Week two in the NFL treated fans to an abundance of close games and, sadly, a host of injuries. Sports News Ireland reviews week two in the NFL.
Titans Surprise Ravens
The biggest shock of the week came in Tennessee, where the Titans beat the Baltimore Ravens. The Ravens had dismantled the Steelers in week one, forcing seven turnovers and running over the normally stout Pittsburgh run defence. This week, however, the Titans came out after half-time and slowly pulled away from the Ravens. The Tennessee Titans managed to shut down the Ravens offence, while Matt Hasselbeck dissected the lauded Ravens defence.
Ray Rice totalled 149 yards from scrimmage and two touchdowns against the Steelers, but his rushing yards dropped from 107 to 43 yards this week. Quarterback Joe Flacco was ineffective and only connected on 15 of his 32 passes, while throwing for a meagre 197 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions. Hasselbeck, conversely, threw for 358 yards, one touchdown and one interception. Wide receiver Kenny Britt was particularly dangerous and enjoyed his second prolific game in a row, catching nine passes for 135 yards and a touchdown.
The Ravens’ lack of consistency has hurt them in previous years, but Baltimore have a great chance to bounce back against the injury ravaged Rams on Sunday.
Falcons Outlast Eagles
One of the weekend’s marquee matches saw Michael Vick return to his former team the Atlanta Falcons. Vick left the field late in the third quarter with a concussion, but fans were treated to a thrilling match. Matt Ryan gave the Falcons a 21-10 lead early in the third quarter when he threw a 17 yard touchdown to Tony Gonzalez, but three unanswered third quarter Eagles touchdowns gave them a commanding 31-21 lead. The Falcons rebounded in the fourth quarter, however, and a one yard Matt Ryan touchdown pass and a three yard Michael Turner touchdown run helped Atlanta to victory. Matt Ryan now boasts an intimidating 21-2 career home record.
Lions, Bills and Texans Early Season Form Continues
The Detroit Lions, Buffalo Bills and Houston Texans have been three of the NFL’s underperforming franchises in recent memory. All three teams have started this season with two wins, however.
The Lions have been particularly poor in the past decade, even going 0-16 in 2008. Detroit produced a devastating performance on Sunday, thrashing the ailing Kansas City Chiefs 48-3. Quarterback Matt Stafford has been injury prone in his first two seasons, but his potential is finally being realised this year. Stafford threw for 294 yards and four touchdowns on Sunday, including two touchdowns to stud wide receiver Calvin Johnson. The quarterback now has 599 yards and seven touchdowns after two games.
The Bills have also been impressive in winning their opening two matches. Buffalo beat the Chiefs by 34 points last week and followed it up with a 38-35 victory over the Oakland Raiders. Three Ryan Fitzpatrick touchdowns helped the Bills overcome a 21-3 half-time deficit. The teams swapped the lead five times in the last quarter, with Ryan Fitzpatrick’s six yard touchdown to David Nelson sealing the game with 14 seconds remaining.
Meanwhile, the Texans eased to a 23-13 victory over the Miami Dolphins. The Lions and Texans were seen as playoff hopefuls pre-season, but the Bills are more of a surprise. Buffalo could come back down to Earth Sunday, however, as the Bills face the high flying New England Patriots.
Brady and Newton Back-To-Back 400 Yard Games
Cam Newton and Tom Brady became only the sixth and seventh players to record back-to-back 400 yard games on Sunday. Brady has continued last season’s spectacular form, while Newton’s adaptation to NFL life has been impressive. Newton has thrown for 854 yards and three touchdowns through two games, although the Panthers may be concerned about his four interceptions. The Panthers have been playing from behind, which has increased the team’s need to throw regularly and padded Newton’s statistics, but the number one draft pick’s poise and willingness to attack defences has been remarkable for a rookie quarterback.
Tom Brady has started this season in breathtaking fashion. The Patriots now has 33 TDs and one interception in his last 13 regular season games dating back to Week 7 of 2010. After putting up 517 yards and four touchdowns against the Miami Dolphins in week one, Brady dissected the San Diego Chargers for 423 yards and three touchdowns. Brady has been in prolific form for the best part of a season and is benefitting from a host of attacking weapons. The Patriots two young tight ends Rob Gronkowski (86 yards, two touchdowns) and Aaron Hernandez (62 yards, one touchdown) again created mismatches against the Chargers, while Deion Branch (129 yards) and Wes Welker (81 yards) got open with regularity.
The Patriots secondary is causing some headaches, however, giving up 378 passing yards. Bill Belichick will be disappointed his team is getting involved in shootouts, but Brady’s arm makes the Patriots one of the early season Super Bowl contenders.
Every season a quarterback or two looks to be on course to break Dan Marino’s season record of 5,084 yards. After two games, Tom Brady, Cam Newton, Philip Rivers, Drew Brees and Tony Romo are ahead of the pace Marino set in 1984.
Week two treated fans to a host of close matches. The Dallas Cowboys dramatically defeated the San Francisco 49ers in overtime. Tony Romo broke multiple ribs before returning and throwing a 77 yard pass to Jesse Holley on the first play in overtime. Dan Bailey then hit a 19 yard field goal to win 27-24.
The Cincinnati Bengals narrowly beat the Denver Broncos 24-22. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers trailed the Minnesota Vikings 17-0 at half-time, but 14 fourth quarter points and a four yard LeGarrette Blount touchdown run with 31 seconds remaining helped the Buccaneers to a dramatic 24-20 victory. Graham Gano kicked a 34 yard field goal with 1:45 left to give the Washington Redskins a 22-21 victory over the Arizona Cardinals.
A touchdown with 14 seconds remaining helped the Bills overcome the Raiders by 38-35, while the Falcons beat the Eagles by four points
Injuries Mount Up
The early season injuries continued to mount this past weekend. One of the NFL’s top running backs Jamaal Charles was lost for the season after the Kansas City Chiefs player tore his ACL. Fellow running back star Arian Foster aggravated his already injured hamstring, while Mike Vick suffered a concussion against the Philadelphia Eagles.
The Cowboys endured a trio of injuries to key contributors. Wide receiver Miles Austin torched the 49ers defence for nine catches, 143 yards and three touchdowns, but then injured his hamstring. Austin could miss multiple matches and return after the Cowboys’ week five bye. Running back Felix Jones separated his shoulder, while quarterback Tony Romo fractured multiple ribs but managed to return to the match at the end of the third quarter and impressively guide his team to victory.
Other injuries included Bears offensive tackle Gabe Cabrini (dislocated right knee), Patriots tight end Aaron Hernandez (knee), Panthers linebacker Thomas Davis (torn ACL), Broncos wide receiver Eddie Royal (groin) and Jets centre Nick Mangold (high-ankle sprain).
Ngata Signs 61m Contract
One of the league’s most dominating defensive tackles, the Baltimore Ravens’ Haloti Ngata, was rewarded with a five year, 61m contract on Tuesday. Ngata has been a commanding presence on the Ravens defensive line since he was drafted in the first round in 2006 (12th overall). The 27 year old had been designated with the franchise tag but will now earn about $40m in the next two years. Ngata has been to two Pro Bowls, been named as an All-Pro once and recorded 338 tackles, 12 sacks and three interceptions in his career. The defensive tackle also recorded 5.5 sacks last season.