The Redskins have spent countless money and first-round draft resources on their defensive line, but based on two games so far this year, they might as well have undrafted free agents on their front. They couldn’t get to Justin Herbert last week, but the Chargers at least have a talented offensive line. The Giants do not. They couldn’t pass protect whatsoever against the Broncos in the season opener, and yet, they kept Daniel Jones completely clean against Washington’s so-called elite defensive front.
Jones had all night to find his receivers, and he took advantage of all his opportunities. He torched the Redskin linebacking corps and secondary mercilessly. The highly paid William Jackson was burned repeatedly, Landon Collins looks like he’s running in quicksand, and the extremely slow linebackers couldn’t contain Jones’ constant scrambles.
Despite Jones’ onslaught against the apparently overrated Redskin defense, in which he had a string of seven consecutive drives without a punt, Washington was able to take the lead with five minutes remaining in regulation, thanks to a pair of impressive throws by Taylor Heinicke. The Redskin backup played a mostly positive game for the first 57-and-a-half minutes. He made some reckless throws into traffic that may have given any Washington supporter a heart attack, but he came up big when it mattered most. He played well versus the Buccaneers in the playoffs, and he picked up where he left off in this game.
At least until there was 2:22 remaining in regulation. The Redskins, tasked with running out the clock, inexplicably called a pass on a second-and-long. Heinicke fired an interception, which James Bradberry easily snatched to put his team in field-goal position to re-take the lead. Graham Gano, who drilled all four of his prior field goal attempts, hit a fifth kick to give his team a 29-27 lead with exactly two minutes remaining.
It seemed as though all hope was lost for Washington, but Heinicke made some nice completions to move into field-goal range. Dustin Hopkins attempted a 48-yard field goal and missed, but an offsides penalty gave him a closer shot. Hopkins connected on the 43-yard try to give the Redskins a victory their defense did not deserve.
Heinicke had a monstrous statistical game, going 34-of-46 for 336 yards, two touchdowns and the aforementioned interception. Despite the horrible pick, he earned his first career victory, although it was against the lowly Giants.
Meanwhile, the Giants got a great game out of Jones. He went 22-of-32 for 249 yards and a touchdown, and he also scrambled nine times for 95 rushing yards and a score on the ground. Jones’ numbers should’ve been even better. A shaky penalty negated a long rushing touchdown of his, while a potential second passing touchdown was dropped by Darius Slayton. Jones was not expected to have this sort of pass protection. Perhaps he’ll continue to play this well if his offensive line shields him well, but this was probably an anomaly.
Speaking of Slayton, he caught Jones’ only aerial score, finishing second on the team with three grabs for 54 yards. He trailed only Sterling Shepard, who was terrific once again with nine catches for 94 yards. This doesn’t include a drawn defensive pass interference. Kenny Golladay (3-38) posted lackluster numbers despite seeing eight targets.
While most of the Giants’ receivers posted solid numbers, the top wideout in this game was Terry McLaurin, who hauled in 11 of his 14 targets for 107 yards and a touchdown. Logan Thomas (5-45) came up with a big catch on the final drive, but didn’t do much otherwise. Adam Humphries also contributed with seven receptions for 44 yards, while rookie Dyami Brown (3-34) saw six targets.
Outside of quarterback scrambles, the running game wasn’t working very well for either side. Antonio Gibson was given just 13 carries because the Redskins were constantly trailing, which he turned into 69 yards. Saquon Barkley was handed the same number of attempts, which came out to be 57 rushing yards. Barkley was still limited, but that could change soon.
Bears 20, Bengals 17
This was planned as Andy Dalton’s second revenge game against the Bengals after beating his old team with the Cowboys last year. Dalton didn’t have as much luck this time, as he pulled up lame on a non-contact injury as he was scrambling out of bounds at the beginning of the second quarter. Dalton remained in the game for one more drive, but after taking another hit, he exited for good. Thus, it was Justin Fields’ time to take the reins.
Fields enjoyed a solid debut, though he didn’t post the best stats. He failed to complete half of his passes, going 6-of-13 for 60 yards and an interception, and he also had a fumble on a strip-sack that would’ve been a scoop-and-score had he not reached for the ball at the last second. That said, Fields’ stats would’ve been better had Allen Robinson and Darnell “Mad Eye” Mooney not dropped passes, with Robinson’s mishap occurring in the end zone.
Fields made some impressive throws in this game. He completed an 11-yard dart on an early third-and-5 and then zipped a 20-yard completion to Mooney. He also would’ve converted another set of downs with a 13-yard strike to Cole Kmet if it weren’t for offensive pass interference.
Fields’ pick was puzzling, as it occurred when the Bears were up 20-10 with four minutes remaining. It’s unclear why they threw when the Bears were supposed to be running out the clock, but the interception, which occurred because Fields didn’t see linebacker Logan Wilson, gave the Bengals some life.
Joe Burrow responded with a touchdown to trim the lead to three, but Cincinnati’s defense couldn’t get the ball back to either tie the game or take the lead, thanks to a 12-yard Fields scramble. Burrow can only blame himself, however, because he had an epically horrific stretch in this game where he threw three interceptions in as many consecutive passes. The first was a pick-six where he didn’t see Roquan Smith in coverage. The second was just a very inaccurate heave. The third occurred because he got hit as he released the ball. That wasn’t his fault, but Burrow had already buried his team with the previous two blunders.
Burrow ended up going 19-of-30 for 207 yards, two touchdowns and the trio of interceptions. He played well at times, especially when rebounding after his horrible stretch of picks, but he made far too mistakes. In addition to the three picks, he also missed Ja’Marr Chase for a deep touchdown in the second half.
Burrow’s two touchdowns went to Tee Higgins (6-60) and Chase (2-54), with both trailing Tyler Boyd (7-73) for the team lead in receiving. Chase dropped a pass, but later redeemed himself. The drop was nothing compared to his teammate’s blunder. Like Burrow, Higgins crushed his team with multiple mistakes, as he committed a couple of fumbles.
Chicago’s leading receiver wasn’t Robinson, as expected. Robinson caught just two passes for 24 yards, but salvaged his performance with a touchdown from Dalton. He dropped a pass and had another potential score batted away by cornerback Chidobe Awuzie. It wasn’t Robinson, but Mooney who was atop the stat sheet with an ominous six grabs for 66 yards.
Joe Mixon edged out David Montgomery as the leading rusher in this game, with Mixon’s 69 yards on 20 carries barely beating Montgomery’s 61 yards on 20 attempts.
Browns 31, Texans 21
The Browns won this game by 10 points, but things seemed disastrous for them during the first half. Baker Mayfield threw an interception in a 7-7 game, and to make matters worse, he appeared to injure his left arm while making the tackle. The Texans took over on a short field, and their former quarterback, Tyrod Taylor, waltzed into the end zone, as the stunned Cleveland crowd was completely silent. The Texans, as near-double-digit favorites, had a 14-7 lead in Cleveland.
Fortunately for the Browns, their fortunes completely reversed after that. Not only did Mayfield return to action, he finished the game with absolutely no incompletions following the interception. Taylor, meanwhile, didn’t even last the entire game. He suffered a non-contact injury prior to halftime when he spun away from a potential sack, forcing third-round rookie quarterback Davis Mills into the game. This was such a shame for Taylor, who was terrific. He finished 10-of-11 for 125 yards and two touchdowns (one passing, one rushing) in a revenge game.
Mills, conversely, couldn’t even complete half of his passes, going 8-of-18 for 102 yards, a score and an interception where he didn’t see the linebacker. His lone touchdown was the byproduct of a pass interference call that bailed him out on a third down. Mills, who has no arm strength, floated some ugly passes, including one whiff of Brandin Cooks when the speedy receiver was open deep downfield. Mills was lucky two other potential interceptions of his were dropped, and he also fumbled on a strip-sack when he didn’t recognize the blitzing safety.
It’s unclear if the Texans would’ve won this game had Taylor not gotten injured, but the Browns still would have dominated with their running game. Nick Chubb rumbled for 95 yards and a touchdown on 11 carries, while Kareem Hunt gained 51 yards on 13 attempts. The duo should’ve combined for more than one touchdown, but they were vultured by Andy Janovich and Demetric Felton, who made a terrific run with a crazy juke after catching a pass at the line of scrimmage.
The Felton touchdown was a receiving score, and he ended up being the team’s leading receiver with his two catches for 51 yards. Harrison Bryant (4-49) and Austin Hooper (5-40) were next, as Jarvis Landry caught just one pass for nine yards because he left the early stages of the game with an injury.
Mayfield attempted just 21 passes (19-21, 213, TD, INT), spreading the ball around and not throwing very much, as he didn’t have many options with his top two receivers out of commission. Donovan Peoples-Jones was expected to step up, but he caught just one pass for 14 yards, and making matters worse, he lost a fumble in the opening half.
Cooks was the leading receiver in this game, hauling in nine passes for 78 yards and a touchdown. He would’ve had a second score, but Mills missed him after he got behind Cleveland’s defense. The change at quarterback didn’t completely nullify Cooks, who hauled in four of his nine passes, as well as his touchdown, with Mills under center. However, no other Houston receiver did anything, as Andre Roberts (1-35) was next on the stat sheet, and that reception came in garbage time when the Texans trailed by double digits with a couple of minutes remaining in regulation. Phillip Lindsay caught a 22-yard touchdown, but that was his only reception of the game.
While Lindsay had the receiving score, he did nothing as a rusher, mustering just two yards on five carries. Mark Ingram (14-41) and David Johnson (6-25) were not threats on the ground.
Rams 27, Colts 24
Believe it or not, the Colts appeared as though they were going to dominate this game. They drove down the field easily on the opening drive, reaching the 1-yard line. However, they failed to cross the goal line on all four plays, with Carson Wentz taking a sack on fourth-and-goal. Indianapolis engineered another impressive possession in the second quarter, getting as far as inside the 5-yard line. Once again, however, the team came away with zero points because a horrible shovel pass attempt by Wentz went right into the arms of a Los Angeles defender.
The Colts outgained the Rams in the opening half, yet they trailed by four. They should’ve maintained a lead, but their deficit allowed the Rams to emerge with a double-digit advantage right after intermission, as Matthew Stafford went right down the field with some completions to his primary receivers. Ultimately, Darrell Henderson plunged into the end zone.
Indianapolis was able to overcome this deficit with some nice drives that didn’t conclude with failure inside the 5-yard line. In fact, the Rams made a blunder themselves by giving the Colts’ special teams a touchdown when a snap hit the personal protector on an attempted punt. This awarded the Colts a brief lead, but the Rams were able to answer with a quick, four-play drive in which Matthew Stafford found Cooper Kupp for the go-ahead touchdown.
The Colts still had a chance, but not when Wentz had to leave the game with yet another injury. Replacement Jacob Eason heaved an interception right away, clinching the victory for the Rams.
Cooper Kupp was the star of this game. The Colts had absolutely no answer for him with Xavier Rhodes out, as Kupp hauled in nine of his 11 targets for 163 yards and two touchdowns. It turns out that the 2-hour breakfasts Stafford and Kupp have enjoyed with one another have really paid dividends.
Stafford, by the way, was a solid 19-of-30 for 278 yards, two touchdowns and an interception that sailed on him toward his favorite receiver. Save for that mistake, Stafford played another great game.
Elsewhere in the Rams’ receiving corps, only two other players – Robert Woods, Henderson – caught multiple passes. Woods snatched five passes for 64 yards. Henderson, meanwhile, logged three receptions for 29 yards to go along with his 53 rushing yards and a score on 13 carries. Henderson, however, left the game with an injury and was replaced by Sony Michel (10-46).
Despite leaving early, Henderson was able to barely edge out Jonathan Taylor for the rushing lead, as Taylor mustered just 51 yards on 15 carries. He caught only one pass.
Wentz overcame a turnover-laden start to finish with a decent stat line – 20-of-31, 247 yards, one touchdown, one interception – but the injury is the big story. It remains to be seen if Wentz will be able to play next week. If not, it’ll be Eason, who did not look good in his brief action.
Michael Pittman had a huge performance to redeem himself for last week’s disappointment. He caught eight of his 12 targets for 123 yards. However, he once again lost a touchdown to Zach Pascal (5-48). Jack Doyle snatched five balls for 64 yards.
Bills 35, Dolphins 0
This was supposed to be a tightly contested game between two young AFC East quarterbacks, as Buffalo was favored by just 3.5 points. We never got to see that matchup, however, because Tua Tagovailoa, who was sacked twice on his initial possession, was rocked on a fourth-and-1 throw on his second drive. He had to be helped off the field and was never seen again. The Bills, using the short field on the fourth-down mishap, scored a touchdown to go up 14-0.
Despite the two-touchdown lead and the injury to the Miami quarterback, the Bills couldn’t put this game away. This was despite Miami making countless errors. Jacoby Brissett, replacing Tagovailoa, floated an interception near the red zone. DeVante Parker was guilty of dropping a touchdown. Jakeem Grant lost a fumble inside Buffalo’s 10-yard line. Malcolm Brown was stuffed on fourth-and-1 inside the red zone. The Dolphins also muffed a punt.
This was a 14-0 contest for quite some time despite these Miami blunders because Allen’s passing was erratic. Allen’s completion percentage was beneath 50 for most of the afternoon, and he’s lucky he threw just one interception because he had a couple of other potential picks of his that were dropped. Allen also missed several of his receivers by sailing the ball too high. The Bills won this game in a blowout, but Allen’s regression has to be worrying.
With Allen struggling, only one Buffalo receiver posted substantial stats. That was Stefon Diggs and his four receptions for 60 yards and a touchdown. Emmanuel Sanders (2-48) caught a long pass of 35 yards, but did nothing else. Cole Beasley snatched all four of his targets, but for only 36 yards. Dawson Knox caught Allen’s other touchdown, but caught just two passes for 17 yards.
There was good news and bad news for Devin Singletary owners. The good news is that Singletary had a 46-yard touchdown to allow him to finish with 82 yards on just 13 attempts. The bad news is that Singletary lost two touchdowns to Zack Moss (8-26) in the second half. Moss lost a fumble, so that would explain why he played far fewer snaps than Singletary.
Both Singletary and Moss outgained all the Miami running backs, as Myles Gaskin (5-25), Brown (5-21) and Salvon Ahmed (6-17) split carries.
Brissett had a miserable stat line, going 24-of-40 for only 169 yards and an interception. However, he wasn’t as bad as those numbers indicate because he endured numerous drops. He put together some nice drives, but mistakes prevented his team from scoring. Otherwise, he gave his team no chance of competing in this game.
Thanks to overall team incompetence, no Miami player logged more than 50 receiving yards. Jaylen Waddle led the way with six catches for 48 yards, followed by DeVante Parker (5-42) and Mike Gesicki (3-41). Waddle was guilty of a drop in the second half.
Patriots 25, Jets 6
Bill Belichick tends to dominate rookie quarterbacks, so this result shouldn’t have been any sort of surprise. Belichick thoroughly embarrassed Zach Wilson, forcing the BYU product into countless turnovers in what turned out to be an easy victory for the Patriots.
Wilson fired four interceptions, all in meaningful action. The first wasn’t really his fault because cornerback J.C. Jackson made a great play. However, Wilson’s second pick was a high throw, leading to a James White touchdown that put the Patriots up 10-0. The third interception occurred because Wilson stared down Elijah Moore. Wilson’s fourth pick was a byproduct of him throwing off his back foot while drifting backward int the pocket. This prompted another New England rushing touchdown, putting the team up 19-3.
Wilson, at this point, had just as many completions as interceptions, with his stat line being a dreadful 4-of-10 for 54 yards and the quartet of picks. His final stats (19-33, 210 yards, 4 INTs) were a byproduct of garbage time, and it’s not like he played well following his final interception. He took a bad sack to move his team out of field goal range and then launched some overthrows that drew loud boos from the crowd.
Wilson has immense upside, but it can’t surprise anyone that he had an utterly dreadful performance against the best coach in NFL history. There’s a good chance this is Wilson’s worst performance of his career. Then again, how could things get much worse?
Mac Jones, on the other hand, looked like a seasoned veteran, albeit against a pathetic Jets defense. Jones was very efficient throughout the afternoon, going 22-of-30 for 186 yards. He missed a scoring opportunity early when throwing a third-down pass to Jonnu Smith that was a bit high, but outside of taking a couple of bad sacks and getting flagged for the most ridiculous intentional grounding penalty ever, he rarely made mistakes otherwise. Jones only made a couple of highly impressive throws, dinking and dunking for most of the afternoon, but that was the plan for the rookie quarterback.
Jones mostly targeted his running backs and tight ends, as James White (6-45) and Hunter Henry (2-42) were the team leaders in receiving yards. Jakobi Meyers (4-38) was the top producer as far as wide receivers were concerned.
Not only was White the top producer in receiving yards; he also scored a touchdown, gaining 20 rushing yards on five carries. Damien Harris (16-62) also scored. Harris’ touchdown was a thing of beauty, as he inexplicably broke tackles from seven Jet defenders.
The Jets didn’t get to run the ball as much as they wanted to because they were in a hole, thanks to Wilson’s interceptions. Michael Carter had a nice performance, however, tallying 59 yards on 11 carries. Carter made a couple of terrific plays. He showed off a nice juke move on a 13-yard run, then broke a tackle on a 17-yard reception. He had one fewer attempt than Ty Johnson and his 50 yards on 12 tries, but it was fairly obvious that Carter is the superior talent.
Belichick is the master of erasing one player from an opposing offense, and he did that with Corey Davis, who caught just two passes for eight yards. Davis drew an interference flag, but was guilty of a fumble as well. Belichick was more than willing to allow Braxton Berrios (7-73) to beat him, as Berrios got his opportunities with Jamison Crowder sidelined. Moore (4-47) was next on the stat sheet.
49ers 17, Eagles 11
Despite what the final score says, the Eagles were the better team in this game. They legitimately won the yardage battle and averaged 1.6 more yards per play than San Francisco. They clamped down on the run and hit some big plays. Some key blunders cost them a victory, however.
The first occurred when Jalen Hurts appeared to hit Jalen Reagor for a deep touchdown in the opening quarter. Replay review showed that Reagor stepped out of bounds beforehand, forcing the Eagles into trying a 48-yard field goal that was blocked. Yet, that was nothing compared to a sequence that occurred in the second quarter. Hurts launched a 91-yard bomb to Quez Watkins from his own end zone. Hurts then fired to DeVonta Smith into the end zone to draw an interference flag. Philadelphia had a first-and-goal from the 1-yard line, but failed to get into the end zone. The team even went for it on fourth down with a Philly Special, but the 49ers read it perfectly because they, unlike the 2017 Patriots, had seen it before.
The Eagles caught a break in the fourth quarter when the 49ers fumbled two times in a row, but a pair of ticky-tack defensive penalties allowed the 49ers to maintain possession. This forced Philadelphia into burning timeouts, so by the time it scored a touchdown to trim the margin to six, it was too late.
Hurts had an uneven passing game. He went 12-of-23 for 190 yards to add to his great scrambling numbers (10 carries, 82 yards, TD). He was robbed of a deep touchdown to Reagor, and he drew an interference flag with the aforementioned pass to Smith in the end zone, but he should have done better against a San Francisco secondary missing its top two cornerbacks. Hurts heaved some errant passes downfield, took a horrific sack on a third-and-2 in the fourth quarter, fumbled on a strip-sack that his teammate recovered, and was lucky to have a potential interception dropped.
Watkins, thanks to his 91-yard bomb, was the only Eagle with more than 24 receiving yards. He produced the longest play in Philadelphia history that didn’t result in a touchdown. Dallas Goedert (2-24) and Zach Ertz (1-6) were non-factors.
Miles Sanders didn’t get to run the ball very much because the Eagles trailed throughout the second half. He managed just 55 yards on 13 carries. His run blocking wasn’t as good as expected because All-Pro guard Brandon Brooks was knocked out with an injury. He missed Brooks when he was stuffed on two short-yardage opportunities, one of which occurred at the goal line.
Factoring in Hurts’ rushing, the Eagles’ ground attack was so much better than San Francisco’s. Philadelphia’s defensive front stymied the 49ers’ rushers until Brandon Graham suffered a season-ending injury just prior to halftime. Eli Mitchell mustered just 42 yards on 17 carries. Mitchell hurt his shoulder late in the game, allowing JaMycal Hasty (5-38) to have some opportunities, though Hasty hurt his ankle. Trey Sermon (1-8) fumbled on his only carry and also got injured in the process. Mitchell then reentered the game.
Jimmy Garoppolo, with no rushing attack, struggled to move the chains outside of a couple of drives. He began poorly, but improved as the afternoon progressed. He finished 22-of-30 for 189 yards and a touchdown. He also sneaked in a second score. He nearly threw an early interception, but a Philadelphia defender dropped the pass.
With Garoppolo not doing much, the 49er passing stats were rather lackluster. Deebo Samuel (6-93) was outstanding, but no one else did anything. George Kittle caught just four passes for 17 yards, while Brandon Aiyuk (1-6) saw just two targets.
Raiders 26, Steelers 17
Based on what happened in this game, it shouldn’t shock anyone that the Steelers couldn’t stop the Raiders in the second half. Already down Stephon Tuitt, Joe Haden and Devin Bush to pre-game injuries, Pittsburgh’s defense saw some key personnel depart in this contest. Tyson Alualu was carted off the field during the early stages of this contest, and then the big loss was to T.J. Watt, who suffered a groin injury in the second quarter. This game completely shifted when the top-10 NFL player exited. Pittsburgh’s defense did well to put the clamps down on the Raiders until that point, but it was helpless in doing so once Watt was gone. The Raiders were able to score twice with ease after the injury.
The surprise in this game was how much Pittsburgh’s offense struggled against the Raiders. The offensive line was horrendous, as Ben Roethlisberger had no chance in the pocket. This was evident early when a Roethlisberger interception occurred because of heavy pressure. He launched the ball up for grabs, giving the Raiders a short field and a subsequent field goal. Roethlisberger also took a crushing hit on a fourth-down try later in the opening half, though the Raiders were lucky they didn’t get called for a helmet-to-helmet penalty.
Ultimately, it didn’t matter because the Steelers barely did anything offensively for a large portion of this game. They put together a nice drive late in the afternoon, but it turned out to be irrelevant because the defense couldn’t get off the field on the following drive, allowing the Raiders to eat up a big chunk of the clock and hit a field goal to go up two scores. Adding injury to insult, Diontae Johnson suffered a knee malady on the very last play of the game.
Roethlisberger finished 27-of-40 for 295 yards, one touchdown and the aforementioned interception. Those numbers don’t look too bad, but some of it was the byproduct of garbage time. Roethlisberger is really struggling behind his offensive line, which lost four starters heading into this season.
Najee Harris isn’t getting much blocking either, as he mustered just 38 yards on 10 carries. Harris did well as a receiver out of the backfield, however, catching five passes for 43 yards and a touchdown.
Johnson was Pittsburgh’s leading receiver – nine catches, 105 yards – so he’ll be missed if he’s out with his knee injury. Chase Claypool (3-70) will have to step up after dropping a touchdown in the second quarter. JuJu Smith-Schuster (6-41) will be asked to do more as well.
While the Steelers were a huge disappointment, perhaps the primary story of this game should be Derek Carr, who once again put together a tremendous performance after beginning slowly. Carr was able to take advantage of countless Pittsburgh injuries, but he still deserves credit for pulling yet another upset. The Steelers had no answer for him in the second half without Tuitt, Watt, Haden and Bush, as he went 28-of-37 for 382 yards and two touchdowns. He should’ve thrown a third score to Bryan Edwards, but the play was negated by a hold, which caused Jon Gruden to lose his mind on the sidelines.
Nevertheless, Carr was amazing, albeit against an injury-ravaged defense. It must be considered that the Raiders’ offensive line is in shambles, yet Carr has been great. He appeared to suffer a severe injury after his first touchdown, but he turned out to be OK.
Like Carr, Ruggs began slowly – one catch in the opening half – and finished with a huge stat line. He caught five of his seven targets for 113 yards and a touchdown, including a 61-yard bomb. Darren Waller (5-65) was a disappointment for his fantasy owners, but the Steelers really focused on him and happen to be excellent versus tight ends anyway.
With Josh Jacobs out, the Raiders predictably got nothing from their running game. They wasted 13 downs feeding the ball to Peyton Barber, with Barber mustering just 32 yards in the process. Kenyan Drake was even worse with his seven carries and nine yards, though he caught five balls for 46 receiving yards.
Broncos 23, Jaguars 13
I believed Vic Fangio would have Trevor Lawrence’s number, as great defensive coaches tend to scheme well versus rookie quarterbacks. That didn’t appear to be the case early, as Lawrence drove right down the field to take an early 7-0 lead on a possession that featured a 24-yard laser to James O’Shaugnessy and a terrific passing score to Marvin Jones. Little did anyone know that this would be the only offensive touchdown the Jaguars would have on the day.
Lawrence struggled mightily following the opening drive. He failed to complete half of his passes and wasn’t even close, going 14-of-33 for only 118 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions. One of his picks was thrown late while under pressure. The other occurred when Lawrence stared down his receiver way too long. Lawrence once again didn’t have much help from his teammates. The blocking wasn’t there, and some of his receivers dropped passes, including one by Laviska Shenault on a third down. That said, Lawrence was lucky he wasn’t picked on a couple of other occasions. He also threw way behind Carlos Hyde on a key play.
With Lawrence struggling, only Jaguar logged more than 24 receiving yards. That was Jones, who caught six passes for 55 yards and the opening touchdown. D.J. Chark, meanwhile, did nothing outside of drawing an interference flag and catching a 19-yard pass, as rookie cornerback Patrick Surtain had a tremendous showing outside of getting flagged for interference. As for Shenault, he caught two passes for a loss of three yards to go along with a couple of drops, and adding injury to insult, he suffered an injury in the second half.
Unlike last week, Urban Meyer didn’t feed the ball very much to Carlos Hyde, as James Robinson was given 11 carries to Hyde’s two. Robinson’s 11 tries went for 47 yards. He also caught three passes for 17 receiving yards.
The Broncos were in an early hole because of Lawrence’s opening drive, but that didn’t bother Teddy Bridgewater, who was once again extremely efficient. Bridgewater misfired just eight times, going 26-of-34 for 328 yards and two touchdowns. One of his incompletions was dropped, so he should’ve been errant on just seven occasions.
Courtland Sutton didn’t catch a touchdown, but he looked completely recovered from his ACL tear. He caught nine of his 12 targets for 159 yards, making up for Jerry Jeudy’s absence. I thought K.J. Hamler might be more productive with Jeudy hurt, but Hamler caught just one pass for five yards on three targets.He was guilty of Bridgewater’s drop. Bridgewater’s touchdowns ended up going to Tim Patrick (3-37) and Noah Fant (4-33).
Javonte Williams and Melvin Gordon split the workload evenly. Both handled 13 carries, with Williams outgaining Gordon, 64-31. Williams made a couple of terrific plays. He broke a tackle on an 11-yard run, then broke four tackles on a 15-yard burst. It was evident that Williams was the superior running back in this game, and it wasn’t even close.
The dark cloud over this Denver victory was that Bradley Chubb aggravated the ankle injury that kept him out of the season opener. He was knocked out of the game in the second half.
EDITOR’S NOTE: Not that I’m complaining because I bet the Panthers, but it didn’t seem like the Saints were able to put together a quality game plan with all of their coaches being out with minor illnesses.
After blowing out Green Bay, the Saints coaching staff was decimated by the virus, which forced eight assistants to sit this game out, and injuries to a lot of their best players – e.g. Marshon Lattimore, Michael Thomas. Combined with having to practice at TCU, New Orleans was out of sorts, and it showed against Carolina. Sam Darnold dominated the Saints’ defense, while the Panthers’ defense completely shut down Jameis Winston and Alvin Kamara. Winston was truly awful in this game.
On the opening drive of the game, Darnold ripped the New Orleans defense, hooking up with Christian McCaffrey for 32 yards, D.J. Moore for 20 yards, and Brandon Zylstra for a 20-yard touchdown. Midway through the first half, Darnold led a drive inside the five, but the Panthers’ red zone struggles continued and they settled for a field goal. They would execute well late in the first half, however, with Darnold moving the ball down the field and on third-and-goal, he hit D.J. Moore on a slant for a touchdown. After Jameis Winston threw a terrible interception to take away a field goal opportunity, Carolina took a 17-0 lead into half time.
In the third quarter, Saints defensive lineman Carl Granderson blocked a field goal and Zack Baun returned the block over 30 yards to set up Winston in Carolina territory. Winston, however, found nothing open and took a sack on a fourth-and-5 to blow the opportunity. Shortly later, Carolina tried to help the Saints get back into the game again when Darnold made the terrible decision of trying to flip the ball to Chuba Hubbard while getting sacked, but Malcolm Roach caught the pitch at the Panthers’ 18. Taysom Hill ran the ball to inside the 10, and on third-and-goal, Winston ran the ball into the end zone for the score.
Just past the midway point in the fourth quarter, some Saints penalties aided a Carolina drive that ended with a McCaffrey touchdown run to put New Orleans away. The Panthers tacked on a field goal in garbage time, and Jaycee Horn got his first career interception.
Darnold completed 26-of-38 passes for 305 yards, two touchdowns and an interception. Aside from his interception, Darnold was really good against New Orleans.
McCaffrey picked up 72 yards and a touchdown on 24 carries and caught five passes for 65 yards.
Moore led the Panthers with eight catches for 79 yards and a touchdown.
Winston was 11-of-22 for 111 yards with zero touchdowns and two interceptions.
Kamara had only five yards on eight carries and four receptions for 25 yards. The Panthers’ defense completely shut him down. They also dominated the New Orleans receivers, as Lil’Jordan Humphrey (1-27) and Juwan Johnson (1-23) were the most productive behind Kamara.
EDITOR’S NOTE: I didn’t get the Buccaneers despite picking them, and I’m glad I didn’t because I would’ve been tilting so hard with all of the other games when it looked like the Falcons were going to get the back-door cover for a time in the second half.
Tom Brady and the Bucs cruised over the rebuilding Falcons. After jumping out to a big lead, Tampa Bay allowed Atlanta to get back into the game before pulling away in the fourth quarter.
The Buccaneers opened the day by rolling down the field, with Brady finding Rob Gronkowski (4-39-2) for a 20-yard touchdown. Tampa Bay was quickly in position for more points, but Dante Fowler strip-sacked Brady and Atlanta recovered the ball. After getting the ball back, however, the Buccaneers moved down the field using Leonard Fournette and multiple receivers before Brady found Gronkowski for another touchdown. Atlanta answered with a nice drive that saw Kyle Pitts snatch a 20-yard gain to set up Cordarrelle Patterson for a rushing touchdown. Brady then threw his third touchdown of the half, this one to Mike Evans, and Atlanta added a late field goal to trail 21-10 at intermission.
At the start of the third quarter, Vita Vea tipped a pass and Shaq Barrett caught the deflection to set up the Bucs deep in Atlanta territory. A few plays later, Brady hit a fade pass to Mike Evans for another touchdown. The Falcons moved down the field after that, and on fourth-and-goal, Matt Ryan threw a strike to Calvin Ridley for the touchdown.
After forcing a punt, Ryan and Ridley continued to hurt the Tampa Bay defense, making a third-down completion for a gain of about 30 yards. That set up a short touchdown catch for Patterson, and Ryan took in a zone-read run for the two-point conversion to cut the Buccaneers’ lead to 28-25 at the end of the third quarter.
The Falcons soon shanked a punt out of their own end zone to give the Buccaneers great field position just past midfield in Atlanta territory. A pass to Evans moved the ball inside the 20 and then Brady thew a beauty to Chris Godwin (4-62-1) for a touchdown. Tampa Bay put the game away when Mike Edwards jumped a route and took it to the house. In garbage time, Carlton Davis and Edwards came on a blitz on which Davis deflected the pass up in the air. Edwards caught that errant ball and coasted into the end zone for his second pick-six of the quarter.
Brady completed 24-of-36 passes for 276 yards and five touchdowns.
Fournette led the Buccaneers on the ground with 52 yards on 11 carries. He also caught four passes for 24 yards.
It was the opposite of Week 1, as Evans (5-75-2) had a big game to lead the Bucs while Antonio Brown (1-17) was a non-factor.
Ryan completed 35-of-46 passes for 300 yards, two touchdowns and three interceptions.
Patterson had seven carries for 11 yards and a touchdown, plus notched five receptions for 58 yards and a touchdown.
Pitts (5-73) and Ridley (7-63-1) were Atlanta’s leading receivers.
Cardinals 34, Vikings 33
The Cardinals humiliated the Titans in the season opener, but had immense issues with a team that lost against the Bengals. Arizona seemingly had no answer for Minnesota’s offense in the opening half, as the Vikings were able to engineer three touchdown drives. Kirk Cousins was 13-of-15 for 150 yards and three touchdowns by halftime, torching an Arizona secondary that looked completely befuddled. Despite this, the Cardinals led at halftime, thanks to a trio of Kyler Murray touchdowns.
Murray, however, prevented his team from running away with this game, and frankly, he should’ve cost his team the victory. While the defense settled down in the second half, limiting Cousins to fewer than 100 yards and no touchdowns, Murray did his best to give this game away. He threw a pick-six right out of the break, inexplicably firing a pass right to Nick Vigil. Murray later drove his team into field goal range, but launched anther interception because he didn’t see the safety. He also took a bad sack while his team was trying to run out the clock.
Murray’s second-half incompetence gave the Vikings a chance at the very end. Cousins moved his team into field goal range, but Greg Joseph’s 37-yard try went wide right to allow Arizona to come away with an undeserved win.
Murray ended up with a great stat line if the interceptions are ignored. He went 29-of-36 for 400 yards, three touchdowns and two interceptions, along with 31 rushing yards and a fourth score on the ground. Murray was special at times, but he can’t kill his team with horrible picks if he wants to quarterback a serious Super Bowl contender. A competent kicker would’ve prevented the Cardinals from establishing a 2-0 record.
DeAndre Hopkins somehow wasn’t Arizona’s leading receiver despite catching an early touchdown. He wasn’t even top three on the stat sheet, as he caught four passes for 54 yards. Maxx Williams (7-94) and Christian Kirk (3-65) finished ahead of him on the box score, but it was rookie Rondale Moore who led the team in receiving. Moore hauled in seven of his eight targets for 114 yards and a touchdown. Moore had an incredible game. He danced around Minnesota’s defense and was robbed of a second score when he fumbled near the goal line in the opening half. He also made some nice moves to advance his team into field goal range just prior to overtime. Matt Prater hit a 62-yard field goal at the gun.
Chase Edmonds rushed for 46 yards on eight carries to go along with five catches for 29 receiving yards. James Conner (8-26) struggled to do anything, and Arizona even wasted a down giving him the ball in the red zone in the fourth quarter.
The Cardinals couldn’t stop the run very well, as Dalvin Cook rushed for 131 yards on 22 carries. Cook suffered a couple of injuries in this game, but somehow remained on the field.
Cousins, as referenced earlier, couldn’t keep his first-half pace after intermission. He finished 22-of-32 for 244 yards, remaining at three touchdowns. He’s lucky he wasn’t picked on the final drive, as he was saved by a batted pass.
Minnesota’s three primary receivers all caught touchdowns. Justin Jefferson (6-65) and Adam Thielen (6-39) were the obvious scorers. The other is K.J. Osborn, who has become a big part of the offense. He snatched five of his six targets for a team-leading 91 yards.
Cowboys 20, Chargers 17
Jim Rome once interviewed a mobster who was familiar with game fixing in the NFL. He told Rome that a few college football games are fixed each week, while a few NFL contests are rigged each month. It’s unclear if this was one of those games, but the Chargers should conduct an investigation because the officiating bias in this affair was staggering.
The Chargers generated 408 net yards of offense, yet scored only 17 points because many of their big plays were negated by ticky-tack penalties. Two such instances occurred late when the Chargers were going for the lead. A touchdown was negated by some sort of an illegal shift, and then the refs blew a play dead even though Justin Herbert was trying to escape from pressure and make a throw. The play was inexplicably ruled a sack, forcing the Chargers into a tying field goal. With this contest knotted at 17, all the Cowboys needed was a field goal, and they were able to move into position for a 56-yard try, which Greg Zuerlein converted.
Although the officials seemingly did everything in their power to prevent the Chargers from winning, there were mistakes made by the home team. Herbert threw a couple of interceptions, one of which was a terrible throw into the end zone. Also, a legitimate call was made on an apparent Herbert touchdown to Donald Parham, with there being an obvious hold.
Herbert ended up going 31-of-41 for 338 yards, one touchdown and the two picks, one of which was an amazing play by Trevon Diggs. Herbert otherwise did well in between the 20s, as he did enough to win a fair game, but mistakes and poor officiating ultimately sunk the Chargers.
Herbert’s first interception was a pass to Keenan Allen, who caught four passes for 108 yards. Herbert didn’t hit Allen for a touchdown, finding Mike Williams instead. Williams snatched seven of his 10 targets for 91 yards and the score. Jared Cook (3-28) had a touchdown negated by a shady penalty.
Austin Ekeler didn’t catch a ball last week, but things changed against the Cowboys. Ekeler snatched all nine of his targets for 61 receiving yards to go along with 54 rushing yards on nine carries.
In addition to battling one-sided officiating, the Chargers also had major problems stopping the run. Yet, it wasn’t Ezekiel Elliott who gave them problems. Elliott rushed for 71 yards and a touchdown on 16 carries, but he paled in comparison to Tony Pollard, who had a tremendous performance. Pollard gained 109 yards and a touchdown on just 13 carries, and he also caught three passes for 31 receiving yards.
Dak Prescott was able to lean on his running game, so he didn’t do anything spectacular. Instead, he was extremely efficient, misfiring just four times. He went 23-of-27 for 237 yards and an interception on an overthrow.
With Prescott playing it safe, CeeDee Lamb was the only productive receiver. He caught eight of his nine targets for 81 yards, while Amari Cooper snatched three balls for only 24 yards. Cooper got hurt on the final drive of the game.
Titans 33, Seahawks 30
Most teams would abandon the run while in a 24-9 deficit in the second half, especially after failing to establish the rush prior to intermission. The Titans obviously do not apply, as they stuck with the running game, which produced nothing in the opening half. Derrick Henry mustered just 35 yards by intermission, as the Seahawks did a great job of stuffing the run.
That completely changed after the break, as Henry broke free for some big runs, including a 60-yard score. He notched the tying touchdown late in the fourth quarter, then had a nice gain to put his kicker into range in overtime. Randy Bullock hit the 36-yard kick to give his team the upset victory.
Henry finished with 182 yards and three touchdowns on 35 carries despite missing Taylor Lewan and Rodger Saffold. Lewan was ruled out prior to kickoff, while Saffold left the game early. The Titans deserve great credit for sticking with the run despite not having their two talented blockers.
Ryan Tannehill posted positive numbers as well, going 27-of-40 for 347 yards. However, the stats should’ve been better. He endured six drops from his receivers, including a deep drop from A.J. Brown. Meanwhile, an apparent Julio Jones touchdown was overturned by horrible officiating.
Despite Jones getting screwed out of a touchdown, he still led the team in receiving with six grabs for 128 yards. He was guilty of one drop, which was nothing compared to four Brown drops. Brown had one more target (9) than Jones, but caught just three passes for 43 yards. His owners will be lamenting those four drops.
Speaking of deep passes, Russell Wilson attacked Tennessee’s beleaguered secondary with some bombs, connecting on three of them. Tyler Lockett hauled in a pair of deep passes, snatching eight balls for 178 yards and a touchdown. Freddie Swain reeled in the other, securing all five of his targets for 95 yards and a touchdown. D.K. Metcalf didn’t join in the fun, but at least tied for the team lead with 11 targets. He caught six of them for 53 yards.
As you can imagine, Russell Wilson posted a terrific stat line, going 22-of-31 for 343 yards and two touchdowns. He was great early, but nearly took a game-losing safety in overtime. Wilson was ruled down at his own 1-yard line, but the ensuing punt from his own end zone gave the Titans a short field, allowing them to win the game.
Chris Carson couldn’t find much room on the ground, mustering just 31 yards on 13 carries. He saved his fantasy owners with two touchdowns, however.
Ravens 36, Chiefs 35
The Ravens trailed the entire game, often by double digits, but that didn’t bother Lamar Jackson in the fourth quarter. Jackson, attempting to overcome some serious demons against the Chiefs, led a pair of an impressive drives in which he danced circles around Kansas City’s bewildered defense. Jackson’s two touchdowns eventually put the Ravens up by only one instead of three because of a pair of botched two-point conversions.
Still, this wasn’t a big deal to Patrick Mahomes, who casually tossed a pair of passes to move into field goal range. The plan was to kick the game-winning points as time expired, but that strategy went awry when Clyde Edwards-Helaire fumbled. Rookie Jayson Oweh stripped him, allowing the Ravens to pounce on the ball with about 80 seconds remaining in regulation. It appeared as though the Ravens would be giving the ball back to Mahomes at first, but Jackson took matters into his own hands. On a fourth-and-1, Jackson rushed up the middle and picked up two yards to clinch his first victory over the Chiefs.
Jackson was amazing at the end of regulation to overcome a pair of interceptions, one of which was a pick-six by Tyrann Mathieu. His passing stats were ugly – 18-of-26, 239 yards, one touchdown and two picks – but the Chiefs inexplicably had no answer for him as a rusher even though the Ravens were missing two offensive linemen. Jackson scrambled 16 times for 107 rushing yards and two touchdowns.
Jackson ran the zone-read with his running backs, as Ty’Son Williams led the way with 77 yards on 13 carries. He was vultured by Latavius Murray, however, as Murray gained 36 yards and the touchdown on nine carries. Devonta Freeman was mixed in with two carries, one of which went for 31 yards. The other was a loss of two.
Jackson’s limited passing yards allowed just three players to accumulate more than 16 receiving yards. Marquise Brown led the way with six catches for 113 yards and a touchdown, and his numbers could’ve been much better had Jackson not missed him for a deep score on the opening drive, a play that directly preceded Jackson’s pick-six. Mark Andrews (5-57) and Sammy Watkins (4-44) were the other receivers of significance.
Jackson wasn’t the only quarterback throwing interceptions in this game. Mahomes had a terrific performance for the most part, but made a crucial mistake when he heaved an interception in the second half while falling down. This gave the Ravens a short field, which they converted into a touchdown. Mahomes was great otherwise, going 24-of-31 or 343 yards, three touchdowns and the pick. Then again, Mahomes didn’t have a difficult matchup and should have done better. The Ravens, down three of their top four cornerbacks, lost safety DeShon Elliott and defensive lineman Brandon Williams.
Baltimore did everything in its power to eliminate Tyreek Hill from the game plan. Hill was restricted to just three catches for 14 yards as a consequence. Instead, Travis Kelce (7-109), Byron Pringle (2-63) and Demarcus Robinson (3-46) all caught touchdowns.
Edwards-Helaire, as mentioned, cost his team a sure-fire victory. He didn’t even perform well otherwise, mustering just 46 yards on 13 carries. The Chiefs should think about using Darrel Williams as their primary back.
Packers 35, Lions 17
Despite what the final score says, the Lions gave the Packers quite the scare in this game. They actually led at halftime, as they applied the same strategy the Saints utilized in their blowout victory over Green Bay last week. The Lions pounded the ball down Green Bay’s throat to start the evening, allowing them to maintain possession for what seemed like an eternity. The result was the Packers possessing the ball on just three drives prior to intermission, not including the kneel-down on the final play.
Down 17-14 entering the third quarter, Rodgers needed to take matters into his own hands so the Lions wouldn’t be able to keep sucking the life out of this game. He did this with some tremendous deep throws, some of which occurred when he got the Lions in ill-advised third-down substitutions when they had 12 men on the field. Detroit continued to do this, and Rodgers made them pay. The Lions’ defense had no answer for Rodgers following intermission, while their offense imploded with two crucial errors. The first was a horrible play-call on a fourth-and-1 while down four at the end of the third quarter, resulting in a Jared Goff incompletion. The second was a botched snap while down 11 at the beginning of the final frame. Green Bay capitalized with a pair of touchdowns, putting this game away.
Rodgers finished with an amazing stat line, going 22-of-27 for 255 yards and four touchdowns. He nearly tallied much better numbers, as he barely missed Marquez Valdes-Scantling for a deep bomb. That was one of the very rare mistakes he made in this game, as he redeemed himself for last week’s disastrous result. Green Bay’s defense still needs a lot of work, but if the Packers disappoint this year, it won’t be because of Rodgers.
On the Peyton and Eli broadcast on ESPN2, Peyton Manning wondered how many fantasy points Aaron Jones accumulated. The answer to that is 35.5 in standard, 38.5 in half-PPR and 41.5 in full PPR. Jones had a monstrous performance, as he was responsible for four of the Packers’ five touchdowns. Jones rushed for 67 yards and a touchdown on 17 carries to go along with his ridiculous receiving stats: six catches, 48 receiving yards and three more scores.
Robert Tonyan caught Rodgers’ other touchdown, hauling in three balls for 52 yards. The only Packer ahead of Tonyan on the stat sheet was Davante Adams, who hauled in eight of his nine targets for 121 yards.
As for the Lions, some of the players posted some nice numbers, given that they were competitive for nearly three full quarters. Goff went 26-of-36 for 246 yards, two touchdowns and a late interception where he was just trying to make something happen in an 18-point deficit. He was also charged with a lost fumble on the errant snap. Goff moved around well, scrambling four times for 46 rushing yards.
Speaking of Detroit runners, D’Andre Swift and Jamaal Williams combined for 57 rushing yards on just 13 carries in the opening half, but they had just two rushes in total in the second half because the Lions had to transform into a passing team. Swift (8-37) and Williams (7-25) both posted disappointing rushing numbers as a result, though Swift’s four catches for 41 receiving yards helped his PPR owners.
T.J. Hockenson was a monster, catching eight passes for 66 yards and a touchdown. Quintez Cephus (4-63) hauled in Goff’s other score. Besides those two players, as well as Swift, no other Detroit player registered more than 24 receiving yards.
For more thoughts, check out my updated NFL Power Rankings, which will be posted Tuesday morning.