Every Monday morning, Section 215’s Akiem Bailum gives an in-depth and unfiltered look at all of the weekend’s NFL action in The Monday Morning Realist. You can follow Akiem on Twitter @Li495Akiem.
With the NFL already reaching its second week on the schedule, this means that the NFL Network’s Thursday Night Football is now a part of the weekly slate of games. Their goal is to make sure that every team is featured at least once on Thursday nights.
Their opening matchup for this season featured the AFC East division rival New York Jets and New England Patriots. The Jets, surprisingly, came off a 18-17 win the previous week over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The Patriots also were victorious, but not in typical New England fashion as they barely defeated the Buffalo Bills 23-21.
If any game displayed how depleted the Pats are this season, this game was Exhibit A. Tom Brady’s team got the scoring going first in the first quarter with a 39 yard touchdown pass to Aaron Dobson. That put New England on top 7-0. They’d later extend it to 10-0 in the same period before the Jets came back with a field goal before the start of the second quarter. Stephen Gostkowski made two field goals in the first half and provided just as much scoring offense as did Brady, which is rare.
The only other scoring play was a three-yard touchdown run from Bilal Powell to make the score 13-10 Patriots in the Third Quarter. New England would go en route to win the game by the same score, but something was clearly different about this game.
Tom Brady’s statline for this game was 19/39, 185 yards, with only one touchdown pass—the first quarter strike to Dobson. Other than that, the Patriots offense struggled and Brady was struggling with his own emotions. He was observed by the NFL Network cameras to be very angry at his own receivers for the dropped passes. This frustration showed as he was both on the sidelines as well as on the field.
Brady later confessed to having less than stellar body language in his post-game chat with the media.
If anyone this week needed to be a Monday Morning Realist, it’s Tom Brady. There’s a reason why the Patriots were not picked by many pundits to go very far in the playoffs, and only would make the playoffs because they were in a weak division. Only Julian Edelman had somewhat of a decent game (13 catches for 78 yards). As the old saying goes; Wes Welker, Aaron Hernandez, Rob Gronkowski, and Danny Woodhead “weren’t walking through that door”, albeit for a litany of different reasons.
There’s a good chance the Patriots would be 0-2 if not for the weakness of the divisional teams that they have played. Don’t let that 2-0 record fool you.
The NFL’s “Golden Boy” was outpassed by Geno Smith who had 215 yards on 15/35 passing, but threw 3 picks. Stephen Hill caught four passes the rookie quarterback for 81 yards.
Both the Patriots and Jets have home matchups in Week 3. New England will face off against Tampa Bay and the Jets get their division rival Buffalo Bills, who surprisingly are 2-0 along with the Kansas City Chiefs and Miami Dolphins. The Arizona Cardinals started last year 4-0 before their bottom dropped out.
Houston Texans Defeat Houston Oilers
Speaking of teams that had chances to open their seasons at 2-0, the AFC South’s Houston Texans and Tennessee Titans also had opportunities to do that as they faced off at Houston’s Reliant Stadium. The Texans got a come-from-behind victory last week on Monday Night Football over the San Diego Chargers while Tennessee’s road victory over the Pittsburgh Steelers in Week 1 was defensively driven.
It must be noted that any time the Texans defeat the Titans that it serves as a double shot from Houston fans aimed at Bud Adams, the Titans’ owner. After all, he is the man who moved the Oilers franchise out of Space City for Music City.
A 1-yard pass from Matt Schaub to Garrett Graham had the Texans in front 7-0 in the first quarter before Jake Locker found Kendall Wright late to make it 7-7. It would stay this way for the duration of the second prior to Rob Bironas’ 47 yard field goal gave Tennessee the advantage heading into halftime at 10-7.
Not much happened in the third either outside an Owen Daniels touchdown reception. That gave Houston the lead again at 14-10. Chris Johnson was tackled in the end zone early in the fourth to make it 16-10 Texans. But, after a Delanie Walker touchdown and an Alterraun Verner “Pick 6” of Schaub, the Titans led 24-16 late.
This was before Schaub and the Texans offense engineered a late-game drive that sent it into overtime. It was capped off by Arian Foster’s sole score of the game on a running play. 24-24 tie. They even had an opportunity to win the game in regulation without needing OT if Randy Bullock could make a 46 yard field goal. He didn’t, which forced the overtime period.
No problems, though, for Houston as they scored on the opening drive of overtime to notch their second victory of the season via late rally. Schaub’s TD pass to DeAndre Hopkins ended the game, 30-24 for the Texans.
Similar to the Patriots, the Texans’ 2-0 start shouldn’t be seen by Houston fans as a sign of a banner season in 2013-14 because of Matt Schaub. Most who don’t know his history forget that he was once Michael Vick’s backup quarterback in Atlanta. He played some pretty good games with the Falcons which is why it would only be a matter of time before he’d be a seasoned vet and someone’s starting quarterback. In Houston, he’s had his struggles, particularly late in seasons.
He went 26/48 for 298 yards, 3 touchdowns, and 2 interceptions in this game. The Texans can’t be considered Super Bowl contenders as long as he’s still their quarterback, even though Ed Reed has yet to play this season.
In addition to Hopkins’ game-winning score, he caught seven other passes for 117 yards.
For Tennessee, Jake Locker was 17/30 for 148 yards and 2 TDs while Chris Johnson nearly rushed for 100 yards (96) on 25 carries.
And, as always, the Texans fans did get another chance to go in on Bud Adams. So much for “Luv Ya Blue”.
The Titans finally play its home opener in Week 3 against San Diego. Houston will travel to play Ed Reed’s former team—the Baltimore Ravens.
New Lambeau, Same Aaron Rodgers
Week 2 of the NFL season also saw the first game at a renovated Lambeau Field. The upgrades to the old digs included a new scoreboard and jumbotron as well as more seats being added adjacent to the jumbotron to give the stadium less of a “bowl-like” feel.
While the Frozen Tundra underwent new construction, Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers offense was already well-established. They did lose on the road to Colin Kaepernick and the San Francisco 49ers despite the game being a matchup of offense vs. offense. As for their opponents, the Washington Redskins, they struggled for most of their Monday Night Football matchup against the Philadelphia Eagles despite making a late game comeback.
The Packers wasted no time in making their home fans extremely happy. The team dominated. At one point in the third quarter, the score was 31-0 Green and Gold with Rodgers already throwing his 4 touchdowns that he’d have for the game (Randall Cobb, Jordy Nelson, Jermichael Finley, Jordy Nelson). Meanwhile, Robert Griffin III for the Redskins continued his difficulties that he’s had for this season so far and once again looked like a quarterback that still wasn’t ready, especially considering the injury he sustained at the end of last year.
A late rally from Washington turned out to be well short as the Pack won this one over the Skins 38-20. Rodgers was 34/42 with 480 yards, 4 TDs and a passer rating of 146. Griffin went 26/40 for 320 yards, 3 touchdowns, and 1 interception.
James Starks had a huge game rushing for Green Bay with 132 yards on 20 carries. James Jones (who caught 11 passes) and Randall Cobb (who caught 9 plus a TD) each had over 100 yards receiving. Green Bay did lose runningback Eddie Lacy who suffered a concussion after a hard helmet to helmet hit from Brandon Merriweather.
Second year runningback for the Redskins, Alfred Morris, did have a big game with 13 carries and 107 yards. Pierre Garcon did catch 8 passes for 143 yards and a touchdown.
Green Bay heads on the road to Cincinnati in Week 3 while the Redskins get the Detroit Lions at home.
Another Manning Bowl, Another Peyton Victory
Peyton Manning was already 2-0 in previous matchups facing his brother, Eli. It looked like he was poised to do it again based on how the Brothers Manning performed in Week 1. The older Peyton had a banner game on Thursday night against the Baltimore Ravens in which he threw seven touchdown passes. Eli Manning threw four touchdown passes himself on the road in Dallas on Sunday Night, but it was amidst six New York Giants turnovers. Their runningback issues last week were so glaring that the G-Men resigned Brandon Jacobs this week.
In a sense, this game looked like a rerun of the Broncos/Ravens matchup from last week. It was close for the first half before Denver blew it open in the second. The field goal kickers for the Broncos (Matt Prater) and Giants (Josh Brown) each did the lion share of the scoring. Brown had three while Prater had one. The lone touchdown of the first half was a 20 yard run from Knowshon Moreno that came early in the second half. Denver led 10-9.
In the third, Denver pulled in front with a two yard touchdown pass from Peyton Manning to Wes Welker to put them ahead 17-9. It was 17-16 after a Brandon Jacobs TD run late in the third.
This game got out of hand for a six minute stretch between the third and fourth quarters. Moreno had another touchdown. Julian Thomas continued is continuing his season out of nowhere with his touchdown reception from Manning early in the fourth quarter. The big play that sealed was a Trindon Holliday 81-yard punt return. That had the Broncos ahead 38-16 and they would go en route to win by a final score of 41-23.
Peyton Manning was 30/43 with 307 yards and 2 TDs to improve to 3-0 in “Manning Bowls”. Currently the Broncos share first place in the AFC West with the Kansas City Chiefs who defeated Dallas at Arrowhead Stadium.
Eli Manning—28/49 for 362 yards, 1 touchdown pass, and 4 interceptions. All four of the Giants turnovers were Eli Manning picks. That says something about what the real problem with Big Blue is at this point.
Moreno finished with 13 carries and 93 yards (with two touchdowns) while Eric Decker caught 9 passes for 87 yards. For New York, Victor Cruz caught 8 passes for 118 yards. Hakeem Nicks also caught four for 83. Bringing back Brandon Jacobs did nothing to enhance the Giants’ rushing attack on this day—he netted 4 yards on seven carries.
The Giants head back on the road to play the Carolina Panthers in Week 3. The Broncos play the Raiders next week on Monday Night Football—already the third consecutive national telecast of a Broncos game this season in the first three weeks of the season.
Side note: WKMG-TV Channel 6, the Orlando, Florida CBS affiliate, ran an apology scroll at the bottom of its screen apologizing for viewers for being contractually obligated to show the Jaguars vs. Raiders game that aired at 4:25 PM—the same time as the Broncos and Giants. This was because the Jacksonville Jaguars claim Orlando as a “secondary market”.
The Raiders beat the Jaguars 19-9. Until the Jags show that they can win and shouldn’t be relocated to Los Angeles, they probably shouldn’t be claiming anything outside of Duval County, Florida as “secondary”.
Trash talk like this is certain to be common with two division rivals like the San Francisco 49ers and Seattle Seahawks who are seen as Super Bowl favorites out of the NFC this year. Both picked up victories in Week 1 even though the Niners victory over the Packers was more emphatically offensively while the Seahawks defense was the story against Carolina last week.
If it’s one thing the Seattle fans at CenturyLink Field are known for, it’s their imposing crowd noise which can cause communication issues for an opposing team’s offense. It was even reported in local Seattle media that the fans were going for a Guinness World Record for loudest stadium ever.
The fans (aptly named the “12th Man”) got the record.
One has to wonder, though, if the real San Francisco 49ers were there to experience it because the team that took the field in the Emerald City did not look like the same team at Candlestick last week. The first points for the Seahawks would serve as an omen for how the rest of the game would go for both teams. A holding penalty was called on 49ers receiver Bruce Miller that occurred in the end zone. Since it happened in the end zone, it was a safety that put the Seahawks in front 2-0. They were up 5-0 at the end of one half after a Steven Hauschka field goal.
Cue the baseball jokes.
The offensive player of the game for Seattle was arguably Marshawn Lynch. BeastMode scored all three of the Seahawks touchdowns in the second half—two receiving and one receiving. He would rush for 98 yards on 28 carries for the game.
Anchored by Richard Sherman, the Seahawks defense gave Colin Kaepernick issues throughout the game. He went 13/28 for 127 yards, 0 TDs, and 3 interceptions. He was, though, their leading rusher with 9 carries on 87 yards rushing.
Russell Wilson went 8/19 for 142 yards, 1 touchdown, and 1 interception on what turned out to be a dominant effort by Seattle. The game was actually delayed for a period of time because of lightning and rain that was in the Seattle metropolitan area.
Or, as Seattleites call it, Sunday night.
Both of the NFC West division rivals have home games in Week 3. The 49ers will play the Indianapolis Colts at Candlestick while the Seahawks get the Jacksonville Jaguars at CenturyLink.
Falcons defeat Rams 31-24
Ravens defeat Browns 14-6
Bills defeat Panthers 24-23
Bears defeat Vikings 31-30
Dolphins defeat Colts 24-20
Chiefs defeat Cowboys 17-16
Chargers defeat Eagles 33-30
Cardinals defeat Lions 31-25
Saints defeat Buccaneers 16-14
Raiders defeat Jaguars 19-9
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