The Biggest Winners and Losers of NFL Week 2
Buffalo Bills running back C.J. Spiller couldn't be stopped on Sunday against the Kansas City Chiefs, and he's one of the biggest winners of Week 2.
The NFL is supposed to be exciting, but this week's slate of games gave us some jaw-dropping results nobody saw coming.
The Arizona Cardinals dominated on defense and Kevin Kolb managed on offense against the New England Patriots, with Arizona winning in a squeaker.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers took Eli Manning and the New York Giants to the brink, forcing him to pass for over 500 yards to get the win in an ugly, ugly game.
Cam Newton and the Carolina Panthers took the New Orleans Saints to the woodshed, winning by 11 points and putting the Saints in an 0-2 hole to start the 2012 season.
Yeah, it was crazy. Here are the biggest winners and losers from all of the action in Week 2.
Winner: Clay Matthews
Clay Matthews couldn't be blocked on Thursday night against the Chicago Bears.
For the night, Matthews totalled seven tackles (four solo), 3.5 sacks, three tackles for a loss and one defended pass.
His pressure caused Jay Cutler to completely lose all semblance of sanity, and as a result, he threw four interceptions in the game.
If Matthews can keep up his play, the Packers will be a tough team to beat the rest of the season.
Loser: Jay Cutler
Body language, Mr. Cutler, is an important aspect for any leader or NFL quarterback.
Apparently, Jay Cutler ditched that portion of quarterbacking school, because his body language throughout the game against the Green Bay Packers was atrocious.
Then, there's the small matter of Cutler's play. He was inaccurate throughout the night (11-of-27), dramatically underthrowing many of his receivers. In the end, he threw four interceptions and gave the Bears little chance to win the game.
In his defense, the dropped touchdown pass by Brandon Marshall was pretty egregious, but Cutler did more harm than good in the Chicago Bears' embarrassing loss on Thursday Night Football.
Loser: Offensive Lines of the Bears and Packers
There were 12 total sacks in this game—Jay Cutler was sacked seven times, and Aaron Rodgers went down five times.
Neither offensive line played with any discipline or technique, and the results speak for themselves. It was ugly, and both units need to get better or things will only get worse for the quarterbacks.
Winner: C.J. Spiller
C.J. Spiller made fantasy owners weep for joy with his phenomenal Week 2 performance against the Kansas City Chiefs.
He toted the rock 15 times for 123 yards (an average of 8.2 yards per carry) and two touchdowns, adding another 47 yards on three receptions.
There weren't many backs as electric as Spiller on Sunday, and I have no doubt that he'll be one of the most-added fantasy players heading into Week 3.
Loser: Chiefs Defense
The Kansas City Chiefs were absolutely destroyed by the Buffalo Bills, and there wasn't any aspect of the Bills offense the Chiefs could stop.
For the game, the Bills ran for 201 yards on 36 carries (an average of 5.6 yards per carry) and two touchdowns. Ryan Fitzpatrick also looked good, completing 10-of-19 passes for 178 yards and two touchdowns.
Many of those yards came on two catches, as Stevie Johnson and Scott Chandler both took passes over 40 yards to paydirt.
The Chiefs couldn't stop anyone, and KC looks to be in big trouble out of the gates in 2012.
Winner: Browns Offense
The Cleveland Browns didn't win over the Cincinnati Bengals, but the team's offense came to life in a major way, gaining 439 total yards.
Rookie quarterback Brandon Weeden was spectacular, completing 26-of-37 passes for 322 yards and two touchdowns with zero interceptions. It was a huge bounce-back game for him after his Week 1 debacle against the Philadelphia Eagles.
Rookie running back Trent Richardson also had a big game for Cleveland, rushing for 109 yards on 19 carries with one touchdown and pitching in another 36 yards and a touchdown in the passing game.
If cornerback Joe Haden hadn't been out with a four-game suspension, the Browns may have been able to hand their divisional rivals a tough loss at home. But it wasn't meant to be.
Loser: Bengals Secondary
The Cincinnati Bengals allowed Brandon Weeden to throw for over 300 yards and two touchdowns and didn't create a single turnover.
Perhaps now is the time for Bengals fans to come to the realization that their team's secondary is second rate...
Winner: Andy Dalton
Andy Dalton, meanwhile, was brilliant for Cincy.
Despite getting sacked six times, he managed to put up monster numbers and lead his team to victory over their feisty divisional rivals. For the day, Dalton completed 24-of-31 passes for 318 yards and three touchdowns and one interception.
Dalton is a special young player, and if his offensive line could just protect him, the Bengals will be tough to beat going forward—even with their porous secondary.
Winner: Andrew Luck
If you weren't on board the Andrew Luck bandwagon before, perhaps his first career game-winning drive is evidence enough for you to hop on with the rest of us.
This kid is unreal.
For the game, Luck completed 20-of-31 passes for 224 yards with two touchdowns and zero interceptions against the Vikings. His performance on the game-winning drive is the reason he's on this list, though.
Luck and the Indianapolis Colts started their last drive at their own 20-yard line with 31 seconds to go and the game knotted 20-20. The rookie completed three big-time clutch passes to get his team in field-goal range for Adam Vinatieri, who promptly drilled the 53-yard attempt with eight seconds left on the clock.
Winner: Reggie Bush
Reggie Bush carved up the Oakland Raiders like a Thanksgiving turkey on Sunday.
For the game, Bush rushed for 172 yards on 26 carries (6.6 yards per attempt) and two touchdowns, hauling in three catches for another 25 yards. His performance was the biggest reason the Miami Dolphins were able to dominate the Raiders so thoroughly, winning by a score of 35-13.
Loser: Darren McFadden
Perhaps it's time to start pressing the panic button in Oakland.
Finally healthy and ready to silence doubters, after getting shut down by the rival San Diego Chargers in Week 1, Darren McFadden had his second straight atrocious performance.
McFadden rushed for 22 yards on 11 carries and only caught two passes for 19 yards versus Miami.
If this is the way it's going to go for him and the Raiders this year, Carson Palmer will keep putting up a ton of passing yards, but the Raiders won't win many games.
Loser: Stephen Gostkowski
Stephen Gostkowski's stats for this game don't tell the story. He was four out of five in his field goal attempts, but his sole miss was brutal.
The New England Patriots deserved to lose the game, of that there's no doubt. But, with six seconds remaining on the clock, Gostkowski had a chance to win the game with a 42-yarder.
He pulled it dead left, and the Arizona Cardinals held on for the upset.
Winner: Arizona Cardinals and Ken Whisenhunt
Who could have imagined this? After an especially troubled preseason—and an even more undesirable situation at quarterback—the Arizona Cardinals are 2-0 to start the 2012 NFL season.
I certainly didn't think it was possible, but after a road win at New England, of all places, I won't be surprised by anything this team does going forward.
It's obvious that Ken Whisenhunt had his players ready, and the Cards pulled off the biggest upset of Week 2. He and his coaching staff had an excellent game plan for the Patriots, and his players executed it to perfection.
Kudos to him and to his team.
Loser: Tom Brady and Patriots Offense
Tom Brady was hassled all afternoon by Arizona, and though he threw for over 300 yards, you can't say he had a good day.
Losing Aaron Hernandez will be a huge blow going forward. It's not yet known how severe his ankle injury is, but NFL Network's Albert Breer reports it is "believed" to be a high ankle sprain—an injury that can linger for weeks.
The team's biggest issue on offense is its offensive line. This unit gave up four sacks, six quarterback hits and didn't give Stevan Ridley many open running lanes this week against the Cardinals. If it doesn't start doing a better job protecting Brady, I fear for the worst.
Winner: Eli Manning
One of the reasons Eli Manning is a top NFL quarterback is that he can move past his mistakes almost immediately to get back to the subject at hand.
He had a horrendous first half against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, throwing three interceptions, including a pick-six to Eric Wright right before the half.
Manning came back with a vengeance in the second half, and the New York Giants won the game with a phenomenal second half, scoring 28 points to win the game by a touchdown.
For the game, Manning completed 31-of-51 passes for 510 yards, three touchdowns and three interceptions. Victor Cruz and Hakeem Nicks combined for 21 catches for 378 yards and two touchdowns, and none of it would have been possible without a superb performance by Manning.
Loser: Buccaneers Secondary
The Giants gained 510 yards through the air.
Need I say more?
Winner: Andy Reid
Mad props to Andy Reid for sticking with the run against the Baltimore Ravens this week.
Reid ran LeSean McCoy 25 times even though the going was exceedingly tough, and limited Michael Vick to just 32 passing attempts. It's a strategy he should have employed in Week 1 against the Cleveland Browns, but better late than never, right?
Loser: Cam Cameron
I don't understand what goes through the head of Baltimore Ravens offensive coordinator Cam Cameron.
Joe Flacco was getting punished all game long, and even when his pocket was clean, he had accuracy issues throughout the contest against the Eagles. Cameron never got the hint, though, and continued calling passing plays for Flacco, even though Ray Rice was having a fantastic game (6.2 yards per carry).
Flacco ended up throwing the ball 42 times (completing only 22), while Rice only ran the ball 16 times. The result was that the Ravens couldn't move the ball on offense.
Winner: Cam Newton
Cam Newton made up for his poor showing in Week 1 with a dominating performance against the New Orleans Saints at home.
For the game, Newton completed 14-of-20 passes for 253 yards with one touchdown and zero interceptions (though he did lose one fumble), and ran for 71 yards and a score.
His team took it to the Saints all game long, and believe it or not, the Panthers now lead the Saints in the NFC South after this one.
Loser: Morale of the Saints
The New Orleans Saints are off to an improbable 0-2 start, and the body language of the coaches and players toward the end of their loss to the Carolina Panthers was concerning.
Drew Brees was under pressure all game long, and the loss of Carl Nicks via free agency seems to be a bigger one than folks might have anticipated. The stat sheet only shows one sack, but that doesn't tell the story. Brees was hit five times, and one of those hits put him on the trainer's table for a minute.
Brees can only do so much on his own, and it's up to the rest of the team to somehow come together before things get too far out of hand.
Winner: Texans Running Backs
Ben Tate and Arian Foster couldn't be stopped against the Jacksonville Jaguars.
The Houston Texans won 27-7, and Matt Schaub didn't throw a single touchdown. His two running backs dominated the game, rushing for 184 yards and three touchdowns—the only touchdowns of the game for the Texans.
Their ability to keep the chains moving gave the Texans a massive advantage in the time-of-possession battle, as the Jaguars only had the ball for 16:43 throughout the game.
Tate and Foster, if healthy, make the Texans a dangerous team in any kind of game.
Loser: Blaine Gabbert
After showing drastic improvement over last year's form in Week 1, Blaine Gabbert took a few steps in the wrong direction against Houston.
Before leaving the game with a hamstring injury, Gabbert had only completed 7-of-19 passes for 53 yards (2.8 yards per attempt), with one touchdown and zero interceptions.
And if you take away his one 32-yard completion to Laurent Robinson, Gabbert only completed six passes for 21 yards the rest of the way. At least he didn't turn the ball over, but overall, he looked terrible.
Winner: Marshawn Lynch
Beast Mode was in full effect for Seattle in Week 2. Marshawn Lynch toted the rock 26 times against the Cowboys, piling up 122 yards and one touchdown in the process.
Dallas has a loaded front seven, too, making Lynch's performance all the more impressive. He ran over, through and around the likes of DeMarcus Ware, Sean Lee and Bruce Carter in a fantastic overall performance for the Seahawks.
Loser: Tony Romo
The Dallas Cowboys were lambasted by Seattle, and Tony Romo was a big part of the Dallas loss.
Romo barely completed half his passes and was only able to connect for one touchdown against one interception. He couldn't connect with his receivers all game long, and the Seahawks secondary really had his number.
Winner: Sam Bradford
Sam Bradford stood tall in what was supposed to be Robert Griffin III's second coming-out party and put together a performance that should be lauded.
RG3 was awesome, of that there is no argument, but Bradford was better.
For the game, Bradford completed 26-of-35 passes for 310 yards, three touchdowns and one interception. He was accurate, decisive and gritty in the face of some stiff pressure at times.
Bradford looked like a legitimate No. 1 draft choice on Sunday, and I predict we'll see more such performances in the weeks to come.
Winner: Danny Amendola
You can't stop Danny Amendola. You can only hope to contain him.
106.7 THE FAN's Grant Paulsen reports:
Danny Amendola's 12 catches tie the #NFL record for the most first-half receptions. (Reggie Wayne in 2006).— Grant Paulsen (@granthpaulsen) September 16, 2012
Amendola finished the game with 15 receptions, picking up 160 yards and one touchdown.
He was incredible, and the Rams got a much-needed win.
Loser: Mark Sanchez
Though I'm not in the least bit surprised to see this, Mark Sanchez's one-week hiatus from the losers column was short lived.
Sanchez was simply putrid against the Pittsburgh Steelers.
He completed just 10-of-27 passes for 138 yards and one touchdown. And though he didn't throw a single interception, his inability to connect with his receivers was bad enough to land him back on the losers side of this list.
Winner: Ben Roethlisberger
As bad as Mark Sanchez was for the New York Jets, Ben Roethlisberger was just as good for the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Roethlisberger was pressured all game long by the Jets defensive front, but his ability to maneuver in the pocket was on full display. For the game, Big Ben completed 24-of-31 passes for 275 yards and two TDs.
He spread the ball around to 10 different receivers, and the Jets could never get ahead of what he was trying to do.
Loser: Chris Johnson
Chris Johnson put together his second consecutive pathetic performance in Week 2. He completely bombed in the season opener against the New England Patriots, and he followed it up with another tank job against the San Diego Chargers.
For the game, Johnson managed just 17 total yards on eight carries and just 11 yards on two catches.
It was a performance I'm sure he hopes we won't long remember, but until Johnson busts out with a big game, his failures are all we're going to remember.
Winner: Philip Rivers
No Antonio Gates. No Ryan Matthews. No problem for Philip Rivers and the San Diego Chargers.
Rivers put together an impressive performance and win against the Tennessee Titans, completing 24-of-32 passes for 284 yards with three touchdowns and one interception. Rivers was under pressure all game long and was without his two top weapons on offense, yet somehow the man kept getting it done.
It was classic Rivers, and if his defense continues to play lights out against the run, this team has a chance to make some noise in the playoffs.
Loser: Detroit Lions Offense
Matthew Stafford, Calvin Johnson and the Detroit Lions had a frustrating night against the insane defense of the San Francisco 49ers.
Stafford finished the night with a respectable line, but many of his yards came late in the fourth quarter when the game was over. He was highly inaccurate on many of his throws, even when he had adequate time to throw the ball.
Johnson caught eight passes for 94 yards, but the truth is that the 49ers' secondary had him locked down tight for much of the night.
The Lions couldn't run the ball, but this shouldn't be a surprise to anyone who has watched the 49ers for the past few years. For the night, the team only managed 82 yards on 26 carries for an average of 3.2 yards per carry.
The 49ers dominated every aspect of this contest, and the Lions found themselves wanting.
The San Francisco 49ers dominated yet another top NFC opponent. It was the second-straight victory over a top team in as many weeks to start the 2012 season, and there isn't much you can find wrong with this team.
Alex Smith outplayed Matthew Stafford, passing for 226 yards and two touchdowns—both of which were caught by Vernon Davis.
Frank Gore and Kendall Hunter were superb, and the 49ers offense was rolling.
The team's defense was stellar, holding Matthew Stafford and the explosive Lions offense to just one touchdown—one that was scored in garbage time late in the fourth quarter.
This team looks to be the class of the NFC at this point, though there is still much football yet to be played.
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