AFC West: 2013 Week 2 Rapid Reaction
September, 15, 2013
By Jeff Legwold | ESPN.com
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- A few thoughts on the Denver Broncos' 41-23 win over the New York Giants:
What it means: It means the Broncos can take their fast-paced act on the road and get it done. Some wondered how it would look when they had to function in their no-huddle attack with a loud crowd. The answer? The Broncos operated as quickly as they wanted.
No, that didn’t mean they ran the ball how they wanted to most of the time, or always played with discipline or even avoided an ill-timed turnover early in the game, but they did still run 40 plays in the first half and 56 over the first three quarters. Quarterback Peyton Manning got the offense in and out of plays as briskly as the Broncos had hoped to, and the team worked comfortably at, or near, its top speed.
Stock watch: The Broncos continue to want the three-wide look to be their base offensive formation, and that means, at least until one of the other backs makes better decisions in pass protection, Knowshon Moreno will be the back of choice. And his two touchdown runs -- for 20 and 25 yards -- when the Broncos went to a zone-run look to push the ball outside the numbers -- certainly won’t change that thinking.
Go big, the sequel: Consider it a theme, but for the second consecutive game the Broncos went a little bigger on offense when things got a little choppy. They opened the second half in a two-tight end set and went on a nine-play, 53-yard touchdown drive. They ran six plays of two tight ends before returning to the three-wide look to close out the drive. It seemed, just as it did against the Ravens, to settle them down on offense. The Broncos scored on their first three possessions of the second half before Trindon Holliday added another touchdown with a punt return.
Harris, the sequel: Another game, another well-timed interception for cornerback Chris Harris. Harris got the start Sunday because Champ Bailey missed his second consecutive game with a left foot injury. And Harris’ third-quarter snare of a deflected pass helped the Broncos push an eight-point lead to 15 early in the fourth quarter.
What’s next: The Broncos get another extended practice week after a win. They had 10 days to prepare for the Giants after opening the season on Sept. 5. Now, they get an extra day to prepare for a Monday night game against the Raiders.
September, 15, 2013
By Paul Gutierrez | ESPN.com
OAKLAND -- A few thoughts on the Oakland Raiders' 19-9 win against the Jacksonville Jaguars:
What it means: In front of a sold-out home opener, the Raiders at times played down to the level of their competition against the woeful Jaguars. But it was more than enough, as the Raiders rolled, even if the final score doesn't show it. Quarterback Terrelle Pryor was not as electric as he was in Week 1, but he did not need to be, what with Darren McFadden taking over and the defense alternating between bending and dominating. It wasn’t pretty, but it was effective.
Stock watch: Rising: McFadden -- The purported centerpiece of the Raiders offense showed up a week after disappearing in Indianapolis. McFadden rushed for a game-high 129 yards on 19 carries and looked more comfortable as the game wore on. A week after averaging 2.8 yards per carry, McFadden had long runs of 30 and 26 yards and averaged 6.8 per carry against the Jaguars. Oakland's record improved to 11-2 when he rushes for at least 100 yards.
Automatic SeaBass II?: Sebastian Janikowski made field goals from 46, 30, 29 and 29 yards, which are all in a day’s work for him. But his first attempt of the day, a miss from 35 yards out, raised eyebrows, simply because it was his first miss from under 40 yards at home since 2007. Maybe Josh Scobee did get in his head?
C-Wood to the rescue: Charles Woodson was shaken up and had to leave the field for a play in the second quarter, but three plays later, he pulled off the defensive play of the game. With Maurice Jones-Drew getting to the left sideline and angling for a touchdown, Woodson leapt over the pile to bring Jones-Drew down at the 3-yard line. Not only did Jacksonville have to settle for a field goal, but MJD was lost for the game on the play with an ankle injury. Woodson’s play in the secondary was all the more important with safety Tyvon Branch leaving the game in the first quarter with a right leg injury.
What's next: The Raiders (1-1) get the national stage of ESPN’s "Monday Night Football" when they travel to Denver to face the Broncos (2-0). Denver has won three straight games in the series.
September, 15, 2013
By Adam Teicher | ESPN.com
KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- A few thoughts on the Kansas City Chiefs' 17-16 victory over the Dallas Cowboys:
What it means: This was the kind of game the Chiefs might look back on at the end of the year as the point where their season turned. If nothing else, they have the experience of winning a game when not everything is working well. They were outplayed for much of the game but still found a way to survive. They were struggling to handle Dallas’ pass rush, struggling to run the ball and struggling to cover Dez Bryant and the rest of Tony Romo’s receivers. But they rallied from a 13-7 deficit in the third quarter.
Stock watch: Cornerback Brandon Flowers was assigned to Bryant for much of the game, and he had a tough time. Early in the game, the 5-foot-9 Flowers had trouble covering the 6-2 Bryant down the field and allowed a couple of long gains. Later, he backed off and Bryant successfully made his way underneath. Bryant also dropped a pass that would have gone for a big gain. Rookie tackle Eric Fisher was among the offensive linemen who struggled with Dallas’ pressure and also to create some room in the running game. Quarterback Alex Smith was among those who played well. He was under constant pressure but was able to improvise, often by scrambling from trouble for big yardage.
Red zone success: The Chiefs scored a touchdown on each of their trips inside the Dallas 20. The Chiefs ran five plays from inside the Cowboys’ 20 and gained 30 yards. The Chiefs were 3-for-3 inside the red zone in their opener against the Jaguars.
What’s next: The Chiefs head to Philadelphia for the Andy Reid Bowl, pitting their head coach against his successor, Chip Kelly, and the team he coached for the past 14 seasons. The game is on Thursday night, giving the Chiefs a very short week to prepare for the Eagles’ fast-paced offense.
September, 15, 2013
By Ashley Fox | ESPN.com
PHILADELPHIA -- A few thoughts on the San Diego Chargers' 33-30 victory over the Philadelphia Eagles:
What it means: San Diego avoided the ignominy of losing a second consecutive game after having a double-digit lead in the second half. That would have been rough. The probability of making the playoffs drops significantly if a team starts the season 0-2 as opposed to 1-1.
San Diego won with offense despite two turnovers in the red zone. It controlled the clock, converted on third down (10-for-15) and kept the Eagles' fast-paced offense off the field. The Eagles tied the game at 30-30 with 1:51 remaining, but the Chargers marched down the field with ease to set up the game-winning field goal.
No Floyd: On the first play from scrimmage in the second half, Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers targeted wide receiver Malcom Floyd for the sixth time in the game. Floyd caught all five passes thrown his way in the first half, gaining 102 yards and averaging 20.4 yards per catch. On his sixth target, Floyd had the ball in his hands but had Eagles safety Nate Allen on his back. As Allen tried to make the tackle, linebacker DeMeco Ryans’ shoulder made contact with Floyd’s head and neck. Floyd was on the ground motionless for several minutes. Floyd was taken off the field on a stretcher. He suffered a neck injury and did not return.
Best defense is a good offense: The Eagles ran 53 plays in the first half against Washington in Week 1. They didn’t get that opportunity against San Diego. The Chargers' offense was methodical and efficient and controlled the clock. Philadelphia ran 30 plays in the first half. San Diego ran 34. Through the first three quarters, San Diego had the ball for more than double the amount of time the Eagles did. The drive that broke a 20-20 tie took 17 plays and more than eight minutes.
Rivers has a big game: Rivers was exceptional early. He completed his first 10 passes of the game and 16-of-18 in the first half (for 216 yards and a touchdown). Rivers’ first-half passer rating was 135.2. Rivers had a ton of time in the pocket and consistently took advantage of a weak secondary.
What’s next: The Chargers will make another cross-country trip for a 1 p.m. ET kickoff next weekend when they play at the Tennessee Titans.
September, 8, 2013
By Paul Gutierrez | ESPN.com
INDIANAPOLIS -- My thoughts on the Oakland Raiders' 21-17 loss to the Indianapolis Colts.
What it means: With so many questions about his skill set translating to the NFL, Terrelle Pryor, in his second career start, put on a show. Besides becoming the 25th player since the NFL merger in 1970 to both rush and pass for at least 100 yards in a game, Pryor set a franchise record for rushing yards by a quarterback, running for a game-high 112 yards to eclipse the 85 yards Rich Gannon scampered for against the San Francisco 49ers on Oct. 8, 2000. Pryor also threw for 217 yards and a touchdown on 19 of 29 passing. He was intercepted in the end zone, though, on the game’s opening drive and had troubles getting the snap off at times. Pryor had the Raiders on the Colts' 8-yard line in the final minute but took a sack and was picked off at the 5-yard line to end the threat.
Stock watch: Defense rising. As big a story as Pryor was, the Raiders’ defense flashed just as much, if not more. Sure, the unit gave up touchdown-scoring drives of 89 and 69 yards the first two times the Colts had the ball, and then allowed a 19-yard TD run by Andrew Luck that gave Indianapolis the 21-17 lead with 5:20 to play. But in between, the Raiders shut the Colts offense down, sacking Luck four times, one each by Tyvon Branch, Lamarr Houston, Tracy Porter and Jason Hunter, and authoring numerous three-and-outs.
Automatic SeaBass?: Sebastian Janikowski missed only three field goals last season, all from beyond 50 yards. So when he missed his first attempt of the day, a 48-yarder at the end of the first half, eyebrows were raised. The first-round draft pick of the 2000 draft made a 38-yarder but the miss will haunt the Raiders.
What's next: The Raiders (0-1) play host to the Jacksonville Jaguars (0-1) next Sunday in Oakland’s home opener at the O.co Coliseum. The Raiders beat the Jaguars in overtime last season, 26-23, in Oakland.