2011 NFL Week 2 Remix by Lloyd Vance

After their comeback 38-35 win over the Oakland Raiders, everyone is talking about the hard-charging undefeated Buffalo Bills (2-0)  and their heady former Harvard quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick

Now that the glitz and glamour of the opening week of the 2011 NFL Season is over, Week 2 brought the league’s standard weekly journey.   And to be honest with you, everyone seemed to be glad that this week’s schedule only had two game-days with 15 games on Sunday and the usual one game match-up on Monday Night Football.

After a Week 1 that had some great performances, including Carolina Panthers rookie Cam Newton demolishing the league’s Rookie Record Book, NFL Universe wasn’t sure if Week 2 could live-up to the hype of opening week.  But to no one’s surprise, Week 2 was even better, in my opinion.  I think not having the “Butterflies” of opening games helped players concentrate on their tasks and it helped in having crisper and closer games. 

There were 9 games where the final score had a margin of 10 points or less, including a thrilling overtime win by the Dallas Cowboys 27-24 over the San Francisco49ers.  Unfortunately there were also four serious blowouts, where the final score margin was greater than 14 points, including a shutout by the Steelers 24-0 over the hapless Seahawks.  The worst of the bunch had be the Detroit Lions’ coming-of-age franchise record 48-3 thrashing of the battered Kansas City Chiefs.

The biggest story of the week had to be Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo shaking off fractured ribs and a punctured lung to lead his team to a comeback road 27-24 overtime win over the San Francisco 49ers.  The big win for Romo and the Cowboys came exactly one week after the former Pro Bowl passer was labeled a. “choker” in Dallas’ heart-breaking Week 1 Sunday Night Football loss to the NY Jets. 

In that close game with a national audience watching, Romo lost a  fumble when he was about to score and threw a horrible game-altering interception to Darrelle Revis in the final minutes of the loss.  However this time, Romo showed why Cowboys’ owner Jerry Jones has ultimate confidence in his QB1.  After backup Jon Kitna threw 2 INTs in relief of Romo in the 3rd quarter, the Cowboys starter came off the bench in a must-win situation.  Trailing by 24-14, Romo re-entered the game and re-energized his team. 

The former  Pro Bowl quarterback completed five of six passes on the tying drive, connecting on consecutive throws to WR Jesse Holley (Winner of Michael Irvin’s Reality Show, “The 4th Long” ) to setup a field goal that forced overtime.  In the extra period, Romo hit Holley again, this time on a 77-yard completion to inside the 1-yard line to set up kicker Dan Bailey’s winning 19-yard field goal in a “gutsy” win for the Cowboys

Another key fact from Week 2 is that “Parity” is already reeling its head in this very early this season.  The 1972 Dolphins must be feeling good as there are currently only 7 unblemished teams in the NFL with a record of (2-0).  But there is also a whopping 17 teams at (1-1), proving that “Any Given Sunday” is still in effect.  The league’s unbeatens  include 2010 playoff teams Patriots, NY Jets and Packers.

However this cast of usual winners has been joined by the surprising Buffalo Bills (scoring more than NFL team at this point and looking to make some noise in Week 3 vs. the Patriots), Detroit Lions tied (largest margin of victory since their 1957 NFL  Championship win) and Washington Redskins (Overcame a slow start to outlast the scrappy Cardinals).  Though the unbeatens all have good stories, I still don’t think any of them will come close to not losing a game.  So expect Don Shula, Larry Csonka and the rest the undefeat 1972 Dolphins to be celebrating by Week 7.  Which is aroung the time “NFL teams are either preparing for the playoffs or the upcoming draft”. 

Speaking of the (2-0) Buffalo Bills, I am still not ready to put them in the playoffs as they started with that same record in 2008 – went 4-0 to start season – then they finished (7-9) and out of the playoffs. However whether a team is 2-0, 1-1, and 0-2 after two weeks of play, it still doesn’t matter as everyone has a chance to make a playoff run — even the Manning-less Indianapolis Colts and hapless Seattle Seahawks who were both bad losers in Week 2.

Since realignment in 2002, 61 of the 108 playoff teams (56.5 percent) began the year at either 1-1 or 0-2.  Five of the past ten Super Bowl champions began their seasons with a 1-1 or 0-2 record. Plus last year five of the NFL’s 12 playoff teams started 2-0 and the other seven were 1-1 before righting themselves.  Everyone around the league should remember that it is way too early to start making season-long assumptions based two weeks of play.  To anyone feeling the pinch of the NFL season after twoweeks, please relax as the NFL regular season is a 17-week marathon with many twists and turns ahead.

Even though records should not be first on NFL teams’ minds, they still should be mindful that you don’t want to dig too big of a hole to recover from in time to make a playoff run.  Sure, history has shown that 0-2 teams can advance to the playoffs — since 1990, 22 teams have started 0-2 and still qualified for the postseason, including three teams in 2008 – Miami Dolphins, Minnesota Vikings  (won NFC North), and San Diego Chargers (won AFC West).  The best case scenarios for teams currently 0-2 that there have been  three Super Bowl-winning teams that started their respective championship seasons with that same record (2007 New York Giants, 2001 New England Patriots, and 1993 Dallas Cowboys).

But it is still a very daunting task to comeback from 0-2, which is ominously close to a season near “Death Sentence”, of 0-3.   The main thing as “Seperation Sunday” approaches in Week 3 is that teams do not want to get in the almost impossible hole of 0-3. History has shown that exactly “zero” teams have went from 0-3 to the Super Bowl.  And only three teams have made the playoffs after starting 0-3 since the NFL went to six playoff teams in each conference in 1990 — 1992 San Diego Chargers, 1998 Buffalo Bills, and 1998 Detroit Lions.

This was an odd weekend as there were no divisional games, which was first time ever since the AFL/NFL merger in 1970.  I am still urging all fans to wait until at least 5 to 6 games have been played before jumping on or off their respective teams’ bandwagons.  It is way too early to paint broad conclusions on teams and players’ futures.  Injuries and areas to fine tune are prevalent throughout the NFL and the results from the  first two weeks should be taken as partial.  As we saw last year with perfection leaving early in Week 5,  it is almost unthinkable that a team can get through an entire season undefeated in today’s NFL and “Any Given Sunday” is still very prevalent.

A common trend that I will be interested in seeing if it will hold true this season again, is the number of new teams making the playoffs after missing them the prior year.  In 2010, for the 15th consecutive NFL season, five or more teams qualified for the playoffs that were not in the postseason the year before (Seattle Seahawks, Pittsburgh Steelers, Chicago Bears, Atlanta Falcons, and Kansas City Chiefs).  This year the following (2-0) team are trying to keep the trend going: Lions, Bills, Redskins, and Texans.

2011 Week 2 Game Notes

Sunday Sept. 18

Packers (2-0) over Panthers (0-2), 30-23….Packers need a late big play from WR Jordy Nelson to finally subdue Carolina…Rodgers continues to shine…Starks is the main back for Packers now…Newton shines in another close loss…Cam breaks Todd Marinovich’s NFL rookie 2-game to start a season record (854 yards)

Browns (1-1) over Colts (0-2), 27-19…The Manning-less Colts are really bad…Too many Vinnitari FG’s for Indy…Browns QB Colt McCoy solid in win…LB D. Jackson was everywhere forCLE…Good return game for Joshua Cribbs…Browns tied for first inAFC North

Saints (1-1) over Bears (1-1), 30-13… Drew Brees shines despite some injuries to skill-players…Cutler is battered in loss…Matt Forte was almost a one-man gang…Bears defense was put in bad spots over and over

Bills (2-0) over Raiders (1-1), 38-35…Wow what a back-and-forth game…Fitzpatrick was huge throwing to no-name receivers…Raiders find a receiver in rookie Denarius Moore…BUF scored TDs on all 5 of their 2nd-half possessions to overcome a 21-3 first-half deficit.

Patriots (2-0) over Chargers (1-1), 35-21…New England and QB Tom Brady still look unstoppable…SD moves ball but turns it over at the time..More injuries for SD…Brady has now won his last 29 regular season starts….Patriots have scored 30+ point for 10 consecutive games (4 gms short of 1999-2000 Rams’ record)…Chargers Tolbert had bad fumble…Big Wilfork with a pick

Cowboys (1-1) over 49ers (1-1), 27-24 OT….Great gutsy performance by Cowboys QB Tony Romo in OT win…Cowboys WR’s Austin and Holley were huge…Bailey does a good job kicking…Niners blow a 10-point lead…A. Smith returns to looking bad

Redskins (2-0) over Cardinals (1-1), 24-21…’Skins are at the top of the NFC East at 2-0…WAS has a great 1-2 punch in backfield…Fitzgerald plays wells in a close loss… Grossman bad early then comes back well in 2nd half

Steelers (1-1) over Seahawks (0-2), 24-0… This got ugly early as the Steelers took out their WK 1 frustrations on the hapless Seahawks…PIT had 5 sacks…Raheem Brock almost takes out Big Ben…Jackson is terrible again at QB forSEA…. Wallace and Mendenhall have solid games…No Seahawks receiver topped 35 yards….SEA shut out for the first time since their last visit to the Steel City in 2007

Titans (1-1) over Ravens (1-1),  26-13… Not so fastBAL…Fueled by Hasselbeck and Britt, the Titans surprise Ravens…CJ2K still bottled up…Bironas kicks 4 FGs

Lions (2-0) over Chiefs (0-2), 48-3…Don’t look now but DET is 2-0…Stafford to Megatron still shining…J. Best good all-around game…KC terrible including Cassel…Charles lost for season…Lions largest margin of victory since 1957

Texans (2-0) over Dolphins (0-2), 23-13…HOU out in front inAFC South…Schaub gets the ball to hometown hero Andre Johnson..RB Ben Tate plays well as Foster re-injures hammy…Texans D still strong

Buccaneers (1-1) over Vikings (0-2), 24-20…Vikes blow a 0-17 halftime lead…Peterson awesome in first half invisible in 2nd half…McNabb nothing stellar…Freeman shows leadership…TB tied at top of NFC South…RB LeGarrette Blount runs the rock hard again…Eight of Freeman’s 14 career victories have been comebacks in the fourth quarter or overtime.

Jets (2-0) over Jaguars (0-2), 32-3… A big win for Rex’s team, but sloppy…NYJ defense punishes Jags QB’s including rookie Blaine Gabbert…Muhammad Wilkerson gets a safety on a sack… 4 INTs for McCown…MJD bottled-up

Broncos (1-1) over Bengals (1-1), 24-22… Close game won by DEN..Huge game for Broncos back-up WR Eric Decker…Tim Tebow lines up at WR…McGahee plays well in John Fox’s first win…CIN rookie QB Andy Dalton plays well…More Broncos injured (six starters)

Falcons (1-1) over Eagles (1-1), 35-31… Very good SNF game won in comeback fashion byATL…Matt Ryan beats Eagles for first time (now 21-3) at Georgia Dome…MV7 returns as starter…Vick hand-off fumble huge near half time…Vick concussed and leaves game…Maclin has huge game (13 catches, 171 yards) but drops 4th-down ball late…Ryan battered by Eagles wide-9 front…Turner’s 61-yard run late breaks tired Eagles defense’s back…Ryan leads Falcons on two 80-yard TD drives late to erase anPHI 10-point lead…Falcons 5-for-5 in redzone, all TDs…Trent Cole was a beast…Eagles LB’s struggle again in coverage and stopping run…Veteran TE Tony Gonzalez looked like it was 2001 all over again..Dunta Robinson hits Maclin helmet to helmet (40K fine)

Monday Sept 19

NY Giants (1-1) over Rams (0-2), 28-16…Ugly win for G-Men in a must-win situation on MNF….Rams go 0-2 for the 5th time in a row… Giants have more injuries (Hixon and Manningham)…NYG honor 1986 SB Champs…NYG Manning had 2 TDs but also 1 INT and looked skittish…Next-up NYG face PHI in a huge NFC East showdown… Bradford battered and under pressure all-night…DE Justin Tuck back from injury…Fumble return TD for NYG…Coughlin good at reviews again

Some Lloyd’s Leftovers from Week 2

NFL is a Passing League First — ESPN Analyst Ron Jaworski has said in the past, “At the NFL level you must have a quarterback that plays from the pocket.” .  And man has the NFL taken this to heart.  There have been six 400-yard passing performances so far.  Plus Dan Marino’s NFL single-season passing yardage record from 1984 maybe in trouble (5,084 yards).  Right now Patriots QB Tom Brady (940 passing yards) and Panthers rookie QB Cam Newton (854 passing yards) are both on a pace to throw for over 7,000 yards.

The NFL Season is Survival of the Fittest – The “tough” physical game of football causes a survival of the fittest on the way to the Lombardi Trophy. No team makes it to the top without dealing with injuries every week of the season. Unfortunately one of this week’s biggest stories were season-ending injuries as to players like Chiefs RB Jamaal Charles  (ACL) and Packes safety Nick Collins (neck).  Other major injuries were Eagles QB Michael Vick (concussion), Eagles WR DeSean Jackson (forearm), Cowboys QB Tony Romo (punctured lung /ribs), Cowboys RB Felix Jones (shoulder), Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger (right leg), Texans RB Arian Foster (hamstring), Patriots TE Aaron Hernandez (MCL), Seahawks WR Sidney Rice (labrum), Cowboys WR Miles Austin (hamstring), NY Jets C Nick Mangold (high ankle), Panthers LB Thomas Davis (ACL – 3rd), Bengals WR Jordan Shipley (knee), Seahawks Robert Gallery (groin) and Giants WR Mario Manningham (concussion)

Former playoff teams are even – As I always say, “Every year is different in the NFL”.  That phrase was never more prophetic than in Week 2 where 2010 playoff teams went a combined 12 – 12 — Winners were Patriots, Packers, NY Jets, Saints, Falcons, and Steelers;   Losers — Ravens, Eagles, Bears,  Seahawks, Chiefs, and the Manning-less Colts

Game Balls

Bills QB Ryan Fitzpatrick – Like everyone else, I like to make a big deal out of the fact the “Amish Rifle” is from non-football powerhouse Havard.  But there is no doubt that Fitzpatrick and his scrappy no-name team look like the real deal right now.  Fitzgerald hit backup WR David Nelson with a 6-yard TD with only 14 seconds left on the clock to cap a wild back-and-forth 4th qtr. Fitzpatrick finished with the passing line 28-46, 264 yds, 3 TDs, and 1INT in the 38-35 win that brought Buffalo to (2-0).  The Bills put up a franchise record 35 first downs and they now  lead NFL with 79 points through two games.

Honorable Mention – Cowboys QB Tony Romo, Steelers Defense, Packers LB Clay Matthews, Panthers QB Cam Newton, Falcons QB Matt Ryan, Packers DB Charles Woodson, Raiders WR Denarius Moore, Lions QB Matthew Stafford,  Bills RB Fred Jackson,  Bears RB Matt Forte and Falcons TE Tony Gonzalez

Lloyd’s Lackey of the Week

Chicago Bears O-line — Yes, QB Jay Cutler did not play great, but he was running for his life as the Saints were constantly in Chicago’s backfield.  Cutler was sacked 6 times and hit numerous other times by players that were sometimes “unblocked”.  Offensive Coordinator Mike Martz is all about putting points on the board, but he better find a way of protecting his quarterback or this will be a short season for Chicago.

Dishonorable Mention –Colts QB Kerry Collins, The Whole Kansas City Chiefs,  Seahawks QB Tarvaris Jackson, Colts DE Dwight Freeney, and the second-half performance of the Minnesota Vikings

Standings Breakdown

 7 Teams ….2-0 —  Lions, Texans, Bills, Patriots, NY Jets, Packers, Redskins

17 Teams …..1-1 —  Eagles, Falcons, Bengals, Titans, Cowboys, Niners, Saints, Bears, Browns, Cardinals, Chargers, Steelers, Raiders, Ravens, Broncos, Bucs, NY Giants

8 Teams…..0-2 (AKA… Andrew Luck Sweepstakes) —  Panthers, Jaguars, Colts, Vikings, Chiefs, Seahawks, Rams, Dolphins

Division Leaders

AFC North — All (1-1), Steelers, Bengals, Browns, Ravens

AFC South — Texans (2-0)….Titans (1-1), Colts and Jags very bad (0-2)

AFC West — DEN, OAK, SD all tied at (1-1)

AFC East — Patriots and NY Jets tied at (2-0)

 NFC North — Lions and Packers tied at (2-0)… Up-and-Down Bears (1-1)…Bad Vikings (0-2)

NFC South — TB, NO,ATLtied at (1-1)… youngCARare (0-2) but scrappy

NFC West — Niners and Cardinals tied at (1-1)… Rams and Seahawks (0-2)

NFC East — Redskins (2-0)… rest of teams (1-1)

 

How 2010 NFL Playoff Teams  Fared — Remember for 15 straight seasons there have been at least 5 new playoff teams

AFC

Patriots (2-0)

NY Jets (2-0)

Ravens (1-1)

Steelers (1-1)

Chiefs (0-2)

Colts (0-2)

NFC

Packers (2-0)

Falcons (1-1)

Eagles (1-1)

Bears (1-1)

Saints (1-1)

Seahawks (0-2)

 

Week 2 Leaders 
 
 Passing

 1. C. Newton CAR  432 yds (L)

2. T. Brady NE  423 yds  (W)

3. P. Rivers SD  378 yds (L)

4. M. Hasselbeck TEN  358 yds (W)

5. T. Romo DAL  345 yds  Final – OT  (W) 

 

Rushing

1. A. Peterson MIN  120 yds  (L)

2. F. Jackson BUF  117 yds   (W)

3. M. Turner ATL 116 (W)

4. D. Thomas MIA  107 yds  (L)

5. B. Tate HOU  103 yds  (W)

6. W. McGahee DEN  101 yds  (W)

7. L. McCoy PHI  95 yds, 2 TDs (L)

 

Receiving  

1. V. Jackson SD  172 yds  (W)

2. J. Maclin PHI 171 yds  (L)

2. S. Smith CAR  156 yds  (L)

3. D. Moore OAK  146 yds  (L)

4. M. Austin DAL  143 yds, 3 TDs  Final – OT  (W)

5. J. Simpson CIN  136 yds (L)

 

TDS   

1. M. Stafford DET  4 TDs (W)

2. T. Brady NE  3 TDs  (W)

2. R. Fitzpatrick BUF  3 TDs  (W)

2. M. Austin DAL  3 TDs tied with 3 others;  Final – OT (W) 

 

Looking Ahead to Week 3 Games

Sunday, Sept. 25

49ers (1-1) at Bengals (1-1) 1:00PM ET (FOX)

Broncos (1-1) at Titans (1-1) 1:00PM ET (CBS)

Dolphins (0-2) at Browns (1-1) 1:00PM ET (CBS)

Giants (0-1) at Eagles (1-1) 1:00PM ET (FOX)

Jaguars (1-1) at Panthers (0-2) 1:00PM ET (CBS)

Lions (2-0) at Vikings (0-2) 1:00PM ET (FOX)

Patriots (2-0) at Bills (2-0) 1:00PM ET (CBS)

Texans (2-0) at Saints (1-1) 1:00PM ET (CBS)

Chiefs (0-2) at Chargers (1-1) 4:05PM ET (CBS)

Jets (2-0) at Raiders (1-1) 4:05PM ET (CBS)

Ravens (1-1) at Rams (0-1) 4:05PM ET (CBS)

Cardinals (1-1) at Seahawks (0-2) 4:15PM ET (FOX)

Falcons (1-1) at Buccaneers (1-1) 4:15PM ET (FOX)

Packers (2-0) at Bears (1-1) 4:15PM ET (FOX)

Steelers (1-1) at Colts (0-2) 8:20PM ET (NBC)

Monday, Sept. 26

Redskins (2-0) at Cowboys (1-1) 8:30PM ET (ESPN)
 

 

NFL Writer for Taking It to the House and Sports Journey Network , who is also an award-winning member of the Pro Football Writers of America (PFWA).  Lloyd can be reached on Twitter @lloydvance_nfl

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