The second Sunday of the 2021 NFL season is in the books so here are the different thoughts and opinions I have on various things I witnessed this past weekend. The NFL loves parity and as long as the Monday night game doesn't end in a tie 18 teams will end Week Two with a 1-1 record. A lot of teams with a poor Week one showing redeemed themselves while some teams who looked good last week crapped the bed. That's life in the NFL.
Just remember I am a Dallas Cowboys fan and I'm extremely biased. Feel free to agree or disagree about anything mentioned here. All comments are welcome.
Escape From L.A.
I don’t think the Cowboys will be happy until I have a heart attack. In another last second of the game thriller, Greg Zuerlein redeemed himself by nailing a 56-yard FG as time expired to give Dallas a 20-17 victory over the Los Angeles Chargers. The game was in Los Angeles, but you wouldn’t have been able to tell by listening to the crowd. The cheers were split evenly between the two squads, fitting since these two teams were very evenly matched.
The Cowboys came out on fire and scored two TDs in the first quarter to take a 14-3 lead. Yay the rout was on! Or so I thought. The Dallas offense then went into hibernation for two quarters as the Charger evened up the score 14-14 at the end of the third quarter. The teams went on to trade FGs in the fourth, with Dallas getting the win by having the ball last.
Last week Dallas pretty much gave up on running the ball and let Dak Prescott carry the load. This week the Cowboys got back to their roots by rushing the rock 31 times for 198 yards. Nice. Zeke Elliott (16 rushes, 71 yards, 1 TD) had a good bounce back from his Week One dud and Tony Pollard (13 rushes, 109 yards, 1 TD) had a great game to give the Cowboys a dual threat from out of the backfield.
I don’t want to take anything away from Pollard’s performance, which was great, but it seemed like every time Elliott came out of the game the Chargers assumed Dallas was going to throw the ball. When Pollard carried the ball the Chargers defense looked like they got caught with their pants down.
Dak Prescott (23/27, 237 yards, 1 INT) was efficient aside from his one overthrow that resulted in his interception. After bombing the Bucs secondary last week Dallas was much more conservative with their passes, not taking many (or any really) shots down the field. The Chargers used two deep safeties all day, daring Dallas to take the ball out of Precott’s hands. Dallas did a great job by adapting their plan of attack for what the defense was willing to give them.
Defensively the Cowboys were just good enough. Missing their two top pass rushers in Demarcus Lawrence and Randy Gregory, rookie Micah Parsons moved from linebacker to defensive end. Parsons played well, pressuring Justin Herbert all afternoon and recording a sack. The defense was saved forcing two turnovers and a multitude of penalties by the Chargers offense.
The refs were busy in this one throwing 20 penalty flags, 12 on the Chargers and 8 on Dallas. Normally I’d bitch about over-officiating or ticky-tack calls, but honestly those flags were earned by both teams. It was a bit of a sloppy game. Dallas evened out their record at 1-1.
The Chargers moved the ball up and down the field all game piling up 408 yards of offense, but could only manage 14 points. Penalties killed several drives and two Justin Herbert interceptions (one in the endzone) didn’t help. Herbert (31/41, 338 yards, 1 TD, 2 INTs) looked great most of the game, but those turnovers were killers. Running backs Austin Ekeler (9 rushes, 54 yards) and Justin Jackson (4 rushes, 21 yards) had success when they got touches, the problem for Los Angeles was they didn’t get many chances. Maybe the Chargers put too much of the load on the shoulders of Herbert. Sounds like what the Cowboys usually do with Prescott. Hmm. Anyway the Chargers loss drops their record to 1-1.
Lamar’s Redemption Day
Last week Sunday Night Football kicked off with a dud (Rams vs Bears), but for Week Two we got an exciting thriller as the Baltimore Ravens made a stunning 4th quarter comeback to defeat the Kansas City Chiefs 36-35. It was a true redemption for Lamar Jackson, who had been 0-3 against the Chiefs and never played well against them.
It didn’t start well for the Ravens. On the second play of the game Lamar Jackson overthrew a wide open receiver down the field, a sure TD if the pass was better. Even worse, on the next play Jackson threw a pick-six to Tyrann Mathieu. Huge swing on back-to-back plays.
But the Ravens hung in there, scoring a TD on their next possession. The two teams battled back and forth for the rest of the first half with Kansas City taking a 21-17 lead into halftime.
Kansas City kept their foot on the gas after the break, taking a 35-24 lead late in the 3rd quarter. With the Chiefs having the ball late in the quarter and looking for a final knockout blow, Patrick Mahomes made a rare error. Trying to avoid a sack, he threw up one of those dying duck passes he always seems to magically complete. Not this time as cornerback Tavon Young intercepted the pass at midfield. Five plays later Lamar Jackson ran the ball into the endzone for a TD. Baltimore attempted a two-point conversion, but failed so the score was 35-30.
KC couldn’t do squat with their next possession and punted. Baltimore turned to their biggest strength, running the ball, and pounded the rock down the field. Lamar Jackson ran in another TD as Baltimore took a late 36-35 lead after another failed two-point conversion attempt.
The Chiefs got the ball back with three minutes left on the clock. Plenty of time for another one of Patrick Mahomes miracle comebacks. Mahomes quickly drove the Chiefs into Baltimore territory, only needing a FG to retake the lead. Then disaster struck for KC as running back Clyde Edwards-Helaire fumbled the ball and the Ravens recovered. The Ravens ran the ball a few times to bleed the clock and walk away with the win.
Huge win for Baltimore as they finally got the Chiefs monkey off of their back and avoided dropping to 0-2. Lamar Jackson (18/26, 239 yards, 1 TD, 2 INTs) was adequate as a passer, but he was devastating as a runner with 107 yards and 2 TDs on 16 carries. The Ravens are a rare rush first team in today’s NFL and they piled up 251 yards on the ground. All that running let them dominate the time of possession, especially in the 4th quarter.
The Chiefs had this game in hand with a 35-24 lead entering the 4th quarter, but the offense disappeared in the final 15 minutes. It didn’t help that defense was run over by the Ravens and Baltimore held the ball for most of the fourth quarter. Patrick Mahomes (24/31, 343 yards, 3 TDs, 1 INT) played great as usual, but his one mistake sparked the Ravens comeback. He got little help from the running game that produced only 62 yards on 18 carries. The Chiefs record fell to 1-1.
Wild One Out West
In a game with huge swings in momentum, the Tennessee Titans fell behind big before they unleashed the beast known as Derrick Henry to run over the Seattle Seahawks 33-30 in overtime.
After a 3-3 1st quarter, the Seahawks caught fire in the 2nd quarter for 3 TDs with big plays from Tyler Lockett and a turnover by Tennessee to take a 24-9 lead into halftime. For the Titans it was reminiscent of the way the Cardinals blew up on them last week. Even worse for the Titans, now they had to fight not only the Seahawks but history as well. Coming into this game Seattle was 52-0 at home when leading by at least 15 points.
Derrick Henry was not intimidated. No running back in the NFL today can take over a game like Henry. After a poor first half (13 rushes, 35 yards), Henry exploded in the second half and overtime for 147 yards and 3 TDs on 22 carries. The Titans defense also showed up in the second half and the game was tied 30-30 at the end of regulation.
Tennessee won the toss, but couldn’t score. They did gain some yards and pinned Seattle down on their own 13-yard line with a punt. Two incompletions and a sack forced Seattle to punt from the one-yard line, setting up the Titans with a short field. A couple of Derrick Henry runs set up kicker Randy Bullock for a game winning 36-yard FG. The Seahawks are now 52-1 when having a 15 point lead at home.
Great comeback victory for the Titans in a tough road environment. Aside from Derrick Henry’s heroics, Ryan Tannehill (27/40, 347 yards) also overcame a slow start to have a good second half. Newly acquired Julio Jones (6 receptions, 128 yards) was his top target. The Titans evened up their record at 1-1.
The Seahawks had control of this game before the defense fell apart and the offense went cold. Russell Wilson (22/31, 343 yards, 2 TDs) was stellar and Tyler Lockett (8 receptions, 178 yards, 1 TD) tore up the secondary. Yet the Seahawks lacked balance on offense as the running backs could only muster 52 yards on 15 carries. Of course it’s hard to win when the defense gives up 532 yards. Seattle’s record falls to 1-1.
Welcome To The NFL Kid
Being the old fart that I am, I remember when it was uncommon for rookie quarterbacks to immediately take the starting job. Things have changed and now it is assumed 1st round QB picks will be thrown right into the fire. It’s really a recipe for disaster in most cases as these QB’s are usually picked by teams that lack talent on the field and on the coaching staff. These are not good situation to develop talent.
This season we have three rookie QBs starting right away and in Week Two a fourth was thrown into the mix due to injury. The results have generally been bad so far.
In Jacksonville #1 overall pick Trevor Lawrence not only has to lead a team with little talent, he has a head coach in Urban Meyer who has zero NFL experience. Not a good situation and so far the results have been horrific. This week the Broncos took advantage of the Jaguars with a 23-13 win.
Lawrence (14/33, 118 yards, 1 TD, 2 INTs) is learning fast there is a massive difference between college and pro football. Urban Meyer is learning that fact fast as well. Lawrence was a man on an island as his running backs were non-existent (13 rushes, 52 yards). The Jaguars fell to 0-2 and it is quickly looking like a train wreck of a year in Jacksonville.
Teddy Bridgewater (26/34, 328 yards, 2 TDs) had another fine game for Denver and is showing great chemistry with wide receiver Courtland Sutton (9 receptions, 159 yards. The Broncos improved to 2-0 and so far look good, albeit against poor competition. Still that’s what good team do, beat bad ones.
In New Jersey we had a matchup of rookie QBs as #2 overall pick Zach Wilson and the New York Jets hosted the New England Patriots led by #15 pick Mac Jones. In a completely un-shocking outcome, the team with better talent and coaching won as the Patriots upended the Jets 25-6.
Wilson, like Lawrence, is stuck in a terrible situation. He has a first year head coach in Bob Saleh and is surrounded by an offense lacking talent. The Jets only have one wide receiver I’ve ever heard of in Corey Davis, who the Patriots shutdown with two catches for eight yards. Wilson (19/33, 210 yards, 4 INTs) was a turnover machine, trying to make plays against a Bill Belichick defense that chews up rookies. The Jets did give him support on the ground (152 yards on 31 carries) to prevent the game from getting completely out of hand. The Jets fell to 0-2 and look as bad as Jacksonville. It’s like 2020 all over again.
Mac Jones on the other hand stepped into an excellent situation for a rookie QB. He has tremendous coaches to rely on and is surrounded by excellent talent. The Patriots don’t ask Jones to carry to the load, just to steer the ship. Jones (22/30, 186 yards) made enough plays to keep the ball moving and avoided making turnovers. The Patriots improved to 1-1 and have a chance of having a good season as long as Jones can minimize mistakes.
The Chicago Bears took QB Justin Fields with the #11 pick, but didn’t plan on immediately throwing him into the fire. That changed in Week Two when starter Andy Dalton was injured early against the Bengals. Luckily for Chicago the defense carried the day as the Bears outlasted the Bengals 20-17.
The Bears took the opening kickoff and Dalton (9/11, 56 yards, 1 TD) led the team down the field for a TD on their first drive. Dalton was knocked out of the game on drive number two and rookie Fields took over at QB. That was pretty much it for the Bears offense as Fields (6/13, 60 yards, 1 INT) stunk up Soldier Field. The Bears only scored 13 more points because of a pick-six and they were set up for easy FGs by a ball-hawking defense that forced four turnovers.
Justin Fields has better situation than Lawrence or Wilson. The Bears have some talented skill players on offense and a good defense. It’s not all roses however as the coaching staff stinks. The Bears improved to 1-1, but if Dalton is out for any length of time Fields will have to get better in a hurry or they will quickly fall out of contention.
The Bengals literally gave this game away. They were only down 7-3 in the 3rd quarter before they turned the ball over on four consecutive possessions. You can’t do that and win. Joe Burrow (19/30, 207 yards, 2 TDs, 3 INTs) redeemed himself a little with a furious 4th quarter comeback that made the final score close, but he dug the hole himself to begin with. The Bengals dropped to 1-1.
Around The League
Raiders 26 Steelers 17
Did I mention earlier that I’m getting to be an old fart? I remember when a Steelers-Raiders game meant an old-fashioned slugfest with two teams battling it out on the ground. Not anymore. Neither team could run the ball so it turned into an air show with Derek Carr outdueling Ben Roethlisberger.
The Steelers defense is top-notch, but they were missing several key pieces in Week Two. The Raiders took advantage by letting Derek Carr ball out. Carr (28/37, 382 yards, 2 TDs) was terrific, spreading the ball around to eight different receivers. Henry Ruggs III (5 receptions, 113 yards, 1 TD) was his top target. Carr had to carry the load as the rushing attack only gained 52 yards. The defense prevented Pittsburgh from making any big plays. Big win in a tough road environment. The Raiders improved to 2-0 and are looking good. Although the past several seasons the Raiders have started well and faded as the year wore on. We’ll see if they finally turned a corner.
The Steelers offense looked poor, they never got the run game going and Ben Roethlisberger is reverting back to a dink and dunk passing game. Roethlisberger (27/40, 295 yards, 1 TD, 1 INT) couldn’t top 300 yards with 40 pass attempts. Pittsburgh only rushed the ball for 39 yards. Woof. The Steelers have a defense that can carry them into the playoffs, but the offense has to contribute more.
49ers 17 Eagles 11
In a somewhat ugly game that in no way shape or form represented today’s high flying NFL, the San Francisco 49ers held off the Eagles 17-11 in Philadelphia.
The series that defined this game occurred in the 2nd quarter when Eagles QB Jalen Hurts hit WR Quez Watkins with a 91 yard pass and Philadelphia couldn’t even get a single point. The Niners stuffed the Eagles on the goal line to force a turnover on downs.
The 49ers put together two 90+ yard TD drives and did nothing the rest of the game. Weird. Jimmy Garoppolo (22/30, 189 yards, 1 TD) was unspectacular, but didn’t turn the ball over. Deebo Samuels (6 receptions, 93 yards) did most of the damage in the air while the running game was weak, needing 38 carries to get 117 yards. San Francisco improved to 2-0 with a strong defensive performance.
Jalen Hurts (12/23, 190 yards) gained nearly half of his yards on one pass. Take that away and he had a putrid day. Hurts (10 carries, 82 yards, 1 TD) was much better on the ground. Ugly game for the Eagles offense. The defense was better, but got tired out on a couple of long drives. The Eagles fell to 1-1.
Rams 27 Colts 24
The Rams used a couple of goal line stands and an outstanding game by wide receiver Cooper Kupp to get past the Colts in Indianapolis.
Twice in the first half the Colts drove the ball down deep into Rams territory and left with zero points. On their first possession the Colts made it as far as the Rams one-yard line, but turned the ball over on downs. Later the Colts made it to the Rams three-yard line when Carson Wentz threw an interception. Those two possessions cost the Colts the game.
Matthew Stafford (19/30, 278 yards, 2 TDs, 1 INT) looked great when throwing the ball to Cooper Kupp (9 receptions, 163 yards, 2 TDs), otherwise he was rather blah. The running attack was rather blah too with 101 yards and 1 TD on 29 carries. Not a great game by the offense, but not bad either. The couple of big plays in the red zone and an injury to Carson Wentz saved the day for the Rams, who improved to 2-0.
The Colts not only dropped to 0-2, they lost Carson Wentz to injury. Double whammy. Wentz (20/31, 247 yards, 1 TD, 1 INT) was okay, but he did keep the Colts in the game despite the red zone miscues. The Colts were officially cooked when backup QB Jacob Eason (2/5, 25 yards, 1 INT) tossed a late interception. Michael Pittman (8 receptions, 123 yard) was the top target. The running game chipped in 109 yards on 26 carries.
Panthers 26 Saints 7
It was a wild swing for the New Orleans Saints, who kicked the Packers ass in Week One before getting their asses handed right back to them by the Panthers in Week Two.
The Jets couldn’t wait to dump Sam Darnold and the QB is a making the move look stupid in a hurry. Darnold (26/38, 305 yards, 2 TDs, 1 INT) was excellent against a Saints defense that gave Aaron Rodgers fits. The Carolina defense held the Saints to an embarrassing 128 total yards. Jeez, even the Jets did better against the Panthers. Carolina improves to 2-0 and are possibly becoming one of the breakout teams in 2021.
The best thing I can say about the Saints offense is that was balanced. They couldn’t run or pass the ball. Tough call who was worse between Jameis Winston (11/22, 111 yards, 2 INTs) or Alvin Kamara (8 rushes, 6 yards, 4 receptions, 25 yards). New Orleans better burn this film and get their shit together.
Bills 35 Dolphin 0
The Bills got a mediocre performance from Josh Allen and turned the ball over twice in Miami. They still stomped the Dolphins. Not looking good there Miami.
Allen (17/33, 179 yards, 2 TDs, 1 INT) wasn’t sharp, but the Bills running game was as they piled up 143 yards and three TDs on 30 carries. The defense was smothering as they allowed the Dolphins only 145 yards on 44 pass attempts and forced three turnovers. The Bills evened up their record at 1-1.
I’m sure some Dolphins fans will blame this loss on the injury to Tua Tagovailoa (1/4, 13 yards), but it’s time to face reality as backup Jacoby Brissett (24/40, 169 yards, 1 INT) is probably a better QB at this point. The Dolphins were pounded in all phases of the game and should just forget this game ever happened. Miami fell to 1-1.
Browns 31 Texans 21
This game was surprisingly close until Tyrod Taylor got injured and the Browns pulled away. Outside of his interception, Baker Mayfield (19/21, 213 yards, 1 TD, 1 INT) was sharp. But it was the ground game that really carried the load on offense. The running back duo of Nick Chubb (11 rushes, 95 yards, 1 TD) and Kareem Hunt (13 rushes, 51 yards) steamrolled the Texans defense.
Not a great showing by the Cleveland defense, who were lousy on 3rd downs and cut apart by Tyrod Taylor. The Browns improved to 1-1.
Is Tyrod Taylor the unluckiest player in the NFL? Always losing his job to younger quarterbacks despite playing well, now with the Watson situation he has a firm grasp on the Houston job and he gets hurt. Taylor (10/11, 125 yards, 1 TD) was beating up the Browns before leaving the game. His backup Davis Mills (8/18, 102 yards, 1 TD, 1 INT) wasn’t as good. The running back committee was lousy. Shout out to Texans head coach David Culley, who has his team ready to compete under trying circumstances. Houston fell to 1-1.
Buccaneers 48 Falcons 25
The old saying goes the only two things you can count on in life are death and taxes. Add Tom Brady beating the Falcons to that list as the old man improved to 9-0 vs Atlanta in his career.
Tom Brady (24/36, 276 yards, 5 TDs) tore up the Falcons secondary, connecting with ten (10!) different receivers. Two of those TD passes went to his old buddy Gronk. The Bucs didn’t run much despite their backs averaging 4.5 yards per carry. Bruce Arians loves the passing game too much. Better watch you don’t wear that old man out Bruce. Oh never mind, I forgot Brady sold his soul to the devil. The Bucs improved to 2-0.
The Falcons actually came back in this game, cutting the Bucs lead to 28-25 in the 3rd quarter. Then Matt Ryan (35/46, 300 yards, 2 TDs, 3 INTs) threw two pick-sixes in the 4th quarter to ice the game for Tampa Bay. For Christ’s sake Atlanta can’t do anything right. The Falcons fell to 0-2.
Cardinals 34 Vikings 33
The Cardinals won a wild shootout with the Vikings, basically because their kicker had a better day. Arizona kicker Matt Prater made all of his kicks, including a 62-yard FG. Minnesota kicker Greg Joseph missed an extra point in the 2nd quarter and then whiffed on a 37-yard FG attempt as time expired.
Kyler Murray (29/36, 400 yards, 3 TDs, 2 INTs) was great when he wasn’t throwing picks. One of his interceptions was returned for a TD and nearly cost the Cards the game. Murray also had a rushing TD. Rookie Rondale Moore (7 receptions, 114 yards, 1 TD) had a big game. Murray is as dynamic as any player in the league, yet turnovers are still a problem at times. If he gets a better handle on them the Cardinals could go far. Arizona improved to 2-0.
Didn’t the Vikings used to have a good defense? They sure don’t this year. The offense was game as Kirk Cousins (22/32, 244 yards, 3 TDs) and Dalvin Cook (22 rushes, 131 yards) each had strong showings. It is always a gut punch to lose a game by missing a very makeable field goal. The Vikings fell to 0-2.
One last game tonight. A showdown between the Detroit Lions and the Green Bay Packers, two 0-1 teams looking to turn their season around. I guess I'll go with the Packers in this one. Although it would be funny if the Lions knocked them to 0-2.
Thanks for taking the time to read. Let me know your thoughts on Week Two.