NFL Nation: Falcons-Patriots 092709
Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Graham
Both early AFC East games are tight through two quarters.
In a pair of games that will prove educational, the New England Patriots are ahead of the Atlanta Falcons by a field goal, while the New York Jets are ahead of the Tennessee Titans by four after taking a two-touchdown lead in the opening minutes.
Patriots quarterback Tom Brady isn't having as good of a game as Matt Ryan, who's playing in the area for the first time since leaving Boston College.
Brady hasn't utilized Wes Welker proxy Julian Edelman like last week and is 10 of 18 for 87 yards. Brady twice tried to go long distance to Randy Moss but couldn't connect even though Moss had gotten behind the secondary.
Ryan is 11 of 16 for 135 yards and no touchdowns or interceptions.
But the Patriots have gotten their running game ignited compared to the first two weeks. Fred Taylor has seven carries for 54 yards and his first Patriots touchdown. That's already the best game by a Patriots back this year -- seven more yards than Taylor's team-high total in last week's loss to the Jets and 22 yards more than Laurence Maroney's team-high output in the season opener.
The Jets exploded to a 14-0 lead with a great effort by Mark Sanchez for his first NFL rushing touchdown and converted a fumble on the ensuing kickoff into another score, this time a Sanchez toss to tight end Ben Hartsock.
Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Graham
Five nuggets of knowledge about this weekend’s games:
Fred Jackson has one more game to himself. The Buffalo Bills gave Jackson a vote of confidence that he could be a one-man show out of the backfield when they trimmed Dominic Rhodes on roster cutdown day. Jackson has thrived. With Pro Bowl running back Marshawn Lynch serving the last of his three-game suspension for Sunday's game against the New Orleans Saints, Jackson has one more chance to show he can be The Man.
|David Butler II/US Presswire|
|Fred Jackson has the Bills' backfield all to himself for another week.|
Jackson ranks fifth in rushing with 220 yards and is coming off a 163-yard game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. He also has 11 catches for 108 yards and a touchdown. Lynch might not get the same percentage of touches as last year when he comes back.
I'm eager to see if Wes Welker and Julian Edelman both play Sunday. It might be the only way to prove they're not the same person. Reports say Welker should play Sunday against the Atlanta Falcons. He missed the last game because of a knee injury. Edelman didn't play in the season opener, perhaps because of an ankle injury, but the Welker lookalike recorded game-highs with eight catches for 98 yards in Sunday's defeat to the New York Jets.
Patriots quarterback Tom Brady seemed to suggest afterward Edelman would have played in Week 1 if healthy and that it wasn't an either-or decision between Welker and the rookie. Welker and Edelman simultaneously on the field? The Falcons will be seeing double.
The Miami Dolphins face another grueling tight end matchup. They couldn't contain Tony Gonzalez in Week 1 and were trampled by Dallas Clark in Week 2. They combined for a dozen receptions for 256 yards and two touchdowns. Now the Dolphins get to face San Diego Chargers star Antonio Gates. The Dolphins went into their first two games fully cognizant of the threats Gonzalez and Clark posed. The Dolphins devised a game plan to stop them. They failed anyway.
Where are the Jets' heads? It would be understandable after their first two performances that the Jets would be feeling invincible these days. They're 2-0 and coming off an emotionally charged triumph over the Patriots. The defense has been phenomenal. Rookie quarterback Mark Sanchez has been unflappable.
But the Jets need to keep their start in perspective. Next up is a wounded opponent. The Tennessee Titans are 0-2 but much better than their record suggests. If the Jets can put the Titans away and get to 3-0, then people are going to start mentioning them as a Super Bowl contender. Whether that's legitimate or not is moot. That kind of talk will intensify.
Jets cornerback Darrelle Revis will have Week 3 off -- relatively speaking. I know this is going to come off a slap in the face to Justin Gage, but after shutting down Andre Johnson and Randy Moss in consecutive games, Revis can shut it down Sunday by comparison. Revis kept Johnson and Moss -- two of the three or four most dangerous receivers in the NFL -- to eight catches for 59 yards. Gage is the best receiver Tennessee has, with nine catches.