Another Patriots blowout. Second wins for San Francisco and Seattle. A crazy finish at Mile High! Sunday afternoon featured a couple mismatches and a slew of scintillating showdowns.
*Here is what we've learned so far from Sunday's games: *
- The league's deepest roster was surely tested in Atlanta on Sunday night. Hard hitting on both sides turned Mercedes-Benz Stadium into a triage scene, with Philly taking on most of the casualties. Wentz was forced to play most of the game without DeSean Jackson (groin) and Alshon Jeffery (calf), who combined to catch nearly half of the QB's completions in Week 1, and Dallas Goedert, Corey Clement and Timmy Jernigan also spent good time on the sideline. The Philly QB was apparently injured, as well, playing with his ribs, taking a trip to the blue medical tent to be tested for a concussion and sitting out a handful of snaps in favor of Josh McCown in the first half. Wentz went into halftime with a 6.2 passer rating, reflective of his missed passes and risky throws-turned-interceptions. But the 2017 would-be MVP settled in the second half, making use of whoever was left (Zach Ertz, Nelson Agholor and Mack Hollins instead of the rookie J.J. Arcega-Whiteside). Wentz bounced back to lead two touchdown drives in the last two quarters, including a 13-yard march with four third-down conversions at his hand, and almost led a third.
Down four under two minutes after Atlanta won back the lead, Wentz launched a prayer 43 yards down the middle of the field on fourth down into the waiting arms of Agholor, who had just dropped a gimme deep ball in stride. It was a miraculous, impossible play out of step with the game's momentum, one that made you feel Wentz and Philly were destined at the end of this sloppy Sunday night to come away 2-0. But it wasn't to be. Wentz, faced with a fourth-and-8 in the red zone, threw a seven-yard pass to Ertz, and the tight end, corralled by Atlanta's aggressive secondary, couldn't extend it past the marker. Given the Eagles' slew of injuries and poor first-half play, that they were even in that position late in the game was a victory in itself. But in the standings, it's still a loss, one that keeps the Birds (1-1) a game behind the Cowboys in the NFC East.
- On an off night for Matt Ryan, the Falcons quarterback looked best when he got the ball into the hands of his playmakers, as he always has. For the bulk of the night, Calvin Ridley was Ryan's security blanket, the second-year game breaker leading Atlanta on the night with eight catches. His 105 yards and one score would've paced the Falcons, as well, had they lost. But then fourth-and-3 happened. Late in the final frame, Atlanta called on Ryan, who had thrown three picks already, to throw a quick screen to Julio Jones, his longtime battery mate, now paid in full. Put the ball in Jones' hands, not Ryan's. Julio caught the pass and, with the help of the pancake of all pancakes by left tackle Jake Matthews on Avonte Maddox, sprinted upfield and into the end zone for the go-ahead, game-winning 54 -yard touchdown. It was Julio's fifth grab and his second touchdown, and it was a reminder of the firepower the Falcons (1-1) possess, a reminder sorely needed after being nearly shut out in Minnesota last week.
- Speaking of firepower, there was none in either of these backfields. For the second straight week, both Philadelphia and Atlanta's ball-carriers struggled to find much of a footing and provide balance to their offenses lacking it. Without Tevin Coleman stealing some of his snaps, Devonta Freeman is running like an average back, not one playing on a five-year extension. Through two games, Freeman has racked up just 41 yards on 19 carries -- to be fair, those outings came against two of the NFC's most gifted fronts. For burst out of the backfield, Atlanta is better off handing it to Ito Smith. Philly's refurbished RB tandem is nothing to write home about. Neither Miles Sanders nor Jordan Howard helped out a struggling Wentz on Sunday evening, the two combining for 46 yards on 18 carries. On an otherwise flawless roster, Philly's backfield prowess is still lacking despite it being a glaring flaw during last year's campaign.
-- Jeremy Bergman
- In a matchup dominated by field position and field goals, it's only fitting that beleaguered Bears kicker Eddy Pineiro nailed a 53-yard attempt to cap off a wacky sequence in the final minute. Joe Flacco converted a pair of fourth downs to set up a 7-yard touchdown to Emmanuel Sanders, bringing the Broncos within one point with just over half a minute remaining. Denver decided to go for the win with a two-point conversion, only to switch gears when Flacco was called for delay of game. A Buster Skrine offsides penalty on the PAT attempt put the ball back in the hands of Flacco, who dialed Sanders' number again for the two-point conversion and a 14-13 lead. That left just 31 seconds on the clock for Mitchell Trubisky, who benefitted from a questionable roughing the passer penalty on Bradley Chubb to keep the improbable comeback alive. Faced with fourth-and-15 a few plays later, Trubisky danced in the pocket, found Allen Robinson wide open over the middle and called timeout with just a second left to set up Pineiro's heroics.
- Flacco and Sanders deserved a better fate. The Broncos (0-2) recorded 27 first downs versus the vaunted Bears defense, matching the number amassed by the Patriots and 49ers in their blowout victories on Sunday. A series of holding penalties on an offensive line tasked with blocking Bears superstar Khalil Mack sabotaged Flacco's attack over and over again, thwarting Denver's scoring opportunities. As well as Flacco has moved the chains between the twenties, it's fair to question his effectiveness in the condensed area of the red zone through two games.
- The Bears finally scored their first touchdown of the season when Nagy called nine straight runs, including a 42-yard Cordarrelle Patterson scamper that set up rookie David Montgomery's diving effort. Montgomery took control of Chicago's backfield on a day when the game plan seemed determined not to place too much responsibility on Trubisky's shoulders versus a stellar defense in an unfriendly environment. Even with the game-winning drive -- aided by judgment calls from the officials -- Trubisky will be back under the microscope for next week's game at Washington.
-- Chris Wesseling
- Houston almost coughed up another late lead for the second straight week to open the season. Rookie quarterback Gardner Minshew drove the Jacksonville offense down the field with chunk throws and heady big runs culminating in a touchdown toss to D.J. Chark with 30 seconds remaining to cut the lead to 13-12. Jags coach Doug Marrone elected to go for two points and a potential win. Leonard Fournette, however, was stuffed inches before the goal line, allowing the Texans (1-1) to escape without another late collapse. Houston breathed a sigh of relief but can't be thrilled by the limp defensive effort -- including more off coverage -- to close out the tilt.
- Deshaun Watson was discombobulated behind a faltering offensive line against a Jags D that was missing star pass-rusher Yannick Ngakoue. Watson was sacked four times Sunday and couldn't find the range deep throughout the tilt -- completing just two of 10 passes of 15-plus air-yards, per Next Gen Stats. The matchup between DeAndre Hopkins and Jalen Ramsey went mostly to the Jags corner, who held Nuk (five catches on eight targets for 40 yards) to short gains. Hopkins did much of his damage when Ramsey -- who blew up at the coaching staff on the sideline in the first half -- was in zone coverage. With Hopkins neutralized, Watson's passing game wilted. The Texans leaned on Carlos Hyde (90 yards) who out-carried Duke Johnson 20 to 6. Holding on for the win brings a modicum of relief, but the Texans need more when Nuk is negated as he was for the most part by Ramsey Sunday.
- Minshew didn't look flustered in his first career start. The sixth-round pick got swarmed at times by the Texans front, getting sacked four times (twice by Whitney Mercilus) and fumbling thrice (losing one). The third fumble led to the Texans' only touchdown of the game. Minshew was solid when getting the ball out of his hands quickly and displayed plenty of touch, arm strength and accuracy to complete several long sideline throws. The rookie displayed positive running ability, leading the Jags (0-2) with 56 rushing yards on six carries, including big gains of 21 and 18 yards. After getting swarmed for three quarters, the man with the golden mustache showed moxie at the end leading to the final-minute touchdown, taking advantage of a loose Texans D. Minshew (23-of-33, 213 yards, TD) was scuttled behind a struggling offensive line and at times held the ball too long. But the rookie showed he can be a solid stand-in for Nick Foles if he gets more help from Fournette and company moving forward.
-- Kevin Patra
- Tasked with playing their second straight tilt at MetLife Stadium, the Bills (2-0) stayed in the same hotel -- with players lodged in the very same rooms -- to mimic their lead-up to last week's 17-16 comeback win over the Jets. The OCD/superstitious approach worked, with Buffalo unfurling a clean and effective offensive outing over Big Blue. Josh Allen caught heat for his four turnovers in Week 1, but the Bills second-year signal-caller authored a clean, productive game that saw him lead four touchdown drives and throw for 253 yards at a healthy 8.4 yards per toss. Rookie runner Devin Singletary helped with a dazzling 14-yard scoring dash -- more of him please -- while old-as-the-hills-but-still-wily Frank Gore plowed for 70 yards at 3.9 yards per carry. Third-year wideout Isaiah McKenzie helped with a 14-yard touchdown grab on a drive that saw trusty possession man Cole Beasley slice up New York with a 51-yard catch-and-run.
- Same old tune for the wandering G-Men: Reminding us of last week's start against Dallas, New York barreled down the field on their opening drive, with electrifying runner Saquon Barkley (18/107/1) rampaging through Buffalo's defense for 55 yards with a 27-yard touchdown burst. The Giants (0-2) appeared entirely lost from there, with Eli Manning throwing for zero yards over the first four marches and finishing with just 202 yards at 4.8 yards per lob with a pair of picks. New York is struggling in a way all of America saw coming from 1,000 miles away: Can they surprise anyone after the opening drive? Tons of Barkley; Eli dragging the team down; a wanting, soft defense offering no help; and a playbook airmailed from 1948. This problem-laden offense looked even worse against a well-coached, smothering Buffalo defense that all but destroyed New York's two other squads over the first two weeks of the season. The Bills are a playoff team if the defense continues to operate this way while Allen continues to grow under center.
- Describing New York's afternoon in a nutshell: Down 21-7 before the half, New York caught a break when T.J. Jones returned a punt 60 yards to Buffalo's 33-yard line. Two plays later, Manning's pass was batted by sensational Bills rookie Ed Oliver and picked off by Trent Murphy. Jones subsequently lifted an injury-ravaged receiver group with a third-quarter score off a dig route that brought New York within 21-14 of the Bills. Too little, too late, though, with Buffalo ending the game with a 13-play, 75-yard touchdown drive capped by a Gore score. It's impossible to figure out how this Giants roster crawls its way to six wins. The real question is whether Pat Shurmur owns the requisite power to permanently bench his ancient starter in favor of rookie Daniel Jones. If not, the embattled Giants coach feels like a scapegoat-in-the-making for a team as lost as any league-wide.
-- Marc Sessler
- With precocious play-caller Kellen Moore keeping another defense guessing, the Cowboys (2-0) topped the 30-point mark for the second straight week. After a sluggish first quarter, Dallas receivers roamed through prairie land in Washington's injury-ravaged secondary, as Moore continues to scheme his arsenal of playmakers into open spaces. While a rejuvenated Randall Cobb and a transformed Michael Gallup are making Dak Prescott's job easier this season, it was former Jets second-round pick Devin Smith leading the way with 74 yards receiving, including a 51-yard touchdown bomb against veteran cornerback Josh Norman. Ezekiel Elliott salted the game away with a 27-yard jaunt on third-and-5, pushing him over the 100-yard mark on the day. One of the NFL's scariest offenses this September, the Cowboys have expanded on the predictable Elliott-centric approach, torturing opponents with a well-rounded pick-your-poison attack.
- Considering the strength of Dallas' roster and the beautiful mind of Moore, Prescott has a prime opportunity for a legitimate run at MVP honors in a contract year. After an early interception on an errant pass that ricocheted off Cobb's hands, Prescott completed 13 of his next 15 passes for 155 yards and three touchdowns while the Cowboys ran away from the less talented Redskins (0-2). Bolstering his passing numbers, Prescott added 69 yards on the ground, the second-highest rushing total of his career. Through two weeks under Moore, a pinpoint Prescott has completed an astonishing 51 of 62 attempts (82.3 percent) for 674 yards (10.9 YPA), seven touchdowns, one interception and a 142.9 pass rating versus a pair of suspect secondaries. The downtrodden Dolphins are next on the schedule for Dallas.
- Redskins rookie Terry McLaurin would have topped 200 yards in his NFL debut last week had Case Keenum not overthrown him on a potential 73-yard score in the second half. He faced a much stiffer test this time around, with Cowboys cornerback Byron Jones in his hip pocket all afternoon. McLaurin finally shook free for a 27-yard gain just past Jones' outstretched fingertips, igniting a 69-yard second-half performance that included a 1-yard touchdown late in the festivities. McLaurin turned so many heads in training camp, coach Jay Gruden relayed to FOX broadcasters Kevin Burkhardt and Charles Davis, that the Redskins were forced to pull him off special teams even though the former Ohio State star was drafted with that skill-set in mind. It didn't take long for Gruden to realize that his third-round pick was his No. 1 receiver.
-- Chris Wesseling
- All eyes were on Antonio Brown as he made his Patriots debut Sunday amid an NFL investigation into rape and sexual assault allegations made against the receiver in a civil lawsuit last week. NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport reported during NFL GameDayMorning that the Patriots' game plan was to involve A.B. in the offense early against the Dolphins (0-2), and that's exactly what happened. Brown was on the field for the second play of the game and immediately snagged an 18-yard catch. Brown had three catches for 36 yards on the Pats' opening TD drive, and then looked like his vintage self when he corralled a perfect back-shoulder throw from Tom Brady for a 20-yard TD in the second quarter. Brown and Brady did seem to struggle at times to be on the same page, but that will be solved with more practice time, assuming Brown remains eligible in the coming weeks.
While the NFL did not place Brown on the Commissioner's Exempt list ahead of Sunday's game, the league did not rule it out as an option entirely. Rapoport reports that Brown's accuser, Britney Taylor, is slated to meet with league investigators on Monday.
- This Patriots' defense is an absolute bear. New England (2-0) has given up just three points through eight quarters, and after demoralizing the Steelers in Week 1, the unit laid waste to the Dolphins. The Patriots racked up 11 QB hits and seven sacks, logged three interceptions (two of which were returned for touchdowns) and completely prevented the Dolphins from having anything that resembled an NFL-caliber offense. Tom Brady and Co. will garner most of the headlines, but the defense in Foxborough might be one of the best groups in the NFL.
- If you want to look on the bright side, Dolphins fans, the team held tough against the Patriots through 2 1/2 quarters. But when the floodgates opened, boy did they open. A 16-0 game quickly became 23-0 after a patented Brady sneak, and back-to-back pick-sixes from Ryan Fitzpatrick sealed another blowout loss. This is a talent-poor group that has been outscored 102-10 in back-to-back home contests. When they aren't struggling to get separation, receivers are dropping passes (at least four vs. New England). The defense failed to get consistent pressure on Brady despite the Patriots missing both of their starting tackles (Isaiah Wynn was lost to a foot injury and Marcus Cannon (shoulder) was inactive). Things won't get easier for the Dolphins in Week 3 as travel to Dallas to face the red-hot Cowboys.
-- David Ely
- Aaron Rodgers and the Packers offense blitzed out of the gate, showing how good Matt LaFleur's offense could be when in rhythm. The Packers (2-0) scored touchdowns on three straight possessions to open the game with a 21-0 lead. Rogers moved the offense swiftly with tempo and balance, starting the first quarter 9-of-10 passing for 134 yards, and 2 TDs, including 3-for-3 on third down. Davante Adams looked uncoverable. Aaron Jones ripped off runs like a bull seeing red. After the first three possessions, however, the Packers offense looked stuck in mud, much like it was in Week 1. After the first three drives, Green Bay's possessions went: fumble, three-and-out, punt, downs, punt, fumble, punt, punt, three-and-out, three-and-out, punt. Credit the Vikings defense for turning the tide and not giving Rodgers time to breathe the final three quarters. Rodgers (22-34, 209 yards, 2 TDs) couldn't find a rhythm and held the ball with receivers blanketed the rest of the tilt. The best Packers offensive player was running back Aaron Jones who toted a career-high 23 times for 116 yards and a TD. Jones blasted through the line several times for chunk gains, and his carries were the few good plays for the Pack in the second half. LaFleur sought balance with the run game and got it in Week 2 with Jones (who added four catches for 34 yards). Through two weeks, it's been baby steps for the Packers' offense. Getting two division wins while Rodgers and company sort out the kinks could prove massive come December.
- The Vikings defense helped Minnesota (1-1) scrap back into the game, but Kirk Cousins threw it away. Dalvin Cook did his best to carry the Vikings offense, including a 75-yard touchdown blastoff in which he blasted past safety Darnell Savage to cut the Packers' early lead. Cook looked phenomenal all game, pummeling a gassed Packers defense in the second half en route to 154 yards on 20 carries, and added three catches for 37 yards. Cousins, however, struggled badly. The quarterback completed just 43.8 percent of 32 passes for 230 yards and one TD, fumbled twice (losing one) and threw two brutal INTs. The second interception was a boneheaded decision by the Vikes' QB. Trailing by five with 5:17 left at the eight-yard line on first down, Cousins forced a ball into the corner of the end zone to Stefon Diggs, which was picked off. The pass exemplified a day in which Cousins looked lost repeatedly and missed throw after throw high, wide, or in the dust. Outside of one great throw to Diggs for a TD, it was a forgetful trip to Lambeau for Cousins. With even slightly better play from the QB, the Vikings could have completed a massive comeback. Missing a field goal, having a TD called back due to OPI, a blocked extra point, and a bevy of other bad penalties will leave Mike Zimmer fuming on the trip home.
- Credit the Packers' revamped defense with forcing Cousins into some terrible decisions. Savage once again looked like the real deal, breaking beautifully on a Cousins pass over the middle and breaking it up for a tipped INT by Preston Smith. Linebacker Blake Martinez (13 tackles) cleaned up all the garbage, while Za'Darius Smith once again proved a problem for opponents getting off blocks. While the front got gashed at times by Cook (especially in the second half when they were on the field forever), but the secondary once again showed its promise. Savage, Jaire Alexander (two passes defended, including a broken-up TD) and Kevin King (INT) all made key plays to preserve the W.
-- Kevin Patra
Editor's note: Saints quarterback Drew Brees is set to undergo surgery to repair a torn ligament in his right thumb and is likely out six weeks, NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport reports.
- The biggest news coming out of L.A. happened after the Saints' second drive when Drew Brees exited the tilt with a thumb injury on his throwing hand following a hit by Aaron Donald. The future Hall of Fame quarterback didn't return. Depending on how long the injury to Brees -- who couldn't grip a ball on the sideline -- lasts, it's an injury that could alter the complexion of the NFC playoff race.
With Brees on the sideline, the Rams defense smothered backup Teddy Bridgewater and the Saints offense. The Rams dominated the line of scrimmage with Donald, Dante Fowler, Michael Brockers, Clay Matthews, et al. controlling play. The Rams D bottled up Alvin Kamara as well as any team we've seen, holding the dynamic running back to 60 scrimmage yards on 14 touches. Repeatedly forcing Bridgewater to hold the ball with good coverage on the back end, L.A. held the Saints to one drive of more than 40 net yards in 10 possessions and zero touchdowns. Yes, Brees wasn't in for the majority of the game, but it was an impressive display from the Rams' defense nonetheless.
- What a difference Cooper Kupp makes for the Rams. On a mostly workman-like day for the L.A. offense, Kupp provided the most explosive play. The receiver, coming off a torn ACL, caught a slant, beating corner Marshon Lattimore off the line, stiff-armed the CB into next week, weaved through the Saints secondary, broke additional poor tackle attempt, and muscled his way to the one-inch yard line setting up a Jared Goff sneak. The play put the Rams up big and squashed any thoughts of a Saints late-game comeback. The effect of Kupp (5/120) returning to the lineup this season can't be understated. The slot receiver gives Goff his security blanket back and slides Robert Woods (2/33) and Brandin Cooks (3/74/1) into better positions to win on the outside.
- It wouldn't be a Saints-Rams matchup without refereeing controversy. In the second quarter, with the score tied 6-6 and the Rams at the 11-yard line, Goff was hit on a drop back, and the ball popped out as he went to throw. Saints defensive end Cameron Jordan scooped up the pigskin and raced downfield for what could have been a huge defensive touchdown. However, the play was whistled dead as Jordan was scampering down the sideline and ruled an incomplete pass. After review, it was determined the ball was out before the pass giving the Saints the ball. The whistle, however, wiped out what could have been a game-altering defensive score.
-- Kevin Patra
- One week after an overtime win at home, the Chargers (1-1) weren't so lucky in their first road game of the season. Sloppy play and miscues plagued the Chargers in all facets of the game against the Lions. Bolts punter Ty Long assumed kicking duties for the second consecutive week as Michael Badgley was sidelined again with a groin injury. Long missed back-to-back field goals, which proved to be costly in the end for the Chargers. Kicking woes are nothing new for the Chargers and Bolts faithful. For several seasons, the team has failed to establish consistency at the position or have been faced with subpar stand-ins due to injury.
- The Lions' defense was fueled by the stout performances of Darius Slay, Tracy Walker, Jahlani Tavai and Devon Kennard that kept the Chargers out of the end zone Sunday. In the third quarter, Tavai forced an Ekeler goal-line fumble (which was recovered by Kennard). Slay had five tackles on the day and picked off Rivers in the end zone to seal the victory for Detroit (1-0-1). Offensively, the Lions took to the air against a thin Chargers secondary. Matthew Stafford threw for 245 yards and two touchdown passes with a pair of INTs. Detroit rushed for just 94 yards, splitting the workload between Kerryon Johnson and Ty Johnson.
- Chargers receiver Mike Williams, who was a game-time decision, had three catches for 83 yards versus the Lions. This week, Williams sat out of practice due to a knee injury. The oft-injured Williams has proved to be a game changer for L.A., when healthy, but the third-year wideout hasn't gone a full season without some ailment. Philip Rivers went 21 for 36, totaling 287 yards and one interception. While Rivers spread the ball around between Keenan Allen, Mike Williams, Austin Ekeler and Justin Jackson, the offense failed to get a rhythm going. The Chargers' offense certainly missed tight end Hunter Henry today, who is out for a while with a knee fracture.
-- Andie Hagemann
- The Colts (1-1) really have a kicker situation with Adam Vinatieri. The veteran kicker had another unexpectedly horrible game. He missed two PATs against the Titans. Just last week, he left seven points on the field with a missed extra point and two missed field goals. If you're the Colts, do you start trying out other kickers? Do you cut the veteran, or does he just retire? The Colts are lucky the Titans couldn't convert on fourth-and-2 with 15 seconds left, or they might be 0-2 to start the season.
After the game, Vinatieri told Stephen Holder of the Athletic that, "You'll hear from me tomorrow." Holder told him that they won't see him tomorrow. Vinatieri said, "Yeah, you will." Does the veteran plan to announce his retirement? Stay tuned.
- The Titans (1-1) might've started off the game with fire due to some pyrotechnic problems but their offense didn't do enough to get a win. The Colts defense held the Titans to only one touchdown in the first half -- which was scored by offensive lineman David Quessenberry. This was his first career touchdown. The 2013 sixth-round pick was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin T-lymphoblastic lymphoma and returned to the field in 2017 after a three-year long battle. Head coach Mike Vrabel had 12 receiving TDs (including playoffs) as a linebacker (the most by a non-skill-position player in the Super Bowl era), per NFL Research.
Marcus Mariota just couldn't convert on third downs (1/10) or get rid of the ball. He was sacked four times again -- his second game in a row. He finished the game with 19 out of 28 attempts for 154 yards, and one touchdown.
- Jacoby Brissett struggled a bit in this game with two turnovers and three sacks but they were able to pull off the win with help from the defense. This week the defense redeemed themselves after a poor performance last Sunday. Brissett finished with 146 yards and three touchdowns. Coach Frank Reich showed confidence in his team and played very aggressive against the Titans which paid off in the end when they converted a crucial fourth down.
-- Lakisha Wesseling
- Meet Lamar Jackson, the runner. In his follow-up to a near-perfect performance through the air in Week 1, Jackson had himself a day running the football posting a career-high 120 yards. Whether it be a designed running play or a scramble out of the pocket when under pressure, Jackson crossed the first-down marker often and his threat made it easier when dropping back to pass. Jackson ended the day completing 24 passes on 37 attempts for 272 yards and two touchdowns, but with the pesky Cardinals nipping at Baltimore's heels all game, it was Jackson's playmaking ability on the ground that was the difference. The Ravens (2-0) weren't relying on Jackson to create something out of nothing, however, as they relied on his arm to help seal the win. Up six late in the fourth and looking at a third-and-long, Jackson heaved a perfect deep pass to Marquise "Hollywood" Brown for 41 yards and that allowed the Ravens running backs bleed out the clock for the victory.
- While "Hollywood" Brown is quickly becoming his best receiving threat, Jackson is also showing his love for the tight end. Mark Andrews matched Brown's eight receptions against the Cardinals and hauled in the Ravens' first touchdown of the day. Fellow tight end Hayden Hurst caught the other one. Andrews now has 16 receptions through the first two games and is quickly becoming one of the top pass-catchers at the position. Perhaps the tight end is a dynamic that has been overlooked when it comes to the Ravens offense, especially considering they want to deem themselves a threat on the ground and through the air on seemingly every play.
- Although the Cardinals (0-1-1) kept settling for field goals, Murray played well considering he was constantly hounded by the Ravens defense, but that was due in large part to the Arizona wideouts. Often times lining up with a minimum of four wide receivers, the group was sure-handed and bailed out some of Murray's errant throws. The ball was distributed equally in Kliff Kingsbury's Air Raid offense, with Larry Fitzgerald (5 receptions, 104 yards) and Christian Kirk (6 receptions, 114 yards) leading the group. Damiere Byrd also had himself a productive day catching six balls for 45 yards, and rookie KeeSean Johnson created a big play to extend a drive late in the game. Murray ended up with 349 yards passing with no interceptions but failed to get the offense into the end zone through the air. Growing pains were something expected for the rookie QB and head coach, but the talented receiving corps was a highlight to an otherwise inconsistent offense.
-- Michael Baca
- San Francisco has a true running back-by-committee and it was the catalyst to a well-oiled machine offensively. With Tevin Coleman going to injured reserve after Week 1, Matt Breida, Jeff Wilson Jr. and Raheem Mostert combined for a halfback attack that gained 259 yards on the ground and 84 yards through the air. Breida led the RBBC in rushing with 121 yards on 12 attempts, while Mostert led the way receiving with 68 yards off three receptions. The trio was the heartbeat of a San Francisco offense that moved the ball rather easily against the Bengals, scoring five touchdowns, accruing 27 first downs, gaining 572 total yards and forcing Cincinnati to play from behind from the outset. Of course, leading the way was an offensive line that had no problem creating a push despite a few holding penalties (and Joe Staley's exit from the game with an injury). Just as effective was the play-calling from head coach Kyle Shanahan, who had Bengals defenders blaming each other every other play. All of which made it an uncomplicated outing for QB Jimmy Garoppolo, who, aside from an early interception, ended the day throwing for 297 yards and three touchdowns in just 25 attempts, and wasn't sacked at all.
- The 49ers defense is beginning to look like a force to be reckoned with. Following up their three-interception, two-touchdown stranglehold of the Buccaneers in Tampa Bay, San Francisco's defense brought Andy Dalton back down to earth. Literally. The 49ers had four sacks of Dalton and hit him six other times. Meanwhile, the secondary of the 49ers provided great coverage as the defense caused havoc, breaking up eight Dalton passes for incompletions. Cincinnati had an even tougher time running the ball against the Niners, gaining only 25 yards on the ground on 19 attempts. As for the scores given up, one touchdown was a late-game catch-and-run that found the wide-open holes of a prevent defense. With new additions like Dee Ford, Nick Bosa and Kwon Alexander, veteran 49ers like DeForest Buckner and Solomon Thomas (who both notched a sack) are thriving. It's a sight for sore eyes in San Francisco, which has had an abysmal defense the last two years, but now starting the 2019 season, 2-0 -- the first time since 2012, when they reached the Super Bowl -- the 49ers are revamped on both sides of the ball.
- If there was any good sign for the Bengals (0-2) in this one, it was the continuation of John Ross' hot start and Tyler Boyd's playmaking ability. Although Ross was the beneficiary of the 49ers' prevent defense in the fourth quarter -- a 66-yard catch and run that was made with his speed -- he ended the day with four catches for 112 yards and is certain to maintain the confidence of a second-round pick who had disappointed before 2019. As for Boyd, his day of 10 catches for 122 yards could've been better has a holding penalty not brought back a would-be TD reception. Boyd was sure-handed in catching all 10 of his targets, and was the only real bright spot of an offense that was frustrated all day.
-- Michael Baca
- The Seahawks (2-0) could not get their offense going to start the game. Russell Wilson was sacked four times in the first half with three of them in the first quarter alone. Credit offensive coordinator Brian Scottenheimer and Wilson for adjusting at the half. They switched to quick throws and Wilson ate up the Steelers' zone defense. Wilson went for 29 out of 35 for 300 yards and three touchdowns.
- Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger exited the game right before halftime with a right elbow injury and did not return. So, in came second-year QB Mason Rudolph in his first NFL game. The Steelers (0-2) actually moved the ball better with him behind center. Rudolph threw on time and dove for first downs. He finished with 12 out of 19 attempts, 112 yards, two touchdowns and one pick.
-- Lakisha Wesseling
- It's becoming redundant at this point, but Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes continues to prove he's the most exciting player in the NFL. Down 10 points after the first quarter, the Chiefs seemed to be in for a competitive game against their AFC West rival, but Mahomes quickly put an end to that. Mahomes had four touchdowns and 278 yards passing in the second quarter alone to give Kansas City the ultimate swing in momentum and a 28-10 lead going into halftime. Evidently, that's all that was needed to deflate the Raiders. Mahomes ended the day completing 30 of 44 for 443 passing yards, and although there weren't any more scores, the third-year QB led long-enough drives to maintain the lead on a day when the Chiefs ran for 31 yards.
- No Tyreek Hill, no problem. The Chiefs' offense didn't skip a beat with their top playmaker out with an injury, and fourth-year receiver Demarcus Robinson filled the role perfectly. Robinson amassed 172 yards on six catches and scored two touchdowns, leading all Chiefs receivers and making some eye-popping plays downfield averaging 28.7 yards per catch. Travis Kelce had his rudimentary stat line with seven grabs for 107 yards and a touchdown, Sammy Watkins was relatively quiet with six receptions for 49 yards, and rookie Mecole Hardman found the end zone on a 42-yarder in one of his two receptions. It sure seems like whoever is catching passes in Andy Reid's system will produce with Mahomes flinging the ball.
- Derek Carr etched his name into Raiders history in the defeat. Carr became the Raiders' all-time leader in passing yards, passing Hall of Famer Ken Stabler, who held the top spot with 19,078 yards through the air. On the day, however, Carr didn't do much worth celebrating, ending the day completing 23 of 38 passes for 198 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions. Carr accomplished this early in his sixth season with the Raiders, and did so in what is sure to be the most Raiders-ey historical footnote: the last NFL game ever played on the dirt of a baseball diamond.
-- Michael Baca