There were plenty of glorious victories in Week 2 of the NFL, but they came at a steep cost. Defeat, for many teams, was no less painful.
Sunday’s action was overshadowed by our first coach-firing of the year: Buffalo Bills offensive coordinator Greg Roman got the axe after a Thursday Night Football loss to the New York Jets (that had much more to do with the Ryan/Thurmond defensive triumvirate’s failures than Roman’s).
In New England, Pats fans experienced the joy of knowing Jimmy Garoppolo is more than a one-game wonder. He racked up 234 yards and three touchdowns while engineering a 24-0 lead over the Dolphins, securing his place on the team as something more than a placeholder.
Yet he went down hard just before halftime, leaving even-fresher-faced rookie Jacoby Brissett to guide the Pats home. He almost didn’t, but LeGarrette Blount’s 123 yards and a touchdown were just enough to secure the win. Garoppolo may not play again before Tom Brady comes back in Week 5, but he’s done his job: The Pats are one game clear of the AFC East, and he’ll be a valuable commodity wherever he plays next.
One of the most anticipated matchups of the week went about as anticipated: The Cincinnati Bengals and Pittsburgh Steelers slugged it out for four quarters, with plenty of big hits, big plays and turnovers. In the end, 33-year-old tailback DeAngelo Williams made the difference, with 134 yards from scrimmage on a whopping 36 touches.
— NFL (@NFL) September 18, 2016
In Carolina, Cam Newton proved he can still win a shootout as well as a slugfest, racking up a league-high 46 points to keep the 49ers at bay. Josh McCown had a fantastic first quarter in Baltimore, rolling up 20 points on big-play passes before suffering a shoulder injury. He stayed in the game, but the spell was broken: The Browns didn’t score another point, and the Ravens won 25-20.
It was #FlagDay in Detroit, as the Lions and Tennessee Titans combined for a ludicrous 29 flagged infractions. Matthew Stafford and the Lions could have used one of the three touchdowns they had called back on penalties; they lost 16-15.
Entra ano, sai ano, mas DeAndre Hopkins continua anotando Touchdowns…
J.J. Watt looked a lot more like J.J. Watt this week than last, notching a sack and a fumble recovery. Brock Osweiler again connected with DeAndre Hopkins and Will Fuller for long gainers — though the Chiefs picked Osweiler off twice. Kickers Cairo Santos and Nick Novak alternated field goals throughout the fourth quarter, but Hopkins’ first-quarter touchdown gave the Texans a potentially huge 19-12 win.
He’s E-L-I, and the Giants have no alibi: it’s ugly. Eli Manning threw 41 times for 368 yards and the Giants scored no touchdowns. Still, three Josh Brown field goals and a blocked PAT return (!) were enough to eke out a win against the even-less-effective Drew Brees:
— The Big Lead (@thebiglead) September 18, 2016
It wasn’t pretty in Washington, either, as Dak Prescott, Alfred Morris and the Dallas Cowboys survived a mistake-filled back and forth with Kirk Cousins and the Cowboys.
The Arizona Cardinals took out their Jimmy G frustrations on @JabooWins, forcing Jameis Winston into five turnovers and rolling the Tampa Bay Buccaneers 40-7. In Denver, Von Miller and company feasted on Andrew Luck, paving the way for another Trevor Siemian win over an infinitely more talented signal-caller.
On this Talk Like a Pirate Day, let’s take time out to salute Oakland Raiders head coach Jack Del Rio for his gutsy fourth-quarter calls and swashbuckling shootouts (but y’arrr, they lost this one 35-28 to Matt Ryan and the Atlanta Falcons).
— ⚡️#NOvSD (1-2)⚡️ (@ChargersLegion) September 19, 2016
Philip Rivers and the San Diego Chargers proved last week’s second-half points explosion wasn’t a fluke — but the Jacksonville Jaguars may have proved last week’s good performance against the Packers was, losing 38-14 to San Diego. A knee injury to Danny Woodhead, though, may cost the Chargers down the road.
In the ugliest game of a week filled with ugly games, the Los Angeles Rams held the Seattle Seahawks to a single field goal — and miraculously, scored nine whole points to re-christen the Los Angeles Coliseum win an upset win. That said, the L.A. Rams still haven’t scored a touchdown since 1994.
— NFL (@NFL) September 19, 2016
The costliest win, though, might have also been the biggest. The Minnesota Vikings opened up their new billion-plus dollar U.S. Bank Stadium with a Sunday Night Football battle against their rival Green Bay Packers. Break-glass-and-overpay-in-case-of-emergency quarterback Sam Bradford was outstanding in purple, playing arguably the best game of his NFL career. Aaron Rodgers victimized Vikings cornerback Trae Waynes all night, only to have Waynes pick off Rodgers’ last real hope at a comeback.
Amidst all the jubilation, though, a terrible setback: Adrian Peterson needed help to get off the field and back to the locker room with a severe-looking knee injury. This morning, head coach Mike Zimmer said the injury has “calmed down,” whatever that means, and Peterson may not be out for long.
Either way, it’s a massive win for the Vikings, with huge divisional and NFC playoff implications.