Week 2 brought out some incredible storylines and some incredible games. Field goal attempts were like flipping a coin, one of the league’s youngest stars and one of its oldest journeymen were both breaking records, and the Browns were part of another wild finish. One player even quit at halftime. There’s never a dull moment in the NFL season.
Bengals 34, Ravens 23
Cincinnati (2-0): The Bengals offense was rolling in the first half, with Andy Dalton and A.J. Green looking like Joe Montana and Jerry Rice. Dalton (24-42, 265 yds, 4 TD) connected with Green (5 catches, 69 yds, 3 TD) for all 3 of his touchdowns in the span of only 12 1/2 minutes of game time to open up a 21-0 lead. The offense stalled out in the second half, only able to add 2 Randy Bullock field goals in the final 30 minutes, but the Bengals tenacious defense held firm, forcing 3 Ravens turnovers, including another late fumble recovery to seal the victory. Being the only 2-0 team in the AFC North, Cincinnati is in prime position to make noise this season.
Baltimore (1-1): That, kids, is why you don’t overreact after one week. Joe Flacco (32-55, 376 yds, 2 TD, 2 INT) struggled to find his new receivers, especially in the first half, while the defense that steamrolled the Bills only 4 days earlier was nowhere to be found. The Ravens also struggled to implement Lamar Jackson into the offense, despite the rookie QB being on the field on several plays. Unable to get a constant pass rush, the Ravens were on the back foot for most of the first half before clawing their way back to 28-23 with just under 10 minutes left. Just like the Colts the week before, however, a late fumble doomed their comeback hopes. Next week’s matchup against the Broncos will prove which Ravens team to expect in 2018. The juggernauts of week 1 or the unorganized mess of week 2?
Falcons 31, Panthers 24
Atlanta (1-1): It’s amazing what happens when you convert in the red zone, isn’t it? Matt Ryan (23-28, 272 yds, 4 total TD, INT) was nearly a one-man wrecking ball inside the 20, tossing touchdowns to rookie Calvin Ridley and TE Austin Hooper before rushing for 2 scores himself. The Falcons defense nearly blew the lead on the final drive, but a win is a win, and in the insanely competitive NFC South, teams will need to take wins wherever they can get them. Also an added bonus for week 2, Matt Bryant actually didn’t miss any of his kicks.
Carolina (1-1): The Panthers have nothing to hang their heads over after this one. Cam Newton (32-45, 335 yds, 3 TD, INT) took a brutal helmet-to-helmet hit early in the game that resulted in the Falcons defender being ejected, then led the offense as if nothing happened. Carolina drove down the field again and again in the 4th quarter, only missing the game tying touchdown on the final play by a heavy bounce that was literally inches away from being a touchdown. Christian McCaffrey is also proving to be one of the best receiving backs in football after snagging 14 catches and 102 yards. Those are numbers wide receivers would be proud of.
Steelers 37, Chiefs 42
Pittsburgh (0-1-1): Is it too early to panic in Pittsburgh? Probably. But giving up 6 touchdowns to a quarterback in his 3rd career start is definitely not a good sign for the Steelers defense. Big Ben (39-60, 452 yds, 3 TD) passed John Elway for 7th all time in passing yards, but it just wasn’t enough to match to Chiefs’ onslaught. Kicker Chris Boswell has now missed 3 kicks this season (0/2 FG, 6/7 XP) and patience among Steelers faithful will run out very quickly if that continues. James Conner had another solid day with 65 total yards and a touchdown, meaning that the absence of LeVeon Bell isn’t the main cause of the Steelers’ sluggish start.
Kansas City (2-0): The perrenial dink-and-dunk style of Alex Smith has been cancelled for the Patrick Mahomes show. Mahomes (23-28, 326 yds, 6 TD) set an NFL record for the most touchdowns in the first two games of a season with 10 as the Chiefs seemingly passed at will on the Pittsburgh defense. Tyreek Hill, Sammy Watkins, and Travis Kelce each had over 90 receiving yards as 5 different players caught a touchdown from the NFL’s newest QB sensation. The defense looked a bit shaky at times, but as long as the offense stays healthy, KC is one of the best teams in football.
Bills 20, Chargers 31
Buffalo (0-2): Well, this is awkward. The Bills fall to 0-2 on the year after their loss to the Chargers as rookie QB Josh Allen (18-33, 245 yds, TD, 2 INT) struggled to find a rhythm. The defense was steamrolled yet again in the first half, giving up 28 points to the opposition by the break. But the biggest story is veteran corner Vontae Davis, who went up and quit at halftime, leaving the stadium in his street clothes and then announcing his retirement on Twitter a few hours later. Unfortunately for Bills fans, that’s really the perfect summary of Buffalo’s season so far.
Los Angeles (1-1): The Chargers cruised to an early lead that they never gave up in route to their first win of the season. Phillip Rivers (23-27, 256 yds, 3 TD) led the offense well, but the player of the game has to be running back Melvin Gordon. Rushing for 28 yards and catching 6 passes for another 38 yards led to a 3 TD game for the fourth-year running back. The defense was also strong against Josh Allen, limiting his ability to find the deep ball and harrassing him in the pocket all game long. After a tough loss against Kansas City, this was exactly how the Chargers wanted to rebound.
Packers 29, Vikings 29 F/OT
Green Bay (1-0-1): What happened to the Packers defense? They looked nearly impenetrable going into the 4th quarter, including CB Josh Jackson scoring off a blocked punt in the 1st quarter. Then they seemingly fell apart. An interception with 2:13 to go and a 5-point lead should have been enough, but they gave up a 9 play, 75 yard drive to give the Vikings overtime. Aaron Rodgers (30-42, 281 yds, TD) led a last second 41-yard drive to attempt a long field goal, but kicker Mason Crosby couldn’t connect on the 52-yard attempt after being iced. All in all, this result was a bitter one to swallow after doing so well for the first 45 minutes. Cheeseheads all over the country will remember this one for all the wrong reasons.
Minnesota (1-0-1): There’s a reason the Vikings swapped kickers on Monday. After Kirk Cousins (35-48, 425 yds, 4 TD, INT) and the Vikings came back from a 20-7 deficit in the 4th quarter, including an amazing (and maybe a bit lucky) touchdown catch by Adam Thielen to tie the game with 31 seconds left, they had two chances to win at Lambeau Field. Daniel Carlson missed his first attempt from 49 yards away, then missed again from 35 yards as time expired, making him 0-3 on the day. Dan Bailey, one of the most accurate kickers in league history, is now a Viking, and you have to think Minnesota is 2-0 if they made this move before Sunday.
Titans 20, Texans 17
Tennessee (1-1): They say the best offense is a good defense, and the Titans showed why that’s true Sunday. Along with a highlight-reel interception in the endzone by Adoree’ Jackson, Safety Kevin Byard threw a dime to wide open safety Dane Cruikshank on a fake punt for a 66-yard touchdown. Blaine Gabbert (13-20, 117 yds, TD) did enough while filling in for an injured Marcus Mariota to get the Titans over the hump, and Mike Vrabel earned his first win as a head coach.
Houston (0-2): Deshaun Watson (22-32, 310 yds, 2 TD, INT) looked like his old self after a rocky start, but still made a few rookie mistakes that he’ll hate to watch in the film room. Houston had 100 more passing yards, 50 more rushing yards, and double the yards per rush, but the result was the same as last week. A bad turnover and too many sacks cut drives short, and the Texans couldn’t convert when they got into the redzone. This is a team that has potential, as long as they cut down on the simple mistakes.
Saints 21, Browns 18
New Orleans (1-1): The Saints did what the Steelers couldn’t last week: they made their game winning field goal attempt. Drew Brees (28-35, 243 yds, 2 TD) and the offense were a bit sluggish in the first half, but came alive late to sneak away with their first win of the season. Michael Thomas (12 catches, 89 yds, 2 TD) has quietly become one of the premier wide receivers in the NFL, and the defense from a year ago seemed to return in the clutch, picking off Tyrod Taylor in route to what was then the go-ahead touchdown.
Cleveland (0-1-1): Well, at least the Browns are improving. Tyrod Taylor (22-30, 246 yds, TD, INT) played much better this week, throwing a 47-yard gem to rookie WR Antonio Callaway to tie the game and driving down the field with 21 seconds left to set up a game tying field goal. But for the second straight week, Zane Gonzalez missed a last-second field goal attempt. Gonzalez missed 2 extra points and 2 field goals Sunday, leaving Cleveland short of their first win in 19 games and leaving himself without a job. Thursday’s game against the Jets is the true make-or-break game for the Browns. A game that looks a little tougher than it did a month ago.
Jets 12, Dolphins 20
New York (1-1): What a difference a week makes. The defense wasn’t nearly in tune as they were against the Lions, and the offense just couldn’t finish drives. Sam Darnold (25-41, 334 yds, TD, 2 INT) played well down the field, but fell apart in the redzone. His costly interception in the endzone immediately after a Dolphins fumble on their own 12 yard line flipped any momentum the Jets may have gained in the minutes before. A total of 3 turnovers severely hindered New York’s offense, and their defense just couldn’t stop Miami as they ran out the final 6 minutes. At 1-1, Thursday’s game in Cleveland is a major crossroads in this young NFL season.
Miami (2-0): Looking just at the stats, this game seemed to favor the Jets in nearly every category. The Dolphins had fewer first downs, had 100 fewer yards of offense, and had 1/3 the passing yards. What sealed the win, however, was a dominant running game and a defense that feasted on turnovers and 3rd downs. They held the Jets to just 42 rushing yards and kept them to 3-10 on 3rd down. At that point, Ryan Tannehill (17-23, 168 yds, 2 TD) took care of the ball and did just enough to get Miami the win.
Buccaneers 27, Eagles 21
Tampa Bay (2-0): Jameis Winston has got to be getting pretty nervous. Backup QB Ryan Fitzpatrick (27-33, 402 yds, 4 TD, INT) is the first quarterback in NFL history to start a season with back-to-back 400-yard, 4-TD games, doing so against 2 of the best defenses in the league last season. DeSean Jackson (129 yds, TD) has shown that he’s still got plenty of gas left in the tank, and O.J. Howard’s 75-yard catch-and-run touchdown shows just how lethal the tight end can be in space. Fitzmagic is back, at least for one more week. After that, coach Dirk Koetter will have a decision to make.
Philadelphia (1-1): The Eagles’ comeback fell short in the sweltering heat of the Florida sun as the defending champions fell for the first time since last December. Nick Foles (35-48, 334 yds, TD) led an offense that was stuck in neutral for most of the first half, landing the Eagles in a 27-7 hole midway through the 3rd quarter. Philadelphia clawed their way back to 27-21 with just under 3 minutes to go, but couldn’t stop the Buccaneers’ offense on the final drive to get the ball back. It’s clear that the Eagles just aren’t the same team without Carson Wentz, but the good news for Philadelphia is that Wentz is slated to make his return Sunday vs the Colts.
Redskins 9, Colts 21
Washington (1-1): The team that managed 182 rushing yards in week 1 behind a standout performance by veteran Adrian Peterson was limited to just 65 this week. Alex Smith (33-46, 292 yds) played his usual style of football, but the Redskins just couldn’t manage to find the endzone, seeing two red zone trips ending with field goals. Luckily for Washington, everyone in the NFC East has a loss, so they still share an early lead in the division race.
Indianapolis (1-1): Andrew Luck (21-31, 179 yds, 2 TD, 2 INT) was by no means perfect against the Redskins, but when it really mattered, he almost was. Early in the 4th quarter, the Colts lead was trimmed to 5 as the offense stalled in the 3rd quarter. Then Luck stepped in and went 7-8 for 62 yards and a touchdown pass to T.Y. Hilton to cap off a 13 play, 75 yard drive that took 6 minutes off the clock and all but sealed the victory. The Colts look much better with Luck under center, even when he doesn’t play well, and will look to improve on Sunday’s performance when they play the Eagles week 3.
Jaguars 31, Patriots 20
Jacksonville (2-0): Rest of the league, take notes. This right here is how you beat the Patriots. The Jags stayed aggressive in their play calling on both sides of the ball, the defensive line pressured Brady on almost every drop back, and Blake Bortles (29-45, 377 yds, 4 TD, INT) was nearly flawless. Even without Leonard Fournette in the lineup and losing LT Cam Robinson for the rest of the season with a torn ACL in the first quarter, the Jaguars stayed true to the game plan and manhandled New England from start to finish. All this was highlighted by an OBJ-level one-handed catch by WR Keelan Cole. Jacksonville looked to avenge the AFC Championship game, and did so while putting the rest of the league on notice as an early Super Bowl favorite.
New England (1-1): The Patriots defense made Blake Bortles a top-5 quarterback this week. That’s about all you can say about their defensive performance. They struggled to make tackles short of the first down and CB Eric Rowe was beat time after time down the field. Brady (24-35, 234 yds, 2 TD) and Co. were able to swing momentum back after Bortles’ one bad pass of the day was intercepted on the Jacksonville 25-yard line, only for it to swing right back the other way on a 3rd and long sack-fumble. Any hope of a comeback fell away after Belichick decided to punt on 4th and inches with 8 minutes to go, only for Jacksonville to score on the very next play. Next up for the Pats is a chance to rebound against former Defensive Coordinator Matt Patricia and the Lions.
Rams 34, Cardinals 0
Los Angeles (2-0): The Rams cruised to yet another blowout win, this time over the Cardinals. Brandon Cooks was on fire, catching 7 balls for 159 yards, Todd Gurley put up 3 touchdowns before exiting due to cramping, and Jared Goff (24-34, 354 yds, TD, INT) led the offense like a well-oiled machine. The defense blanked the Cardinals offense behind great performances by the secondary and linebackers, and return man JoJo Natson averaged over 22 yards per return, keeping the ball in Cardinals territory for huge portions of the game. These guys are definitely as good as advertised.
Arizona (0-2): What is there to say about this game for the Cardinals? The defense couldn’t stop the Rams if their lives depended on it and the offense could never string a drive together. Sam Bradford (17-27, 90 yds, INT) was forced to check down almost every single pass, David Johnson couldn’t get any runs over 9 yards, and the team as a whole managed to get 5 first downs all game. Just like Buffalo last week, just go ahead and burn the tape. There isn’t much to learn from this one.
49ers 30, Lions 27
San Francisco (1-1): Jimmy Garrapalo (18-26, 206 yds, 2 TD) took much better care of the ball this week, leading the 49ers to their first win on the season and only their 3rd September win in the last 3 seasons. Matt Breida was the real force behind San Francisco’s offense, rushing for 138 yards and a touchdown. The defense crumbled late, but were able to hang on on the final drive and secure the win. Garrapalo is now 6-1 as the starter in San Francisco, a record he’ll need to keep up if the Niners hope to keep pace with the Rams.
Detroit (0-2): Matt Stafford (34-53, 347 yds, 3 TD) looked ten times better this week, nearly leading the Lions to a comeback win over the upstart 49ers. Receivers Golden Tate and Kenny Golladay both had big days, and the defense was able to completely halt the 49ers’ advances in the 4th quarter. But in the end, the Lions just couldn’t find those final few passes and came up short. It doesn’t get any easier next week as Patricia’s former mentor Bill Belichick comes to town, looking to continue the new coach’s losing start.
Broncos 20, Raiders 19
Denver (2-0): Case Keenum does it again. After a game winning drive last week against the Seahawks, Keenum (19-35, 222 yds, INT, rushing TD) led the Broncos on a 10 play, 62-yard drive to kick the game winning field goal with just 6 seconds remaining. Falling into an early deficit, a strong defense and the thin Mile High air helped claw Denver back into it. Running back Phillip Lindsay rushed for 107 yards, including a 53-yard sprint in the second quarter, and helped control the tempo, and Brandon McManus completed the comeback with a clutch kick of his own.
Oakland (0-2): Yet again, a strong first half performance is followed up by a weak second half where the opposition just ran the Raiders into the ground in the 4th quarter. Derek Carr (29-32, 288 yds, TD) led the offense about as efficiently as possible, including 17 straight completions, but he couldn’t lead the offense to score any points in the final 20 minutes. Marshawn Lynch tacked on another touchdown too, but as the game went on the Raiders defense couldn’t get off the field. On the final series, the linemen could barely jog back into formation, and by that point their fate looked sealed. This is a tough loss to handle since it’s very likely Oakland wins if they were playing anywhere but Denver.
Cowboys 20, Giants 13
Dallas (1-1): A running game and and defense are pretty good things to build a team around. The Cowboys never let Manning get comfortable, getting 6 sacks and holding the Giants to just 35 rushing yards. Dallas Prescott (16-25, 160 yds, TD) was Dak Prescott, master of the short pass and checkdown, and Ezekiel Elliot (78 yds, TD) was the workhorse Dallas needs him to be. The problem is that outside of one long Tavon Austin touchdown reception, the cowboys longest completion was just 12 yards. Definitely not something that can continue if Dallas expects to beat better teams.
New York (0-2): Saquon Barkley was able to get things done Sunday night, even if the rest of the team wasn’t. He could only find 28 yards on the ground, 10 of them on one rush, but managed to still eclipse the 100 yard mark with team highs of 14 catches and 80 receiving yards. Eli Manning (33-44, 279 yds, TD) was chased around all game long, and couldn’t get much going on offense despite the high completion percentage. So far, the Giants have given up a total of 8 sacks in two games, a major factor in their 0-2 record. As their schedule gets easier, expect the Giants to start winning more games.
Bears 24, Seahawks 17
Chicago: Looks like Khalil Mack spent some of his new monster of a contract buying a permanent spot in the Seahawks backfield. Mack managed 5 tackles and a strip sack, and the rest of the defense hounded Russel Wilson all night, culminating in a 49-yard pick six by Prince Amukamura and a strip sack by Danny Trevathan just as the Seahawks were trying to claw their way back into the game. Mitch Trubisky (25-34, 200 yds, 2 TD, 2 INT) did what he normally does, managing the game and getting the ball to the other playmakers on offense. A big win at home will galvanize the Bears faithful, especially with Khalil Mack looking like the reincarnation of Lawrence Taylor in his new Bears jersey.
Seattle: A tough loss in Denver is followed up with a bruising defeat at the hands of the Bears. Yet again, Russel Wilson (22-36, 226 yds, 2 TD, 2 INT) was running for his life, though the Bears’ front seven didn’t give him many places to escape. Two late turnovers by Wilson doomed any hope of a comeback, leaving the Seahawks 0-2 in a very tough NFC. If there’s any hope of Seattle returning to the playoffs this year, it’s by sorting out the offensive line. In two games this season, Seattle has given up 12 sacks and upwards of 20 QB hits, a pace that Wilson can’t be expected to endure forever.
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