What have we learned - Week 2
Saints 48, Eagles 22. I'm not as bummed out by this game as you might think, even though the Eagles lost by four touchdowns. They played well for most of the first half and then had a horrible two minutes at the end of the half, giving up an easy touchdown with very little time left after tying the game at 10. They kicked a field goal to end the half, but then, in the first three minutes of the second half, they turned it over twice and gave up two quick touchdowns, and the game was pretty much over. So in about five minutes of game time, they gave up 21 points and scored 3, meaning if you take away those five minutes (I know we can't, but work with me!), they lose only 27-19 (plus, of course, the final touchdown was an interception return very late). With a guy making his first career start. Yes, the defense could have played much better, but if McNabb is playing, I think the Eagles win, because they would have been crisper on offense. That being said, Kolb played pretty well (his first interception was awful, but other than that, he didn't make too many mistakes), and next week they get Kansas City at home, and then the bye, and then Oakland at home (when McNabb should be back), so I'm not too worried about losing to a high-powered offensive team like the Saints. And damn, Drew Brees is good. I mean, I've known that for a few years (I'm not sure how, in the age of the Internet, any team can be a "secret," as the Aikman kept saying, and if N'Awlins is a secret, it's probably because the networks only talk about the Cowboys and their new monstrosity, but that's just my opinion, of course), but watching him work for a full game (or at least most of the game; I kept switching channels to better games) is pretty neat to see. Of course, like all good quarterbacks, it really helps if you have a good offensive line, and Brees does. Oh well.
Falcons 28, Panthers 20. This is one of the games I skipped, mainly because other games were better. So I don't have much to say about it. Matt Ryan is still doing well, I guess. Nice draft pick, Falcons!
Vikings 27, Lions 13. I was so jazzed that the Lions were winning this game, 10-0, and then, a little later, I noticed it was 27-10. Well, that sucks. But look! No shots at R. C. Favre!
Bengals 31, Packers 24. I watched a bit of this game, because it was going back and forth nicely. I was amused to see that Chad Johnson found possibly the only Bengals fans outside of Cincinnati in the front row at Lambeau Field so he could do a Lambeau Leap. What are the odds of Bengals fans being at a game in Cincinnati, much less Green Bay? And the ending was pretty exciting, as Cincy had to see last week's game flashing before their eyes again. The Pack made it to the 10-yard line before time ran out. I'd say it was a good job by Cincinnati's defense, but they should thank the clock!
Texans 34, Titans 31. I watched a lot of this game, because it was really exciting. And there were at least two fights between the teams, which was kind of neat. Houston got a lucky touchdown that should have been overturned (the Saints' first touchdown in the second half should have been overturned, as well - what's up with the replay officials?) and a good call on a punt return that was recovered by Tennessee but wasn't technically a fumble (and Titans' fans, who were booing the call, should realize it was the right call, even if they didn't like it). I doubt if most of the country got to see this game, but it was fun to watch, I tells ya. And Chris Johnson had a good day, didn't he?
Raiders 13, Chiefs 10. I doubt if there was enough money in the world to make me watch this game all the way through. How did Oakland win this game? Is JaMarcus Russell ever going to learn how to play quarterback? Will the Eagles please not look past the Chiefs, even though Philly ought to roll them? I don't have the answers to these questions.
Jets 16, Patriots 9. So now we have to listen to how fucking great the Jets are and how fucking Joe Namath-esque Mark Sanchez is and how fucking "good" it is for the NFL when the Jets are decent (why, exactly?). Now, I'm perfectly happy that they smacked around the Cheaters, but I'm going to get sick real quick of the slobbering of the national media just because the Jets are decent again. I'd be worried if I were the Grand Cheater, because except for a few minutes in the Monday night game, New England has looked really bad, and they'd be 0-2 if not for the gift from the Bills. I don't know if Brady is still scared of taking a hit, but New Jersey blitzed him a lot (something every team should have been doing for the past 6-7 years) and he couldn't handle it. Very interesting. We'll see how they recover from this.
Team That Will Soon, We Hope, Not Be Called What They Have Always Been Called 9, Rams 7. What a joke of a game. I watched a few minutes, and Washington kept going up and down the field but couldn't put the ball in the end zone. St. Louis, meanwhile, stinks on ice. I'm not sure why they ever punt the ball. Why not just go nuts and never punt? It's not like you're going to be any worse!
Cardinals 31, Jaguars 17. Kurt Warner had a good game, didn't he? 15 consecutive completions to start the game, a record-setting completion percentage (24 for 26), and a big win in the Eastern time zone, which flummoxed Arizona last year. It's always interesting to see on what plays games change. Arizona was leading 10-3 when the Jaguars lined up for a field goal. I'm not saying that if Jax makes the figgie, they go on to win, but they're still in the game. Instead, the Cardinals block it, Antrel Rolle recovers the block and takes it 83 yards the other way. Instead of 10-6, it's 17-3, and the rout is on. It's interesting also to see a play like that go the Cardinals' way. It seems like those things happen to good teams, whereas a bad team might block the kick, but it would go out of bounds or something. Is Arizona starting to get "good teams'" breaks? The mind boggles!
Bills 33, Buccaneers 20. I watched some of this game, and saw Terrell Owens drop a perfect bomb from Trent Edwards. After picking on his quarterback and kick returner a bit this week, it was nice to see Owens get a beautiful pass and simply drop it. The Bills ought to be 2-0, and they make the AFC East even more interesting.
49ers 23, Seahawks 10. Frank Gore went a bit nuts in this game, gaining 207 yards on only 16 carries, including two long touchdown runs. I watched some of this game, and was astonished that Seattle wasn't winning - they were moving the ball well and stopping San Francisco fairly easily. But then Hasselbeck got injured, and although Seneca Wallace can play a bit, it seemed the life went right out of the Seahawks. Of course, Gore accounted for 14 points with his two long runs, so it's not like the 49ers blew them out of the water. But they are 2-0, with two divisional wins, in a weak division, so maybe, just maybe, this is the year San Francisco returns to the top of the heap in the NFC West. Maybe. It's a long season.
Da Bears 17, Steelers 14. I actually didn't watch any of this game. I did find it humorous that after last week, everyone was saying the Steelers were going to pound Da Bears. Except for Colin "I Was A Teenaged Blowhard" Cowherd, who thought otherwise. His reasoning was sound: Pittsburgh has no running game, they got lucky against Tennessee, Cutler wouldn't be as lousy as he was against the Packers, and Chicago's defense is still pretty good even without Urlacher, plus they would be playing hard to prove it. So this wasn't too surprising. What happened to Pittsburgh's running game?
Broncos 27, Browns 6. Gadzooks, the Browns are lousy. Nice way for Denver to open the season - versus the Bengals and the Browns. And they still needed a miracle finish for their 2-0 start.
Ravens 31, Chargers 26. Everyone keeps talking about the tackle Ray Lewis made on Darren Sproles that basically won the game for Baltimore, but I haven't seen many people talking about the fact that Philip Rivers destroyed Baltimore's pass defense, and even though it's impressive that the Ravens won that game, shouldn't they be worried if Joe Flacco, of all people, doesn't have a great game? I mean, Lewis's single play was good, but I'd be worried about stopping people if I'm Baltimore's defense. And Norv Turner is a lousy coach. Just ... lousy.
Giants 33, Cowboys 31. Bwah-ha-ha-ha-ha!!!! I was rooting for Dallas in this game, actually, so I ought to be disappointed, but can we really be sad when a team rips the heart out of the Cowboys and their fans like that? The orgy of ego that was going on before the game (I didn't watch it, but I saw highlights) and then the awful quarterbacking during the game was just perfect. Jerry Jones cares more about his stadium than his team, and it showed. Tony Romo, as I mentioned last week, had three long throws and little else, and if he didn't get those, he would be ordinary. And he was! Dallas can run the ball a little bit, can't they? Why didn't they do that more?
Colts 27, Dolphins 23. I honestly can't believe Indianapolis won this game. They possessed the ball for less than a quarter!!!! Miami worked their game plan to near-perfection, with one fatal flaw: You must score touchdowns!!!! If they had scored a touchdown instead of a field goal on just one of their scoring drives, they would have won. Instead, they kicked field goals while the Colts, despite the tiny amount of time they had the ball, scored touchdowns, one on a 1-play drive and another on a 4-play drive. That's definitely the way you beat Peyton Manning - keep him off the field - but you have to finish with touchdowns. Still, a good game plan. Maybe other teams will follow it.
Penn State was boring and workmanlike once more, dispatching their third inferior opponent with little fuss. They haven't been tested, but they haven't played anyone either, and I'm a bit worried about Iowa this week, especially as the Hawkeyes beat them last year. But it's in Happy Valley this year, and the Lions should be a bit peeved about last year. USC pulled its typical bad game against an unranked opponent, but it seems like this year, they should be a bit more worried. Cal is quite good and they play the Trojans at home; Oregon also gets to play USC at home, and the Ducks proved they're not as crappy as they looked against Boise State; and Oregon State isn't lousy. Even Arizona State has a fairly good defense, and USC's offense isn't clicking. I really, really hope this is the year USC finally bites it, because I'm sick of Big Eleven teams playing the Rose Bowl in basically the Trojans' back yard. If Cal or Oregon has to travel to the game, maybe it might be fair. Meanwhile, I'm quickly falling in love with Lane Kiffin, the new coach of Tennessee. After Urban Meyer said his team had the flu and that he coached conservatively because Tennessee wasn't "playing to win," Kiffin said, in response to a question about whether he was worried about his players getting the flu, "I don't know. I guess we'll wait, and after we're not excited about a performance, we'll tell you everybody was sick." Kiffin is awesome. The Big East got a big boost from Cincinnati going to Corvallis and beating Oregon State, while the "mid-majors" took a hit when BYU lost to Florida State (boo!) and Oregon beat Utah. It wasn't the greatest week in college football, but there are always exciting games around. And then there was that Notre Dame receiver, Golden Tate, who jumped into the Michigan State band and they simply let him fall to the ground. It was pretty awesome.
Sorry, no cheesecake this week. Maybe next week. Anyway, the biggest thing we've learned this week is that rushing the ball just isn't what it used to be. Miami and Dallas both put up well over 200 yards on the ground, and they both lost. Somewhere Woody Hayes is rolling in his grave.