The 40 things we learned from Week 2 of the NFL season:
1. Week 2 means it’s time to roll out those ubiquitous statistics about the chances of making the playoffs after starting 0-2. Sorry to the Cincinnati Bengals, Chicago Bears, New Orleans Saints, Indianapolis Colts, Cleveland Browns, New York Jets, Los Angeles Chargers and San Francisco 49ers, but your odds are now about 12%. Not good.
2. On the other hand, going 2-0 doesn’t necessarily help that much. Since realignment in 2002, 108 of the 180 playoff teams — a full 60% — were 1-1 or 0-2 after two weeks. Don’t celebrate too hard Baltimore Ravens, Carolina Panthers, Pittsburgh Steelers, Kansas City Chiefs, Denver Broncos, Atlanta Falcons and Oakland Raiders.
3. Not to allege any sort of conspiracy here, but the officials in New Orleans sure were quick to change their minds after flagging the New England Patriots for an illegal pick play that resulted in a touchdown at the end of the first quarter. After Tom Brady strongly protested the call, arguing the traffic that sprung Chris Hogan wide open occurred at the line of scrimmage rather than beyond it, officials gave New England the benefit of the doubt and picked up the flag. It looked pretty borderline from here.
4. That play, meanwhile, gave Brady his third touchdown pass — something he had never done in the first quarter of any previous NFL game, regular season or postseason. (He’s thrown five TDs in a quarter before, but not the first quarter.) Even at age 40, he is coming up with new superlatives.
5. Joe Thomas’ Iron Man streak continues as the Browns’ left tackle started his 162nd consecutive game — as much as a baseball season — and went over 10,000 consecutive snaps played. He’s never missed one since being drafted in 2007.
6. Panthers tight end Greg Olsen’s own Iron Man streak is about to end. He hasn’t missed a game since 2007, his rookie year, but went limping off the field in the first half with what turned out to be a broken right foot.
7. Due to Hurricane Irma, Sunday was first game action in 31 days for several key Tampa Bay Buccaneers including receivers Mike Evans, DeSean Jackson, defensive tackle Gerald McCoy and linebacker Kwon Alexander among them. Quarterback Jameis Winston last played Aug. 26 in the team’s third preseason game. The rust didn’t seem to matter, as Tampa Bay cruised to a 29-7 win over the Chicago Bears.
8. It’s pretty clear Bears coach John Fox has little interest in playing rookie quarterback Mitch Trubisky at this point. Chicago looked hopelessly bad on offense against Tampa Bay, and even though Mike Glennon completed 31 of 45 passes for 301 yards — good numbers on paper — more than half of his yardage (166) came on the final three drives when Chicago trailed 29-0. He also threw two interceptions (one for a pick-six) and coughed up a fumble.
9. In lieu of giving garbage time reps to Trubisky, at least Chicago avoided a shutout, scoring a touchdown with 1:43 left. Congrats to Fox on that forward-thinking decision.
10. Does anyone have a clue what Mike Zimmer was thinking with a horribly executed fake punt from his own 36-yard line on the Minnesota Vikings’ first possession of the second half? He owes a huge thanks to his defense for stepping up and holding the Pittsburgh Steelers to a field goal, which gave them a 17-3 lead. Still, it was a bizarre call in that situation.
11. On Thursday night, the Bengals became first team since 1939 to open with two home games and failed to score TD in either of them. It’s no coincidence offensive coordinator Ken Zampese has already been fired.
12. Steelers receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster got his first career TD off a little shovel pass on the goal line, which could be the first of many for the former Southern Cal star. The best part of that play, however, came afterward when he kneeled down along with three of his teammates and celebrated with a mock dice game. Genius.
13. With DeShone Kizer forced out of the Browns’ game against the Ravens in the second quarter due to a migraine, second-year pro Kevin Hogan came in and became the eighth different Cleveland quarterback to throw a touchdown since the start of 2015. Hogan quickly came back to earth, however, throwing an interception and finishing 5-for-11 for 118 yards. Maybe there’s a reason the former Stanford QB got cut by the Chiefs last year after they drafted him in the fifth round.
14. The Falcons offense seems like it’s starting to hit its stride behind new OC Steve Sarkisian, but that defense still needs to learn how to close out a game.
15. The Ravens defense has now snagged eight interceptions this season from six different players. Rookie linebacker Tyus Bowser, a second-round draft pick out of Houston, was the newest player to get in on the action, recording both his first career sack and interception on Sunday. Lardarius Webb and Brandon Carr both got their second interceptions of the season.
16. Baltimore will need its defense to continue being dominant because their offense is in pretty rough shape with injuries. The Ravens’ bad luck continued as six-time Pro Bowl guard Marshal Yanda suffered an ankle injury that will end his season, according to John Harbaugh. Brutal loss.
17. According to Arizona Cardinals sideline reporter Paul Calvisi, Bruce Arians was asked at halftime in Indianapolis why Arizona’s offense wasn’t clicking. His response was short and to the point: “Quarterback.” Following a rough Week 1 performance, it was fair to worry about Carson Palmer. But the Cardinals showed some signs of life in the second half, coming from behind for a 16-13 overtime victory. Palmer finished with 332 passing yards on 19-of-36 attempts with a touchdown and interception.
18. Phil Dawson’s 30-yard field goal for Arizona in overtime was the 14th game-winner of his career, and it came after he missed a 42-yarder at the end of regulation. He and Indianapolis kicker Adam Vinatieri remain the only players in the NFL who were active in the 1990s.
19. Don’t blame Buffalo Bills rookie receiver Zay Jones, a second-round pick out of East Carolina, for being unable to haul in a probable game-winning touchdown at Carolina. Though he dove to get his fingertips on it and could have possibly brought it in, Tyrod Taylor needs to make a better throw there.
20. The good news for Carolina is a 2-0 start. The bad news is Cam Newton missed a lot of practice time this preseason after his shoulder surgery, and it shows. He’s still trying to find a rhythm, as the Panthers could only muster three field goals against the Bills. Newton admitted after the game he missed some “layups.”
21. The Saints are 0-2 for the fourth straight season. With that awful defense, maybe it’s time to bring the paper bags back to the Superdome.
22. The Kareem Hunt hype train isn’t slowing down. Following his 17-carry, 148-yard rushing debut against New England, the Chiefs’ rookie running back came back with another solid game, rushing for 81 yards on 13 carries. He scored two touchdowns, including the knockout blow of the Philadelphia Eagles with 2:14 left, finishing off a drive where he got four straight touches in the red zone.
23. Most of Hunt’s production came on one 53-yard burst, and he became just the third player in NFL history have touchdown runs of more than 50 yards in each of his first two games. The most recent was Alan Ameche in 1955.
24. Leonard Fournette, on the other hand, didn’t have as much luck backing up the 100-yard rushing effort in his rookie debut for the Jacksonville Jaguars. Fournette finished with just 40 yards on 14 carries against the Tennessee Titans, a box score reminiscent of his college games against Alabama.
25. Indianapolis quarterback Jacoby Brissett was 8-for-8 targeting tight end Jack Doyle. He was 12-for-29 targeting everyone else.
26. Philip Dorsett, the player Brissett was traded for, finally made an impact in New England. After putting up zeroes in the season opener, he had three catches for 68 yards.
27. Atlanta opened the roof at its $1.5 billion dollar Mercedes-Benz Stadium for the Falcons’ home opener Sunday night. That’s quite an achievement given the construction difficulties and delays the architects encountered due to the complexity of the roof, which has eight retractable panels that are supposed to move in unison. The first seven events in the stadium all took place with the roof closed.
28. Things weren’t quite as exciting at 27,000-seat StubHub Center, the temporary soccer venue in Los Angeles where the Chargers are currently playing. Before the game, an airplane dragged a banner near the stadium that read: “Worst owner in sports? Dean Spanos, pay your rent!”
29. Welcome back, Aaron Donald! After ending his holdout for a new contract last week, the Los Angeles Rams brought back their star defensive tackle, and he didn’t look like he was too far behind despite the missed practice time. Donald wasn’t exactly dominant, but he did have a tackle for loss to start the second half and flashed some speed.
30. On a day of several coaching reunion games — including Bruce Arians/Chuck Pagano and Hue Jackson/John Harbaugh — Andy Reid ran his career record to 8-3 against former assistants. This time Philly’s Doug Pederson, who was on Reid’s staff in Kansas City, came out on the losing end.
31. Bill Belichick said the Patriots had “communication issues” with their headsets at the Superdome. To which every NFL coach and coordinator who’s ever played at New England cackled and said, “About time.” Gillette Stadium is infamous for problems that only seem to affect the headsets of the Patriots’ opponents. Steelers coach Mike Tomlin complained when their radios went out after the 2015 season opener and said that was “always the case” when they played at Foxborough. Coaches have said it does occur at other stadiums, but why ruin a good conspiracy theory?
32. Chargers pass rusher Melvin Ingram was asked this week what kind of problems Miami Dolphins quarterback Jay Cutler presents. His answer? “None.” That didn’t turn out to be accurate. Cutler, who came out of his brief retirement to play for the Dolphins, got the last laugh in a 19-17 victory. He was really good in his “comeback” debut, completing 24-of-33 for 230 yards and a touchdown.
33. After Miami’s first touchdown, receiver Kenny Stills copied LaDainian Tomlinson’s teardrop touchdown celebration in front of Chargers fans. It’s unclear, however, how effective the imitation was given the game was played in Los Angeles as opposed to San Diego. Tomlinson was presented with his Hall of Fame ring earlier.
34. If the Rams can’t get Todd Gurley going in the running game, might as well use him as a receiver. Gurley was pretty effective catching the ball out of the backfield with an 18-yard touchdown reception and a 28-yard catch earlier. Los Angeles just isn’t getting great push from its offensive line, and Gurley was bottled up for the most part when the Rams handed it off.
35. What a superb moment in Los Angeles, as Antonio Gates caught his 112th career touchdown pass with 8:18 remaining in the third quarter, setting an NFL record for tight ends. Gates is now sixth overall in touchdown receptions after passing Tony Gonzalez.
36. The 49ers’ offensive futility is something to behold. After scoring just three points in their opener (with 217 total yards), they couldn’t find the end zone against Seattle either in a 12-9 loss.
37. Is Cordarrelle Patterson a running back now? Maybe part time, at least. The Raiders, who picked up Patterson in free agency this year, found an interesting way to use the multi-dimensional speedster, putting him in the backfield at times and getting a 43-yard touchdown run against the Jets. Could be something useful going forward.
38. Gerald Everett, the Rams’ second-round pick out of South Alabama, looks like a potential star. The 6-3, 245-pound tight end flashed big-time against the Washington Redskins with three catches for 95 yards before suffering a thigh injury. Everett is a great story: An unheralded high school recruit who went to community college, then UAB right before the program shut down and then finally South Alabama. He’s going to be a big-time receiving threat for Jared Goff.
39. This was the second three-touchdown day of Michael Crabtree’s career and second consecutive season he’s done it for Oakland. He also did it Oct. 2 last year against the Ravens.
40. Rookie kicker Younghoe Koo, who has emerged as a terrific story coming out of South Korea and Georgia Southern, is already 0-for-2 on last-second opportunities to either win or tie games for the Chargers. His 44-yarder last week against the Broncos to send the game to overtime was blocked. Sunday, he just flat missed the game-winner vs. Miami from 44 yards, sailing it wide right.
PHOTOS: Week 2 NFL action
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