NFL Nation: 2010 Week 2 Wrap-ups

Rapid Reaction: Saints 25, 49ers 22

September, 20, 2010
9/20/10
11:58
PM ET
A quick review of New Orleans' victory against San Francisco.

What it means: In a lot of ways, this was just like the opener against Minnesota. It wasn’t really pretty, it was played in prime time and it was difficult. But it was a win and that’s really all that matters. People expect perfection from the Saints because they were so dominant last year. But the reality is, this isn’t college football. Style points don’t matter. As long as you win, you’re doing your job. The Saints have won two very difficult games. The time that they need to be perfect, will come, and it might come very soon. But, for now, the Saints still haven’t lost a game in a very long time.

Hero I: Garrett Hartley. He made the game-winning field goal as time ran out.

Heroes II and III: Drew Brees and Marques Colston. They hooked up on a very nice pass play to set up Hartley's field goal.

Hero IV: Courtney Roby. He’s best known as a return man and a receiver. But he made perhaps the biggest play of the game with 5:27 left as a special-teams coverage guy. After the 49ers weren’t able to catch a punt, Roby pounced on the ball to give the Saints great field position.

What I didn’t like: Seeing Reggie Bush go down with 6:58 left in the game. He was helped off and wasn’t putting any weight on his right leg. This is a guy with a history of leg injuries and this one didn’t look real promising. We’ll wait for a more complete diagnosis before getting into much detail about what Bush’s injury means. But the Saints aren’t the same team without him. Before the injury, he scored the game’s first touchdown with a reception and he had a huge punt return at the end of the third quarter.

What’s next: The Saints better hope they get a good tail wind on their flight home. They now face a short week. They also might be about to face the most difficult opponent they’ve seen. That’s Atlanta in the Superdome on Sunday. The Falcons are coming off an impressive victory against Arizona, they’ve got an extra day of rest and they played the Saints tough twice last season.

Wrap-up: Raiders 16, Rams 14

September, 19, 2010
9/19/10
10:32
PM ET
What it means: There’s a quarterback controversy in Oakland. Actually, there may not be a controversy. It may be cut-and-dry: Bruce Gradkowski is in and Jason Campbell is out. At least, that’s how it should be after Gradkowski led Oakland to 13 points in the second half after he took over for Campbell. The Raiders probably would have lost if Gradkowski didn’t come in and save the day.

Tomorrow’s talker: Oakland’s young offensive weapons flourished. Running back Darren McFadden had a great game, his second strong game in a row. He had 145 yards on 30 carries and he now has 240 yards rushing in two games. Second-year receivers Louis Murphy and Darrius Heyward-Bey both had excellent games. They combined for 12 catches for 171 yards. It was, by far, Heyward-Bey‘s best game as a pro.

Hero: It has to be Gradkowski. His numbers weren’t great, but that doesn’t matter with this guy. He ignites this offense. His teammates clearly believe in him.

What’s next: The Raiders play a very winnable game at Arizona on Sunday. The Cardinals got thrashed in Atlanta. There’s no reason not to think Oakland can’t start the season 2-1.

Wrap-up: Broncos 31, Seahawks 14

September, 19, 2010
9/19/10
10:10
PM ET
What it means: The Denver Broncos are in a three-way tie with San Diego and Oakland at 1-1 for second place in the AFC West. After playing decently but losing at Jacksonville in the season opener last week, Denver dominated Seattle 31-14. The Broncos played well in all phases of the game. If Denver makes a run this year, this game will be remembered as the beginning. It was a very encouraging day for Denver.

Tomorrow’s talker: First-round pick Demaryius Thomas had a special NFL debut. After missing last week while recovering from a lingering foot injury, Thomas broke out against Seattle. Thomas had eight catches for 97 yards and a touchdown. When healthy, Thomas looked spectacular in camp.

Hero: Kyle Orton has been terrific. He is growing in Josh McDaniels’ system and he looks like a star. Orton completed 25 of 35 passes for 307 yards. He threw two touchdowns and he was not intercepted. Orton will keep Denver is games this season.

What’s next: Denver hosts Indianapolis and renowned Bronco killer Peyton Manning in Week 3.

Wrap-up: Texans 30, Redskins 27 (OT)

September, 19, 2010
9/19/10
8:48
PM ET
What it means: It's a really tough loss for a team that appeared to be in control at halftime. The Redskins know the Texans' offensive personnel as well as anyone but they couldn't do anything to slow down Matt Schaub in the passing game. A 2-0 start would have put the Redskins in a great position -- especially with the Cowboys at 0-2. Washington has to quickly put this one behind them, but it's a loss that could haunt the Skins late in the season. Quarterback Donovan McNabb had a huge day with 426 yards passing and a touchdown. The Redskins' offense really missed rookie left tackle Trent Williams when he was injured late in the game.

Tomorrow's talker: Everyone will be talking about the timeout Gary Kubiak took just as Redskins kicker Graham Gano attempted a 52-yard field goal. He nailed the field goal, but Kubiak had already been awarded the timeout. When Gano lined up again, he missed the field goal to the right. Icing a kicker at the last second can obviously backfire if he misses the kick, but it paid off for Kubiak. The fact that he did it to his mentor and close friend, Mike Shanahan, only added to the intrigue.

Goat: Safety Chris Horton jumping offsides in overtime was an absolute killer. The Texans were able to extend the game-winning drive. A lot of Redskins deserve blame for all those passing yards, but Horton made the mistake that folks will remember.

What I didn't like: At a crucial point late in the fourth quarter, why would the Redskins have Phillip Buchanon attempting to cover Andre Johnson? He had already burned them for double-digit catches. You have to put your best cornerback on him. Buchanon had help over the top with Reed Doughty but he was not able to break up the touchdown. That's how the Texans forced overtime.

What's next: The Redskins will travel to St. Louis, where they can't afford to have a letdown. If they can get to 2-1, that Eagles game in Philly is going to be huge -- for so many reasons.

Wrap-up: Texans 30, Redskins 27 (OT)

September, 19, 2010
9/19/10
8:37
PM ET
What it Means: The Texans are 2-0 for just the second time and sit alone atop the AFC South standings after an impressive comeback that saw them score the final 20 points in an overtime win at Washington. It turned out a fantastic follow-up to last week’s rout of Indianapolis.

Tomorrow's Talker: Last week it was the run, this week it was very much the pass. Matt Schaub hit on 38 of 52 passes for a franchise record 497 yards with three touchdowns and one pick. He aimed a lot at his two starting wide receivers, and Andre Johnson's career-high 12 catches produced 158 yards and a TD while Kevin Walter's 11 catches were good for 144 yards and a score. Texans faithful have to feel good that their team can win leaning heavily on the run or the pass.

Hindsight: I thought Gary Kubiak should have had Neil Rackers try a 51-yarder in overtime when he elected to take a delay and punt. But things went just fine from there. A timeout washed away Graham Gano's 52-yard field goal and he missed the follow up. Houston then drove 41 yards to a much easier 35-yard game-winner for Rackers.

What’s next: The Texans host Dallas in another gigantic game for the team’s psyche, not to mention its status in Texas.

Wrap-up: Eagles 35, Lions 32

September, 19, 2010
9/19/10
8:14
PM ET
What it means: The Philadelphia Eagles overcame a 17-7 deficit to beat the Lions 35-32 on the road. We still don't know what to make of this team, but it was good to see them overcome some adversity to get to 1-1. This offensive line is an absolute mess, so it's not like Kevin Kolb will return to a calm situation. And his backup's solid performance isn't going to make it any easier.

Tomorrow's talker: Kolb remains the starter, but everyone will be talking about Michael Vick's performance. He won this game for the Eagles. Even though the Lions sacked him several times, he extended a lot of plays with his legs and delivered excellent passes. Vick never lost his poise and tried to press things when the Eagles fell behind. He played like the veteran quarterback he is and that's why he'll be a starter somewhere in the NFL next season. Should he remain the starter for the Eagles? I don't think so.

Goat: Once left tackle Jason Peters suffered an ankle injury, the Eagles were in a world of hurt up front. Kolb can move around but he obviously won't be able to race around as much as Vick. I think everyone on defense deserves some blame for Lions rookie Jahvid Best having such a huge day. I noticed Brodrick Bunkley getting stopped at the line of scrimmage a time or two and it looked like Omar Gaither had a tough time shedding blockers on some of those Best runs and catches.

What I didn't like: The Eagles fell asleep at the wheel with a big lead. Good teams don't let that happen. The Lions have enough talent at the skill positions to make some big plays and the Eagles should have shut the door.

What's next: If you can beat the Jaguars on the road to get to 2-1, then you have the huge Donovan McNabb homecoming the following weekend. All eyes will be on Kevin Kolb this week as he prepares to relaunch his season. Hopefully he has put that first half out of his mind.

Wrap-up: Packers 34, Bills 7

September, 19, 2010
9/19/10
8:01
PM ET
What it means: The Packers are 2-0 and have given themselves a better-than-even shot of making the playoffs, based on the history of undefeated Week 2 teams over the past 20 years. (Teams have started 2-0 made the playoffs 64.1 percent of the time over that stretch.)


Hero: Linebacker Clay Matthews maintained his 48-sack pace by recording another three of them Sunday against the Bills. Seriously, Matthews is the first Packer to have three sacks in two consecutive games, and he now leads the NFL with six. At this point, I'm guessing no NFL team will open a game against the Packers without plans to routinely double-team him.

Unsung hero: I was pretty impressed by rookie safety Morgan Burnett's fourth-quarter "interception." I put the word in quotation marks, because what Burnett really did is pull the ball from Roscoe Parrish's arms on a short pass to the right flat. That tells you something you want to know about any safety: That he's got the proverbial "nose for the ball."

Injury of note: The Packers removed left tackle Chad Clifton midway through the second quarter and replaced him with rookie Bryan Bulaga. Coach Mike McCarthy said Clifton didn't look healthy, and Clifton was limited in practice last week because of a knee injury. But as Greg A. Bedard of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel points out, you wonder if the decision will mark the start of a permanent transition to Bulaga, who was the team's first-round draft pick and will eventually be a full-time starter somewhere.

What's next: In eight days, the Packers will take on the Chicago Bears at Soldier Field on ESPN's Monday Night Football.

Wrap-up: Steelers 19, Titans 11

September, 19, 2010
9/19/10
7:35
PM ET
Here are some thoughts on the Pittsburgh Steelers' victory over the Tennessee Titans:

What it means: The Steelers are off to a tremendous and unexpected 2-0 start without quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, who is suspended four games for violating the NFL's personal conduct policy. Pittsburgh has found its formula minus "Big Ben" and is successfully sticking to it. With the Cincinnati Bengals (1-1) beating the Baltimore Ravens (1-1) Sunday, the Steelers are currently in first place in the AFC North.

What I liked: It doesn't matter who's playing quarterback if the Steelers' defense continues to play lights out the way that it has. Pittsburgh went on the road and dominated a Tennessee offense that scored 38 points the previous week. The Steelers forced an amazing seven turnovers (four fumbles, three interceptions). The return of safety Troy Polamalu has been huge. He has an interception in each of the first two games.

What I didn't like: The knee injury to starting quarterback Dennis Dixon is the worst thing to happen Sunday. He was carted off the field, which isn't a good sign. Backup Charlie Batch only threw for 25 yards in place of Dixon, but the defense was so dominant that lack of quarterback production didn't matter. Byron Leftwich will be re-signed Monday. With injuries and Roethlisberger's suspension, the Steelers have plenty of quarterback questions heading into Week 3.

What's next: The Steelers will face the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2-0) in a battle of surprising undefeated teams. Pittsburgh has two more games without Roethlisberger and has positioned itself to have a very good chance to enter its bye week with a winning record.

Wrap-up: Eagles 35, Lions 32

September, 19, 2010
9/19/10
7:34
PM ET
What it means: This is the kind of game many of us expected from the Detroit Lions: A wild scoring fest featuring plenty of explosive offensive plays and not much defense. Sunday, the Lions and Philadelphia Eagles combined for 849 offensive yards and 46 first downs. And even though they trailed 35-17 with less than five minutes remaining and were without quarterback Matthew Stafford, the Lions showed they still have enough offensive firepower to rally for two late touchdowns. Meanwhile, it should be no surprise that the Lions defense had trouble tackling Eagles tailback LeSean McCoy and receiver DeSean Jackson in the open field.


Tomorrow’s talker: How could you not notice rookie Jahvid Best, who scored three more touchdowns, including one on an electric 75-yard screen pass, and finished with 232 all-purpose yards? I don’t know if you could have imagined anything more for his second NFL game. That’s the type of explosive presence that made the Lions trade back up into the first round of the April draft to grab him. If anything, you wonder why the Lions didn’t make more of an effort to get him the ball on their final four plays. Coach Jim Schwartz said: “You want to give balls to your playmakers, but you also want to not try to press it too much.”

Injury of note: Receiver Nate Burleson suffered an ankle injury and didn’t return. His presence is essential to pulling defensive coverage away from No. 1 receiver Calvin Johnson. I realize Johnson got behind the Eagles defense for a touchdown in the fourth quarter, but over time he is going to need Burleson’s help.

Trending: The Lions defense has given up at least 400 yards to both of its opponents this season and, other than getting a few more pass rushers into the backfield, isn’t showing much improvement in slowing down opposing offenses.

What I liked: For the second consecutive week, the Lions dispatched a game’s worth of ups and downs to put themselves in position for the winning points. We all know what happened Sept. 12 at Soldier Field. Sunday, the Lions recovered an onside kick and had the ball at their own 43-yard line with 1:48 remaining. There are no consolation points for persistence, but we’ll file it away for future evaluation.

What’s next: The Lions will take on the Minnesota Vikings next Sunday at the Metrodome.

Wrap-up: Chiefs 16, Browns 14

September, 19, 2010
9/19/10
7:13
PM ET
Here are some thoughts on the Cleveland Browns' 16-14 loss to the Kansas City Chiefs:

What it means: The Browns fall to 0-2 this season and continue to struggle winning close games. This was considered the easiest part of Cleveland's schedule, which doesn't look good for the rest of the season. The Browns fell to 1-11 in home openers since they returned to the NFL in 1999.

What I liked: For the second straight week, Cleveland's defense played solid football but it wasn't enough to win. The Browns didn't allow an offensive touchdown to Kansas City and picked off Chiefs quarterback Matt Cassel twice. Browns safety T.J. Ward was very active again, leading the Browns with 11 tackles.

What I didn't like: The Browns' offense was shut down in the second half for the second straight game. Quarterback Seneca Wallace provided a spark by throwing for 229 yards and a touchdown. But his interception in the third quarter went the other way for a touchdown and was a huge play in the game. Cleveland also struggles making adjustments after intermission as it blew it's second straight lead in the second half.

What’s next: Cleveland opens up division play next week with a road game against the Ravens. Cleveland now faces seven straight teams which had winning records a year ago and likely will be underdogs in every game. The Browns started 1-11 last year. They are getting off to another ugly start in 2010.

Wrap-up: Broncos 31, Seahawks 14

September, 19, 2010
9/19/10
7:12
PM ET
What it means: The Seattle Seahawks are less impressive when playing on the road against a less accommodating opponent. Their pass rush stands a better chance at home, where crowd noise helps Chris Clemons and the defense get a jump on the opponent. And if the Seahawks are going to suffer turnovers on offense and special teams, they're going to lose games, same as everyone else.

Big Revelation: Golden Tate got the message when Seahawks coach Pete Carroll named the rookie inactive despite a mostly impressive offseason. The first time Tate touched the ball, he gained 63 yards on a punt return to set up Matt Hasselbeck's touchdown pass to Ben Obomanu. The decision to deactivate Tate in Week 1 worked out perfectly. Seattle won its opener while getting good production from its receivers, and Tate had extra motivation to tighten up aspects of his game. He added a 52-yard reception against Denver.

Hindsight: The Seahawks' former leadership strongly considered selecting Knowshon Moreno with the fourth overall choice in the 2009 draft -- right up until the night before the first round. Concerns over Moreno's top-end speed prevailed, leading the Seahawks to select linebacker Aaron Curry instead. Moreno hurt the Seahawks repeatedly Sunday, including a touchdown run that gave Denver a 24-7 lead in the third quarter.

Trending: Personnel changes on the offensive line caught up to the Seahawks in this game. They suffered multiple penalties on the line, including in critical situations. Building continuity on the line will take time.

What's next: The Seahawks return to Qwest Field for a game against the San Diego Chargers.

Wrap-up: Falcons 41, Cardinals 7

September, 19, 2010
9/19/10
6:56
PM ET
Time to analyze Atlanta's 41-7 victory against Arizona.

What it means: The Falcons are quite alive and doing well, a week after a horrible season-opening loss to Pittsburgh.

What’s next: We’ll find out if the Falcons are closer to the dominant team they were against the Cardinals or the disaster they were against the Steelers next week. They travel to New Orleans and challenges don’t come any bigger than going against the defending Super Bowl champions.

Hindsight: A lot of Atlanta fans sent items to my mailbag last week saying I was too harsh on the Falcons for their loss in Pittsburgh. I understood the gripes, but this is the world of professional sports and the Falcons fell flat against the Steelers and there wasn’t any other way to spin it. Besides, I can assure you Mike Smith and his staff spent the week pointing out many of the same flaws I did. The Falcons truly rose up against the Cardinals and I’m singing their praises now. As I’ve said before, I can only work with what teams do on the field and the Falcons gave nothing but positives today.

Big revelation: At least for a day, the Falcons had a monster in running back Jason Snelling. After Michael Turner and Jerious Norwood were injured, Snelling ran for rushed for 129 yards and scored three touchdowns. Snelling did some good things last year when the Falcons had injuries in the backfield. In another positive development, Turner looked very sharp, averaging more than eight yards a carry before his injury and looked tremendously better than he did against Pittsburgh. The Falcons also said Turner’s injury was minor and he could have come back, but there was no need because the team had a big lead. Norwood’s injury could be more serious and his durability has always been a question. If there’s a lesson to be learned going forward, it’s that Atlanta’s running game might be at its best with Snelling getting a healthy dose of carries behind Turner.

Unsung Heroes: Safety William Moore and cornerback Christopher Owens, who each had interceptions. Moore was making his first career start in place of an injured Erik Coleman and could end up hanging onto the job. Owens is in his first full season as a starter.

What I liked: The way quarterback Matt Ryan bounced back after the Pittsburgh fiasco. He completed 21 of 32 passes for 225 yards and three touchdowns with no interceptions. Ryan is always going to be extremely scrutinized due to his draft status and remarkable rookie year. Against the Cardinals, there wasn’t much to scrutinize and Ryan had the Atlanta offense operating the way the coaches expect.

Wrap-up: Chiefs 16, Browns 14

September, 19, 2010
9/19/10
4:36
PM ET
What it means: Kansas City, which was last 2-0 in 2005 when it finished 10-6, will enter Week 3 in sole possession of first place in the AFC West for the second straight week. Chiefs coach Todd Haley said last week that his team would not be pretty to watch and Sunday’s game held true to that comment. But the Chiefs played tough defense and gutted out the win. It secured a first down with 1:53 to go on fourth-and-1 at the Cleveland 35. This is a tough team that is learning how to win. Last week, Kansas City secured he win over San Diego with a defensive stand at its own 6-yard line. It is clear Kansas City is a different team in Haley’s second season.

Trending: Thomas Jones is getting he bulk of the carries. He had 22 carries for 83 yards. Jamaal Charles had 11 carries for 49 yards. Thomas has 33 carries in two games while Charles has 22 carries in the same span.

Tomorrow's Talker: Quarterback Matt Cassel is still not lighting the world on fire. Cassel, who threw for 68 yards last week, was 16 of 28 for 176 yards, but he was intercepted twice. The Chiefs scored on defense and had to settle or three Ryan Succop field goals. Cassel will have to find a way to lead the offense.

What’s next: The 49ers host the New Orleans Saints this Monday night, so they will be traveling to Kansas City on short rest.

Wrap-up: Steelers 19, Titans 11

September, 19, 2010
9/19/10
4:28
PM ET
What It Means: The Titans may have a quarterback controversy on their hands, though it would have more substance if Kerry Collins had outplayed Vince Young once he replaced him at the start of the fourth quarter. Tennessee fell to 1-1. The Titans aren’t as good as they appeared a week ago against Oakland. They probably aren’t as bad as they were against Pittsburgh either. But imagine if they faced Ben Roethlisberger instead of Dennis Dixon and Charlie Batch.

Tomorrow’s Talker: Who’s the quarterback? Young accounted for three of the Titans’ seven turnovers, and a week after a 142.8 passer rating, he posted a 48.3. But Collins threw a pick and a lost fumble upon replacing him. Young reacted poorly in a similar circumstance in 2008, but the indications have been he is more mature now. Does he respond better or do we get more of the sort of drama that unfolded last time? This should be a good offense, but it was horrific against the Steelers and completely nonthreatening once Pittsburgh made Chris Johnson a non-factor.

What I liked: The defense allowed just 12 points off seven turnovers and laid a lot of good hits. This could have been a blowout of monumental proportions given the turnovers. With a great onside kick at the end, the Titans actually had a chance to tie the game with a late drive, but fell short.

What I didn’t like: Johnson might have had a long touchdown that could have changed the tone in the first half, even without the help of a Eugene Amano hold. Amano told officials about how he let go, but the key there is to not hold in the first place not to be able to claim you didn’t hold long. Penalties were a big issue -- the Titans had 10 for 72 yards.

What’s next: Fisher, Young and Collins will address the quarterback situation inside the next hour. But no matter how firm Fisher is about the plans, they will all face further questions about it this week. It’s not the sort of storyline the Titans hoped for heading to New Meadowlands Stadium where they will see old friend Keith Bulluck in his third game as a member of the New York Giants.

Wrap-up: Packers 34, Bills 7

September, 19, 2010
9/19/10
4:25
PM ET
What it means: Unlike last week, the Bills committed themselves to the run but still had another awful day offensively. Cue the shouts for Ryan Fitzpatrick or Brian Brohm.


Big revelation: New head coach Chan Gailey, regardless of his reputation, can't figure out how to get the Bills' offense moving. He hasn't been able to coax plays out of quarterback Trent Edwards (62 net yards passing, two interceptions), get high-paid receiver Lee Evans into the game (zero catches) or generate production from prized running back C.J. Spiller (see below).

Trending: Spiller was a non-factor again. In his NFL debut he had 11 offensive touches for 14 yards. Against the Packers, he had didn't have any carries until the final, meaningless minutes. He finished with one carry for 3 yards and four receptions for 23 yards.

Tomorrow's talker: Were the Bills leaning on Marshawn Lynch because they're about to move him? He had almost twice as many attempts as Fred Jackson. The Bills denied persistent rumors they're on the verge of dealing him, maybe even to the Packers in light of Ryan Grant's season-ending ankle injury. Grant's replacement, Brandon Jackson, had 11 carries for 29 yards and a touchdown.

Heroes: Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers was 19 of 29 for 255 yards and two touchdowns and no interceptions against the Bills' respected pass defense. Packers linebacker Clay Matthews had three sacks, four tackles for losses and five quarterback hits.

Goat: Edwards was 11 for 18 for 102 yards and no touchdowns with two interceptions. He couldn't complete a pass to Evans the whole game?

What's next: The Bills' schedule doesn't let up. They'll play the New England Patriots in Gillette Stadium next Sunday.

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