Best and worst QB performances in NFL Week 3

Jason Getz-USA TODAY Sports

The third week of the NFL season brought us a plethora of surprises we’ll never forget. Along the way, we saw some outstanding and downright awful performances by quarterbacks.

We saw several defining moments. Some stepped up into the early race for the MVP award, while others demonstrated why they should no longer be starting in this league.

Here are the best and worst quarterback performances in Week 3 of the NFL.

Worst: Sam Bradford, quarterback, Arizona Cardinals

While Bradford’s day may have started on a positive note, the veteran quarterback ultimately showed his true colors in the moments that mattered.

The 30-year-old was a statue in the pocket, often unable to avoid pressure and not extending plays to let his wide receivers get open. Bradford combined that with a series of costly turnovers that ultimately doomed Arizona in a winnable game.

Fortunately, Arizona finally made a change at quarterback. Rosen came into the game and while the Cardinals fell short, the coaching staff has since realized the rookie gives this team the best chance to even compete in games.

Best: Baker Mayfield, quarterback, Cleveland Browns

Despite not receiving first-team reps throughout the preseason and before the game, Mayfield came in during the middle of Thursday night’s contest and changed everything for Cleveland.

A passing offense that couldn’t muster anything against the New York Jets suddenly transformed into a machine. In just over two quarters of action, Mayfield threw for 201 yards and completed 17-of-23 pass attempts.

While there will certainly be some rocky mistakes along the way, it’s clear Mayfield is the best quarterback for this offense. He makes everyone on this team better, provides a spark for his teammates and has given hope and a win to a fan base that desperately needed it.

Worst: Andy Dalton, quarterback, Cincinnati Bengals

Just when Dalton started stringing together a few strong performances, it all came crashing down against the Carolina Panthers.

Dalton completed 63 percent of his pass attempts in Sunday’s game and was able to make a few nice throws, but turnovers ultimately doomed this offense. When A.J. Green left the game, we saw Dalton’s issues become even worse. Even if you take away his fourth interception to end the game, a three-interception performance is just brutal.

If fans in Cincinnati want to feel optimistic, a potential receiver duo of Green and Tyler Boyd seems to be turning into something special. If Dalton can avoid the mistakes, this can still be a very productive offense.

Best: Patrick Mahomes, quarterback, Kansas City Chiefs

Even in a game where Mahomes didn’t set the world on fire, the 23-year-old continues to light up defenses and carry Kansas City’s offense to a 3-0 record.

Mahomes found holes in San Francisco’s secondary, helping move the offense down the field and inside the red zone. He finished the day with three touchdown passes, ceding some opportunities to touchdown runs by Kareem Hunt to add balance to this offense.

After breaking another NFL record in Week 3, the sky doesn’t seem a high enough limit for Mahomes’ upside. The real tests to determine how far this offense can go will come in two weeks against the Jacksonville Jaguars.

Worst: Dak Prescott, quarterback, Dallas Cowboys

Despite a minor fluke witnessed in Week 2, there’s no reason anyone should respect Dallas’ passing game with Dak Prescott.

Though no longer the “Legion of Boom,” the Seattle Seahawks defense is exploitable by quarterbacks and teams that can execute. In Prescott’s case, he could only complete 19-of-34 pass attempts and managed an atrocious 4.9 yards per pass attempt.

This isn’t even to ignore his two interceptions, which further sunk this offense. When a quarterback hasn’t reached 185 passing yards in five consecutive games, it demonstrates a serious problem at quarterback. Something needs to change in Dallas and it needs to happen quickly.

Best: Ryan Tannehill, quarterback, Miami Dolphins

Don’t look now but the team no one expected anything of is 3-0, and plenty of credit must go to the quarterback most forgot about.

Tannehill was brilliant at home on Sunday as the Dolphins seemingly walked all over the Raiders. The 30-year-old completed 17-of-23 passes with an exceptional 12.6 yards per attempt and three touchdown passes.

Tannehill was almost perfect in Week 3 and will need to deliver an even greater performance with an upcoming matchup against the New England Patriots. if Miami can somehow keep this going next week, the entire league will be on notice.

Worst: Sam Darnold, quarterback, New York Jets

New York knew there would be games like this with Darnold. It was clear in college and would be even more true in the NFL.

This is a 21-year-old quarterback playing under the brightest lights, and on Thursday he faced a great Cleveland Browns defense. A bad habit of turnovers and wild passes popped up again in Week 3.

Darnold finished with two interceptions and completed only 48.4 percent of his pass attempts in an awful performance. He’ll next face the Jacksonville Jaguars, who could offer an even rougher outing for him in Week 4.

Best: Matt Ryan, quarterback, Atlanta Falcons 

There is no escaping how dreadful Ryan performed in Week 1. It can also not be denied just how sharp he has been in the two weeks since, helping turn Atlanta’s offense around in a heartbeat.

Ryan operated with a surgical precision against the New Orleans Saints. He picked them apart with little cuts and found openings at the perfect time. Then when New Orleans reacted and brought more coverage closer to the line of scrimmage, he would burn them deep.

The veteran wrapped up Sunday’s action with 374 passing yards and five touchdown passes. While Atlanta didn’t win, the emergence of Calvin Ridley could take this offense to another level and help Ryan become an MVP candidate if this keeps up.

Worst: Tyrod Taylor, quarterback, Cleveland Browns

If Taylor never suffered the concussion and remained the starter, he might have posted the worst stat line in NFL history.

He attempted 14 passes and somehow threw for just 19 yards. This is about more than Taylor being under pressure frequently. New York gave him free opportunities to hit big plays. His timing, accuracy and instincts were just a complete mess in this game.

No one should forget that Taylor was once a good starting quarterback, but those days just seem to be far behind him. Mayfield is the superior quarterback and he can actually unleash this offense and allow it to reach its potential.

Best: Drew Brees, quarterback, New Orleans Saints

In a game where he set the NFL record for career completions, the highlight from this game will be a game-tying touchdown run where he embarrassed two defenders.

New Orleans’ running game largely remains on the back burner, which has put even more weight on Brees’ shoulder in these shootouts. Once again when his defense needed to be bailed out, Brees came through with a 396-yard, three-touchdown performance through the air.

What will stand out from this game though is Brees’ rushing touchdowns. His spin to avoid two defenders and tie the game late came at a critical moment. Then he punched it in from the one-yard line to win it in overtime. Even at 39, Brees is just a treat for football fans to watch.