There were two Monday Night Football games to cap a wild Week 3 in the NFL with wins for the last two teams to be beaten for the NFL Championship.
The Philadelphia Eagles' 25-11 victory over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers maintained their perfect start to the season while the Cincinnati Bengals beat their opponents from Super Bowl LVI, the Los Angeles Rams, in a closely-fought contest 19-16.
The same two teams with the same two quarterbacks and head coaches locked horns 19 months down the line from their Super Bowl showdown, but there were only sporadic reminders from the Bengals and the Rams of their previous meeting at SoFi Stadium.
The swagger has largely gone from both offenses with the Rams' Matthew Stafford missing his go-to receiver Cooper Kupp and Cincinnati's Joe Burrow hampered by a calf injury.
Burrow, who sustained the injury in training camp and re-aggravated it against the Baltimore Ravens last week, said the risk of his team going 0-3 outweighed the risk of him suffering another setback.
Only six NFL teams that began the season 0-3 have made the playoffs in the Super Bowl era (since 1966).
He came onto the field with his calf considerably taped up and the Bengals allowed him to feel his way into the game with a conservative early game plan.
The quarterback didn't take any deep shots until the second quarter with his first 13 pass attempts all under 10 air yards.
He spread the ball around by completing passes to eight different teammates and finished the game with 259 passing yards, but his 53% completion rate is the third-worst of his pro career and comes two weeks after his all-time low of 45% against the Browns.
Cincinnati's sluggish start on offense was greeted by some boos from the home crowd, but the Bengals offense did eventually pick up the pace in the second half.
Burrow sought out his favorite target Ja'Marr Chase early and often.
The quarterback made good on his comments following the loss to the Ravens that he would find a way to get his Pro Bowl wide receiver, who caught just 10 passes for 70 yards in the Bengals' first two games, more involved.
"He was great tonight," Burrow said of Chase, who caught 12 of 15 targets for 141 yards. "I came into this game thinking I was just going to feed my guy. He came up big for us."
Rams QB Stafford had his second multi-interception game of the season against the Bengals and looks to be some way off his best.
The former Detroit Lions star's first pick, an ill-advised sidearm throw back toward the middle of the field after he evaded pressure, came on a first-and-10 from the Rams' own 30.
His second interception came on a tipped pass at the line of scrimmage, but the turnover trend that followed him during his first two years in Los Angeles is emerging again.
Stafford led the league in interceptions in 2021 and was fortunate in that season's NFC Championship Game when safety Jaquiski Tartt dropped an almost certain interception that might have enabled the San Francisco 49ers to close out a victory.
The quarterback, who threw eight picks in nine starts last year before his season ended prematurely due to injury, should get a boost next month when his favorite target Kupp is scheduled to return from Injured Reserve.
The duo formed a telepathic understanding two years ago, combining for a 44-yard completion to set up a game-winning field goal in the Divisional Round of the playoffs and the famous no-look connection in the final two minutes of the Super Bowl.
The Philadelphia Eagles made some history in Monday's other matchup as their second straight 200-yard rushing game gave them the best rush yards margin (+391) in a two-game span for the franchise since 1949.
Their 460-yard total represents the third-most rushing yards by any NFL team after the first three games of a season.
D'Andre Swift scampered for 130 of them while Jalen Hurts shook off flu-like symptoms to score yet another rushing touchdown.
Hurts also won his 10th consecutive road start, joining Patrick Mahomes and Lamar Jackson as the only quarterbacks at the age of 25 or younger to win that many in succession.
With two forced fumbles and 0.5 sacks against Tampa Bay, Jalen Carter, the ninth overall pick in the 2023 draft, continued to build his case for Defensive Rookie of the Year.
Carter is now +125 to win the award. His current Eagles teammate and former Georgia Bulldogs teammate Nolan Smith registered a QB hit against Tampa Bay.
Carter played just 21 snaps against Tampa, proving he can make an instant impact.