No position in football is more important than the QB position. That's why when an offense is struggling, the QB is usually the first one to take the blame. On Sunday, Vince Young, Matt Moore, Jason Campbell, David Garrard, and Derek Anderson were all pulled from the game for at least one series even though they weren't injured. All told, 8 back-up QB's saw playing time on Sunday because of injuries or ineffective play. Most of the original starters will be back as their teams starting QB's for week 3, but Moore and Trent Edwards have already been informed that they're going to be replaced by Jimmy Clausen and Ryan Fitzpatrick for this coming Sunday.
But not every team has that problem. So it seems only appropriate that we get this started with the game that featured 2 QBs from the NFL's first family.
Unlike Manning Bowl I, Manning Bowl II was a colossal dud. The Colts jumped out to a 24-0 halftime lead and cruised on in for the easy victory. Peyton Manning was a very efficient 20 of 26 for 255 yards and 3 TDs. Eli Manning, on the other hand, wasn't nearly as good. His final stat line of 13/24, 161 yards, 2 TDs, 1 interception, was greatly padded late in the game when it was already over. His first half number tell the real story. He completed only 3 of his 8 passes for 17 yards and 1 interception. He was also mercilessly pummeled throughout for 4 sacks, 6 QB hits, and 3 fumbles, 2 of which he lost. But Peyton had only supportive things to say about his younger brother after the game. "I'm proud of him and I love him," he told reporters. Which is a little like consoling your son after he loses a Pop Warner game by saying, "It's OK. You did your best. That's all that matters."
The Vikings are starting to realize what savvy football fans have known for some time. There's no way in hell Brett Favre will put up numbers this season similar to what he did last season. Favre had arguably his best season ever last year when he threw 33 TD's to only 7 interceptions. Counting fumbles, he only turned the ball over 9 times all of last season. His previous low was 19 turnovers. On Sunday Favre completed 22 of 36 passes for 225 yards, but also threw 3 interceptions and fumbled another time in the end zone that was recovered by Koa Misi that put the Dolphins up 14-0 with 6:29 left in the 3rd. The Vikings were able to come back, but on 4th and goal from the 1, the Dolphins stopped Adrian Peterson cold and were able to hold on for the win. "It was more what we didn't do than what they did," Favre said. "But I give those guys credit." Umm, only it sounds like he's not.
Cardinals 7, Falcons 41
Michael Turner was looking like his old self, caring the ball 9 times for 75 yards before leaving the game in the second quarter with a grion injury. No problem, in stepped Jason Snelling who kept the ground game rolling, with 24 carries for 129 yards. All together, the Falcons rushed for 221 yards. "Anybody can fill in like that if the tackling isn't there," Darnell Dockett told a reporter. "Even you could." The Cardinals lone TD came on an 80 yard TD run by Tim Hightower. Derek Anderson was so ineffective that he was pulled late in the 4th in favor of Max Hall who promptly threw an interception on his second pass. After the game Rody White explained why a team that was held without a TD in week one could roll up 41 points in week two, "I think Pittsburgh is a lot better defensively than the Arizona Cardinals." Truer words were never spoken.
All the hype for the Bengals going into the season was focused on Batman and Robin, Terrell Owens and Chad Ochocinco, but on Sunday the hero was the unassuming Mike Nugent. Nugent went 5 for 5 in FG opportunities and provided all the offense the Bengals would need to win their 8th straight division game. After a 38 yard FG by Billy Cundiff with 5:46 left in the game, the Ravens were hoping for their second straight 10-9 victory, but Bernard Scott returned the ensuing kickoff 60 yards to set up Nugent's go ahead FG. A few plays later, Branden Johnson intercepted Joe Flacco's tipped pass and returned it to the 11 yard line setting up Nugent's final FG. "It's a tough one for me," Flacco said later. "Turning the ball over four times is tough. You don't like feeling responsible for why we didn't win the game." Don't worry, Favre knows how you feel.
On November 15, 2009, the KC Chiefs got their second win of the season. It only took them until September 19th to accomplish the same feat this year. Seneca Wallace filled in for an injured Jake Delhomme who was out after someone in a ski mask, that look suspiciously like Eric Mangini, hit Delhommein the ankle with a lead pipe. Wallace played decently, completing 16 of his 31 passes for 229 yards, but it was his one mistake that cost the Browns the game. Bradon "I love" Flowers intercepted Wallace in the second quarter and returned it for the Chiefs only TD. The Chiefs were feeling so good, they even went for it on 4th and 1 on the Browns 36 with 2 minutes left in the game rather than punt it. Thomas Jones carried the ball and was just able to get the first down by the nose of the ball, allowing the Chiefs to run out the clock. But that does beg the question, are the officials really able to accurately spot the ball within an inch of the true spot? Just one of those things that make you go, "Hmmm".
Jay Cutler led the NFL in interceptions last season with 26. After 2 games this season, Cutler has only thrown 1 and it's a big reason the Bears are off to a 2-0 start. The Cowboys, on the other hand, are off to their first 0-2 start since 2001. It was a back and forth game throughout but the Cowboys OC, Jason Garrett, decided to help the Bears defense by forgetting they had running plays in their playbook. After rushing for 30 yards in the first quarter, the Cowboys only rushed for 6 yards the rest of the game. The Cowboys offense also kept finding ways to kill drives with 3 turnovers and 4 offensive penalties. "The best thing I can do right now is not knee-jerk," Jerry Jones said afterwards. I'm sure there's a joke there somewhere, but I just can't think of it.
It's been almost 4 years since Michael Vick's last NFL start and he made the most of it. Vick completed 21 of his 34 passes for 284 yards and 2 TD's. With the Eagles leading 35-17 and only 6:17 left in the game it looked like they would cruise in for an easy victory, but these are not the same Lions from a couple of years ago. Led by the outstanding play of Jahvid Best, who had a combined 232 yards from scrimmage and 3 TD's, the Lions cut the lead to 3 and even recovered their on-side kick with 1:48 remaining. But that's where the magic ended. The Lions weren't able to get a single yard in 4 plays and the Eagles were then able to run out the clock. Although Vick played great, Andy Reid continuous to insist that Kevin Kolb will be their starter next week. But he than went on to say, "We've got more plays for him than we did a year ago, so he'll be on the field. It isn't going to be five or six plays this year." No doubt the incredibly patient Philly fans will have no problem watching Kolb take his bumps and lose games while he develops. Let's just hope Reid sticks to his guns at least through week 5 in SF.
Last week the Texans won by pounding the ball on the ground. This week they did it through the air. Matt Schaub threw for 497 yards and 5 TD's and become just the 5th QB ever to complete over 70% of his passes and throw for over 475 yards. Yeah, this was a great team for Matt Leinart to sign with if he was hoping to restart his NFL career. Donovan McNabb was also great, throwing for 426 yards and 1 TD, and even had his Redskins leading 27-10 late in the 3rd. But it was all Texans the rest of the way as they scored 20 unanswered points, including the game wining FG with 3:24 remaining in OT. One Redskin who didn't see the heartbreaking loss was Albert Haynesworth. He was inactive for the game with an injured leg, although the Redskins didn't say which one. I guess they're not very good at lying. Some of the younger Redskin players responded to the news by asking, "When did we get Albert Haynesworth?"
Chan Gailey was brought in as the Bills new head coach this year so he could revive the Bills moribound offense. Well, whatever he's doing it's not working. In their first two weeks the Bills have managed only 166 yards and 186 yards of total offense. Hardly reminiscent of the days of Jim Kelly and Thurman Thomas. Clay Matthews led the Packers defense with 3 sacks, 4 tackles for a loss, and 5 QB hits. Matthews now has 6 sacks in only 2 games. As for the Bills new offensive game breaker, CJ Spiller, he was another no show with 1 carry for 3 yards and 4 receptions for 23 yards. In two games he's managed only 37 yards from scrimmage. Chan Gailey has since announced that Ryan Fitzpatrick will get the start next week at QB. "We're looking for a spark," he said about the change. I guess Trent Edward's 11/18, 102 yards, 0 TD's, and 2 interceptions stat line wasn't the spark he was looking for.
Antonio Brown took the opening kickoff 89 yards for the Steelers only TD and the defense forced 7 turnovers to beat the Titans even though they were down to their 4th string QB, Charlie Batch. The Steelers offense only managed one drive over 28 yards but constantly working with a short field allow Jeff Reed to kick 4 FG's, which was all the offense they needed. Chris Johnson was held to only 34 yards rushing on 16 carries and the Titans offense as a whole managed only 127 yards. It was the first time in 13 games Johnson was held to under 100 yards rushing. About the only mistake the Steelers did make was wearing their black jersey's even though it was the hottest game ever played at LP Field. "They put us in the black jersey thinking that was going to be a mental edge for us," Hines Ward said. "We fought through it." Can we please just stop this nonsense that real men wear black. Men should never wear all black unless their name is Johnny Cash.
Bucaneers 20, Panthers 7
Last time the Bucaneers second year QB, Josh Freeman, played at Bank of America Stadium, he had his worst day as a pro throwing 5 interceptions. What a difference a year makes. Freeman completed 12 of his 24 passes for 178 yards and 2 TD's, but more importantly, 0 interceptions. Just like last week, the Panthers found themselves in a close game at halftime, and just like last week, they couldn't score a single point in the second half. Matt Moore (6/16, 125 yards, 1 TD, 1 Int) was benched in the 4th quarter and Jimmy Clausen was loudly applauded when he took over. Clausen looked a lot more decisive with the ball and immediatelyled the Panthers down to the goal line, but the drive ended when Jonathan Stewert couldn't punch it in. "Matt has not been benched by any stretch," Panthers coach John Fox said in his post game press conference. "We'll go with whoever gives us the best chance to win next week and that will take some time." And by "some time" he means less than 24 hours when he announced on Monday Clausen would be the starter.
After missing all of preseason and last weeks game with an injury, we finally got to see why the Broncos chose Demaryius Thomas over Dez Bryant. Thomas caught 8 of the 9 balls thrown his way for 97 yards and 1 TD. It was impressive enough for most Bronco fans to ask, "Brandon who?". The Broncos forced 3 first half turnovers and jumped out to a 17-0 halftime lead which was all they needed to win. The one bright spot for the Seahawks was the play of their own rookie WR, Golden "You mean these doughnuts aren't free?" Tate. Tate caught a 52 yard pass and had a 63 yard punt return that led to their first score. As for Thomas's early success, he attributes it to one reason, "I knew they didn't have film on me."
The Raiders thought they had finally solved their problems at QB when they signed Jason Campbell. Al Davis even went so far as to compair him to Jim Plunkett. But while JaMarcus Russell managed to last half way through last season before being pulled in favor of Bruce Gradkowski, Campbell couldn't even make it through week 2. And just like last season, Gradkowski provided the spark on offense to get the Raiders the win. It's never pretty, but he seems to get it done. It also helps when he mostly just has to hand the ball off to Darren McFadden who rushed 30 times for 145 yards. Sam Bradford looked a little less impressive this week, completing 14 of 25 passes for 167 yards, 2 TD's, and 1 interception, but he did lead them to an early 7-0 lead before the Raiders responded with 16 unanswered points. As for why Bradford looked more impressive last week, just look at what the Falcons were able to do to the Cardinals defense and I think you'll find your answere.
Looks like after one week of blessed quiet, the loud talking Jets are back. Mark Sanchez and the Jets offense looked light years better than they did last week when they gave new meaning to the word inept. Sanchez completed 21 of 30 passes for 220 yards and 3 TD's and even LaDainian Tomlinson looked like his old self rushing 11 times for 75 yards. The Jets defense was as stout as ever, forcing Tom Brady into 2 interceptions and 1 fumble, while Randy Moss was limited to one great 34 yard TD reception and nothing else. All together, Moss had 10 balls thrown his way, only caught 2 of them for 38 yards, and had 0 receptions in the second half inspite not having to play against Darrelle Revis who injured himself in the second quarter. In fact, the Jets defense caught as many passes thrown to Moss (2) as he caught himself. Moss said after, "The team relied on me to throw me the ball and I just really didn't make the plays in the second half." Maybe that's why you don't have a contract after this season.
All you need to know about this game you can learn by looking at the two starting QB's stat line. Phillip Rivers completed 22 of 29 passes for 334 yards and 3 TD's, plus 2 interceptions, while David Garrard completed 15 of 23 passes for 173 yards and 4 interceptions. In all, the Jaguars turned the ball over 6 times. The Chargers jumped out to a 21-6 halftime lead and the Jaguars were unable to score a TD until the very end of the game with :37 remaining. Garrard was even benched in favor of Luke McCown but had to come back in when McCown got banged up. Garrard was so down afterwards he said, "Honestly, If I could erase my memory form today, I would, but we can't." Luckily for him, the Jags don't have much of a following so not many people would need their memory erased.
The 49ers almost pulled a victory out of the jaws of self inflicted bumbling, but in the end it wasn't enough. The 49ers can't lose the turnover battle 0-4 and expect to win against a team like the Saints. Fortunately, they showed some real heart when the defense made that goal line stand at the end and the offense drove down the field to tie it. Unfortunately, they left too much time on the clock. The one cause for hope in all this is that the 49ers are only down by 1 game with 14 to go and they play in maybe the worst division in the NFL. I guess you have to take good news wherever you can find it.