The National Football League once again delivered in Week Two with some mesmerising contests which kept fans on the edge of their seats.
Half of the 16 games were decided by a margin of five points or fewer — including two games that were won by a single point.
As always in the NFL, there were both spectacular individual performances and those that didn’t match the hype. Below, we run the rule over the winners and losers from another thrilling weekend of action.
Lamar Jackson and the Baltimore Ravens defeated the Kansas City Chiefs 36-35 on Sunday night, with Jackson clinching a first win over opposing quarterback Patrick Mahomes in four attempts.
Mahomes had won the previous three meetings between the two former league MVPs, and a fourth looked likely when the Chiefs led 35-24 heading into the final period.
3 total TDs.
1st win over the Chiefs.
— NFL (@NFL) September 20, 2021
Jackson, who had previously described the Chiefs as his ‘Kryptonite’, rushed for two fourth-quarter touchdowns and then converted a crucial fourth down to seal the comeback win.
Mahomes had once again been in scintillating form, throwing for 343 yards and three touchdowns. Tight end Travis Kelce was the main beneficiary, catching seven balls for 109 yards and a score.
The Baltimore rushing attack, which amassed 251 yards and three touchdowns through a combination of Jackson, Ty’Son Williams, Latavius Murray and Devonta Freeman, benefitted from some stellar blocking by the powerful Ravens offensive line.
But it is Jackson who will take the plaudits for his fourth-quarter heroics, which handed Mahomes the first ever September loss of his pro career.
The Wests (AFC and NFC)
It was another weekend where the West divisions demonstrated their strength. The AFC and NFC Wests are now a combined 13-3 after the opening two rounds of NFL action.
Kansas City, Seattle and the LA Chargers were the teams to lose out on Sunday. The Chiefs lost that thriller to the Ravens, Seattle fell at the hands of the Tennessee Titans in overtime and the Chargers were beaten by a last-second Dallas Cowboys field goal. The trio lost by a combined deficit of just sevent points.
Las Vegas, Denver, San Francisco, Arizona and the Los Angeles Rams all maintained their 100% starts to the season. The Raiders upset the Steelers in Pittsburgh and the Broncos topped the Jaguars in Jacksonville in the AFC. In the NFC, the 49ers handled Philadelphia in a hard-fought contest, the Cardinals secured a one-point win over Minnesota and LA outlasted Indianapolis to maintain their 2-0 starts.
In Week Three we’ll get our first AFC West matchup of the season, and it’s between two 1-1 teams — the Chargers and the Chiefs. A divisional loss in that one could be catastrophic for either team.
Two weeks into the 2021 NFL season, and 44-year-old Brady – the 199th overall pick of the 2000 NFL Draft – leads the league in touchdown passes and has the defending Super Bowl champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers at the top of the NFC South with a 2-0 record.
Brady (above) leads the NFL with nine passing touchdowns through eight quarters, is fifth in passing yards and top 10 in passer rating. The Bucs offense leads the league in points per game (39.5) and is fifth in passing yards per game (319.0).
Brady is throwing the ball with the same velocity and accuracy he did in his mid-20s and has shown no signs of slowing down. The likes of Peyton Manning and even Drew Brees showcased diminishing arm strength in the final years of their careers, something we are yet to see in Brady. Mind-blowing stuff.
A 48-point, five-touchdown blitz against division rivals Atlanta on Sunday was the latest in a long line of phenomenal performances put forth by the GOAT.
How much longer can he maintain this level? A report earlier this week suggested he believes he will still be able to compete in the NFL at 50.
In our Five Storylines of Week Two piece, we discussed whether Tennessee Titans running back Derrick Henry could return to form against the Seattle Seahawks — and didn’t he just.
The former Alabama powerhouse carried the rock 35 times in the 33-30 overtime victory, rushing for 182 yards and three touchdowns. He also added six receptions for 55 yards through the air.
All three Henry touchdowns came in the second half with his team behind in the contest and hampered by a makeshift offensive line. Star tackle Taylor Lewan was a late scratch from the lineup after suffering a niggle in warm-up, before guard Rodger Saffold and center Ben Jones were both hurt once the game got under way.
That was not enough to stop the 2019 and 2020 NFL rushing leader, who ran in scores from nine yards, 60 yards and one yard as the Titans recovered from deficits of 24-9 at the half and 30-16 early in the fourth.
Green Bay Packers’ running back Aaron Jones carried the load in their 35-17 divisional victory over the Detroit Lions at Lambeau Field on Monday Night Football.
Jones rushed for 67 yards and a touchdown on ground, adding six receptions for 48 yards through the air — including three further touchdown grabs.
The Lions had no answer for the former UTEP Miner who was ultimately the difference between the NFC North rivals.
After an embarrassing week one loss to the New Orleans Saints, where Jones managed just 22 total yards, Packers fans – and fantasy football gurus – will be delighted with his output on primetime.
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New York Giants
The 0-2 New York Giants clutched defeat from the jaws of victory on Thursday Night Football against the Washington Football Team in a 30-29 heartbreaker.
Washington kicker Dustin Hopkins missed a game-winning field goal in the dying embers of the contest, only for Giants’ defensive tackle Dexter Lawrence to jump the snap, earning Washington a five-yard penalty.
Hopkins duly kicked the game winner at the second attempt to take the Football Team to 1-1, leaving the Giants winless after the first two games for the fifth successive season.
The big worry, however, should be the performance of the offensive line in the run game. On the surface the Giants rushed for 163 yards, but delve deeper and you’ll see that the bulk of those yards were a result of quarterback Daniel Jones making smart reads rather than the performance of the front five.
Starting running back Saquon Barkley notched just 57 yards on 13 carries — the majority coming on a single 41-yard scamper. The rest of the evening he was hit hard at the line of scrimmage or in the backfield, with Jones carrying the load in the rushing game.
New York needs to improve its run blocking swiftly, or it will be a long season for Barkley and the Giants’ fanbase. Jones won’t be able to rush for 95 yards and a score each week.
The Blue Tent
The dark side of the NFL reared its ugly head on Sunday as several star players suffered injuries which forced them into the blue tent.
Miami Dolphins’ quarterback Tua Tagovailoa suffered a rib injury on a brutal hit from Buffalo Bills’ defensive end AJ Epenesa that forced him out of Miami’s 35-0 defeat. Luckily X-rays have come back negative and he may return next week.
Houston Texans starter Tyrod Taylor injured his hamstring and could miss several weeks, while Indianapolis Colts QB Carson Wentz (above) suffered an ankle injury. Cleveland Browns signal caller Baker Mayfield hurt his shoulder, but later returned. All three could yet play next week.
Chicago Bears quarterback Andy Dalton was replaced by rookie Justin Fields after suffering an ankle injury, a move which may become permanent in the near future.
Philadelphia, meanwhile, saw defensive end and team captain Brandon Graham suffer a season-ending Achilles injury and All-Pro guard Brandon Brooks go down with a chest injury (he could also miss several weeks).
Pittsburgh lost 2020 NFL sack leader T.J. Watt to a groin injury, while fellow defensive lineman Tyson Alualu broke his ankle in the loss to Las Vegas.
Trevor Lawrence and Zach Wilson
It was a tough weekend for the #1 and #2 picks in the latest NFL Draft, with both struggling as their respective teams fell to 0-2 starts.
Trevor Lawrence completed just 14 of his 33 pass attempts for 118 yards, a touchdown and two interceptions as the Jaguars fell behind early against the Denver Broncos.
The former Clemson QB has now thrown five interceptions in his two-game NFL career to date. To put that into perspective, reigning NFL MVP Aaron Rodgers threw just five in the entirety of the 2020 regular season.
Meanwhile, Zach Wilson of the Jets fared even worse against Bill Belichick and the New England Patriots. Wilson completed 19 of 33 passes for 210 yards but also threw four interceptions in a 25-6 reverse at MetLife Stadium.
The former BYU product made some highly questionable throws, including one interception which seemed to have no receiver anywhere near the intended pass.
The Philly Not So Special
Defense pulling out all the stops 😤🛑
— San Francisco 49ers (@49ers) September 19, 2021
Watching Philadelphia try to recreate the fabled ‘Philly Special’ on fourth and goal against San Francisco on Sunday – after to failing to score a touchdown on three downs from the one-yard line – demonstrated a regular problem in the NFL, namely coaches overthinking redzone situations.
The 49ers themselves demonstrated how to convert that situation – QB sneak up the middle – rather than a wide receiver trying to throw to the quarterback and instead throwing the ball away on fourth down.
To try and replicate a play, albeit a memorable one which helped bring a first Super Bowl title to the city of Brotherly Love, was dicing with danger here.
The Eagles had started that drive inside their own five-yard line, had completed a 91-yard pass to set them up in the redzone and were gifted a pass interference penalty to put them in first and goal at the one-yard line. This call cost them dearly in a 17-11 loss.
The NFL, often described as the ‘No Fun League’, has clamped down on ‘taunting’ during the opening two weeks of the 2021 season, with fans and pundits alike exclaiming their displeasure at the swathe of penalties that have been awarded.
Week Two examples of erroneous calls include Texans’ Jordan Akins spinning a ball after catching a pass and Bills’ Levi Wallace signalling an incomplete pass.
Don’t get me wrong, I don’t think any of these actions should have resulted in a penalty, but the latter is the most taunt-worthy of the bunch.