NFL Week 3 weirdness: Barnwell explains seven surprising games

Week 3 in the NFL was weird. While one team was seemingly showing us what offense will look like 30 years in the future, another was reminding us of what things were like traveling that far into the past. The consensus best team in football through two weeks lost to one that was supposed to be tanking. The league's most reliable player failed with the game on the line, while a tight end hit the turbo button to produce something we might never see again in our lifetimes.

And all of that's without even considering the battle between the Chargers and Vikings, where the old shootout adage of "whoever has the ball last wins" was replaced by "whoever has the ball last loses in heartbreaking fashion."

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Let's break down the most surprising things from Sunday of Week 3, explaining the strange games, endings and plays. Some of what happened looks more defensible and understandable upon a closer glance, but other situations seem even more incomprehensible. That starts with what happened in Miami, where the Dolphins appeared to be playing a different sport than their opponents.

Jump to a Week 3 game:
ARI 28, DAL 16
DET 20, ATL 6 | GB 18, NO 17
HOU 37, JAX 17 | IND 22, BAL 19
MIA 70, DEN 20 | NE 15, NYJ 10

1. The Dolphins ran for 350 yards and five touchdowns while dropping 70 points

The game: Miami 70, Denver 20

When a team scores 70 points, it gets to lead the Monday morning column. I don't think anybody is naive about what the Dolphins can accomplish on offense when they're rolling, but coming within striking distance of an NFL record for most points in a game on a day when they didn't have Jaylen Waddle stands out as surprising. Coach Mike McDaniel probably played a round or two of Mortal Kombat II as a child; given the chance to tie the NFL record by kicking a field goal and reaching 73 points, McDaniel reached into his heart and chose to offer Denver's Sean Payton friendship over a fatality.

While Tua Tagovailoa was nearly perfect and Tyreek Hill racked up 157 receiving yards in what was a ho-hum game by his impossible standards, the attention Sunday understandably went toward Miami's running backs. Raheem Mostert and rookie De'Von Achane each scored four touchdowns, becoming the second set of teammates in NFL history to rack up four scores each in one game. Priest Holmes and Derrick Blaylock managed to pull it off for the Chiefs in a blowout victory over the Falcons nearly 20 years ago.

This is particularly exciting for the Dolphins given the area they struggled in a year ago. The biggest weakness on their roster might have been at running back. NFL Next Gen Stats has a measure called rush yards over expectation (RYOE), which incorporates the location and movement of blockers and defenders at the time of a handoff to estimate how many yards an average back would get in the same situation. No model is ever going to be perfect, but the RYOE model ranked Nick Chubb as the most effective back in football last season, so that's a promising start.

Last season, McDaniel and the Dolphins were able to create running opportunities for their backs but the ball carriers weren't able to make a difference. Their average run play was expected to gain a league-best 5.1 yards last season. Instead, they averaged 4.3 yards per carry. The resulting gap between their expected yards per carry and actual yards per carry was the worst mark in football.