NFL's Sunday Surprises Week 2
In last week's edition of Sunday Surprises, Tom Brady's injury was "top dog", this week highly respected veteran NFL referee Ed Hochuli get's that dubious honor. Hochuli made a rare mistake in the game that had the San Diego Chargers visiting the Denver Broncos in an important divisional match up.
The Play: With 1:17 left in the fourth quarter and the Chargers leading by seven, 38-31, Broncos' quarterback Jay Cutler (another outstanding day, 36-50 for 350 yards, four touchdowns and one interception, currently the top rated quarterback in the NFL) dropped back to pass on second down with one yard to go. Cutler rolled to his right and began his throwing motion, but before his arm stopped going back, the ball came loose from his grip and he fumbled the ball. The Chargers recovered before the ball went out of bounds.
The call: Hochuli, remarkably, blew his whistle and ruled the play an incomplete pass before the ball was recovered, ruling the play "dead" as soon as the ball hit the ground.
The play was reviewed and overturned, but not completely. The incomplete pass was accurately ruled a fumble, but possession was NOT awarded to San Diego because the dreaded "inadvertent whistle" had ended the play as soon as the ball hit the ground. The Broncos would lose nine yards on the play and the Chargers awarded a sack, but not the ball. The Broncos would go on to score a touchdown to bring the game within one point, and Broncos' head coach Mike Shanahan made the gutsy call of going for the win with a two point conversion, which was successful, and won the game 39-38.
Hochuli admitted to "blowing the play". His quick whistle cost the Chargers a win, period. With only one minute to play, Chargers' head coach Norv Turner would have been able to use "the victory formation" to end the game, but he was never given that chance because of Hochuli's error.
Not only did the Washington Redskins' offense rebound from a dismal performance in Week One, but they did so in style. Last week rookie head coach Jim Zorn and quarterback Jason Campbell were only able to eek out 209 yards of total offense. Against the Saints in Week Two. They would more than double that total this week with 455 yards, 321 of those yards coming from Campbell(finishing 24-36 for 321 yards, a touchdown and NO interceptions).
The Atlanta Falcons came back to earth with a thud. Following last week's record breaking performance(22 carries for 220 yards), Falcon's running back Michael Turner found out what it's like to play against a division opponent in the Falcon's Week Two match-up against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Turner would finish this day with only 42 yards on 14 carries. Falcon's rookie quarterback Matt Ryan, who's first ever NFL pass went for a touchdown last week and finished with a gaudy 137.0 quarterback rating, found out what it's really like to be a rookie quarterback in the NFL. Against the Bucs, he completed only 13 out of 33 attempts for 158 yards, 2 interceptions, and was sacked four times, finishing with a very rookie quarterback rating of 39.4.
The Buffalo Bills were also on the list last week, and this week the only surprise was the remarkable play of second year quarterback Trent Edwards. Last week Edwards showed why the Bills' coaching staff has such confidence in him, finishing the game 19-30 for 215 yards, one touchdown and NO interceptions and 95.8 quarterback rating. This week, Edwards topped that efficient performance, going 20-25 for 239 yards, a touchdown, a quarterback rating of 119.8, and more importantly, another win for Buffalo.
The Jacksonville Jaguars continued the nightmare beginning to their season against Buffalo yesterday. While neither team was able to get much going on the ground, last season's second ranked rushing attack (over 149 yards per game) is currently ranked dead last in the same category with only 33 yards per game. Jaguars' quarterback David Garrard has now thrown three interceptions in only two games this season. He threw only three interceptions ALL OF LAST SEASON.
The Oakland Raiders, coming off an embarrassing loss to the Denver Broncos in Week One, giving up 41 points and allowing 441 yards total offense, bounced back nicely with a win over the Kansas City Chiefs. While the Raiders' defense seemed lost last week, they held the Chiefs to 190 yards of total offense and only eight points. Raiders' second year quarterback JaMarcus Russell completed only six passes on 17 attempts in the game for a grand total of 55 yards. Counting all of Russell's rookie contract(six year deal, potentially worth 68 million dollars), he earned $708,333 for those completions yesterday. What a job!
Green Bay Packer's quarterback Aaron Rodgers hasn't just played well in future Hall of Fame quarterback Brett Favre's shadow, but has played spectacularly. Completing 70 percent of his passes thus far, he has a quarterback rating of 117.8. That's nearly 13 points higher than Favre.
In Week One's complete re-cap, we also asked the question: "Can each team, each player, and each coach maintain the surprisingly high expectations that come with the Week One accolades?"
For many players and teams the answer was a resounding NO, not in Week Two anyway.
Michael Turner, Reggie Bush, Matt Ryan, Eddie Royal (a good game, but not a match to what he did to the Raiders last week), Drew Brees, and Brett Favre, all were not able to duplicate their Week One performances.
Week Two in the NFL was yet another exciting day of football, with many performances apparently raising the bar even higher for what to expect in the weeks to come.
There are currently nine undefeated teams (there will likely be 10 following tonight's match-up between NFC East Rivals Philadelphia Eagles and the Dallas Cowboys) and 11 winless teams.
Visiting teams were 6-2 in early match-ups yesterday, a bit of a reversal from last when all but one home team won in the early games.
The NFC has a 4-2 advantage in inter-conference play after Week Two of the regular season.
With the Redskin's win over the New Orleans Saints and following tonight's game, the NFC East will be one of only two divisions with NO WINLESS TEAMS, the other division? The NFC South.
The NFC East has taken over the distinction of the undisputed "BEST DIVISION IN FOOTBALL" with what should be a 6-2 win/loss record after Monday Night.
I can't wait for Week Three, can you?
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