With Wilson safely on a flight home after being mauled by a pack of Bears, week 2 has come to a close. Here’s my brief look at the weeks action.
Bengals 34 v 23 Ravens
The Bengals followed up their week one win in Indy with an impressive win at home to the Ravens. The Ravens looked good in week one but maybe the Bills just made them look that good. When up against a better defense, Flacco threw two INTs however they were chasing the game for much of the match after three TD catches by AJ Green in the first half. Dalton threw a fourth to Boyd in the second half to complete a good night for the mediocre quarterback. The Ravens defense were unable to get to Dalton at all whereas their counterparts recorded four sacks, two for Geno Atkins who has started the season strong. Concerns for the Bengals though heading in to week three with second year running back Joe Mixon having knee surgery and out for ‘2-4 weeks’.
Falcons 31 v 24 Panthers
The Falcons had us all talking about red zone efficiency last week, and their lack of it. Things have turned around this week though as they were able to convert 100% of their red zone opportunities on the way to a win over their division rivals. Tevin Coleman stepped in ably for the injured Freeman and recorded a 100 rushing yard game whilst his QB ran in two TDs of his own. Rookie Calvin Ridley kicked off his account in Atlanta with a TD catch.
This game looked to be comfortable enough for the Falcons but the Panthers roared back and had a chance to win it at the end, though if the final pass play of the game would have stuck, we’d be talking about Newton in the same sense we do Rodgers’ late game Hail Mary plays. Speaking of Cam, he suffered a big, illegal hit, after one of his trademark runs in the second quarter. Damontae Kazee was ejected for the game after leading with his head against Cam who was sliding for the first down. It was an easy call for the refs to make and one that Cam later called a ‘cheap shot’. Hard to disagree with him.
Redskins 9 v 21 Colts
Not a very exciting game but a surprising result. After week one I expected the Redskins to dominate this match against a Colts team that’s still finding its feet. However, both the passing game and the running game for the Redskins failed to materialise and they were unable to score any TDs despite intercepting Luck twice.
Luck’s game itself was average with those two INTs coupled with two TDs and 179 yards. The running game was much better than last week with Jordan Wilkins running for 61 yards off ten attempts. The Colts O-Line was much improved, giving up only one sack. Standout defensive star for the Colts was their second-round pick, linebacker Darius Leonard who recorded 15 solo tackles, one sack and one forced fumble. More of that type of production and the Colts will have a star to build their defense around.
Titans 20 v 17 Texans
Another surprise result after a lackluster performance last week from the Titans. They kicked off the scoring with a wonderful fake punt pass play where safety Kevin Byard threw to Devin Cruikshank for a 66-yard TD. That was their biggest play of the day as with no Mariota, Blaine Gabbert was called in and threw for 117 yards and a TD. He didn’t turn the ball over though like his counterpart Watson who threw an INT as well as two INTs. He also recorded 310 yards passing and 44 rushing. This really is a case of looking at the stats and wondering how the score ended up how it was!
Buccaneers 27 v 21 Eagles
I don’t think anyone really saw that coming, aside maybe a few die hard Bucs supporters. Maybe the Bucs have taken on some of the ‘underdog vibes’ that propelled the Eagles to the Superbowl last year. Both quarterbacks put up impressive stats with Foles coming in with 334 yards, a TD and no INTs. The star of the show, and everyone’s favourite two-week story will be Fitzpatrick who threw for 402 yards, four TDs and a pick. Desean Jackson benefited again with a TD and 129 yards.
After dominating the Falcons last week, the Eagles D-Line will have been disappointed to only get two sacks. Concern for the Bucs will continue to be the rushing game where they recorded only 43 net rushing yards, but with Fitzpatrick playing like this, who cares? Maybe Jamies…
Steelers 37 v 42 Chiefs
Wow. What a game! The Steelers were 21-0 down in the first quarter before coming back to make this game competitive. Thankfully otherwise this would have been a one sided bore.
Patrick Mahomes continues to impress and if he carries on with this type of form he’ll be in the MVP discussion. He now holds the record for most TD passes in the first two weeks of a season with 10 in total, six thrown against a woeful Steelers defense. Big Ben was back to his best with 452 yards and three TDs but the running game wasn’t there this week at all (cue a joyful Le’Veon Bell). Defense from both sides really wasn’t on show here at all but sit back and enjoy the highlights.
Jets 12 v 20 Dolphins
The Dolphins sit atop the AFC East now with a 2-0 record! How long that lasts is anyone’s guess!
Darnold threw two INTs, the first of which showed he has to read coverages better as he got fooled into throwing it right into the defender’s chest. Tannehill on the other hand may not have put up as many yards in passing but he looked good, safe. The TD pass to tight end Derby was an absolute laser to the receiver.
I do like the look of this Jets defense and I think it could go on to cause New England some problems with the pressure they applied on a decent Dolphins O-Line. Kiko Alonso though for the Dolphins was the defensive standout with 13 tackles.
Bills 20 v 31 Chargers
The result of this game has almost been forgotten after the retirement of Vontae Davis, at half time. But anyway, it was fast start for the Chargers who were 28-6 up at half time. Running back Melvin Gordan didn’t stack up the yards on the ground but ran for one TD and caught two TD passes.
The Chargers may have taken their foot off the gas after half time as the Bills got the better of the second half. Rookie quarterback, Josh Allen, making his first start did ok. He threw for two INTs but also had a TD and 245 yards, comparable to Darnold’s play at least. One pass to Zay Jones late in the first half showed what a great arm Allen has. More worries for the Bills as McCoy has suffered a couple of broken ribs and could be doubtful for week three.
Packers 29 v 29 Vikings
One of the match-ups of the day saw another tie in the 2018 season. Neither team will be happy with this in what looks to be an intriguing NFC North division. Rodgers, playing on one leg had a good game and heading in to the fourth quarter it was looking like a straight forward win for the Packers.
But the Vikings came storming back with 22 points in the final quarter. Cousins threw for 425 yards and four TDs – one of the best of them a throw to Adam Thielen which I still don’t know how he caught! Kicker, Mason Crosby had the chance to win it at the end, indeed he made his first kick after the refs blew the play dead after the Vikings called a time out. Usually the ‘icing the kicker’ tactic doesn’t work but, on this occasion, Crosby pushed his second kick wide of the posts sending the game to overtime. His opposite number, Dan Carlson missed two FG opportunities in overtime that would have seen the Vikings take the game. The second, from 35 yards out he should really have got.
One other thing to call out, the penalty on Clay Matthews for his hit on Cousins that negated an INT. Bullshit call.
Saints 21 v 18 Browns
Oh Cleveland. When are you going to stop doing such ‘Browns’ things? Quality wise, this wasn’t a match for the ages but it was entertaining none the less, well the fourth quarter was!
The Browns had a 12-0 lead heading into the fourth and were looking good. They were getting to Brees recording three sacks and a string of pressures and it looked as though the Saints offence just couldn’t get going. Then it all fell apart and we and the Browns faithful were left with a lot of ‘what ifs’. A touchdown pass from Brees to Michael Thomas bought the score back to 12-10. An INT by Tyrod Taylor followed and later Brees again found Thomas in the end zone and with a two-point conversion the Saints were 18-12 up.
Taylor found rookie receiver Antonio Calloway with a 47-yard bomb of a pass and a great TD catch to bring the Browns level. The pass and catch really was a thing of beauty and had us all gasping. Just a PAT to take the lead so of course rookie kicker misses….. so Browns!
Tie game but Brees had over a minute left on the clock and drove the team down the field to allow for a Saints FG which ultimately sealed the game. Another chance late on for Gonzalez the Browns kicker but it was not to be. So close, and yet so far. Better luck next week.
49ers 30 v 27 Lions
A much better performance from the Lions versus their week one annihilation at the hands of the Jets, but still no win for rookie head coach Matt Patricia. The running game from both teams was much improved versus last week. For the Lions, Johnson and Blount both had ok stats. For the 49ers, Matt Breida is quickly turning in to a solid option with 138 yards and a 66 yard TD (helped with a great long block by Pierre Garcon!).
The 49ers defense continues to improve, DeForrest Buckner added another sack to his seasons tally and linebacker due Elijah Lee and Fred Warner recorded 18 tackles between them. The Niners will be a bit disappointed that they let the Lions back into this game though. Still work to do for both teams.
Rams 34 v 0 Cardinals
Urgh this was ugly for the Cardinals. Was probably always going to be the case though when up against a high-powered Rams team. Bradford, again, was very disappointing. Throwing for only 90 yards and a pick.
The running game recorded only 54 yards in total and whilst star RB for the Rams, Todd Gurley only got 42 yards, he also ran in for three TDs after good plays from Goff and his receivers to get them up the field. The key differences between the two teams was the amount of time Goff had in the pocked versus what Bradford had to deal with and the coverage that the Rams cornerbacks had on the Cardinals receivers. Whilst Bradford was only sacked once, he was under pressure for a lot of the passing plays and found it hard to locate open receivers. We knew coming in to the season that the Rams defence could be great and that’s just what we’re seeing.
Jaguars 31 v 20 Patriots
A rematch of the AFC Championship match from 2017 and this didn’t disappoint. Played in very high heat in Jacksonville and the Patriots wilted somewhat. The Jags defense were making tackles all over the field with Ronnie Harrison, Myles Jack and Telvin Smith each recording seven tackles. Across the defensive line, the Jags looked fast and reduced the options available to Tom Brady who did manage two TDs and 234 yards.
Blake Bortles though had one of his best games, throwing four TDs for 377 yards and a pick. Keelan Cole was his main weapon and the undrafted rookie wide receiver looked electric and even though it was later ruled out made an amazing acrobatic catch in the first quarter. He ended the day with 116 yards and a touchdown.
Patriots rookie first round running back, Sony Michel got his first game action and showed flashes of potential but overall this will be one that the dark lord emperor will want to forget.
Broncos 20 v 19 Raiders
The Broncos needed a last gasp FG from kicker Bradley McManus to beat a Raiders team vastly improved from their previous game.
Raiders quarterback Derek Carr looked back to his best completing 29 passes out of 32 attempts for 288 yards and a touchdown. During the week, coach Jon Gruden had called for the need to get wide receiver Amari Cooper working again and they did just that with ten receptions and 116 yards. Encouraging signs for the Raiders.
The Bronco’s defence will be disappointed to only record one sack and no turnovers. Rookie RB duo Royce Freeman and Phillip Lindsey continued their impressive start to the year though with Lindsey rushing 14 times for 107 yards.
Cowboys 20 v 13 Giants
I could see the Giants starting to annoy me. So much talent on offence but that line has been beaten up for two weeks now. Would they do better with a new QB as apposed to Eli? Probably not. The Giants gave up six sacks – all to different pass rushers so it’s not just like one defensive lineman had a big day, they were all getting to Eli regularly. Manning still managed 279 passing yards and a touchdown, but the running game never got going with Barkley gaining a measly 28 yards on 11 attempts.
Dak on the other hand didn’t really have to do that much. He threw for 160 yards and a TD but it looks as though the coaching staff in Dallas have found out how to use the players that they have at their disposal. Dak himself rushed for 45 yards and Zeke another 78. They also managed to get Tavon Austin in the game with a TD catch and a clever run for 15 yards. More of that and a good defensive display and it might not all be troublesome in Dallas. Early days though.
Bears 24 v 17 Seahawks
Two first round picks and however many millions that Mack has got paid was a good deal. He terrified Aaron Rodgers last week and was back to it on Monday night football against Russell Wilson. In fact, most of the Chicago defence were at it. Six sacks and three forced fumbles and Wilson running for his life all night. A less mobile quarterback than he would have been destroyed. I’ve said it in previous articles but the Seahawks failure at reconstructing their offensive line is a crime. Playing like that, it’s only a matter of time before Wilson gets injured and the running game is non-existent.
It doesn’t help that Wilson doesn’t have many options in the passing game to throw to either. What is worth a watch though if Wilson’s TD pass to Tyler Lockett who made a great catch.
The Bears offence is continuing to develop well, some intricate design plays reminiscent of plays we’ve seen by Kansas this year (where Bears head coach Matt Nagy used to work) were used to score points. Trubisky used his legs as well as he used his arms and whilst he did give up two INTs overall had a good game.
Phil Carrol at times though looked about as shell shocked as his quarterback.