NFC East: 2012 Week 2 Rapid Reaction
September, 16, 2012
By Calvin Watkins | ESPN.com
SEATTLE -- The Dallas Cowboys want to be taken seriously in the NFL. They don't want to be known as a team with all the hype but no substance.
The Cowboys didn't respond well Sunday against the Seattle Seahawks. After a 27-7 defeat at Century Link Field, one thing is clear: The Cowboys are not ready for the big stage.
There were five drops, two turnovers and two costly penalties that hurt the Cowboys. It wasn't a terrible performance, but the Cowboys came up small after such a statement victory 11 days ago over the defending Super Bowl champion New York Giants.
What it means: The Cowboys failed to take any momentum with them following the season-opening victory against the Giants. It was an opportunity for the Cowboys to maintain a one-game lead over the Giants and remain tied with the Philadelphia Eagles in the NFC East. Now just two weeks into the season, the Cowboys raised questions about their ability to become an elite team.
Russell Wilson on a consistent basis and didn't stop the run overall. Marshawn Lynch rushed 26 times for 122 yards and one touchdown. Wilson completed 15 of 20 passes for 151 yards and a touchdown. Golden Tate laid a hit on Sean Lee, knocking him briefly from the game, and DeMarcus Ware was also hit hard on a run play. There was no response from the defense, but it's not totally to blame for this one. It did allow just six first-half points, but it's a 60-minute game. Despite losing several players to injuries, the D didn't play well in the second half.
Offense struggles: It's not Tony Romo's fault that tight end Jason Witten dropped three passes or Dez Bryant dropped two, but overall, the run game didn't get going. DeMarco Murray rushed for just 44 yards. The protection was there at times for Romo, but he just couldn't get to his prime receiving threats in Miles Austin, Bryant and Witten. Romo did overthrow a wide-open Bryant and had miscommunications with other receivers. He had a loud discussion with receiver Kevin Ogletree after one series in which receivers coach Jimmy Robinson stepped in.
Time to move on from Felix: We're not saying cut the backup running back, but Felix Jones' fumble on the opening kickoff and his questionable decisions on kick returns, leaving 5 and 8 yards deep, didn't look good. The Cowboys have to find a playmaker on this unit. Jones returned five kicks for a 21.8 average and didn't make an impact.
Injuries: Gerald Sensabaugh (calf), Alex Albright (stinger), Kenyon Coleman (unknown), Barry Church (quad), Lee (checked for concussion) and Marcus Spears (leg) suffered injuries. Lee and Spears returned.
What's next?: The Cowboys will have their home opener next Sunday at Cowboys Stadium against Tampa Bay. The health of several key players will have to be evaluated.
September, 16, 2012
By Ohm Youngmisuk | ESPN.com
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. –- It started off ugly, but the New York Giants got their first win of the season in dramatic fashion, 41-34 over Tampa Bay, with another Eli Manning fourth-quarter comeback.
What it means: Down 27-13 early in the third quarter, the Giants came storming back. Manning threw two touchdown passes with less than seven minutes left to give the Giants a 34-27 lead. Josh Freeman came back and tied the game with 1:58 remaining, but Manning marched the Giants down the field for the win. Manning passed for a career-high 510 yards.
Cruz tribute: Victor Cruz had a monster game as he bounced back from his three drops against Dallas. He had 11 catches for 179 yards and a touchdown. Nine of his catches came in the first half alone. He tied the score with an 80-yard catch-and-run touchdown in the fourth quarter, then did his first touchdown salsa of the season -- an emotional one in honor of his grandmother, Lucy Molina, who died Monday.
Hakeem Nicks also looked a lot like his old self, dominating Tampa Bay and Aqib Talib at times. Nicks limped a few times after being tackled awkwardly on his surgically repaired foot, but he finished with 10 catches for 199 yards and a touchdown.
Miserable half: Manning had to overcome a tough first half against Tampa, throwing three picks, including one that was returned by Eric Wright for a 60-yard touchdown with eight seconds remaining in the second quarter.
Manning's interceptions all led to Tampa Bay touchdowns in the first half. His first interception went to linebacker Mason Foster, giving the Bucs the ball at the Giants' 28.
The second came when Brandon McDonald intercepted Manning as Cruz appeared to be held. McDonald returned the interception 40 yards to the Giants' 26, but a horse-collar penalty on the tackle by Andre Brown gave Tampa the ball at the Giants' 13.
Wright's interception came as Manning was looking to hit Cruz on a quick slant. He did not see Wright in front of him, who snatched the pass and then avoided three Giants before running down the right sideline for the touchdown to give Tampa a 24-13 lead.
Injuries galore: Already without CB Prince Amukamara (ankle) and LB Keith Rivers (hamstring), several key Giants went down with injuries in the first half.
RB Ahmad Bradshaw was knocked out of the game with a neck issue. RT David Diehl left the game in the first half with a knee injury. And WR Domenik Hixon suffered a concussion in the first half and was done for the game.
Diehl's injury forced the Giants to do some shuffling. They moved Sean Locklear from left tackle to right tackle and put Will Beatty back at his left tackle spot.
Beatty had a rough first half. He dropped a high-but-catchable touchdown pass as the extra tight end on one play. Diehl got hurt on the next play. Beatty had one of his two first-half false starts on a third-and-1 at the Tampa Bay 1 and the Giants had to eventually settle for a field goal.
Hot corner: Corey Webster struggled a bit in the first half for the second straight game as Vincent Jackson beat him a couple of times.
Michael Coe gave up a 29-yard touchdown pass to Jackson in the first half. Webster did redeem himself with an interception near the end of the third to help set up a Giants field goal that trimmed the deficit to 27-19.
Justin Tryon surrendered a 41-yard touchdown to Mike Williams that evened the game at 34-34 with 1:58 remaining.
Jayron Hosley started in place of Amukamara and moved to cover slot receivers on three-wide sets with Coe on the outside.
What can Brown do for you: Brown gave the running game a much-needed spark as he ran hard and had 60 yards, including a 23-yard run. He scored the game-winning touchdown with 31 seconds remaining. Earlier, he converted a two-point conversion to tie the game at 27-27 with 6:48 remaining.
David Wilson was used as the secondary back with Brown becoming the feature back with Bradshaw out.
We'll have to see how the Giants use their backs in the next game if Bradshaw is unable to play.
What's next: There’s not much time to recover as the Giants immediately prepare for their Thursday night game at Carolina against Cam Newton.
September, 16, 2012
By Dan Graziano | ESPN.com
PHILADELPHIA -- A few thoughts following the Philadelphia Eagles' 24-23 comeback victory over the Baltimore Ravens at Lincoln Financial Field:
What it means: The Eagles are 2-0 with a pair of one-point victories in games that have seen them turn the ball over nine total times. Sloppy, yes, but 2-0 is 2-0, and for all of the mistakes he's made, quarterback Michael Vick has also led two game-winning drives. If the Eagles can get their turnover problem solved, they will be very tough, and very glad they swiped these first two.
My goodness, with the turnovers: The Eagles turned the ball over five times in their opener last week in Cleveland and yet somehow managed to come back and win that game. This week, they turned it over three times in the first half alone and four times in the game. Some seemed avoidable, like Vick's first interception. And some seemed less so, like his second. But the problem is significant, and it undercuts everything they do. They have playmakers on offense, and everyone from LeSean McCoy to DeSean Jackson to a banged-up Jeremy Maclin to tight end Brent Celek showed off while the Eagles piled up the yards. But you can string together as many nice-looking offensive plays as you want -- if you keep handing it to the other team, and the other team is as fundamentally sound as the Ravens are, you're not going to win very often.
Give it up for the D: Turnovers also put a ton of pressure on your defense. And while they were victimized by a few big plays here and there, overall the Eagles' defense looked dominant in this game. They had consistent pressure in Joe Flacco's face. When Ray Rice got through the line, they swarmed to stop him. Linebackers DeMeco Ryans and Mychal Kendricks made all kinds of plays. Cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie covered well. Rookie defensive tackle Fletcher Cox was disruptive. The Eagles' defense is good and deep and built to last the full 60 minutes, and it's the main reason they were still in the game with a chance to win it late in spite of the errors on offense.
One exception: Cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha struggled badly with Ravens receiver Jacoby Jones, who burned him for a touchdown early and appeared to have caught another one late before an offensive pass interference call wiped it out. He was also flagged for illegal contact on the Ravens' final drive. Asomugha may be playing well most of the time, but the spotlight is on him as the team's biggest 2011 free agent, and he's going to be judged on these big plays he gives up, unless he stops giving them up.
Medical ward: Left tackle King Dunlap, center Jason Kelce and Maclin were among the significant Eagles to leave the game with injuries. Waiting to hear, obviously, on long-range consequences. But Maclin was playing with a bad hip, and that's what he injured. He came back in the game, but it might make sense for the Eagles to try to manage that injury by limiting Maclin's playing time in the next couple of weeks or sitting him out for a game.
A note on the officiating: The NFL should be ashamed of itself. The officials' lockout is the height of arrogance, and the NFL believes it can pull it off. But the crew it sent here was a mess all day. Couldn't work the microphone. Didn't know the appropriate distance on penalties. Clearly nervous, and moreso as the close game went on. It's not these guys' fault they're in this impossible situation. It's the NFL's, for locking out the real officials. The league is cheating its fans and demeaning its product, and more people should be angry at the owners for what they're doing.
What's next: The Eagles travel to Arizona, where they will take on the Cardinals next Sunday afternoon at 4:05 p.m. ET. Former Eagle Kevin Kolb played quarterback for Arizona in place of the injured John Skelton in Sunday's upset victory over New England. It's possible Skelton could return, but right now it looks as though the Eagles should get ready for Kolb, whom they traded to Arizona last summer for Rodgers-Cromartie and a second-round draft pick.