With all of the NFL’s Week Two games completed, it’s time to reflect on which players, coaches, and teams are going back to practice this week with the biggest smiles on their faces.
5. Kurt Warner, Anquan Boldin, and Larry Fitzgerald (Arizona Cardinals)
It’s the greatest show on sand, down in Arizona nowadays.
Having held off competition for the starting roll from Matt Leinart, Kurt Warner is now rolling back the years.
The first drive of the game for Arizona saw Kurt Warner linking up with Boldin for a 79-yard score.
They didn’t stop there though; Warner racked up 361 yards total passing, with three touchdowns. Boldin collected all three of those touchdowns, but his 140 receiving yards were bettered by the 153 yards put up by his teammate Larry Fitzgerald.
Yes, it was only Miami, but it was an excellent day at the office for these three, and with Seattle dropping to 0-2, they know that if they keep playing like this, the Cards will finally be playoff bound.
4. Jonathan Stewart (Carolina Panthers)
Carolina’s offence had been completely stifled by Chicago’s powerful defence all day; the first half saw the ball moved just 47 yards by the Panthers.
With just two John Kasay field goals on the scoreboard, nearing the end of the third quarter, Carolina needed someone to step up and put points on the board to mount a comeback.
Enter rookie Jonathan Stewart.
Handed the ball on the Chicago four-yard line, he punched the ball into the end zone to reduce the deficit to four points. It was his first ever NFL touchdown.
With less than four minutes to go in the game, Carolina had the ball on the opposition's one-yard line. The ball was again given to Stewart, who duly doubled his total career touchdowns.
He rushed for 77 yards overall, at 5.5 yards a carry, but it was the 12 points he put on the scoreboard that changed the outcome of this game. It was a huge result for Carolina, as they move now to 2-0.
He has wasted little time settling into the National Football League, and it’s this kind of gritty, game-winning performance needed if they are going to be Super Bowl contenders this year.
3. Jim Zorn (Washington Redskins)
Jim Zorn picked up his first ever win as a head coach when his Redskins came from behind to beat the much-fancied New Orleans Saints.
Zorn will have a lot to be happy about. His side produced much more offensively than the Saints' very powerful Drew Brees-led attack, which is a good sign for both his offence and his defence.
He will also be very happy with the character his side showed in not only bouncing back from going behind early on, but from a disappointing performance in Week One against the Giants.
With Dallas and the Giants finishing the week both at 2-0, it was vital that the 'Skins won this game, otherwise they'd have a lot of catching up to do already in their division.
Much for the rookie head coach to be pleased with this week.
2. Mike Shanahan (Denver Broncos)
Having dominated for much of the first half against San Diego, Denver let the Bolts come back into a game, when it had looked like the Broncos would run away with.
Late in the fourth quarter, the Chargers moved out to a 38-31 lead, and it looked as if Shanahan's side had lost the game when Jay Cutler fumbled in the red zone.
But an officiating mistake from referee Ed Hochuli saw the fumble given as an incomplete pass and the ball given back to Denver.
Shortly afterwards, Jay Cutler found Eddie King in the end zone on fourth down, bringing the Broncos to within one point.
The logical course of action was then to kick the extra point and take it to overtime.
But Shanahan boldly told his team to go for two points. Had they failed, and lost by a point, there’s a very good chance a riot would have broken out there and then at Mile High.
As it was, the attempt was successful. Shanahan was a genius and had shown that his team had no fear and were going to be aggressive and win games this year.
Not only this, but he saw the young quarterback, who he has pretty much staked his Denver career on, put up big numbers and keep his head to lead his team to those game-winning eight points.
And that's not to mention the impressive performances from his young stars in the making Tony Sheffler and Brandon Marshall.
An excellent week for the Denver coach.
1. The Dallas Cowboys
In the last ever, opening home-tie at Texas Stadium, in front of an electric crowd, Philadelphia and Dallas put on a hell of a show.
Seven lead changes, 717 combined yards of offence, 78 combined points, big plays, stupid plays...This game had everything.
It could have gone either way, but at the end of the game, it was the Dallas Cowboys who were smiling.
Despite a couple of horrible blunders from Tony Romo, which resulted in Philadelphia being allowed to take control of the game for a while, it was ultimately a Donovan McNabb fumble which proved to be the game's turning point.
A confused handoff to Brian Westbrook went disastrously wrong, was recovered by Dallas, and led to a Marion Barber score, which proved decisive.
A victory over a fierce rival who, in recent times, has had the measure over them at home was always going to be sweet—but as it was in such an epic match, in the last home opener at Texas Stadium, on the last Monday Night Football there, too, this one will be extra special for everyone associated with the Cowboys.