFFIN III (No. 2) of the Redskins, the fifth pair of quarterbacks to be selected No. 1 and No. 2 overall in the same year since the common draft was instituted in 1967. The New Orleans Saints will host the Houston Texans on Saturday night (8:00 PM ET, CBS) at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome.
And the week concludes with back-to-back nationally-televised games on Sunday, as Denver hosts San Francisco (4:00 PM ET, FOX) and Carolina travels to New York to face the Jets (8:00 PM ET, NBC).
Thursday, August 23
Arizona at Tennessee
Friday, August 24
Chicago at New York Giants
Saturday, August 25
Indianapolis at Washington
Houston at New Orleans
Sunday, August 26
San Francisco at Denver
Carolina at New York Jets
Some of the other highlight games in Week 3 of the NFL preseason:
- ARIZONA at TENNESSEE (Thursday, ESPN, 8:00 PM ET): Arizona earned its first preseason win last week with a 31-27 victory against Oakland. Running back RYAN WILLIAMS excelled in his first action since missing his 2011 rookie season due to injury.
"My heart has been pounding for two or three days," says Williams, who rushed for 25 yards on five carries and scored the game's first touchdown. "It was like I hadn't played football, like I was back in Pop Warner. But that was over quick, after that first carry. After that, it was like, 'Whew. Now let's ball.'"
Quarterback KEVIN KOLB was encouraged by the offense's seven-play opening drive that culminated with Williams' three-yard touchdown run.
"I like the way today went a lot better," Kolb says. "The way we started was a big key for us throughout the week."
The Titans relied on an effective running game en route to a 30-7 win against the Buccaneers. Running back CHRIS JOHNSON scored two rushing TDs and accounted for 46 of the Titans' 216 rushing yards in the contest.
"The offensive line did a good job of getting a push," says Johnson. "I was in my groove and had been getting the ball, so it seemed easier to make the guy miss and make a play."
- CHICAGO at NEW YORK GIANTS (Friday, CBS, 8:00 PM ET): The defending Super Bowl champion New York Giants will host the Chicago Bears at MetLife Stadium, the site of their Kickoff 2012 match-up against the Dallas Cowboys on Wednesday, September 5.
The Giants looked sharp in last week's 26-3 victory against the crosstown rival Jets. After the Giants built an early 6-0 lead, rookie cornerback JAYRON HOSLEY intercepted a pass and returned it 77 yards for the game's first touchdown. For the game, the Giants' defense amassed seven sacks and limited the Jets to 148 total net yards.
Chicago put forth a sterling offensive performance en route to a 33-31 win against Washington, improving to 1-1. The Bears' offensive line was steady, helping Chicago to 307 passing yards and paving the way for two rushing touchdowns by running back MICHAEL BUSH in the first quarter.
"We challenged them all week," says quarterback JAY CUTLER of his offensive line. "We challenged them before the game. Everything starts with them. Whenever those guys are playing and doing their job, we can do our job."
- HOUSTON at NEW ORLEANS (Saturday, CBS, 8:00 PM ET): Houston improved to 2-0 with a 20-9 win over San Francisco. Quarterback MATT SCHAUB was impressive, completing 11 of 14 passes (78.6 percent) for 128 yards and one touchdown against the 49ers.
"He's been playing well," says head coach GARY KUBIAK of Schaub. "I think I see him getting better every day. I thought today was very comfortable. He took his team right down the field and made a great play there right before the half to get us in the end zone."
New Orleans lost a 27-24 decision to Jacksonville last week, but excelled on offense, especially in the passing game. Quarterback DREW BREES set the pace, completing 10 of 13 passes (76.9 percent) for 133 yards and one touchdown for a passer rating of 134.5.
"It's a veteran group that's been together, takes pride in their work, have a good work ethic, they're accountable to one another," says head coach JOE VITTof his offensive unit. "They continue to get better every day."
- SAN FRANCISCO at DENVER (Sunday, FOX, 4:00 PM ET): Throughout the preseason, the 49ers have exhibited two of their hallmarks from last season's run to the NFC Championship Game – strong defense and efficient offense. San Francisco ranks third among NFC clubs in total defense this preseason (243.5 yards per game) and has only turned the ball over once in two games.
"The thing we've got to keep striving for is zero defects when it comes to turnovers, mental errors and penalties," says head coach JIM HARBAUGH, whose 49ers turned the ball over just 10 times in 2011, tied for the fewest of any season in NFL history. "We need to get the feeling that we're a well-oiled machine. That's what we want to accomplish over these next couple weeks before we get to our opener."
Quarterback PEYTON MANNING looked crisp in his most extensive action with the Broncos, leading two scoring drives that spanned more than 80 yards apiece in the first half of Denver's 30-10 loss to Seattle. Manning looked at home orchestrating the Broncos' no-huddle offense.
"You're trying to put some pressure on the defense and make them have to hurry up their communication and calls," says Manning, who completed 16 of 23 passes (69.6 percent) for 177 yards. "It's more pressure on the offense – there's not time to huddle and sort of breathe. You're staying on the run. You're staying aggressive."
- CAROLINA at NEW YORK JETS (Sunday, NBC, 8:00 PM ET):Carolina rebounded from its Week 1 preseason loss to Houston with a 23-17 victory against Miami this past week. Quarterback CAM NEWTON led three first-quarter scoring drives as the Panthers built a 17-0 first-quarter lead, completing eight of 11 passes (72.7 percent) for 119 yards and one touchdown.
"Very happy that we won this week," says head coach RON RIVERA, who led Carolina to four wins in the last six games of the 2011 season. "I want to believe this is something we can build on. We did some really good things."
The Jets are looking to rebound themselves, following back-to-back preseason losses to Cincinnati and the New York Giants. One bright spot from this past week was the Jets' rushing defense, which limited the Giants to 58 yards on 32 carries (1.8 average).
"I've seen enough of good things that I believe as we start putting this thing together that you're going to see more and more positive things," says head coach REX RYAN. "I think when it's all said and done by the time we kick this season off, I think we'll be where we need to be."