NFL Nation: 2013 Week 2 Rapid Reaction

Rapid Reaction: Bengals 20, Steelers 10

September, 16, 2013

A few thoughts on the Cincinnati Bengals' 20-10 win over the Pittsburgh Steelers:

What it means: We're only two weeks into the regular season, but already the AFC North race is beginning to take the shape that most anticipated during the offseason. With the Steelers and Browns now both sitting at 0-2, the Bengals and Ravens are beginning to look like the division's true leaders. Monday night's game was important for both teams involved, but it could arguably be considered an even bigger deal for the Bengals, a team eager to legitimize itself and to prove the preseason chatter wasn't really all "Hard Knocks"-fueled hype.

Stock watch: Falling -- Andy Dalton. OK, so a week ago, he was the King of the Queen City after posting a blistering 78.8 percent completion in the Bengals' three-point loss at Chicago. The stock meter was trending positively for the third-year offensive leader who displayed a high aptitude for getting the ball out of his hand quickly and throwing successfully into tight spaces during the opener. He wasn't anywhere near as sharp Monday night, even with what appeared to be more time to pass. More times than not, his incompletions were high and well beyond his receivers' reach. On 45 attempts, he completed just 56 percent of his passes. There still are 14 games to go in the regular season, though, so Dalton has plenty of time to prove his Week 1 showing was no fluke.

Rookie impact: First-year running back Giovani Bernard had his Cincinnati coming-out party Monday night, rushing for a 7-yard touchdown in the first half and weaving his way back into the end zone in the third quarter on a 27-yard touchdown reception. The fans who had been pleading with head coach Marvin Lewis and offensive coordinator Jay Gruden for greater involvement out of the speedy Bernard got their wish. In all, he touched the ball nine times (eight runs, one catch). In last week's loss, Bernard rushed four times and caught one pass.

What's next: Cincinnati (1-1) has a big test this Sunday when it hosts Green Bay (1-1) in a nonconference showdown at Paul Brown Stadium. A win over the Packers would go a long way toward convincing critics that Cincinnati is to be taken seriously in the league this season.

Rapid Reaction: Bengals 20, Steelers 10

September, 16, 2013

CINCINNATI – A few thoughts on the Pittsburgh Steelers' 20-10 loss to the Cincinnati Bengals at Paul Brown Stadium:

What it means: The Steelers played better Monday night than they did in a season-opening loss to the Tennessee Titans, but it will still be a quiet plane ride back to Pittsburgh. The Steelers are 0-2 for the first time under seventh-year coach Mike Tomlin, and the offense hasn’t looked this challenged since 2003, when Pittsburgh went 6-10.

The defense again played well enough, but it will have to dominate games for the Steelers to beat playoff-caliber teams this season. Through two games, the Steelers have not forced any turnovers, and they have notched one quarterback sack.

Stock watch: The offense produced a few spasms of productivity, and it actually looked like a legitimate NFL unit late in the second quarter when quarterback Ben Roethlisberger led a five-play, 65-yard touchdown drive.

But even when Roethlisberger completed a pass, he had to fit the ball into a tight window, and the Steelers again got very little from their running game. Felix Jones led the way with 37 yards on 10 carries -- and that was a marked improvement from what Steelers running backs did the previous week. Yikes.

Offensive coordinator Todd Haley provided more fodder for frustrated Steelers fans with some of his play calls. A reverse to a 31-year-old possession receiver (Jerricho Cotchery)? Really?

Spike it, will ya? What were the Steelers thinking after tight end David Paulson got stripped at the end of a 34-yard catch-and-run in the first quarter? The Steelers took their time getting to the line of scrimmage when they should have been hurrying to snap the ball, since Paulson had been ruled down before he fumbled.

The dawdling gave Bengals coach Marvin Lewis enough time to watch a replay and throw the challenge flag. The call was reversed, and Cincinnati needed just five plays to cover 87 yards and score the first touchdown of the game after the turnover.

What’s next: The Steelers play another prime-time game when they host the 2-0 Chicago Bears on Sunday night, and it is not too early to call it a must-win situation for Pittsburgh. The team has missed the playoffs all three times it has started a season 0-3 since 1970.

The Bears couldn’t give a hoot about the Steelers’ problems, and their opportunistic defense will be able to take its share of chances against an offense that simply doesn't have enough playmakers.

Rapid Reaction: Seahawks 29, 49ers 3

September, 16, 2013

SEATTLE -- A few thoughts on the Seattle Seahawks’ 29-3 win over the San Francisco 49ers:

What it means: The Seahawks (2-0) have early control of the NFC West. They needed this win more than the 49ers (1-1) because it is was a home game. The 49ers are going to have to make sure they beat the Seahawks in San Francisco on Dec. 8. This game was intense and closer than the score indicated. But the Seahawks outplayed the 49ers, who were surprisingly flat offensively. The 49ers have to find their offensive spark and clean up the ridiculous penalties that have plagued them the past two weeks. The NFC West race is far from over, but the Seahawks, who haven’t lost at home since 2011, struck first and loudly.

Stock watch: Lots of downward pointing here. Quarterback Colin Kaepernick was never comfortable and more of a detriment than a help to his team. San Francisco receiver Anquan Boldin had one catch after 13 last week against Green Bay. The 49ers were very sloppy. They were penalized 12 times for 121 yards and have 23 penalties this season. San Francisco had four personal-foul penalties, which is inexcusable.

Lynch a difference-maker: Seattle running back Marshawn Lynch had another big game against the 49ers. He had 98 yards on 28 carries and scored three touchdowns (two rushing, one receiving). On a day when both quarterbacks were off, Lynch was the difference.

Injuries mount: San Francisco nose tackle Ian Williams broke his ankle in the first quarter, according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter. The 49ers confirmed that Williams has an ankle injury, but not the severity. He appeared to be hurt on a low block by Seattle guard J.R. Sweezy. The 49ers can't be pleased. Williams was coming into his own. It will mean more opportunities for free-agent pickup Glenn Dorsey. Also, rookie safety Eric Reid left the game in the second quarter because of a possible concussion and tight end Vernon Davis left late with a hamstring injury. Both will be monitored this week. Defensive end Ray McDonald was also hurt late.

What’s next: The 49ers host Indianapolis on Sunday. It will be a reunion for San Francisco coach Jim Harbaugh and Colts quarterback Andrew Luck. Harbaugh coached Luck at Stanford prior to coming to the 49ers. The Colts are 1-1. They lost at home to Miami on Sunday. It will be the Colts’ first road game of the season.

Rapid Reaction: Seahawks 29, 49ers 3

September, 16, 2013

SEATTLE -- A few thoughts on the Seattle Seahawks' 29-3 victory over the San Francisco 49ers Sunday night at CenturyLink Field:

What it means for the Seahawks: Seattle gets the early upper hand against its NFC West rival in a game between two of the best teams in the NFL on a strange night that included an hour-long weather delay in the first half. It’s only two weeks into the season, but the Seahawks sent a message that they are the team to beat in the NFC.

Stock watch: The Seahawks' defense is taking up where it left off last season, when it allowed the fewest points in the league. Seattle has allowed only 10 points in the first two games of 2013, holding the 49ers to a field goal a week after they scored 34 points against Green Bay. After 13 receptions against the Packers, Anquan Boldin had one catch for seven yards against the Seahawks. The "Legion of Boom" secondary had three interceptions -- one each for Earl Thomas, Richard Sherman and Kam Chancellor.

"Beast mode" is back: After a disappointing effort in the first game, Marshawn Lynch got the running game going and scored three touchdowns Sunday night, two rushing and one receiving.

Okung injured: The Seahawks lost Pro Bowl offensive tackle Russell Okung to a foot injury in the first half. Paul McQuistan moved from left guard to Okung's left tackle spot and struggled in the first half with 49ers linebacker Aldon Smith, but McQuistan improved in the second half.

Attendance record: The crowd of 68,338 was the largest ever for a Seahawks game at CenturyLink Field, topping by seven spectators the previous mark (from 2007, against the 49ers).

What’s next: The Seahawks play host to Jacksonville next Sunday, a game that brings back former Seattle defensive coordinator Gus Bradley, who left at the end of last season to become the Jaguars coach.

TAMPA, Fla. -- A few thoughts on the New Orleans Saints' 16-14 win over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

What it means: The Saints improve to 2-0. Since 1990, 63 percent of the teams that have started 2-0 have gone to the playoffs. Tampa Bay falls to 0-2. Since 1990, 12 percent of teams to start 0-2 have made the playoffs.

Lightning delay: The Saints marched down the field and made a field goal on their opening drive, but that’s when the game stalled. Officials ordered both teams to the locker room, and fans were ordered to go to the concourses because of lightning in the immediate area. The game was delayed for 69 minutes.

Play of the day: Marques Colston's last-minute catch of a Drew Brees pass to set up the game-winning field goal.

Almost play of the day: Middle linebacker Mason Foster picked off a Brees pass and returned it for a touchdown to give the Bucs the lead with 12:40 remaining in the fourth quarter.

Non-play of the day: Vincent Jackson caught what appeared to be a touchdown bomb from Josh Freeman with 6:58 left in the third quarter, but the play was nullified because Tampa Bay was flagged for using an illegal formation.

Non-play of the day II: The Saints kicked a field goal with 20 seconds left in the second quarter to (briefly) take a 13-7 lead, but Tampa Bay was called for a penalty, putting the ball at the 2-yard line. The Saints took the points off the board and went for the touchdown. A Mark Ingram run was stuffed. Think coach Sean Payton would like those three points back?

Stock watch: Freeman lost a fumble and threw an interception. That’s not going to silence his critics.

Injury watch: New Orleans cornerback Patrick Robinson was carted off the field with what appeared to be a leg injury and did not return.

What’s next: The Bucs play at the New England Patriots next Sunday at 1:00 p.m. ET. The Saints are home against the Arizona Cardinals.

Rapid Reaction: Broncos 41, Giants 23

September, 15, 2013

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- A few thoughts on the New York Giants' 41-23 loss to the Denver Broncos:

What it means: Well, trouble. The Giants have lost their first two games of the season. Over the past four NFL seasons before this one, 30 teams have started 0-2, and not one of them reached the playoffs. Now, yes, we all remember that the Giants started 0-2 in 2007 and went on to not only reach the playoffs but win the Super Bowl. And, yes, they do play in an NFC East that went 0-4 Sunday and hasn't required more than 10 wins to claim since 2009. And as we have discussed here several times, the Giants' schedule in October and November is cream-cheese soft. So by no means is anything over, but they have dug themselves something of a hole here to start the season. Since 1990, only 22 of 190 teams that started the season 0-2 (12 percent) have reached the playoffs, and those 2007 Giants are one of only three to win the Super Bowl.

Stock watch: Both lines, offensive and defense, DOWN. For much of the game, Eli Manning's pass protection held up alright, but the Giants' run blocking was basically nonexistent. They had 23 rushing yards on 19 carries for a whopping 1.2 yards per carry. By contrast, the Broncos' Knowshon Moreno had 20 and 25 yards on his two touchdown runs. And not only did the Giants' defensive line fail to stop Moreno, it once again failed to get consistent pressure on the opposing quarterback, allowing Peyton Manning to get into a rhythm as the game went along and pick them apart.

Brother story: Peyton Manning, who is now 3-0 in games in which his younger brother was the opposing quarterback, leads the NFL with nine touchdown passes through the first two weeks of the season. Eli Manning leads the NFL with seven interceptions through the first two weeks of the season. Eli threw three in Week 1 against the Dallas Cowboys and four in this game against his brother's team.

What's next: The Giants' next two games are on the road, starting with next Sunday's 1 p.m. ET game in Charlotte, N.C., against the Carolina Panthers, who are also 0-2.

Rapid Reaction: Broncos 41, Giants 23

September, 15, 2013

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.

Rapid Reaction: Raiders 19, Jaguars 9

September, 15, 2013

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.
OAKLAND, Calif. -- A few thoughts on the Jaguars’ 19-9 loss to the Oakland Raiders:

What it means: This was perhaps the Jaguars’ best shot at a victory before the bye week, especially if Maurice Jones-Drew’s ankle injury lingers for more than a week or two. The offense still couldn’t generate any consistency and again really struggled on first down: Nine times through the first three quarters, the Jaguars gained 3 yards or less on first down. But maybe that shouldn’t be a surprise, considering the Jaguars didn’t have four starters (quarterback Blaine Gabbert, tight end Marcedes Lewis and receivers Justin Blackmon and Mike Brown) because of injuries or suspension. They also lost Jones-Drew in the second quarter. When an offense is that short-handed, the defense pretty much has to play a perfect game, and the Jaguars aren’t talented enough to do that. It’s unfair to ask them to as well. The result is another game with less than 200 total yards.

Stock watch: It’s unclear just how serious Jones-Drew’s ankle injury is, which means the Jaguars would have to rely on Justin Forsett and first-year player Jordan Todman to carry the running game. Forsett, at least, is a seven-year veteran who has rushed for more than 1,600 yards and caught 100 passes. Todman entered Sunday’s game with just four career carries. This might mean more work for Denard Robinson.

Touchdown skid ends: Chad Henne tossed a touchdown pass to Clay Harbor with three minutes remaining to give the Jaguars their first offensive touchdown since the second quarter of the 2012 season finale against Tennessee.

Penalty problems: The Jaguars committed 10 penalties for 70 yards, including two that allowed Oakland to retain possession. D.J. Williams was offside on a punt on fourth-and-4, and Jason Babin was penalized for illegal use of the hands during a play on which Terrelle Pryor threw incomplete on third-and-9 from the Jacksonville 24-yard line.

What’s next: The Jaguars play at Seattle next Sunday at 4:25 p.m ET.
GLENDALE, Ariz. -- A few thoughts on the Detroit Lions' 25-21 loss to the Arizona Cardinals.

What it means: This is a rough loss for Detroit. The Lions didn’t play particularly well in any facet -- more on that below -- and still led the game late in the fourth quarter. But penalties -- eight of them for 101 yards -- proved critical. Bill Bentley was called for pass interference to set up Arizona’s game-winning touchdown, and if he had turned around, it would have been fourth down instead of Arizona’s ball on the 1-yard line. Two penalties in the third quarter extended a drive that led to a Cardinals field goal. Just tough mistakes.

Stock watch: Stock up: Detroit’s front seven. DeAndre Levy had an interception return for a touchdown and the Lions were able to play well on third downs and in the red zone. They could challenge to be among the top groups in the NFL by the end of the season. Also up: Calvin Johnson. The best receiver in the NFL had two touchdowns in the first half and set two franchise records. Stock down: Rookie cornerback Darius Slay, who won the starting job out of training camp, was replaced for the second straight week by Rashean Mathis. Keep an eye on this during this week.

Special teams a mess: Just a horrific day on special teams for Detroit. David Akers, who is usually reliable, missed a field goal, had another one blocked and another field goal attempt, which he missed, was nullified by a running into the kicker penalty. Returner Micheal Spurlock struggled returning kicks -- almost causing a safety on a kick return -- and punts, losing yardage on one return after essentially running the width of the field. This is the second straight week there have been some special teams issues for Detroit. Last week, punter Sam Martin muffed a field goal hold and struggled with his kicks.

Offense not the same without Reggie Bush: Detroit’s offense stalled without Bush for the majority of the second half. It gained 90 second-half yards, most of them without Bush.

What’s next: Detroit has its second road game in a row next week, heading to Washington to face Robert Griffin III and the 0-2 Redskins.

Rapid Reaction: Cardinals 25, Lions 21

September, 15, 2013
GLENDALE, Ariz. -- A few thoughts on the Cardinals’ 25-21 win over the Detroit Lions.

What it means: A lot. Despite the win, the Cardinals offense looked lackluster, scoring just two touchdowns and stalling at crucial times. Granted, starting tight end Rob Housler was out again and wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald was hampered by a hamstring injury, but the offense couldn’t put the ball in the end zone. It moved the ball well in between the 20s but not when it mattered most.

Stock watch: Kerry Taylor was promoted from the practice squad Saturday afternoon and proved he’s worthy of a roster spot with 40 yards on three catches. He helped fill the void left by Fitzgerald, who sat out most of the second half with a hamstring injury. Rookie running back Andre Ellington also made a name for himself with a 36-yard touchdown reception and a crucial run late in the fourth quarter, as he made his case to be the Cards’ No. 2 running back.

Third-down blues: The Cardinals couldn’t convert a third down unless it was with the aid of a penalty. They were 1-for-11 on third down. This was an issue last week in St. Louis, and coach Bruce Arians said he was confident his team would improved on third down. A combination of incomplete passes and plays that came up short prevented the Cardinals from obtaining a new set of downs.

Defensive standard: Without the defense, the Cardinals could’ve thrown in the towel early in the third. The defense held Detroit to 13 yards in the third quarter, giving the offense a chance to score. The Cardinals held on third down twice and limited Lions QB Matthew Stafford to 0-for-4 passing in the quarter.

What's next: The Cardinals have a week to figure out their third-down issues before they travel to New Orleans to take on the Saints next Sunday at 1 p.m. ET.

HOUSTON -- A few thoughts on the Houston Texans' 30-24 overtime win over the Tennessee Titans:

What it means: On the day the Texans unveiled their 2012 division-championship banner, they took a step in their quest for a three-peat. It's a title they absolutely should keep this season, but the Titans will be pesky foes. A lot could change between now and the next meeting between these teams, in the regular-season finale.

Stock watch: Texans kicker Randy Bullock is having a rough start to his NFL career. He went 0-for-3 in regulation Sunday, and after missing what could have been the game-winning field goal in regulation he fell to 1-for-5 this season. (His one make was the game winner in San Diego.) This was an area the Texans hoped to upgrade this season, but so far that hasn't been the case.

Facing deficits: Down one, Texans quarterback Matt Schaub threw an easy pick-six to Titans cornerback Alterraun Verner with about five minutes left in the game. I'd argue that an eight-point deficit that late in the game is more daunting than a 21-point deficit early in the third quarter. Schaub got them out of one situation last week and into the other one this week, in part because he was constantly under duress.

Hopkins breaks out: A huge fourth-quarter drive saw Schaub go to his new toy, DeAndre Hopkins, regularly. The rookie delivered. But it was veteran Andre Johnson's catch that set up the Texans' game-tying touchdown. Johnson grabbed the pass, kept his feet inbounds, even as Bernard Pollard doled out a helmet-to-helmet hit, and hung onto the ball all the way to the ground. The catch took its toll, though. Johnson lingered on his back for a while and went to the locker room after jogging off the field. Later, the Texans got another big gain from second-year receiver Keshawn Martin, who broke a tackle and ran for a 32-yard gain that set up what could have been Bullock's game-winning field goal. Hopkins eventually played the hero, making an incredible 25-yard catch in overtime and following it a few plays later with another incredible catch -- this one for the winning touchdown.

What's next: The Texans head on the road to face Super Bowl champion Baltimore. The Ravens look a bit different than the last time the teams met. Houston won that matchup in a blowout. Safety Ed Reed won't start that game as Texans coach Gary Kubiak has said he won't start the first time he plays for the Texans. But will he play?

HOUSTON -- A few thoughts on the Tennessee Titans' 30-24 overtime loss to the Houston Texans:

What it means: A team that looked to have a terribly scheduled two-game start nearly started 2-0 but ultimately made too many mistakes to win. We were skeptical of the defense last week because the Steelers were so bad on offense. But the Texans are a far more dangerous offense, and Tennessee handled them for a good while, too. Still, they need more balance and can’t disappear on offense for long stretches, and that’s what did them in here. They simply didn’t make enough plays. The defense gave up a touchdown drive to open overtime, so the Tennessee offense didn't get a possession in the extra period.

Stock watch: When the Titans needed him most, Jake Locker didn’t deliver. They got the ball with 1:53 left in regulation and did nothing. Locker threw a wobbler to Nate Washington and had Kenny Britt open as a big blitz came at him. Both throws were too high and the Titans had to punt the ball back to Houston with roughly a minute left. The Texans had a crack at a game-winning 46-yard field goal, but Randy Bullock hit the left upright.

Crusher: Cornerback Jason McCourty spearheaded a nice effort against Andre Johnson, but on the play that set up the Texans for the winning score, he couldn't find the ball as rookie DeAndre Hopkins plucked it just before the right front pylon for a 25-yard gain. Hopkins then caught the 3-yard game winner on McCourty three plays later on the right side of the end zone.

Wake-up call: The Titans' offense couldn’t get out of the shadow of its own goal line for 20 minutes in the second half. Then they put together an incredible 99-yard touchdown drive to take the 17-16 lead with 6:37 on the game clock. After that the defense ramped up its efforts, swarming Matt Schaub even more effectively. But they let up and allowed a tying TD drive and two-point conversion and we wound up with overtime.

Injury update: Defensive tackle Sammie Hill left the game in the first half with an ankle injury and didn’t return. They signed him to be a run-stopping force but he’s hardly been a force through two games, with limited snaps Week 1 and the injury Sunday.

Fourth-quarter reversals: Gary Kubiak won two challenges in the fourth quarter, earning his team a safety and a 21-yard reception by Johnson. The safety and the two-point conversion that tied the game were crucial plays.

What’s next: The Titans play their home opener at LP Field against the San Diego Chargers, who beat the Eagles on Sunday and are 1-1.

CHICAGO -- A few thoughts on the Chicago Bears' 31-30 win over the Minnesota Vikings:

What it means: The typically opportunistic Bears nearly learned what it was like to basically give away a game via turnovers. The Vikings scored 13 points off turnovers, including six in the second half. But Jay Cutler brought back Chicago by throwing a scoring strike to Martellus Bennett with 10 ticks remaining. If anything, the Bears proved resilient in building a 2-0 record on consecutive come-from-behind victories.

Stock watch: Despite the comeback, Jay Cutler’s stock takes a fall here. After a strong performance in Week 1, Cutler committed two costly turnovers -- including a fumble returned for a TD -- that led to 10 Vikings points.

Return-a-thon: Rookie Cordarrelle Patterson broke the opening kickoff 105 yards for a score, marking the first time since Sept. 30, 2007 (at Detroit) Chicago allowed a kickoff return TD; it was the second-longest against the Bears (Green Bay’s Al Carmichael scored on a 106-yard kickoff return on Oct. 7, 1956).

The Bears answered immediately with a 76-yard return by Devin Hester on the ensuing kickoff. Hester broke his previous franchise record of 245 yards on kickoff returns (249).

50th anniversary: The Bears honored members of the 1963 world championship team prior to Sunday’s game. That team, coached by George S. Halas, finished with a record of 11-1-2, and outscored opponents 301-154.

Offensive line still developing: Chicago’s Week 1 performance provided encouraging signs about the offensive line’s future, but the Vikings gave the Bears somewhat of a reality check. Coming off the edge, Jared Allen blasted left tackle Jermon Bushrod into Matt Forte, and sacked Cutler for an 8-yard loss, causing the quarterback to fumble. Brian Robison scooped up the loose ball and scored from 61 yards out to tie the score at 14.

Although sacked only once, Cutler was under duress, especially in the second quarter. There’s room to grow.

Start of new record? The Bears scored on eight INT returns last season to tie the 1998 Seattle Seahawks for second most in NFL history. Maybe Tim Jennings' pick-six of Christian Ponder in the second quarter marks the start of the quest for a new record. The 1961 San Diego Chargers hold the NFL record for INT returns for TDs in a single season (nine).

What’s next: The Bears return to Halas Hall on Monday for treatment and review of Sunday’s game before taking Tuesday off. The club begins preparations Wednesday for its first road game of the season at Pittsburgh.

Rapid Reaction: Dolphins 24, Colts 20

September, 15, 2013

INDIANAPOLIS -- A few thoughts on the Miami Dolphins' 24-20 win over the Indianapolis Colts.

What it means for Dolphins: The Dolphins picked up two important road wins in the AFC in back-to-back weeks. That is quite an accomplishment, considering Miami went 2-6 on the road last year. The Dolphins already matched their road win total from last season. This was also an important showcase for second-year quarterback Ryan Tannehill (319 yards, one touchdown), who beat draft-mate Andrew Luck (321 yards, one touchdown, one interception) to get the win. Luck beat Tannehill and the Dolphins last season.

Stock Watch: Dolphins wide receiver Mike Wallace was much more involved in the offense. He had a big game, catching nine receptions for 115 yards and a touchdown. Seven of his receptions came in the first half. Last week, Wallace had just one catch for 15 yards. In terms of stock down, Miami’s pass rush wasn’t as dominant as expected against Indianapolis’ patchwork offensive line. But the Dolphins' defense sacked Luck three times, including a crucial sack on the final defensive play of the game in the fourth quarter.

Running game improved: The Dolphins had an ugly stat line in Week 1. Miami rushed for 20 yards on 23 carries, which put the Dolphins dead last in the NFL. The Dolphins worked on their running game all week and showed improvement Sunday against the Colts. Miami rushed for 102 yards on 26 carries. Dolphins starting tailback Lamar Miller also contributed a 10-yard touchdown run in the first quarter. Miami tweaked its zone-blocking scheme to more of a grinding, plowing attack, which better fits its offensive line. Fullback Tyler Clutts also got more playing time and made some decent blocks. Tight end/fullback Charles Clay also ran in a touchdown.

What’s next: After opening the season with a pair of road games, the Dolphins (2-0) will return home to face the Atlanta Falcons (1-1). Atlanta won its Week 2 matchup against the St. Louis Rams, and some feel the Falcons are a Super Bowl contender.