Grading the NFC West: Week 3

Handing out grades to the 49ers' three divisional rivals in the NFC West for their performances in Week 2 games.


PASSING OFFENSE: F -- This is a rare grade for the Rams, but it's well deserved. QB Marc Bulger had the second-worst passer rating of his career (35.6), was intercepted three times and his 17 completions totaled just 116 yards (6.8 yards completion and 4.46 per attempt). The longest completion was 18 yards to Torry Holt and one of the interceptions came in the red zone on a poorly executed play to wide receiver Drew Bennett where there apparently was some miscommunication between Bulger and Bennett.

RUSHING OFFENSE: B-minus -- The Rams did control the ball with the running game, but there were few big plays as RB Steven Jackson carried 30 times for 115 yards, just 3.8 yards per attempt. Backup Brian Leonard did add 21 yards on four carries.

PASS DEFENSE: B-plus -- Bucs WR Joey Galloway entered the game averaging over 20 yards per catch, and he was limited to 42 yards on four receptions. QB Jeff Garcia totaled just 151 yards on 14 of 22 passing. However, in the drive that gave Tampa Bay a two-score lead in the fourth quarter, RB Michael Pittman gained 31 yards on two receptions.

RUSH DEFENSE: C -- Until the fourth quarter, the Rams hung tough, limiting Cadillac Williams to 46 yards on 12 carries, and forcing a fumble early in the fourth quarter that led to the Rams' only points. However, after that field goal made it a one-score game (10-3), the defense was gashed by backup Earnest Graham, who gained 32 yards on three carries, including an eight-yard touchdown run. On the next possession, the Bucs salted the game away with 40 yards on three rushes, three by Graham, including a 28-yard scoring dash.

SPECIAL TEAMS: F -- Dante Hall had just 47 yards on three kickoff returns (15.7-yard average) and inexplicably ran a missed 54-yard field goal out of the end zone. Hall was stopped at the 33-yard line, a loss of 11 yards from where the ball would have been if he hadn't returned it. A 35-yard punt return by the Bucs led to their final touchdown and a 36-yard kickoff return to start the second half led to a touchdown that gave Tampa Bay a 10-0 lead.

COACHING: C -- It's hard to fault the coaching for the offensive game plan, which was designed to keep Bulger upright and healthy. However, with Bulger hurt more than was being disclosed, then backup Gus Frerotte probably should have gotten the call.


PASSING OFFENSE: B-minus -- QB Matt Leinart struggled against the Ravens' pressure, but backup Kurt Warner operated the no-huddle to near perfection, nearly bringing the Cardinals to a come-from-behind victory.

RUSHING OFFENSE C -- The Cardinals fell behind early and almost abandoned the run. Edgerrin James had 57 yards on 10 carries, including a 27-yarder, his longest as a Cardinal.

PASS DEFENSE: C-minus -- Cornerbacks Eric Green and Rod Hood struggled, and Green tried to make too many arm tackles. The Cardinals managed to get some pressure in the second half, but overall they gave up too many big plays.

RUSH DEFENSE: C -- Willis McGahee gouged the Cardinals in the first half, especially when he cut to the backside. The Cardinals had poor discipline at times filling gaps.

SPECIAL TEAMS: D -- The Ravens returned a punt 75 yards for a touchdown, and the Cardinals missed a prime opportunity to down a punt inside the Ravens 5. They did recover an onside kick and Neil Rackers made another clutch kick.

COACHING: B -- With his club struggling, Ken Whisenhunt tried everything to give it a spark. He changed quarterbacks, used a no-huddle scheme and called for an onside kick, which was recovered. The Cardinals started slowly, however, which also has to fall upon Whisenhunt.


PASSING OFFENSE: B -- The two interceptions caused Matt Hasselbeck's grade to slip, as did the receivers' five drops.

RUSHING OFFENSE: B -- After a slow start, Shaun Alexander broke a couple of good runs in the fourth quarter to reach 100 yards for the second time in three games.

PASS DEFENSE: B -- The Seahawks gave up huge yardage (342) as Chad Johnson and T.J. Houshmandzadeh had big days, but they only surrendered one touchdown while picking off two.

RUSH DEFENSE: B-plus -- Rudi Johnson was limited to a scant nine yards on 17 carries.

SPECIAL TEAMS: A -- The Hawks opened the game with a 72-yard kickoff return by Josh Wilson and clinched the game by forcing a fumble on the final kickoff to Cincinnati.

COACHING: B -- The Seahawks were sluggish to start, but the defensive scheme ultimately held the potent Bengals offense to 21 points.

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