Each week, Andrew Booth brings you a recap of the NFL’s latest news and a summary of the weekend tilts. Missed the games? These ten points are all that you need to know.
1) Cardinals and Patriots trade last minute gaffes as the Dirtybirds from Arizona escaped Foxburo with a two point victory, 20-18. The Cardinals defense played outstanding and Kevin Kolb didn’t make any mistakes, and New England couldn’t muster any consistent offence. New England TE Aaron Hernandez left the game with a scary looking ankle injury and could miss up to six weeks. We’ll find out what the Patriots are made of when they play the Ravens on NBC next Sunday night.
2) Eli Manning is still money in the fourth quarter. After throwing three interceptions in the first half and staking the Bucs to an 11 point lead, Eli stormed back to finish with 510 yards and three touchdowns. Eli Manning is the most clutch quarterback in the NFL. I mean, what? But it’s true, and the Super Bowl champs are right in the thick of things at 1-1.
3) New Orleans is sinking, and fast. After losing at home to RG3 and the Redskins in week one, the Saints went to Carolina and got ran over by Cam Newton and the Panthers, who finished with 253 yards in the air to go along with 71 on the ground and two touchdowns (one rushing). It’s nearing panic time for the Saints, as their defense has allowed a staggering 922 yards and 75 points against in the first two weeks. If they fail to beat the Chiefs in the Superdome next Sunday it could already be a lost season for the recent Super Bowl champs.
4) The Philadelphia Eagles have turned the ball over nine times in their first two games, and are 2-0 for the first time since 2004. Michael Vick got it done in the end, but it’s hard to get a gauge on this Eagles team. You’re not supposed to win football games like this, yet they are. Next week’s game against a vicious Cardinals defense is going to say a lot about one of these teams. And the award for “Coolest move that resulted in about a two yard gain” goes to Brent Celek, who caught the ball and then hurdled Eagles safety Ed Reed, who didn’t exactly go low on the tackle.
5) The rookie quarterbacks aren’t all terrible after all. After taking their licks in the first week, Andrew Luck, Ryan Tannehill and Brandon Weedon all had nice games this weekend, with both Luck and Tannehill picking up wins. Weedon and fellow rookie Trent Richardson both had big games for the 0-2 Browns, but it wasn’t enough to win the Battle of Ohio against the Bengals, who are tied for first place in the AFC North with Pittsburgh and Baltimore at 1-1.
6) People do not like Jay Cutler. The Bears quarterback stands behind one of the shakiest offensive lines in football, and hangs in there until he either throws the ball or gets walloped (and almost always both). Thursday Night in Green Bay wasn’t exactly a showcase of the finer points of quarterbacking, but with Clay Matthews breathing down his neck with the snap of every ball, it’s understandable Cutler was pressing. As for his shoving of an offensive lineman: if Tom Brady screams at his coordinator he’s “fiery” or “passionate”; if Cutler lets some anger out he’s a bad leader and teammate. It doesn’t help that Cutler wears such a disgusted look on his face, or has such awesome displays of sarcasm, but he’s the best Bears quarterback in decades, and is getting buried unnecessarily.
7) It’s about time for the replacement refs to go. The games are taking longer as the refs are having issues spotting the ball, every penalty call is an adventure, and nobody knows what is or isn’t pass interference at this point. The worst call of the week came in Seattle, where Seattle WR Golden Tate absolutely erased Cowboys linebacker Sean Lee on a quarterback scramble. While it was an awesome hit, the helmets connected and in the modern NFL climate Roger Goodell has to have that called.
8) It’s not time to bury the Buffalo Bills. After getting embarrassed by the Jets last week, the Bills reversed the story against the Kansas City Chiefs in a game that wasn’t even close. CJ Spiller was outstanding rushing for 123 yards and two touchdowns, and both Kansas City touchdowns came after the game was well out of hand. What do you make of the Bills now, then? Chances are they’ll fall back to earth (you can’t play the Chiefs every week after all), but with their prize free agent Mario Williams making plays on defense the Bills have to be optimistic going into week three. Dwayne Bowe caught two touchdowns and racked up 102 yards, but that is to be expected from one of the captains of the “Great Box Scores in Losing Efforts” all stars.
9) The Houston Texans may be the team to beat in the AFC. If the Broncos fall to the Falcons on Monday Night Football, the Texans will be one of two teams at 2-0, along with the San Diego Chargers. What separates these two teams is Houston’s defense, which hasn’t missed a beat following Mario Williams’ departure. Give the credit to former Cowboys coach Wade Phillips, who signed on as defensive coordinator at the start of last season. On the other side of the ball the Texans boast one of the most vicious two-headed running attacks in the league, as Arian Foster (110 yards, 1 TD on 28 carries) and Ben Tate (74 yards, 2 TDs on 12 carries) ran rampant over the Jaguars in Jacksonville.
10) The NFC West is a premier division. Each team already has a win (Cards and 49ers have two), a good-to-great coach and a top flight defense. Jim Harbaugh has the Niners physically dominating teams on defense, and with Michael Crabtree, Randy Moss, Mario Manningham, Vernon Davis and Frank Gore, Alex Smith is loaded on offense; it’s up to him to prove he won’t make mistakes, and so far he hasn’t. Seattle has another tough, physical defense, and by far the loudest home field in football. Russell Wilson has tools on offense, and so far seems cool enough to, at the very least, be a competent game manager. Despite quarterback issues, the Cardinals are two for two and are also relentless on defense. Patrick Peterson is a complete stud on defense and special teams. St Louis, although on a tier below its divisional counterparts, is going to be a tough out. Sam Bradford seems to have improved at quarterback, as he outdueled media sweetheart Robert Griffin III and the Redskins in St Louis.
Offense: Reggie Bush (MIA) – 26 carries, 172 yards, 2 TDs
Defense: Calais Campbell (ARI) – 10 tackles (2 sacks)
Special Teams: Seattle Seahawks – fumble recovery on opening kickoff and blocked punt for TD minutes later