NFL 2008: The Aftermath Of Week 2
What a season it's been thus far. In week 1 we saw a lot of championship-bound teams collapse and a few new stars born. Week 2 would be the chance for the losers to redeem themselves or the winners to prove to themselves.
Here's a look at some of the week 2 action and what it may mean down the stretch:
Buffalo Bills: 20, Jacksonville Jaguars: 16
Before this season officially began, many experts and fans alike were choosing the Jags to dethrone the Colts in the AFC South. Week 1 proved to be a disaster for them. Not only did they lose, they lost to division rivals. Week 2 was their chance for redemption.
The Buffalo Bills were a trendy pick to make the playoffs this year and so far so good. Week 1 they launched an aggressive attack on the weakened Seattle Seahawks and blew them out of the water. Week 2 was their chance to show everyone they were for real.
As expected, the Jags attacked the Bills defensive line with their one-two punch of Maurice Jones-Drew and Fred Taylor. QB David Garrard even rushed for 32 yards with 6 rushes. Overall, their gleaming strength fell short.
However, I think you could easily sum this game up by comparing QBs.
David Garrard completed 17 of 28 passes for 165 yards and threw an interception. In comparison, Bills QB Trent Edwards completed 20 of 25 passes for 239 yards. He also threw one touchdown and no interceptions, ending with a QB rating of 119.8. Garrard's QB rating ended at a horrible 62.4 and already this season he has thrown as many interceptions as he did all of last season.
What we can draw from this game:
The Jags have a long way to go this year before anyone in Jacksonville can start screaming division crown. The Buffalo Bills showed that they can contend against tough opponents and should slide into the playoffs easily with a record of somewhere around 10-6.
New England Patriots: 19, New York Jets: 10
Week 1 saw the loss of one of the league's greatest quarterback, Tom Brady. The Patriots still managed to rally behind second stringer Matt Cassel and walk away with a victory over the Kansas City Chiefs. This week, Cassel would have to prove he could lead this team to another victory before anyone would give him any credit.
On the other end of the spectrum, QB Brett "The Jet" Favre won his debut with New York by outplaying the man he replaced in a narrow victory over the Miami Dolphins. A victory like this begged the question, was Favre truly adapting to his team or were the Dolphins just that bad? Week 2 was Brett's opportunity to show the Jets they hadn't made a bad decision in trading for him.
In the end, this game was decided more on the play of the kickers, not the QBs. Stephen Gostkowski kicked a total of 4 field goals, ranging from 21 yards to 37. This earned the Patriots 12 of their 19 points.
Jets' kicker Jay Feely missed a field goal attempt on their opening drive, but later managed a 21 yard kick to keep the Jets in the game.
The QBs ended the day near identical statistically speaking.
New England's Matt Cassel completed 16 of 23 passes for 165 yards, ending the game with a rating of 89.9. He threw for no touchdowns and no interceptions, as New England tried to focus more on the strength of their running game than their weakness at QB.
New York's Brett Favre completed 18 of 26 passes for 181 with 1 touchdown and an interception. His QB rating ended at 85.6.
New England spread the rushing yards around between 6 different rushers while New York focused only on their core runners and a few scrambles by Favre.
In the end, the game came down to whose defense could make the stop and the Patriots' aging D reigned supreme. New England proved that even without Tom Brady it was still the team to beat in the AFC East.
Denver Broncos: 39, San Diego Chargers: 38
Week 1 saw dramatically different results for these two teams.
San Diego suffered a last-minute loss to the Carolina Panthers in a game that should've seen them earning their first W. Instead, Panthers QB Jake Delhomme threw a wicked past to his TE for a touchdown to seal the victory. The Chargers were out to win this week, to prove that they were still in the top tier of the AFC.
Denver started the season with a resounding victory over an Oakland team that looked downright horrible. QB Jay Cutler hooked up with rookie Eddie Royal on several different key passes and Selvin Young charged up the field unhindered by the Raiders' defense. But were the Broncos that good or was Oakland that bad?
This game ended up being an aerial assault on both ends. Gunslingers Phillip Rivers and Jay Cutler threw as if they were the new Tom Brady and Peyton Manning.
Rivers threw for 21 of 33, amassing 377 yards, 3 touchdowns and an interception. He led his team from a 21-3 deficit to a 38-31 lead, proving his spot as captain of this offensive powerhouse.
Just behind him, emerging star Darren Sproles returned a kickoff for 103 yards and a TD. The runner also averaged 7.6 yards a carry, 5 ahead of superstar LaDainian Tomlinson. He even managed to make 2 receptions for 72 yards.
Denver's Jay Cutler completed 36 of 50 passes, throwing for 350 yards, 4 touchdowns and a lone interception. He looked just as impressive against a solid Chargers defense as he did against a weak Oakland D.
Selvin Young rushed 8 times for 78 yards, averaging 9.8 yards a carry. He led a Bronco running game that proved more diverse then their opponent's.
Teammate Brandon Marshall, returning from a suspension, caught the ball 18 times for 166 yards and a touchdown. Rookie Eddie Royal also caught the game winning touchdown and two point conversion. Royal had five receptions for 37 yards.
The story of this game of course was the referee call at the end that ended up turning a fumble into an incomplete pass and allowed the Broncos to keep the ball and ultimately win the game.
Without linebacker Shawne Merriman, the Chargers' defense proved as ineffective as their opposition's.
The Broncos retain the lead in the AFC West with this victory, improving to 2-0. The Chargers sit alongside the Chiefs with a pitiful record of 0-2. Though I think the Chargers will bounce back to claim the division by the end of the year, I have no doubt Denver will be chasing them the whole way.
San Francisco 49ers: 33, Seattle Seahawks: 30
In week 1, the 49er offense watched from the sidelines as Kurt Warner and the now 2-0 Cardinals hacked away at their defense, controlling the game clock. However, the times when the offense was on the field, it showed glimpses of being more effective then last year's. If they could minimize turnovers and keep running the ball effectively, victory over a faltering Seattle team seemed all but assured in this writer's mind.
The Seahawks got annihilated by the Bills in week 1. Such a crushing loss was bittersweet for last year coach Mike Holmgren and it was clear he wasn't about to let it happen again. Or was he?
A weak receiving corps and an average defense made poor QB Matt Hasselbeck look more like Alex Smith. He completed 18 of 36 passes for 189 yards and 2 interceptions. His QB rating ended at a miserable 42.5.
Comparing that performance to the emerging J.T. O'Sullivan summed up this game. Though he was sacked 8 times by a bullish Seattle defense, O'Sullivan still managed to complete 20 of 32 passes for 321 yards. He also threw for 1 touchdown and no interceptions. Ending with a QB rating of 106.4, he silenced any critics, at least for this week.
In overtime, SF kicker Joe Nedney kicked a 40-yard field goal to seal his team's victory. The tides of the weak NFC West have clearly shifted out of Seattle's favor for the first time in quite a while. The question is, will the 49ers continue to improve and steal the lead from the Cardinals or is it finally Arizona's year?
I personally think the Cardinals are destined for the playoffs, but San Francisco might pull more then a few upsets and end the year around 8-8.
Indianapolis managed a late comeback victory over the Minnesota Vikings, winning 18 to 15 and keeping them out of the AFC gutter.
The Carolina Panthers handed the Chicago Bears their first loss, coming from behind to win 20 to 17. This keeps a team itching for redemption out in front in their respective division.
The Redskins pulled off an upset victory of the New Orleans Saints, a team many (including myself) have predicted to make it deep into the playoffs this year. The end score was 29 to 24 and revealed a weakness in the Saints' secondary.
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