NFL Week 2: 10 Biggest Storylines
The NFL's second week of games did not disappoint.
Several games came down to the final drive, big name players stepped-up when they had to and, to top it all off, we had we some more officiating controversy.
One thing to remember: Don't overreact.
It can be hard not to make too much of games week to week in the NFL as we only have one game to form our opinions on. It's not like baseball where teams play anywhere from five to seven games every week.
A team can look great one week, then come back the next Sunday and completely blow it. It works the other way as well.
It's still very early in the season and much can change. Are we truly to believe the Kansas City Chiefs will go 16-0? Or that the Vikings and Cowboys will go winless?
That being said, these early games do give us things to look for going forward and some stories deserve extra attention.
1. Jets Avoid Disaster With Excellent Second Half
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If someone told you the Jets would go into halftime trailing the New England Patriots and would play the remainder of the game without superstar corner Darrelle Revis, would you think New York would have much of a shot at winning the game?
The Jets overcame the odds and won 28-14, thanks in large part to the stellar play of Mark Sanchez.
In the second half, Sanchez threw two touchdown passes while New York's defense forced three Tom Brady turnovers, as the Jets scored 18 unanswered points going back to a last second field goal to end the first half.
Brady summed up his team's second half performance by saying, "We sucked."
It remains to be seen whether the Jets will play this well the rest of the season or if this was merely the result of a desperate team who felt they absolutely could not lose this game.
For New England, the questions that surrounded their defense for much of the offseason will now get louder. It also seemed they got caught up in trying to get Randy Moss the ball. Early in the game they had success going to Wes Welker, but did not go to him once in the fourth quarter when they needed to score touchdowns.
New York will look to keep it going Sunday night at 2-0 Miami with the Pats trying to bounce back at home against Buffalo.
2. Colts Dominate With Balanced Attack
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Indianapolis did whatever they wanted on offense in a 38-14 whooping of the New York Giants.
Peyton Manning threw for 255 yards and three touchdowns on a 20 for 26 night passing while the combination of Joseph Addai and Donald Brown gained 161 yards on the ground.
The Giants could not keep the pressure off Eli Manning as a Colt defender was in his face seemingly every time he dropped back. He was sacked four times as New York was unable to establish any consistency on offense.
In a strange side note, Giants running back Brandon Jacobs somehow managed to lose his helmet in the stands and could be facing a fine, possibly a suspension, pending a league investigation. It has also been reported that Jacobs has requested a trade out of New York.
The Colts will travel to Denver and the Giants will hope to do better at home against Tennessee next week.
3. Does It Matter Who Plays Quarterback For Pittsburgh?
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If the Steelers' defense plays this well all season, pencil them in for another Super Bowl appearance.
Pittsburgh did just enough on offense and special teams as the defense forced seven turnovers and held on late to come away with a 19-11 victory over Tennessee.
The Steelers opened the game with a trick play on special teams that resulted in an 89-yard touchdown return by Antonio Brown. Not to be outdone, the Titans used a nifty play that resulted in the recovery of an onside kick late in the fourth quarter when kicker Rob Bironas faked kicking it to the left, then quickly reset and tapped the ball down the middle.
Tennessee was unable to stage a dramatic comeback, however.
Dennis Dixon left the game early in the 2nd quarter with a knee injury, leaving veteran Charlie Batch to hold the fort. Batch avoided mistakes while orchestrating three field-goal producing drives. Coach Mike Tomlin has stated that he does not know who will be starting for Pittsburgh next week.
If the defense can play like this it doesn't seem that it matters.
Vince Young of the Titans was benched after throwing two interceptions and losing a fumble, but will remain the starter going forward.
Pittsburgh will take on Tampa Bay in a match up of 2-0 teams as Tennessee will go on the road to face the Giants.
4. Minnesota Falls to 0-2, Dolphins an Early Surprise at 2-0
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The Vikings need to figure it out and do it fast if they hope to return to the NFC Championship game this year.
Minnesota lost 14-10 as Brett Favre threw three interceptions and Miami held Adrian Peterson out of the endzone with an impressive goalline stand late in the 4th quarter. Favre also lost a fumble that was recovered by the Dolphins for a touchdown.
Miami gained 120 yards on the ground and Chad Henne avoided mistakes as the 'Fins were able to secure an early hold on first place in the AFC East.
The Vikings were unable to establish their passing attack for the second week in a row and are in serious trouble chasing Chicago and Green Bay in their division.
Favre is clearly missing receiver Sidney Rice (hip surgery) who emerged as his favorite downfield target in 2009. Minnesota has been named as a possible landing spot for Chargers' wideout Vincent Jackson, but even that could come too late. Jackson would need to be traded by Wednesday and would not be eligible to play until Week 5.
Minnesota will look for their first win while hosting Detroit and Miami will attempt to move to 3-0 when they host the Jets next week.
5. Martz Experiment Working In Chicago, Dallas In Trouble
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The Cowboys continued to struggle on offense as they turned the ball over three times, managed to gain only 36 yards rushing and scored just one offensive touchdown in a 27-20 loss to the Bears.
Jay Cutler went 21 for 29 to rack up 277 passing yards and three touchdowns, including one coming on a spectacular catch by Devin Hester in the corner of the endzone.
Dallas admitted on Monday to reading too many of their press clippings and giving in to the hype surrounding the team going into the season. It seems they believed that since it was possible for them to be the first team to play in a Super Bowl being hosted in their stadium, they would be able to walk through the season en-route to it happening.
A players-only meeting was held in hopes of reviving the team.
Dallas will travel in-state to play Houston on Sunday while Chicago will take on Green Bay in a battle for first-place on Monday Night Football.
6. Saints Find a Way To Win Yet Again
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It doesn't matter how you win the game, just that you win.
New Orleans showed a propensity for finding ways to win close games in last year's Super Bowl run and have done the same in their first two games this season, beating San Francisco 25-22 in a great game on Monday night.
The 49ers seem like they could be a pretty good team if they could just get out of their own way. They snapped the ball out of their own endzone on their first possession of the game, muffed a punt late in the 4th, threw two interceptions and added in some bad penalties along the way.
Alex Smith showed reason to believe in him as a franchise quarterback with a touchdown drive and two-point conversion with just over a minute left in the game, a series in which he was nothing short of fantastic, finding ways to get first downs passing and scrambling.
However, you absolutely cannot turn the ball over deep in your opponent's territory and Smith threw two interceptions in that situation. He also completed a pass inside the New Orleans 10 that was fumbled and recovered by the Saints.
Had the Niners been able to come away just with field-goals on those possessions, they would have won the game.
New Orleans will give up yards on defense, but seems to force timely turnovers that swing the game. It would seem that teams hoping to beat the Saints simply need to avoid giving the ball away to come out on top. This is, of course, easier said than done.
It is of note that Reggie Bush was injured in the game looks to be missing time.
New Orleans will host the division rival Atlanta Falcons while San Fran will look to get its first win in Kansas City.
7. Houston Shows Mental Toughness, Appears To Be For Real
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The Texans have been a trendy pick for many years now and seem, finally, to be paying off their believers. Houston was New Orleans-esque in their come-from-behind 30-27 overtime win against Washington.
With the score 27-10 late in the third quarter, it appeared the Texans were going to follow up their huge win against Indy in Week 1 by laying an egg in Washington.
Houston didn't give up another point and showed the fortitude that had been lacking from the franchise over the years.
Matt Schaub threw for three touchdowns and just under 500 yards passing while spreading the ball around to eight different receivers.
On the other side, the trade for Donovan McNabb is clearly benefiting the Redskins as McNabb threw for 426 yards and a touchdown himself.
Houston will try to move to 3-0 while hosting Dallas next week and the Redskins will travel to St. Louis.
8. Iffy Calls, Flacco Interceptions Take Down Ravens
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Officiating controversy has struck again in the NFL.
Questionable tripping and roughing the passer calls against Ray Lewis and Terrell Suggs of the Ravens helped earn Cincinnati a 15-10 win over their division rivals.
The Ravens can complain about the calls all they want, but Joe Flacco's four interceptions are what ultimately cost them the game.
There does seem to be some bias in these calls, though.
There was a play in the Steelers-Titans game in which two Pittsburgh defenders picked up Vince Young and basically slammed him on his head, yet there was no call. In this game, Lewis was blocked into Cincinnati QB Carson Palmer and there wasn't anything glaring about Suggs' play either. It seems that higher profile quarterbacks are more likely to get these calls, and that is not how games should be decided.
Bengals' fans must be starting to worry about Palmer. He was not sharp in this game, and while it was against a terrific Ravens' defense, he has not lived up to the promise he showed early in his career recently. He was 16 of 35 for 167 yards on the day.
The Bengals visit Carolina while Baltimore hosts the Browns in Week 2.
9. Vick Impresses Again, Will Not Remain Starter
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Michael Vick has done all he can to make himself a starting NFL quarterback again. Whether it is later this year or next, he will get another chance.
Vick threw for 284 yards and two touchdowns on 21 of 34 passing, adding 37 yards with his feet, in a 35-32 win over the Detroit Lions. As of right now, he is living up to the potential he showed, prior to his arrest and suspension, with Atlanta.
LeSean McCoy added 120 rushing yards and three touchdowns for the Eagles while Lions' rookie Jahvid Best showed why he was a first round pick, picking up 232 total yards and three touchdowns, including a 75-yard catch and run for a score.
Eagles coach Andy Reid made it clear that Kevin Kolb would be his starter next week and Vick said all the right things when asked about the situation.
What bears watching is how the team performs with Kolb and how the players react to him. It will take a colossal failure on Kolb's part for Reid to make the change, but Philly's players clearly enjoy playing with Vick. If Kolb struggles, it could lead to some discord in the locker room.
Philadelphia and Detroit are both on the road next week as the Eagles travel to Jacksonville and the Lions go to Minnesota.
10. Falcons Showcase Offense, Cardinals Miss Warner
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The Atlanta Falcons took mercy on the Arizona Cardinals in their 41-7 annihilation, taking a knee on four straight plays to turn the ball over on downs very late in the fourth quarter.
Jason Snelling showed he could be a solid running back when filling in for Michael Turner in 2009 and took it to another level against the Cardinals, gaining 129 yards on the ground as well as 57 receiving while totaling three touchdowns.
Matt Ryan was 21 for 32 for 225 yards and three touchdowns, quieting talk that he is regressing for now.
Falcons receiver Roddy White appears to be on his way to a huge year as he racked up 78 yards and a touchdown on seven receptions. He has become Ryan's favorite target, being thrown to 12 times in the game.
Arizona's Derek Anderson had a rough time, throwing two interceptions on a 17 for 31 day. His backup, Max Hall was inserted into the game with the blowout well under way and did not fare much better. He completed two passes, but one of them was to Falcons' defensive back Dominque Franks.
The drop off from Kurt Warner has been severe.
Atlanta's top back, Michael Turner left the game in the second quarter with a groin injury and did not return. Coach Mike Smith said after the game that Turner would have gone back in the game if it was close, but saw it as an opportunity to rest his big back.
Turner had 75 yards on nine carries, an 8.3 average, was smiling and appeared to be joking with trainers on his way to the locker room prior to halftime, indicating that the injury is most likely not serious.
If you are able to watch the Falcons take on the Saints next week, make it a point to do so. The teams battled down to the wire twice last season and we should be in for more of the same on Sunday.
Arizona will host the Raiders.
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-Darren McFadden is showing why he was so highly touted coming out of Arkansas in 2008. He has topped 150 total yards in each of the first two games, showing the explosiveness that made him the fourth overall pick. In what could be another long season for the Raiders, McFadden is looking to be a bright spot.
-The youth movement is working in Tampa. The Bucs moved to 2-0 with their win over Carolina. They will most likely not be able to sustain this the whole season, but you never know. Even if they are unable to make the playoffs, they have begun laying the bricks in building toward future success.
-People need to be patient with young quarterbacks. It takes time to adjust to the speed of the NFL, and QBs have a lot on their shoulders. The rookie season successes of Matt Ryan and Joe Flacco have led to unreasonably high expectations for them and many other young signal callers coming into the league. Give a talented, young QB time to develop before you run him out of town. Even guys like Peyton Manning and Drew Brees took time to become the players they are now.