Don’t be fooled by this score. It says the Bills lost by just six points, and those who may have caught the end probably saw the Bills fail at a failed onside kick attempt, which would’ve given them a chance to avoid an 0-2 start. However, this game was incredibly lopsided, as the Jets dominated Buffalo throughout the entire evening.
The Bills managed to keep this game close thanks to a few plays. Tyrod Taylor hit two receivers for touchdowns of 84 and 71 yards, and the Bills also returned a Jalin Marshall fumble for a score in the third quarter. Erase those three semi-fluky instances, and the Bills would’ve gotten crushed.
Buffalo has many issues. The defense is a major problem, thanks to all of the suspensions and injuries in the front seven. The Bills can’t put any sort of pressure on the quarterback without sending the house, and this exposed both cornerbacks in this contest. Stephon Gilmore and Ronald Darby, both of whom are very talented, were torched mercilessly. Ryan Fitzpatrick was mostly unstoppable. If the Bills couldn’t contain such a pedestrian quarterback, how are they going to deal with some of the better signal-callers in the NFL?
Fitzpatrick finished 24-of-34 for 374 yards and a touchdown. This was one of the best performances of his career. He was so incredibly accurate, especially on third down. The Jets were 8-of-13 in those situations. Fitzpatrick is going to wilt when the weather gets cold, like he usually does, but he at least proved that he has mentally recovered from his horrific Week 17 showing from last year.
All three of Fitzpatrick’s primary receivers caught six passes. Brandon Marshall led the way with 101 yards, though there was a scary instance in which he was tackled awkwardly and was taken into the locker room. He didn’t miss much time, however. Meanwhile, Eric Decker and Quincy Enunwa accumulated 126 and 92 yards, respectively. Decker had a big gain nullified by a penalty, while Marshall dropped a long pass, though he did draw an interference flag on Darby. As for Enunwa, I listed him as an add in fantasy heading into Week 2, and I obviously stand by that after his performance at Buffalo. Big, fast and strong, Enunwa is sort of a flex wide receiver-tight end who has proven to be a matchup nightmare thus far. The Jets don’t use a real tight end, so Enunwa is Fitzpatrick’s No. 3 target. He could post huge numbers if either Marshall or Decker gets hurt.
Matt Forte rushed for an even 100 yards and three touchdowns. It was a terrific fantasy performance, but Forte accumulated those yards on 30 carries, so his 3.33 YPC isn’t very impressive, though he did get stronger as the evening progress. Still, I think the Jets are making a huge mistake by giving him so many touches; turning 31 soon, Forte is going to be run into the ground soon, and I think he’ll be ineffective down the stretch if this continues.
Moving back to the Bills, their offense is also problematic. Taylor, as mentioned, hit a couple of big plays, but was otherwise very mediocre. His final stat line of 18-of-30 for 297 yards, three touchdowns and an interception is very misleading. Take away those two deep throws, and Taylor would’ve gone 16-of-28 for only 142 yards, one garbage-time touchdown and an ugly pick in which he underthrew Sammy Watkins on a third-and-1.
Taylor made a couple of nice scrambles for 15 and 10 yards, but he was guilty of numerous ugly throws throughout the evening. There was also horrible clock management on his part near the end, though some of that was Rex Ryan’s fault. Speaking of Ryan, he also wasted a timeout when deciding to go for it on a fourth down in the final quarter. That timeout would’ve come in handy at the end of the game, when the Bills advanced to midfield, but ran out of time.
It’s hard to imagine Ryan keeping his job after this season. It’s not completely his fault the Bills are 0-2 because of all the injuries in the front seven, but Ryan’s abysmal game management, as well as his team’s tendency to be incredibly sloppy, makes him a strong candidate to be let go after just two years. In fact, if the Bills continue to lose, it wouldn’t surprise me if Ryan is axed during the team’s Week 10 bye.
Taylor’s long touchdowns were to Marquise Goodwin (2-112) and Greg Salas (4-89). Goodwin absolutely torched Darrelle Revis, who continued to look like one of the worst cornerbacks in the NFL. Sammy Watkins, meanwhile, played, but caught only two balls for 20 yards. Watkins did not look 100 percent. In fact, he failed to finish the game.
LeSean McCoy didn’t do much on the ground, mustering only 59 yards on 15 carries. However, he caught four balls for 31 receiving yards. He also did well picking up the blitz.
I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention how horrible Phil Simms was tonight. Simms, who still somehow has a job, didn’t understand that a pass could be incomplete if a player landed out of bounds before maintaining full possession of the ball. He also said Fitzpatrick had “no one to throw to” on one instance, even though Forte was wide open down the middle of the field.
Giants 16, Saints 13
The Giants needed a brilliant catch from Victor Cruz and some kneel-downs to drain the clock to ice this game, allowing themselves to kick a game-winning field goal. However, this contest shouldn’t have been nearly as close. The Giants were clearly the better team, but despite the coaching change, they made their typical mental errors and had to squeak out a victory.
New York outgained New Orleans, 417-288, and averaged more yards per play (5.6-4.9), but crushed themselves with some blunders. It started early when Victor Cruz dropped a third-down pass on the opening drive. Odell Beckham Jr. appeared to have a touchdown soon after, but allowed Sterling Moore to break up the pass. Shane Vereen lost a fumble near midfield. Cruz also lost a fumble at the end of a long reception. Eli Manning was strip-sacked. Beckham dropped a late score. The offense struggled in the red zone, which drew numerous boos from the crowd by the end of the afternoon. Had the Giants been sharp and played to their potential, they could’ve prevailed by at least two touchdowns.
Save for the lost fumble, Eli Manning didn’t deserve blame for this. He didn’t throw a touchdown, but came close to doing so on multiple occasions. His passing numbers were still impressive, as he went 32-of-41 for 368 yards. Of course, this was to be expected, given that the Saints’ already-dreadful defense was missing its top cornerback, Delvin Breaux. Making matters even worse, the team’s other starting corner, P.J. Williams, was down on the field for a while after getting knocked in the head twice. He was eventually taken to the hospital, but was able to move his limbs.
Beckham’s dropped touchdown prevented him from leading the Giants in receptions. Instead, he was tied in that regard with Sterling Shepard. Each snatched eight balls, with Shepard winning the yardage battle, 117-86. Cruz, meanwhile, made a big reception to set up the Giants with the decisive field goal, but made some crucial errors that I referenced earlier.
The Giants were expected to give Rashad Jennings the majority of the workload this season, but Jennings was actually out-touched by Vereen in this contest. Jennings was very ineffective, mustering only 27 yards on 13 carries against a woeful New Orleans front. Vereen was better (14-42), but had the aforementioned fumble. He also caught three balls for 24 receiving yards.
This game was expected to be a shootout. The Giants, as mentioned, shot themselves in the foot, but what about the Saints? The reason they couldn’t do anything was that they were unable to pass protect at all. New York struggled to put pressure on the Cowboys last week, but were able to bring plenty of heat on Brees. The Saints, as a result, couldn’t sustain drives.
Brees got off to a slow start as a result, but was able to catch fire near the end of the game when the Giant pass-rushers were fatigued. Brees ended up finishing with a middling stat line of 29-of-44, 263 yards and one touchdown.
Brees’ sole score went to Willie Snead (5-54), who only trailed Brandin Cooks (7-68) in receptions. Rookie Michael Thomas snagged four balls for 56 yards.
One player the Saints absolutely need to move away from was Coby Fleener. The former Colt struggled once again, catching two balls for 29 yards with one drop. Brees and Fleener simply have no chemistry, which is hardly a surprise, given how inefficient Fleener was in Indianapolis with his former college teammate.
The Saints couldn’t pass protect, and they couldn’t open up running lanes either, as Mark Ingram managed just 30 yards on nine carries.
Panthers 46, 49ers 27
The Panthers and 49ers came into this game with opposite records, but there was no denying which squad was superior. Following an early hiccup and a bit of lethargy, the Panthers dominated this contest, winning in an easy blowout. By the time the score was 31-10, the Panthers had outgained San Francisco, 391-167, averaging 7.8 yards per play compared to the 49ers’ 4.1.
The 49ers made it semi-interesting when Ted Ginn muffed a return at the 1-yard line and Vance McDonald later scampered 75 yards when the Panthers seemed disinterested, but the Panthers were able to establish control and score a few times to clinch the all-important cover.
All of this was possible because Cam Newton was unstoppable. The 49ers barely put any sort of pressure on him, allowing Newton to pick them apart. Newton ended up going 24-of-40 for 353 yards, four touchdowns and an interception that was tipped into tight coverage. He also rushed six times for 37 yards.
The Panthers have to feel good about their win, but not completely because Jonathan Stewart was knocked out with a hamstring. Stewart disappointed his fantasy owners, mustering only nine yards on five carries. He could miss some games, making Fozzy Whittaker an intriguing pick-up. Whittaker gained 100 yards on 16 carries.
Two of Newton’s touchdowns went to Kelvin Benjamin, who was a beast in this matchup. He caught seven passes for 108 yards and the pair of scores. The other touchdowns went to Greg Olsen (5-122) on a 78-yarder, and Devin Funchess (2-19), who made a late grab after doing nothing most of the afternoon. Newton nearly tossed a fifth score, but Ginn made a catch in which it was ruled that his second foot was out of bounds. Ginn secured a 52-yard reception later in the game in which he bobbled it out bounds, but the officials inexplicably ruled that it was complete after looking at the replay.
As for the 49ers, Blaine Gabbert made a few decent passes against Carolina’s defense, making sure to release the ball quickly to nullify the pass rush. This was effective at times, but the 49ers couldn’t maintain consistent drives. It didn’t help that Gabbert missed several throws, including one where his receiver was wide open on a third down.
Gabbert finished 17-of-36 for 243 yards, two touchdowns and a pair of interceptions, but a 75-yard gain of his occurred in garbage time. One of Gabbert’s picks was a horrific throw in which he forced the ball into double coverage.
Save for McDonald, who had that 75-yard reception, the only 49er to accumulate more than 30 receiving yards was Torrey Smith, who hauled in three balls for 55 yards and a touchdown. However, Smith did all of this on 10 targets, as he was very inefficient once again, dropping a pass. No San Francisco player caught more than three balls.
As predicted, Carlos Hyde took a big step backward after his big Monday night. Hyde couldn’t run on the Panthers, managing just 34 yards on 14 carries. I hope you were able to sell him high last week!
Patriots 31, Dolphins 24
There’s a reason the Patriots have dominated the AFC East for so long. Actually, there are lots of reasons, but Bill Belichick’s ability to out-coach the opposition, even when missing Tom Brady, has allowed New England to maintain its mastery over the other three teams in its division. This game was a perfect example of that.
Belichick installed the perfect game plan against the Dolphins. He knew that his offensive line didn’t match up well versus Miami’s defensive front, and he was also aware that the Dolphins possessed some questionable players in the back seven, including two lemons acquired from Philadelphia in a very strange trade in which the Dolphins took on a bad contract to move down. With this in mind, Belichick had Jimmy Garoppolo release the ball at lightning-quick velocity. There were so many occasions in which Garoppolo fired passes in less than a second, giving Ndamukong Suh and company no chance to pressure him.
It was working great – Garoppolo’s first incompletion came after he began 8-of-8 for 116 yards and a touchdown – but then disaster struck. Kiko Alonso, who missed a tackle early in the game to set up a New England touchdown, pummeled Garoppolo into the ground, and the young quarterback sustained an injured shoulder as a result. Garoppolo, who was having the game of his life – 18-of-27, 234 yards and three touchdowns in a quarter-and-a-half – was knocked out for the rest of the afternoon and will miss the next six weeks.
I’m sure panic set in for New England fans until they realized that they were up big and had to spend just two more weeks without Tom Brady, one of which will be against Buffalo. Third-round rookie Jacoby Brissett stepped in and wasn’t nearly as effective. He went 6-of-9 for 92 yards, but most of his plays featured screens and play-action fakes. The Dolphins were able to roar back, turning a 31-3 deficit into a 31-24 margin with six minutes remaining. It appeared as though they’d be able to tie the game, and all they’d have to do was stop the Patriots and their third-string quarterback just once and then score again versus a tired defense.
The Dolphins, however, couldn’t stop a New England offense featuring LeGarrette Blount running in between the tackles behind three rookie linemen. That’s right – star players like Ndamukong Suh, Cameron Wake and Mario Williams were trampled by Blount and three rookies. Absolutely pathetic.
Blount finished wih 123 yards and one touchdown on 29 carries, including a hurdle on a 26-yard burst of his. Blount only lost six touches to James White, who caught just two passes, a surprising statistic.
With Rob Gronkowski out, Martellus Bennett stepped up and was the only Patriot to accumulate more than 100 receiving yards. He caught five passes for 114 yards and a touchdown, as he was able to run more routes with Nate Solder back in the lineup.
Garoppolo’s two other touchdowns went to Danny Amendola (4-50). Julian Edelman paced the team with seven receptions. He tallied 76 yards, but couldn’t get into the end zone.
As for the Dolphins, it was a tale of two halves for the offense. The line couldn’t pass protect prior to halftime, which would explain why Ryan Tannehill was just 10-of-18 for 116 yards and an interception before the break. He ended up finishing 32-of-45 for 389 yards, two touchdowns and a pair of interceptions, as New England’s defense was completely gassed by the end. Tannehill actually moved the team into position for a close Hail Mary at the end, but his final throw was picked off in the end zone, so he had just one real interception on the afternoon.
Tannehill happened to lead the team in rushing, scampering for 35 yards on six scrambles. Part of the reason for this was the early deficit. The other part was Arian Foster sustaining a hamstring injury. Foster managed just nine yards on three attempts. I hope you didn’t draft Foster, as he was an obvious candidate to get hurt, thanks to his horrific diet. Jay Ajayi started handling the workload afterward, but lost a fumble. Kenyan Drake ended up scoring a late touchdown, as he ran for 12 yards on two carries. Drake is a candidate to see a larger workload once the Dolphins figure out that using Ajayi is not in their best interest. Isaiah Pead will also be a factor when he gets healthy.
Jarvis Landry predictably led the team in receiving, catching 10 passes for 137 yards. He lost a fumble, however. DeVante Parker also played well with eight grabs for 106 yards. Jordan Cameron (5-49) scored a touchdown, but had a crucial, early drop on an early third-down try.
Titans 16, Lions 15
On Detroit’s opening drive, the Lions were guilty of two offsides penalties, lost Ziggy Ansah to an ankle injury and couldn’t do anything to thwart Tennessee’s ball control. On another sequence, the Lions put together a 98-yard drive, going from their own 1-yard line to Tennessee’s 1-yard line. Eric Ebron was guilty of offensive pass interference in the end zone, then, following two holds, one of which negated another touchdown, the Lions had a first-and-goal on the Tennessee 26-yard line.
These two instances epitomized the afternoon for the Lions. They were the better team during all four quarters, but they made numerous slopy mistakes and sustained some injuries, ultmately losing at the very end. They held a lead throughout, but Marcus Mariota was able to drill a touchdown in between two defenders to Andre Johnson to take the lead. Perrish Cox, meanwhile, clinched the victory soon after with an interception. Cox needed that, as he struggled throughout the afternoon.
Ansah was one of two primary Detroit players to leave the game. The other was Ameer Abdullah, whose presence was missed. The Lions struggled to move the ball without him, as Theo Riddick (11-37) was far less effective than Abdullah (6-38). Riddick also caught four balls for 28 yards.
With no Abdullah, Matthew Stafford struggled in the second half, going 11-of-21 for 96 yards and a pick following intermission. Overall, he finished 22-of-40 for 260 yards, one touchdown and an interception. Stafford should’ve posted better numbers, but he had two touchdowns wiped out by penalties, and some of his receivers dropped passes. There’s also some cause for concern, as Stafford was limping around at the end when he took a hit from Jurrell Casey.
Stafford’s sole score went to Anquan Boldin (4-48), who had another touchdown wiped out by a hold. Marvin Jones led the team in receiving, catching eight passes for 118 yards. His longest gain, a 47-yarder, should’ve been a short haul to force a punt, but Cox whiffed on a tackle. Golden Tate (2-13) barely did anything despite seeing nine targets. He dropped a pass, albeit because of a big hit by Sean Spence.
As for the victors, Mariota was clutch at the very end and was solid overall, though he didn’t begin well. He was nearly picked on a sloppy throw, and he was only moving the chains because the Lions were giving him free yards with their dumb penalties. Mariota eventually threw a pick when he forced a pass into double coverage, but he was sharp in the second half. Going 15-of-19 for 157 yards and two touchdowns following intermission, Mariota finished 25-of-33 for 238 yards, two scores and a pick overall. He didn’t run very much (2-11), but one of his scrambles was important, as it moved the chains.
DeMarco Murray was a big reason the Titans moved the ball so effectively. He was effective both as a runner and a passer, gaining 89 rushing yards (12 carries) and 56 through the air (7 catches). Derrick Henry was mixed in but wasn’t as effective, managing only 40 yards on nine attempts.
While Johnson had the game-winning score, Delanie Walker was the more impactful player to catch a Mariota touchdown, snatching six balls for 83 yards. Tajae Sharpe was a disappointment (4-33), as he didn’t gain much and ruined a drive with an illegal crackback block.
Texans 19, Chiefs 12
The Chiefs went into Houston last January and completely embarrassed the Texans. It was an easy shutout, as Kansas City took advantage of a Houston team that was hobbled and quarterbacked by the incompetent Brian Hoyer.
This time, the Texans were the healthier team, and they made an upgrade at the all-important quarterback position. As a result, they were able to avenge that ugly loss, improving to 2-0, heading into a big game with the equally unbeaten Patriots on Thursday night.
Brock Osweiler was light years better than Hoyer, going 19-of-33 for 268 yards and one touchdown. He did throw two interceptions, though one wasn’t his fault because he was hit as he released the ball. His other pick, meanwhile, wouldn’t have happened had Will Fuller not bobbled a 53-yard reception early on. Fuller caught the pass, but the bobble ended up costing him the touchdown. Marcus Peters picked off Osweiler soon after. Peters actually snatched Osweiler’s other interception as well.
Going back to Fuller, he became the first rookie receiver to start his career with back-to-back 100-yard performances in the Texans’ long, storied franchise. Fuller caught four balls for 104 yards. He didn’t score, but as mentioned, he would’ve found the end zone if he didn’t bobble the ball. DeAndre Hopkins, meanwhile, also eclipsed the century plateau, catching seven balls for 113 yards and a touchdown. He should’ve had a second score, as he made an amazing, diving reception in the end zone, getting his knee down before falling out of bounds. However, the officials deemed that there wasn’t enough evidence to overturn the call, which was bogus.
Lamar Miller was given 25 carries, but struggled to do much with them. He managed to gain 83 yards, as he didn’t see much running room.
Moving on to the Chiefs, Alex Smith had a terrific comeback performance last week, but struggled mightily in this contest. He went 20-of-37 for 186 yards. Believe it or not, that was helped by garbage time! Smith was just 8-of-16 for 53 yards in the first half, and his only throw of longer than 17 yards was a 34-yarder to Spencer Ware that was just a short toss in which the Texans forgot to cover him out of the backfield.
This was a typical Alex Smith-type performance against a strong defense. Smith just doesn’t have the physical skill set to beat superior opponents. Of course, it didn’t help that he was missing his two starting guards. J.J. Watt played much better this week than he did in his pedestrian 2016 debut.
Andy Reid is often guilty of not getting the ball to his best players. That was the case in this game, as Spencer Ware was given just 12 touches. It made no sense after last week’s brilliant performance. And it’s not like Ware didn’t do much; he had 57 yards on 10 carries and two catches for 48 receiving yards. Charcandrick West, meanwhile, picked up 61 yards on six carries, most of which came on a 28-yard scamper in the first half.
Excluding West, only one Chief had more than 35 receiving yards. That was Jeremy Maclin, who caught six balls for 68 yards. He dropped a pass early. Travis Kelce (5-34) had a disappointing afternoon. He just missed out on a late touchdown, just barely missing out on a one-handed touchdown.
EDITOR’S NOTE: Leave it to the Browns to have their second quarterback get injured in a great game against a rival. Josh McCown, by the way, may have just clinched our annual blue-collar award by playing through what appeared to be a separated, non-throwing shoulder. Bravo. And thanks for preserving the cover, Browns.
Cleveland came out like gang busters to score 20 points before the Ravens scored the remaining 25 to earn a 2-0 start to the 2016 season. It is Baltimore’s first 2-0 start since 2009. With Cincinnati and Pittsburgh fielding good teams, Baltimore couldn’t afford to drop a game versus the Browns, and Baltimore out-executed the Browns in the final three quarters to get the win.
The Browns opened a lead in the first quarter as McCown converted a third-and-7 to Andrew Hawkins (3-28) and another to Duke Johnson (3-12 rushing, 4-44) as he ran a great route with a superb catch for 28 yards. To finish the drive, McCown hung in to take a big hit, but he delivered a beautiful throw to Corey Coleman for a 31-yard touchdown. Cleveland got the ball back and made Baltimore pay. Isaiah Crowell followed a huge hole behind Joe Thomas, Joel Bitonio and John Greco to explode down the field for an 85-yard touchdown run. Promptly, Joe Haden picked off Flacco to set up the Browns at the Ravens’ 27-yard line. McCown converted a third down to Barnidge (4-37) before throwing a quick pass to Coleman in the flat, and Coleman made a tackler miss to get into the end zone from 11 yards out. However, the extra point was blocked and returned by the Ravens for a two-point conversion. Cleveland had a 20-2 lead and couldn’t muster any points the rest of the game.
After trading some punts, the Ravens got moving with a 30-yard pass to Dennis Pitta, a 22-yard completion to Crockett Gilmore and a roughing-the-passer penalty. Baltimore finished the drive with Flacco throwing a dart to Mike Wallace (4-41) for a 7-yard score. The Ravens quickly got the ball back as a McCown overthrow floated to Eric Weddle for an interception. That gave them the ball close to midfield with 42 seconds left. That set up a 52-yard field goal for Justin Tucker, and the Browns took a 20-12 lead into halftime.
To open the third quarter, Flacco moved the ball down the field with a 19-yard completion to Steve Smith and then a 31-yard pass to Smith (3-64). To finish the drive, Wallace got open for a 17-yard touchdown strike and the Ravens kicked the point to make it 20-19.
Baltimore got moving again with a completion to Breshad Perriman (2-32), but Haden came through with an interception in the end zone to protect Cleveland’s slim lead. To end the third quarter, McCown hit a 47-yard completion to Coleman as he made a leaping grab over Shareece Wright. However, a few plays later, Coleman got flagged for slugging Jimmy Smith, and that was critical lost yards for Cleveland as Patrick Murray then missed a 52-yard field goal.
On the game-winning drive, Flacco hit Pitta (9-102) for a 28-yard gain down the middle of the field, and that set up Tucker to connect on a 49-yard field goal to give the Ravens a 22-20 lead. They tacked on another field goal to extend the lead to 25-20 with just under three minutes remaining.
McCown had one more shot and moved the ball to the Ravens 30 before throwing a ball up for grabs in a crowd of defenders. C.J. Mosley made a leaping interception just in front of the goal line to clinch the victory for Baltimore.
Flacco completed 25-of-45 for 302 yards with two touchdowns and two interceptions. Terrance West (11-42) and Justin Forestt (14-37) were held in check by the Browns.
McCown completed 20-of-33 for 260 yards with two touchdowns and two interceptions. Coleman was impressive with five receptions for 104 yards with two scores, but his mental mistake and penalty was costly. Terrelle Pryor (3-32) wasn’t a factor.
Crowell (18-133-1) was held in check aside from his 85-yard touchdown run.
Defensively, the Ravens played very well after the first quarter and were very stout in the second half. Timmy Jernigan picked up a sack, and rookie Michael Pierce beat Joel Bitonio for a sack. Baltimore’s front seven pounded McCown, and the veteran quarterback played through what looked like a painful shoulder injury. With the Browns’ pass protection, it won’t be too long before Cody Kessler is playing for Cleveland.
EDITOR’S NOTE: The Bengals had a chance to cover, but they lost a fumble in Pittsburgh territory late in the game even though it looked like Tyler Boyd was down. I don’t know if they would’ve won, but covering is far more important than winning. What, you don’t agree?
The much-anticipated slobber-knocker between the Steelers and Bengals wasn’t quite as chippy as their recent matchups with just five penalties for each team, and in turn, we had a game that wasn’t bogged down with delays all day.
The Bengals outgained the Steelers, 412 yards to 374, and won the first-down contest with 21 to the Steelers 19, but the Steelers’ red-zone defense and strong rushing game were the deciding factors as the Steelers never trailed on their way to a 24-16 win.
Rain was a constant factor in this matchup, slowing down the offenses and causing some mistakes, and slowing down the Bengals’ passing game. Andy Dalton threw the ball 54 times, the most he’s ever thrown the ball in a game, so his 366 yards passing and one touchdown don’t look quite as good in that light.
The Steelers put safety help on A.J. Green, and that along with the wet conditions helped them hold him down to just two receptions for 38 yards on eight targets. Cincinnati’s leading receiver this week was Giovani Bernard, who caught 9-of-11 targets for 100 yards and a touchdown. His ability after the catch was a big factor, and kept the Bengals at least within striking distance.
The Bengals had no luck on the ground against Pittsburgh’s front four, and Jeremy Hill ran for just 22 yards on 11 carries. For the day, the Steelers allowed just 2.6 yards per carry and 46 total rushing yards. That, plus the Steelers’ lead throughout, kept the Bengals throwing the ball, and Dalton wasn’t up to the task in the rain, as he dinked and dunked and had trouble sustaining drives.
Ben Roethlisberger was also not sharp and seemed to have trouble throwing the ball accurately in the rain. He made some great throws in between the sloppy ones, but the base of the offense in this game was DeAngelo Williams, who continued to show patience and burst on his way to 132 total yards and a receiving touchdown on a whopping 36 touches. The Steelers must feel they have the luxury of running Williams into the ground with Le’Veon Bell returning in Week 4, because he’s now touched the ball 68 times this year. On the season, Williams has 313 total yards and three touchdowns.
The Bengals continued to do a great job slowing Antonio Brown down. He had 11 targets, but caught just four for 39 yards. Brown had one drop, and he and Roethlisberger weren’t on the same page as Adam Jones also did a good job of tracking Brown most of the day.
Dalton was at his worst in the red zone. After getting a pass-interference call down 17-6 in the third quarter to take the Bengals down to Pittsburgh’s 1-yard line, Dalton and company couldn’t do anything on three tries at the goal line. Cincinnati ended up settling for a field goal to leave the team down 17-9, and that was the crux of the game.
The Bengals did make a late run down eight points, but rookie Tyler Boyd fumbled after making a six-yard reception, ending a good drive. The call was close, but Boyd’s knee did appear to be down before the ball came out.
The good news for the Steelers, besides getting a divisional win, is that they won without a strong game from Ben Roethlisberger and Antonio Brown. The Steelers’ defense is of course their weakness in most games, but it came up big in big situations this week.
Cowboys 27, Redskins 23 By Jacob Camenker – Riggo’s Rag
EDITOR’S NOTE: The Redskins have been blown out and then upset by a team missing almost all of its starting defensive players. Not good. Looks like that late-season surge is a mirage, and all of the money they spent on Josh Norman is going to waste because they don’t know how to use him. Good thing they didn’t pay Kirk Cousins!
This game should absolutely have had a different outcome. Late in the fourth quarter, the Redskins were driving in the red zone, and the team had a real chance to extend the lead. They were sporting a 23-20 advantage, and it looked like they were finally going to be able to put the game out of reach.
Well, things changed pretty quickly. Kirk Cousins threw an absolutely horrific interception in the middle of the end zone that Barry Church grabbed. The Cowboys’ penultimate drive began. They drove 80 yards over the course of six minutes and scored on a short Alfred Morris touchdown run. The Redskins could not strike back at the end of the game, as a Hail Mary sailed out of the end zone to finish the game.
For the Redskins, this game continued to raise questions about the ability of Kirk Cousins. Cousins’ numbers do not look too bad. He went 28-of-46 on the day for 364 yards and a touchdown. However, he was guilty of many errors. Aside from the aforementioned interception he threw, Cousins was off on many passes. On two different occasions, he completely missed wide-open receivers for what would have been easy touchdowns. Both Jamison Crowder and DeSean Jackson had separated from the Dallas corners, but Cousins missed them each by a couple of yards.
Cousins rectified the mistake later in the game on a long throw to Josh Doctson, but he still did not have his best throw on that ball either. He did not hit Doctson in stride, and that caused the rookie to slow down. Doctson, who is still recovering from an Achilles injury, was brought down by a defender later on the play, and the gain was a 57 yarder. However, a better throw could have resulted in a touchdown. The worst part is that this play came on the drive where Cousins threw the critical pick. A better throw really could have changed the outlook of the game. Cousins needs to improve in the future, or he may not get as big of a contract as he is hoping to get this offseason.
One bright spot in this game for the Redskins was their run game. After a tough opener against the Steelers, Matt Jones was able to get going. He carried the ball 13 times and totaled 61 yards during the contest. He looked explosive against the Cowboys’ weak defensive line and had a couple of nice gains on the day. The team really needs him to improve as the roster does not really have any other viable ball-carriers.
In terms of the pass game, the Redskins were really able to spread the ball around. Ten different receivers caught passes for the team, and their two tight ends Jordan Reed (5-70) and Vernon Davis (5-51) were able to get going during the game. Reed looked particularly good for the team as he used his athleticism to constantly go up and catch balls over defenders. He should continue to be a TE1 in fantasy, and he could get even better as the season goes along.
The Cowboys’ offense seemed to be operating in full swing in this game. Dak Prescott was razor sharp in just his second start of his career, going 22-of-30 on the day for the team. He threw for 292 yards, limited his mistakes, and was also able to use his mobility to his advantage. Prescott moved around the pocket a lot, finding spaces to complete passes. He also ran for a 6-yard touchdown early in the game. Prescott is definitely the quarterback of the future for the Cowboys, and the experience he is getting will help to accelerate his development.
The other notable rookie on the Dallas offense was Ezekiel Elliott. Elliott was good against the weak Washington run defense, registering 83 yards on 21 carries, but he had some issues with ball security. He lost a fumble early in the game, and on the team’s final scoring drive, he fumbled again. Had Doug Free not been there to pounce on the ball, Elliott could have ended up in Jason Garrett’s doghouse. Elliott needs to focus on improving this issue if he wants to develop into a top running back in this league.
Dez Bryant (7-102) led the Cowboys in receiving on the day. It was widely expected that Josh Norman would shadow Bryant after not doing so against Antonio Brown of the Steelers. However, Norman stayed locked in on the left side during the game, allowing Bryant to get matchups against Bashaud Breeland. Breeland once again did not look too good, and allowed many catches to Bryant and other receivers, including Cole Beasley (5-75) throughout the game. Redskins defensive coordinator Joe Barry needs to consider making a change to his defensive scheme, or he will continue to look like a moron week in and week out.
Sean Lee looked good for the Cowboys during today’s game. He was all over the field making tackles, and it looks like his instincts are back in full swing. As long as he can stay healthy, he will make a major impact for the team.
The best defensive player for the Redskins was Trent Murphy. He looked very solid during the game. The combination defensive end and linebacker notched 1.5 sacks on the day, using his mixture of strength and speed to get into the backfield on multiple occasions.
Some injury notes: Redskins nose tackle Kedric Golston went down on the second play of the game and did not return. He was declared out with a hamstring injury and will have an MRI in the near future. Preston Smith also left the game early for the Redskins. The extent of his injury is unclear at the moment.
EDITOR’S NOTE: Thank you, Chargers, for restoring my faith in humanity. I don’t think I could’ve handled a world in which a franchise with a swimming pool in its stadium was a potential playoff team. That doesn’t appear to be the case now, and Kelvin Beachum’s injury will make the Jaguars’ chances more improbable.
The games in Week 1 had absolutely no bearing on how these teams performed in Week 2. San Diego built up a huge lead quickly for the second straight week, but this time the Chargers played all four quarters and didn’t blow it. The Jaguars played really tough football against the Packers in Week 1, but Jacksonville’s defense was completely overmatched in San Diego and fell to 0-2 on the season.
On the opening drive, San Diego went down the field easily thanks to runs from Melvin Gordon and Danny Woodhead (3-27), and a critical third-down conversion to Travis Benjamin. Gordon finished the drive by plunging into the end zone from a few yards out. After trading punts, Bortles had a pass deflected by Casey Hayward, and Hayward caught the deflection while lying on his back. That set up the Chargers at the Jaguars’ 34. Rivers took advantage with a few completions and a 6-yard touchdown pass to Benjamin.
The Jaguars moved the ball into San Diego territory thanks to a completion to Allen Hurns (5-64), but Jason Myers missed a 54-yard field goal. The Chargers got Benjamin matched up on Paul Posluszny, and that led to a 43-yard completion for San Diego. The Jaguars jumped offsides on a fourth-and-1 at the 4-yard line, and a play, later Rivers hit Antonio Gates (3-15) for a 2-yard score. With San Diego up 21-0, Melvin Ingram strip-sacked Bortles with Corey Liuget recovering. The Chargers got close to the end zone, but Mike McCoy made some terrible play calls to pass rather than running Gordon. As a result, Yannick Ngakoue strip-sacked Rivers and Jonathan Cyprien recovered the ball for Jacksonville.
Bortles finally got going with T.J. Yeldon (7-28) and Julius Thomas (4-71) ripping off good gains, but then Bortles threw a terrible pass that floated toward Hayward for his second interception of the game. San Diego took a 21-0 lead into the half.
Early in the third quarter, Rivers hit Tyrell Williams (3-61) for a 44-yard touchdown reception in part because Jonathan Cyprien went for a knockout blow rather than wrapping up the wideout. Late in the third quarter, Benjamin beat Davon House to make a 45-yard touchdown catch to put the game out of reach.
Philip Rivers finished completing 17-of-24 passes for 220 yards with four touchdowns. Travis Benjamin was superb as San Diego’s leading receiver, replacing Keenan Allen. Benjamin caught six passes for 115 yards with two touchdowns.
Melvin Gordon ran extremely well for the Chargers as he totaled 102 yards on 24 carries with a touchdown. He had three receptions for 18 yards as well. Danny Woodhead suffered a leg injury in the first quarter and had to be helped off the field before being carted into the locker room, so Gordon should take on a bigger role in the weeks to come.
Blake Bortles was 31-of-50 for 329 yards with two touchdowns and two interceptions. His accuracy was off in the first half. Allen Robinson (3-54) and Allen Hurns (5-64) were held in check as the Chargers cornerbacks of Jason Verrett, Casey Hayward and Brandon Flowers really played well.
Melvin Ingram led the San Diego defense with two sacks and played very well.
To add injury to insult, Jaguars left tackle Kelvin Beachum had to be braced and carted off the field in the third quarter after getting hit in the head. It looked very serious, but he was reportedly moving his hands and arms while on his way to the hospital.
Jacksonville’s offensive line was bad, and guard Luke Joeckel was a huge liability with poor blocking and penalties that set up poor down-and-distance situations for his offense. Joeckel committed two drive-killing penalties plus screwed up blocks on a number of plays.
Rams 9, Seahawks 3
The Seahawks have some major issues, though there weren’t many who were aware of those prior to this game in which Seattle was favored by nearly a touchdown. That almost certainly won’t be the case going forward.
Seattle’s offensive line is a disaster. The unit couldn’t block in the preseason unless the Seahawks were using their first-string offense against the backups, which was a common occurrence for some strange reason. The Dolphins pummeled Russell Wilson last week, leading to Wilson’s ankle sprain. Wilson certainly wasn’t himself in this game, as he was very limited in terms of mobility. Thanks to that, and Seattle’s line incapable of blocking the Rams’ ferocious defensive front, the Seahawks couldn’t do anything offensively.
Wilson finished 22-of-35 for 254 yards. The glaring stat was his rushing yardage, which was just 14. He scrambled only five times. Wilson wasn’t moving at his usual speed, and it remains to be seen when he’ll be 100 percent, given that he’ll be taking crushing hits every week. That’s a major issue. The Seahawks desperately need Wilson to scramble because their offensive line is so bad, but Wilson can’t do that right now because his mobility is so limited.
Wilson isn’t the only offensive player who happens to be banged up; Thomas Rawls left the game early with a leg injury. It was a rough afternoon for Rawls overall, as his first two carries were for a loss of 11 yards, as the Rams’ defense was flying all over the field. Rawls finished with minus-7 yards on seven carries. Christine Michael handled most of the workload afterward, and he gained 60 yards on 10 carries.
With Wilson limited, Doug Baldwin managed to catch just three passes for 30 yards, as he was finally slowed down. Tyler Lockett (4-99) was the only Seahawk with more than 42 receiving yards. He had a big gain wiped out by offensive pass interference, which was a horrible call. Jimmy Graham, by the way, caught three of his four targets for 42 yards. He doesn’t look like himself at all, and it would probably be best if he rested until he was closer to 100 percent. Graham is just putting himself at risk for injury.
As for the Rams, it might be a while until we see Jared Goff. Case Keenum proved that he’s not completely inept, going 18-of-30 for 239 yards. Keenum didn’t do the greatest job of maintaining consistent drives, but he managed the game well and converted some third downs to give his defense rest.
Keenum’s solid game management was crucial, as Todd Gurley once again didn’t see many running lanes. The Seahawks swarmed him, restricting him to 51 yards on 19 carries. Gurley should be able to rebound next week against Tampa Bay.
Only three Rams caught more than one pass: Kenny Britt (6-94), Tavon Austin (5-50) and Lance Kendricks (4-61), who always seems to do something big versus Seattle. Britt caught a great back-shoulder throw from Keenum, while Austin made an amazing sideline catch on the opening drive.
Cardinals 40, Buccaneers 7
Jameis Winston had a promising offseason and a terrific debut, but this game proved that he still has a lot of growing to do. Winston self-destructed early and often in this contest, giving his team no chance to pull the upset.
Winston threw two interceptions in the opening quarter. The first came on a promising drive. Winston launched a deep throw into the end zone, allowing Patrick Peterson to look like a receiver. The second was thrown right to Marcus Cooper. Winston then lost a fumble when he was once again moving the ball well. The fumble wasn’t his fault though, as Charles Sims’ helmet knocked the ball loose. Sims was on the field because Doug Martin was lost with a hamstring.
Winston threw two more interceptions, one of which came when the Buccaneers still had a chance to make a comeback. Down 20, the Buccaneers once again had a promising drive in the works, but Winston launched a high pass to Sims, which was tipped into the air. The ball fell right into Cooper’s hands, and Cooper ran it back for a touchdown. Cooper replaced the woefully inept Brandon Williams at corner and was so much better.
Winston finished 27-of-52 for 243 yards, one touchdown, four interceptions and a lost fumble. While the score was a nice one – it was a beautiful back-shoulder throw to Mike Evans, who was seeing coverage from Patrick Peterson – Winston’s stat line could’ve been even worse than it was because the Cardinals dropped at least three more potential interceptions. One was thrown right to Peterson, who somehow couldn’t come up with the turnover.
The Cardinals, meanwhile, really needed to rebound following the loss to New England last week. Carson Palmer was better in this contest, going 18-of-31 for 308 yards and three touchdowns, but some of his passes were still off the mark, and he just doesn’t look the same. It’s worth noting that his stat line is inflated by a 58-yard reception by David Johnson, who was able to break free after catching a short pass because Kwon Alexander whiffed on a tackle. Palmer also should’ve thrown an interception in the end zone, though it’s unclear if Johnson ran the wrong route. Brent Grimes dropped the ball, killing Tampa’s chances of mounting a comeback because the Cardinals ended up scoring a touchdown on that drive, putting the game out of reach.
Speaking of Johnson, he didn’t do much besides that long reception, managing just 45 yards on 12 carries. He was given just two attempts following halftime, as the Cardinals correctly decided to preserve him. Johnson also caught three balls for 98 receiving yards.
Larry Fitzgerald continues to dominate. Fitzgerald caught six passes for 81 yards and a touchdown. He nearly found the end zone again, but was tackled just shy of the goal line. Palmer’s other scores went to Michael Floyd (2-8) and Jaron Brown (2-78). As for John Brown, he continued to do nothing, hauling in one pass for 14 yards. He’s not healthy, and Palmer isn’t as sharp as he’s been in past years.
Going back to the Buccaneers, despite Winston’s struggles, Evans still caught six balls for 70 yards and the aforementioned touchdown. However, he did so on 17 targets. Evans had issues getting open against Peterson. He also dropped a pass and was called for offensive pass interference. Winston’s other primary receivers were Vincent Jackson (4-44) and Adam Humphries (6-67), who ruined an early drive because he collapsed on third down just over midfield.
Martin going down was huge for the Buccaneers. Martin was able to pick up 23 yards on seven carries. Sims gained 24 yards on nine tries. He also caught three passes, but for only four receiving yards. He also hurt his team by knocking the ball out of Winston’s hands.
Much won’t be made of this because the kick was inconsequential, but Robert Aguayo whiffed from 45, sailing the ball wide right.
Falcons 35, Raiders 28
It appeared as though it was going to be the same, old story for the Falcons. Atlanta’s offense hasn’t been able to convert in the red zone since Tony Gonzalez’s retirement. Staring down an 0-2 record, the Falcons once again had possession deep inside opposing territory in what was a close game. However, Matt Ryan forced a pass to Jacob Tamme, which was thrown behind him. The Raiders picked the ball off, and it appeared as though they’d be able to hold on for the victory.
However, the Falcons were able to atone for that mistake. Trailing by one, Ryan hit Jacob Tamme with a 14-yard strike to take the lead. After Oakland tied the game, Ryan converted in the red zone again, albeit with some luck. He fired a pass to Tevin Coleman, but the ball popped into the air. It landed right into Justin Hardy’s arms. This put the Falcons up for good, saving their season in the process.
Aside from the interception, Ryan had a great game. He went 26-of-34 for 396 yards, three touchdowns and the pick. Ryan didn’t see much pressure, as the Raiders once again failed to hurry the quarterback. Khalil Mack has been a ghost thus far, failing to log a sack through two games, and Oakland’s secondary continued to be pitiful. Sean Smith struggled once again, while linebacker Malcolm Smith was woeful as well, missing a tackle on Tamme’s touchdown.
Tamme had a big game (5-75, TD), as did Julio Jones, who caught all five of his targets for 106 yards and a touchdown of his own. However, there might be some worry with Jones, as he wasn’t able to finish the game. The Falcons said that Jones only jammed his leg, so perhaps he’ll be fine for Week 3.
As for Ryan’s other targets, Austin Hooper bounced back from last week’s dreadful performance with three catches for 84 yards. Mohamed Sanu (3-19) barely did anything, which was hardly a surprise.
The Falcons once again had Devonta Freeman and Telvin Coleman share touches. Freeman outgained Coleman, 93-46, on slightly more carries (17-12). However, Coleman found the end zone, while Freeman was held scoreless.
The Raiders had chance to win this game despite their woeful defense, as they were robbed of a long Amari Cooper touchdown because the second-year receiver stepped out of bounds and was the first player to touch it. That would’ve been Derek Carr’s fourth score, but he still posted strong numbers, going 34-of-45 for 299 yards and three touchdowns. One of those scores was on a fourth-and-2 from Atlanta’s 2-yard line, and it was once again to Michael Crabtree. CBS analyst Rich Gannon actually pleaded for Oakland not to go for it, but Black Jack Del Rio didn’t hesitate. However, Del Rio’s gutsy attitude backfired later on when the Raiders failed to convert a fourth-and-2 near midfield.
Cooper’s overturned touchdown ruined his stat line, as he caught five balls for 71 yards otherwise. Crabtree (4-31) didn’t accumulate too much yardage, but he did catch that aforementioned touchdown. Clive Walford (6-50) also scored. Walford secured all but one of his seven targets, with the exception being a drop that put the team out of field goal range.
The good news for Latavius Murray is that he scored a touchdown and accumulated 101 total yards. The bad news is that he touched the ball just 14 times, losing work to both DeAndre Washington and Jalen Richard. Murray is a definite sell-high target.
Broncos 34, Colts 20
Someone who missed football Sunday because their life sucks may have just looked at this score and been shocked that the Broncos posted 34 points with Trevor Siemian. The score is misleading, as Denver’s defense scored two touchdowns, both of which came in the fourth quarter. The first was an Aqib Talib pick-six, as Talib read Andrew Luck’s eyes perfectly. The second occurred at the end, as Von Miller strip-sacked Luck. Shane Ray picked up the ball and ran in for six. It was actually a dumb play on Ray’s part, as falling on the ball would’ve completely ended the game – the Colts were out of timeouts – but I can’t completely blame Ray because it was the heat of the moment, and a defensive score will help his case when he’s pining for a big contract when he hits free agency.
While Denver’s defense nearly matched its offense’s production, that doesn’t mean that Siemian played poorly either. Siemian had a solid showing, going 22-of-33 for 266 yards. However, he did throw a careless interception that should’ve been returned for six, but cornerback Darius Butler inexplicably fell down without being touched, sustaining some sort of mysterious injury on the play. Butler was yet another Indianapolis cornerback who was knocked out of the game, meaning the Colts now have five corners who are injured. That’s completely absurd.
Despite that ugly interception, Siemian did a decent job of managing the game with some accurate throws. He has done a solid job of replacing Peyton Manning thus far, looking like a poor-man’s Alex Smith.
Only one Bronco generated more than 46 receiving yards, and that would be Demaryius Thomas, whose status was shaky heading into kickoff. Thomas dropped a pass, so his afternoon could’ve been even better. Emmanuel Sanders (3-39) couldn’t get going with Siemian, though he was the recipient of a bogus call in the second half that ultimately led to a Denver field goal.
The stats don’t show it, but C.J. Anderson had a good game. Anderson gained 74 yards and a touchdown on 20 carries, but his tough runs allowed Siemian to set up in manageable passing situations. Anderson also had an amazing spin move to advance the chains on third down.
It’s hard to say whether the Colts are worse off in the secondary or the offensive line. Indianapolis’ blocking unit couldn’t protect Luck at all, and the Colt quarterback barely completed half of his passes in the process. He finished 21-of-40 for only 197 yards, one touchdown and the aforementioned two turnovers. Believe it or not, but some of this was compiled in garbage time, as Luck was only 5-of-15 for 53 yards in the opening half. Von Miller and DeMarcus Ware were simply too much for Luck’s front, though the latter sustained an elbow injury in the second half.
Luck didn’t have all of his weapons at his disposal, as Donte Moncrief was knocked out with a concussion. He was hit, helmet-to-helmet, though there was no call for some reason even though he was a defenseless receiver. T.Y. Hilton (4-41) led the Colts in receiving. It was that kind of an afternoon.
Luck’s sole touchdown was thrown to Frank Gore, who impressively tip-toed the sideline and lunged toward the pylon. It was pretty awesome. Unfortunately for Gore, he didn’t do much else, mustering only 44 yards on 13 carries. Josh Ferguson served as the pass-catching back, snatching five receptions for 29 yards. Ferguson did nothing on the ground though (2 carries, 7 yards). In fact, Robert Turbin scored a touchdown. He also dropped a pass.
Vikings 17, Packers 14
If you were to tell most Viking fans that Adrian Peterson would be helped off the field and into the locker room with a potentially serious knee injury, I’m sure many would prematurely lament the loss and begin looking ahead to next week’s game. The Vikings managed to prevail, but Peterson being knocked out wuth such an injury certainly puts a dark cloud over the victory.
Peterson wasn’t doing much in this game because he didn’t have any running room. He managed just 19 yards on 12 carries. He went down for a bit and then had to have two guys help him into the locker room, with Peterson being unable to put any sort of pressure on one of his legs. It’s a shame that Peterson couldn’t celebrate this huge victory with his teammates, so hopefully he’s not out for long. Unfortunately, he left the stadium on crutches, and he’ll undergo an MRI on Monday.
The Vikings were able to prevail, in large part due to Sam Bradford being so prepared to play despite being on the team for about only two weeks. Bradford was very precise, going 22-of-31 for 286 yards and two touchdowns. The Vikings posted 17 points, but probably could’ve had more if they didn’t have three fumbles go against them in the early going, including one in which they appeared to recover inside the Green Bay 20.
More than half of Bradford’s yardage went to Stefon Diggs. The second-year wideout was unstoppable, catching nine of his 11 targets for 182 yards and a touchdown. Diggs is a terrific route-runner and has amazing hands. He’s also very smart – way advanced for a player in just his second season. He’s going to evolve into one of the better receivers in the NFL, and he’ll continue to post big numbers as long as Bradford can stay healthy.
Two other Vikings had more than 15 receiving yards: Adam Thielen (4-41) and Kyle Rudolph (3-31), who ended up having the first score for the Vikings in their new stadium.
I mentioned that Bradford was a major factor in the victory. The Minnesota defense, of course, was the other primary catalyst. It restricted Aaron Rodgers to just 14 points, which was an amazing feat. Despite missing Sharrif Floyd, the Vikings placed a ton of heat on Aaron Rodgers, who never seemed comfortable throughout the evening.
Rodgers barely completed half of his passes, going 20-of-36 for 213 yards, one touchdown, two lost fumbles and an interception that sealed the victory for Minnesota at the end. Rodgers spent the entire evening picking on Trae Waynes, who was flagged for three penalties. Waynes had the last laugh, however, stepping in front of Davante Adams to clinch the victory. Rodgers was able to help his fantasy owners with a rushing touchdown, but he didn’t play well overall, as he could’ve been picked off on a couple of other occasions, including once in the end zone. The protection is an issue, and it makes me wonder if the Packers already regret releasing Josh Sitton. Green Bay’s offense sputtered, looking like last year’s lethargic version in this contest.
Only one Packer registered more than 42 receiving yards. That was Jordy Nelson, who caught five balls for 73 yards and Rodgers’ sole touchdown. Cobb (5-42) was huge in recovering an early fumble. Adams (3-26) was the one who coughed it up. He didn’t have a good game, though he did draw a 40-yard pass interference on Waynes.
Eddie Lacy had some strong runs, gaining 50 yards on 12 carries. James Starks (7 carries, 3 yards) is worth mentioning because he was stuffed on a fourth-and-2 try in the third quarter. That’s right – despite having the best quarterback in the NFL and a better running back at his disposal, Mike McCarthy had Starks run the ball on one of the most important plays of the game. I don’t get it, especially when a field goal on the play would’ve eventually forced the game into overtime. McCarthy helped lose this game for the Packers with that decision, though there were certainly other factors.
Eagles 29, Bears 14
We’ve seen some teams have horrible luck recently in terms of injuries throughout an entire season, such as the Chargers and Ravens from last year. The Bears took it to another level Monday night, in this game alone. It seemed like half their roster left the field with an injury. Two linebackers, both starting safeties, the primary nose tackle and the nickel corner were all knocked out, and that was just on the defensive side of the ball. Of course, the big injury was to Jay Cutler, who left the game with a hand issue. Cutler hurt it when landing on it amid a strip-sack fumble. He threw two passes after that. One dropped into the dirt, while another was an interception nearly returned for six by Nigel Bradham. Cutler walked into the locker room following that turnover, never to be heard from again.
The Bears will be taking a quarterback early in the upcoming draft – see my 2017 NFL Mock Draft here – while the Eagles, of course, traded up for one this past April. It was a steep investment, but it appears to be paying off right now, as Carson Wentz has been terrific through two games. Wentz didn’t face much of a challenge in the opener because he was battling the woeful Browns, but the Bears were set to provide a greater challenge. Though Chicago lost more than half its starting defense to injury, Wentz performed well before that. Wentz was razor sharp, especially on third and fourth down.
Wentz’s numbers don’t look great – he went 21-of-34 for 190 yards and a touchdown – but his stat line could’ve been so much better. Wentz had a decent gain to a tight end negated by a penalty in the early going. Later on, Jordan Matthews dropped a deep, potential score right before halftime. Nelson Agholor then took his turn dropping a Wentz bomb. Wentz easily could’ve thrown for 260-plus yards and two touchdowns.
It also should be pointed out that Wentz is impressive in terms of what he does at the line of scrimmage. He’s been given the freedom to audible freely, and he made great adjustments throughout the evening. With this victory, Wentz has become the first rookie quarterback in NFL history to start and win his first two games and not commit any turnovers. The Rams have to be shaking their heads right now, as they were able to make the obvious choice of Wentz, but inexplicably decided to go in the other direction despite most other teams believing that Wentz was a better prospect than Jared Goff.
Wentz’s sole touchown went to receiver-tight end hybrid Trey Burton, who caught five balls for 49 yards. Burton is a freak athlete Mike Mayock raved about during the preseason telecast. He was given the chance to start because Zach Ertz was out with an injury.
As for Wentz’s other targets, Matthews led the way with six grabs for 71 yards, but his fantasy owners were crying in agony as they watched him drop a deep touchdown. Drops have been an issue for Matthews, so this is an issue he’ll need to fix quickly if the Eagles are to compete for the NFC East title. Agholor (4-42) could’ve had a bigger game as well, but he dropped a pass and should’ve drawn a deep pass interference.
Ryan Mathews scored twice, saving what was otherwise a disappointing evening. That’s because Darren Sproles had more carries, 12-9. Mathews gained 32 yards on those attempts, while Sproles hit 40 yards.
Going back to the Bears, Cutler went 12-of-17 for 157 yards and the aforementioned interception. He also lost an ugly fumble on a promising drive. The passing numbers don’t look bad, but a big chunk of Cutler’s yardage came on a 49-yard bomb to Alshon Jeffery. He threw a few nice passes, but his two turnovers were absolutely crushing. It remains unclear how long he’ll be out, but there’s no doubt now that Cutler’s days in Chicago are numbered. The Bears almost have to move on from him after this year.
Jeffery owners need to be panicking right now, as their wideout will struggle with the incompetent Brian Hoyer in the event that Culter misses some time. Jeffery did well in this contest at least, catching five passes for 96 yards. Kevin White (4-36) disappointed again. He can safely be dropped.
Jeremy Langford, like Ryan Mathews, bailed his fantasy owners out with a touchdown. He didn’t do much else, mustering just 28 yards on 11 carries versus Chicago’s stout front.
Not that it matters, but Connor Barth whiffed on a 31-yard field goal. The Bears were cheapskates this offseason when they decided to cut Robbie Gould, and they apparently got what they paid for.
For more thoughts, check out my updated NFL Power Rankings, which will be posted Tuesday morning.