More fireworks ahead in NFL’s Week 3
Vail, CO Colorado
Week 2 of the NFL had a few incredible shootouts ” including a gutsy call by The Mastermind ” and eight ” yes, eight ” fourth-quarter comeback victories.
Among the headlines of the week were New England’s downing of the New York Jets despite having a quarterback with 253 fewer career starts than his counterpart, Denver (controversially) outlasting San Diego in a thriller in which the two teams combined for 942 yards of total offense and 77 points, and a shootout on Monday night that saw Dallas hold off Philadelphia late to win 41-37 at home.
These tremendous rivalry games gave us a promising glimpse of the battles that are sure to come, as teams jockey for position in airtight divisional races.
At Mile High
While Week 2 saw multiple exciting games go down to the wire, none could quite match the 39-38 Denver victory over the AFC West favorite Chargers. For even the most serious NFL fan, this game had anything and everything that one could ever want from a football game.
It featured a classic division rivalry, plenty of back-and-forth scoring, and a multitude of big plays. While the Broncos managed to put up 31 first-half points, the Chargers fought back with 21 second-half points to take the lead in the fourth quarter. The Broncos held the ball for 34 of the game’s 60 minutes, but the Chargers managed four plays of 48 yards or more (three went for touchdowns), including a 103-yard kickoff return touchdown and a 66-yard touchdown reception by the Bolts’ backup running back Darren Sproles.
The game had controversy as well, as two plays that preceded Denver touchdowns may have been incorrectly called due to an equipment malfunction and an errant whistle. And to top it all off, after scoring what should have been the game tying touchdown, head coach Mike Shanahan rolled the dice and won big on the two-point conversion, securing victory in the game’s final minute.
With the stunning defeat, the Chargers became the first team in NFL history to lose its first two games of a season after leading each with fewer than 30 seconds remaining in the game.
At Big D
This last-second triumph however, was not the only high scoring thriller that came down to the game’s final minutes. In a matchup of two of the league’s most impressive Week 1 teams, Philadelphia traveled to Dallas for a Monday night game that would prove to be quite memorable. While Philadelphia maintained a slight edge throughout the first half, Dallas continued to put up points and stay close as the Eagles kept scoring as well.
The Cowboys executed multiple big plays, including a 72-yard touchdown catch by Terrell Owens and a 98-yard kickoff return touchdown by Felix Jones, each in the first quarter. Despite scoring 37 points, Philadelphia’s offense was somewhat inefficient, being forced to kick field goals on three separate drives after penetrating the Cowboys’ 30-yard-line.
But for all the offense in the game, it was the Dallas defense that took them to victory, as they forced a punt and a turnover on downs out of the Eagles’ offense in the final five minutes.
Houston’s game at home against Baltimore was postponed until Week 10 due to the onset of Hurricane Ike…
The NFC East teams have a league best 6-2 combined record after two weeks of the season, with the only two losses coming in games amongst themselves (Giants over Redskins in Week 1, Cowboys over Eagles in Week 2). …
Brett Favre’s first interception since leaving Green Bay came in the third quarter of Sunday’s game against New England to safety Brandon Meriweather. …
Kansas City used three different quarterbacks against Oakland on Sunday, a game that starter Brodie Croyle sat out with a separated shoulder; the combined quarterback rating of the three was 45.18. …
If not for late game heroics by Indianapolis, the Colts would have gone 0-2 to start the season for the first time since 1998.
Most Impressive Team: Dallas Cowboys
Though they allowed 37 points at home, America’s Team managed to uncharacteristically win a dogfight and stop the Eagles’ potent offense on two key possessions late in the fourth quarter.
Best Offensive Performance: Denver Broncos
Sure, Jay Cutler had a monster week and Denver scored 39 points. But what really shows the strength of this offense is Mike Shanahan’s willingness to put the game in Cutler’s hands rather than risk losing a coin toss to start overtime.
Best Defensive Performance: Tennessee Titans
The Titans put the clamps down on Cincinnati’s high-powered offense, holding Carson Palmer to a quarterback rating of 41 and allowing just 215 total yards and 7 points.
Fantasy Stud of the Week: Anquan Boldin, Arizona Cardinals
Boldin caught two of his three touchdowns in the first 10 minutes of the game (one for 79 yards) and finished with six catches for 140 yards and those three scores.
Rookie of the Week: Darren McFadden, Oakland Raiders
Oakland’s fourth-overall pick in the 2008 draft ran for 164 of the Raiders’ 300 rushing yards and found the end zone once for his first career touchdown.
Here are your games to watch as Week 3 approaches:
New Orleans at Denver
While New Orleans lost to Washington late in last week’s game, the Saints’ high-powered offense should meet with that of the Broncos to produce yet another wild shootout. I see both teams scoring at least 30 points and Denver to come out on top late in the fourth quarter at home.
Jacksonville at Indianapolis
This game pits two AFC South rivals against each other after uninspiring starts to promising seasons. The team that pulls it together could find themselves at or around the top of a very difficult division, while the loser could wind up three games out of the division lead. I like the Colts to regain some of their offensive rhythm and win by 10 or more against Jacksonville and their struggling offensive line.
Dallas at Green Bay
In a rematch of two of the NFC’s best teams last year, Aaron Rodgers will see his first time as a starter against the abundantly talented Cowboys. Dallas has owned the Packers of late, winning 10 out of their previous 12 meetings, and will look to continue that streak on Sunday night at Lambeau Field. I expect Aaron Rodgers to be hit a few times by DeMarcus Ware, and for the Cowboys to win a high scoring game by at least 14 points.
Pittsburgh at Philadelphia
In what I predict to be a preview of Super Bowl XLIII, two teams that have looked very good to start the season clash in an all-Pennsylvania battle. While both teams can move the ball effectively, as well as play tough defense, Pittsburgh’s measly 10 points against a mediocre Browns defense is not a good sign. I believe the Steelers will have a shot to tie the game at some point in the fourth quarter, but the Eagles will salvage a single digit victory.
Last week’s record: 3-1
A senior and soccer player at Battle Mountain, Davey DeChant spends what’s left of his time preparing for a future career as an NFL analyst.
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