Week 2 NFL Game Recaps
Packers 30, Panthers 23
OK, so, maybe the list isn't very impressive. Dan Fouts, Dan Marino and Tom Brady are great, but Billy Volek and Matt Cassel kind of ruin it for Newton. Still, Carolina's new franchise quarterback was mostly outstanding in this contest. On the opening drive, he rolled right and hit Jeremy Shockey for a 23-yard reception. His second pass showed great touch on what should have been another 20-yard hookup to Shockey, but the tight end dropped the ball. This didn't bother Newton, and neither did two illegal shift penalties, as he went on to hit Brandon LaFell for a 3-yard score.
The game was lost, however, on the next two possessions. The Panthers squandered opportunities in the red zone. They could have put the Packers away, but instead of going up 21-0, the score was just 13-0. Aaron Rodgers predictably came back, and Newton looked like a rookie in the second half, trying too hard to force bad passes to Steve Smith. Newton, consequently, was picked off thrice. Otherwise, he finished 28-of-46 for 432 yards, plus 53 rushing yards and a touchdown on 10 carries.
Bills 38, Raiders 35
By Greg Cox - @ActuallyGregCox
Oakland got the running game going just enough to move the football with an occasional screen pass to Darren McFadden. It was nothing fancy, but drive after drive, they marched in for touchdowns in the second quarter. This was supposed to be a hangover game for them flying east on a short week following a late Monday Night Football appearance in Denver. Instead, they were up 21-3 at halftime aided by a missed field goal and turnover leading to a short touchdown drive.
When the second half started, everything went back to analyst expectations coming in. Buffalo came out firing on offense and playing aggressive on defense. The offense scored touchdowns all five times they touched the ball after the break. The defense forced a fumble on Oakland's first possession and a quick punt on their second possession.
By the fourth quarter, this was an old school AFL shootout with the teams exchanging touchdowns and the lead. Remember the passing stats from earlier? Well, in the final three quarters Fitzpatrick and Campbell combined to complete 45 out of 66 attempts for 565 yards and five touchdowns.
Campbell was dealing with some different wide receivers with Darrius Heyward-Bey, Louis Murphy and Jacoby Ford out. It turned out to be a blessing. Denarius Moore, a star of the preseason, caught five balls for 146 yards including a jaw-dropping 50-yard score down the middle with Leodis McKelvin and Gibril Wilson on him like two pieces of bread. Derek Hagan was also solid, catching five passes for 61 yards.
Lions 48, Chiefs 3
When the Chiefs had the ball, Jamaal Charles suffered a nasty-looking knee injury as he fell out of bounds. Charles tripped over the Lions mascot and had to be carted into the locker room.
All reports indicate that Charles will be out for the year. Kansas City is now a leading candidate in the Suck for Luck sweepstakes.
Browns 27, Colts 19
The problem is obviously Kerry Collins. He's terrible. Though his stats don't look too bad - 19-of-38 for 191 yards, one touchdown, one interception - some of that came in junk time late in the game when Indianapolis was down 15. Collins played as though he just came out of a Penn State frat party. He was so inaccurate that the Colts simply had no chance. In fact, it's a miracle he threw only one pick. I have to wonder why Curtis Painter isn't starting. He's at least familiar with the offense. Collins belongs in a glue factory.
Saints 30, Bears 13
Facebook friend Steve T. had another theory:
I'm convinced: Jay Cutler owes Mike Tice a great deal of money. So rather than call a hitman to kill Cutler, Tice instructs his lineman not to block for the Bears QB
Either way, Cutler was sacked a whopping six times. All the pressure forced a number of errant throws; Cutler went 19-of-45 for 244 yards and a touchdown.
Brees loved checking the ball down to Darren Sproles, especially early on. Sproles finished with eight receptions for 43 yards and a score.
Buccaneers 24, Vikings 20
By Charlie Campbell - @draftcampbell
The Vikings completely shut down the Bucs in the first two quarters. Tampa Bay had only 62 yards in the first half. Freeman was 4-of-7 for 35 yards prior to halftime. The Bucs had only three first downs, and running back LeGarrette Blount ran for only four yards on five carries. Tight end Kellen Winslow led the Bucs at half time with 22 yards on two receptions.
In the third quarter, Blount broke out with a 27-yard touchdown run behind right tackle Jeremy Trueblood and right guard Davin Joseph. The Buccaneers executed an onside kick and started moving down the field with Blount running the ball well. Freeman connected with Kellen Winslow for some nice gains. The Bucs were at the Vikings' 12 yard-line when Freeman threw a horrible pass off his back foot. The ball was behind Winslow in the end zone and was intercepted by Husain Abdullah.
On the next drive, the Bucs caught a break when a fumble by Earnest Graham that was returned inside the 10-yard line was negated by an offsides penalty on Vikings defensive end Brian Robison. Freeman tossed a short crossing route to wide receiver Preston Parker that was broken downfield for a 51-yard gain. Freeman tossed a beautiful 17-yard touchdown pass to Mike Williams, but an illegal shift penalty took the score away. That set up a field goal from Connor Barth.
Freeman hooked up with wide receiver Arrelious Benn for a 25-yard touchdown part way through the fourth quarter. That fired up Freeman, and the Buc offense didn't look back. On the Bucs' final possession, Freeman made a few good throws to move the ball downfield. Blount finished the drive with a touchdown run from four yards out. Freeman finished the game 22-of-31 for 243 yards with one touchdown and one interception.
In the first half Peterson ran for 83 yards on 15 carries with two short touchdown runs. Peterson also had a fumble, but it was recovered by Minnesota. Gerhart had 36 yards on two carries with one reception for 42 yards.
At halftime, McNabb completed 11-of-17 passes for 153 yards with no interceptions or touchdowns. McNabb had a good run for a first down to extend the Vikings' second touchdown drive. He did a good job as a game manager early, but couldn't come up with needed plays in clutch time in the second half. At halftime, Minnesota had a 17-0 lead.
Peterson, McNabb and Vikings were slow to move the ball in the second half. Peterson had only nine yards rushing on four carries in the third quarter. In the fourth quarter, Minnesota had a field goal drive, but the offense didn't do enough to seal the win for the Vikings and that let the Bucs offense pull out a comeback.
Jets 32, Jaguars 3
As the score indicates, it wasn't even close. Luke McCown was dreadful, going 6-of-19 for 59 yards and four ugly interceptions (twice by Antonio Cromartie). It's hard to completely blame McCown because he was missing Marcedes Lewis, but McCown looked like he was playing blindfolded at times.
Oh, and I'd be remiss if I forgot that McCown was also missing the great Jason Hill, who talked trash about the Jets and Darrelle Revis despite the fact that he didn't even play.
Steelers 24, Seahawks 0
Big Ben went down in the second quarter on a low hit to the knee. It really resembled what happened to Tom Brady in the 2007 season opener when Bernard Pollard destroyed Brady's season. I thought he was done when he limped off the field and was replaced by Charlie Batch, who entered the game to a chorus of "Charlie! Charlie! Charlie!" chants.
However, in typical Roethlisberger fashion, he re-entered the game just two plays later. While the Steelers stalled in the red zone, the important thing is that Big Ben is fine - even if he did take a nasty hit in the second half as well.
Roethlisberger finished 22-of-30 for 298 yards and a touchdown. He looked great after halftime, hooking up with Mike Wallace for a 53-yard completion. Wallace, by the way, had eight grabs for 126 yards and a score.
Seattle's offensive line simply couldn't block for Jackson, who took five sacks. The Seahawks were behind early, so Marshawn Lynch had only six carries for 11 yards.
Titans 26, Ravens 13
Britt hauled in nine grabs for 135 yards and a touchdown. He was unstoppable. Washington pitched in with seven catches for 99 yards.
Redskins 22, Cardinals 21
Yet, here we are. Rex Grossman continues to play relatively well for Mike Shanahan, as he went 25-of-43 for 291 yards, two touchdowns and a pair of picks. One interception was tipped, but the second one was definitely a "Bad Rex" moment. He's had two of them in two games thus far, which is big positive because Washington can survive with only one "Bad Rex" instance per week. The important thing is that Grossman led the Redskins on three scoring drives in the fourth quarter of 44, 73 and 64 yards.
Cowboys 27, 49ers 24
By Greg Cox - @ActuallyGregCox
Breaks like that helped San Francisco scrap its way to a 14-0 lead. A pass interference penalty (25 yards) set them up at the 1-yard line for a short Frank Gore touchdown run, and in the second scoring drive, a bunch of short plays did the trick after starting at the Dallas 48.
Finally, Dallas caught a huge break when Ahmad Brooks lined up offsides on a failed third down as time was running out in the half. Given a second chance to convert, some guy named Tramine Brock out of Belhaven College (think the 49ers need to draft a cornerback?) fell down in coverage, and 53 yards later, Miles Austin cut the lead to 14-7 at the break.
The passing game took on increased importance because Felix Jones hurt his shoulder early. He had just nine carries for 25 yards, and caught a pass for five yards. DeMarco Murray (6-21) and Tashard Choice (5-5) were not effective in relief.
Witten saw a hefty 15 targets, catching seven passes for 102 yards. Both quarterbacks looked at him, so if Romo's ribs keep him out, fantasy owners should not be worried about putting the tight end in the lineup. That interception was offset by a pick from Alan Ball who was starting at cornerback as part of a makeshift Dallas secondary. Five plays later, Kitna found Austin to tie the game at 14.
Kitna's next interception was a pass thrown behind Kevin Ogletree. Alex Smith immediately hit Delanie Walker who was matched up with Anthony Spencer and predictably ran right past him for a 29-yard score to make it 21-14. After the two interceptions apparently Romo's painkillers kicked in. He was hit a ton in this game even though he was sacked just once. One of the legal hits was from rookie Aldon Smith. Romo looked battered.
San Francisco head coach Jim Harbaugh made a gutsy call going to the field goal from 55 yards out leading by seven early in the fourth quarter, and veteran kicker David Akers came through for him.
After that, in the fourth quarter the more talented Cowboys were done making mistakes and drove the ball on three straight scoring drives while the defense did not allow another first down. Dallas drove 80 yards for a touchdown to cut the lead to 24-21, then probably got too conservative with time running out by marching 44 yards to tie it with a field goal. I guess I can't really call the third one a "drive" since Romo hit reality TV show winner (seriously) Jesse Holley for a 77-yard pass on the first play of overtime. A quick field goal ended the game.
Broncos 24, Bengals 22
OK, maybe not so much. The Broncos had only three healthy receivers entering this game, and when they lost Eddie Royal to a groin injury, Tebow had to play wideout. He was used in the slot, but didn't catch any passes. He blocked primarily.
I don't really want to take anything away from Dalton because he nearly improved to 2-0 despite playing two games on the road, but the bums Denver utilized on defense had no hope of covering either A.J. Green (10 catches, 124 yards, TD) and Jerome Simpson (4-136).
Texans 23, Dolphins 13
By Charlie Campbell - @draftcampbell
Miami got some good production out of Thomas. Thomas ran for 51 yards on 10 carries in the first half. Bush had two yards on two carries in the first two quarters of the game.
With Miami grabbing the momentum in the third quarter, Thomas gave it back to the Texans when he fumbled the ball away at midfield. Even though the Texans didn't produce points on that possession, the fumble stalled the Miami offense that had Houston on its heels.
Thomas had his first 100-yard rushing game of his career with 107 yards on 18 carries. Bush finished the game with just 18 yards on six carries. Marshall finished the game with 79 yards on six receptions and a score.
Patriots 35, Chargers 21
San Diego had four screw-ups inside New England's 35-yard line. The first was a botched fourth-and-goal try at the 1-yard line in which Norv Turner predictably called for a Michael Tolbert run. Rivers would go on to toss two picks in Patriots territory. The worst infraction, meanwhile, was a Tolbert fumble. The big running back found no room at the line of scrimmage, so he made a foolish decision to run backward in an attempt to find a lane elsewhere. The ball was stripped and recovered by the Patriots, who put the game away with a touchdown.
If that wasn't bad enough, the Patriots scored on a BenJarvus Green-Ellis as the clock was running out. This pissed me off immensely, since San Diego +7 was my biggest play of the weekend.
Meanwhile, Rob Gronkowski (4-86) caught two touchdowns. Chad Ochocinco (2-45) once again was silent.
Falcons 35, Eagles 31
With all the focus on the two signal-callers, both QBDK and Ryan had took turns trying to prove who was worse for the first three quarters. For every QBDK fumble, there was a Ryan interception. However, QBDK took a hit on the head falling into right tackle Todd Herremans and was forced out of the game. Once that happened, Ryan seemed to gain confidence and shredded Philadelphia's tired defense with the no-huddle.
Ryan finished 17-of-28 for 195 yards, four touchdowns and two interceptions. The Falcons need to employ the no-huddle offense much more often. It was really night and day once Atlanta switched to this attack.
As for his actual play, QBDK once again struggled with the blitz. He was sharp early on, but made the usual mistakes. He fumbled three times and tossed a pick. He was otherwise 19-of-28 for 242 yards and a pair of scores.
For thoughts on Rams-Giants, check out my updated 2011 NFL Power Rankings, which will be posted Tuesday morning.
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2008 Championship Sunday Diary - Jan. 20
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