Published: Sep 18, 2022 at 05:05 PM
Around The NFL breaks down what you need to know from all of Sunday’s action in Week 2 of the 2022 NFL season. Catch up on each game’s biggest takeaways using the links below:
San Francisco 49ers 27, Seattle Seahawks 7Los Angeles Rams 31, Atlanta Falcons 27Dallas Cowboys 20, Cincinnati Bengals 17Denver Broncos 16, Houston Texans 9Arizona Cardinals 29, Las Vegas Raiders 23 (OT)Tampa Bay Buccaneers 20, New Orleans Saints 10New England Patriots 17, Pittsburgh Steelers 14Jacksonville Jaguars 24, Indianapolis Colts 0Miami Dolphins 42, Baltimore Ravens 38Detroit Lions 36, Washington Commanders 27New York Jets 31, Cleveland Browns 30New York Giants 19, Carolina Panthers 16 27-7
Kevin Patra’s takeaways:
Good thing the 49ers didn’t trade Jimmy Garoppolo. Starting quarterback Trey Lance went down with a season-ending broken ankle in the first quarter. In stepped Jimmy G, who guided the 49ers to a coasting victory over their NFC West rival. Garoppolo didn’t seem bothered at all by his surgically repaired shoulder in his first snaps of live football since January. The QB started 8 of 11 for 186 yards and a touchdown in the first half. He looked a little erratic for stretches of the second half, which could be expected considering he didn’t take part in training camp and Kyle Shanahan had to scrap a large part of the playbook after Lance’s injury. But the Niners leaned on the run game late to milk the clock, and Jimmy G plowed in for the game-sealing TD. With Lance done for the season, it’s once again Garoppolo’s team.Seahawks’ run game nonexistent. The shine was off after the Seahawks’ Week 1 victory. Geno Smith managed the game fine, but the offense struggled to move the ball consistently versus a stout 49ers D. Smith made the most of what the defense gave him, but splash plays were few and far between, and penalties killed Seattle. Pete Carroll’s run game was dreadfully disappointing. Rashaad Penny carried six times for 15 yards, Kenneth Walker III took four totes for 10 yards, and Travis Homer two for nine yards. That’s not Carroll-ball. The ground game couldn’t move the sticks even before they got down big. The Seahawks got so desperate to puncture San Francisco’s D that they called a DeeJay Dallas pass in the red zone that wound up a dreadful interception. With the only points coming on a blocked field goal, it’s back to the drawing board for Seattle’s offense.49ers defense dominates line of scrimmage. San Francisco snapped a four-game skid against the Seahawks by stymying everything Seattle threw at it. Safety Talanoa Hufanga shined once again and was all over the field. A speeding bullet who plays all over the formation, Hufanga earned six tackles, one tackle for loss, and two passes defended, including the tip that led to a Smith INT. The second-year safety has been one of the best secondary players in the NFL through two weeks. Up front, Nick Bosa swarmed the young Seattle tackles, generating two sacks. Playing again in the rain, San Francisco avoided the bonehead penalties that plagued it in Week 1, with Shanahan’s team flagged just once for 26 yards.Next Gen stat of the game: Deebo Samuel earned +45 rushing yards over expected on a 51-yard run in the first quarter (his most on a rush in his career).
NFL Research: Nick Bosa, who had two sacks, five QB hits and two tackles for loss, has had at least one sack in each of his last three games versus Seattle.
Coral Smith’s takeaways:
More Rams get touches. After a Week 1 loss to the Bills, head coach Sean McVay said he had wanted to get more players involved, specifically wide receiver Allen Robinson and running back Cam Akers. And on Sunday, both players got that increased usage. Akers, whom McVay had said didn’t take advantage of opportunities versus Buffalo, had 15 rushes for 44 yards, a big increase from his three attempts and zero yards last week. And Robinson, who had just a 12-yard reception in the opener, hauled in four catches for 53 yards, including a 1-yard touchdown for his first score with Los Angeles. We’ll have to see whether both players will continue to see regular usage in the coming weeks.Turnovers almost sink L.A. The Rams just barely escaped with the win, as the Falcons almost exorcised the demons of Super Bowl LI by nearly completing their own 28-3 comeback, though the attempt fell just short. A big reason Atlanta was able to get close on Sunday was turnovers, which it took full advantage of. Matthew Stafford’s Achilles heel remains interceptions, as he has the most games (seven) with multiple interceptions since the start of the 2021 season, and he had two today. The second one resulted in a short-field opportunity that the Falcons converted into their first touchdown. A blocked punt returned for a touchdown put Atlanta within a score, and a rare fumble from Cooper Kupp set up a possible game-winning drive in crunch time for the Falcons. But the turnover giveth, and the turnover taketh away, as the comeback was spoiled by a goal line interception by Jalen Ramsey. While the Rams got the win, cutting down the turnovers is sure to be a focus going forward.London is as good as advertised. The Falcons drafted Drake London as the No. 8 pick in this year’s draft, the first wide receiver off the board. Through two games, the WR out of USC has been all they were looking for when they selected him. London led the Falcons in receiving yards last week with 74 yards on five receptions, and did it again Sunday. London caught almost half of quarterback Marcus Mariota’s 17 completions, grabbing eight passes for 86 yards and a TD. With three games remaining on the Week 2 schedule, London leads all rookie wideouts with his 160 total yards receiving through two games. While Atlanta still has work to do to get its first win, London is definitely a bright spot and should continue to be a big offensive contributor.Next Gen stat of the game: Matthew Stafford was blitzed on 18.9% of his dropbacks after not being blitzed once in Week 1 versus Buffalo.
NFL Research: Cooper 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.
Eric Edholm’s takeaways:
Rush gets it done. In his first NFL start in Week 8 last season, Cooper Rush got the ball back with 2:51 remaining as the Cowboys trailed the Vikings, 16-13. Rush wasn’t perfect that day, but he completed 6 of 9 passes for 67 yards on the drive and tossed the game-winning score with 55 seconds left. On Sunday, with Rush making his first start since that game in place of Dak Prescott, he got the ball back twice in a 17-17 game against the Bengals in the final four minutes. The first time didn’t work, as the Cowboys were forced to give the ball back to Joe Burrow after a few missed throws by Rush. But the second time, Rush hit on passes of 8, 10 and 12 yards and handled a tricky running clock/spike situation to set up the game-winning field goal as the Cowboys evened their record and sent the Bengals to 0-2. Rush was hardly perfect, and the Cowboys scored only three points in a 44-minute game span after a hot start. But Dallas can’t ask 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. The news on Prescott seems to be good, and Rush might not have many more starts in him. But what we saw in this game indicates that the Cowboys can still finish off a tough team with him under center.OL woes still plaguing Bengals. Is it possible that the Bengals’ offensive line, which they carpet bombed with assets in the offseason, is no better than it was a year ago? This was a rough game for the front five as Dallas’ array of pass rushers harassed them nearly start to finish. Micah Parsons was a problem for whomever he faced off against, whether it was ex-Cowboys right tackle La’el Collins or left tackle Jonah Williams or even twisting inside against the interior trio. Parsons is a unicorn, so it’s semi-understandable. But the Bengals allowed six sacks in this game, bringing the two-game total to a whopping 13. That’s an average of a sack every 7.8 times that Burrow has dropped back this season. Zac Taylor even called for a lot of quick-game passing, and that wasn’t even the answer. The 49ers are dealing with Trey Lance’s significant injury, but they have Jimmy Garoppolo. Rush filled in admirably for Prescott this game, but on the flip side we saw what happened to a Prescott-less Dallas in 2020 when he went down for the season. Are the Bengals ready to start Brandon Allen? Because that’s where we’re headed — tough as nails as Burrow might be — if the Bengals don’t fix this thing. The line also was guilty of three false starts (two by Collins) in this game and gave up a batted ball on what could have been a big gain for Cincinnati. That, plus the Week 1 turnovers, are big reasons why the Bengals have a mere 37 points in the 0-2 start. The Bengals possessed the ball for nearly 21 of the 30 second-half minutes but scored only one TD.Cowboys defense deserves praise. After Dallas went up 14-3, the Bengals owned the time of possession. The Cowboys’ defense had to be absolutely gassed after the Bengals ran 11- and 19-play scoring drive in the second half. And yet time and time again, this unit delivered big plays when it mattered. And it was not just Parsons doing the heavy lifting. Dorance Armstrong had two sacks. Dante Fowler had a sack, a batted pass and a forced fumble. Trevon Diggs broke up a pass and had six tackles, including two huge ones close to the line of scrimmage in space on the Bengals’ final drive. Granted, Cowboys defenders committed three penalties for 35 yards and didn’t force a turnover. But if the hallmark of last year’s defense was giving up yards and counting on turnovers, this year’s unit has been much more stingy through two games and not as big-play dependent. Parsons is a game-changing weapon and a possible Defensive Player of the Year favorite after two weeks. But it’s clear that Dan Quinn has a much more competitive and stingy group all around, even if the takeaways haven’t come in bunches yet.Next Gen stat of the game: Cooper 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.
NFL Research: Joe Burrow has taken 13 sacks in the first two games of the season. The last QB to take 13 or more sacks through Week 2 and go on to start more than 10 games was David Carr, who did so twice (2002 and 2005, leading the NFL in sacks taken each of those years).
Nick Shook takeaways:
The D in Denver stands for disarray. Six days after Nathaniel Hackett’s mental meltdown cost the Broncos a chance to win in Seattle, the coach’s team didn’t look any better. The Broncos drew 13 accepted penalties for 100 yards and struggled on multiple occasions to get the play in, lined up and the ball snapped before the play clock expired. It grew so ugly, Broncos fans in attendance teamed up to count down the play clock in unison in the fourth quarter of Sunday’s game, and that’s not all: Denver earned a much-needed defensive stop in the fourth quarter and had to use its second timeout because the punt return team lacked a returner. Denver later spent its final timeout to avoid — you guessed it! — another delay of game. Hackett’s situational play-calling was also questionable at best — Denver’s last five goal-to-go drives have ended without a touchdown, tying the longest such streak by any team to start a season in the last 30 years — but because the Broncos were able to keep Davis Mills from engineering a comeback drive, they escaped with a win. Plenty is left to clean up in what has been a remarkably inauspicious start for Hackett.Houston still lacks big-time talent. Mills struggled throughout the game, finishing with a completion percentage of just 50 (for 177 yards and a 63.2 passer rating). Promising rookie Dameon Pierce gained 4.6 yards per attempt, but received just 15 carries on the afternoon. Nico Collins caught four of his nine targets to lead the Texans in receiving with a whopping 58 yards. Houston was 2 of 13 on third down and lost the time of possession battle by roughly five minutes. The Texans’ defense plays with energy and had Russell Wilson looking like he might be cooked instead of cooking, but that wasn’t enough to hang on to a small lead. The only Texan to produce points was Ka’imi Fairbairn. You need more than field goals to win in this league.Denver’s two-headed rushing attack starts to come together. Javonte Williams led the Broncos with an average of five yards per carry, while Melvin Gordon chipped in with 4.7 per tote on 10 attempts. Gordon showed a little extra juice Sunday, even prompting the broadcast team to suggest he was playing like he did in his days with the Chargers, which would be a boon for the Broncos. Twenty-five carries is closer to what this duo should be receiving on a weekly basis, although Hackett should still learn to rely more on them in goal-to-go scenarios. A second-down carry for Williams — which gained four of the five yards needed to score — shouldn’t be bookended by passes. Hopefully for Broncos fans, this changes. The proof is at least positive, though.Next Gen stat of the game: Russell Wilson completed just 6 of 16 passes for 98 yards with a time to throw of 2.5 or more seconds.
NFL Research: Russell Wilson 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.
Nick Shook’s takeaways:
Kyler Murray is a magician. Arizona looked like it was headed toward another embarrassing blowout loss and Murray didn’t appear to be capable of doing anything but burying it deeper. Even worse, the Cardinals appeared to be one of the worst teams in the NFL through their first six quarters of the 2022 season. And then … everything changed. Murray jump-started Arizona’s offense with a flurry of points, yet none came quickly. The Cardinals scored touchdowns on drives of nine, 11 and 18 plays in the final two quarters, and certainly wouldn’t have won this game without Murray’s magic. 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.Raiders fail to put together four quarters of good football. Las Vegas rolled through the first half, moving the ball with ease and finishing on a strong note, with Derek Carr getting the Raiders close enough to tack on three more points. A 20-0 lead seemed safe against these Cardinals, but whether it was complacency or a failure to react to Arizona’s halftime adjustments, the Raiders lost whatever was working for them in the first half. A glaring detail in the box score: Davante 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 a touchdown. 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. Once overtime arrived, these struggles spilled over into ball security, with two Hunter Renfrow fumbles producing one game-deciding turnover — and an 0-2 start for the Raiders. Las Vegas is better than 0-2, but it needs to start playing like it.Chaos reigns. First off, the Cardinals need to learn how to play two complete halves. In two straight weeks, they’ve come out flat and gotten punched in the mouth. The difference between the weeks, though, was simple: When the Cardinals finally decided to wake up and roll out of bed, they didn’t immediately spot their opponent 14 additional points after the break. Arizona started its climb back into the game with its second possession of the second half, going 79 yards in 11 plays to make it a 20-7 game. From there, the avalanche began. The Cardinals’ furious fourth quarter included two touchdown drives and stout defense necessary to regain possession with enough time remaining to wipe out their deficit. It was done with the help of timely penalties and Murray’s unique brand of highlight-making play. The combination of Isaiah Simmons’ forced fumble and Byron Murphy’s 59-yard fumble return for a score — the longest overtime fumble-return TD in NFL history — ended the game and saved the Cardinals from an 0-2 start. It also spared them from some serious questions about the franchise’s future, at least for one week.Next Gen stat of the game: Kyler Murray traveled 84.85 yards on his first successful two-point conversion attempt Sunday, the longest distance traveled by a ball carrier on a two-point attempt in the Next Gen era (dating back to 2016).
NFL Research: The Raiders were 39-0 all time when leading by 20-plus points at halftime prior to Sunday’s finish. The 20-0 lead was also the largest blown lead in franchise history.
Eric Edholm’s takeaways:
Bucs get fired up after skirmish. It’s only fitting that a rock fight of a football game devolved into actual fisticuffs, especially when these two teams — and two very specific players — are involved. Early in the fourth quarter, in a 3-3 game, Marshon Lattimore and Tom Brady started jawing. Leonard Fournette pushed Lattimore away, and Mike Evans slammed into Lattimore. Eventually, Lattimore and Evans were ejected. They have a history, folks. But it was how the teams reacted after the fight that determined the outcome of this game. After a Bucs punt, Tampa’s defense came up with a huge interception of Jameis Winston by Jamel Dean in the end zone. Brady, who had struggled to dial up big plays earlier in the game, hit Breshad Perriman for a pretty deep ball and a 10-3 lead, with help from two Saints defensive penalties. One play after a sack, Winston again was picked by Dean on a failed long ball. Brady and the Bucs turned that into a field goal and a 13-3 edge. Then Winston completed the hat trick in style, with a pick-six by Mike Edwards and a 17-point lead. Everything fell apart for the Saints in a three-minute, 30-second span in what was a tight game for the first 50-plus minutes.The Saints are out of whack offensively. In Week 1, they struggled for three quarters before ringing up 17 fourth-quarter points against what might be a bad Falcons defense to eke out a one-point win. But the issues came to roost in this game against a better opponent. The Buccaneers’ defense clearly is a top-tier unit, having allowed three points in Week 1 and 10 more in this one. But the Saints easily can point to their own inefficiencies in this game and realize they have a lot to clean up. It starts with Winston, of course. He’s been susceptible to pressure, taking seven sacks in eight quarters of football. But Winston also has been guilty of hanging onto the ball too long and not taking what’s there when plays break down. In addition to his three picks, the Saints were lucky when a too-patient Winston was sacked by Shaquil Barrett and fumbled; Devin White had a great shot at landing on it but could not. Michael Thomas has shown he’s back — he had two TDs in Week 1 and a toe-tapping sideline catch and another score this game. Rookie Chris Olave looks dangerous, even with his fumble. Not having Alvin Kamara (ribs) surely hurt in this game, and Mark Ingram lost a fumble in his place. The loss of head coach Sean Payton was always going to be tough to overcome, but the Saints need to find ways to cut down on the major errors if they’re going to bounce back next week against the Carolina Panthers.Unhappy Brady. There’s nothing quite as eye-roll-inducing in sports as a protracted discussion of a player’s “body language.” That said, it didn’t take a Ph.D. to see that Brady was not happy in the first half on Sunday, expressing his disgust on the field and then launching a Microsoft Surface Pro on the sideline. Let’s put all the off-field gossip talk to the side for now. We’ve seen “Salty Brady” before, and it typically comes out when his offense is shooting itself in the foot. That happened time and time again in the first half. At halftime, the Buccaneers ran their streak of not scoring a point against the Saints’ defense to six quarters and went 23 straight drives versus New Orleans’ defense without a touchdown. It was still a 3-0 deficit at the break, just as it was in the Saints’ 9-0 victory in Tampa last December. But Brady and the Bucs found a way, breaking out offensively with three major inactives (Julio Jones, Donovan Smith and Chris Godwin), Evans in the locker room and little run-game production to speak of. Brady also was wearing an oversized wrap on his hand, which seemed to bother him early in the game. He might not be quite as dangerous as he was at his peak, but Brady is one of the better win-without-your-best-stuff passers of all time. We saw it on display in Week 2.Next Gen stat of the game: When Marshon Lattimore was lined up against Mike Evans on Sunday, Evans was held to one reception for 7 yards on 14 routes run.
NFL Research: Since 2019, the Buccaneers are 9-0 when they have three-plus takeaways in a game.
Kevin Patra’s takeaways:
Patriots get back to power running game. On a day when Mac Jones was up and down, missing a host of passes, the Patriots’ run game grinded out the road win in the second half. Damien Harris (15 carries for 71 yards and one touchdown) and Rhamondre Stevenson (9/47) ran over the Steelers’ front to secure the win as the Pats returned to the power rushing scheme. The highlight of the Pats’ passing offense came late in the first half, with Nelson Agholor posturizing Ahkello Witherspoon for a 44-yard TD. It was the prettiest play of an ugly affair for the traditional AFC powers.*Could the Kenny Pickett era be coming soon? *Mitchell Trubisky was a check-down king on Sunday, throwing short time and time and time again. Watching the starting QB throw 1-yard passes on third-and-longs as the Steelers tried to come back was particularly frustrating. Trubisky threw for just 168 yards on 33 attempts with one TD and one interception while taking three sacks. It’s clear the Steelers don’t trust their offensive line to let deep routes develop. But 21 of 33 attempts behind the line of scrimmage or inside nine yards isn’t winning offense, particularly with defenses keying on the run game. Trubisky went just 5-of-12 passing for 74 yards and an INT on passes of 10-plus air yards. Annoyed Steelers fans brought out the Kenny Pickett chants. They’ll only get louder if Trubisky keeps throwing two-yard passes.Steelers D missed T.J. Watt. It’s stating the obvious, but the Steelers’ defense isn’t nearly as dangerous without the AP NFL Defensive Player of the Year. Pittsburgh’s defense didn’t record a sack and earned just three QB hits. Jones had all day to survey the defense at times, sitting in the pocket and allowing routes to develop. Jones was pressured on just two of 35 snaps, per Next Gen Stats. No matter how good the secondary is, a QB can’t have all day to throw. The Steelers will have to manufacture a rush until Watt returns.Next Gen stat of the game: Nelson Agholor had 0.6 yards of target separation on his 44-yard TD, the second fewest for a Mac Jones TD in his career.
NFL Research: 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.
Michael Baca’s takeaways:
Trevor Lawrence has a day to remember. They weren’t numbers that jump off the stat sheet, but the Jaguars quarterback turned in his most complete performance in what was his 19th career start. Lawrence connected on 25 of 30 pass attempts for 235 yards and two touchdowns in the win, and his composure was a glaring improvement compared to last week’s outing in Washington. Aiding that effort were the designed quick throws for Lawrence, who executed the plays decisively and accurately. Lawrence spread the ball out to seven receivers and found Christian Kirk (six receptions, 78 yards) on both of his TD throws. The former No. 1 overall pick’s day wasn’t perfect — with an errant throw getting dropped by a Colts defender in the first half and the Jags offense having three three-and-outs in the fourth quarter — but it was a reassuring display you want to see from the face of the franchise.Colts offense lays an egg. It was an ugly one for the Colts, whose 10 offensive possessions on the day ended with five turnovers and five punts. The constant duress Matt Ryan experienced throughout the game was the crux of an offense that gained just 71 yards in the first half. Jonathan Taylor, the league’s reigning rushing champion, had more rushing attempts (five) than yards (four) through those first two quarters, but things didn’t get better once the Colts finally had chances, as they turned the ball over on downs in both of their red-zone possessions in the second half. The Colts held the ball for just 21:45 and gained 218 total yards in the shutout loss, which of course extended the team’s losing streak in Jacksonville to eight.Jaguars pass rushers flourish. Defensive coordinator Mike Caldwell should be proud of a unit that outright dominated at the point of attack. Jaguars pass rushers collected five sacks, 11 QB hits and forced Ryan to throw three interceptions on the day. Josh Allen led the way with two sacks, one of which forced a fumble. Arden Key, Adam Gotsis and Roy Robertson-Harris found the other sacks while No. 1 overall pick Travon Walker continued to wreak havoc in the backfield. The constant pressure had Jags defensive backs licking their chops, and Ryan sat out the final 22 seconds of a final fruitless possession because of all the hits he took.Next Gen stat of the day: Matt Ryan was 5 of 13 for 101 yards and three interceptions on passes of 10-plus air yards.
NFL Research: The Jaguars held a league-worst 33-81 record since 2015 heading into Week 2, but have won their eighth straight game versus the Colts in Jacksonville. The Colts are 10-4 against other AFC South opponents on the road over that span, and the last time Indianapolis sustained a road shutout was in Jacksonville in 2018.
Kevin Patra’s takeaways:
Tua Tagovailoa silences haters as Dolphins storm back. Tagovailoa overcame two first-half interceptions — one in scoring range and the other that led to a Ravens touchdown drive — to spearhead a furious Miami comeback after entering the fourth quarter down three scores. Tua dropped a bevy of beautiful throws, from an only-my-guy-can-get-it TD to Mike Gesicki to deep shots to Tyreek Hill in stride. The QB went 36-of-50 passing for 469 yards and a whopping six TDs with two INTs for a 124.1 rating. Four of Tua’s six TDs came in the fourth quarter. He might not own the most powerful arm, but Tua used precision to make plays all game and took advantage of busted coverages in the Ravens’ secondary. Sunday proved that no lead is safe with Mike McDaniel’s offense able to score in waves. When Miami needed Tua to make big plays, the QB shined in crunch time.Dolphins’ dynamite receiver tandem of Jaylen Waddle and Tyreek Hill unstoppable. The Miami offense deserves two nuggets after that comeback. The duo dominated. First, Waddle ripped off yards after the catch and got open on underneath routes. He finished with 11 catches on 19 targets for 171 yards, with a long of 59 yards, and two TDs, including the game-winner. Then, Hill exploded late, blazing past the Ravens’ secondary for 11 catches on 13 targets for 190 yards, with a long of 60, and two TDs (both in the fourth quarter). With the combination of speed and route precision, Waddle and Hill make life exceedingly difficult on defenses. Both can turn a short pass into a long gain at any moment. The Dolphins ate up yards after the catch Sunday. Waddle netted 82 YAC and Hill had 72.Lamar Jackson puts up an MVP-type performance but comes up shy in short yardage. Jackson had a perfect passer rating as the Ravens built a big first-half lead. The QB dropped dimes and darts from the pocket, completing 72.4% of his passes for 318 yards and three first-half TDs. Jackson also paced the ground game with 119 yards on nine attempts, including a career-high 79-yard TD run. But the Ravens running backs — sans J.K. Dobbins — again struggled to gain traction, earning just 28 yards on 14 carries. Baltimore was particularly bad in short-yardage situations. The Ravens couldn’t punch it in from the 1-yard-line early, with Jackson fumbling the fourth-down snap. Then, early in the fourth quarter, Jackson was again stuffed on fourth-and-1. The inability to churn the clock on the ground and convert in short yardage helped allow the Dolphins to charge back for the W.Next Gen stat of the game: Lamar Jackson generated his first career game with 150-plus pass yards and three TDs vs. blitz in a full game (did so in first half alone).
NFL Research: The Dolphins became the first team in NFL history with a player recording 400-plus pass yards and five-plus pass TDs (Tua Tagovailoa) and two others recording 170-plus receiving yards and two-plus receiving TDs (Tyreek Hill and Jaylen Waddle) in the same game.
Eric Edholm’s takeaways:
Lions, offensive juggernaut? The Lions did not score 35-plus points in a game between Week 1 of 2018 and Week 17 of last season. But they’re now 2-for-2 in that category in 2022, making it three straight games they’ve hit that threshold counting the Week 18 outing against the Packers last season. The last time the Lions accomplished that? In the 1952 and 1953 seasons, back when they won the NFL Championship in back-to-back years. This Detroit team isn’t quite at that level of proficiency. But it’s hard not to see the progress for a franchise that, let’s face it, was heaped with some pretty strong preseason expectations considering it had 11 wins and two ties combined over the previous three years. Hats off to new offensive coordinator Ben Johnson for his role in calling a more wide-open scheme and getting the ball into the Lions’ playmakers’ hands time and time again. It’s easy to see how fun this thing can be once first-rounder Jameson Williams is healthy.A star in the making in Detroit. The last two top-10 picks to register a three-sack game in either Week 1 or 2 of their rookie seasons were Chip Banks (1982) and Julius Peppers (2002). Both of those players won AP NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year. The third man on that list is now Aidan Hutchinson, with all three sacks coming in a dominant first half. He also was close to taking down Washington’s Carson Wentz for a safety, but Lions teammate Charles Harris got there a moment earlier. Either way, Hutchinson looks like the real deal. Sure, it’s only two games. But as it stands now, the Hutchinson pick looks like a home run. He’s now a huge part of this Lions culture change and rebuild, and the results are coming to fruition early. Hutchinson was seen limping into the locker room in the second half, but he returned to the sideline shortly thereafter. It’s perhaps no coincidence that the Commanders started heating up offensively after Hutchinson started limping.Split-personality offense. The Commanders were two different teams offensively in this game. There was the first-half version that gained 20 yards in its first 11 plays and finished the first 30 minutes with two first downs. Then there was the second-half version that caught fire and made a game of it after falling behind 22-zip. Wentz looked twitchy and inaccurate early, taking a safety (one of four first-half sacks) and throwing eight incomplete passes in 17 tries, but was dangerous late in throwing for 197 yards and four TDs after halftime. That’s the Wentz experience in a nutshell. The Commanders must find a way to work around that, difficult a chore as that is. Their defense has now allowed the Jaguars and Lions to move the ball at will against it, upping the degree of difficulty a notch or two. But this club has no shot if it doesn’t harness its passing-game firepower more consistently. A lot of that falls on Wentz and his notoriously inconsistent performances. Can the Commanders find a way to harness Week 2 second-half Wentz for a whole game? That needs to happen soon. Up next: the Eagles.Next Gen stat of the game: Lions rookie Aidan Hutchinson had four QB pressures and three sacks on 42 pass rushers (9.5 pressure percentage).
NFL Research: Amon-Ra St. Brown now has 50-plus receiving yards and one or more touchdowns in six straight games, dating back to last season. It’s the longest such streak by a Lions player in the Super Bowl era. He also tied the all-time mark with eight straight games with eight or more catches.
Nick Shook’s takeaways:
Joe Flacco can still sling it on occasion. Flacco has a long history of winning in Cleveland, but at 37-years-old, those days appeared to be well behind him. He apparently didn’t get the memo Sunday, completing 26 of 44 passes for 307 yards, four touchdowns and a 110.7 passer rating in a truly vintage performance. Flacco saved his best for last, hitting Corey Davis on a 66-yard touchdown pass that was essentially uncontested, then driving the Jets 53 yards in nine plays and one minute of game clock to lift them to the miraculous win. The Browns absolutely collapsed, but Flacco certainly earned this win with his arm — and deserves the praise that will follow, even if only for a week. Head coach Robert Saleh also gets a much-needed shot of confidence as he attempts to navigate a season viewed by a frustrated Jets fanbase that is running short on patience.The Browns defense is a mess. Through two weeks, Cleveland’s secondary looks completely lost. It’s given up long touchdown passes late in games thanks to blown coverages, and defensive backs can often be seen raising their arms in exasperation after giving up big gains, as if they’re still confused by their individual responsibilities. At one point, New York converted 7 of 10 third-down attempts and finished over 50 percent in such scenarios. The Jets — a team that put up just nine points in Week 1 — gained 402 yards of offense and scored 14 points in the game’s final minute and 22 seconds. Myles Garrett and Jadeveon Clowney each recorded a sack, but in the many instances in which they weren’t able to get home, the Browns had no answer in coverage. Cleveland has talent, but the defensive disorganization is discouraging at the least and could prove to be damning to the fate of defensive coordinator Joe Woods, who drew praise for his unit’s play late last season but does not have a handle on the group through two games.Dwayne Rudd now has company. For two decades, the linebacker owned the majority of an imaginary, desolate island where Browns fans emotionally banished those who cost the team wins in unfathomable fashion. Rudd better make room for a whole new cast after this one. Cleveland held a two-touchdown lead with 1:55 remaining in the game, then melted down, blowing coverage to allow a long touchdown pass to Davis, failing to recover New York’s onside kick, and allowing Flacco to lead the Jets to a go-ahead touchdown. Last week’s hero, rookie kicker Cade York, missed an extra point that shouldn’t have mattered, but ended up being the difference because the Browns collapsed in epic fashion. All of the good momentum the Browns appeared to build through the first 118 minutes of regular-season action evaporated in 115 seconds Sunday. That could be devastating if they fail to recover in the short week ahead.Next Gen stat of the game: The Jets had a 0.3% win probability following Nick Chubb’s 12-yard touchdown run with 1:55 remaining in regulation.
NFL Research: Sunday was Joe Flacco’s first win as a starter in his last nine outings, snapping a streak that dated back to Week 6 of the 2019 season. The victory over Cleveland improved his all-time record to 18-3 versus the Browns.
Nick Shook’s takeaways:
If you like field goals, this was your game. Graham Gano received an opportunity to earn some revenge versus his former team, and his right leg certainly rose to the occasion. Gano finished a perfect 4 for 4 on field goal attempts and 1 for 1 on extra points, scoring 13 of New York’s 19 points and putting the Giants ahead for good with a 56-yard bomb with 3:34 left in the game. Carolina followed suit, as Eddy Pineiro made all three of his field goals and his lone extra point, perhaps uncovering a permanent option at the position for the Panthers. Field goals aren’t all that thrilling, of course, and didn’t produce satisfying outcomes during the game — New York settled for three after recovering a game-opening fumble, and Carolina took the points after stalling deep in New York’s red zone — but one more boot was enough to get the Giants a win and some redemption for Gano.Carolina’s offense remains stuck in the mud. Baker Mayfield’s second outing with the Panthers looked a lot like his first: passes batted down at the line of scrimmage, risky throws into coverage, a frantic presence in the pocket and missed connections all afternoon. Not all was Mayfield’s fault, of course (Shi Smith and Ian Thomas each dropped passes), but one play — a third-and-1 pass Mayfield fired to the ceiling of his intended target’s catch radius, producing an incompletion — effectively explained the entire afternoon for Mayfield and the Panthers. Carolina has struggled in the first halves of each of its two games, then discovers a temporary rhythm in the second half before ultimately allowing the moment to overwhelm it. Christian McCaffrey was more involved this time around, but it still wasn’t enough to secure a win, and the Panthers lost the time-of-possession battle by a significant margin for a second straight week. The kinks remain in this group.The Brian Daboll-led Giants are…fun? New York’s new regime has breathed new life into the organization, and even if the team’s talent level isn’t yet where the club would like it to be, the Giants certainly play with passion. New York forced two turnovers, including a fumble on the opening kickoff, and caused plenty of problems for Mayfield and the Panthers with a combination of creative blitzes and timely plays on the ball all afternoon. Carolina was clearly frustrated by the Giants by the end of the game, and Matt Rhule’s decision to punt just outside the two-minute warning ended up standing as a small sign of surrender, even if the logic made sense in the moment. The reason, of course: The Giants refused to give the ball back, punctuating a hard-fought win by finishing the game on a strong note. These Giants might look different a year from now, but they’re already playing like they believe — and New York seems ready to embrace them.Next Gen stat of the game: New York’s defense improved dramatically in the second half Sunday, going from an 18.5 pressure percentage in the first two quarters to 49.2% in the final two periods.
NFL Research: The Giants have started 2-0 for the first time since 2016. In that season, New York finished with an 11-5 record. It was also the last time the Giants reached the playoffs.