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Team Notes week 3 2022
NEWS, NOTES, RUMORS AND OTHER GOOD STUFF
Directly from the desk of FlashUpdate Editor Bob Harris. The good; the bad; and yes. ... Even the Bears. There is no better way to jump start your weekend than browsing these always educational -- often irreverent -- team-by-team, Fantasy-specific offerings. ...
Access specific teams by clicking on a team name in the schedule appearing directly to your left or by clicking on a helmet below; return to the helmets by hitting the link labeled "Menu" following each teams notes. ...
Arizona CardinalsCompiled by FootballDiehards Editor Bob Harris | Updated 20 September 2022
After six quarters of the 2022 season, the Arizona Cardinals looked dead in the water.
Trailing 20-0 at halftime of Sunday's battle with the Las Vegas Raiders, the Cards offense couldn't find any traction, generating just five first downs and 86 total yards with a Kyler Murray interception. And the defense couldn't get off the field, allowing the Raiders to score on each of their first four possessions.
Then, as the team's official website put it: "The $240 million quarterback played like it when he needed to."
The offense came to life in the second half.
Murray created magic as Arizona stormed back to force overtime. In OT, corner Byron Murphy Jr. scooped up a Hunter Renfrow fumble and returned it for a game-winning score for the 29-23 victory.
"I had to take over," Murray said. "That was my mindset."
After halftime, Murray made plays with his arms and legs, generating 188 yards and a TD through the air and scampering five times for 28 yards and a TD on the ground.
As NFL.com put it, "During the second-half run, Murray tossed a handful of incredible completions (including a phenomenal grab by Marquise Brown between two defenders for a touchdown) and pulled off mind-blowing feats of football greatness to push the game to overtime. Then, the defense picked him up, carrying the Cardinals across the finish line for a stunning win."
He also converted one two-point conversion with a long scramble and squeezed a ball to A.J. Green in the back of the end zone on a second two-point attempt to force OT.
The defense also showed up after halftime, allowing just 66 yards in the second half and overtime.
"We started playing a lot better. That's what changed," defensive end J.J. Watt said after his first game back from a calf injury. "A game like this tells you a lot about yourself. It tells you a lot about the guys in the room."
It wasn't pretty, but the Cardinals avoided a depressing 0-2 start to the season with their furious comeback.
"The numbers might not be great," head coach Kliff Kingsbury said, "but we don't care about numbers."
Of course, as ESPN.com's Josh Weinfuss pointed out, the Cardinals wouldn't have been in the position they were in Sunday, needing overtime to pull off an unpredictable win over the Raiders, if their offense had been better earlier.
It has been in a major rut early in games and Arizona needs to figure out a way to get out of it or this season can get off the rails quickly. The offense looked stagnant in the first half yet again. Murray threw for just 53 yards and the Cardinals gained just 86. Only three receivers had targets.
If Arizona continues to get off to slow starts offensively -- which means the defense will spend more time on the field than is necessary -- they'll find themselves struggling to stay in games by halftime. The Cardinals were able to come back to win in Las Vegas, but that won't always be the case.
How do they get off to faster starts?
According to Weinfuss, it comes down to getting more players involved early and diversifying the playcalling.
Through two games, Arizona hasn't been utilizing a variety of playcalls early, which can set the tone early for both Arizona's offense and how defenses play the Cardinals. The more receivers Arizona uses earlier in games, the more a defense has to think -- something the Cardinals can use to their advantage.
They'll need to get things on point as they host their division rival, the Rams, this Sunday. ...
Other notes of interest. ... Running back James Conner wasn't on the field for the final stages of Sunday's comeback win against the Raiders, but it doesn't sound like he'll be out of action for too long.
Conner left the game with an ankle injury, but Ian Rapoport of NFL Network reports that it is not considered to be a serious injury. While there's no word on his availability for this week's game against the Rams, the report indicates that Conner is not believed to be a long-term absence.
Said Kingsbury: "He'll be day to day. He's a tough guy. We just wanted to make sure he was 100 percent if we were going to put him back in."
Conner ran seven times for 25 yards and caught two passes for 26 yards before leaving Sunday's game.
Darrel Williams and Eno Benjamin handled the backfield duties after Conner was hurt. Williams had eight carries for 59 yards and a touchdown while Benjamin ran eight times for 31 yards.
Meanwhile, both Rondale Moore (hamstring) and Andy Isabella (back) missed Sunday's game in Vegas. Their status this week remains up in the air, but reporting last week suggested Moore's injury could keep him out multiple games.
For what it's worth, Conner was seen getting some reps in during Wednesday's practice, likely as a limited participant. Brown did not practice Wednesday, but Kingsbury told reporters it was simply a day of rest for the speedy wideout.
I'll have more on Conner, Moore and Isabella via Late-Breaking Update in coming days. ...
Worth noting. ... With Moore out, Greg Dortch continued to contribute, catching all four of his targets for 55 yards and a touchdown.
While he fell a bit short of his Week 1 (he caught seven of nine targets for 65 yards), the touchdown saved the day for daily players (and season-long managers) who rolled him out. ...
In a related note. ... Zach Ertz caught 8-of-11 targets for 75 yards after entering the game with injury designation.
Ertz led the team in catches and yards while tying Brown with 11 targets. The veteran will remain a starting-level tight end as long as he remains healthy. ...
About Murray's above-mentioned long scramble. ... According to Next Gen Stats, the shifty signal caller traveled 84.9 yards on the successful two-point conversion scramble, the most distance traveled by an offensive ball-carrier on a two-point conversion attempt in the NGS era (since 2016).
And finally. ... Police in Las Vegas said Monday they're investigating allegations that a fan in the stands struck Murray amid celebrations of Arizona's overtime victory.
Murray was high-fiving front-row spectators at Allegiant Stadium when a man appeared to reach out and smack Murray in the face with an open hand.
Video showed Murray appear stunned, but not injured, then attempted to identify the attacker in the mostly happy crowd.
Officer Larry Hadfield, a Las Vegas police spokesman, confirmed that a battery complaint was made about 6:30 p.m. at the stadium. The report was not immediately available.
Hadfield did not name Murray as the reporting person, but confirmed the allegation was that "a spectator at the stadium struck a professional football player."
Hadfield said a suspect was not immediately identified and an investigation was ongoing. ...
You can access complete stats for the Cardinals Week 2 game via our exclusive Fantasy BoxScore.
QBs: Kyler Murray, Clayton Tune
RBs: James Conner, Michael Carter, Emari Demercado
WRs: Marquise Brown, Michael Wilson, Rondale Moore, Greg Dortch, Zach Pascal
TEs: Trey McBride, Geoff Swaim, Zach Ertz
Atlanta FalconsCompiled by FootballDiehards Editor Bob Harris | Updated 20 September 2022
According to the team's official website, Drake London was not all smiles after the Falcons' difficult 31-27 loss to the L.A. Rams on Sunday.
There were positive moments within that game, however, that he'll never forget.
For the second week in a row, the rookie wide receiver led the Falcons receiving room with eight receptions on 86 yards.
There was also a big first. London scored his first career touchdown. The Falcons went on a five-play scoring drive when quarterback Marcus Mariota connected with London on 4-yard slant route giving Atlanta its first touchdown of the game. Mariota ran over to London telling him to keep the ball after cementing a career milestone.
"There's only so many guys that get to play this game and to catch your first one, I think it's important to have it," Mariota said after the game. "It's such a milestone, right? You work your whole life to get to this point."
It's a moment the USC product will always remember.
"It's kind of surreal first time being in this stadium and I'm playing in it, and I score," London said. "It was kind of a cool homecoming type of feeling."
The 6-4 wideout was a much-needed spark for the Falcons on the offensive end after struggling through the first three quarters on Sunday. London is the first rookie receiver since Stefon Diggs in 2015 to have five-plus receptions and 70-plus yards in each of his first two career games. London's 160 receiving yards leads all rookies this season.
When asked about London's play through these first two games, Arthur Smith's response was straightforward.
"That's why we took him," Smith said. "We had a lot of conviction about the player. Again, it's not perfect and there's things we have to clean up with him. He's a big physical player and he'll continue to get better."
London's transition to the NFL looks seamless almost. As the youngest player in the receiver room, the immediate impact has shown he can emerge as WR1 for this core group. London has been competing at a high-level against Pro Bowl defensive backs in Jalen Ramsey and Marshon Lattimore through his first two games and he credits his teammates for having solid belief in his playmaking ability.
"A lot of work that goes into it, a lot of details, a lot of persistence at that," London said. "This team makes me feel comfortable out there. They give me all the confidence in the world to go be myself out there and that's why I appreciate this program and ball club."
London and the Falcons will head northwest to clash with the Seattle Seahawks in Week 3, looking to bounce back from two back-to-back losses. It certainly isn't the way the Falcons wanted to start the season but there's 15 more games left to turn things around and that's the focus moving forward.
"It was fun getting my touchdown in front of my family and home crowd but at the end of the day, we lost," London said. "We're trying to win in this league and that's all that matters. We got some stuff to clean up and we're going to get to it."
Meanwhile, Kyle Pitts' second NFL season is off to a slow start.
Against the Rams, the athletic tight end caught just two of three targets for 19 yards. The production mirrors the two grabs for 19 yards Pitts generated in Week 1.
While the fantasy football community rages over the lack of production from one of the Falcons' most talented players, Smith could not care less.
"Kyle is a huge part of our offense. You just have to take it with context. Other guys made plays," Smith told Tori McElhaney of the team's official website. "It's not fantasy football. We're just trying to win. We will continue to look at everything and try to get better."
After Pitts generated 1,026 receiving yards in 2021, the second-most by a rookie TE in NFL history, defenses are predictably keying on the playmaker. Now it's on Smith and the Falcons to adjust. Pitts is too talented a player to have just 38 total yards through two weeks. If Atlanta is to do more than just keep games close in 2022, Pitts needs to be more involved.
And to their credit, it looked like the Falcons were done for. Down 28-3 -- yes, that score again -- and the Rams were doing everything right.
But as ESPN.com's Michael Rothstein noted, for months now, Smith has talked about resiliency with his team and in the moment they needed it the most, they got it. Lorenzo Carter recovered a blocked punt for a touchdown. London caught the touchdown pass. Darren Hall -- inserted in the game in the second half -- forced Cooper Kupp to fumble for the first time in over a year.
And a blowout became the type of loss that, again, Atlanta can at least build off of. Which, when you're a franchise in transition, you can take.
Next up, the Falcons travel to Seattle to take on the Seahawks this Sunday. ...
One area Smith will be looking to improve this week: The red zone.
For two weeks in a row, the Falcons have put themselves in the position to win a game. For two weeks in a row, they've lost. And for two weeks in a row, two lines in the stat book played a major factor in said losses.
When the Saints were on the opposite side of the field in Week 1, the Falcons had a 50 percent touchdown conversion rate in the red zone. They were 2-for-4.
Meanwhile, the Saints scored all three times when they got inside the 20-yard line.
"We don't capitalize. We settle for three. Those usually add up," Smith said after the loss. "You get into the fourth quarter, it comes down and play here and there. I mean, there's a lot of little things that add up."
Red zone inefficiencies "usually come back to hurt you," he continued.
Against the Rams, the Falcons again went 2-for-4 in the red zone. The Rams - on the other hand - were 4-for-5.
After two weeks, two losses and two 50 percent red zone touchdown conversions, that is what the Falcons have to clean up. ...
Other notes of interest. ...
Mariota completed 17-of-26 passes for 196 yards, two touchdowns, and two interceptions. He added 16 rushing yards on six carries.
As NBCSportsEdge.com noted, Mariota mixed good with bad, tossing touchdowns to London and Olamide Zaccheaus but was picked at the goal line trying to hit Bryan Edwards in the second half. It was a back-breaker with the Falcons trying to come back after almost erasing that 28-3 deficit.
Mariota is what he is, and that's a mere bridge quarterback who isn't going to have big numbers in the box score. He remains back-end QB2/3 for Week 3 against the Seahawks. ...
After being inactive in favor of Damien Williams in Week 1, Tyler Allgeier got the green light this week with Williams (ribs) now on injured reserve.
Allgeier and Cordarrelle Patterson split carries right down the middle 10-10 in this one, with Patterson out-gaining him 41-30. Neither caught a pass, as Avery Williams handled two-minute work. Allgeier has a long way to go before he becomes fantasy-viable. He's more a thorn in the side of Patterson's early-down usage.
You can access complete stats for the Falcons Week 2 game via our exclusive Fantasy BoxScore.
QBs: Desmond Ridder, Taylor Heinicke, Logan Woodside
RBs: Bijan Robinson, Tyler Allgeier, Cordarrelle Patterson
WRs: Drake London, Mack Hollins, KhaDarel Hodge, Van Jefferson, Scott Miller, Jared Bernhardt, Josh Ali
TEs: Kyle Pitts, Jonnu Smith, MyCole Pruitt, John FitzPatrick
Baltimore RavensCompiled by FootballDiehards Editor Bob Harris | Updated 20 September 2022
According to ESPN.com's Jamison Hensley, Lamar Jackson was in no mood to talk about his record-setting performance after the Ravens' fourth-quarter collapse in a 42-38 loss to the Miami Dolphins on Sunday.
Jackson produced his 11th 100-yard rushing game, which eclipsed Michael Vick for the most by a quarterback in NFL regular-season history. He finished with 119 yards rushing, including a 79-yard touchdown run.
"I want to win," Jackson said. "That record doesn't mean nothing if we're not winning."
Jackson's touchdown run was the longest of his career and staked Baltimore to a 35-14 lead with 26 seconds left in the third quarter. But Jackson and the Ravens' offense managed 89 total yards and three points in the fourth quarter, in which the Dolphins rallied for one of the biggest comebacks in recent history.
"We just got to finish," Jackson said. "It came down to the fourth quarter. They were putting points on the board and we wasn't. We just got to finish when we're up."
Last year, the Dolphins held the Ravens to 10 points, their fewest ever with Jackson, because they were able to apply pressure on him with repeated blitzes. On Sunday, Jackson made Miami pay early with three touchdown passes, including a 75-yarder to Rashod Bateman.
Jackson became the first player in NFL history to record a touchdown pass and run of 75 yards or more, according to Elias Sports Bureau research.
"I told you guys earlier this week, we were going to have something for them if they did the same thing," Jackson said. "We saw when they were bringing that zero blitz and we executed."
In the first three quarters, Jackson was 14-of-17 for 228 yards and three touchdowns. In the fourth quarter, he was 7-of-12 for 90 yards. His final pass was a desperation one that fell incomplete to Bateman in the end zone.
"We can't dwell on that," Jackson said. "It's still early in the season. We ain't going to let this loss define us."
Indeed, the big plays are back for the Ravens.
Coming into the season, many were curious as to how the Ravens wide receiver corps, labeled "unproven" by the media, would perform. Through two weeks, Bateman has amassed 167 receiving yards and two touchdowns, while wide receiver Devin Duvernay reeled in two touchdowns in Week 1 and two grabs for 42 yards in Week 2.
Both have caught the attention of CBS' Phil Simms, who sees the Ravens transitioning their offense.
"Bateman is by far their best route runner and [with] Duvernay, they can make big plays," Simms said during the pre-game broadcast. "I think we're seeing what the Ravens are slowly transitioning to: a passing offense and let Lamar do his thing."
Bateman has produced two 50-plus yard plays and the receivers have caught five of Jackson's six touchdown passes.
With that in mind, Hensley believes "the big plays are back for the Ravens."
"The Baltimore offense had lacked electricity recently, totaling two plays of at least 70 yards in the past two years," Hensley wrote. "Downfield passing was a point of emphasis for the Ravens in training camp, and it has paid off early this season. In two games this season, Jackson has connected with wide receiver Bateman on touchdown passes of 55 and 75 yards."
But what happened to the Ravens defense?
The Ravens matched the largest blown lead in franchise history, failing to hold a 21-point lead in the fourth quarter because of a banged-up defense. The Ravens gave up four touchdown passes in the fourth quarter with a secondary that had one of their top cornerbacks. Baltimore played most of the fourth quarter without its top cornerback (Marlon Humphrey) and had its No. 3 cornerback (Brandon Stephens) inactive.
Jaylen Waddle caught the winning, 7-yard touchdown pass over rookie Jalyn Armour-Davis, who was pressed into action because of the injuries.
Hensley went on to note this is unchartered territory for Baltimore under head coach John Harbaugh.
Since 2008, the Ravens had won all 86 previous games in which they led by 12 or more points in the fourth quarter.
But history suggests Baltimore can rebound and fulfill its high expectations. Over the last decade, seven teams have suffered fourth-quarter collapses of 16 points or more -- and four went on to reach the playoffs (2015 Seahawks, 2018 Bears, 2018 Eagles and 2020 Bears). This shows that teams can take a staggering punch to the gut late in a game, but it doesn't have to be a knockout blow to the season.
"We have to own it, every single person," Harbaugh said. "I told the guys in the locker room, 'How we respond to this, that will be the story.'"
The Ravens hope to start that rebound this Sunday, when they travel to New England to take on the Patriots. ...
Other notes of interest. ... Bateman finished the day with a 32 rate target rate, but FantasyLife.com's Dwain McFarland notes the second-year man was again rotated off the field more than usual for a starting wideout.
He finished Sunday's game with 74 percent route participation after 71 percent in Week 1. Per McFarland, top wideouts usually get 85 percent or better in that category.
That said, McFarland added: "Not sure how they keep him off field going forward. ..."
Mark Andrews caught 9-of-11 targets for 104 yards and a touchdown against the Dolphins. As NBCSportsEdge.com suggested, Andrews, after a quiet Week 1 against the Jets, was close to unstoppable against Miami, once again serving as Lamar Jackson's top target and regularly burning single coverage over the middle.
Meanwhile, after playing 45 percent of the snaps in his first game, rookie tight end Isaiah Likely was down to 36 percent in his second game but hauled in four catches for 43 yards. A drop on third down in the fourth quarter proved costly, however. ...
On the injury front. ... Running back J.K. Dobbins was a full participant in practice all three days last week, but he was not given the green light to make his first game appearance since tearing his ACL last summer.
Dobbins was listed as questionable and the Ravens made him inactive ahead of their kickoff against the Dolphins.
On Monday, Harbaugh didn't offer any predictions about whether Dobbins will be on the field in New England in Week Three.
"I think it's been week-to-week the last couple weeks. So, that's what it is. When he's ready, he'll be out there," Harbaugh said.
Kenyan Drake, Mike Davis, and Justice Hill all saw action in the backfield on Sunday. They ran 14 times for 28 yards in the loss to Miami.
According to those who cover the team on a daily basis, Dobbins is pushing hard to get back in the mix.
Duvernay suffered a concussion against the Dolphins and did no practice Wednesday as he begins working his way through the concussion protocol.
In addition, Jackson was wearing a protective sleeve on his right arm in Wednesday’s practice and did not throw a pass to receivers during media viewing, according to mulitple osbservers at the session.
I'll have more on both Jackson and Dobbins in coming days; check the Late-Breaking Updates section for more. ...
Finally. ... Harbaugh announced that edge rusher Steven Means tore his Achilles. His season is over. Harbaugh said that Means tore his other Achilles earlier in his career.
You can access complete stats for the Ravens Week 2 game via our exclusive Fantasy BoxScore.
QBs: Lamar Jackson, Tyler Huntley, Josh Johnson
RBs: Gus Edwards, Keaton Mitchell, Justice Hill, J.K. Dobbins
WRs: Zay Flowers, Odell Beckham, Rashod Bateman, Nelson Agholor, Tylan Wallace
TEs: Isaiah Likely, Charlie Kolar, Mark Andrews
Buffalo BillsCompiled by FootballDiehards Editor Bob Harris | Updated 20 September 2022
As Profootballtalk.com's Michael David Smith reminded readers, the Bills entered this season as the betting favorites to win the Super Bowl.
Through two games, they've been even better than expected.
The schedule makers did the Bills no favors, giving them last year's Super Bowl champion Rams in Week 1 and last year's AFC No. 1 seed titans in Week 2.
Combined score: Bills 72; Rams plus Titans 17.
The Bills' 41-7 destruction of the Titans on Monday Night Football was the most lopsided result of this NFL season, and the Bills' 31-10 win over the Rams in the Thursday night opener was the fourth-largest margin of victory so far this NFL season. The Bills' total point differential of 55 points this season is the best in the NFL; no other team has outscored its opponent by even half as many points. (The Chiefs and Buccaneers are second with a total point differential of 26 points through two games.)
A big reason for their success comes from the connection of quarterback Josh Allen and wide receiver Stefon Diggs, who are already off to a historic start to the season.
As ESPN.com's Alaina Getzenberg notes, Diggs caught 12 passes for 148 yards and three touchdowns, joining Jerry Rice (1987, 1995) as the only players with multiple three-touchdown catch games on Monday Night Football, per Elias Sports. Two of the pair's three touchdowns came in the third quarter when the Bills put up 24 points to establish a game-ending lead over the Titans.
Facing a Titans secondary that was down a starting corner in Kristian Fulton, Diggs got an early start and never let up as he routinely gained separation leading to several easy completions for Allen in the passing game.
"It felt good getting him the ball early and often," said Allen. "He did a great job of getting open, making plays, making some great catches. So, he is what he is. It's Stefon Diggs. We know he is one of the greatest, if not the greatest, receiver in the game right now, and I trust him implicitly."
According to Chris Brown of the team's official website, it began innocently enough with the first play from scrimmage as Allen hit Diggs on a short inside route for four yards. But as the game wore on Diggs was frequently running open on short routes, intermediate routes and deep routes.
"As a receiver, you want to be able to do everything, especially if you consider yourself a wide receiver one," said Diggs. "You've got to be everything for your quarterback. I've got a quarterback that can do everything. So, for me, I've just got to do my job. If I'm doing my job, I'm alright. Giving my quarterback that comfortable feel that safety blanket so he's out there not thinking too much just kind of kind of trusting that I'm going to be open. And I'll make a play for you."
Through the first half, Diggs pulled in receptions of eight, 16, nine, 15 and nine yards before pulling in a four-yard touchdown on an improbable throw on the back side of the play to put Buffalo up 17-7 at the half.
"It was fourth down and obviously, (I'm) not throwing the ball away there," said Allen. "I'm okay to extend the play, try to take a sack, if need be, but give somebody a chance there. And he just kind of got lost behind everybody. I was looking left; he came all the way right. I just kind of (spotted) him, and he did a great job of working to get open there. And he made the play for us."
Come the second half, Allen made three consecutive completions to Diggs with the last being a 46-yard touchdown pass as Diggs beat Tre Avery on an inside move to the end zone to balloon Buffalo's lead to 24-7 early in the third quarter.
But Diggs' night wasn't done. Two possessions later after an interception off a tipped pass by Jordan Poyer, Allen found Diggs one more time for a 14-yard touchdown catch on a quick slant to put the game away (34-7) with five minutes left in the third quarter.
The dominant performance against the Titans was not a first for Diggs. While it was his most productive performance against Tennessee, it was his third 100-yard receiving day against the Titans, with one coming with Buffalo in 2020 and the other with the Minnesota Vikings in 2016.
Being without No. 2 wide receiver Gabriel Davis ended up not being a problem for Buffalo with eight different receivers catching passes. Allen now has seven passing touchdowns to start the year, the second-most in the first two games in Bills' history (Jim Kelly, eight in 1991). The quarterback finished the game 26-of-38 (68.4 percent) for 317 yards and the four scores. He also had one rush for 10 yards.
While the offense exploded off the page, especially in the middle two quarters, the Bills defense more than help up on its end, limiting quarterback Ryan Tannehill to 11 completions and forcing four turnovers.
Buffalo is 2-0 for the third time in the last four seasons after having three 2-0 starts in the previous 15 seasons -- and it was the team's first home win on Monday Night Football since 1994. ...
Much of Allen's success came on play-action. His four play-action passing touchdowns are the most in his career and the most the Titans have allowed in a game since ESPN began video tracking in 2006. His 14 completions on play-action throws tied for the second-most of his career, and his 219 yards on play-action were the third-most of his career.
Buffalo's schedule doesn't get easier in the coming weeks, with road games at Miami and Baltimore next, followed by a home game against the Steelers and then a road game at Kansas City and a Sunday Night Football matchup with the Packers.
The Bills have plenty of big games ahead, but they look like they're very much up to the task. ...
On the health front. ... This is out of the Bills' control, but they suffered a wrath of injuries in the win over the Titans. Starting cornerback Dane Jackson was taken off of the field in ambulance after suffering a neck injury when hit by teammate Tremaine Edmunds. Safety Micah Hyde left the field on a cart with a neck injury, and linebacker Matt Milano (stinger) and defensive tackle Jordan Phillips (hamstring) finished the game with injuries, but they wouldn't have played more anyway as the Bills rested many of the starters at the end of the game.
Dawson Knox apparently suffered a foot injury against the Titans. He was not practicing Wednesday while Davis worked on a limited basis.
With a short week ahead, the status of Knox and Davis bear watching. I'll have more on both players via Late-Breaking Update in coming days. ..
Also of interest. ... Devin Singletary rushed six times for 19 yards, adding two receptions for two additional yards.
As NBCSportsEdge.com notes, Singletary's services were seldom called upon in this one, with three of his six carries coming on the Bills' first drive. Singletary has just 14 carries for 67 yards on the season, but a low-volume role could be the norm for the veteran running back.
Playing in a committee (with Zack Moss and James Cook) on a team as pass-heavy as the Bills leaves little opportunity for Singletary to make a significant impact. ...
And finally. ... Offensive tackle Bobby Hart has been suspended for one game as a result of an incident after Monday night's game against the Titans.
The suspension was handed down by NFL Vice President of Football Operations Jon Runyan.
"As both teams were heading to the tunnel, you walked directly across the field to seek out your opponent," Runyan wrote in a letter to Hart. "You approached him near the end zone and a coach had to hold you back as others shook hands. Once you and your opponent were in the end zone near the tunnel, you confronted him and immediately swung at him with a closed fist, striking the head of a Tennessee coach. Your aggressive conduct could have caused serious injury and clearly does not reflect the high standards of sportsmanship expected of a professional."
Hart has the right to appeal, but if he loses the appeal he will miss Sunday's game against the Dolphins. Hart is a backup who has played 19 offensive snaps and 12 special teams snaps this season.
You can access complete stats for the Bills Week 2 game via our exclusive Fantasy BoxScore.
QBs: Josh Allen
RBs: James Cook, Latavius Murray, Ty Johnson
WRs: Stefon Diggs, Gabe Davis, Khalil Shakir, Trent Sherfield, Deonte Harty
TEs: Dalton Kincaid, Quintin Morris, Dawson Knox
Carolina PanthersCompiled by FootballDiehards Editor Bob Harris | Updated 20 September 2022
As ESPN.com's David Newton pointed out, Baker Mayfield had a chance to be the hero Sunday, facing third-and-6 from the 46-yard line with 2:42 remaining and the Panthers trailing the New York Giants 19-16.
The Panthers' quarterback knew the Giants would bring pressure, and they did, when strong safety Julian Love blitzed over rookie left tackle Ikem Ekwonu.
"I've got to do a better job of being able to get the ball out and give us a chance to win there," Mayfield admitted after the 19-16 loss.
For the second straight week, the Panthers lost in the fourth quarter on a field goal of 56 or more yards, something that had never happened before in consecutive weeks in NFL history. And for the second straight week, Mayfield failed to do something special in the fourth quarter with the game on the line.
The week before, in a 26-24 loss to the Cleveland Browns, he fumbled the snap at the Browns' 14 with 1:27 remaining and, ultimately, Carolina settled for a field goal that left it vulnerable to the 58-yard game-winner.
Newton went on write, "When you're a franchise quarterback, you're expected to make plays that result in wins. Mayfield hasn't done that during an 0-2 start that extended Carolina's losing streak to nine, the longest in the NFL.
"He's been average at best, and his stats reflect that."
Mayfield was 14-of-29 for 145 yards and 1 touchdown on Sunday. He was only 6-of-16 when the Giants sent four or fewer pass-rushers, a 35 percent completion rate that was the worst of his career in those situations.
The Panthers were only 2-of-12 (16.7 percent) on third down a week after they were 4-of-11 (36.4 percent) against the Browns.
Newton acknowledged. This isn't all Mayfield's fault, but franchise quarterbacks tend to make big plays with the game on the line, and he hasn't.
The third-and-6 play magnifies it.
"We were trying to get Christian McCaffrey on a quick play, because we were going to go for it on fourth down [if we failed]," head coach Matt Rhule said. "Once it was a sack ...
"And that was really the tale of the second half, was our inability on third down to handle the pressure and pressure packages."
On a day when McCaffrey topped 100 yards rushing (102 yards, 15 carries) for the first time since 2019 and the defense shut down Giants running back Saquon Barkley for most of the day, Mayfield and the rest of the offense failed to make enough plays.
Rhule is quick to point out the team is getting "close," that Mayfield has been in the system only a few months and is getting better.
But if Mayfield doesn't start making plays and winning games, as silly as it might sound, there could be a buzz to bring Sam Darnold back in Week 5, when he is eligible to come off injured reserve and return from his left high ankle sprain.
Rhule isn't looking that far ahead. And he's not looking at other personnel moves even though he has basically played only three receivers -- D.J. Moore, Robbie Anderson and Shi Smith -- for two weeks.
Rhule said they need to work Terrace Marshall Jr. and Rashard Higgins in more often, but it's not a priority.
"We're at that point now where we don't need to change," Rhule said. "We just need to battle and push through. That to me is how you get over a hump."
Mayfield has a reputation for being a fighter, but so far that hasn't been enough to lift the team out of its mediocrity.
"If we can protect the quarterback, we have guys who can get open and make plays," Rhule said. "But if we're under duress and kind of running around all the time, it's hard to do that."
If that doesn't change, the Panthers will be in the precarious position of having to start over at quarterback for the fourth straight year.
Mayfield is staying focused on this season. He reminds that the Panthers haven't played an NFC South game, with the first one coming next against the 1-1 New Orleans Saints.
Meanwhile, it's fair to wonder how hot Rhule's seat is after a pair of losses to open the season.
According to Newton, "Not quite sizzling, but it's heating up fast."
The roster is deeper and better than a year ago, but the bottom line is the Panthers have lost a league-high nine straight dating to last year. Owner David Tepper won't make any rash decisions this early in the season, but the fan base that already was restless could get brutal after two five-win seasons and now this.
The team still isn't disciplined enough or good enough to consistently win, and that falls back on the head coach. ...
Other notes of interest. ... McCaffrey played 91 percent of the snaps this week, up from 81 percent in Week 1. He totaled 128 scrimmage yards (102 rushing, 26 receiving) for his 34th career game with at least 100 total yards from scrimmage.
It was his 11th career 100-yard rushing game and first since he had 108 yards at Green Bay during Week 10 in 2019.
McCaffrey averaged 6.8 yards per rush, the seventh-highest among Carolina's 100-yard rushing games in the last 10 seasons. ...
Moore caught 3-of-6 targets for 43 yards and a touchdown against the Giants. As NBCSportsEdge.com suggested, two big catches (including his TD where he was wide open) kept Moore from having an ugly day.
It was thought that Mayfield would give Moore a boost, but that hasn't yet been the case. Moore faces a tough matchup against the Saints this week. ...
For what it's worth, Rhule said they also see trade acquisition Laviska Shenault Jr. as "a weapon" they'd like to use, but he hasn't been active in the two weeks since coming over in a deal with the Jaguars. ...
You can access complete stats for the Panthers Week 2 game via our exclusive Fantasy BoxScore.
QBs: Bryce Young, Andy Dalton
RBs: Chuba Hubbard, Miles Sanders, Raheem Blackshear
WRs: Adam Thielen, Jonathan Mingo, D.J. Chark, Terrace Marshall Jr., Laviska Shenault, Ihmir Smith-Marsette, Mike Strachan
TEs: Hayden Hurst, Tommy Tremble, Ian Thomas, Giovanni Ricci
Chicago BearsCompiled by FootballDiehards Editor Bob Harris | Updated 20 September 2022
The Dolphins, Jets and Cardinals all rallied from double-digit deficits to record stunning comeback road victories Sunday afternoon.
The Bears tried to continue that trend hours later in Green Bay, closing to within 24-10 of the Packers on Cairo Santos' 44-yard field goal in the third quarter and then marching 89 yards to the Green Bay 1 on their next possession.
Looking to make it a one-score game, Justin Fields took a shotgun snap on fourth-and-goal and powered into the line. He disappeared into a sea of bodies but was ruled to have come up short of the end zone. Bears coach Matt Eberflus challenged the call, but the ruling was upheld after a replay review.
"We thought we had a good look at it, so we made the challenge," Eberflus said. "They thought otherwise and that is the way it goes sometimes. But we thought that was the best play we had at that point to score. If we score there, it is a different ballgame. It is a one-score game at that point and we still have a chance right there to win."
The stop on Fields came with 8:07 remaining in the fourth quarter.
Asked if he felt he broke the plane of the goal line, he said: "Yeah." Asked how much a TD would have altered the game, Fields said: "It changes everything. Again, I didn't get in, so I have to face the facts, move on."
It appeared that the Bears had scored a touchdown on the play before Fields was stopped short. On third-and-goal from the 6, Fields raced around right end and dove for the goal line. After conferring, officials signaled a TD, ruling that Fields had touched the pylon with the ball. But a replay review showed that his knee was down before the ball touched the pylon.
Overall, however, the Bears had success on the ground, rushing for 180 yards and one TD on 27 carries.
David Montgomery gained 122 yards on 15 attempts. It was the eighth 100-yard game of his four-year NFL career and his second in six contests against the Packers.
"The O-line did a great job of creating some space and I just kind of took what I saw," Montgomery said.
The former Iowa State standout had a long run of 28 yards and averaged 8.1 yards per carry Sunday night after being held to 26 yards on 17 carries on a flooded field in the season opener.
"When he's able to cut on solid turf, it's pretty special," said tight end Cole Kmet. "It makes guys want to block a little harder and a little longer."
Asked if the Bears entered Sunday night's game planning to run the ball as much as they did, Montgomery said: "It was just the flow of the game; just go with what's working at the moment and it was working, so we stuck [with] it."
Remember: The Bears' opening possession was a thing of beauty; they marched 71 yards on seven plays capped by a Fields' 3-yard TD run around right end.
Montgomery rushed for 38 yards on four carries and Fields completed a 30-yard pass to Equanimeous St. Brown off a flea-flicker to fuel the Bears' only touchdown drive of the game.
"It felt good," Montgomery said. "We've just got to do it more often and help our defense out a little bit."
It was the Bears' first TD on an opening drive in a road game since Week 16 of the 2020 season in Jacksonville.
Unfortunately, the Bears had no answers for Aaron Jones or A.J. Dillion, whom the Packers funneled everything through on Sunday.
Chicago's defense allowed nearly 6 yards per rush en route to Jones rushing for 132 yards and a touchdown and adding another score off a shovel pass that he took 15 yards to the end zone while juking defenders the entire way. In total, Green Bay ran 38 times for 203 yards, and what's equally alarming is how the Bears' missed tackles contributed to extending drives and losing the time-of-possession battle.
Aaron Rodgers' receivers had 133 yards after the catch on a night when the QB picked apart inexperienced DBs and made it look easy.
Next Sunday, the Bears host the Texans.
Perhaps we'll find out where Darnell Mooney and Cole Kmet fit into this scheme.
As ESPN.com's Courtney Cronin suggests, the Bears' offense is a work in progress, but this unit cannot go another week without getting its top playmakers involved.
Mooney, Chicago's top receiver, has two catches for 4 yards in the first two games of the season. Kmet has been targeted twice in two weeks, but it's not as if the third-year tight end isn't being sent out on routes (he ran 10 on Sunday).
So while it's true the rushing attack was working and Montgomery fought hard for the ground he gained, the offense failed to make the necessary adjustments needed to keep pace with Green Bay and the Bears' star pass-catchers were missing in action once again.
"We're looking at that," Eberflus said. "I think that is a concern. We want to get better there. We want to improve. There's no question. We want to improve in a lot of parts of our football team, other aspects of our football team, but that's one of them. The touches, who we are looking at, getting touches early, getting guys involved, all those things are getting looked at as we're looking through the course of our whole football team."
In 2021, Mooney (81 catches for 1,055 yards and four TDs) and Kmet (60-612-0) combined for 141 receptions for 1,667 yards and four TDs.
Eberflus acknowledged that the Bears offense will only be successful if Mooney and Kmet are involved in the passing game.
"We need to highlight our skill," Eberflus said. "We know that. So we're going to try to do a better job of that. We will do a better job. We've got great coaches. Those guys are smart. They know how to get it done and we will get it done."
Meanwhile, through two games, St. Brown has been targeted a team-high 7 times, catching three passes, and has the most receiving yards with 57.
While no one is content with the results of the passing game, St. Brown said the team is still working on fine tuning the details of a new scheme.
"I think that every team that has a new offense, it's going to take some time to get all the little details correct," St. Brown said. "It's not easy to do it on a consistent basis. The defense gets paid to stop you as well. So, I think any time a team has a new coach, new offense, it's going to take some time to get a grip on it. ..."
On the injury front. ... Rookie receiver Velus Jones Jr. missed his second straight game with a hamstring injury. Jones did not practice Wednesday. Tight end Ryan Griffin (Achilles) also did not practice Wednesday.
I'll have more on their progress via Late-Breaking Update in coming days.
You can access complete stats for the Bears Week 2 game via our exclusive Fantasy BoxScore.
QBs: Justin Fields, Tyson Bagent, Nathan Peterman
RBs: Khalil Herbert, D'Onta Foreman, Roschon Johnson, Travis Homer, Khari Blasingame
WRs: D.J. Moore, Darnell Mooney, Tyler Scott, Velus Jones Jr., Trent Taylor, Equanimeous St. Brown
TEs: Cole Kmet, Robert Tonyan, Marcedes Lewis, Jake Tonges
Cincinnati BengalsCompiled by FootballDiehards Editor Bob Harris | Updated 20 September 2022
The Bengals spent the offseason upgrading the offensive line after Joe Burrow got banged around last season. Through two weeks, it's been more of the same.
Burrow was sacked six times in Sunday's 20-17 loss to the Dallas Cowboys, taking his total to 13 to open the 2022 campaign.
"I think we've given up too many sacks, absolutely," head coach Zac Taylor said Sunday bluntly.
Burrow's 13 sacks lead the NFL, with Saints quarterback Jameis Winston (dealing with a back injury) coming in second with 10.
It was the first time in Burrow's career he's been sacked six-plus times in back-to-back games -- the first QB with such a streak since Matt Ryan in 2019 (Weeks 12-13).
"It's all frustrating," Taylor said when asked about the sacks. "We've given ourselves an opportunity to win these games against good teams, so once things settle down, I know that we're going to be a really good football team."
The last QB to take 13-plus sacks through Week 2 and go on to start more than 10 games was David Carr, who did so twice (2002 and 2005; led NFL in sacks each year). Carr set an NFL record for sacks taken (78) in a season in 2002. Burrow led the NFL with 51 sacks taken in 2021.
Burrow credited the Cowboys' defensive front for disrupting the Bengals' offense, which was disjointed all game.
"They have a great rush, I would say top two or three best rushed in the league," Burrow said. "They've got Demarcus Lawrence, Micah (Parsons), they do a really good job with their picks in game, too. And so, early in the game, you're going to have those and I can do a better job of getting the ball out quickly. I thought, for the most part, we protected the ball well in those situations and that was my goal this week. And then in the second half, I thought the offensive line protected great. We kind of warmed-up in the run game and then we're able to have some more time in the pass game and that's what comes off of that. When we're able to run the ball well, they might be thinking 'run' and so then they're not so quick to get into their pass rush. So, the second half was more efficient, better for us, but just need to prolong that for the entire game."
It was clear for long stretches that the Bengals didn't trust the offensive line to sustain their blocks long enough for Burrow to test the Cowboys' secondary. Burrow threw just one pass of over 20 air yards all game, with 25 of his 36 attempts coming within 9 yards of the line of scrimmage, per Next Gen Stats.
La'el Collins, one of the linemen brought in to help protect Burrow, struggled against his former team and was called for two false starts.
"We don't want our quarterback getting hit, getting sacked," Collins said. "None of that. But, end of the day, we gotta put this behind us. We have two games in 10 days, so we gotta get ready for it."
More broadly speaking, however, Cincinnati's offense must be significantly better than it has been the first two weeks.
That was evident against Dallas in which they didn't get into the red zone until deep in the fourth quarter. As ESPN.com's Ben Baby notes, the performance came one week after the Bengals struggled offensively in an overtime loss to the Steelers. The offense has been an issue dating back to the end of last season and needs an urgent fix.
The Bengals are the first team to start 0-2 after making the Super Bowl since the 2015 Seahawks. That season, Seattle finished 10-6 and made the postseason as a wild-card team. If Cincy is to dig themselves out of the hole, it'll start with a Week 3 game against the New York Jets before hosting the Miami Dolphins on Thursday Night Football in Week 4.
Meanwhile, wide receiver Ja'Marr Chase launched his NFL career with a number of big plays early in the 2021 season and he kept making them all the way to the Super Bowl, but the first two weeks of this season have been quieter.
Chase's longest gain through two weeks is a 24-yard reception in the season opener and he was held to 54 yards on five catches against the Cowboys. The Bengals have seen defenses working to take away the splash plays that the Bengals made so often last year and Chase said on Sunday night that they need to alter their approach in order to get back on track offensively.
"I just think people know how to adjust to us now," Chase told the team's website. "I feel like we need to learn to make more adjustments in game. Everybody knows what we're going doing to do now. So everyone knows what to expect when we play."
Burrow concurred with Chase and said the Bengals are "going to have win a different way this year and we need to figure that out quickly so that we can get in the win column." Those adjustments are made all the more difficult by the protection issues that have also plagued the Bengals through the first two weeks.
With two losses already in the books, there's no time to waste before making the necessary tweaks in Cincinnati. ...
Also worth noting. ... Joe Mixon had 19 rushes for 57 yards in Dallas, adding three receptions for 26 yards.
As NBCSportsEdge.com noted, Mixon couldn't find the end zone against Dallas but once again involved in the Bengals' passing offense -- a good sign for his long-term fantasy prospects.
Mixon in Week 1 had a whopping 34 touches against the Steelers. He hasn't scored a touchdown on his 57 early-season touches, but Mixon drafters shouldn't panic. He's clearly the team's workhorse and should suffice as a low-end RB1 for as long as he's seeing a hefty portion of the carries and backfield targets. ...
On the injury front. ... Receiver Tee Higgins returned from concussion in Dallas and appeared to play without difficulty. Tight end Drew Sample suffered a right knee injury during the second quarter of Sunday's game.
The team declared Sample out for the rest of the game a short time later.
"It was brutal to see how his leg got twisted and turned around on the tackle," CBS play-by-play announcer Jim Nantz said during the broadcast.
Taylor confirmed that on Wednesday, telling reporters that Sample will underdog surgery and be sidelined for "several months."
Fellow tight end Hayden Hurst was held out of pactice Wednesday due to the lingering groin injury that was an issue in practice last week. The issue didn't keep him from playing on Sunday.
I'll follow up via Late-Breaking Update in coming days. ...
You can access complete stats for the Bengals Week 2 game via our exclusive Fantasy BoxScore.
QBs: Jake Browning, Joe Burrow
RBs: Joe Mixon, Trayveon Williams, Chris Evans, Chase Brown
WRs: Ja'Marr Chase, Tee Higgins, Tyler Boyd, Trenton Irwin, Andrei Iosivas, Charlie Jones
TEs: Irv Smith Jr., Tanner Hudson, Drew Sample, Mitchell Wilcox
Cleveland BrownsCompiled by FootballDiehards Editor Bob Harris | Updated 20 September 2022
As Associated Press sports writer Tom Withers, there are losses that can linger and leave marks, some that don't heal so quickly.
Withers went on to suggest the Browns may have suffered one with an unimaginable giveaway Sunday.
Less than two minutes from a 2-0 start before a raucous home crowd in what's supposed to be the "soft" portion of their schedule while waiting for Deshaun Watson to return, the Browns imploded, crumbled, disintegrated, shattered.
Leading by 13 points, they gave up 14 in 60 seconds in a still-hard-to-fathom collapse and gift-wrapped a 31-30 victory for the New York Jets, who to their credit never stopped fighting until zeroes showed on the FirstEnergy Stadium scoreboard.
The Browns played 58 minutes and quit.
"It's a tough one," said All-Pro left guard Joel Bitonio, who thought he had seen it all over nine seasons with Cleveland. "Every loss is tough. This one was especially tough. We thought we had it in the bag. We just did not do enough."
That's being kind.
The Browns' mistakes in the final two minutes were bewildering for a pro team. No wonder they heard boos leaving the field. They earned them.
All-Pro defensive end Myles Garrett felt the negativity was extreme. Bitonio wouldn't go there.
"They put their hard-earned money in support of the team and they were frustrated and they were disappointed, just like we were frustrated and disappointed," Bitonio said. "Hopefully we don't give them a reason to boo in the future."
Only in Cleveland has been a slogan of both civic pride and embarrassment for years. Well, consider that until Sunday, NFL teams had won 2,229 consecutive games when leading by 13 with two minutes left.
The Browns ended the streak. They also started it in 2001.
Whether it was running back Nick Chubb scoring on a 12-yard run instead of staying inbounds (he wasn't told not to) to run out the clock or cornerback Denzel Ward letting Jets receiver Corey Davis get behind him (he said it wasn't his assignment) for a lightning-quick TD or Cleveland failing to recover an onside kick, there was plenty of blame to be shared.
Head coach Kevin Stefanski must answer for why his team let an almost certain win turn into a soul-crushing loss
"A tough pill to swallow," Stefanski said Monday. "The frustration is very, very real when you have a game that you feel like you can close out and we didn't so that is the frustration and that is the disappointment."
The Browns were lucky in Carolina two weeks ago. They let a late lead slip away with defensive miscommunication breakdowns that was supposed to be cleaned up. Only rookie Cade York's 58-yard field goal saved them.
But after Chubb scored his third TD Sunday with 1:55 left, and York missed the extra point, the Browns committed probably the worst of their late-game sins when Ward, perhaps thinking he was getting deep help from safety Grant Delpit, left Davis uncovered for a 66-yard touchdown.
"Just a blown coverage and we let a guy run free," Ward said.
The stunning strike gave the Jets life and hope. The Browns handed it to them.
Consider this: According to Next Gen Stats, the Jets had a 0.3 percent win probability following Chubb's touchdown.
It would be easier to forgive that type of error if almost the same exact thing hadn't happened seven days earlier.
That's on Stefanski, defensive coordinator Joe Woods and secondary coach Jeff Howard, who don't have much time to fix things with the rival Pittsburgh Steelers coming to town Thursday.
He's also got to repair his team's fractured psyche.
"They (losses) hurt and I think it's just so important because of that you got to real fast turn the page," Stefanski said. "Does not mean you do not own it, does not mean you do not make corrections, but you better turn the page."
The end result?
Stefanski's being second- and third-guessed for numerous decisions, starting with him not relaying to his offensive playmakers to stay inbounds late. The Jets were out of timeouts and the Browns could have taken three knees and left with a win before the cavalcade of mistakes.
It won't help that Defensive end Jadeveon Clowney will miss Thursday's game with an injured right ankle. Clowney, who had a strip sack in the first half, went out in the third quarter with a non-contact injury. Stefanski did not provide any specifics of the injury. But the coach said at his Tuesday press conference that defensive end Myles Garrett is dealing with a neck injury.
But at least a couple of players were able to return to practice on the short week, according to the team's injury report.
Tight end Harrison Bryant (thumb, thigh) and offensive tackle Chris Hubbard (illness) were upgraded from non-participants on Monday's estimate to limited for Tuesday's practice.
Bryant has caught five passes for 63 yards in Cleveland's first two games.
Offensive guard Joel Bitonio (biceps) did not practice, along with Clowney (ankle) and Garrett (neck). Offensive tackle Jack Conklin (knee) was limited. And defensive end Isaiah Thomas (hand) was full.
Stefanski said on Monday that tight end Jesse James and defensive end Chase Winovich would not be in the lineup against the Steelers on Thursday night and they'll miss at least three more games as well.
The Browns announced on Tuesday that both players have been placed on injured reserve. James has a biceps injury and Winovich injured his hamstring.
James played 18 offensive snaps and 11 special teams snaps in the first two weeks of the season.
David Njoku and Bryant are the remaining tight ends on the active roster
The Browns will issue one more injury report before Thursday's game that should provide some more clarity on who will be available; I'll follow up as needed via Late-Breaking Update. ...
Jacoby Brissett rebounded from a nervy opener, completing 22 of 27 passes for 229 yards and a TD. He also moved well, picking up 43 yards -- 21 on a late scramble -- and played the final few minutes on a sprained ankle. He is not on the injury report and is fully expected to play Thursday.
A few final notes here: It took a little longer to gain traction, but Cleveland's running game rolled up 184 yards on New York's solid defensive front. The Browns' 401 yards rushing through two games are the team's most since 1974 (416).
Chubb rushed 17 times for 87 yards and three touchdowns in this one, adding three catches for 26 yards on three targets. Chubb scored from four, seven and 12 yards out. He's now totaled over 100 yards in back-to-back games to open the season in the Browns' run-heavy offense and is a locked-in RB1 every week with a date with the Steelers on deck.
Also worth noting. ... Amari Cooper caught 9-of-10 targets for 101 yards and one touchdown.
As NBCSportsEdge.com notes, after a 3-17-0 line on six targets in Week 1, Cooper was very active against the Jets, easily pacing the team with his 10 targets. Cooper caught a six-yard score in the second quarter after Donovan Peoples-Jones was unable to get his feet in on the previous play.
Cooper is still difficult to trust as much more than a WR3/4 ahead of Thursday night's game against the Steelers with Brissett under center another nine games. ...
Looking for positives for this passing attack?
Last Sunday, the Steelers had zero sacks in a game -- after seven in Week 1 -- for just the third time since 2017. T.J. Watt did not play in two of those games. ...
And finally. ... As noted above, many things had to go wrong for the Browns to steal defeat from the jaws of victory against the Jets on Sunday, including their failure to recover an onside kick with 1:22 left in the fourth quarter.
As Profootballtalk.com notes, Cooper was on Cleveland's "hands" team and the ball was kicked toward him. He appeared to have a chance to at least bat the ball out of bounds if not recover it himself. But cornerback Justin Hardee got on top of the ball instead and allowed the Jets to score the game-winning touchdown.
Via Withers, Cooper told reporters on Tuesday, "It was my play to make and I didn't make it."
Cooper added that kickers have changed from popping the ball in the air when attempting onside kicks. At that point, players knew to go up in the air and grab it, even at the risk of getting hit.
"It's kind of a new way of teams onside kicking the ball to where you don't really know if it's going to go 10 yards and it's moving at an awkward angle -- more difficult to locate the ball and make a play on it," Cooper said, via video from Mary Kay Cabot of Cleveland.com. "On one hand, you want to get to the ball as fast as possible. But on the other hand, you don't want to misjudge the ball. It's just more difficult. But at the end of the day, you have to make those types of plays."
Cleveland will at least get to put their ugly loss behind them quickly with a Thursday kickoff. ...
You can access complete stats for the Browns Week 2 game via our exclusive Fantasy BoxScore.
QBs: Joe Flacco, Dorian Thompson-Robinson, P.J. Walker, Deshaun Watson
RBs: Jerome Ford, Kareem Hunt, Pierre Strong Jr., Nick Chubb
WRs: Amari Cooper, Elijah Moore, Cedric Tillman, Marquise Goodwin, David Bell
TEs: David Njoku, Jordan Akins, Harrison Bryant
Dallas CowboysCompiled by FootballDiehards Editor Bob Harris | Updated 20 September 2022
Head coach Mike McCarthy went for it on fourth down from his territory on Cooper Rush's first series filling in again for injured star quarterback Dak Prescott.
The Cowboys converted, beat Cincinnati when few thought they would after a poor offensive showing in a season-opening loss and might have made it considerably easier to navigate their path without Prescott, however long it is.
"I hope they see that with me every time I get in front of them, every time I interact with them," McCarthy said when asked if he was seeking a boost of confidence for a team shaken by the opener. "I don't want to be taking crazy risks and so forth. It's not worth it most of the time. I just like the way we started. It was a very easy decision."
Noah Brown caught Rush's 17-yard pass on fourth-and-2 from the Dallas 44, leading to Brown's his first career touchdown on a 9-yard toss in the best game of his six-year career.
The Cowboys went 75 yards for TDs on their first two possessions of a 20-17 victory over the defending AFC champion Bengals after being the only NFL team not to get in the end zone on opening weekend, losing to Tampa Bay 19-3.
As Associated Press sports writer Schuyler Dixon noted, Rush struggled to keep the offense moving after that in the first of what could be several starts while Prescott recovers from a fracture near the thumb of his right hand.
Dallas needed about 30 yards in the final minute to get in field goal range after a huge stop by the defense when Joe Burrow and the Bengals had offensive momentum for the first time.
Rush got them that and a few more -- with a big boost from another catch by Brown.
Brett Maher kicked a 50-yarder as time expired, making Rush the first Dallas QB to lead game-winning drives in his first two starts. The first was at Minnesota last year when Prescott was sidelined by a calf strain.
"It's just a testament to all of the work we put in, in the facility," said Brown, who had a career-high 91 yards receiving. "Not a lot of people get to see Cooper, or me in the past really. But the work showed today."
Rush filled in just once last year when Prescott had a calf strain. The Cowboys know it will be more than that this time.
Executive vice president of personnel Stephen Jones suggested Prescott could be back as early as Week 4. Owner and General Manager Jerry Jones agree, telling listeners on 105.3 The Fan he thinks Prescott may surprise people with how quickly he returns from the injury to his throwing hand.
That said, a Week 5 visit to the defending Super Bowl champion Los Angeles Rams seems more realistic.
"We weren't going to rush Dak back," Jerry Jones said. "The nature of Dak's repair allows him to play when he can grip the ball. And that's not rushing him back. If he can't grip the ball, he'd be the first to tell you he doesn't want to play."
But Dallas can't ask for much more from Rush than what it got Sunday.
He was smart and protected the football well, but Rush also took some calculated risks. The trust in him was displayed by Kellen Moore calling for a deeper shot from Rush when the Cowboys got it back on their penultimate drive.
Rush was 16-of-24 passing for 209 yards and a TD when he was not under pressure and 6-of-8 passing for 76 yards and a TD when he was blitzed against the Bengals.
"Every time you're out there you just want to go play ball and do your job," Rush said. "Fortunately, I have a very good football team. That helps. Great players around me and you just want to keep getting better. In the end, it was only my second career start, so you just want to keep improving, tons of stuff to look at and learn from and that's what we will do this week."
Rush is set for his first start against an NFC East opponent for the defending division champs. Dallas is at the New York Giants next Monday night. Logic says Rush will start again back home against another division foe, Washington, on Oct. 2. ...
There are things to work on: The Cowboys are tied with Arizona for the worst third-down conversion rate at 24 percent through two weeks. Dallas was 3 of 10 against the Bengals after going 3 of 15 against the Buccaneers.
But other things are going quite well. ... Defensive coordinator Dan Quinn's unit has allowed one touchdown apiece to offenses led by Tom Brady and Burrow in the first two weeks. The six sacks of Burrow were the most for the Cowboys since 2018 against the New York Giants. Dallas limited Joe Mixon to 3 yards per carry a week after Leonard Fournette averaged 6.
Reigning NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year Micah Parsons has two sacks in each of the first two games, giving him 17 in 18 games for his career. That's the most in NFL history for a player's first 18 games since sacks became official in 1982.
Running Tony Pollard averaged 7.5 yards on 13 touches, keyed by a 46-yard play that went down as a pass when he took a shovel pass from Rush behind the line of scrimmage to within inches of the goal line. The play was ruled a touchdown before getting overturned on review. He scored on the next play. He had 43 yards on nine carries (4.8 average).
Meanwhile, Ezekiel Elliott had 15 carries for a pedestrian 53 yards, adding one catch for minus-4 yards.
As NBCSSportEdge.com notes, Moore reverted to run-establishing mode once the team took a stunning 11-point lead in the first half thanks to an efficient and aggressive passing attack. Elliott plodded for 3.5 yards per carry even as Pollard broke a big play -- or threatened to break a big play -- seemingly every time he touched the ball.
Through two games, Elliott has rushed for 105 yards on 25 carries and has minus-7 receiving yards. He managed to lose nine yards on a second down carry in the second quarter against the Bengals. ...
On the injury front. ... Dalton Schultz injured his knee late in Sunday's game while trying to catch a pass from Rush. He played 55 of 61 snaps, missing the end of the game after his injury with 2:28 remaining.
Schultz underwent an MRI on Monday, and the news was positive.
He has an injury to the posterior cruciate ligament in his right knee, Todd Archer of ESPN reports. The injury is the same one that bothered Elliott all of last season, though the running back played all 17 games.
Schultz's availability for Monday night's game against the Giants is unknown at this time, but he won't miss significant time.
Jerry Jones said this injury could result in a one-week absence.
"The issue is whether he goes this week or not," Jones said Tuesday. "I don't look for this to be, my assessment is, it's not long term."
The Cowboys have rookies Jake Ferguson and Peyton Hendershot on the active roster at the position with Sean McKeon on the practice squad.
CeeDee Lamb appeared to play through lower leg discomfort after one of his legs bent awkwardly on a tackle in the first half. "I'm not leaving this field. They're going to have to carry me off this field in order for me to get off. That's what was going through my head," Lamb said.
But the Cowboys may be getting some help at wide receiver this week.
Stephen Jones said on 105.3 The Fan Monday that Michael Gallup could make his first appearance of the 2022 season when the Cowboys face the Giants. Gallup tore his ACL last year and has been practicing on a limited basis.
"Certainly Gallup has a chance to work back in. Certainly possible for him to be up against the Giants this week," Jones said, via Mark Lane of WFAA.
Cowboys owner Jerry Jones said on Sunday that Gallup is "very much is capable of playing in a ball game," but said he would not make a specific comment about the wideout's availability for this week.
McCarthy added to that on Wednesday, when he told reporters Gallup will “take a full slate of reps this week.”
Lending further credence to that notion, the team dropped Dennis Houston was dropped from the roster. The undrafted rookie will be eligible to be claimed by the league's other 31 teams on waivers.
The Cowboys did not fill the spot on the 53-man roster, but they'll likely be using it for a signing off their practice squad. Quarterback Will Grier and offensive lineman Alex Lindstrom were elevated as their two weekly promotions last Sunday. They can be promoted again, but they may also need to summon tight end Sean McKeon if Schultz is out and one of the elevations would need to be formally signed to the roster in that scenario.
I'll have more on Gallup, Schultz and Lamb as needed via Late-Breaking Update in coming days. ...
You can access complete stats for the Cowboys Week 2 game via our exclusive Fantasy BoxScore.
QBs: Dak Prescott, Cooper Rush, Trey Lance
RBs: Tony Pollard, Rico Dowdle, Deuce Vaughn, Hunter Luepke
WRs: CeeDee Lamb, Brandin Cooks, Michael Gallup, Jalen Tolbert, KaVontae Turpin, Jalen Brooks
TEs: Jake Ferguson, Luke Schoonmaker, Peyton Hendershot
Denver BroncosCompiled by FootballDiehards Editor Bob Harris | Updated 20 September 2022
As NFL.com reported it, tired of their team's poor clock management on Sunday afternoon, Broncos fans decided to help.
Onlookers at Empower Field at Mile High began counting down the play clock "5, 4, 3, 2, 1..." near the end of Denver's 16-9 win over Houston.
"Yeah, I guess that was helpful if needed," Russell Wilson said, chuckling. "I guess they do that in basketball sometimes -- you know I've been around some basketball players and stuff like that. You know, this crowd was amazing tonight. Once again, how they were especially when the defense was out there with the game on the line -- I know how hard that is as a quarterback hearing all of that noise and all that tenacity. That was great that our fans we're really into it and just a great football crowd for sure."
Through two weeks, the Broncos have struggled to get in and out of the huddle in a timely fashion.
On Sunday, they were called for two delay-of-game penalties and three false starts, usually not an issue at home games.
"We're just going to have to be sure we evaluate everything, whether it's getting the personnel out there -- or lack thereof -- and making sure the plays are coming in nice and clean," head coach Nathaniel Hackett said. "We've just got to keep talking about that. I'll talk with Russ, find out anything that I can do to help him make it better."
Hackett added: "That's inexcusable. That's on us. That's us hurting ourselves."
Broncos fans grew frustrated with the club's inability to put away the Texans. The offense struggled with Wilson completing just 45.2 percent of 31 pass attempts (a career low), and once again misfired in the red zone, going 0-2.
Boos rained down from Denver fans.
"I would be booing myself," Hackett said. "I was getting very frustrated. We get down to the red zone two times. Don't get another touchdown, which is unbelievably frustrating. I don't think we have scored in there yet. That's something that all of our guys have to step it up. Whether we run the ball more, whatever we're doing, we just have to execute at a higher level."
Still, when all was said and done, Wilson overcame a slow start and the cascade of boos to get the win.
As Associated Press sports writer Arnie Stapleton notes, for much of the day, it was just as unsightly as Wilson's return to Seattle six days earlier, replete with a hostile crowd, problematic play calls, red zone quicksand and a profusion of head-scratching penalties.
"All I really care about is the cheers at the end," Wilson said, "because we won."
The Broncos were flagged 13 times for 100 yards, giving them 25 penalties on the year, their most ever in back-to-back games.
But they pulled it out on defense, holding Houston to a trio of field goals by Ka'imi Fairbairn.
After completing just six of his first 20 throws, Wilson went 4-for-4 on the Broncos' go-ahead scoring drive that featured a 35-yard strike to a wide-open Courtland Sutton and a 22-yard payoff to tight end Eric Saubert that put Denver ahead 13-9 early in the fourth quarter.
"We're of the 'always improving' mindset," Saubert said. "So, we're going to keep getting better every single week. It's scary what we can do. You know, we get rid of those penalties, we execute in the end zone, we'll be a really good team."
Wilson finished 14 of 31 for 219 yards with one TD and an interception. He followed up his only TD throw with a clock-chewing drive that ended with Brandon McManus' 50-yard field goal with 3:41 remaining for the final margin.
Wilson completed just 6-of-16 passes for 98 yards with a time to throw of 2.5 or more seconds. He had a 45.2 completion percentage and a 66.5 passer rating Sunday, the lowest completion percentage in a win with 30-plus passes in his career.
"We have a lot of faith in No. 3," said Denver defensive Dre'Mont Jones, who had a pair of sacks. "That's why he makes $250 million."
On one of Wilson's incompletions, the Broncos lost wide receiver Jerry Jeudy to a rib injury that the team initially said was an injured right shoulder. It's the second straight September that Jeudy has gotten hurt; he missed two months last season after spraining an ankle in the opener.
The Broncos also lost star cornerback Patrick Surtain II to a shoulder injury and he was replaced by rookie Damarri Mathis, who had five tackles and broke up a pass.
Meanwhile, after going 0-for-4 in the red zone at Seattle on Monday night, the Broncos twice drove inside their opponent's 5-yard line in the first half only to come away with field goals.
In the first quarter, Wilson had three incompletions from the Texans 2, including one where Sutton failed to get his left foot down inbounds.
Just before halftime, Wilson threw incomplete to Javonte Williams at the goal line from the 5 when it appeared he could have run it into the end zone himself. Then, after Williams bullied his way to the 1, Wilson lined up in the shotgun and had to throw the ball away, bringing McManus on again for a 24-yarder that tied it with 20 seconds left.
"I've been in so many tough games throughout my career," Wilson said, via the team's website. "All that matters is that win. Then, taking those wins and understanding, 'OK, here's the areas where we can get better.' We'll definitely take on that challenge we're looking forward."
The next challenge comes on Sunday night when the Broncos host the 49ers. ...
As for the injuries. ... The prognosis is better than the team originally expected, Hackett said Monday.
Jeudy, who exited Monday's win over the Texans in the first quarter, did not return to the game. Neither did Surtain, who played just 25 snaps.
But after further evaluation, Hackett said, the two players will just be "day to day" as they recover.
"Good news from them -- they'll be day to day," Hackett said. "So we thought that both of those might be bigger, longer injuries. So we're excited that they're day to day. Not sure if they're going to be able to [play in] the game, but we're hoping. We're crossing our fingers for that."
Prior to their injuries, Jeudy had a reception for 11 yards and Surtain made two tackles.
In the meantime, the Broncos could see the return of two other starters in inside linebacker Josey Jewell and offensive lineman Billy Turner. Jewell has been sidelined with a calf injury since the first week of practice in the regular season, and Turner has been gradually progressing in his return from a knee injury.
"They're very close," Hackett said. "We're hoping they're both going to practice; as of right now, we're expecting that. They're day to day. We'll see how that goes."
Hamler, who played without any apparent difficulty in the opener, was held out against the Texans.
Hamler played 40 snaps in Week 1. Hackett said he was unsure whether Hamler would play in a week-on, week-off fashion, but he believed Hamler would be OK as the season progresses.
"We're going to play it by ear," Hackett said. "I think everything's up in the air right now. I think he'll be good as we move forward."
I'll have more on Jeudy, who was not practicing Wednesday, and Hamler, who was limited, via Late-Breaking Update in coming days. ...
You can access complete stats for the Broncos Week 2 game via our exclusive Fantasy BoxScore.
QBs: Russell Wilson, Jarrett Stidham
RBs: Javonte Williams, Jaleel McLaughlin, Samaje Perine
WRs: Courtland Sutton, Jerry Jeudy, Marvin Mims Jr., Lil'Jordan Humphrey, Brandon Johnson
TEs: Adam Trautman, Chris Manhertz, Greg Dulcich
Detroit LionsCompiled by FootballDiehards Editor Bob Harris | Updated 20 September 2022
The Lions improved to 1-1 on the season with their 36-27 victory over the Commanders on Sunday. While defensive end Aidan Hutchinson rightly grabbed headlines for his 3.0-sack performance, one of Detroit's young receivers continued to display his talents.
Amon-Ra St. Brown caught nine passes for 116 yards with a pair of touchdowns. And he took a pair of carries for 68 yards -- one of which was a 58-yard end around that helped set up a touchdown to give Detroit a 29-15 lead in the third quarter.
"He's a pit bull that plays receiver," head coach Dan Campbell said.
St. Brown has now tied an NFL record with eight straight games of at least eight catches, dating back to last season.
"I don't think too much about records," St. Brown, who on Wednesday was named NFC Offensive Player of the Week, said.
"He's a very friendly target is the best way to describe it, if that makes sense," quarterback Jared Goff said postgame. "[A]lways comes back to the ball, always catches the ball away from his body, is always where he needs to be, understands coverage, understands what I'm looking at, what I'm looking for. Always asking questions. Comes downhill when he's breaking out on that touchdown just to make sure that guy can't make a play on it. Little things like that that typically you can't teach, and he has it.
"So, it's a guy I'm lucky to play with, and sky's the limit for him."
Through two weeks, St. Brown has 17 receptions for 180 yards with three TDs. As FantasyLife.com's Dwain McFarland pointed out, St. Brown posted a 30 percent-plus target share in his eighth consecutive game.
A fourth-round pick out of USC in 2021, he finished his rookie season leading Detroit with 90 receptions, 912 yards, and five receiving touchdowns.
Goff said that at this point, it's a surprise when St. Brown makes a rare error.
"[H]e's mistake-free pretty much and does such a great job both in the pass game and in the blocking game, and is such an anchor for us in both areas of the game, and a guy that we always just want to get the ball to," Goff said. "We have a few of those guys on our offense, but he's one of them where it's like, 'How do we find a way to get him in space?'
"[H]e played great, and he was the first one to say like, 'Man, I had that one and that one, that could have been that one.' And that's the best thing about him."
As the Lions try to build a winner under Campbell and GM Brad Holmes, St. Brown certainly looks like a player they'll be able to build around for years to come.
In a matchup of the top two picks from the 2016 draft, Goff outplayed Carson Wentz.
Detroit's quarterback was 20 of 34 for 256 yards with four touchdowns, a week after helping Detroit score 35 points in a three-point loss to Philadelphia.
Wentz completed 30 of 46 passes for 337 yards with three touchdowns and an interception, leading an offense that didn't have a first down until its sixth possession.
"We are a good offense, but we can be a great offense -- and one of the best in the league," Goff said.
And Goff might turn out to be more than a bridge quarterback.
And the offense in general might be better than expected.
Detroit got major contributions from its top weapons, notably Goff, St. Brown, T.J. Hockenson and D'Andre Swift. There's no reason to believe their production isn't sustainable - if healthy.
Through the first two weeks of the season, Detroit has combined to produce 71 points and 811 yards of offense. Their 71 points through the first two games are the third most in team history since the NFL/AFL merger, and their 811 yards are the fifth most.
The Lions have scored 35 or more points in each of their opening two games for the first time since 1970.
Those 71 points put them in a tie with the Chiefs for most in the NFL this season.
Notable as well, Washington had a 72-61 advantage in plays run, but the Lions had the edge in places that count -- points and final score. The Lions gained 425 yards to 395 for the Commanders. They did it with big plays. Their top seven plays gained 216 yards, just under 30.1 yards per play. Washington's top seven gained 179 yards and 25.6 yards per play.
Particularly noteworthy is that the Lions' offensive line has played well, even though it was banged up yesterday with two starters, center Frank Ragnow and left guard Jonah Jackson, both out with injuries. After Sunday's win, Lions coach Dan Campbell made a point of praising backups Evan Brown and Dan Skipper, who filled in for Ragnow and Jackson.
As Profootballtalk.com's Michael David Smith put it, "After an ugly start to the 2021 season, the Lions' offense improved significantly as they won three of their last six games and scored 29, 30 and 37 points in those three wins. The Lions' offense took that momentum into this season and is surprisingly looking like one of the best offenses in the league."
Next up, the Lions will try to keep their roll going with a game against division rival Vikings in Minnesota. ...
Worth noting. ... Assistant head coach and running backs coach Duce Staley challenged Swift this offseason to play through injuries more when it's safe to do so.
Swift dealt with an ankle injury all week, but he still totaled 87 yards from scrimmage on seven touches. He had a 50-yard run in the first quarter, and his 22-yard touchdown in the second half was a critical score in the contest. As DetroitLions.com's Tim Twentyman noted, Swift wasn't 100 percent, that was clear, but he still battled through the injury and had a big impact in the game. Staley should be proud of his young back.
Along those lines, Campbell said Swift (ankle) is "feeling much better" this week, but he isn't practicing Wednesday; I'll have more on the star running back via Late-Breaking Update in coming days. ...
You can access complete stats for the Lions Week 2 game via our exclusive Fantasy BoxScore.
QBs: Jared Goff, Teddy Bridgewater
RBs: David Montgomery, Jahmyr Gibbs, Craig Reynolds, Zonovan Knight
WRs: Amon-Ra St. Brown, Josh Reynolds, Kalif Raymond, Jameson Williams, Donovan Peoples-Jones, Antoine Green
TEs: Sam LaPorta, Brock Wright, James Mitchell
Green Bay PackersCompiled by FootballDiehards Editor Bob Harris | Updated 20 September 2022
Coming off a season-opening loss in Minnesota, the Packers pretty much called their shot about what was needed to get the offense going.
A healthy dose of Aaron Jones and A.J. Dillon.
As Wes Hodkiewicz of the team's official website noted, that was the message head coach Matt LaFleur relayed to his running backs in the week leading up to Sunday's regular-season home opener against the Chicago Bears.
"Coach came out and said it, 'We're going to get you and AJ the ball more, get you guys more involved.' That just naturally put a smile on my face," Jones said. "I knew I had to show up when my number was called."
Jones energized both the Packers' offense and the 78,350 in attendance at Lambeau Field with another career-defining performance during Sunday's 27-10 win over the Bears.
The Pro Bowl running back racked up 132 yards and a touchdown on 15 carries (8.8 yards per rush), while adding three receptions for 38 yards and another TD.
After last Sunday's 23-7 loss to the Vikings, LaFleur lamented the fact Jones and Dillon combined for just 15 carries and 23 touches despite having a fair amount of success on the ground.
The duo practically matched those numbers during the first 30 minutes against the Bears en route to Green Bay finishing with 203 rushing yards on 38 carries. It's the third time under LaFleur that the Packers, as a team, have rushed for at least 200 yards.
Green Bay broke the game open in the second quarter thanks in part to Jones and Dillon, who combined for 11 touches for 92 yards in that quarter alone to spark three TD-producing drives.
And the rest of the offense followed.
"We've got two great backs and you look at their ability to make people miss and to break tackles," said receiver Randall Cobb, who had three catches for 37 yards. "Aaron had a hell of a day and AJ provided a big piece for us in the run game. That's where it all starts for us, as long as we can run the ball like that and make that the emphasis, it opens up everything for us in the back end."
Jones' rushing touchdown came on the first play of the second quarter and was a perfect combination of his vision, the offensive line blocking well at the second level and the receivers' willingness to body up defenders.
Allen Lazard, who missed last week's game due to an ankle injury, sealed off Bears linebacker Roquan Smith off the right side to spring Jones for the score.
There were plenty of times Jones and Dillon appeared on the field together, as well. The two-RB package, which was called "Pony" last season, allows the Packers to play around with pre-snap motions and misdirection.
It paid dividends when Dillon threw the lead block on Smith to clear a motioning Jones on his 8-yard touchdown off a push pass from Rodgers later in the second quarter.
"AJ does it all," Jones said. "He catches the ball. He can block. He was blocking their starting middle linebacker Roquan on that and he sprung me into the touchdown. That shows a lot. AJ cares about me. I care about him. We'll lay it all out for each other."
The Packers used the backfield to get the rest of the passing offense going. For example, Chicago had eight defenders in the box when Rodgers faked the handoff to Jones in the fourth quarter on the play he hit Sammy Watkins for a 55-yard pass.
On the whole, it was a great day for the offense.
The opening drive stalled and only produced a field goal, and there was one three-and-out mixed in during the second quarter. But touchdown drives of 75, 54 and 67 yards put the Packers in command, up 24-7 at intermission.
One of those scoring drives included converting on second-and-28 in two plays, and then two snaps later finding the end zone for the first two-score lead of the night.
"You could argue that might've been the most pivotal play in the game," LaFleur said of the wide receiver screen on second-and-28 to rookie Romeo Doubs, which picked up 20 yards and gave the Packers a chance to keep the drive going. Randall Cobb came out of the backfield to catch a third-down pass to move the chains, and the Packers kept the momentum.
For the game, Aaron Rodgers wound up an efficient 19-of-25 for 234 yards with two TDs and a 131.1 passer rating, completing throws to eight different pass-catchers.
But as ESPN.com's Rob Demovsky asked, what's the deal with all the fumbles?
A week after Rodgers uncharacteristically lost a fumble on a strip sack, the Packers put the ball on the ground three times against the Bears -- including two on what could be blamed on offensive miscommunications. Rodgers and Dillon got crossed up on a handoff, and the Bears recovered the fumble that led to a third-quarter field goal.
Later, center Josh Myers' shotgun snap hit receiver Christian Watson as he motioned across the formation in front of Rodgers. Throw in a fumbled punt return by Amari Rodgers that he was fortunate to recover, and the Packers have four fumbles in two games.
So there's something to work on as they prepare to travel to Tampa Bay for their first meeting with the Buccaneers since losing to them twice during the 2020 season. The Packers lost 38-10 at Tampa Bay in the regular season and then fell to the eventual Super Bowl winners 31-26 in the NFC championship game at Lambeau Field.
Other notes of interest. ... Watkins had three catches for 93 yards. Watkins had just one game the previous two years in which he accumulated that many yards (an eight-catch, 96-yard effort in the 2021 season opener with Baltimore). ...
Elgton Jenkins offered a mixed review on his return to the Green Bay Packers' offensive line.
"Basically just rusty," Jenkins said Sunday night after playing his first game since last November. "I've got to get my technique right, get out of my stance, lock them up."
Jenkins' teammates and coach were considerably more generous in their appraisal.
They marveled at how well he performed less than 10 months after tearing his left anterior cruciate ligament at Minnesota on Nov. 21. The versatile lineman started at right tackle and provided a major boost in the victory over the Bears.
LaFleur said Sunday night that "if he's not in the lineup, we don't win that game." LaFleur went into more detail Monday.
"I thought there were certainly some plays that I'm sure he'd like to have back, but I thought he did an outstanding job, especially first time back out there," LaFleur said. "I think it's only going to get better and better and better."
The Packers' season opener showcased the importance of Jenkins and David Bakhtiari, their injured left tackle. They were missing both players that day and struggled to move the ball in a 23-7 loss at Minnesota.
Bakhtiari was in the midst of an All-Pro season when he tore his left ACL on Dec. 31, 2020. He's played in only one game since, though he has been practicing at least on a limited basis.
Green Bay will have a tough time matching its success from the last few years and taking the next step unless both Jenkins and Bakhtiari play regularly.
Getting Jenkins back was a nice start, even if he didn't believe he played his best. Green Bay's line allowed three sacks but also paved the way for that successful rushing attack.
"The definition of success isn't always measured in stats," Rodgers said. "And for Elgton, I thought tonight was an absolute success. I really do. He's been out for a long time, and he's battled in practice and he's battled in his rehab and he went out there and played an NFL football game. That to me is a successful night. ..."
We'll see if Bakhtiari returns this week.
Beyond that, the Packers appeared to avoid any major injuries Sunday. ...
One last note here. ... Rodgers (24-5 vs. the Bears, including playoffs) won his seventh in a row against Chicago and passed Hall of Famer Brett Favre for the most wins by any quarterback versus the Bears. ...
You can access complete stats for the Packers Week 2 game via our exclusive Fantasy BoxScore.
QBs: Jordan Love, Sean Clifford
RBs: Aaron Jones, A.J. Dillon, Patrick Taylor
WRs: Jayden Reed, Romeo Doubs, Christian Watson, Dontayvion Wicks, Samori Toure, Malik Heath
TEs: Tucker Kraft, Ben Sims, Josiah Deguara, Luke Musgrave
Houston TexansCompiled by FootballDiehards Editor Bob Harris | Updated 20 September 2022
As Associated Press sports writer Kristie Rieken suggested, the Texans have done a lot of good things through the first two weeks of the season.
The one thing they haven't done is find a way to finish a game, and that has them without a win heading into Sunday's trip to Chicago (1-1).
ESPN.com's DJ Bien-Aime put a finer point on it when he wrote, "It's hard to win in the NFL when you score a measly nine points, or when you can't generate more than 234 yards of total offense."
"We're not there yet," head coach Lovie Smith said. "It's kind of simply that. We show flashes of what we can be. ... In games, you've got to (be) able to pass the ball. At the end it went down by seven. It was going to be a passing game and we weren't able to come through."
Houston's defense has given up a lot of yards through the first two games, but has been able to bear down in the red zone and limit scoring. Entering Monday, the Texans rank 11th by allowing just 18 points a game after giving up more than 26 a game last season.
"There are some bright moments," Smith said. "Defensively we've played two games (and) we've given up three touchdowns. That's hard to do."
The unit has also done a good job of forcing turnovers so far and has three, with two interceptions and a fumble recovery.
But Mills needs to move the ball more effectively and consistently. The second-year player has shown flashes of improvement this season, but has been unable to move the ball in crunch time through the first two weeks. "We needed to make more plays and just capitalize on our opportunities," he said. "The plays are there, we just have to make them."
The Texans need to clean up their mistakes and find ways to move the ball better late if they hope to get their first win of the season against the Bears. ...
Other notes of interest. ... There aren't a lot of positives for this offense, but Brandin Cooks, who is 28, had four receptions for 54 yards Sunday to give him 8,053 yards receiving in his career, making him the 10th player in NFL history to reach 8,000 yards receiving before his 29th birthday.
Fellow wideout Nico Collins got a bit more involved in the receiving game Sunday. He finished with four catches (tied for team lead) for 58 yards which led the team as well.
In addition, rookie RB Dameon Pierce got the ball more this week.
While it ultimately wasn't enough to propel the Texans to their first win of 2022, it was a reason for hope.
The rookie running back carried 15 times for 69 yards in Denver. He also caught a pass for eight yards. 16 touches against the Broncos was an uptick over the 12 touches last week in the tie versus Indianapolis.
"It seemed like there was a commitment to the run," Smith said. "I thought Dameon did some good things when he had an opportunity to carry the ball."
The rookie's first carry was a gain of eight yards on the second play from scrimmage. He was stopped for no gain on third down, and the Texans punted. On the ensuing possession, Pierce was dropped for a loss of four yards on 3rd-and-1, but he followed that with consecutive gains of 12, seven, four, seven, five, 11 and 11 yards. Pierce also caught a pass for eight yards in that stretch, which lasted from the middle of the first quarter through the start of the third.
"I thought he put together a really good day," Quarterback Davis Mills said. "It's exciting when the run game gets going. He had some big time runs and he was making it happen. It's something to build on."
Pierce, like the rest of his teammates, was disappointed with the defeat. He echoed the need to finish better with a lead in the fourth quarter.
"That's one thing we want to put emphasis on," Pierce said. "Finishing those drives. Starting fast. Finishing harder, and just overall, making plays when we need them."
On the injury front. ... Mills (thumb), LB Kevin Pierre-Lewis (groin) and TE Brevin Jordan (ankle) were injured against the Broncos and Smith said they'd know more about the severity of the injuries later in the week.
Jordan, who went into the game with a questionable designation, did not practice Wednesday; Mills worked fully.
I'll have more on their status via Late-Breaking Update in coming days. ...
Finally. ... Center Justin Britt missed last week's practices and Sunday's game because of personal issues. The team has not elaborated but did place him on the non-football illness list Tuesday.
Britt started Week 1 and played all 70 offensive snaps.
He started 11 games last season for the Texans and has 98 career starts, including 86 with the Seahawks.
Scott Quessenberry started at center Sunday against the Broncos.
The Texans also are placing linebacker Kevin Pierre-Louis on injured reserve.
Pierre-Louis injured his groin in Sunday's game after playing 20 defensive snaps and 15 on special teams. He saw action on 22 defensive snaps and 29 on special teams in Week 1.
You can access complete stats for the Texans Week 2 game via our exclusive Fantasy BoxScore.
QBs: C.J. Stroud, Davis Mills, Case Keenum
RBs: Devin Singletary, Dameon Pierce, Mike Boone, Dare Ogunbowale
WRs: Nico Collins, Noah Brown, Robert Woods, John Metchie III, Xavier Hutchinson, Tank Dell
TEs: Dalton Schultz, Brevin Jordan
Indianapolis ColtsCompiled by FootballDiehards Editor Bob Harris | Updated 20 September 2022
As ESPN.com's Stephen Holder framed it: "Sometimes, it all comes full circle.
:Two hundred and fifty-two days since the Indianapolis Colts lost to the Jacksonville Jaguars in stunning fashion, eliminating them from the 2021 postseason, the Colts are right back where they started."
Sunday's 24-0 loss to the Jaguars dropped the Colts to 0-1-1. But more importantly, it has put everyone in the organization under a microscope.
The results so far in 2022 seem to suggest the team hasn't progressed much, if at all, since that infamous January defeat.
There are many questions right now. And if the Colts don't produce substantive answers in a hurry, this season could turn into a referendum on all involved.
"Everything gets evaluated, top to bottom," head coach Frank Reich admitted. "Coaches, players. I get evaluated. Everybody gets evaluated."
That seems appropriate, Holder contends, because coaches, players and front-office decisions all played a role in Sunday's loss.
From a coaching standpoint, there was much to question.
Offensively, Reich was outmaneuvered by his former boss, Jaguars coach Doug Pederson, with whom he won a Super Bowl with the Philadelphia Eagles in 2017. Indy's offense has not established any consistency this season despite the move from former quarterback Carson Wentz to current starter Matt Ryan.
From the player perspective, the failures are mounting. Take, for example, the highly touted offensive line that couldn't create a running lane for one of the NFL's most lethal running backs -- Jonathan Taylor -- and repeatedly collapsed against Jacksonville's formidable defensive front.
The Colts have invested more money in their offensive line than any other team, including handing guard Quenton Nelson a record-shattering deal two weeks ago that includes $60 million in guarantees. For that, the Colts got a collective effort that allowed pressure on 40 percent of Ryan's 35 dropbacks on Sunday, according to ESPN Stats and Information research. That's the highest rate allowed by any team so far in Week 2.
A defense that produced 33 takeaways in 2021, second-most in the NFL, has managed just one through two games (including none on Sunday). Even two major offseason additions, cornerback Stephon Gilmore and defensive end Yannick Ngakoue, haven't been enough to turn the tide.
Not to be ignored is the role of the front office in the current state of affairs. Colts general manager Chris Ballard -- despite repeated questioning throughout the offseason -- resisted the urge to make significant upgrades to the team's young and unproven group of pass-catchers.
Two weeks in, that decision took center stage when No. 1 receiver Michael Pittman Jr. missed the game with a quad injury, and the remaining receivers and tight ends proved incapable of overcoming his absence. The receivers who played against Jacksonville -- second-round pick Alec Pierce also missed the game because of a concussion -- struggled to separate and make contested catches.
All of this comes less than a week after the Colts parted with kicker Rodrigo Blankenship following his missed game-winning kick in Houston in Week 1. The lack of more aggressive action to improve the kicking situation falls on the front office, too.
The January loss to Jacksonville prompted owner Jim Irsay to immediately call a meeting with Reich and Ballard to demand improvement. Ballard later described it as an "a-- chewing."
On Sunday, Irsay was whisked away when approached by reporters, declining comment. But rest assured, he's watching. And whatever happens during the rest of the season will likely dictate what happens to the relevant parties when it ends.
To sum up: Four straight listless starts including the final two games last season has created consternation for a team many thought could contend for the AFC South title.
With the Chiefs, Tennessee and Denver up next, the Colts must find a quick and consistent solution.
Could it be unleashing Taylor?
Last year's rushing champ only logged nine carries for 54 yards, an average of 6.0. As Indy's most consistent offensive playmaker this season, he needs the ball in his hands more often.
It would help if Ryan played better.
The 15-year veteran was supposed to add leadership and stability to the locker room. Through two weeks, the 37-year old Ryan has completed 60 percent of his passes for 547 yards with one touchdown, four interceptions, and five fumbles with one lost.
He was 5 of 13 for 101 yards and three interceptions on passes of 10-plus air yards against the Jaguars.
Still, Reich expressed confidence in his signal-caller on Monday, noting a lot of what went wrong happened around Ryan.
"I mean the protection yesterday wasn't our best effort. He was under duress a number of times," Reich said in his press conference. "There's still mistakes that he made, that we all make, but I think overall -- listen, I understand how the quarterback position is. You're really dependent on everybody else on there, but you're at the center of it so you have to make it work.
"What I love about Matt is that he takes responsibility. He's the leader. I could not be happier that he's our quarterback. He's an elite leader and I really believe he can be an elite player in this offense. We've all got to pull it together. We all have got to carry our own weight, each one of us, including him and everybody on that offense."
On a more positive note, on a day the Colts were missing their top two receivers, Ashton Dulin was a rare bright spot. He caught five passes for 79 yards, both career highs.
On the injury front. ... According to Associated Press sports writer Michael Marot, Ryan brushed off concern over hurting his right hand late in the game and safety Julian Blackmon finished after leaving with a sore shoulder.
So again, the questions this week will be all about the availability of Pittman and Pierce) and LB Shaquille Leonard (back surgery).
Pittman should be back this week.
Reich told reporters on Monday that Pittman "made good progress" in his recovery over the weekend and should be able to play this week against the Chiefs.
When healthy, Pittman is the Colts' No. 1 receiver, and he played very well for them in Week 1 against the Texans.
The Colts' offense was a bigger mess on Sunday than any one player could be expected to clean up. But the return of Pittman, who was on the practice field Wednesday, should help this week.
I'll have more on that possibility and on Pierce, who also hit the field Wednesday, via Late-Breaking Update as the week progress. ...
You can access complete stats for the Colts Week 2 game via our exclusive Fantasy BoxScore.
QBs: Gardner Minshew, Sam Ehlinger, Kellen Mond, Anthony Richardson
RBs: Zack Moss, Trey Sermon, Jonathan Taylor, Evan Hull
WRs: Michael Pittman Jr., Josh Downs, Alec Pierce, Isaiah McKenzie
TEs: Mo Alie-Cox, Kylen Granson, Will Mallory, Andrew Ogletree, Jelani Woods
Jacksonville JaguarsCompiled by FootballDiehards Editor Bob Harris | Updated 20 September 2022
The Jaguars opened the 2021 season with five straight losses that all but doomed their season before they were finally able to get a taste of winning, but the wait wasn't nearly as long this time around.
Jacksonville dominated the Colts in a 24-0 win on Sunday that saw the team firing on all cylinders.
The defense forced three turnovers and allowed just 218 yards while quarterback Trevor Lawrence was efficient and smart.
"He did an outstanding job in the game just delivering the football and [he was] very accurate too," head coach Doug Pederson said on Monday.
Lawrence, in his second season as the Jaguars' starting quarterback, completed 25 of 30 passes for a career-high completion percentage of 83.33 percent. He threw for 235 yards and two touchdowns with no interceptions.
Pederson on Monday also discussed Lawrence's accuracy, particularly rolling to his left -- which can be difficult for right-handed quarterbacks. Lawrence's longest completion Sunday came on such a play -- a 26-yard completion to wide receiver Christian Kirk that converted 1st-and-20 and came one play before a 37-yard touchdown run by running back James Robinson.
"It's a tough throw, but it's one of the things we try to do as much as we can," Pederson said. "We feel like we can go either way with Trevor because he's very accurate out of the pocket. [He] made a couple tough throws going to his left. [It's] difficult to do, but he makes it seem pretty easy."
Lawrence said after the game that having success in all phases of the game served as a sign that the Jaguars are building things the right way in his second season.
"That confirms that we're on the right track," Lawrence said, via the team's website. "We're where we want to be. We've got to keep getting better, and I'm confident we will, but it really does just confirm what we're doing. It's fun when it comes together, and it was awesome."
Road games against the Chargers and Eagles loom in the next two weeks, so the Jaguars will have to show that their improvement extends beyond games against the Colts in order to fully confirm that they've started on the path to greater success this season.
But they have the pieces to succeed -- some of them highly-paid pieces.
As Associated Press sports writer Mark Long reminded readers, when Kirk signed with Jacksonville in March, the financial details were eye-popping. The Jaguars gave the former Arizona receiver a four-year, $72 million contract in free agency that included $37 million guaranteed.
Kirk essentially raised the bar for NFL wideouts around the league. His deal initially seemed like a stretch for a guy who was primarily a slot receiver with the Cardinals and hadn't topped 80 catches, 1,000 yards or six touchdowns in any of his four seasons.
Now, it looks like a relative bargain.
Kirk has 12 receptions for 195 yards and two touchdowns in two games, providing Lawrence a go-to guy and giving the Jaguars (1-1) some much-needed big-play ability.
"That's why we went out and got him in," Pederson said. "And you can see it now two weeks in a row (with) some of the plays that he's made. He's made an impact for our offense."
Kirk finished with six receptions for 78 yards and two scores in Sunday's 24-0 drubbing of Indianapolis. He caught six passes for 117 yards in Jacksonville's season opener at Washington.
"I can't say that I predicted it," said Kirk, who hopes to stay hot at the Los Angeles Chargers on Sunday. "But (the coaches have) done a great job of just putting us all in position to succeed. And that's it. We've just got to go out and execute."
Kirk has been a welcomed chess piece for Pederson, who calls plays. He lines up out wide, in the slot or in the backfield. He often goes in motion to help Lawrence identify defensive schemes and occasionally ends up one-on-one against linebackers.
"I'm here to do this for all 17 weeks and help this team win," Kirk said. "Me being productive and helping this team getting W's and putting us in position to make a playoff push, that's all I can ask for. That's my mentality and that's my attitude for the rest of the year."
There are other factors working in their favor.
Jacksonville has six takeaways in two games: five interceptions and a fumble. It's a huge turnaround from last season, when the defense finished with an NFL-low nine turnovers in 17 games.
The Jaguars were minus-20 in turnover differential in 2021, the worst in the league. They are plus-5 now, a significant improvement players and coaches expect will become a season-long trend.
The trajectory shouldn't be a huge surprise considering how much the Jaguars have invested on defense. They signed defensive tackle Foley Fatukasi, linebacker Foye Oluokun and cornerback Darious Williams in free agency and then drafted linebackers Travon Walker (first overall), Devin Lloyd (27th) and Chad Muma (70th) in the first three rounds.
"Things are starting to kind of click for guys," Pederson said.
One area that needs work? Jacksonville's special teams have yet to be a factor through two games. Jamal Agnew has three punt returns for 9 yards and no kickoff returns, far from ideal for a guy who returned two kicks for touchdowns in 2021. Agnew might have to be patient as opponents are seemingly intent on keeping the ball away from him.
Although Jacksonville's special teams are still looking for a big play, the units haven't done anything costly.
So they'll work on those aspects as they try to stack wins in Los Angeles this week. The Jaguars last won consecutive games in the same season in October 2019, when they beat Cincinnati and the New York Jets. ...
Other notes of interest. ... Travis Etienne Jr. ran nine times for 20 yards against the Colts, averaging 2.2 yards a carry. His playing time is down with the healthy emergence of third-year pro James Robinson, who has 130 yards rushing and three touchdowns in two games.
Etienne missed his entire rookie season following a Lisfranc injury to his left foot. He's likely to settle into a role as the team's third-down and change-of-pace back.
As FantasyLife.com's Dwain McFarland noted, Robinson backed up Week 1 data as the lead early-down back in Week 2.
Same goes for Etienne as the passing-down option.
As McFarland put it, this "backfield comes down to game scripts, but Etienne should be downgraded. ..."
Meanwhile, Evan Engram was a major factor in this one. Per McFarland, the former Giants tight end drew a 278 percent target share and 85 percent route participation.
McFarland views 80 percent on that last metric as necessary for elite tight end production. ...
On the injury front. ... The Jaguars have avoided significant injuries through two games.
You can access complete stats for the Jaguars Week 2 game via our exclusive Fantasy BoxScore.
QBs: Trevor Lawrence, C.J. Beathard, Nathan Rourke
RBs: Travis Etienne Jr., Tank Bigsby, D'Ernest Johnson
WRs: Calvin Ridley, Zay Jones, Parker Washington, Tim Jones, Jamal Agnew, Christian Kirk
TEs: Evan Engram, Brenton Strange, Luke Farrell, Elijah Cooks
Kansas City ChiefsCompiled by FootballDiehards Editor Bob Harris | Updated 20 September 2022
Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs offense had been struggling all night against a ferocious Chargers pass rush when Jaylen Watson, an unheralded seventh-round draft pick, and the rest of the defense bailed them out.
Watson picked off the Chargers' Justin Herbert early in the fourth quarter Thursday night and returned the interception 99 yards for a go-ahead score that lifted Kansas City to an important 27-24 victory.
It was the second straight week that the Chiefs defense came up big, and an encouraging sign for a franchise that has often leaned far too heavily on Mahomes and his prolific offense to simply outscore opponents in big games.
"I talked to him afterward -- I'm having a little birthday party on Saturday," said Mahomes, who turned 27 on the same day Watson turned 23. "I told him it's his birthday party now, the way he played."
It wasn't just that Watson came up with the play of the day; it's that the entire defense rose to the occasion.
The Chargers raced to a 10-0 lead, then carried a 17-7 advantage into halftime, before coordinator Steve Spagnuolo's rebuilt bunch made a couple of tweaks to their game plan. They wound up holding Herbert and the potent Chargers offense off the scoreboard until a touchdown with just over a minute to go, by which point they needed to convert an onside kick.
The Chiefs recovered it and were able to run out the clock on the divisional win.
"We stuck together," Chiefs safety Justin Reid said. "When crunch time came, players made big plays."
It wasn't only Watson, either. Chris Jones had two more sacks -- he has six in three career Thursday night games. Mike Danna put such a lick on Herbert that he knocked the quarterback from the game for a play. Willie Gay led the way with 11 tackles, two for a loss, and added two pass deflections.
Despite gaining 401 yards of total offense, the Chargers finished just 5 for 16 on third downs.
That was enough to keep the Chiefs in the game long enough for their offense to score some points, and to give Watson a chance to play the hero with what tied for the second-longest interception return for a touchdown in franchise history.
"That's the biggest thing: They just kept us in the game," Mahomes said of the defense, which held Arizona to six points until deep into the fourth quarter in Week 1. "With a young defense like that, to see them play that way, that's going to carry us through the rest of the season."
By the way, it's not like the Chiefs aren't scoring plenty.
They're currently tied for first in the NFL (with the Detroit Lions) for the most points scored in the NFL so far this year: Both teams have scored 71 points.
Also, as ESPN.com's Adam Teicher pointed out, the Chiefs can win with their stars not being stars. They beat a difficult AFC West rival with their touchdowns being scored by three backup players -- rookie seventh-round draft pick Jaylen Watson, fourth-round wide receiver Justin Watson and running back Jerick McKinnon.
It will serve them well if they can continue to win games without getting huge contributions from players like Travis Kelce and JuJu Smith-Schuster.
McKinnon only carried four times for 12 yards, but he continued to prove his usefulness in the passing game by hauling in a touchdown pass in the second quarter. It's precisely the kind of versatility that Kansas City expects out of him after deciding to bring McKinnon back this past offseason.
But generally speaking, the running game struggled to find space besides one carry by Clyde Edwards-Helaire that went for 52 yards and set up an important fourth-quarter field goal. Otherwise, the Chiefs carried 17 times for just 40 yards in the game.
Smith-Schuster and Marquez Valdes-Scantling signed as free agents to help make up for the trade of Tyreek Hill to Miami. But neither could find much room to work Thursday night. Smith-Schuster finished with three catches for 10 yards while Valdes-Scantling caught just two of his seven targets for 13 yards.
Whatever the case, after winning two games in five days, the Chiefs should benefit from a well-earned break. They'll began preparation Monday for their trip to Indianapolis on Sept. 25, the first of back-to-back road games. ...
On the injury front. ... The Chiefs had to play last Thursday's game without kicker Harrison Butker, who was sidelined by an ankle injury.
Butker still may not be available for this week's game against the Colts.
Via Herbie Teope of the Kansas City Star, head coach Andy Reid told reporters on Monday that the Chiefs will "see how it goes this week" with Butker and his left ankle sprain.
Butker injured the ankle in the Chiefs' season opener against the Cardinals. He was initially carted off the field but was able to return to kick field goals and extra points. Safety Justin Reid handled kickoff duties in that game.
Practice squad kicker Matt Ammendola handled kicks for the Chiefs in Week 2. Reid expressed confidence in Ammendola -- who hit a pair of field goals, three extra points, and sent four of his six kickoffs for touchbacks -- to handle the duties again if needed.
In addition, Justin Watson came out of the Chargers game with a chest injury; I'll follow up on both Butker and Watson as needed via Late-Breaking Update in coming days. ...
Finally. ... NFL suspended LB Willie Gay four games for violating the league's personal conduct policy.
As NBCSportsEdge.com noted, Gay was arrested in January for misdemeanor property damage and will now miss the Chiefs' next four games. The veteran linebacker will be eligible to return on October 23rd to face the 49ers. Through two games, Gay has totaled 16 tackles on 111 defensive snaps.
You can access complete stats for the Chiefs Week 2 game via our exclusive Fantasy BoxScore.
QBs: Patrick Mahomes, Blaine Gabbert
RBs: Isiah Pacheco, Jerick McKinnon, Clyde Edwards-Helaire
WRs: Rashee Rice, Marquez Valdes-Scantling, Justin Watson, Skyy Moore, Kadarius Toney, Richie James, Justyn Ross, Mecole Hardman
TEs: Travis Kelce, Noah Gray, Blake Bell, Jody Fortson
Las Vegas RaidersCompiled by FootballDiehards Editor Bob Harris | Updated 20 September 2022
As Associated Press sports writer Josh Dubow framed it: "The offseason optimism surrounding the Las Vegas Raiders following the additions of Davante Adams, Chandler Jones and Josh McDaniels seem in the distant past.
"That's what an unprecedented collapse can do. ..."
The Raiders have lost their first two games of the season, blowing a 20-point halftime lead and 16-point fourth-quarter lead in a 29-23 loss to the Arizona Cardinals on Sunday.
Now, instead of building on last year's playoff berth, the Raiders are just trying to get going in 2022 under a new regime.
"You don't ever get a pass like, 'Hey we'll just graduate last year's process to this year's process,'" McDaniels said Monday. "You have to go back through and learn it again. It starts with me. I don't get any points for what I've done in the past. Neither does anyone else. We'll have to go through these growing pains together."
There have been plenty so far.
The Raiders fell in a big early hole in the opener against the Los Angeles Chargers and were unable to climb out of it.
Against Arizona, the Raiders scored on all four of their first half possessions in Sunday's game against the Cardinals and they appeared to be in comfortable control of the game in the fourth quarter, but that proved to be a false front.
Arizona scored two touchdowns and two two-point conversions to send the game to overtime and the Cardinals won it 29-23 when cornerback Byron Murphy returned a Hunter Renfrow fumble for a 59-yard touchdown. After piling up 258 net yards in the first half, the Raiders only had 66 after the break and their only points in the second half came after a long pass interference penalty.
This marked the first time in Raiders history they lost a game they had led by at least 20 points.
"We feel crappy right now, but we are still a good football team," quarterback Derek Carr said. "Making sure we keep that mindset not, 'Oh no, it's over.' I've been doing this a while, man. I know we have good guys that work hard and care, so I know that we can pull ourselves out of it, but it's going to take us doing it the right way."
Plenty of people contributed to the collapse, but Carr said that turning things around has to begin with him.
"We have to learn how to win," Carr told Vincent Bonsignore of the Las Vegas Review-Journal. "It starts with me. It always will."
At 0-2, the Raiders will have to hope that the learning process is a quick one because they'll find themselves with a lot of ground to make up if they can't string a few wins together in the coming weeks.
This week? The Raiders travel to Tennessee on Sunday looking to avoid their first 0-3 start since 2018. The Titans, of course, are also looking to avoid an 0-3 start. ...
As noted above, the Raiders had four drives in the first half and turned them all into scores, with Carr throwing short TD passes to Adams and Darren Waller and Daniel Carlson kicking two field goals. The Raiders averaged 6.8 yards per play and Carr was 18 for 24 for 210 yards before halftime.
Almost nothing went right after halftime for the Raiders on offense. Las Vegas averaged 2.9 yards per play after halftime, scoring three points on five possessions. Carr went 7 for 15 for 42 yards and a 53.5 rating as the Raiders were unable to burn the clock to keep the tired defense off the field.
A glaring detail in the box score: Adams' lack of involvement.
One week after Carr force-fed Adams (17 targets, 10 receptions, 141 yards and a touchdown), Adams saw 10 fewer targets. He caught just two of them for 12 yards and the touchdown.
As ESPN.com's Paul Gutierrez put it, "The good mojo and existing rapport between quarterback and receiver seemed to disappear faster than chips from a Vegas blackjack table," and it significantly undercut the Raiders' chances of holding off Arizona's furious comeback.
And that's a concern for a team under new management in McDaniels, whose playcalling stalled out after halftime. ...
Meanwhile, Mack Hollins caught 5-of-8 targets for 66 yards against the Cardinals. He also drew a 47-yard defensive pass interference in the third quarter.
As NBCSportsEdge.com notes, coming off a one-target Week 1, Hollins somehow led the Raiders in receiving. He out-targeted Adams 8-7. Despite his lack of production in the opener, Hollins was running a route almost every play, and that is evidently something that is going to stick for the time being. McDaniels must like the 6-4 wideout's field-stretching ability, and Sunday's results were certainly serviceable.
Is he a viable fantasy play?
That seems unlikely as he battles for targets behind Adams, Renfrow and Waller; but it's worth watching as bye weeks draw nearer. ...
Josh Jacobs rushed 19 times for 69 yards, adding a 12-yard reception.
With Brandon Bolden sidelined with a hamstring injury, Jacobs drew 20-of-22 backfield touches. Neither Ameer Abdullah nor rookie Zamir White were factors. Jacobs handled two carries from inside the Cardinals' six-yard line on the Raiders' opening but couldn't convert either for a score.
"I thought [Jacobs] ran hard yesterday," McDaniels said. I thought he made some yards on his own, I thought we gave him an opportunity to get started. And we've got to do a better job of playing a cleaner game on offense. We had some runs called back too, a couple of big ones that were called back. ... So, we just got to clean up our whole operation offensively and stay ahead of the down and distance, and I think the running game will come to us."
On a more positive note. ... Carlson made three more field goals to make him 41 for 41 all-time at Allegiant Stadium. That's the most makes without a miss for a kicker in a single stadium since the NFL/AFL merger, topping the 18 for Al Del Greco at Vanderbilt Stadium and Dan Carpenter at MetLife Stadium.
Carlson now has made 28 consecutive field goals overall dating back to Week 8 of last season, the longest active streak in the NFL.
On the injury front. ... Renfrow was evaluated for a concussion after getting hurt on the final play. McDaniels had no update on his status. DT Bilal Nichols also left the game with a shoulder injury and didn't return. As noted above, Bolden was held out due to a hamstring injury.
I'll have more on Renfrow, who did not practice Wednesday, and Bolden as needed via Late-Breaking Update in coming days. ...
Finally. ... The Patriots and Raiders are making a trade on Wednesday.
According to multiple reports, the Patriots are sending tackle Justin Herron to the Raiders.
Albert Breer of SI.com reports the Patriots will send a 2024 seventh-rounder to Las Vegas as well and that the Raiders will send a 2024 sixth-round pick back.
Herron was a 2020 sixth-round pick in New England who has started 10 of the 28 games he’s played in the NFL. McDaniels and offensive line coach Carmen Bricillo both know Herron well after working with him the last two years and Raiders GM Dave Ziegler worked in the Patriots personnel department when Herron joined the team. ...
You can access complete stats for the Raiders Week 2 game via our exclusive Fantasy BoxScore.
QBs: Aidan O'Connell, Jimmy Garoppolo, Brian Hoyer
RBs: Josh Jacobs, Zamir White, Ameer Abdullah, Brandon Bolden
WRs: Davante Adams, Jakobi Meyers, Tre Tucker, Hunter Renfrow, DeAndre Carter, Kristian Wilkerson
TEs: Michael Mayer, Austin Hooper, Jesper Horsted
Los Angeles ChargersCompiled by FootballDiehards Editor Bob Harris | Updated 20 September 2022
Justin Herbert has fractured rib cartilage after taking a hit during the fourth quarter of last Thursday night's 27-24 loss to the Kansas City Chiefs.
Head coach Brandon Staley said a CT scan Friday morning confirmed the injury.
"I think we got good news in terms of what the CT scan showed. You don't want it to be a fracture of the bone. So the fact that it's cartilage was a good sign," Staley said. "It's going to come down to comfort. Let the weekend calm down and then when we get into game week we'll have a better sense of how he's feeling."
Staley added the third-year quarterback is day-to-day and that his status will be evaluated as they go through preparations to host Jacksonville on Sunday.
That process began Tuesday, when Herbert participated in some light throwing and Staley said the QB was feeling more comfortable.
Although he will be wearing a rib protector, Staley said Herbert would take part in individual drills Wednesday.
Herbert completed 33 of 48 passes for 334 yards with three touchdowns and an interception. He missed only one play after taking a hard hit from Kansas City defensive lineman Michael Danna on 12-yard completion to Gerald Everett with five minutes to go.
Herbert was 7 of 11 for 79 yards after the injury, despite one play where he was in physical distress and threw the ball away on third-and-1 when he could have run for a first down. That stretch included a fourth-down bullet to DeAndre Carter for 35 yards to the Kansas City 8-yard line and then connecting with Joshua Palmer on fourth-and-goal for a 7-yard TD.
"Nobody cares about Justin more than I do. It's a tough game, and as long as he feels like he can go in that moment, then that's what we're gonna roll with," Staley said. "I think he did a good job of protecting himself. I think what you saw is that he's a really smart player. He's not gonna put himself at risk in that moment, not going to take one more extra hit than he needs to."
It was not a great night for guards Matt Feiler and Zion Johnson. According to Pro Football Focus, Feiler allowed four quarterback pressures and five hurries, making it his worst game in his two seasons with the Chargers. Johnson ended up being beat by Danna on the play where Herbert got injured.
As Associated Press sports writer Joe Reedy reminded readers, Chase Daniel would be in line to start if Herbert could not go. The 13-year veteran has six career starts, most recently in 2019 for the Chicago Bears. ...
Elsewhere on the injury front. ... Center Corey Linsley (knee) and right tackle Trey Pipkins (lateral foot sprain) are day to day. Staley said both players would be assessed on Monday and could return to practice later in the week.
Keenan Allen was held out last Thursday with a hamstring injury. The good news? Allen, along with tight end Donald Parham Jr., who has yet to play this season due to an ongoing hamstring issue, both worked on a limited basis Wednesday.
I'll obviously have more on Herbert and Allen via Late-Breaking Update in coming days. ...
Meanwhile, of the NFL teams that have played twice this season, the Chargers offense ranks seventh with 378.0 total yards per game.
Herbert and the passing attack has been responsible for most of those, however, as Herbert is averaging over 300 passing yards per game.
As Reedy points out, the running game is stuck in neutral.
Of the Chargers' 55 rush attempts the first two games, 15 have gone for no gain or negative yards and only one has gone for 10 yards or more. Austin Ekeler is averaging 2.7 yards per carry, and has struggled when trying to run outside the tackle box.
Ekeler has been stopped for no gain or has lost yardage on seven of his 28 carries.
Staley also touched on the run game Friday and said that phase of the offense hasn't fully clicked yet.
"I think it's just been tough sledding early on. We haven't been able to get the explosions," Staley said. "There have been a lot of just bloody runs. We just haven't been able to create the air yet, so far.
"Just a work-in-progress with our group, in terms of featuring the runs based on who's blocking for them, I think that's a big part of it," Staley added. "I think that we're going to keep working hard at it to keep improving as we go."
Through two games, the Bolts rank second-to-last in the NFL with 2.75 yards per carry.
Conversely, Mike Williams got rolling in Kansas City.
The veteran wideout was held to two fourth-quarter catches in the opener, but had a pair of receptions on the opening drive and finished with eight receptions for 113 yards, including a one-handed touchdown catch in the third quarter. Williams is the only visiting player in the 50-plus seasons of Arrowhead Stadium with three straight games of at least 100 receiving yards and a TD.
Finally. ... The Chargers were two plays away from starting the season 2-0 in AFC West action. Instead, they go 1-1 in a five-day span after an interception by cornerback Asante Samuel Jr. was overturned. "I thought it was a pick," Samuel said after the game.
In addition, Herbert threw a pass intended for Everett that was intercepted and returned 99 yards for a touchdown.
The best news here?
The Chargers, who are 1-1 for the fifth straight year, play their next six games against opponents that did not post a winning record last season.
You can access complete stats for the Chargers Week 2 game via our exclusive Fantasy BoxScore.
QBs: Justin Herbert, Easton Stick
RBs: Austin Ekeler, Joshua Kelley, Isaiah Spiller, Elijah Dotson
WRs: Keenan Allen, Quentin Johnston, Jalen Guyton, Derius Davis, Josh Palmer, Mike Williams
TEs: Gerald Everett, Donald Parham, Stone Smartt
Los Angeles RamsCompiled by FootballDiehards Editor Bob Harris | Updated 20 September 2022
As Associated Press sports writer Greg Beacham noted, for the first 48 minutes against Atlanta, the Los Angeles Rams looked like proper defending Super Bowl champions while they rolled toward their first victory of the new season.
The final 12 minutes demonstrated they've still got plenty of work to do if they intend to contend for a second straight title.
The Rams came alarmingly close to blowing a 25-point lead in the second half of their 31-27 victory over the Falcons on Sunday. After leading 28-3 late in the third quarter and 31-10 with about nine minutes to play, they needed an interception in the end zone by Jalen Ramsey with 1:07 left just to hang on.
Those late struggles -- caused partly by a massive special teams mistake, and partly by a fumble from star receiver Cooper Kupp -- didn't erase the positives of the first three quarters, which included an impressive display from the passing game led by Matthew Stafford.
But they did show that these Rams need more work to become as smooth as they were during the best stretches in their first half-decade under Sean McVay.
"First of all, really proud of this team finding a way to be able to get it done," McVay said. "Man, are there so many things that we can clean up. But I'll tell you what, (I) haven't been doing this that long, but I've been doing it long enough to know you never take a win for granted in this league. It's too difficult to come by."
Kupp had yet another monster game as a receiver, but the offensive player of the year also contributed to the Rams' late struggles by fumbling with 3:22 to play. Atlanta then got to the Rams 24 before Ramsey's game-saving interception.
So are the Rams suffering from a Super Bowl hangover?
As ESPN.com's Sarah Barshop pointed out, the Rams entered their game against Atlanta as a 10.5-point favorite but only won by four. Coupled with a definitive loss to the Buffalo Bills in the season opener, it has been a concerning start to the season.
Los Angeles will have two important divisional tests coming up to really figure out the answer to this question: Road trips to Arizona and San Francisco in Weeks 3 and 4. -- Sarah Barshop
The good news?
Arizona is coming off a thrilling overtime victory at Las Vegas in which Kyler Murray showed off the heights of his talents, but McVay is 10-1 against the Cardinals in his career. ..
Other notes of interest. ... The Rams' offense took significant steps forward on the ground and through the air. Los Angeles got 47 yards rushing from Darrell Henderson and 44 more from Cam Akers, while Kupp had 11 catches for 108 yards and two TDs alongside newcomer Allen Robinson's four catches for 53 yards and a score.
Kupp had at least 90 yards receiving for the 21st time in 23 games playing with Stafford, who completed passes to six different players against the Falcons.
Robinson had one catch while being targeted twice in the opener and the Rams were more successful integrating him into the mix against the Falcons this weekend. Robinson caught a 15-yard pass on the second play of the game and kicked off the scoring with a one-yard touchdown catch late in the first quarter.
As Profootballtalk.com’s Josh Alper notes, Robinson had another touchdown catch waved off later in the game because officials blew the play dead. The veteran wideout said it "felt great" to be more involved this week and Stafford said he thinks Robinson's impact is only going to get bigger.
"I thought A-Rob did a great job," Stafford said, via the team's website. "He's going to continue to grow into his role in this offense. We're going to continue to learn about each other. 'Hey, what does he do great? What does he really like to do? What do I like? How do we see him fitting into this offense?' All that kind of stuff. But I thought he played great today, both in the pass game and what he had to do in the run game as well."
Tight end Tyler Higbee has already been targeted 20 times this season. The tight end missed the Super Bowl with an injury last February, but the Rams are making him a big part of their offense again. He had seven catches for 71 yards against Atlanta, and he also stood out as a blocker.
Akers, whom McVay had said didn't take advantage of opportunities versus Buffalo, had 15 rushes, a big increase from his three attempts and zero yards in Week 1.
The Rams have some things to clean up and they can address those without a repeat of last week's worries about Robinson's role in the offense.
Among the things in need of polishing?
After leading the NFL with 17 interceptions last season, Stafford has thrown eight more picks in his last four games, including the playoffs. The Rams are 3-1 in those games, but Stafford knows he's taking risks when he sometimes shouldn't, and he has vowed to clean it up.
Stafford was blitzed on 18.9 percent of his dropbacks after not being blitzed once in Week 1 versus Buffalo.
On the injury front. ... McVay said on Monday that cornerback Troy Hill was having tests on his groin injury to see how much time he'd miss after getting injured in last Sunday's win over the Falcons.
As PFT reported, the answer came on Tuesday.
The Rams announced that Hill has been placed on injured reserve, so he will miss at least four games before he's eligible to return to action.
Cobie Durant came out of the Falcons game with a hamstring injury, so the Rams may be down multiple corners for this weekend's game against the Cardinals.
The Rams also placed offensive lineman Tremayne Anchrum on injured reserve. Anchrum started at guard against the Falcons, but had to leave the game with a broken leg.
One of the open roster moves was filled by signing guard Oday Aboushi to the active roster from their practice squad. Aboushi started five games for the Chargers last season and has made 47 career starts over eight seasons. ...
Of greater fantasy interest, McVay doesn't expect Van Jefferson (knee) to practice this week. I'll follow up as needed via Late-Breaking Update, but he's obviously unlikely to return without practicing. ...
One last note here. ... Per Next Gen Stats, Kupp now has at least five catches in 23 consecutive games, tying DeAndre Hopkins for the second-longest such streak in NFL history. Antonio Brown is the only player with a longer run, making five-plus catches in 36 games from 2013-2015.
You can access complete stats for the Rams Week 2 game via our exclusive Fantasy BoxScore.
QBs: Matthew Stafford, Carson Wentz, Stetson Bennett
RBs: Kyren Williams, Royce Freeman, Zach Evans, Ronnie Rivers
WRs: Cooper Kupp, Puka Nacua, Tutu Atwell, Ben Skowronek, Demarcus Robinson
TEs: Tyler Higbee, Brycen Hopkins, Hunter Long, Davis Allen
Miami DolphinsCompiled by FootballDiehards Editor Bob Harris | Updated 20 September 2022
As ESPN.com's Marcel Louis-Jacques noted, teammates didn't need any further proof of Tua Tagovailoa's competence.
So even after a performance that only one other player had recorded in franchise history, there was no message sent to the locker room; the quarterback's teammates hadn't seen anything they didn't think he was capable of.
"We expect that from [Tua]," wide receiver Jaylen Waddle said. "We're confident in him; he's confident in himself. I mean, it's good for y'all to see but we kind of expect that."
Tagovailoa set career highs with 469 passing yards and six touchdowns in the Dolphins' 42-38 comeback win Sunday over the Baltimore Ravens, becoming the second quarterback in franchise history to record at least 400 passing yards and five touchdowns in a single game.
The other? Dan Marino.
In the second half alone, Tagovailoa threw for 319 yards and five touchdowns with the Dolphins essentially putting the ball in his hands to erase a 21-point halftime deficit. He was particularly effective in the fourth quarter, completing 13 of 17 passes for 199 yards and four scores.
"It felt good. We were executing on all cylinders," Tagovailoa told Louis-Jacques. "And then there were times when we didn't execute, and no one panicked. Everyone just came back into the huddle, and we regrouped, and we went back out there and tried to execute whatever play we were given."
For the first time since 2011, a team came back to win after trailing by at least 21 points in the fourth quarter. Prior to Miami's win, teams trailing in that scenario were 0-711, according to ESPN Stats and Information research.
The Dolphins were able to break that streak largely due to the connections between Tagovailoa, who on Wednesday was named AFC Offensive Player of the Week, and receivers Tyreek Hill and Waddle, who combined for 361 yards and four touchdowns. Hill and Waddle became the first teammates in league history to catch at least 10 passes, gain 150 receiving yards, and score two touchdown receptions in the same game.
Hill and Waddle walked off the field as the NFL's leading and second-leading receivers, respectively.
Hill chewed up 67 yards after the catch while the Waddle waddled for 86 yards after the catch.
It was the first time in NFL history a team had a quarterback post a 400-plus passing yard and five-plus touchdown day while two teammates recorded 170-plus receiving yards with two touchdowns apiece.
Per Next Gen Stats, Ravens defensive backs traveled a total of 6,131 yards on Dolphins passing plays -- the most by any group in a single game since the start of the 2021 season.
Baltimore jumped out to a 28-7 lead after scoring on the game's opening kickoff and three of its first four offensive drives. After the Dolphins led for the entirety of their season-opening win over the New England Patriots, head coach Mike McDaniel hoped they would face a deficit Sunday to see how they would respond to adversity.
"Apparently they just took me way too literal," McDaniel said after the game. "They're investing more than they ever have. They're really all-in, and it was way disappointing. And so when you're down, the tendency is to kind of hang your head. ... I just challenged them to say, 'Who cares what the score is?'"
The teams traded touchdowns in the third quarter before Miami exploded for four touchdowns in the fourth, outscoring the Ravens 28-3 in the game's final frame.
Hill came alive in that fourth quarter, corralling all five of his targets for 142 yards and two touchdowns of 48 and 60 yards -- all after briefly leaving the game with cramps.
The six-time Pro Bowler spent most of the offseason lauding Tagovailoa and felt vindicated after Sunday's game.
"Man, I don't have to say too much, man -- all you got to do is look at his game film," Hill said. "It's Tua, and who he is and how consistent he is. You know that last drive we had, it really showed me who he is as a leader. You know, getting everybody inside of the huddle, telling guys, 'Make sure you run the ball to the official or hand it to Connor [Williams].' Just small things, you know, to save time. And, you know, be able for us to go down the field and make a play."
Tagovailoa found Hill for long touchdowns on consecutive drives to tie the game with 5 minutes, 19 seconds remaining. Justin Tucker's 51-yard field goal gave the Ravens a three-point lead with just over two minutes left in the game, but Miami quickly went 58 yards in three plays to reach the Ravens' 7-yard line on the ensuing drive.
Waddle said Tagovailoa offered a commanding message in the huddle with the game's final seconds ticking off the clock.
"He told us, 'It's either us or them right now,'" Waddle said. "That got me going, man."
Tagovailoa found Waddle for a 7-yard touchdown with 19 seconds left to put the Dolphins ahead for good.
The play included some improvisation from Waddle. Speaking to Profootballtalk.com's Mike Florio by phone after Sunday's victory, he acknowledged that he "added a little remix" to the play that was called.
It was a crossing route, a pick play. He initially went from the left slot to the outside. But then Waddle stopped and cut back to the inside. Tua saw Waddle, and Tua got it to him.
"I kind of added a little remix to it, I'm not gonna lie," Waddle said. "But like Tua said in the huddle man, it's us or them right now, and we got the win."
How did Tua know that Waddle would freelance?
"That's that chemistry, man," Waddle said. "That's that chemistry we got. Him being a ball player, me being a ball player. That's just how it's going to roll."
It helps that they played together at Alabama. It also helps that they now have Hill.
"Tyreek's great," Waddle said. "A great teammate, great person to look up to, honestly. It's rare that you're a fan of someone and when you get to play with him early in your career. He sets the tone not just for the group but for the offense."
It wasn't all smooth sailing for Tagovailoa, as he threw two first-half interceptions -- but McDaniel was thrilled with the way the third-year quarterback responded.
"This is huge because he stopped worrying about the last play and he went and played and took his responsibility to his teammates seriously," McDaniel said. "It is what you get into sports for. ... I think it was a moment that he'll never forget that hopefully he can use moving forward because ... we basically had to play perfect complementary football to come back from a deficit like that against a really good team. Couldn't be happier for him."
They won't have long to enjoy the big win.
As Louis-Jacques put it, "That was objectively fun to watch but now the neighborhood bully returns to town."
The Dolphins have lost seven of their last eight games to Josh Allen and the Bills, and play host to the two-time reigning AFC East champions in Week 3.
It's a true measuring stick matchup for Miami, who could put the Super Bowl favorites on notice with a win. ...
Other notes of interest. ... As the team's official website suggested, records don't fall without a total team effort.
The Miami offensive line was sterling against a stout Ravens rush as Tagovailoa was under duress on just 9 of 53 drop backs. He's been afforded an average of 2.73 seconds time to throw this season. The running game averaged 4.77 yards per rush (6.0 between Raheem Mostert and Chase Edmonds, removing the two sneaks by Tagovailoa and fullback Alec Ingold).
Players not named Tua, Hill or Waddle accounted for 192 total yards and two touchdowns on Sunday. Mike Gesicki plucked a fastball from the crossbar on one of Tagovailoa's best throws of the day and River Cracraft freelanced a route on a scramble play for his first career touchdown.
The defense had moments too. The comeback never happens without late stops and limiting the Ravens to 10 points in the second half.
As for the backfield rotation, Edmonds (51 percent) and Mostert (55 percent) split snaps almost evenly. Based on their usage, targets and route participation number, FantasyLife.com's Dwain McFarland believes this is looking like a traditional rusher/receiving-down split for the duo -- assuming the numbers stick. ...
On the injury front. ... Receiver Cedrick Wilson injured his ribs in the fourth quarter. McDaniel said imaging showed no breaks, but "it's hurting pretty bad and will be a day-to-day situation." He went into the game with a toe injury.
Wilson was limited in Wednesday's practice; I'll follow up as needed via Late-Breaking Update. ...
You can access complete stats for the Dolphins Week 2 game via our exclusive Fantasy BoxScore.
QBs: Tua Tagovailoa, Mike White, Skylar Thompson
RBs: Raheem Mostert, De'Von Achane, Jeff Wilson, Salvon Ahmed, Christopher Brooks
WRs: Tyreek Hill, Jaylen Waddle, Braxton Berrios, Cedrick Wilson, Chase Claypool, River Cracraft
TEs: Durham Smythe, Julian Hill, Tyler Kroft
Minnesota VikingsCompiled by FootballDiehards Editor Bob Harris | Updated 20 September 2022
As Associated Press sports writer Dan Gelston framed it: "Kirk Cousins tried to get the ball to Justin Jefferson.
"Darius Slay kept getting in the way. ..."
Cousins was pressured into three interceptions, Jefferson was shut down a week after one of his career-best games, and the Minnesota Vikings were run off the field from the opening drive in a 24-7 loss to the Philadelphia Eagles on Monday night.
"I do feel like this one's on me," head coach Kevin O'Connell said.
There was plenty of blame to go around for the Vikings, who hoped a sharp opening performance in a win against Green Bay was the catapult for gutting out a tough one in Philly.
But again, the Vikings left the city losers, just as they did in January 2018 after the NFC championship game.
"We wanted to come into this game and just dominate, especially after last week's performance," Jefferson said. "But we definitely had plenty of opportunities to score the ball and make something happen, carry the momentum to our side. We didn't execute on the offensive side."
The game was billed as a showdown between two of the top receivers in the league, Philadelphia's A.J. Brown on one side against Jefferson on the other. And with good reason. Jefferson went wild against the Packers with 184 receiving yards and two TDs. He had a franchise-record 158 receiving yards in the first half.
Cousins tried to keep his top target involved -- and the Vikings did throw the ball plenty after Jalen Hurts was a virtual one-man show for the Eagles in the first half (try 301 total yards).
While Hurts had made the game seem out of reach with each dazzling run or quick-strike pass, the Vikings hung around and had chances in the second half. All of them, wasted.
Cousins threw his first interception from the Eagles' 19-yard-line and another from Philly's 27.
ESPN's Troy Aikman put the blame on Jefferson for not cutting in front of Slay. After the game, Jefferson took the blame.
"That's honestly on me," Jefferson told reporters. "I'll take that one. I've got to be flatter if Slay's going to sit on that type of route. I've got to come flatter and be in front of [Slay] instead of going behind him. So, that one's on me."
Cousins basically said the same thing, in more concise fashion.
"I was just hoping he was going to come flat there and so that was really what happened," Cousins told reporters.
Cousins' third pick came on a lob that Slay snagged again and sealed the win.
"He's a competitor for sure. I knew that I was going to get that from him," Jefferson said. "I mean, he's a great cornerback. He's a great player. A great guy, too. We definitely could've had some more opportunities out there to score and put up points, and we just didn't."
Cousins was 27 for 46 for 221 yards and one touchdown. Jefferson had six receptions for 48 yards. On passes on 10 or more air yards, Cousins was 4-of-10 for 61 yards and two picks.
Even worse, Cousins was the leading rusher with 20 yards as Dalvin Cook was limited to just six carries for 17 yards. He added four catches for 19 yards on six targets in the pass game.
Cousins' lone TD pass was a 2-yard score to Irv Smith Jr. in the second quarter that made it 14-7. With the game not quite out of reach late in the first half, Cousins threw a strike to a wide-open Smith that was dropped. Smith was alone and likely could have walked in with the touchdown.
"Just one play away," O'Connell said.
Adam Thielen, who had four catches for 52 yards, called the offense's lack of execution "extremely frustrating" -- especially because he and his teammates know what the group is capable of.
"Last week we did the things we've talked about since OTAs. Tonight, we didn't do the things we've talked about since OTAs," Thielen said. "[O'Connell] had a great point about diffusing that momentum when it is swayed. We didn't do that tonight, and it was obviously crucial."
"Everybody in this room definitely could've done something better to change the outcome of the game," Jefferson said. "We've still got to look at the film. It's a short turnaround, so tomorrow we'll look at it and move on to Detroit."
Up next, a game against the 1-1 Lions in an opportunity for the Vikings to show if the opening-week win was an early-season fluke or if the dreary effort against the Eagles is something that will linger. ...
For what it's worth, the interceptions immediately revived social media talk of Cousins' record on Monday Night Football games, which is now 2-10. Prime time isn't Cousins strength. ..
On the injury front. ... Safety Harrison Smith left Monday's 24-7 loss to the Eagles to be evaluated for a concussion.
You can access complete stats for the Vikings Week 2 game via our exclusive Fantasy BoxScore.
QBs: Josh Dobbs, Nick Mullens, Jaren Hall, Kirk Cousins
RBs: Alexander Mattison, Ty Chandler, C.J. Ham, Kene Nwangwu, Cam Akers
WRs: Justin Jefferson, Jordan Addison, K.J. Osborn, Brandon Powell, Jalen Nailor
TEs: T.J. Hockenson, Josh Oliver, Johnny Mundt, Nick Muse
New England PatriotsCompiled by FootballDiehards Editor Bob Harris | Updated 20 September 2022
According to ESPN.com's Mike Reiss, the Patriots' offense remains a work in progress, but the way Sunday's 17-14 victory over the Steelers ended could be a springboard for the unit to forge its sought-after identity.
The offense took over with 6:33 remaining and ran out the clock, pounding the Steelers into submission.
It took premium toughness -- both physical and mental -- as Acrisure Stadium rocked and the Steelers' signature song "Renegade" blared deep in the fourth quarter.
"That's part of the winning formula. You want to finish with the ball," said receiver Nelson Agholor, who delivered a 44-yard touchdown catch late in the second quarter.
"If you look at us last year, four-minute drives weren't in our favor. We won the four-minute drive [on Sunday], end of the game, milking the clock, being in victory formation. That's important. Most championship teams see a lot of those, because they win the right way."
Reiss went on to suggest whether the Patriots can ultimately become a championship team -- which is a high bar to clear, but it has become the standard after a dynastic two-decade run -- seems a long way away. But no team is a finished product after the second week of the season, and perhaps punishing the Steelers down the stretch can be a catalyst to elevate the Patriots to that level.
"It was great to be able to hang on to the ball at the end there. Our backs ran hard, and our line gave them some space to run," head coach Bill Belichick said. "You always want to end up kneeling the ball. That's the best way to win."
The Patriots (1-1) -- led by running backs Damien Harris (15 carries, 71 yards, one TD) and Rhamondre Stevenson (nine carries, 47 yards) and a much-maligned line of Trent Brown, Cole Strange, David Andrews, Mike Onwenu and Isaiah Wynn -- now bring that grind-it-out approach into next Sunday's home opener against the 1-1 Ravens.
Harris had hobbled off after his final run but said with a smile following the game: "I'm fine, dawg! Look at me. I'm fine!"
Hard-charging running by Harris and Stevenson was critical in the final 6:33, while quarterback Mac Jones (21-of-35 for 252 yards, one TD, one INT) delivered a clutch 11-yard pass to Lil'Jordan Humphrey on second-and-13 then scrambled on third-and-short for the team's first down on the final march.
"The teams that win in the NFL do that -- close out a game," said Jones, who was credited by Steelers linebacker Malik Reed for changing plays on the final drive to run in areas where Pittsburgh was more vulnerable.
As Harris added, "It's definitely a step in the right direction. Obviously, we're still not where we want to be. We have a long time before we get there. But closing out the game like that is a huge confidence booster. It's another step we can take going into next week, with another tough opponent, in continuing to become the team we want to be."
The strong finish ensured the Patriots didn't drop to 0-2 for the first time since 2001, which is the longest active streak in the NFL of avoiding two straight losses to open the season.
It has some players looking ahead with hope after scoring just seven points in Week 1.
"I hope this game is a steppingstone towards where we're headed," Agholor said. "I don't want this to be, 'This is our identity.' I want it to be, 'We see some good stuff; let's get better from here.'"
Meanwhile, as Associated Press sports writer Kyle Hightower reminded readers, throughout the preseason Belichick brushed aside questions concerning the play calling system the Patriots would be employing following the exit of former coordinator Josh McDaniels.
While senior football advisor Matt Patricia has held the play call sheet in the first two games, Belichick seemed more involved on Sunday between series and could be seen leading conversations with Jones while Patricia and quarterbacks coach Joe Judge listened in.
The fruits of Belichick's increased involvement seemed to show up on the field and translated into an offense that had a lot more fluidity.
Belichick has repeatedly reiterated that the ultimate responsibility for the offense would lie with him.
Sunday's structure could be a glimpse of how things will look going forward.
Next up, New England's defense has a big test in its home opener this week as it welcomes Baltimore and quarterback Lamar Jackson. Jackson has been efficient through the air and on the ground thus far.
The Ravens also aren't expected to be in a good mood coming off their fourth-quarter collapse against the Dolphins. ...
Other notes of interest. ... Agholor attacked the preseason with something to prove coming off a mostly underwhelming first season in New England in 2021. He followed up an active Week 1 with his first 100-yard receiving game as a Patriot, pulling in six catches for 110 yards, including the above-mentioned touchdown in the second quarter.
Agholor had 0.6 yards of target separation on that scoring grab, the second fewest for a Jones TD in his career. ...
DeVante Parker was one of the Patriots' top performers at receiver during training camp, regularly reeling in deep catches and tightly contested 50-50 balls in the red zone. That explosiveness hasn't shown up through two regular-season games. He was targeted twice but didn't have a catch against the Steelers. That's after he had only one catch for 9 yards in Week 1 against Miami.
In addition, as FantasyLife.com's Dwain McFarland put it, "Jakobi Meyers had a low-key Jakobi Meyers kind of day."
The final numbers: A 39 percent target share (13 targets), 2.97 yards per route run and nine receptions for 95 yards.
"Some day we will realize that Meyers is easily the Patriots WR1," McFarland added. ...
As for the backfield split. ... McFarland notes that Stevenson, who led the position with 62 percent of snaps, took over much of the primary passing-down work with Ty Montgomery out.
Kicker Nick Folk extended his streak to 56 consecutive made field goals under 50 yards with a 28-yarder in the first quarter. It tied the NFL record with Ryan Succop (2014-17 with Tennessee). Folk's previous miss inside the 50-yard line was a 45-yard attempt in the 2020 season opener against Miami.
On the injury front. ... As previously noted, Harris limped off the field following his game-clinching, third down run in the closing minutes. He claims to be fine. We'll see about that in practice this week. Watch the Late-Breaking Updates for any developments for the veteran halfback. ...
And finally. ... The Patriots and Raiders are making a trade on Wednesday.
According to multiple reports, the Patriots are sending tackle Justin Herron to the Raiders. Belichick did not confirm that the deal was done during his Wednesday press conference, but said, “when we can, if we can, we will.”
Albert Breer of SI.com reports the Patriots will send a 2024 seventh-rounder to Las Vegas as well and that the Raiders will send a 2024 sixth-round pick back.
You can access complete stats for the Patriots Week 2 game via our exclusive Fantasy BoxScore.
QBs: Bailey Zappe, Mac Jones
RBs: Rhamondre Stevenson, Ezekiel Elliott, JaMycal Hasty
WRs: DeVante Parker, Demario Douglas, JuJu Smith-Schuster, Tyquan Thornton, Kayshon Boutte, Matt Slater, Kendrick Bourne
TEs: Hunter Henry, Mike Gesicki, Pharaoh Brown
New Orleans SaintsCompiled by FootballDiehards Editor Bob Harris | Updated 20 September 2022
One week after pulling off the largest fourth-quarter comeback in franchise history, the New Orleans Saints suffered through a fourth-quarter collapse.
As Associated Press sports writer Brett Martel notes, circumstances can change dramatically from week to week in the NFL, and the Saints are looking for a little more consistency.
"The first week of the season, you're encouraged by the never-give-up grittiness of your team, and then the next week just (disappointed by) the mistakes that we made in a game that was contested," first-year head coach Dennis Allen said Monday. "There's some good things that happened in the game, but all of it gets overshadowed by the five turnovers."
Four of the turnovers occurred in the fourth quarter -- three of them interceptions thrown by Jameis Winston. The first turnover came late in the third quarter as the Saints were trying to take the lead. Mark Ingram fumbled at the Tampa Bay 11-yard line.
Then came the fourth quarter and a dead-ball scuffle resulting in the ejections of Buccaneers star receiver Mike Evans and Saints top cornerback Marshon Lattimore. The game was tied at 3 when that took place, but the Buccaneers scored the next 17 points before New Orleans responded with a late TD pass to Michael Thomas in a 20-10 loss.
Allen said while he's not sure if the skirmish dramatically changed the game, Lattimore's ejection hurt New Orleans' defense, which was already without injured starting cornerback Paulson Adebo.
Allen said he and Lattimore "had a conversation, and he understands that he can't retaliate -- and that's something that teams in this league are going to continue to try him on."
But Allen also felt Tampa Bay deserved a lot of credit for how it played.
"Defensively, they played a heck of a game," Allen said. "They made it really challenging for us, made us have to go the long, hard way. We didn't get a lot of explosive plays down the field."
Before Sunday's games got underway, Jay Glazer of Fox Sports reported that Winston would be taking the field against the Buccaneers with four fractures in his back.
Winston had been on the injury report with a back injury during the week, but there was no indication of the severity of the issue that he's been dealing with. Winston had no interest in discussing the nature of his injury after throwing three interceptions and being sacked six times.
Winston's three interceptions in the final 12 minutes matched his total from the seven games he started in 2021 before his season-ending knee injury.
Winston said at his postgame press conference that his back "feels like my back" and turned every question about his injury into a chance to say that his performance fell short of acceptable standards.
"Yeah, you know, everyone in the locker room was playing with some type of banged up or something," Winston said. "But like I said, what's important is offensively I have to do a better job of executing third downs, and I can't give them the football. ... My main thing is focusing on execution. I didn't execute. Like two weeks in a row where we were [around] 4 for 13 on third downs, and that's on me. It's just this time I turned over the football. So we're going to get back to the drawing board and I'm going to protect the football. That's the big thing."
One of Winston's deep incomplete passes traveled 60 yards in the air, and teammates said they didn't think Winston's injury was a major issue.
"We knew he could play through it. We know he's a tough guy," tight end Juwan Johnson said. "Everybody's dealing with something during the season, whether it's a back or an ankle. ... His back didn't have anything to do with it. We just didn't make enough plays."
Allen said that he "didn't really see" Winston's back affecting him during the game and the Saints will have to come up with a better plan of attack offensively in Week 3 regardless of any medical circumstances they have to deal with over the course of the week.
There's plenty to deal with.
Through two games, however offense has played well for essentially one quarter -- the fourth at Atlanta in Week 1, when it scored 17 points. During the other seven quarters, New Orleans has scored 20 points and has been below average on third-down conversions. Prior to Monday night's games, the Saints were tied for 24th in the NFL in third-down efficiency, converting 30.8 percent, and 29th in sacks allowed per pass attempt. Winston has been sacked 10 times.
Offensive coordinator Pete Carmichael, who'd worked alongside previous coach Sean Payton since 2006, "has a great game plan," Johnson said. "I just think it's us executing. It's nothing different from what we've been doing for a long time now."
After stumbling in their home opener and losing for the sixth time in their last eight games in the Superdome, the Saints head back on the road to Carolina, and then go straight from there to London, where they will play Minnesota in Week 4.
While the Saints appeared to avoid significant injuries during the game, they were disappointed dynamic running back Alvin Kamara was unable to play because of his rib injury. Kamara was a late scratch after being listed as questionable.
"We were holding out hope all the way to the very end," Allen said. "He's feeling a little bit better today. We'll see."
In addition, ESPN.com's Katherine Terrell contends the Saints are going to have to make a decision about whether to sit Winston and let him heal or continue to play him while he's injured. Allen said the team never considered pulling Winston in favor of Andy Dalton against the Bucs, however.
I'll have more on Winston and Kamara, both of whom were on the practice field working on a limited basis Wednesday, as well as Tre'Quan Smith, who missed Sunday's game with an ongoing shoulder issue, and Taysom Hill, who was limited by a new rib injury Wednesday, via Late-Breaking Update as the week progresses. ...
With Kamara out, Ingram carried the ball 10 times for 60 yards. He caught both of his targets for three yards.
As NBCSportsEdge.com notes, Ingram showed some burst as a runner but coughed up the above-mentioned fumble in the red zone. The game was tied at three points apiece at the time. Ingram's backups combined for six carries and two catches. Coming in with an ankle injury, Ingram had a solid role. However, he will revert to a backup once Kamara returns.
Chris Olave's usage is worth noting, with FantasyLife.com's Dwain McFarland characterizing it as "elite."
Among the numbers worth noting: Route participation: 84 percent; target share: 34 percent; Average Depth of Target: 26.1; air yards: 65 percent (365); yards per route: 1.95.
McFarland noted that only 43 percent of targets were catchable, but that's not unusual for high ADOT.
If these numbers hold up, Olave, who caught 5-of-13 targets for 80 yards is going to emerge as viable WR3 candidate.
Of course, Michael Thomas remains a solid play after catching 6-of-9 targets for 65 yards and a touchdown; Jarvis Landry caught 4-of-5 targets for 25 yards; and Johnson caught 4-of-7 targets for 40 yards.
You can access complete stats for the Saints Week 2 game via our exclusive Fantasy BoxScore.
QBs: Derek Carr, Jameis Winston, Jake Haener
RBs: Alvin Kamara, Jamaal Williams, Kendre Miller
WRs: Chris Olave, Rashid Shaheed, A.T. Perry, Keith Kirkwood, Lynn Bowden, Michael Thomas
TEs: Juwan Johnson, Taysom Hill, Foster Moreau, Jimmy Graham
New York GiantsCompiled by FootballDiehards Editor Bob Harris | Updated 20 September 2022
According to Associated Press sports writer Tom Canavan, it's time for the New York Giants to ignore all the hype that's come with their first 2-0 start since 2016.
After five straight losing seasons, it's easy to understand why Giants' fans are going bonkers about a team that beat Tennessee and Carolina under new coach Brian Daboll.
New York has not been to the playoffs since 2016. It hasn't started a season 3-0 since 2009. Oddsmakers at FanDuel Sportsbook even have made the Giants, who were 4-13 last season, a 2 1/2-point favorite against the defending NFC East champion Dallas Cowboys on Monday, Sept. 26.
Forget that the Cowboys have beaten the Giants nine of the last 10 games. Many think they are not the same team with Dak Prescott hurt and Cooper Rush at quarterback.
What's important to remember is the Giants just as easily might have been 0-2. They beat the Titans 21-20 with a late touchdown and 2-point conversion. Their three-point win over the Panthers was aided by six gift points early following Carolina turnovers.
But there's something going on here. And it has to do with Daboll.
As ESPN.com's Jordan Raanan recounted, leading 19-16, the Giants could have very easily handed the ball to running back Saquon Barkley on third-and-6 from their own 40-yard line with 1:50 remaining. Force the Panthers to use their final timeout, punt the ball and rely on a defense that has played so well the first two weeks.
Not these Giants. Not with Daboll as the head coach.
Daboll instead called for quarterback Daniel Jones to roll out on a bootleg. He could either throw to Barkley in the right flat or tuck it and run himself. He chose the latter, and Jones gained 11 yards on the play to pick up a first down.
Game, set and match for the Giants for the second consecutive week to begin Daboll's head coaching career, as New York beat Carolina 19-16 in its home opener on Sunday at MetLife Stadium.
"I think it was a great call in a situation like that," Jones said.
"Two weeks, two statements from the Giants about what kind of team they are," Raanan wrote, "An unapologetic yet imperfect group that is finally producing better results."
"I think it's important to show players that you have faith in them," said Daboll, who also called for a 2-point conversion to go for the win late last week in Tennessee. "They work their asses off during the week. They've worked their asses off during camp. They're the ones out there playing on Sunday, and you have to put it in their hands when it counts the most. And that's what [offensive coordinator Mike] Kafka did with Daniel, and Daniel made the right decision."
This isn't just an offensive philosophy that Daboll brought with him from the Buffalo Bills. It's an organizational attitude he's working to install. It's the same approach the Giants are bringing on defense and special teams.
It has the defense -- which has allowed 36 points in two games -- thriving in coordinator Wink Martindale's new scheme, even without its top two pass-rushers. Outside linebackers Kayvon Thibodeaux (knee) and Azeez Ojulari (calf) both missed their second consecutive game, and defensive lineman Leonard Williams (knee) left Sunday in the third quarter.
It didn't matter. The aggressive Giants defense refuses to play scared.
"Wink's done this a long time. Wink's not afraid of failure," Daboll said. "That is really what we want from the entire organization is not to be afraid of failure, not to be afraid of the consequence. If you prepare the right way, you can live with the results. And I'll say that over and over again."
With starters Ojulari and Thibodeaux out, Oshane Ximines has stepped up. The 2019 third-round pick had two tackles, a pass defense, a quarterback hurry and one of the Giants' two sacks of Baker Mayfield on Sunday. For the season, he has eight tackles, a sack, two passes defended and three QB hurries.
Ximines spent most of last year in the doghouse. He has responded to the coaching changes and helped himself in the offseason by lifting weights with Ojulari in Georgia.
The results so far have been encouraging. The Giants are winning the types of games fans have become so accustomed to seeing them lose in recent years. It took until Week 10 of last season for them to win their second game. This year they did it by mid-September and they're trending in the right direction now.
It's clear the Giants are embracing this new approach. It undoubtedly is different from last year, when former coach Joe Judge called a QB sneak on third-and-9 from inside his own 5-yard line in Week 18.
The only step for the Giants is to follow the same formula as the past two weeks: Play hard and protect the ball.
New York has turned the ball over twice this season, both in the first game against Tennessee. Jones is 39 of 55 for 364 yards, three touchdowns and one interception. His quarterback rating is 99.4.
Martindale's defense is giving up an average of 18 points.
Keep that up and New York will have a chance every game.
One area that needs work: Jones has faced pressure on a league-leading 49.3 percent of his drop backs this season, according to Pro Football Focus.
Other notes of interest. ... As New York Post staffer Ryan Dunleavy put it, "Kenny Golladay isn't going to find the end zone for the first time with the Giants from his new spot on the bench."
In what has to be rock bottom for the once-prized $72 million free-agent signing, a healthy Golladay played just two snaps Sunday. He was among a group of players who left the locker room during the 15-minute cooling off period before media were allowed inside.
"It's a continual competition at receiver," Daboll said. "We are just going to keep rolling guys [through the lineup] and play the guys we think are going to give us the best chance -- and the other guys have to be ready to go as backups."
A source told Dunleavy early last week that the Giants planned to get Kadarius Toney -- who played just seven snaps in Week 1 -- more involved in Sunday's game plan, possibly at the expense of Golladay. Then Toney re-aggravated a hamstring injury on Thursday to temporarily muddy the picture.
"I had more reps this game so I was able to see more different looks," Toney said after finishing with two catches for zero yards in a heavier workload. "Get involved more and see what my role actually is. The personnel that we were not calling last week got called this week."
And it made Golladay an odd man out.
Golladay's spot in formations technically went to David Sills, who made three catches for 37 yards in his third career game after three long years on the practice squad. Even Darius Slayton, who accepted a pay cut to avoid getting cut at the end of the preseason and was inactive for the season opener, played one snap against the Panthers.
Sterling Shepard's six catches (34 yards) and 10 targets were tops for an offense that averaged a paltry 5.1 yards per pass attempt.
"We have to do better on pre-snap," Shepard said of the receivers. "Guys have to know where to go. Too many times that, myself included, I was going the wrong way. Then you look at the clock and we have to hurry up, so that throws off a little bit of the timing."
He added, "Especially in our room -- it starts with me -- we have a lot to work on."
How did Golladay handle his demotion?
"Great," Daboll said. "I told him during the week that we were going to go with Sills. He acted like a pro. I said, 'Be ready to go.' Does that mean it's going to be [the same] next week? No. … It takes a lot of mental toughness, too. That's not an easy thing to hear. I appreciate them being pros."
Golladay has 39 catches for 543 yards and no touchdowns in 16 games since signing a four-year contract during 2021 free agency. With Golladay earning a base salary of $13 million, he got paid $722,222 for a week of practice, preparation and two plays, or $361,111 a play.
But Daboll has lived up to his promise that performance will be rewarded more than contracts and draft status.
"Everybody has the team mindset," Toney said. "There's never really any, 'I'd rather be in.' As long as we're winning, I feel like everybody is happy around here."
By the way, as FantasyLife.com's Dwain McFarland pointed out, Shepard dominated passing-game usage in Week 2 with 91 percent Route Participation; a 32 percent Target Share; and 44 percent Air yards.
Beyond that Toney earned 37 percent route participation and Sills got 93 percent. ...
On the injury front. ... Toney (hamstring) did not practice Wednesday, but there's plenty of time before Monday night to get him on the field. Daboll said Wan'Dale Robinson, who sat out last week with a knee injury, is close to a return, but nothing is certain for this week.
More on both via Late-Breaking Update in coming days. ...
Kicker Graham Gano had a good game against his former team last Sunday.
Gano made four field goals against the Panthers, including a 56-yarder with 3:34 left to play in the game. That kick broke a 16-16 tie and the Giants would hold on for a 19-16 win.
The other field goals that Gano hit in the contest were 36- and 33-yarders during the first quarter and a 51-yard kick earlier in the fourth quarter. He also hit an extra point after the lone Giants touchdown of the afternoon.
On Wednesday, Gano was named NFC Special Teams Player of the Week.
Gano is now 64-of-69 on field goals in 35 career games for the Giants. He made 85.5 percent of his field goals over seven seasons in Carolina.
You can access complete stats for the Giants Week 2 game via our exclusive Fantasy BoxScore.
QBs: Tommy DeVito, Tyrod Taylor, Daniel Jones
RBs: Saquon Barkley, Matt Breida, Gary Brightwell, Eric Gray
WRs: Darius Slayton, Wan'Dale Robinson, Jalin Hyatt, Parris Campbell, Isaiah Hodgins, Sterling Shepard
TEs: Daniel Bellinger, Lawrence Cager, Chris Myarick, Darren Waller
New York JetsCompiled by FootballDiehards Editor Bob Harris | Updated 20 September 2022
As Associated Press sports writer Dennis Waszak Jr. suggested, "Maybe Robert Saleh and the New York Jets were on to something. ..."
A week ago, the coach made headlines when he boldly declared he and the team were "taking receipts" on all those who continuously mock the franchise. Things will change, he insisted, and they'll be happy to "shove it down everyone's throats" when it does.
Saleh's squad then went to Cleveland and pulled off one of the NFL's most stunning comebacks in decades. Down by 13 to the Browns on Sunday with 1:55 remaining, Joe Flacco and the Jets rallied to win 31-30.
"Something crazy, right?" a beaming Saleh asked as he walked into his postgame news conference.
It was the first time a team overcame a deficit of at least 13 points inside the final two minutes of regulation to win since Chicago overcame a 14-point deficit to also beat Cleveland in overtime in Week 8 of the 2001 season.
"Probably one of the craziest endings I have ever been a part of," wide receiver Corey Davis said, "and probably one of the greatest feelings, too."
Saleh's decision to stick with Flacco was widely questioned after the 37-year-old quarterback was mediocre in the Jets' season-opening loss to Baltimore. It wasn't all Flacco, who was victimized by at least four dropped passes, shoddy protection and penalties. Fans chanted for Mike White to play -- and followed that up during the week with calls to sports talk radio and posts on social media for him to step in, at least while Zach Wilson remains sidelined.
Saleh stuck with Flacco -- and looked pretty smart Sunday. Flacco finished with 307 yards passing and four touchdowns, including the two in 60 seconds that were sandwiched around a successful onside kick.
"No," Saleh said when asked if he felt some vindication for his quarterback decision. "We have to win a hell of a lot more than one game to cash in on those."
As Waszak noted, overreactions -- positive or negative -- are never prudent on Mondays during the NFL season. But the Jets showed they could actually win a game like that. And that's not something many would have believed possible, at least during the past several years for the franchise with the league's longest postseason drought at 11 years.
It was a signature win for Saleh in his second year as coach, and a potential tone setter for the season. It was also a sign of hope for the Jets and their fans.
How they build on that unlikely victory will set the course for the rest of this season -- and potentially beyond.
"Obviously, the jubilation, everyone is really excited," Saleh said Monday, "but it's time to move on."
If things truly are changing, the Jets need to prove it Sunday at home against the 0-2 Cincinnati Bengals -- who they beat last season on Halloween in White's memorable breakout game.
"We've got to (gain momentum)," Saleh said after the win. "We have no choice. We have a Super Bowl runner-up coming in town this week -- a dynamic offense, a really good defense. I'm sure they remember last year, so they're going to come in guns blazing, and we've got to be able to answer it. ..."
Other notes of interest. ... Of particular interest to fantasy managers? The Flacco-led offense is actually doing some good things in Wilson's absence.
Entering Monday, the Jets' 782 total yards are sixth in the NFL, and their 34 passing first downs are one behind league leaders Cincinnati and Miami.
And despite that tough first game, Flacco hasn't been too shabby: Entering Monday, his 616 yards passing in the first two games rank him third in the NFL behind just Miami's Tua Tagovailoa (739) and Washington's Carson Wentz (650). He also leads the NFL in completions (63) and attempts (103).
Better still is the emergence of rookie receiver Garrett Wilson, who was the breakout star for the Jets, catching eight passes for 102 yards and two touchdowns -- including the go-ahead 15-yard score with 22 seconds left.
The No. 10 overall pick also overcame a late mistake to make the game's biggest catch.
"I didn't want my drop to be the reason why we lost the game," he said.
Wilson also became the second player in franchise history with 100 yards receiving in his second pro game, joining Derrick Gaffney (1978).
Wilson was only on the field for 56 percent of the Jets' passing plays in Week 1 but led the team with a 23 percent target rate.
Per FantasyLife.com's Dwain McFarland, those numbers jumped to 76 percent in Week 2 and he led the team with an eye-popping 35 percent target share and 43 percent of air yards while Elijah Moore led way with 94 percent route participation.
Of course, Wilson's first big game came with Flacco throwing the passes. New York hopes Wilson can develop an even better rapport with fellow youngster Zach Wilson once the usual starting quarterback returns to action.
And if you ask at least one of Garrett Wilson's teammates, there's plenty more in store for the rookie.
"He has that Justin Jefferson vibe," Jets cornerback D.J. Reed said, via The Athletic's Zack Rosenblatt. "Dudes don't want to cover him man to man. ..."
As for the backfield workload, Michael Carter maintained the lead in the Jets backfield with 61 percent of the snaps, 43 percent of the attempts and a 12 percent target share per Pro Football Focus (via McFarland). Breece Hall
got 27 percent of the snaps, 33 percent of the attempts and a 3 percent target share.
McFarland also noted that Ty Johnson sniped 64 percent of long-down-distance work and 32 percent of the two-minute offense. Carter had 53 percent.
This is starting to look like a three-man committee. ...
The Jets had no major injuries in the game.
Wilson remains out, likely one more game, while recovering from a bone bruise and arthroscopic surgery to repair a torn meniscus in his right knee. Saleh told reporters on Monday, via SNY, that Wilson will "take another step up" in his practice work over the coming days. In fact, NFL Network's Ian Rapoport reported Wednesday that Wilson is expected to participate in 7-on-7s this week. Wilson will then be reevaluated by doctors to see when he might be cleared for game action.
The team's Week 4 game against the Steelers was set as the earliest possible return date for Wilson when he had the operation and Saleh said on Monday that nothing has changed on that front.
Saleh confirmed Flacco will start again Sunday in place of Wilson.
Also, tight end C.J. Uzomah, who missed the game with a hamstring injury, will be evaluated through the week. He was limited Wednesday.
I'll follow up on all involved via Late-Breaking Update as developments warrant. ...
You can access complete stats for the Jets Week 2 game via our exclusive Fantasy BoxScore.
QBs: Zach Wilson, Trevor Siemian, Aaron Rodgers
RBs: Breece Hall, Dalvin Cook, Israel Abanikanda
WRs: Garrett Wilson, Xavier Gipson, Jason Brownlee, Allen Lazard, Randall Cobb, Charles Irvin
TEs: Tyler Conklin, Jeremy Ruckert, C.J. Uzomah, Kenny Yeboah
Philadelphia EaglesCompiled by FootballDiehards Editor Bob Harris | Updated 20 September 2022
As NFL.com reported it, "Jalen Hurts took his play to another level Monday night, dicing up the Vikings through the air and plowing over defenders on the ground as the Eagles dominated in a 24-7 victory. ..."
Hurts went 26-of-31 passing -- an 83.9 completion rate -- for 333 yards and a touchdown and added 11 carries for 57 rushing yards and two more scores. He became the first player in NFL history to have an 80-plus completion percentage, 300-plus passing yards and two rushing TDs in a single game, per NFL Research.
Hurts is the second Eagle in the Super Bowl era with 300 passing yards and two rushing TDs in a game. He joins quarterback Mike Vick, who did it on Monday Night Football in 2010 against Washington.
The QB made the right reads over and over from the pocket and on the move, displaying pinpoint accuracy to all levels.
Hurts' impressive play to open the season doesn't shock head coach Nick Sirianni, who called it a "big-time performance on a big-time stage."
"I wouldn't say I'm surprised. I've seen the growth," he said, via the team's transcript. "We talk about this so much with Jalen. Why is he going to continue to reach his ceiling? Because he's tough, he has high football character, and he loves football. He's going to reach his ceiling. It's fun watching him grow."
Through two weeks, Hurts has displayed difference-making talent as both a runner and passer. He's dynamic on the ground, but if he continues to show the type of ability from the pocket displayed Monday night against a good defensive line, that ceiling on his career will only get higher.
As a leader, Hurts credited the men around him.
"I said it earlier, no man is an island," he said. "You have to draw your strength from others. I can't perform without the other 10 on the field. Same on the other side. They need me to do my job for them to eat. It's a collective group. It was a big team win. A big-time team win. It's something that we will definitely enjoy, but we have a short week. We're headed to [Washington,] D.C., so we'll enjoy it for a little bit and get ready for our next opponent."
Entering the offseason, the biggest question in Philly was whether Hurts could prove he's the future franchise quarterback. Through two weeks, the 24-year-old answered that with a resounding yes.
As ESPN.com's Tim McManus wrote, "Hurts has been the team's best player in both games so far, and that's no small thing."
Entering the season, the big question was whether Hurts was good enough to take advantage of a loaded roster and turn the Eagles into legit contenders. There's a long way to go, but he has been dynamite so far. Vegas has taken notice. Hurts' MVP odds moved from 14-1 to 8-1 at Caesars Sportsbook following Monday's win. He is now the third favorite behind Josh Allen (+325) and Patrick Mahomes (+450).
The big improvement has been Hurts' passing. He was decisive and accurate with his throws against Minnesota.
Given how effective he is as a runner, defenses are going to have a very hard time containing him if he continues to burn it up through the air.
"He's put in so much work. Of course, it has, it's slowing down," Sirianni said. "But it should, right, at this point. He is further into his process, and we're talking about getting better every day and he lives that. He's one of our of captains, one of our leaders, and he lives the theory of getting better every day. That's why you're seeing major improvements, it's because of the type of person and the type of player he is."
Next up, the Eagles start a reunion tour Sunday when they head out to play the Washington Commanders and former QB Carson Wentz. The Eagles return home Sunday, Oct. 2 and play the Jacksonville Jaguars, led by coach Doug Pederson. Wentz and Pederson, of course, played pivotal roles in helping the Eagles win the Super Bowl after the 2017 season.
Other notes of interest. ... According to Associated Press sports writer Dan Gelston, while Hurts gets the bulk of the credit for the Eagles' fast start, offensive coordinator Shane Steichen has called the right plays that make the Eagles seem electrifying at times.
For all the love shown toward the Eagles talented trio of wide receivers -- A.J. Brown, Quez Watkins and DeVonta Smith -- it was tight end Dallas Goedert that led the team in yards receiving with 82 (on five catches). Miles Sanders rushed for 80 yards in a second straight productive week out of the backfield.
On the injury front. ... The team reported no new injuries following the game.
Brown put a temporary scare into Eagles fans when he made a quick trip to the medical tent. No injury, though. The Eagles No. 1 receiver just needed a bathroom break.
One last note here. ... Hurts has plenty of options, but sometimes the Eagles try and give him too many. They were flagged for three ineligible receiver downfield penalties in the first quarter. The Eagles have a whopping 11 ineligible downfield pass penalties in the two seasons since Sirianni has coached the team.
You can access complete stats for the Eagles Week 2 game via our exclusive Fantasy BoxScore.
QBs: Jalen Hurts, Marcus Mariota, Tanner McKee
RBs: D'Andre Swift, Kenneth Gainwell, Boston Scott, Rashaad Penny
WRs: A.J. Brown, DeVonta Smith, Julio Jones, Olamide Zaccheaus, Quez Watkins
TEs: Dallas Goedert, Jack Stoll, Grant Calcaterra, Albert Okwuegbunam
Pittsburgh SteelersCompiled by FootballDiehards Editor Bob Harris | Updated 20 September 2022
As Profootballtalk.com’s Mike Florio framed it, "The fans aren't patient. The head coach is. For now.
"And the head coach is the one who makes the decisions. ..."
One day after the Steelers lost to the Patriots at home, generating only 243 net yards and two touchdowns, head coach Mike Tomlin told reporters that he'll be exercising patience with quarterback Mitchell Trubisky. Tomlin also said he'll be patient with offensive coordinator Matt Canada.
Via Josh Rowntree of 93.7 The Fan, Tomlin said he isn't happy with offensive play calling, or anything else, after a loss. He acknowledged that the offense remains "in development."
Trubisky, on Sunday, completed 21 of 33 passes for 168 yards, with one touchdown and one interception. He ran the ball one time, for seven yards.
Will the Steelers find ways to get more mileage out of Trubisky's mobility? "I'm not going to come in and install a triple option," Tomlin said.
Regardless, the paying customers aren't happy. And they were chanting for rookie Kenny Pickett.
"I didn't hear that," Tomlin said. "But I've got a lot going on."
He definitely has a lot going on this week. The Steelers play the Browns on Thursday night.
The good news is that the game will be in Cleveland. Which means that Tomlin won't have to not hear the chants for Pickett.
Meanwhile, on Tuesday, Trubisky told reporters he could open things up more.
"It's there, and we had our opportunities," Trubisky said, via Chris Adamski of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. "I think earlier, I can take shots downfield. I think I can look for 14 more often, George. He's doing a great job for us, and I just gotta get these playmakers the football. Whatever route they're running, I just gotta get them the ball. It really comes down to me making better decisions, being aggressive and putting ourselves in that position."
Through two weeks, Trubisky ranks last in the NFL with a 5.1 yards per attempt average among passers with at least 30 attempts, per Next Gen Stats. The QB has completed just two balls of 20-plus air yards on eight such attempts (none over 25 air yards).
Trubisky has had under 200 pass yards, and a sub-80 passer rating in each of his first two starts with the Steelers.
"We haven't scored enough points here the last couple of weeks, but that's a collective, not just the quarterback position, not just the players," Tomlin added. "It's all of us are responsible for ringing up the scoreboard. We don't seek comfort. We don't try to quell the noise, to be quite honest with you. We don't care about the noise. We're just working on the things that are within our control to have good days to continue the progression of this group from a developmental standpoint, knowing that the outcome is going to be what we desire."
The offensive line's struggles haven't aided Trubisky in stretching the field, and offensive coordinator Matt Canada has preferred calling shorter routes.
Those issues aren't on Trubisky.
Associated Press sports writer Will Graves reminded readers that a year ago, the limitations of the offense were placed firmly at the feet of 39-year-old Ben Roethlisberger and an offensive line that struggled to protect a likely Hall of Famer gamely raging against the dying of the light.
Things were supposed to be different in 2022.
Considering all the personnel changes, Graves went on to point out that Canada is one of the few constants.
Free to construct an offense on his terms after spending 2021 searching for common ground with Roethlisberger -- with very mixed results -- Canada instead appears to have made little if any changes to the plan that saw the Steelers sneak into the playoffs last fall almost in spite of an offense that finished in the bottom third of the NFL in nearly every major statistical category.
That said, it's two games. It's not a season. We'll be looking for signs that change might be coming. Perhaps going up against a Browns defense that gave up 307 yards and four touchdown passes to Joe Flacco this past Sunday might help. ...
Other notes of interest. ... Diontae Johnson continues to easily be the No. 1 in Pittsburgh with another 30 percent-plus target-share game. On the other hand, as Graves noted, Pickens was the star of training camp and a more than capable replacement for JuJu Smith-Schuster, who left for Kansas City in free agency. Through two weeks, Pickens has six targets and just two catches for 23 yards.
While the run game got going behind a better day from Najee Harris, the Steelers still only gained 91 yards on the ground.
You can access complete stats for the Steelers Week 2 game via our exclusive Fantasy BoxScore.
QBs: Mitchell Trubisky, Mason Rudolph, Kenny Pickett
RBs: Najee Harris, Jaylen Warren, Anthony McFarland Jr.
WRs: George Pickens, Diontae Johnson, Allen Robinson, Calvin Austin III, Miles Boykin
TEs: Pat Freiermuth, Darnell Washington
San Francisco 49ersCompiled by FootballDiehards Editor Bob Harris | Updated 20 September 2022
Trey Lance underwent season-ending surgery on his broken right ankle Monday, leaving the San Francisco 49ers to go ahead with the rest of the 2022 season with former starter Jimmy Garoppolo back in the helm.
Lance got hurt in the first quarter of San Francisco's 27-7 win over the Seattle Seahawks on Sunday when he kept the ball on a run play up the middle.
The Niners said Lance had surgery Monday to repair a broken bone and ligament disruption. Team physician Dr. Tim McAdams said he's confident Lance will recover completely in time for a full return next season.
"I will be back better than ever," Lance tweeted after the surgery. "This chapter is going to make the story even greater!"
But for now, the Niners (1-1) are in Garoppolo's hands and they feel very fortunate they were able to keep their former starter on a reduced contract this season in case something happened to Lance.
"I don't want to downplay what happened to Trey, because we really do feel for him, but this is why you buy insurance," fullback Kyle Juszczyk said. "You don't want to have to use it, but Jimmy was kind of our insurance policy."
So, as Associated Press sports writer Josh Dubow noted, instead of the Lance injury derailing a season for a team that believes it can contend for the Super Bowl, it just puts the Niners back where they were last year when Garoppolo helped them get to the NFC title game with Lance as the backup.
San Francisco planned to trade Garoppolo this offseason, but was unable to after he underwent shoulder surgery in March.
Garoppolo remained on the roster but didn't practice with the team at all during training camp, throwing on his own on a side field, before agreeing to return as a backup on a reduced contract.
Instead of the nonguaranteed $24.2 million base salary Garoppolo was owed this season, he will get a $6.5 million fully guaranteed base salary, $500,000 in roster bonuses and the chance to make nearly $9 million more in playing time bonuses.
Garoppolo made $350,000 in bonuses Sunday for playing at least 25 percent of the snaps and the Niners winning the game.
"It definitely turns out to be a very smart move for us," defensive end Nick Bosa said. "The fact that we have a quarterback who's done so much for this organization already and has all the experience that he has, and the fact that we get him back, is very big for our team. We're excited for him, but obviously we're hurting for Trey."
Garoppolo threw a 38-yard TD pass to Ross Dwelley on his first full drive and finished 12 for 21 for 154 yards with no turnovers.
The offense changed a little this offseason as it was geared toward Lance, but Garoppolo didn't take long to feel comfortable in it.
"Just like riding a bike," Garoppolo said. "It felt good to be back out there. I feel terrible for Trey. I've been on that side of it. This league is tough. Everyone has their share of injuries but that sucks for him. I feel bad for him but he's our brother and we'll pick him up. ... I'm comfortable here. The players, the scheme, all that stuff, the locker room, I'm comfortable. I'm familiar with it.
"I'm not saying I knew this was going to happen but I was ready for this in case it did happen and just want to take advantage of the opportunity."
Again, the 49ers went to a Super Bowl and last season's NFC Championship Game with Garoppolo under center, so his return to the lineup likely won't lower any expectations for what the team can do this season.
Sunday's win was a step toward reaching them and Garoppolo will try to keep the 49ers moving forward against the Broncos this week. ...
Remember: The Niners invested three first-round picks to trade up for Lance in the 2021 draft and now won't know until at least his third year if that was a wise move. Lance started only two games as a rookie and played less than five quarters this year before getting sidelined. Lance played only one game in college in a pandemic-altered 2020 season after one year as a starter at lower-level North Dakota State.
As Dubow summed up: "That means that whatever San Francisco does next year at quarterback, there will be questions about whether Lance can handle the job. ..."
Also worth noting: Rookie Brock Purdy, inactive the first two games, becomes Garoppolo's backup.
The 49ers are also signing veteran QB Kurt Benkert to their practice squad. He was added after San Francisco worked out five quarterbacks on Tuesday: Benkert, Garrett Gilbert, Mike Glennon, Kevin Hogan, and AJ McCarron. ...
Other notes of interest. ... Jeff Wilson Jr. once again looked good in an opportunity as the running back. He had 18 carries for 84 yards and added two receptions for 19 yards. In nine career starts, Wilson is averaging 81.5 yards rushing per game.
Expect Wilson to remain busy going forward as the 49ers are running short on healthy running backs.
Head coach Kyle Shanahan said on Monday that third-round pick Ty Davis-Price is going to miss "a few weeks" after suffering a high-ankle sprain in Sunday's win. Davis-Price ran 14 times for 33 yards while serving as a backup to Wilson in a backfield that was already missing Elijah Mitchell after he went on injured reserve last week.
Jordan Mason joins Wilson as the other back on the active roster and Shanahan said the undrafted rookie will have to step up to fill in for the missing players.
"He needs to now," Shanahan said, via 49ersWebzone.com. "Last week was his first week getting a lot more of that, him and Ty, and I thought they both stepped it up in that area."
In addition, the 49ers signed running back Marlon Mack to their active roster from their practice squad, his agent, Drew Rosenhaus, announced.
Mack signed with the 49ers' practice squad a week ago after the injury to Mitchell. He spent the previous five seasons with the Colts and rushed for 1,091 yards on 195 carries in 2019.
Mack signed with the Texans on April 11, but Houston released him Aug. 30.
In addition, the team signed Tevin Coleman, who is very familiar with Shanahan's offense, to their practice squad Wednesday.
But they also have receiver Deebo Samuel, who will continue to handle a share of the rushing opportunities. Samuel earned plus-45 rushing yards over expected on a 51-yard run in the first quarter (his most on a rush in his career). ...
Also on the injury front. ... Tight end Tyler Kroft sprained the MCL in his knee and will miss some time. The 49ers are hoping to get starting tight end George Kittle back this week after he missed the first two games with a groin injury.
I'll have more on Kittle, who practiced on a limited basis Wednesday, via Late-Breaking Update in coming days. ...
You can access complete stats for the 49ers Week 2 game via our exclusive Fantasy BoxScore.
QBs: Brock Purdy, Sam Darnold, Brandon Allen
RBs: Christian McCaffrey, Elijah Mitchell, Jordan Mason, Kyle Juszczyk
WRs: Brandon Aiyuk, Deebo Samuel, Jauan Jennings, Ray-Ray McCloud, Ronnie Bell, Danny Gray
TEs: George Kittle, Charlie Woerner, Brayden Willis, Ross Dwelley, Cameron Latu
Seattle SeahawksCompiled by FootballDiehards Editor Bob Harris | Updated 20 September 2022
As Associated Press sports writer Tim Booth reminded readers, the concerns about the Seattle Seahawks going into the season centered on the offense.
Sunday provided an example of why those worries were legitimate. The Seahawks' struggles continued after an unproductive second half during their season-opening win over Denver.
Seattle's 27-7 loss to San Francisco probably should have been expected. Coming off the emotional high of beating the Broncos and Russell Wilson in his return to Seattle, a letdown was probable.
No matter Seattle's emotional state, the offense has clear problems.
In fact, as The Athletic's Michael-Shawn Dugar noted, through two weeks of the season, the Seahawks have had one of the worst offenses in the league.
They're among the NFL's bottom five teams in points per game, points per drive and EPA per play. They're good at completing passes -- one of the best in the league, in fact. But those passes don't travel very far. Seattle is averaging just 5.3 air yards per attempt, one of the lowest marks in the league.
Seattle also isn't very good at running the ball, averaging a league-low 56 rushing yards per game.
Seattle hasn't scored an offensive point since the second quarter of the opener.
Geno Smith's performance at quarterback has been serviceable, but also lacking the big plays the Seahawks relied upon in the Wilson era.
And when Seattle finally put together a sustained drive in the second quarter against the 49ers, the baffling decision to call a pass by running back DeeJay Dallas blew up on the Seahawks and ended with a deflating end-zone interception.
Head coach Pete Carroll and his offensive staff need solutions, and they need to discover them quickly ahead of Sunday's home game against Atlanta.
Carroll revealed one adjustment Monday morning during his weekly KIRO-AM radio show: allowing Geno Smith and his pass catchers to have more of a role in the offense.
"After two weeks of watching Geno play, we don't need to hold him back at all," Carroll said. "Geno has got his game ready to go. We need to trust him and maybe give him more opportunities and stuff. We've been pretty solidly conservative, counting on running the football."
"When we didn't run the football, we didn't have as much of a mix that we needed. We can do better with that. Whether that's right or wrong, that's not the point. The point is we need to keep expanding. We have too many explosive avenues to go to, and we've got to make sure these guys show up."
The numbers don't necessarily suggest that Seattle has been "counting on the run game."
Seattle, at the time of Carroll's comment, ranked last in total offensive plays run with just 96. The league average is 118.7. The Seahawks rank last in rushing attempts per game and 30th in yards per carry. They're 12th in early-down passing rate in neutral situations.
On paper, Seattle has relied on its passing game when adjusting for time and score.
But Carroll is referring to Seattle's mentality more than the raw numbers. Seattle's offensive identity is predicated on being more physical than the opponent in the run game and forcing the team to put more defenders in the box to avoid being dominated on the ground.
Having more defenders in the box creates a numbers advantages in the passing game and leaves teams vulnerable to play-action concepts, which is good news for a team employing DK Metcalf and Tyler Lockett.
As Smith said Sunday, it's very difficult to consistently cover Metcalf and Lockett with just one defender. That's something teams cannot feasibly pull off when they're dedicating additional men to the run game.
According to Dugar, two players stand to benefit most from this strategical shift toward a more aggressive approach: Metcalf and tight end Noah Fant.
Through two games, Metcalf has just 11 catches on 13 targets for 71 yards and no touchdowns. Fant has just five catches on six targets for 27 yards and hasn't scored. Metcalf recently received a lucrative contract extension, making him one of the highest-paid receivers in football. Fant was acquired in the Wilson trade and had his fifth-year option exercised.
Seattle is heavily invested in those two fourth-year players, but through two games, they haven't been very involved relative to their usage in previous seasons.
If Seattle wants to score points, Metcalf and Fant have to get the ball. When Carroll was asked to explain what opening up the offense entails, Metcalf was the first name he mentioned.
"We've got to make sure the ball is going to DK down the field," Carroll said. "We gave him a shot; he makes a great play. We've got to make sure the tight ends are involved getting the ball more. We know that they can play, and we love the heck out of them, we've just got to make sure that's more of the attack. We have it, it just hasn't really shown up."
The "great play" Carroll referenced was the 49-yard reception by Metcalf in the second quarter after he jumped over 49ers cornerback Emmanuel Moseley to grab a throw from Smith on a flea-flicker. The play was negated by a flag on right tackle Abraham Lucas.
But Dugar contends those are the types of big-time plays Seattle wants to see more often. Metcalf had 20 explosive receptions in 2021; his longest reception thus far gained 15 yards.
If Seattle gives Smith more freedom to attack downfield, will he remain one of the most accurate passers in the league?
Carroll is betting the answer is yes.
The Seahawks are still going to run the ball, to be clear. Rashaad Penny has 18 carries for 75 yards and no scores in two games. Dallas doesn't have a regular-season carry yet. Kenneth Walker III made his regular-season debut against the 49ers and carried the ball just four times for 10 yards. Carroll wants more touches for that group, too. He's very excited to see what Walker can do with more game action.
"He'll be calling for a regular workload as we are going forward," Carroll said of Walker, the 41st pick in the NFL Draft.
But there is a difference between a team that feels it needs to build its passing game off a successful run game and a team that has legitimate confidence in its quarterback and its offensive line to be explosive throwing the ball down the field.
According to Carroll, the Seahawks are going to become the latter. ...
On the injury front. ... Left guard Damien Lewis has a deep thigh bruise that knocked him out of Sunday's game. Defensive lineman Shelby Harris has a glute muscle injury that limited him to just a handful of snaps against the 49ers. Carroll said the next few days will be key to see if either can play this week.
You can access complete stats for the Seahawks Week 2 game via our exclusive Fantasy BoxScore.
QBs: Geno Smith, Drew Lock
RBs: Kenneth Walker III, Zach Charbonnet, DeeJay Dallas, Kenny McIntosh
WRs: DK Metcalf, Tyler Lockett, Jaxon Smith-Njigba, Jake Bobo, Cody Thompson, Dareke Young
TEs: Noah Fant, Will Dissly, Colby Parkinson
Tampa Bay BuccaneersCompiled by FootballDiehards Editor Bob Harris | Updated 20 September 2022
Mike Evans has been suspended one game for his role in a fight in Sunday's Buccaneers-Saints game in New Orleans.
The NFL announced the one-game ban for the Buccaneers receiver on Monday, suspending him without pay "for violations of unnecessary roughness and unsportsmanlike conduct rules" in the Bucs' 20-10 win over the Saints.
Evans appealed the suspension, but the decision was upheld on Wednesday.
After an incompletion on third down early in the fourth quarter of the Week 2 game, Evans was headed toward the sideline when he turned back to see teammates Tom Brady and Leonard Fournette engaged in an altercation with the Saints' Marshon Lattimore and Marcus Maye.
Fournette and Lattimore traded shoves just before Evans came sprinting in with a forceful shove that sent an unsuspecting Lattimore to the turf, sparking a brawl.
"You knocked your opponent to the ground and a melee ensued involving players from both teams," Jon Runyan, NFL vice president of football operations, wrote in a letter to Evans regarding his suspension. "Your aggressive conduct could have caused serious injury to your opponent and clearly does not reflect the high standards of sportsmanship expected of a professional."
Both Evans and Lattimore were ejected from Sunday's game. Following the fight, Tampa Bay built a 20-3 lead, hanging on for the 10-point win.
Evans will be eligible to return to the Buccaneers' active roster on Sept. 26.
The Bucs receiver was previously suspended one game in 2017 for a similar incident involving Lattimore and the Saints.
The suspension figures to leave the Bucs shorthanded at receiver against the Packers this Sunday, especially considering Chris Godwin (hamstring) and Julio Jones (knee) are nursing injuries that kept them from playing last week.
Bowles was disappointed by news of the suspension.
"Like I said, the fighting alone, losing a player for the next game, it hurts our team because we lose a very good ballplayer," Bowles said.
"We don't want that, we don't condone it and we've got to move forward and find a way to win without him," the coach added. "But that should be a lesson to all our other players."
In a related note. ... The Bucs signed wideout Cole Beasley to the practice squad with the expectation that he'll be elevated to the active roster soon, a source informed of the situation told NFL Network's Mike Garafolo on Tuesday morning.
The 33-year-old Beasley spent the past three years in Buffalo after seven in Dallas. He generated 693 yards and a TD on 82 catches in 2021 before his release from the club in the spring.
According to Garafolo, Tom Brady, who has been pushing for another wideout, has had Beasley on his radar for a while.
Beasley mainly plays out of the slot (87 percent in 2021), so it's an interesting pairing with Russell Gage in Tampa and Godwin expected to return soon. But the veteran can still get open and make catches in tight quarters and could play a key role for the 2-0 Buccaneers.
When healthy, the Bucs' receiver room is stacked with names and playmakers. It's a good problem to have if you're Brady.
By the way, count Brady among the growing legion of banged-up Bucs two weeks into the season, Joey Knight of the Tampa Bay Times reports.
The 45-year-old quarterback acknowledged on his weekly Let's Go! Podcast Monday that he's dealing with a sore ring finger on his throwing hand. Brady jammed his finger on the ball during a botched exchange with center Robert Hainsey in the first quarter Sunday against the Saints, resulting in a fumble.
"I banged it up pretty good, but it didn't affect me at all in the game," said Brady, who finished 18-for-34 for 190 yards, marking the first time he has thrown for fewer than 200 yards in a regular-season game since Dec. 13, 2020.
"It's just going to be sore throughout the week, but one of those bumps and bruises that come along with playing."
Brady won't practice Wednesday, by pre-arranged design. Bowles confirmed Monday that his quarterback will get a rest day each Wednesday, with a handful of other veterans doing the same once a week.
"The fact that I have worked weekends for the last 23 years, I do deserve one day off a week," Brady joked. ...
Also of interest. ... Without Godwin and Jones, and no left tackle Donovan Smith and his backup, Josh Wells -- who left with a calf injury -- Brady and the Bucs once again struggled to put points on the board.
The rushing lanes Fournette enjoyed against the Cowboys in Week 1 were nowhere to be found. An irate Brady threw yet another Microsoft Surface tablet in the third quarter - the second time he's done that against the Saints in two seasons.
How long can the Bucs keep this up with so many injuries?
According to ESPN.com's Jenna Laine, it's tough to say, with Godwin and Jones' hamstring injuries being wildly unpredictable. Smith's elbow injury is a matter of pain tolerance, but how effective can he be extending his arm is the real question. The fact that he traveled to New Orleans was at least encouraging. But losing Wells, who was placed on injured reserve on Wednesday, and entering a Week 3 home opener against the Green Bay Packers with a third-string left tackle in Brandon Wells hurts, as does the suspension for Evans.
There is not mystery for Giovani Bernard was placed on injured reserve Wednesday.
Bernard doesn't have a single touch through two games. He was used in Week 2 as a kick returner before injuring his ankle. Bernard never had any fantasy appeal in the Tampa backfield, as Rachaad White is clearly the RB2 behind Fournette.
Despite the offensive injuries piling up, the Bucs' defense has given up only 13 points through two weeks. Bowles' defense is showing why he was elevated into a head coaching role.
That said, after facing Dak Prescott and Jameis Winston on the road, the defense will be tested by Aaron Rodgers and Patrick Mahomes when Green Bay and Kansas City visit Raymond James Stadium the next two weeks.
Again, I'll be watching for more on Godwin, Jones and any other injured Buccaneers of interest (Gage and Breshad Perriman have been dealing with hamstring and knee issues, respectively) in coming days. Check the Late-Breaking Updates section for more as the week progresses. ...
Worth noting. ... Brady was, in fact, practicing Wednesday, a new decision that Brady was apparently okay with because he felt good enough. Bowles had said Monday that Brady and Jones would have Wednesdays off. But that changed this week (although it may well still be the plan going forward).
One last injury note here. ... Veteran defensive tackle Akiem Hicks tore the plantar fascia in his foot and is expected to miss a month, according to Adam Schefter of ESPN.
The 33-year-old Hicks signed with the Bucs in June and has started both games so far this season. Defensive tackle Rakeem Nunez-Roches will likely see more playing time while Hicks is out.
You can access complete stats for the Buccaneers Week 2 game via our exclusive Fantasy BoxScore.
QBs: Baker Mayfield, Kyle Trask
RBs: Rachaad White, Chase Edmonds, Sean Tucker, Ke'Shawn Vaughn
WRs: Mike Evans, Chris Godwin, Trey Palmer, Kaylon Geiger, Deven Thompkins, Rakim Jarrett, Russell Gage
TEs: Cade Otton, Ko Kieft, Payne Durham
Tennessee TitansCompiled by FootballDiehards Editor Bob Harris | Updated 20 September 2022
The Titans suffered their most ruthless beatdown of the Mike Vrabel era on Monday night, a 41-7 loss to the dominant Buffalo Bills in prime time.
"It's brutal," quarterback Ryan Tannehill said, via the team's official website. "I haven't been part of a whole lot of games like that. A brutal, brutal night. But we have a lot of football in front of us, so we have to turn the page quickly on this one and get ready to go next week.
"This one is tough to swallow, but we can't sit around and have the woe-is-me attitude. We have to be able to turn the page and get some things fixed and come ready to go next week."
The Titans scored on their opening drive, then were shellacked the rest of the game. The offense put up just 112 yards and eight first downs on the final 10 possessions of the destruction, and the defense got mowed down by Josh Allen and Stefon Diggs.
"We got our asses kicked, plain and simple," Vrabel said. "They outcoached us, they outplayed us and that is the definition of it. We are going to get back to work and we're going to figure out a way to win a football game."
Tannehill completed just 11 of 20 passes for 117 yards, took two sacks and threw two picks, the second of which sent him to the bench in the third quarter. His 32.7 passer rating was the lowest in a game for his career, and it was the first time he's had 0 passing TDs and multiple INTs since joining Tennessee (the last time was Week 17, 2018, with Miami in a 42-17 loss to Buffalo).
Head coach Mike Vrabel replaced Tannehill with Malik Willis, making him the first rookie to play quarterback this season. Willis joined the turnover party by fumbling when one of his teammates got knocked into him causing the ball to come loose.
The offense couldn't get Derrick Henry going, with the bruising back netting just 25 yards on 13 carries with a TD, his fewest rushing yards in a game since 2018.
According to ESPN.com's Turron Davenport, Henry recorded minus-2.6 rush yards over expectation per carry. That is his worst rush yards over expectation per carry in a game dating back to 2018 when the metric began.
Henry had been the NFL's top rusher over the last two and a half seasons before suffering a Jones fracture in Week 8 last season. After averaging 3.9 yards per carry in Week 1, Henry only average 2.0 yards per carry against the Bills, his fourth-lowest average in a game in which he had at least 10 carries.
Buffalo hit Henry at or behind the line of scrimmage on five of his 13 rushing attempts.
Despite Henry's tough day, he scored his second rushing touchdown of the season. He now has 56 rushing touchdowns in the last five seasons, 17 more than the next-closest players (Alvin Kamara and Nick Chubb each have 39).
Meanwhile, the Titans' young secondary got pummeled by Allen and the Bills' passing attack, as Buffalo scored points on six of its first eight possessions. The margin was so wide that Allen and the starters sat out the fourth quarter.
The Titans lost by 30-plus points for the first time since a 57-14 defeat at Houston in Week 4, 2017 -- when Vrabel was then the Texans defensive coordinator.
It's the first 0-2 start by Tennessee since 2012 (finished 6-10). It marks the 13th time since the NFL began assigning the No. 1 seed in 1975 that the conference winner in the previous season started 0-2 (TEN also did so in 2001 and 2009). The Titans are the only such team to start 0-3 or worse multiple times (started 0-6 in 2009 and 0-3 in 2001).
The team's slow start led to questions about possible changes to the coaching staff on Tuesday.
Offensive coordinator Todd Downing's status was the main subject of those questions. The Titans have scored three touchdowns in two weeks and the Henry-led running game has not produced as expected, but Vrabel said at his Tuesday press conference that firing Downing or any other coaches is "not something that's going to happen right now."
"I have confidence in our staff,” Vrabel said, via Ben Arthur of the Tennessean. "I have confidence in the guys that we put out there. We have to continue to coach and execute better. ... I appreciate everybody's opinion, but I have to make sure that everybody here -- players and coaches -- are all aligned and I know that they are. That's how you get things fixed and you win a game."
Vrabel said this "isn't all of a sudden a time for wholesale changes" and that the Titans need to get "back to basics" as they try to reverse course after the two losses. If that doesn't happen against the Raiders this weekend, Vrabel will face another round of questions about doing something to shake up an approach that isn't working so far this season. ...
Other notes of interest. ... Rookie Kyle Philips had a 46-yard return early in his NFL debut, but now the fifth-round pick out of UCLA has fumbled a punt in each of the first two games near his own goal line. Even when the Titans went to safety Amani Hooker for a punt return, the safety also fumbled a punt though Tennessee recovered that one.
On the injury front. ... The Titans' thin offensive line depth took a major hit when three-time Pro Bowl left tackle Taylor Lewan hurt his right knee on Tennessee's opening offensive play and was carted off the sideline. Vrabel said Lewan still was being evaluated Tuesday. That was the same knee Lewan tore his ACL in October 2020.
They may have gotten better news with starting outside linebacker Bud Dupree. He hurt a hip after 11 snaps, but Vrabel said he didn't think it would be anything long term.
Running back Trenton Cannon injured his knee on the opening kickoff and was lost for the game. Cannon suffered a torn ACL, NFL Network Insider Tom Pelissero reported. Cannon was placed on injured reserve.
You can access complete stats for the Titans Week 2 game via our exclusive Fantasy BoxScore.
QBs: Will Levis, Ryan Tannehill, Malik Willis
RBs: Derrick Henry, Tyjae Spears, Julius Chestnut
WRs: DeAndre Hopkins, Treylon Burks, Nick Westbrook_Ikhine, Kyle Philips, Colton Dowell, Chris Moore
TEs: Chigoziem Okonkwo, Josh Whyle, Trevon Wesco
Washington CommandersCompiled by FootballDiehards Editor Bob Harris | Updated 20 September 2022
There was no other way for Carson Wentz to describe the Washington Commanders' first half performance against the Detroit Lions: "ugly."
"We've just got to be consistent," Wentz told reporters after the Commanders' 36-27 loss to the Lions. "We can't do that early in a game. The league is too hard to win. We can't do that to ourselves and dig ourselves a hole like that."
Consistency has been the root of the Commanders' problems to start the 2022 campaign, from slow starts on both sides of the ball in Week 2 to nearly blowing the win against the Jacksonville Jaguars in the season opener. The past two weeks have been a roller coaster in which the undeniable highs have been followed by a void of concerning lows.
It is a ride that the Commanders are looking to abandon for a smoother excursion going forward.
"It's just about putting four quarters together," Terry McLaurin said in the visiting locker room.
The Commanders fell into the same trap last week against the Jaguars; the only difference was that a strong start and finish was separated by a lull in the second and third quarters. A 14-3 lead was erased in part because of interceptions on back-to-back plays, only for the game to be saved with less than two minutes left by a highlight reel catch on a pass from Wentz to Dotson.
Head coach Ron Rivera had a solution when asked with how Rivera is planning to deal with Wentz being an up-and-down player: "Take antacids."
"We're going to ride with him. No matter how you look at it, we're gonna ride with him. We'll go with the good, we'll go with the bad, but that's the truth of the matter."
Wentz was up-and-down against the Lions, but he was hardly the only player that was guilty of that. The road trip against the Lions was a harsh referendum on how much work still needs to be done.
The team dragged its feet in the contest, while the Lions rode a disruptive front and raucous crowd out to a 22-0 halftime lead. Lions rookie Aiden Hutchinson led a pass rush that passing plays before they even began, and a constipated running game found few lanes that led to any real traction on the ground.
"I just feel like we can be a damn good offense," said tackle Charles Leno. "We really can. You saw in the second half what we can do. We just have to be able to weather that storm."
The offense wasn't alone in all this.
Rivera saw a clear problem against the Lions: Too many big plays allowed.
"The biggest culprit of the day was we gave up opportunities to not allow those plays," Rivera said Monday. "It's that old thing that this game's gonna come down to six plays you make or you don't make. Well, there were six plays they made on their offensive side alone that really gave us trouble."
Detroit's offense racked up 425 yards, and Lions receiver Amon-Ra St. Brown even said he and his teammates knew what was coming defensively from Washington. Commander’s safety Darrick Forest lamented the same thing, leading to plenty of debate over what Rivera and defensive coordinator Jack Del Rio could have done differently and what might be adjusted before NFC East rival Philadelphia visits in Week 3.
In addition to defense, especially against the run, the rushing offense is now a point of concern. Starting back Antonio Gibson was limited to 2 yards a carry, and of Washington's 88 on the ground, 23 belonged to Wentz and 21 to receiver Curtis Samuel.
Too many three-and-out drives early contributed to making the Commanders more pass-heavy than they would like.
"When that happens, you don't get a chance to establish much because we really didn't get into a rhythm," Rivera said. "We got it going in the second half, mostly because we were having success throwing the ball and then we had a little success running it, which made our play action a little more effective."
Looking for positives?
Wentz became the first quarterback since at least 1950 to throw for three-plus TDs and 300-plus yards in each of his first two starts with a team. Wentz was slow to get going at Detroit and had his hiccups in the season opener against Jacksonville, but at least so far he's not the reason for Commanders' struggles.
Rookie receiver Jahan Dotson caught a touchdown pass in his NFL debut and was again an impact player against Detroit. He had 59 yards receiving, including a 40-yarder from Wentz that helped Washington attempt a comeback in the second half.
By the way, FantasyLife.com's Dwain McFarland believes Samuel is working his way into "must-start" territory based on his usage.
Samuel caught 7-of-9 targets for 78 yards and one touchdown, adding one carry for 21 additional yards.
Samuel has now turned in back-to-back solid outings after missing much of the 2021 season. His first big play of the day came on a 15-yard receiving touchdown after he snuck behind the defense on his way to an easy score. Samuel would help setup another scoring drive with a 27-yard reception in the third quarter, and reeled off a 21-yard run early in the fourth quarter.
Through two games, Samuel has totaled 171 yards and two touchdowns while seeing 26 opportunities.
The key here is a coaching staff that brought him to Washington after creating a useful role for him during their time together in Carolina. What you're seeing here is no accident. It's a plan coming to fruition. ...
Joey Slye missed an extra point in the fourth quarter. Rivera expressed full confidence in Slye, who was 6 of 6 on field-goal attempts with Washington last season, though it's a position worth watching if things go sideways.
You can access complete stats for the Commanders Week 2 game via our exclusive Fantasy BoxScore.
QBs: Sam Howell, Jacoby Brissett
RBs: Brian Robinson Jr., Antonio Gibson, Chris Rodriguez
WRs: Terry McLaurin, Jahan Dotson, Curtis Samuel, Dyami Brown, Jamison Crowder, Byron Pringle, Mitchell Tinsley
TEs: Logan Thomas, Cole Turner, John Bates