Photo By: Thomas Park from Unsplash
Week two of the NFL’s season has come and gone, and with it came some thrilling games, and far too many injuries. Here’s what you need to know from this week’s NFL action.
(Note: Monday night’s game between the Green Bay Packers and the Detroit Lions will be discussed in next week’s edition of this column.)
Game of the week – Kansas City Chiefs at Baltimore Ravens
Fireworks always flare when these two AFC teams have faced off in recent years, and Sunday night’s matchup was no exception. Lamar Jackson and Patrick Mahomes went blow for blow, each throwing for three touchdown passes. Jackson got it done with his legs as well, rushing for 107 yards. The Chiefs defense looked better than last week to start the game, highlighted by two interceptions (one of them a pick-six) from SS Tyrann Mathieu in the first quarter. For the Ravens defense, they were able to neutralize Tyreek Hill, holding the speed demon to a measly three receptions and 14 yards. As the game went along, the Ravens wore down the Chiefs defense and punished them with their strong rushing attack. A game-winning forced fumble from rookie OLB Odafe Oweh put the Ravens in range to seal the deal and squeak out a 36-35 win over the defending AFC champs.
The Ravens had another thriller in week one’s 33-27 overtime loss to the Las Vegas Raiders. Though the Raiders threw a goal-line interception in OT, the Ravens were unable to capitalize and ultimately gave up the game-winning touchdown from Derek Carr to Zay Jones. Carr outdueled Jackson and looked unbelievable in week one, which brings us to…
Way too early MVP watch
Raiders QB Derek Carr led the league in passing yards during week one with 435 yards against Baltimore, and then followed it up with 382 yards this week in a 26-17 victory against the Pittsburgh Steelers. Carr’s Raiders picked up wins in both games against two very solid teams. Perhaps the most impressive part about Carr’s performances was that he did not rely on one or two go-to targets. Against the Steelers, Carr found Henry Ruggs III, Darren Waller, Hunter Renfrow and Kenyan Drake for five catches each. Throw in Bryan Edwards’ 81 receiving yards against the Ravens, and the Raiders have a nice looking offense so far this season. It will be tough for the Raiders to unseat the Chiefs for the AFC West division crown, but fans can expect them to be in the playoff mix all season long.
Upstate New York’s team is sure to fare much better than NYC’s two teams during this NFL season, as the Bills got on the board with their first win of the season this week. After a disappointing loss to the Steelers in week one, the Bills came out looking much better this week, trouncing their division rival Miami Dolphins by a score of 35-0. The Bills defense posted the only shutout of this week, and it was actually the team’s largest shutout win over the Dolphins since 1966. None of the Bills’ offensive players had any huge performances, but the defense was obviously back to form with six sacks and an interception (no folding tables were harmed in the making of this paragraph).
Growing pains and growing fame
A pair of rookie quarterbacks showed us this week just how hard it is to play in the NFL. Jaguars QB Trevor Lawrence and Jets QB Zach Wilson had rough weeks in losses to the Denver Broncos and New England Patriots respectively. Lawrence threw for just 14/33 with two interceptions, while Wilson chipped in four interceptions of his own in what was an ugly day for the number one and number two overall picks from the 2021 draft. Fans of the Jets and Jags will of course need to be patient with the two would-be franchise cornerstones. While this may end up being a tough year, the teams will need to build up supporting pieces around their young QBs before they’ll be able to truly shine. Hold off on calling Lawrence, “Blake Bortles with a Head and Shoulders sponsorship” for now.
On the flip side, rookie QB Mac Jones has looked predictably steady for the Patriots over the first few weeks. Jones threw for 186 yards in a 25-6 win over the Jets this week, and 281 yards in week one’s loss to the Dolphins. The jury is still out on if Jones could be a future star, or if his early success is just the product of a team filled with seasoned veterans and much more talented teams than his rookie counterparts. Oh, and it also helps that he’s working with arguably the best coach of all time. On the note of impressive young QBs, Philadelphia Eagles starter Jalen Hurts looked solid as a dual-threat option this week, running for 82 yards and one rushing touchdown as the Eagles fell 17-11 to the San Francisco 49ers.
Backup quarterbacks became an unexpected feature of this week’s action, as countless signal-callers went down with varying injuries. Dolphins’ Tua Tagovailoa, Bears’ Andy Dalton, Colts’ Carson Wentz, and Texans’ Tyrod Taylor all left the action on Sunday, and were replaced with Jacoby Brissett, Justin Fields, Jacob Eason, and Davis Mills respectively. Fields was the only one of the backups to pick up the win. The severity of each injury remains to be seen.
One backup who did perform this week was Washington Football Team’s Taylor Heinicke. Washington’s starting QB Ryan Fitzpatrick suffered a hip subluxation in week one and will miss at least six to eight weeks in the rehab process. Heinicke, the career backup QB, took over under centre during week two for the WFT, and looked great in just his third career NFL start. Heinicke threw for 336 yards and two touchdowns in a 30-29 Thursday night win over the New York Giants.
Best (and worst) of the rest
The Minnesota Vikings lost another heartbreaker, this time to the Arizona Cardinals in Glendale. Vikings kicker Greg Joseph missed a 37 yard field goal as time expired to lock up a 34-33 shootout win for Kyler Murray and company. Speaking of offensive explosions, the Tennessee Titans and Seattle Seahawks went punch for punch in an overtime thriller. The Titans ultimately came out on top, winning it 33-30 on the back of RB Derrick Henry’s combined 237 rushing and receiving yards. Finally, the Los Angeles Rams took home a win in a nailbiter against the Indianapolis Colts, winning it 27-24 with the help of 163 receiving yards from WR Cooper Kupp. The Atlanta Falcons also played football this week.
Next week’s games to watch
The great matchups just keep on coming and fans can get excited for a trio of week three NFC battles on Sunday. The Seahawks head to Minneapolis to take on the Vikings in what will surely be a high scoring affair. The Tom vs. Time tour will make its way to the Golden Coast, to set up a battle between Brady’s Buccaneers and Matthew Stafford’s Los Angeles Rams. To cap off the night, Aaron Rodgers’ Green Bay Packers will take on the San Francisco 49ers.