Week 2 of the NFL

What We Learned After Sunday’s Games

Ben Williams '19, Sports Editor

Already two games into the season, there have been many surprises throughout the league so far. This week we saw some shocking outcomes to games, continued progression by young players, and possibly the new best team on the defensive side of the ball. With that, here is a look into each game from week 2.

To kickoff the new week, two fierce rivals in the Baltimore Ravens and Cincinnati Bengals took center stage on national television for Thursday Night Football. Each team was looking to prove they are legit contenders after their dominant performances in week 1. With the Ravens getting off to a slow start combined with AJ Green catching three first-half touchdowns, they could never catch up to the Bengals. Their impressive second-half comeback fell short as they lost the game by a score of 34-23. The Bengals took sole possession of the AFC North at 2-0 while the Ravens dropped to 1-1, good enough for second place in that same division.

There were seven other divisional matchups in week 2 which could prove as crucial tiebreakers at the end of the season. To start off, the Miami Dolphins played the New York Jets. As rookie quarterback Sam Darnold looked to prove he belongs in the league by earning his second win in as many starts, the Dolphins had other plans. It did not start well for Darnold as TJ McDonald intercepted his pass over the middle late in the first quarter. The game became a defensive battle and the Dolphins came out on top with a 20-12 win. The win also gave them the division lead in the AFC East.

The next game was sure to be an outstanding matchup as Kirk Cousins and the Minnesota Vikings took on Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers. This was the first time the two teams had faced each other since the infamous game where Anthony Barr laid a questionable hit on Aaron Rodgers, breaking his collarbone and ending the Packers season all in the process. Ironic enough, Clay Matthews was called for a very questionable roughing the passer penalty with less than two minutes to play which negated an interception that would’ve in essence ended the game. They eventually went into overtime and after Daniel Carlson’s third missed field goal of the day, the game ended in a tie 29-29. That game ended up costing the Vikings kicker his job due to such a poor performance. After it was all said and done though, the Packers ended the day atop the division at 1-0-1. Though the Vikings have the same record, the Packers hold the divisional record tiebreaker.

Onto the next matchup, the Atlanta Falcons and the Carolina Panthers squared off in an early season NFC South showdown. Everyone knows there is bad blood between these two teams, and sure enough it showed. Early in the (quarter) as Panthers quarterback Cam Newton began his slide after he ran the ball, Falcons safety Kazee lowered his body and speared him with his helmet. As expect, a fight broke loose and with the new player safety rules Kazee was ejected from the game. Even with the setback of losing their backup safety to ejection, the Falcons still prevailed as Matt Ryan threw for 2 touchdowns and running back Tevin Coleman dominated the ground attack with 107 yards. Both teams ended the day with 1-1 records but still trail behind Tampa Bay for the division lead.

Another fine matchup of the day included two AFC South teams in the Tennessee Titans and Houston Texans. The Titans entered the game without quarterback Marcus Marriott and the top three offensive tackles. It looked as if it would be a long day but they were ready for the arduous task ahead going up against one for the premier defensive players in JJ Watt. Led by backup quarterback Blaine Gabbert they won a hard fought battle 20-17 and improved their record to 1-1, while the Texans fell to 0-2. Though it is still early, the Texans slow start to the season comes at a surprise to many. Deshaun Watson was often talked about in league MVP during the offseason, but he isn’t living up to the hype yet. The season is young, but only 14% of teams make it to the playoffs that start 0-2.

Next up we have the Arizona Cardinals against the Los Angeles Rams. This is a game nobody was really excited for as the Rams have them outmatched in every way. Led by yet another MVP caliber performance by running back Todd Gurley III combined with shear domination by the defense, the Rams came out with a shutout victory with the final score being 34-0. The Rams seem to be in the driver’s seat early on for the team to beat, while the Cardinals continue their rebuilding process.

The rivalry between the Denver Broncos and Oakland Raiders has been refreshed, as the “Chain Game” era has ended. Cornerback Aquib Talib and wide receiver Michael Crabtree have since moved on from their respective now former teams. The new look rivalry features quarterback Case Keenum for the Broncos and a Khalil Mack-less team in the Raiders. The game was a defensive battle till the end with Brandon McManus kicking an eventual game winning field goal. The Broncos won by a score of 20-19 and improved to 2-0. Meanwhile the hiring of head coach John Gruden is not looking like a wise one as the Raiders have not won a game. Their decision to not give Khalil Mack an extension is turning out poorly so far.

What better way to end the day with a throw down between the New York Giants and Dallas Cowboys. These two teams are always entertaining to watch and now that rookie running back Saquon Barkley is in the mix, this game was sure to be an exciting one. Barkley was surprisingly held in check as the Cowboys defense rose to the occasion and only gave up 28 yards rushing, but he still had 80 yards receiving. This turned into a defensive game with the final score being 20-13 in favor of Dallas. It was a good bounce back win for them and meanwhile the Giants are still looking to find that balance. With that being the final divisional matchup of the day, let’s take a look at some of the other matchups.

After an incredible AFC Championship game last year, the Jacksonville Jaguars took on the New England Patriots for the first time since their loss in that game. The Jaguars, led by a vocal Jalen Ramsey, were not going to let the Patriots beat them again. Tom Brady put in another solid performance as usual, but the Patriots defense is what held them back. Quarterback Blake Bortles went off for 377 yards and 4 touchdown tosses, and the Jaguars never looked back. They look to be even more lethal than last year and it will be interesting to follow the team throughout the year. As for the Patriots, they can always count on Tom Brady to put some points on the board. But their defense needs to step it up and help him out if they want to continue their success which seems to never end.

Still without running back Le’veon Bell, the Pittsburgh Steelers looked to bounce back against the Kansas City Chiefs after an embarrassing week 1 effort against the Cleveland Browns. Quarterback Patrick Mahomes for the Chiefs could not be stopped though, as he threw for 6 touchdowns and had a near perfect passer rating. The holes in the Steelers defense were exposed that game, but quarterback Ben Roethlisberger tried to rally his team back. It was a solid effort but to no avail, as the Chiefs came out on top 42-37. Mahomes and the Chiefs continue to roll, while the Steelers seem very lost especially with the off field distractions within the organization.

In a matchup between the Philadelphia Eagles and Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Ryan Fitzpatrick looked to bolster is confidence even more after his epic week 1 performance. You could say he did just that as he threw form 402 yards and 4 touchdowns against the supposed best defense in the league. An uncharacteristic performance by the Eagles defensive side of the ball, Nick Foles and the offense still made it a game with little to work with. Another wide receiver, Mike Wallace, went down in the game but they still scored 21 points. The final score was 27-21 and the Eagles lost their hall of fame left tackle Jason Peters in the process. There is little worry in Philadelphia though as it was just announced that Carson Wentz will be starting quarterback against the Indianapolis Colts for the first time since tearing his ACL. As for the Buccaneers, it looks as if Jameis Winston may have lost his job to Fitzpatrick who is the early front runner for MVP.

The Los Angeles Chargers and Buffalo Bills are two teams that were thought to be taking the next step this season. After disappointment in week 1, each team looked to gain a fresh start in terms of people’s perspectives on them. Led by running back Melvin Gordon’s two touchdown catches, the Chargers took control of that game and never looked back. They won by a final score of 31-20, as we got our first glimpse of rookie quarterback Josh Allen. He did not have a good game, but what can you expect in his first game. If the Chargers can gain some confidence, the rest of league should look out as there is some real talent on that team. As for the Bills, it seems as though this is the beginning of the Josh Allen era and his progress will be monitored throughout the season.

After his first ever career loss in week 1, Jimmy Garoppolo and the San Francisco 49ers looked to bounce back against the Detroit Lions. They did just that as Jimmy G had a solid game throwing for 2 touchdowns, while running back Matt Breida went off for 138 yards and a touchdown on only 11 carriers. As for the Lions, Matthew Stafford had a nice game but their run defense is what held them back. New head coach Matt Patricia is not impressing so far, but it is way too early to make final judgments obviously.

Heading into their game against the New Orleans Saints, the Cleveland Browns we’re undefeated. Yes, I said that right but they haven’t won a game yet. They were undefeated in the most Brown’s way ever, with a tie. In all seriousness, it is clear they have drastically improved and are headed in the right direction. They gave the Saints a run for their money, but lost the game 21-18. Unfortunately kicker Zane Gonzalez missed a game tying field goal at the end of regulation, and who knows what could’ve happened in overtime.

To wrap up week 2, the Seattle Seahawks took on the Chicago Bears on Monday Night Football. The Bears defense dominated the game as Khalil Mack continued to show that he is worth every penny. There weren’t too many positive for the Seahawks besides Shaquill Griffin getting his first two interceptions of his career. The Bears look to be the most impressive, if not the best defense in the league so far. Their young talent now combined with the likes of superstar Khalil Mack spells danger for the rest of the league.