San Francisco 49ers 33, Seattle Seahawks 30
What you need to knowSan Francisco 49ers - San Francisco got off to a shaky start and had to overcome eight sacks by the Seattle defense, but the 49ers came up with enough big plays to pull out the win.
QB J.T. O'Sullivan was frequently harassed by the Seattle rush, but he kept his composure and eventually started clicking with his receivers. He threw the ball accurately, avoided turnovers, showed some scrambling ability, and directed six scoring drives. After watching O'Sullivan's performance, we're starting to understand why Mike Martz likes him so much as a QB.
RB Frank Gore busted off a couple of decent runs, but overall, he was pretty well contained by the Seattle front seven (nine of his 19 rushes went for two yards or less). Gore's best run may have been his two yard TD scamper, where he bounced outside and found daylight to the end zone. Gore also made two key catches late in the fourth quarter to set up a field goal try that would have won the game, but Joe Nedney missed.
WR Isaac Bruce was the most targeted 49ers receiver, and all four of his receptions went for 25+ yards. WR Bryant Johnson also came up with several big catches, including a second quarter TD grab that got the 49ers back in the game. WR Arnaz Battle was also active in this game and had a 25 yard reception called back due to penalty. TE Vernon Davis did not have a reception and was targeted only once in the second half, but he did get a couple of red zone looks.
PK Joe Nedney made four field goals, including the game winner in OT, but he missed a potential game winner from 41 yards on the last play of the fourth quarter. Allen Rossum returned all of the Seattle kickoffs and had a 44 yard return that set up the 49er's first scoring drive. The San Francisco defense was not able to put much pressure on QB Matt Hasselbeck, but they did come up with three turnovers, including the highlight reel INT for a TD by LB Patrick Willis that turned the game around.Seattle Seahawks - The Seahawks got off to a quick start and ran the ball effectively, but they were unable to develop much rhythm in their passing attack. They also lost two more WRs to injury--converted QB Seneca Wallace in pregame warmups, and WR Logan Payne early in the first quarter.
QB Matt Hasselbeck often had plenty of time to throw the ball, and his mediocre passing numbers were due more to a lack of experience with his receivers than to a lack of accuracy on his part. Hasselbeck's two INTs came on tipped balls.
RB Julius Jones ran the ball effectively and was also involved in the passing attack. He broke several tackles on his long TD run, and played with a lot of passion and confidence. FB Leonard Weaver also ran with power when he was in the game. RB T.J. Duckett had only two carries but scored on a short TD run in the fourth quarter to tie the game.
WR Billy McMullen was fairly involved in the passing attack and had a 31 yard reception, but he also fumbled on the play. WR Courtney Taylor was not targeted in the first half and seemed an afterthought at times in this game. TE John Carlson was Hasselbeck's favorite target and came up with four 15+ yard receptions.
PK Olindo Mare banged home all three of his field goal attempts. The Seahawk defense pressured J.T. O'Sullivan all afternoon, sacking the 49er QB eight times, and they also forced a fumble by Frank Gore that was returned for a TD by DT Craig Terrill. What killed the Seahawks defense in this game was the big play. They surrendered five receptions for 25+ yards, and another 25 yarder was called back.
What you ought to knowQB J.T. OSullivan, Pass: 20 - 32 - 321 - 1 TD / 0 INT, Rush: 4 - 32 - 0 - O'Sullivan ran for his life in this game and was sacked eight times, but he kept his cool, showed some elusiveness, and came up with a number of big plays. Playing in his first road start in front of a noisy crowd, O'Sullivan fumbled once (which he recovered) and did not throw an INT (he did have one that was negated by a penalty), despite facing constant pressure from the Seattle front seven. He also did a good job spreading the ball around, keeping his top three WRs (Isaac Bruce, Bryant Johnson and Arnaz Battle) involved in the game. O'Sullivan's favorite target was Bruce, and the two clicked for receptions of 27, 63, 30 and 33 yards. Johnson had a 25 yard catch, and Battle also had a 25 yarder that was called back. O'Sullivan made a couple of nice runs, including a 16 yard scramble in the fourth quarter that kept the game-tying drive alive. Mike Martz says O'Sullivan may be the best QB he has ever coached, and we began to see reasons for the high praise in this game.
RB Frank Gore, Rush: 19 - 61 - 1, Rec: 5 - 38 - 0 (6 targets) - Gore ended up with decent numbers, but he often had little room to run. Seven of his 19 carries went for a yard or less, and two went for negative yards, including the fumble that resulted in a Seahawks TD. Gore averaged only 3.2 yards per carry, but this was due mostly to a lack of effective blocking up front. The Seahawks attacked the line of scrimmage all afternoon, and the average 49er offensive line frequently did not have an answer. Gore did have six red zone carries, and he also came up with two big catches late in the fourth quarter that set up Nedney's failed field goal attempt that would have won the game.
RB DeShaun Foster - Foster did not have a carry in this game.
WR Bryant Johnson, Rec: 6 - 78 - 1 (7 targets) - Johnson caught all but one pass thrown his way, including the three yard TD reception in the second quarter that got the 49ers back in the game. Four of his receptions went for over ten yards.
WR Isaac Bruce, Rec: 4 - 153 - 0 (11 targets) - As the numbers show, Bruce was a huge factor in this game. He was targeted four times in the red zone, and his four catches went for 27, 63, 30 and 33 yards. Bruce also had a rushing attempt that was negated by penalty. All of this came as a big relief to Bruce's fantasy owners, who were worried after he was shut out last week.
WR Arnaz Battle, Rec: 4 - 44 - 0 (7 targets) - Battle was as active as Johnson in this game, especially noteworthy considering he is the #3 receiver. Battle would have finished with better numbers, but he had a 25 yard reception in the first quarter that was negated by a penalty.
WR Josh Morgan, Rec: 1 - 8 - 0 (2 targets) - The rookie Morgan caught the first pass thrown his way, but he failed to reach out for a catchable ball in the end zone in the second quarter and was not heard from again.
TE Vernon Davis (4 targets) - Davis had a quiet game. He never seemed to be open, and O'Sullivan threw to him only once after halftime.
PK Joe Nedney 4 - 5 FG, 3 - 3 XP, 15 points - Nedney made all his PATs and missed only one of his five field goal attempts, but the miss came on the last play of the fourth quarter and would have won the game. Nedney redeemed himself by kicking a 40 yard FG in overtime to win the game. He made another mistake late in the second quarter when his kickoff went out of bounds, which set up a Seahawks scoring drive to conclude the half.Matt Hasselbeck, Pass: 18 - 36 - 189 - 0 TD / 2 INT, Rush: 1 - 12 - 0 - Considering the injuries to his depleted receiving corps (two more lost in this game), Hasselbeck's performance was pretty good, despite the poor numbers. He had eyes for rookie TE John Carlson, who seemed open all day over the middle. Hasselbeck also connected with the recently signed WR Billy McMullen for a nice 31 yard grab, though McMullen promptly coughed up the ball. Both of Hasselbeck's INTs came on tipped balls, which were obviously not his fault. He also had a 12 yard scramble late in the fourth quarter.
RB Julius Jones, Rush: 26 - 127 - 1, Rec: 3 - 14 - 0 (7 targets) - Jones struggled early, gaining two yards or less on four of his first five carries, but he exploded through 49ers arm tackles to score on an electrifying 27 yard run (first score of the game), which fired up the team and give Jones a jolt of confidence. He ran with some swagger after this and averaged 4.9 yards per carry on the day. Jones had three red zone carries and was also pretty involved in the passing game. He is so the man now in this offense, and it's obvious the Seahawks will rely on him heavily until RB Maurice Morris regains his health.
RB Leonard Weaver, Rush: 5 - 27 - 0 (2 targets) - Weaver ran effectively when he spelled Jones, averaging over five yards per carry. He had one red zone carry, and was thrown to twice but did not have a catch.
RB T.J. Duckett, Rush: 2 - 3 - 1 - Duckett didn't see much action in this game, though he did score on a short run in the fourth quarter to tie the game.
WR Billy McMullen, Rec: 3 - 48 - 0 (7 targets) - McMullen was out of the league last year and hanging out in Virginia last week when the Seahawks called and eventually signed him to a contract. The 6'4" McMullen was active and fairly productive in this game, even coming up with a nifty 31 yard catch (which he promptly fumbled).
WR Courtney Taylor, Rec: 2 - 20 - 0 (5 targets) - Taylor started but was not targeted in the first half. He suddenly became very active in the third quarter and made a couple of catches, then disappeared again in the fourth quarter.
WR Michael Bumpus, Rec: 2 - 9 - 0 (5 targets) - Bumpus was signed off the practice squad on Saturday and actually started this game. He came up with two short catches.
WR Logan Payne, Rec: 1 - 14 - 0 (1 targets) - Payne had two catches last week and was promoted to starter for this game. He had a nice 14 yard grab in the first quarter but suffered "significant" damage to his knee on the play and had to leave the game.
TE John Carlson, Rec: 6 - 78 - 0 (8 targets) - Carlson was very active and showed good courage going over the middle. He was Hasselbeck's favorite receiving option and came up with three 15+ yard receptions.
PK Olindo Mare 3 - 3 FG, 3 - 3 XP, 12 points - Mare made all of his kicks, including a 51 yard field goal that would have been good from 60 yards, and a 38 yarder on the last play of the first half. He also put two of his kickoffs in the end zone for touchbacks.
SEA Rush Defense - The Seahawks kept Frank Gore from blowing up and did a great job overall defending the run. LB Patrick Willis led the way with eight solo tackles, and he also had an INT that he returned 86 yards for a score.SEA Pass Defense - The Seahawks pass rush put ferocious pressure on J.T. O'Sullivan, sacking him eight times and chasing him all over the field. Rookie DE Lawrence Jackson and veteran DE Patrick Kerney each collected two sacks, and each hit O'Sullivan two other times. Kerney had three other tackles for a loss, so he was an absolute beast in this game. The fatal chink in the Seahawks armor was their inability to stop the big pass play, allowing seven receptions for 15+ yards, and three for 30+ yards.
New York Giants 41, St. Louis Rams 13
What you need to knowNew York Giants - The New York Giants took their road winning streak to St. Louis and came away with a convincing 28 point victory, thanks in large part to their three headed running attack. Brandon Jacobs, Derrick Ward and Ahmad Bradshaw led the way posting 203 combined yards on a slim 28 carries, while Eli Manning did his part throwing for 260 yards and three scores. While receiving the least number of carries among the trio, Ahmad Bradshaw made the most of his time converting two of his six total touches into touchdowns late in the contest.
New York got substantial contributions from veteran receivers Plaxico Burress and Amani Toomer as they each caught a touchdown in the first half and seemed to be very much in synch with their signal caller. Giants quarterback Eli Manning found passing lanes all day, completing 69 percent of his passes while spreading the targets around to eight different receivers.
The Giants defense showed up and made a brutal statement at the hands of the St. Louis Rams. They were able to get to Marc Bulger six times on the day while only giving up 203 total yards of offense, and 13 points. Their aggressive pass rush fittingly got to put the final nail in the coffin as defensive end Justin Tuck knocked down and intercepted a Marc Bulger pass, taking it 41 yards for the score and an insurmountable 34-13 lead.St. Louis Rams - The Rams continued to struggle on all sides of the football as they were outgained by 240 yards and lacked any semblance of a rhythmic offense. Steven Jackson and Torry Holt both improved upon last weeks performances as they caught over half of quarterback Marc Bulger's completions and gained over 60 percent of St. Louis' total yardage.
Jackson fought for a hard four yards per carry as he gained 90 total yards while adding seven receptions from all different positions on the field. Jackson at times would line up wide, next to teammate Torry Holt, who was able to add 76 yards on six grabs, one good for a 45 yard touchdown.
The St. Louis defense struggled for most of the contest, allowing 441 yards of total offense and three scores through the air. Their cornerbacks were no match for the multi-level Giants passing attack and they were unable to put any pressure on Eli Manning, only managing to bring him down twice behind the line of scrimmage. On the ground, their front four was dominated off the ball and no matter whom the ball carrier, they were effective as the Rams gave up 7.25 yards per rushing attempt.
What you ought to knowQB Eli Manning, Pass: 20 - 29 - 260 - 3 TD / 0 INT - Eli Manning had another excellent September start as he completed all but nine passes for 260 yards and three scores. He had time to throw and just picked his way through the secondary, hitting eight different targets, and racking up 26 total first downs in the game. On the second possession of the game, Manning sold a beautiful fake then connected with Plaxico Burress for a 33 yard score, the first of the game. He added two second half touchdown passes as he led the Giants to the second victory of 2008.
RB Brandon Jacobs, Rush: 15 - 93 - 0, Rec: 1 - 2 - 0 (1 targets) - Jacobs started and ran hard between the tackles, wearing down the Rams defense and lowering his shoulder on multiple occasions. He finished with 93 yards on 15 carries while adding a reception out of the backfield. He was a big reason the Giants had ease moving the chains as he consistently broke off big runs and found his way into an overmatched Rams' secondary. Had it not been for a few nice tackles in space by the St. Louis corners, Jacobs would have found the end zone.
RB Derrick Ward, Rush: 8 - 58 - 0, Rec: 1 - 8 - 0 (1 targets) - Ward played well when spelling Jacobs as he carried eight times for 58 yards while contributing a reception for eight yards. He was used to pick up right where Jacobs left off and he did, averaging seven yards per carry and helping the Giants move the chains. The Giants used him well in contrast to Jacobs while his burst through the hole combined with his elusive moves in the open field showed why the Giants trust he can effectively add another dimension to the rushing attack.
RB Ahmad Bradshaw, Rush: 5 - 52 - 1, Rec: 1 - 18 - 1 (1 targets) - Bradshaw saw most of his time late in the game, however made the best of his limited touches as he gained 52 yards on five carries while grabbing an 18 yard touchdown reception. His touchdown was a pretty scamper up the sidelines as he made a defender miss in open space and toed his way to a 31 yard score. His lone target was an effective one as Bradshaw caught a short flare out of the backfield and took it 18 yards to pay dirt for his first receiving score of the season.
WR Amani Toomer, Rec: 6 - 67 - 1 (12 targets) - Toomer was the most targeted Giants player on the day as he converted his 12 targets into six catches for 67 yards and a touchdown. He seemed to be wide open most of the day and had Eli thrown a few balls with a little more touch, Toomer could have had an even bigger day. Toomer showed good speed after the catch as he fought hard after initial contact to gain extra yardage. His touchdown reception came in the third quarter on a 10 yard toss over the middle from quarter back Eli Manning. Toomer extended to bring the ball in on a pass over the middle and was able to secure it for his first touchdown of 2008.
WR Plaxico Burress, Rec: 5 - 81 - 1 (7 targets) - Burress and Manning continued their good rapport as they connected five times for 81 yards and a score. Early in the first quarter Manning found Burress wide open down the middle for a 33 yard score, their first of the season. Burress also had success working the sidelines as Manning found him more than once for successful out routes.
WR Domenik Hixon, Rec: 3 - 60 - 0 (3 targets) - Hixon saw some playing time in multiple wide out sets, catching all three of his targets for 60 yards. He worked field underneath and made a beautiful grab down the sideline to bring in a big 32 yard reception.
WR Steve Smith, Rec: 2 - 19 - 0 (3 targets) - Steve Smith caught two of his three targets for 19 yards, however one was overthrown on a route where he had his defender beat. He played a crucial role in spreading the field and showed good elusiveness after the catch.
TE Kevin Boss (1 targets) - Boss saw one target and did not record a catch in the game.
PK John Carney 2 - 2 FG, 5 - 5 XP, 11 points - Carney made all five of his PAT attempts and added two field goals.
NYG Rush Defense - The New York rush defense was solid yet again and did a good job of forcing Marc Bulger and the Rams into long passing situations. They did just enough to bottle up hard nosed running of Steven Jackson, allowing 53 yards on 13 carries. There were moments that Jackson looked to have open space only to be met by an oncoming defensive back, stopping him for a minimal gain.NYG Pass Defense - The Giants were stellar against the pass yet again as they relied on their pass rush to cause havoc for Bulger and company. Under pressure all day, New York recorded six total sacks and an interception. Their lone interception of the game will be a memorable one as Justin Tuck knocked the ball down at the line of scrimmage, only to find it in his hands before he rumbled 41 yards for the touchdown. Tuck and fellow interior lineman Fred Robbins had solid games as they both contributed two sacks a piece in the rout. QB Marc Bulger, Pass: 20 - 32 - 177 - 1 TD / 1 INT, Rush: 1 - 9 - 0 - Bulger had another rough game as he was only able to complete 20 of 32 passes for 177 yards and a score. He seemingly settled for his third or fourth options in his progressions, being forced to check down most of the day. His lone touchdown pass also seemed to come from no where as Bulger launched a 45 yard strike which was tipped multiple times before dropping into the hands of Torry Holt, lying on his back in the end zone.
RB Steven Jackson, Rush: 13 - 53 - 0, Rec: 7 - 37 - 0 (7 targets) - Jackson was the main beneficiary of a stout Giants defense as he managed to catch all seven of his targets for 37 yards. He was a favorite safety valve for Bulger and showed great hands out of the backfield. Jackson was sometimes lined up wide as a receiver where he was also targeted. On the ground, Jackson ran hard in his limited touches, averaging just over four yards per carry. He had several opportunities in space for big runs but he could not shake the lone defender standing in his way.
RB Antonio Pittman, Rush: 1 - 6 - 0, Rec: 1 - -2 - 0 (1 targets) - Pittman spelled Jackson, carrying the ball once for six yards while adding a reception.
WR Torry Holt, Rec: 6 - 76 - 1 (7 targets) - Holt put up some decent numbers and got a little help in finding the end zone for the first time this season. Targeted seven times Holt managed to haul in six of them for 76 yards and a score. He was Bulgers' first option in passing situations and was effective on his routes. His first touchdown of the season came on a 45 yard deep ball that was in and out of the hands of a Giants defender before falling into Holts arms as he lay in the end zone.
WR Dante Hall, Rush: 1 - 0 - 0, Rec: 2 - 13 - 0 (6 targets) - Hall saw six targets as he grabbed two balls for 13 yards. Most of his targets came very late in the game as the Giants had taken a 21 point lead, however Hall was the primary kick returner and gave the Rams decent field position for most of the day.
WR Dane Looker, Rec: 2 - 29 - 0 (5 targets) - Looker started opposite of Holt and proceeded to catch two of his five targets for 29 yards. He was a clear third option to Bulger and showed very good hands on his two catches, one being an impressive snag as he was heading out of bounds.
TE Randy McMichael, Rec: 2 - 24 - 0 (6 targets) - McMichael saw six targets but was only able to come up with two catches for 24 yards. The big tight end struggled to find any open space against a very physical Giants line-backing core and was unable to find any sort of rhythm with Rams signal caller, Marc Bulger.
PK Josh Brown 2 - 2 FG, 1 - 1 XP, 7 points - Brown connected for two field goals, including a big 54 yard attempt while also knocking his lone PAT attempt through.
STL Rush Defense - The Rams rush defense had no answer for whoever the Giants put on the field. Allowing a total of 203 rushing yards, St. Louis could not contain the inside or the outside as they allowed seven yards a carry on the ground.STL Pass Defense - The St. Louis pass defense was equally as bad, recording no interceptions and allowing three big touchdown passes to three different receivers. There were times where Eli Manning was throwing to wide open targets for big gains, without a Ram in sight. They gave up 26 total first downs and multiple plays of over 20 yards. St. Louis also failed to apply any sort of pressure on Manning as they were only able to bring him down twice behind the line of scrimmage.
Green Bay Packers 48, Detroit Lions 25
What you need to knowGreen Bay Packers - QB Aaron Rodgers was excellent as he regularly slipped away from the Detroit pass rush and hit receiver after receiver downfield, including 60 and 62 yard completions to WR Greg Jennings. While his day was not wholly without adversity, Rodgers never appeared indecisive and was clearly the best QB on the field.
RB Ryan Grant struggled to stay on the field for extended stretches and faded as the game progressed, turning over more and more of the running duties to RB Brandon Jackson. Jackson made the most of his opportunities averaging 8.7 yards on seven carries including a late 19 yard touchdown run.
WR Greg Jennings continued his emergence as a bona fide #1 WR as he not only received the most targets, but was also given plenty of deep-ball opportunities -- two of which he hauled in for a combined 122 yards.Detroit Lions - QB Jon Kitna was under siege all day, and while he managed to post decent yardage and a pair of touchdowns, his three interceptions late in the game ensured that Detroit would go to 0-2 and that his fantasy impact would be minimized.
Due to his team falling behind quickly, RB Kevin Smith was given very few opportunities to shine in the Detroit running attack. The good news for Smith owners was that fellow RB Rudi Johnson did not take any significant playing time away from him.
While WR Roy Williams had a disappointing day due to an early case of the drops, fellow WR Calvin Johnson once again made his case for being considered a top WR option as he burned the Packers defense for two touchdowns and well over 100 yards and emerged as Jon Kitna's favorite target late in the game.
What you ought to knowQB Aaron Rodgers, Pass: 24 - 38 - 328 - 3 TD / 0 INT, Rush: 4 - 25 - 0 - In the first road start of his career, Rodgers displayed just the skills that made the Packers comfortable with letting Brett Favre go. Despite the fact that the Detroit pass rush was able to get pressure on him all day long, Rodgers displayed an impressive ability to escape the rush, buy time, and connect with his receivers downfield. By the end of the first half he had spread the ball to seven different receivers, gone 16 for 20, amassed three touchdowns, over 200 yards, and earned a near perfect QB rating of 150.0. While his second half was not nearly as impressive as his first, Rodgers was still able to recover from two third quarter fumbles (one on a bad snap), regain his composure and capably manage the offense as it was forced to make up for early fourth quarter Packer defensive lapses that allowed Detroit back into the game. Only two of Rodgers' 38 pass attempts appeared in any danger of being intercepted, and while he connected on two 60+ yard passes to WR Greg Jennings, he could have had perhaps two more had he displayed just a little more accuracy.
RB Ryan Grant, Rush: 15 - 20 - 0 - Still nursing a tender hamstring, it was not until game-time that it was decided Grant would play. While he was given a healthy dose of carries early (half of his game total came in the first twenty minutes), and he showed some of the same punch that he displayed last year, Grant seemed to wear down as the game progressed. Whether because of his injury or lack of conditioning, Grant was rarely on the field for more than two or three plays in a row, and when the Packers needed tough yards (including on the goal-line) it was fellow RB Brandon Jackson who got the call. Grant's day ended with a whimper as he only carried once in the fourth quarter, and his final two carries went for a total of -5 yards. Grant was not involved in the Packer passing game.
RB Brandon Jackson, Rush: 7 - 61 - 1, Rec: 1 - 2 - 0 (3 targets) - It was clear early on that the plan was to only have Jackson periodically spell fellow RB Ryan Grant. As the game progressed, however, Grant seemed to tire and lose effectiveness, paving the way for Jackson to get 50% of the second half carries, including four of the five fourth quarter carries when the outcome of the contest was still in doubt. Jackson's play of the day came late in that fourth quarter when he broke free for a 19 yard touchdown scamper that began the Packers onslaught at the end of the game. In the passing game, Jackson did receive some attention, but dropped an easy pass in the fourth quarter that would have given the Packers a first down inside the Lions' ten yard line as they were fighting to regain the lead.
WR Donald Driver, Rec: 7 - 52 - 1 (8 targets) - Despite only being targeted twice in the first half, Driver managed to convert one of those passes into a short TD and ensure a reasonably productive fantasy day. In the second half, it was clear that Driver was being used in more of a possession receiver role, giving up the long routes to fellow wide-outs James Jones and Greg Jennings. Even so, Driver remained a popular target of Packer QB Aaron Rodgers and he almost corralled a second short TD late in the third quarter but could not hold on as he was sandwiched between two Lions defenders.
WR Greg Jennings, Rec: 6 - 167 - 0 (10 targets) - Jennings was clearly QB Aaron Rodgers' favored target in this game as the strong armed QB repeatedly sought him out on long passes downfield. Jennings seemed to have little difficulty getting open against the Lions DBs and hauled in two separate passes for 60+ yards. On the first of these he found a hole downfield and then danced in circles to avoid Lion DB after Lion DB, even if, ultimately, he ended up not adding many yards after the catch. On the second of his long receptions, Jennings took a mid-range pass and raced down the right sideline, outrunning all but one defender.
WR James Jones, Rec: 4 - 29 - 1 (8 targets) - Being the third option in the passing game isn't such a bad thing when you have a strong-armed QB and a coaching staff that is willing to let him try to pick apart a defense. Jones ended the day tied with fellow WR Donald Driver for second in targets with eight, and while he wasn't able to take advantage of the speed downfield that he's capable of, Jones was able to make the most of not having to face the Lions' top DBs to haul in some short to intermediate passes and register Green Bay's first touchdown on the day.
TE Donald Lee, Rec: 2 - 27 - 0 (3 targets) - While Lee only saw three targets on the day, and all of them came in the first half, he was regularly sent on deep routes that sought to take advantage of his size and speed against undersized defenders. Two of his targets were on just these deep routes, and he managed to haul in one of them for 26 of his receiving yards.
PK Mason Crosby 2 - 2 FG, 6 - 6 XP, 12 points - Crosby faced no particularly challenging kicks in this game, and made all of the ones he was asked to make.
GB Rush Defense - Thanks to the early lead that the Packers offense amassed, the Lions were forced away from the running game very early on. As such, the Packers run defense was not asked to do much and managed to hold Lions rookie RB Kevin Smith to only one significant run.GB Pass Defense - From the starting gun, the Packers pass rush was after Detroit QB Jon Kitna and having success. Rarely was Kitna allowed the time to set up and wait for his speedy WRs to get down the field. More often than not he was vacating the pocket and simply attempting to keep the play alive until a receiver came open. Early on this paid off in sacks (Green Bay finished with five on the day) but later in the game, as Kitna sought to avoid those sacks and keep his team in the game, the pressure resulted in three fourth quarter interceptions, two of which were returned for touchdowns. QB Jon Kitna, Pass: 21 - 41 - 276 - 2 TD / 3 INT, Rush: 1 - 7 - 0 - Jon Kitna's day was a roller coaster of ups and downs. He was largely ineffective in the first half as he was regularly subjected to a relentless Packer pass rush that his offensive line seemed unable to control. When he was able to get the ball downfield, his normally sure-handed WRs (chiefly Roy Williams) seemed to drop just as many balls as they caught. In the second half, Kitna's day seemed to turn around as he fired more balls towards WR Calvin Johnson, connecting on two fourth quarter touchdowns (both of which were the result of spectacular plays by Johnson) Kitna's continued attempts to make something happen as the clock wound down ended up fatal to the Lions' chances, however, as he delivered three passes into Packers' hands, two of which were returned for back-breaking touchdowns.
RB Kevin Smith, Rush: 10 - 40 - 0, Rec: 4 - 21 - 0 (5 targets) - While Smith was clearly the go to back in the Lions' rushing attack, Detroit was forced to play catch up for almost the entire game. As a result Smith only saw ten rushing opportunities, and failed to impress on all but one. This sole exception was a nice run that appeared designed to go outside, but that Smith altered when presented with an unexpected hole in the line. One cut later and Smith was 14 yards down the field. In the passing game, Smith managed to haul in four of his five targets, but in each case it was a short check down for QB Jon Kitna.
RB Rudi Johnson, Rush: 1 - 2 - 0 - Due to the Lions falling behind early in the game, their running game quickly became a forgotten facet of the offense. As a result Johnson barely saw the field and finished with only a single rush for two yards.
WR Calvin Johnson, Rec: 6 - 129 - 2 (11 targets) - It was a tale of two halves for Johnson who was targeted only three times in the first two quarters, one of which was an uncharacteristic drop on third and ten. In the second half, however, it was Johnson who almost single handedly brought his team back to take a brief fourth quarter lead. In the final thirty minutes Johnson converted his eight targets into almost 100 yards and a pair of impressive touchdowns. On the first, Johnson was able to reach back and make a juggling grab on a pass from QB Jon Kitna that was slightly underthrown. On the second, Johnson took a five yard pass, evaded three defenders, and turned it into a 47 yard score.
WR Shaun McDonald, Rec: 4 - 27 - 0 (10 targets) - Seemingly the forgotten man in the Detroit passing attack, it is clear that McDonald has a role to play, particularly when his team is down three touchdowns in the early going. With fellow WRs Calvin Johnson and Roy Williams stretching the field and getting most of the attention from the Green Bay DBs, McDonald was targeted regularly underneath, including eight times in the second half. Unfortunately, McDonald was unable to reward QB Jon Kitna's decision to pay so much attention to him, and was rarely willing or able to gain any significant separation from defenders.
WR Roy Williams, Rec: 3 - 48 - 0 (9 targets) - Early in the game, Williams was QB Jon Kitna's favored target, but he was unable to turn that into statistical success. Williams only managed to pull in one of his first five targets, dropping two of the others and coming up just short on a long toss down the left side-line that he might have been able to take all the way had he been hit in stride. Williams' second half was only marginally better, with his one big gain coming on a quick pass in the flat that Williams turned into a 23 yard dash along the sideline. By the fourth quarter, almost all of Kitna's looks were to fellow WR Calvin Johnson on the opposite side of the field, making it difficult for Williams to have anything but a mediocre day.
TE Casey Fitzsimmons, Rec: 3 - 32 - 0 (3 targets) - Fitzsimmons saw one target in each quarter except the third. It would be a mistake, however, to think he was heavily involved in the offense or a regular receiving option. He was primarily used to assist in blocking the relentless Packer pass rush, and when he did release downfield it was on relatively short patterns.
PK Jason Hanson 3 - 3 FG, 2 - 2 XP, 11 points - The seemingly ageless Jason Hanson demonstrated that he still has plenty of leg when in the climate and wind controlled confines of a domed stadium. He easily cleared the crossbar on 49 and 53 yard third quarter field goals and tacked on a 38 yarder for good measure.
DET Rush Defense - While the Lions' rush defense appeared to show up early, no doubt upset over what had happened in week one vs. Atlanta, their initial stiffness would not last. To the extent that Packers starting RB Ryan Grant was held in check, it appeared to be more a result of Grant's sore hamstring than anything the Lions did. Detroit's defensive front was repeatedly manhandled by the Packers offensive line, and while they rarely gave up runs over ten yards, the Lions also rarely got the kind of stop for no gain or negative yards that might have forced Packers QB Aaron Rodgers into less favorable passing situations.DET Pass Defense - While the final stat sheet will not reflect it, the Detroit defensive line was actually able to apply regular pressure on Packers QB Aaron Rodgers. Despite the fact that they were only able to record one sack, the line did force a Rodgers fumble and regularly flushed Rodgers from the pocket, forcing him to throw on the run. Unfortunately for the Lions, their defensive secondary was not nearly as impressive. Detroit's defensive backs were unable to maintain coverage for much longer than a few seconds and regularly gave up medium and long passes on both sides of the field. An example of the Lions' problems was Packers WR Greg Jennings' 62 yard reception early in the second quarter. While allowing the reception in the first place was, of course, a problem, the fact that Jennings was then able to spin his way out of no less than four tackles only compounded it.
Tennessee Titans 24, Cincinnati Bengals 7
What you need to knowTennessee Titans - After dominating the Bengals in windy Cincinnati, the Titans are 2-0 for the first time since their 1999 Super Bowl season. Tennessee's defense continued where it left off and limited the Bengals to 215 net yards. The Titans defense kept the Bengals off the scoreboard for the last 33 plus minutes and held Cincinnati to two second half first downs. Carson Palmer was unable to hit any big plays and was never able to get comfortable as the Titans forced two fourth quarter interceptions.
While the injured Vince Young remained at home, veteran Kerry Collins made his fifth start for Tennessee and the 150th start of his career. Collins was unfazed by the wind gusts that reached up to 60 miles per hour and did a commendable job managing the offense. Collins efficiently ran the team and threw low flying lasers to cut the wind effectively. Most importantly, he made no mistakes.
The Titans offensive line protected Collins well; he was rarely touched and was sacked only once. For the second straight game, rookie speedster Chris Johnson and LenDale White split carries almost evenly. White put in the workmanlike effort with 59 hard fought yards on 18 attempts. Johnson had the better numbers. He finished with 109 yards on 19 carries. 51 of his yards came on a draw play that set up Tennessee's second touchdown. So far, White has been getting the opportunities deep in the red zone. He now has touchdown runs in consecutive weeks.
Justin Gage was Collins' favorite target. Gage contributed five catches for 59 yards and one touchdown.
Craig Hentrich had a punt partially blocked and mishandled a snap. However, he also nailed a 70 yard punt that pinned the Bengals at their two yard line and set up a blocked punt by Keith Bulluck that resulted in a Tennessee touchdown.Cincinnati Bengals - The Bengals' once prolific offense has struggled tremendously so far this season. Through two games, Cincinnati has scored only one offensive touchdown. After averaging over 258 yards passing per game last season, Carson Palmer has now passed for only 228 total yards in two games this season. Unlike Kerry Collins, Palmer struggled to get comfortable throwing in the gusty conditions. He was erratic and missed open receivers throughout the contest. He threw two fourth quarter interceptions and finished with his second worst rating ever.
Cincinnati managed only two first downs in the entire second half.
Chris Perry was effective at times. He finished with 64 yards on 21 carries, including the first rushing touchdown of his career. The touchdown came on a fourth and one play. Perry found a hole and broke one tackle on his way to a 13 yard touchdown.
Chad Johnson caught four passes for 37 yards. Johnson was penalized for holding and offensive pass interference. His counterpart, T.J. Houshmandzadeh, did not catch any passes in the first half. Houshmandzadeh was able to haul in only three balls for 26 yards.
Cincinnati's offensive woes also led to a blocked punt resulting in a Titans touchdown as Kyle Larson had no room to get a punt off and Keith Bulluck blocked it in the end zone.
What you ought to knowQB Kerry Collins, Pass: 14 - 21 - 128 - 1 TD / 0 INT - Collins started for the fifth time in his Tennessee career and the 150th time in his career. He began the game sixteenth on the NFL's all time passing yardage list. Collins needs 90 more passing yard to reach 35,000 for his career. Collins was the better quarterback in this game. He was efficient and mistake free, throwing only one questionable pass during the game. Collins consistently demonstrated his arm strength by throwing lasers through the tropical storm like winds. He threw one touchdown pass to Justin Gage.
RB Chris Johnson, Rush: 19 - 109 - 0, Rec: 2 - 12 - 0 (3 targets) - Johnson's day was hit or miss. Johnson, the fastest man ever timed at the NFL's scouting combine started off slowly gaining only seven yards on his first six attempts. His seventh attempt was a perfect illustration of his speed. He found an opening on a draw play. After he made a defender miss, he was off for a big 51 yard gain. Once into the second level of the defense, Johnson was able to compile nice gains, but LenDale White was more effective on runs up the middle. White and Johnson have split carries almost equally so far.
RB LenDale White, Rush: 18 - 59 - 1 - LenDale White continues to share carries with rookie Chris Johnson. White was the more effective runner between the tackles, while Johnson is more of a home run hitter. White's biggest gain was a 17 yard burst. It was a nice run, but White lacks the speed that could have turned it into a huge gain.So far, White has been the choice of coach Jeff Fisher in carries deep inside the red zone. He now has touchdowns in back to back games and owns nine touchdown runs in his career.
RB Ahmard Hall, Rush: 3 - 9 - 0 - Hall, the fullback, had his first three runs of the season. His second effort enabled him to pick up a key first down on a third and one play.
WR Justin Gage, Rec: 5 - 59 - 1 (7 targets) - Gage was Collins' favorite target on the day and hauled in Tennessee's only touchdown reception. On the play, Gage caught a hitch route at the Cincinnati three and was able to turn up field and reach the end zone.
WR Brandon Jones, Rec: 2 - 26 - 0 (2 targets) - Jones caught both of his targets, including a 19 yard reception that tied for the Titans' longest pass play of the day.
WR Justin McCareins, Rec: 2 - 9 - 0 (5 targets) - McCareins caught only two short passes, but was targeted deep a couple of times.
TE Alge Crumpler, Rec: 2 - 16 - 0 (3 targets) - Crumpler caught two passes. He has yet to become a key cog in the Tennessee passing game.
TE Bo Scaife, Rec: 1 - 6 - 0 (3 targets) - Scaife followed up last week's big game with only one catch for six yards. He was targeted at the goal line, however, and appeared to have been interfered with, but no flag was thrown.
PK Rob Bironas 1 - 1 FG, 3 - 3 XP, 6 points - Bironas nailed his only field goal attempt and all three extra point tries.
TEN Rush Defense - The Titans run defense held the Bengals to 88 yards rushing for a meager a 3.1 yard average. Chris Perry had a 13 yard touchdown run.TEN Pass Defense - Carson Palmer never was able to get on track in this game. The Bengals had only one play longer than 13 yards. It came on a meaningless screen pass at the end of the first half. Kyle Vanden Bosch and Javon Kearse each had a half sack. Kearse forced a fumble on the play. Cortland Finnegan and Michael Griffin had interceptions. The unit also nearly forced a safety when Chris Perry was just able to get out of the end zone on a screen pass. However, when Cincinnati was forced to punt from inside the one yard line as a result, Keith Bulluck was able to get to the punter, block the kick, and recover for a touchdown. The only negative of consequence was the five times The Titans were guilty of being offsides. QB Carson Palmer, Pass: 16 - 27 - 134 - 0 TD / 2 INT - Palmer debuted the 2008 season with his lowest rated game ever (35.2 passer rating). He followed that up with a 41.3 rating against the Titans for his second lowest rating ever. Palmer was never able to get into any real rhythm and struggled with his accuracy. With winds gusting up to 60 miles per hour, Palmer was unable to complete any passes more than 13 yards downfield. (Cincinnati's longest pass play was a 36 yard screen pass to DeDe Dorsey) With the Bengals trailing, Palmer threw two fourth quarter interceptions. The second interception was a high, but probably catchable ball thrown to Reggie Kelly. So far Palmer has been unable to get in sync with his flamboyant pair of star wide receivers.
RB Chris Perry, Rush: 21 - 64 - 1, Rec: 2 - -8 - 0 (2 targets) - Prior to this season, Perry, the oft-injured running back, played in only 22 games during his first four years in the league. He is now the Bengals' feature back. Perry showed some promise during the game. He broke a tackle on the way to the end zone on his 13 yard touchdown run. So far, that run accounts for Cincinnati's only offensive touchdown this year. Perry fumble twice in the game, but the Bengals did not lose possession.Perry is a good receiver and caught two passes that both lost yardage. On his second reception, Perry was almost caught for a safety, but he did a good job of fighting to just get out of the end zone. Despite his ability as a receiver, it seems that Cincinnati plans to use Kenny Watson as the running back in third down passing situations.
RB DeDe Dorsey, Rush: 3 - 10 - 0, Rec: 2 - 49 - 0 (2 targets) - Dorsey played late in each half. He was given three rushing attempts. He led the Bengals in receiving yards with only two receptions (both on screen passes). He took the second one 36 yards for Cincinnati's longest play of the game as time ran out in the first half.
RB Kenny Watson, Rush: 4 - 14 - 0 (2 targets) - Watson had only four rushing attempts. Palmer missed an open Watson on an outlet pass that would have given punter Kyle Larson more room to get his blocked punt off and would have kept the Bengals in the game longer.
WR Chad Johnson, Rec: 4 - 37 - 0 (8 targets) - Johnson was Palmer's most targeted receiver, but only caught four short passes. Johnson was called for holding and pass interference penalties.
WR T.J. Houshmandzadeh, Rec: 3 - 26 - 0 (5 targets) - Houshmandzadeh was not targeted until the second half and has not been a big factor in the passing offense thus far.
WR Antonio Chatman, Rec: 2 - 16 - 0 (3 targets) - Chatman had his first two receptions of the season. Palmer missed him on a couple of other deep attempts.
WR Glenn Holt (1 targets) - Palmer short hopped Holt on what would have been a 16-17 yard gain.
TE Reggie Kelly, Rec: 3 - 14 - 0 (4 targets) - Kelly caught three short passes. Palmer targeted him deep downfield in the fourth quarter, but the pass was high and went off Kelly's fingertips for an interception.
TE Ben Utecht (1 targets) - Utecht was the targeted receiver on the opening play of the game. Palmer led him a little too far and Utecht was unable to gather the pass. He then took a hard hit to his chest and had to be helped off the field. He did not return.
TE Dan Coats (2 targets) - Coats had a three yard reception negated by a penalty.
PK Shayne Graham 0 - 1 FG, 1 - 1 XP, 1 points - Graham, the NFL's active percentage leader, missed his only field goal attempt. The wind caught his kick and flew it into the right upright.
CIN Rush Defense - The Bengals run defense played well for much of the game. However, the unit did allow a Chris Johnson a 51 yard run on a draw play that led to a touchdown that broke a 7-7 tie. The unit was also unable to keep LenDale White out of the end zone and allowed Ahmard Hall to pick up a first down in a short yardage situation.CIN Pass Defense - The Bengals pass defense put almost no pressure on Kerry Collins. Antwan Odom had the only sack. He forced a fumble on the play, but Tennessee recovered. Despite the windy conditions, Collins was able to pass effectively.
Buffalo Bills 20, Jacksonville Jaguars 16
What you need to knowBuffalo Bills - The Bills spread out the Jacksonville defense and launched a balanced attack of 25 passing plays and 26 running plays. Buffalo's defense only allowed two of 11 third down conversions, sacked Garrard twice, and intercepted one pass in the end zone. With the field temperature topping 100 degrees the Bills substituted liberally on both sides of the ball, including offensive lineman. All pro Jason Peters made his first appearance since ending his holdout but was beaten on a key play by rookie Quentin Groves who sacked Trent Edwards and forced a turn over.
Edwards played like a veteran most of the day, making quick decisions, throwing accurate passes, and leading his team to the victory. Backup running back Fred Jackson led the team with seven receptions for 83 yards, mostly on short passes that he turned into big gains. Edwards connected with seven different receivers and earned a QB rating of 119.8. Lee Evans faced strong coverage, but still averaged 19.3 for each of his four receptions.
Marshawn Lynch scored on an 11 yard run up the middle on the Bills' first drive, and continued to run between the tackles all game. He picked up tough yards against a stout defensive line, but he also showed the quickness and speed to bust outside for extra yardage.
Buffalo led at halftime, fell behind in the third quarter, but then rallied to score ten points in the fourth quarter. At 2--0 the Bills are off to their best start in five years.Jacksonville Jaguars - This loss put a spotlight on some potentially serious problems. The Jaguars passing attack has been limited by injuries and their rushing attack faced a Buffalo defense stacked against them. Unfortunately, Jacksonville is also thin along the offensive line since they lost their starting center and both guards against the Titans last week.
David Garrard had a tough game despite completing 17 of 25 for 165 yards. But he failed to throw a TD pass, threw a terrible interception in the end zone, and was sacked twice. It would have been worse if he hadn't been able to swat away potential sackers and scrambled for 32 yards on six carries.
Maurice Jones-Drew ran seven times for 17 yards and scored the Jaguars only touchdown, caught three passes for 25 yards, but left in the second half with an ankle sprain. He received treatment and returned to the game. Fred Taylor had a few solid runs, but finished with 49 yards and a 3.5 per rush average.
Matt Jones, Dennis Northcutt and Reggie Williams are possession receivers. The longest pass play only covered 15 yards, and until Jerry Porter and Troy Williamson return from injuries the Jaguars will not have a deep threat.
Trailing 10--3 at halftime, Jacksonville opened the third quarter with an 11 play 74 yard to tie the game. The Jaguars recovered the ensuing on side kick which led to Scobee's 50 yard filed goal and the lead. He added another FG early in the fourth quarter before Buffalo scored ten unanswered points to pull out the win. At 0--2 the Jaguars are off to their worst start in five years.
What you ought to knowQB Trent Edwards, Pass: 20 - 25 - 239 - 1 TD / 0 INT, Rush: 1 - -1 - 0 - Edwards started the game hitting his first ten passes as he guided Buffalo to a 7--0 lead in the first quarter. He also hit rookie WR James Hardy in the back corner of the end zone in the fourth quarter for the go ahead score. In between he showed poise in running this safe, balanced offense that relies on high percentage passes and strong running between the tackles. He spread his 20 completions among seven different receivers, but with the game on the line in the fourth quarter he hit Lee Evans for 37 yards on third down which led to the go ahead touchdown. Edwards finished the game with a QB rating of 119.8.
RB Marshawn Lynch, Rush: 19 - 59 - 1, Rec: 1 - 8 - 0 (2 targets) - Lynch ran with authority against a strong Jaguar defensive line. He scored on an 11 yard trap up the middle in the first quarter, but the rest of the game was a grind. He gave as good as he got, and late in the game he even bounced a run outside and ran over LB Mike Peterson to get a first down. He is a good receiver and will usually be more involved in the passing game.
RB Fred Jackson, Rush: 6 - 17 - 0, Rec: 7 - 83 - 0 (9 targets) - The Bills' backup running back led the team in receiving. He gained 33 yards on one pass but usually just tried to get a first down. He also carried six times for 17 yards. Buffalo doesn't miss much by replacing Lynch with Jackson, but when they are both on the field at the same time one of them will split out like a receiver.
WR Josh Reed, Rec: 4 - 36 - 0 (5 targets) - Reed was open on crossing routes and slants in the first half and caught four passes for 36 yards. He was not targeted in the second half.
WR Lee Evans, Rec: 4 - 77 - 0 (4 targets) - Evans was the focal point of the Jaguars secondary, but he caught Edwards' first pass of the day on the opening drive. He also caught a perfectly thrown 37 yard pass in the fourth quarter on third down as the Bills drove for the go ahead touchdown. He often appeared to be open downfield when passes were completed to receivers underneath.
WR James Hardy, Rec: 2 - 12 - 1 (3 targets) - The Bills have been anxious to get their prized rookie on the field since he injured a hamstring in camp. He averaged over 15 yards per catch in preseason, and finally made his appearance in the fourth quarter. He skied in the back corner of the end zone and came down with the go ahead touchdown pass. Replay showed his left foot clearly inbounds but his right foot landed at the out of bounds line. The play was challenged, but without a good camera angle the TD stood. It appeared that he might have touched the line with the tip of his cleat.
WR Roscoe Parrish, Rec: 1 - 12 - 0 (2 targets) - It's difficult to understand why the Bills only run Parrish on short pass routes. His one 12 yard catch resulted in a first down, and he returned three punts for 38 yards.
TE Derek Schouman, Rec: 1 - 11 - 0 (1 targets) - The back up tight end caught a fourth quarter pass for a first down.
TE Robert Royal (2 targets) - Royal was unable to haul in his two targets, although he was affective as a blocker.
PK Rian Lindell 2 - 2 FG, 2 - 2 XP, 8 points - Lindell was perfect on both extra points and hit two field goals, one from 21 yards in the first half and the other from 45 yards with 24 seconds to play in the game.
BUF Rush Defense - Going up against an injury riddled Jaguars offensive line the Bills held Fred Taylor and Maurice Jones-Drew to 66 yards on 21 carries. Garrard added 32 yards on six carries to boost their rushing average to 3.6 yards per carry.BUF Pass Defense - Going up against an injury depleted Jaguars receiving corpse, the longest pass play only covered 15 yards. They were able to blitz Garrard and pressure him but they had a tough time sacking him. They caught him twice but he usually escaped and scrambled for positive yardage. QB David Garrard, Pass: 17 - 28 - 165 - 0 TD / 1 INT, Rush: 6 - 32 - 0 - With a banged up offensive line and a depleted receiving corpse Garrard tried to win the game by himself. He faced a fierce pass rush all game and was sacked twice but often scrambled away from would be tacklers and gained 32 yards on the ground. He failed to throw a touchdown pass, threw a bad pass that was picked off in the end zone, and posted a QB rating of 62.4. The offensive line is going to be a patchwork unit all season, but when Jerry Porter recovers from his hamstring injury and Troy Williamson returns the Jaguars should be able to stretch the field.
RB Fred Taylor, Rush: 14 - 49 - 0, Rec: 1 - 5 - 0 (1 targets) - It usually took more than one tackler to bring him down, but he couldn't find much room and he only averaged 3.5 yards per rush. He is still quick and shifty and shows no signs of slowing up, but with the current state of the offense it's hard to see him making significant contributions.
RB Maurice Jones-Drew, Rush: 7 - 17 - 1, Rec: 3 - 25 - 0 (5 targets) - While he only averaged 2.4 per carry he scored the only touchdown for Jacksonville. He also caught three passes for 25 yards, but he left in the second half with an ankle injury. After treatment on the sidelines he returned to the game, but keep an eye on the injury reports this week.
RB Greg Jones - With so many injuries on the offensive line Jones had his hands full blocking.
WR Matt Jones, Rec: 5 - 50 - 0 (10 targets) - Jones caught five passes for 50 yards but his longest play went for 12 yards. He is a tall receiver who seems to get bumped off his routes and outfought for receptions with regularity. He made some good grabs, but he doesn't seem like the guy who is going to make the tough catch.
WR Reggie Williams, Rec: 4 - 36 - 0 - Williams was not active for this game.
WR Dennis Northcutt, Rec: 3 - 36 - 0 (5 targets) - Northcutt is the kind of savvy veteran every team needs. He averaged 12 tough yards for each of his three receptions and filled in as a punt returner in the fourth quarter.
WR Mike Walker (1 targets) - Walker was targeted once at the end of the first half but Garrard's pass was underthrown and intercepted in the end zone.
TE Marcedes Lewis, Rec: 1 - 13 - 0 (2 targets) - The Jaguars were expecting a break out year for Lewis, but so far injuries along the offensive line have limited his role. He is a monstrous target who should be more involved.
PK Josh Scobee 3 - 3 FG, 1 - 1 XP, 10 points - Scobee hit the only PAT he attempted and added three field goals including one from 50 yards that gave the Jaguars the lead in the third quarter.
JAX Rush Defense - Jacksonville is a still tough to run against and they limited Lynch and Co. to just 75 yards and a 2.9 per rush average. They allowed one rushing touchdown on the game's opening drive when Lynch dashed up the middle for 11 yards on a trap play.JAX Pass Defense - While they were able to get to Edwards twice and force a fumble they gave up 239 yards and the winning touchdown with 4:10 left in the game.
Miami Dolphins 10, Arizona Cardinals 31
What you need to knowMiami Dolphins - Miami played poorly in this game and didn't have any answers for the Cardinals' passing attack giving up big plays early, a 79 yard touchdown to Anquan Boldin and 75 yard pass to Larry Fitzgerald in the first quarter alone. Behind by 17 at the half, the Dolphins continued their poor play early in the third quarter, by taking foolish penalties to help the Cardinals continue scoring drives. For example, on a field goal attempt, the Dolphin defense was flagged for 12 men on the field. Later in the same drive, on a third and two from the two yard line, the Dolphin defense committed a face mask penalty after Kurt Warner was sacked giving the Cardinals new life. Three plays later, Arizona scored to go up 24-0. As a team, they only had 236 net yards on offense.
QB Chad Pennington found himself behind by 28 points, but played mistake free football despite his team's inept play. He finished the game ten for 20 for 112 yards with no scores or turnovers. Pennington was pulled at the 9:42 mark of the fourth quarter, but not because of his play.
RB Ricky Williams started the game and ran hard but found the Cardinals' rush defense too tough penetrate. Williams longest run from scrimmage was only eight yards and finished the game with 28 yards on 11 carries. RB Ronnie Brown didn't get a chance to get going as Miami had to abandon the run game to play catch up. Brown carried the ball 11 times for 25 yards, and scored on a one yard touchdown run late in the fourth quarter during mop up time.Arizona Cardinals - The Cardinals dominated this game and came out passing as Warner hit his first nine passes. He had 221 yards and two touchdowns in little over the first 20 minutes of play. The Cardinals' offense scored 17 first half points and scored on their first two second half offensive possessions to extend their lead to 31-3. The Cardinals' offense has now scored 20 or more points in ten straight games, which is the longest streak currently in the NFL.
QB Kurt Warner's first-half stats were 11 of 13 for 247 yards and two touchdowns. He saw very little pressure and threw passes with crisp precision. The Dolphins pass defense offered little resistance. Warner finished the game 19 of 24 for 361 yards and three touchdowns. He had a perfect passing rating of 158.3 in the game, and for the third time in his career, tying Peyton Manning for the NFL record.
RB Edgerrin James' stats were skewed since the Cardinals had such success in their passing game. James ran hard, and many of his carries were misdirection plays, or came late in the game with the Cardinals running the clock out. He finished the game with 18 carries for 55 yards and no touchdowns. RB Tim Hightower continues to get touches in this offense. Hightower is a punishing runner and finished the game with ten carries and 24 yards and a touchdown. Hightower figures prominently in the Cardinals' red zone offense, as he substitutes for James in those situations, and scored his only touchdown on a one yard run.
What you ought to knowQB Chad Pennington, Pass: 10 - 20 - 112 - 0 TD / 0 INT, Rush: 1 - 6 - 0 - Pennington actually played mistake free football, but found himself with too much to do. He completed passes to six different receivers and had 112 yards on ten for 20 attempts. He had no turnovers and when he had time, his passes were on the mark. He was sacked twice. He was pulled late in the game but it wasn't for poor play.
QB Chad Henne, Pass: 7 - 12 - 67 - 0 TD / 0 INT - Henne came in with 9:42 to play in the fourth quarter and promptly led the Dolphin's on a 18 play, 71 yard scoring drive capped off by a one yard Ronnie Brown touchdown run. Henne was seven for 12 for 67 yards on that drive.
RB Ronnie Brown, Rush: 11 - 25 - 1, Rec: 2 - 19 - 0 (6 targets) - Brown shared time with Williams, but Miami had to abandon the run game after falling behind by 28 points. He managed 25 yards on 11 carries, but really never was a factor in this game. Late in the fourth quarter, Brown dropped a sure touchdown pass on a second and goal from the two yard line. Two plays later he scored from one yard out on a fourth and two.
RB Ricky Williams, Rush: 11 - 28 - 0, Rec: 1 - 1 - 0 (2 targets) - Williams ran hard against the Cardinals rush defense but found few big holes. His longest rush was eight yards and he finished the game with 11 carries and 28 yards. Williams did fumble the ball once in the game.
WR Greg Camarillo, Rec: 4 - 49 - 0 (8 targets) - Camarillo ended the game with four catches for 49 yards. Camarillo was targeted deep in the end zone on the Dolphins' longest drive, but had the ball slip off his fingertips.
WR Davone Bess, Rush: 1 - 13 - 0, Rec: 2 - 13 - 0 (3 targets) - Bess, who returns punts and kick offs, caught two balls for 13 yards. He clearly was the quickest Miami receiver and at times looked as though he was going to break a kick off long.
WR Derek Hagan, Rec: 3 - 51 - 0 (5 targets) - Finished the game as the Dolphin's leading receiver catching three balls for 51 yards.
WR Ted Ginn, Rec: 1 - 9 - 0 (1 targets) - Ginn was not a factor in this game and made his first catch of the game late in the fourth quarter.
TE David Martin, Rec: 3 - 32 - 0 (5 targets) - Martin caught three balls for 32 yards. His longest was a 18 yard catch over the middle.
TE Anthony Fasano (1 targets) - Fasano started the game, but had no catches and was targeted only once. He never was a factor in this game despite a good outing last week.
PK Dan Carpenter 1 - 1 FG, 1 - 1 XP, 4 points - Carpenter kicked his first NFL field goal late in the third quarter, a 32 yard effort.
MIA Rush Defense - Although giving up a total of only 81 yards and one score, the rush defense stats are skewed since the Cardinals didn't need the run game and relied on the pass during the game. The rush defense gave up the touchdown to RB Tim Hightower, a one yard effort.MIA Pass Defense - One world sums up the Miami pass defense in this game--horrible. They left Boldin and Fitzgerald wide open missing assignments and had no answer for the Cardinals' passing attack that amassed 376 yards in the game and 247 yards alone to Kurt Warner in the first half alone. The pass defense gave up three touchdowns and several long passes. The Miami defensive secondary was schooled by the Cardinal receivers, especially DBs Chris Crocker and Andre Goodman. Miami had only two sacks during the afternoon, but committed several critical penalties keeping Arizona drives alive. QB Kurt Warner, Pass: 19 - 24 - 361 - 3 TD / 0 INT - Warner started hot with his first pass going for a 79 yard touchdown to Anquan Boldin. Warner hit his first nine passes for 221 yards to start the game and had 247 yards and two scores at the first half. His passes were crisp and on the mark. Warner finished with a perfect quarterback rating of 158.3, the third time in his career. He is now tied with Peyton Manning for the NFL career record for a perfect passing rating.
QB Matt Leinart, Pass: 1 - 2 - 15 - 0 TD / 0 INT, Rush: 2 - -2 - 0 - Leinart came in for Warner at 2:36 mark of the fourth quarter with the Cardinals up 31-10. He was one for two for 15 yards.
RB Edgerrin James, Rush: 18 - 55 - 0, Rec: 1 - 0 - 0 (1 targets) - James' stats for this game are a result of the Cardinals' success via the pass rather than run. He finished with 18 carries for 55 yards. He ran hard, and looked good while carrying the ball.
RB Tim Hightower, Rush: 10 - 24 - 1, Rec: 1 - 20 - 0 (1 targets) - Hightower figures prominently in this offense as the rookie finished the game with 24 yards on ten carries and a touchdown. He made a crucial first down on a draw deep in the Cardinals own side of the field and also is the red zone back of choice for the Cardinals, replacing James in the Cardinals short yardage package. He scored on a one yard run late in the fourth quarter.
WR Larry Fitzgerald, Rec: 6 - 153 - 0 (11 targets) - Fitzgerald caught six passes for 153 yards, but no touchdowns. His longest play was a 75 yard catch, where he faked the Miami defender, but was caught on the four yard line. Fitzgerald was open often and made his catches look effortless.
WR Anquan Boldin, Rec: 6 - 140 - 3 (6 targets) - Boldin finished with a career high three touchdown game. He caught six balls for 140 yards and scored on tosses of 79, two, and eight yards. Boldin was unstoppable and at time found himself alone in the Miami secondary.
WR Steve Breaston, Rush: 1 - 4 - 0, Rec: 1 - 18 - 0 (3 targets) - Breaston caught one ball for 18 yards on a slant route, but also ran the ball once (four yards) and returns punts and kickoffs.
TE Ben Patrick, Rec: 4 - 30 - 0 (5 targets) - Patrick had a useful outing catching four balls for 30 yards mainly over the middle, and had one red zone catch in the first half.
TE Leonard Pope, Rec: 1 - 15 - 0 (2 targets) - Pope caught one pass for 15 yards, and was targeted twice.
PK Neil Rackers 1 - 1 FG, 4 - 4 XP, 7 points - Rackers made one of two attempts connecting on a 45 yard effort in the first half, and missing a 47 yard attempt left early in the second half. He was perfect on all extra points.
ARI Rush Defense - The Cardinals rush defense gave up only 72 yards on 24 attempts and kept Williams and Brown in check. The longest run from scrimmage was only 13 yards. The only touchdown, (a one yard effort) was in garbage time and given up to Ronnie Brown. A good effort by a rush defense that is coming into its own.ARI Pass Defense - The Cardinals pass defense played especially well and only gave up 179 yards. Pennington had 112 yards only and had a completion percentage of only 50 percent. Henne came in the fourth quarter and had some success against the Cardinals pass defense, but it was mop up duty. They recorded two sacks on the afternoon.
Indianapolis Colts 18, Minnesota Vikings 15
What you need to knowIndianapolis Colts - QB Peyton Manning was visibly frustrated at the end of the first quarter. The Indianapolis passing offense was not in sync during the first half. Minnesota put a lot of pressure on Manning and his mobility was limited. He did start to rebound in the second half and put together some big plays. The old Peyton Manning was starting to emerge with two late drives and precision passing to win the game.
OL Tony Ugoh went down with an injury in the first quarter. With Jeff Saturday already missing the Indianapolis offensive line could have used their experience. Minnesota was able to keep heavy pressure on the pass and limit the Colts to one running play over five yards.
RB Joseph Addai did not get anything going. There were a few opportunities to bounce to the outside but his burst was missing. He did face defenders in the backfield most of the day. Nothing was available up the middle and many times he had to fight to the line of scrimmage. The Indianapolis offensive line could not open up holes for Addai.Minnesota Vikings - This was the day for QB Tavaris Jackson to prove himself against one of 2007's top pass defenses. Jackson didn't start to pass much until the last possession of the second quarter. He looked sharp on his passes and he was not looking to run first. However, Jackson did not lead a touchdown scoring drive and did not put up big numbers as Minnesota tried to ride the running game.
WR Bernard Berrian was covered well by DB Kelvin Hayden on two passes and one was thrown short in the dirt. He did not fight hard for the ball on the two catchable balls. Berrian was targeted deep in the fourth quarter and tripped himself up on a very catchable pass that could have been a TD.
The Minnesota defense was able to put pressure on Peyton Manning and they stuffed the run. However, big plays happened and this allowed Indianapolis to come back and win the game.
What you ought to knowQB Peyton Manning, Pass: 26 - 42 - 311 - 1 TD / 2 INT, Rush: 2 - 0 - 0 - The most obvious missing element was the stretch off-tackle play to RB Joseph Addai. All of the outside running plays were pitched to Addai. This play in the past set up play action passes. Peyton Manning did not show much mobility at all. Defenders were breathing down Manning's neck all day and he showed his frustration at the end of the first half. DB Antoine Winfield made a great play on the first interception. The next drive seemed like things were starting to come around and then DL Jared Allen made a huge sack on third down. The second half looked much different. Even though Indianapolis could not run the ball everything changed. WR Anthony Gonzalez hauled in a long play that set up their first TD. That play seemed to change Manning and his passing was more precise and he actually started to look like his old self. With no running game and lots of pressure he started to pick the defense apart. Manning was able to hit receivers in stride and make some crucial plays during the fourth quarter.
RB Joseph Addai, Rush: 15 - 20 - 1, Rec: 2 - 13 - 0 (5 targets) - Joseph Addai did not have a very good day mainly due to poor blocking. He was meeting defenders in the backfield and there wasn't much room to run. Addai was run down on the outside by Minnesota LBs and DBs. He only had one run longer than three yards. His only TD was from inches out and he almost didn't get in. The review on that play was very close.
RB Dominic Rhodes, Rush: 2 - 5 - 0, Rec: 2 - 8 - 0 (2 targets) - Dominic Rhodes only came in to give Addai some rest. It was not a consistent third down situation. When he was in he wasn't able to move the ball any more than Addai. Rhodes did run hard for the two point conversion and pushed his way in.
WR Anthony Gonzalez, Rec: 9 - 137 - 0 (12 targets) - It seemed like every time there was a passing play Anthony Gonzalez was involved. His first reception was finding the soft spot between the first and second layers of coverage. On another play across the middle he stretched out to reach the ball and haul it in right before two defenders hit him hard. The first big play of the game was a catch by Gonzalez down the middle of the field. Just when he was about to go down he flipped the ball to Reggie Wayne and he almost scored. Gonzalez was also involved in crucial conversion plays and he seems to find the soft spot of the defense when needed.
WR Reggie Wayne, Rec: 5 - 93 - 1 (7 targets) - Reggie Wayne came very close to a TD after the pitch from Gonzalez. That play seemed to ignite the Colts and Wayne. Most of his action came during the fourth quarter comeback. Wayne made a great play splitting the coverage on his TD catch. That play was reviewed and negated his TD. It was a return to 2007 in the fourth quarter. Wayne had five targets in the fourth quarter to match Gonzalez.
WR Marvin Harrison, Rec: 1 - 16 - 0 (3 targets) - The first interception was intended for Marvin Harrison. The second target was a hurry play by Peyton Manning to catch the Minnesota defense off guard. Antoine Winfield was there both times and almost intercepted the second possession. Winfield covered Harrison all day. Harrison hauled in one reception in the third quarter but did not get much going.
TE Tom Santi, Rec: 5 - 29 - 0 (8 targets) - Tom Santi took Dallas Clark's place and did very well. He was the second most targeted receiver and caught the ball well. His problem was what he did after he caught the ball. Santi did not get many yards after the catch and went down easily.
PK Adam Vinatieri 1 - 2 FG, 1 - 1 XP, 4 points - Adam Vinatieri missed a 30 yard field goal in the fourth quarter. The hold was clean and no defender touched the ball. This kick would have put Indianapolis within one score of winning the game. Vinatieri redeemed himself making a game winning 47 yard field goal with three seconds left.
IND Rush Defense - The Indianapolis rush defense was pretty much nonexistent. It didn't matter who was running the ball for Minnesota. Holes developed and seemed to be there all day. It was a bend but don't break defense. The Colts were able to hold the Vikings to field goals only but it was not a run stopping display.IND Pass Defense - There wasn't a huge amount of passing. However, when Tavaris Jackson passed the ball he was able to find an open receiver. DB Kelvin Hayden broke up a lot of plays and there were three sacks. Minnesota tried to go deep on them a few times and there was either a good defensive play, penalty, or a drop. Even though they were able to get a few short passes through the defense held them to know TD scoring drives and they only allowed the Vikings in the red zone twice. QB Tarvaris Jackson, Pass: 14 - 24 - 130 - 0 TD / 0 INT, Rush: 1 - 1 - 0 - Tavaris Jackson didn't make any big mistakes. One thing that was very noticeable was that he was looking to pass the ball first on roll outs and during scrambling. During the second half he did make some very nice passes and showed some good decision making. Jackson was scrambling on what looked like he was going to run and he floated a very nice ball to Aundrae Allison. The fumble was on a great play by DE Dwight Freeney who knocked the ball out as Jackson pulled back to pass. The only bad pass of the day came when he was hit on the release and it looked like WR Sidney Rice ran the wrong pattern.
RB Adrian Peterson, Rush: 29 - 160 - 0, Rec: 4 - 20 - 0 (4 targets) - Adrian Peterson had the best first half of his career in terms of yards. After gaining 118 yards he was only able to get 42 in the second half. Most of this was due to Indianapolis winning the time of possession. Peterson was able to run anywhere on the field he wanted to. He broke tackles and was never taken down on the first hit. There were big running lanes and he took advantage. He almost broke two plays but DB Bob Sanders got him both times. Minnesota would get a good drive going only to stall out at the end. There were two trips inside the red zone and Peterson just couldn't get a sniff of the end zone. He also didn't get stopped for less than three yards much either. Peterson did do well receiving the ball and was able to create yards after the catch.
RB Chester Taylor, Rush: 4 - 18 - 0, Rec: 1 - -2 - 0 (2 targets) - Taylor ran the ball well through large holes. I didn't seem to matter who was in the game. Taylor started to come into the game on third downs in the second half. During the first half he only came in occasionally. Taylor was also active in kickoff returns. But, he didn't see the field very much and was not a huge part of the game plan.
RB Naufahu Tahi, Rec: 2 - -2 - 0 (2 targets) - Naufahu Tahi was just a check down for Tavaris Jackson and he didn't do much with the receptions. Both receptions he had a chance to get some yards but was stuffed both times.
WR Aundrae Allison, Rush: 1 - 1 - 0, Rec: 2 - 37 - 0 (3 targets) - Aundrae Allison was targeted on a nice floater where he found the soft spot in the defense. Allison was also hit again in the fourth quarter. He wasn't a huge part of the passing attack but he did a good job when he did get the ball.
WR Sidney Rice (2 targets) - One of Sidney Rice's targets was a deep throw. It was barely out of bounds and might have been right on the line. Rice couldn't keep the ball in his hands anyway. The other was a short pass and the defender made a decent play. Rice could have caught both balls.
WR Bernard Berrian (4 targets) - The key would be no receptions. One pass was in the dirt in front of Bernard Berrian so he can't be blamed for that one. Berrian was targeted three more times and two were deep. He was covered very well but didn't fight for the ball much either. On one play Berrian tripped himself up on a play that should have been caught and might have gone for a TD. It was obvious that Tavaris Jackson was looking the other way most of the game. Bernard Berrian even got called for an illegal substitution because he didn't get off the field for the punt.
TE Jim Kleinsasser, Rec: 1 - 12 - 0 (1 targets) - Kleinsasser made a nice play but his reception was the only time he was used in the passing game plan. He was playing FB blocking for Adrian Peterson most of the time.
TE Visanthe Shiancoe, Rec: 1 - 23 - 0 (2 targets) - All of Visanthe Shiancoe's action was in the first half. He made one very nice catch and even got a few yards after the catch. However, he was not heard from again the rest of the game.
PK Ryan Longwell 5 - 6 FG, 0 - 0 XP, 15 points - Ryan Longwell was kicking very well all game. His lone miss was from 48 yards and just missed. His other five field goals were right down the middle. Three of his field goals were from 40 or more yards. He was kicking in the dome, but it was still a very nice kicking display.
MIN Rush Defense - Unbelievable. Twenty five total rushing yards for the Indianapolis Colts says a lot. It was amazing how there was someone with penetration on almost every play. This was fun to watch and see how frustrated Indianapolis would get trying to run the ball. It didn't matter whether they tried to go up the middle or outside. They did let down on one play and that would be the two point conversion where Dominic Rhodes plowed in for two.MIN Pass Defense - The pass defense was great during the first half and most of the third quarter. The big question entering this game was whether or not Minnesota could stop the big play. They did until Anthony Gonzalez caught one splitting two defenders and then creating yards after the catch. After that the valve was open and a few more big plays happened and Minnesota lost the game. Two and a half quarters of great pass defense and lots of frustration for Peyton Manning. Then Manning started to pick them apart.
Pittsburgh Steelers 10, Cleveland Browns 6
What you need to knowPittsburgh Steelers - High winds affected both teams and their game plans, and ultimately factored into making this game a defensive struggle.
QB Ben Roethlisberger was solid on the night, making sure he did not make any mistakes. He often threw the ball too low on purpose to ensure an interception was not thrown. He showed off his arm strength and accuracy by throwing the ball deep a couple of times through the wind and being fairly accurate. Roethlisberger looked to have received a right wrist stinger at the end of a series in the third quarter, but immediately came back the next series and threw a couple of bullets down the field so it does not look worrisome.
RB Willie Parker was the workhorse for the Steelers. He carried the ball 28 times on the night trying to wear down the Cleveland defense, eventually breaking free for a couple of bigger gains in the fourth quarter. Cleveland focused on stopping the run due to the wind and was successful in holding Parker to an average game.
WR Hines Ward scored a touchdown, but was unable to haul in a couple of very catchable passes that killed the drive each time. Santonio Holmes was used as a deep threat most of the game despite the wind, and was able to make five catches for 94 yards.Cleveland Browns - QB Derek Anderson seemed to struggle with the wind more than Ben Roethlisberger. He did pass the ball 13 more times than Roethlisberger, but most of the passes were underneath as Cleveland averaged only 4.6 yards per passing play.
RB Jamal Lewis had problems getting anything going in the running game, as Pittsburgh stacked the box. He was able to fall forward most of the night, but was not elusive enough to consistently make a defender miss.
WR Braylon Edwards had some trouble early bringing the ball in, dropping two passes early. He never could really get going, catching only three of the nine balls thrown to him, although part of that was due to accuracy issues from Derek Anderson. TE Kellen Winslow had a solid night catching seven of the 11 balls thrown his way.
What you ought to knowQB Ben Roethlisberger, Pass: 12 - 19 - 186 - 1 TD / 0 INT, Rush: 1 - 0 - 0 - Roethlisberger was able to control the game by not making mistakes. He was able to deal with the wind, completing 12 of his 19 pass attempts. He moved well in the pocket well and as always was a true leader on the field. Roethlisberger was able to sneak a couple of balls into deep double coverage despite the conditions.
RB Willie Parker, Rush: 28 - 105 - 0 (1 targets) - Parker struggled to get going against the Cleveland defense. He ran the ball often but could never consistently move the chains. He was able to break a couple of big runs in the fourth quarter but all in all was held in check by the Cleveland defense.
RB Carey Davis, Rush: 1 - 2 - 0 - Davis served as the fullback and had one carry on the night.
WR Santonio Holmes, Rush: 1 - 10 - 0, Rec: 5 - 94 - 0 (7 targets) - Holmes played well, hauling in a couple passes where he was well covered. He looked sharp running his routes and his hands looked very impressive against Cleveland. Holmes was more a deep threat as usual than a possession receiver, but he did run a few nice short routes.
WR Hines Ward, Rec: 5 - 59 - 1 (8 targets) - Ward surprisingly dropped a couple of passes in the first half for Pittsburgh and ended any hope of them delivering an early knockout punch. He pulled it together though making a couple of tough catches and showing off his superb route running skills.
WR Nate Washington (2 targets) - Washington served as the third wide receiver and was unable to bring in either of the balls thrown his way. One of those passes was a deep target.
TE Heath Miller, Rec: 2 - 33 - 0 (2 targets) - Miller was surprisingly scarcely used throughout the game. He only received two targets, but he caught them both and accumulated 33 yards in the process.
PK Jeff Reed 1 - 1 FG, 1 - 1 XP, 4 points - Reed had one field goal attempt on the night and made it despite the crosswind.
PIT Rush Defense - The Pittsburgh run defense was relentless in stopping Cleveland. They only allowed 42 yards on 21 attempts by backfield personnel. They often were able to get initial penetration and stop the play from progressing.PIT Pass Defense - Pittsburgh's pass defense was solid, intercepting Derek Anderson twice on the night. They did allow some plays to be made because they were gearing up against the run most of the night, but they did not allow any receptions to wide receivers over 20 yards. QB Derek Anderson, Pass: 18 - 32 - 166 - 0 TD / 2 INT, Rush: 3 - 6 - 0 - Anderson was extremely streaky. He would look like an all pro for two or three plays at a time, then regress back and make a bad decision or bad throw for a couple of plays. He was only sacked two times but was pressured very often on the night. Whenever he was pressured he seemed to have complete trust in Kellen Winslow and would go to his route almost blindly.
RB Jamal Lewis, Rush: 19 - 38 - 0, Rec: 3 - 28 - 0 (3 targets) - Lewis had a tough night against Pittsburgh. He could not consistently get out of the backfield without facing some pressure from the Steelers, leading to a long night for him and a poor average (two yards per carry).
RB Jerome Harrison, Rush: 1 - 2 - 0, Rec: 1 - 23 - 0 (1 targets) - Harrison was used as a change of pace back a couple times.
RB Lawrence Vickers, Rush: 1 - 2 - 0, Rec: 1 - 3 - 0 (2 targets) - Vickers was the fullback and was targeted on short check-down routes both times.
RB Jason Wright, Rec: 1 - 9 - 0 (2 targets) - Wright came in to give Lewis a rest a few times, and was a change of pace back for Cleveland.
WR Braylon Edwards, Rec: 3 - 32 - 0 (9 targets) - Edwards was tightly covered all night, but still should have came up with more than three of the nine passes thrown his way. A couple passes were slightly behind him, but with the wind he cannot expect any better. One target that was in the red zone involved Derek Anderson leading Edwards into the safety who laid Edwards out in a scary play, but Edwards returned.
WR Syndric Steptoe, Rec: 2 - 16 - 0 (3 targets) - Steptoe served as Cleveland's number two receiver while the other Cleveland receivers sat out with injuries. He caught both of the catchable passes thrown his way and looked quick on the field when he had the ball.
WR Josh Cribbs, Rush: 1 - 5 - 0 (1 targets) - Cribbs was the kick returner and got his target on a wide receiver screen.
TE Kellen Winslow Jr, Rec: 7 - 55 - 0 (11 targets) - Winslow made several tough catches despite being covered by Troy Polamalu most of the night. He used his body well to create room and was genuinely trusted by Derek Anderson.
PK Phil Dawson 2 - 2 FG, 0 - 0 XP, 6 points - Dawson made both field goals through the tough wind. Neither kick was particularly pretty but they were effective.
CLE Rush Defense - The Cleveland run defense was solid Sunday night, holding Willie Parker to less impressive numbers than normal against them. They single handedly kept Cleveland in the game by stopping Pittsburgh several times.CLE Pass Defense - The Browns' pass defense was okay on the night, sacking Roethlisberger three times. They got more pressure against Pittsburgh than against Dallas. Their coverage was tight most of the night, but they did give up a couple of big pass plays that ended up being the difference in the game.
Chicago Bears 17, Carolina Panthers 20
What you need to knowChicago Bears - QB Kyle Orton had a mediocre game, going 19 of 32 passing for only 149 yards. Although Orton didn't commit any turnovers, he struggled with his accuracy, most notably overthrowing a wide open Marty Booker and costing the Bears a potential touchdown. Orton did not throw or run for any touchdowns, however he did lead his team on one touchdown drive early in the third quarter, which was run in by fullback Jason McKie.
RB Matt Forte did not have much running room a lot of this game, but managed to rip off a few nice runs to put up a nice stat line. Forte totaled 113 total yards, 92 of them rushing on 23 attempts. When Forte found space to run, he showed good vision and agility as he made some nice cuts to gain extra yards.
Devin Hester left the game after returning a kick late in the third quarter due to an apparent rib injury. Hester was carted to the locker room, strange because he didn't take a big hit on the play, he was merely shoved out of bounds from behind.Carolina Panthers - QB Jake Delhomme started the game slow, but he finished much stronger, rallying his team back from a 14 point deficit. Delhomme seemed much more poised and accurate in the second half, leading his team on two scoring drives late in the third quarter and in the fourth to shock the Bears. He finished with only 128 yards passing and an interception, which hit his receiver right in the hands but was bobbled into the hands of a Bears' defender. Delhomme did throw a 32 yard touchdown to Muhsin Muhammad, but it was called back due to holding.
RB Jonathan Stewart dazzled in the second half and was a big part of the Panthers' success. Stewart had 77 yards rushing on 14 carries, with two touchdown runs of one and four yards. When Stewart got the ball in space he was often tough to bring down, bouncing off of Bears' defenders and breaking tackles. Throughout the game the Panthers played very sloppy, getting called for quite a few false start and holding penalties.
What you ought to knowQB Kyle Orton, Pass: 19 - 32 - 149 - 0 TD / 0 INT, Rush: 1 - -1 - 0 - Orton started the game strong, completing nine of 13 passes in the first half, but only managed to lead the Bears to a field goal. However, in the second half, Orton took advantage of good field position after an interception by the Bears' defense, leading the Bears to a touchdown and a 14 point lead. However, from that point on Orton did not look good at all, often overthrowing his receivers, and picking up a key intentional grounding play on the Bears' second to last drive on third down, forcing them to punt. As the Bears took what would be their final possession of the game, Orton could not complete either of his pass attempts, so the Panthers took over on downs and kneeled to victory.
RB Matt Forte, Rush: 23 - 92 - 0, Rec: 3 - 21 - 0 (3 targets) - Forte averaged four yards a carry in this contest, with a long run of 18 yards. He struggled to find room to run for most of the game, but had a few carries go for ten yards or more, showing impressive elusiveness when given room, cutting one of his runs back for a 15 yard gain. Forte also made the most of his three targets, catching all of them for an additional 21 yards. Forte did get a carry in the Panthers' red zone, but was stopped for no gain.
RB Jason McKie, Rush: 3 - 7 - 1, Rec: 2 - 13 - 0 (2 targets) - McKie ran in the only touchdown by the Bears' offense, showing an impressive display of power. He also was on the field in third and short situations when the Bears wanted to pick up the first down. On a fourth and one rush attempt at the end of the game McKie got the call to keep the Bears' hopes alive, however he was stuffed for no gain. McKie also was targeted for twice, but failed to make either catch.
RB Kevin Jones, Rush: 1 - 0 - 0 - Jones only had one carry this entire game and he was stopped for no gain. It appears that Forte will be the featured back in this offense and Jones' opportunities will be limited.
WR Brandon Lloyd, Rec: 5 - 66 - 0 (10 targets) - Lloyd was the Bears' top receiver, hauling in five passes for 66 yards. He was also the most targeted Bears' receiver, getting an additional five targets. Lloyd made some impressive catches throughout this game, one of which was a leaping 32 yard catch on an underthrown ball down the sideline. He also caught a ball in the red zone and slid to the one yard line before being touched down, narrowly missing a touchdown.
WR Rashied Davis, Rush: 1 - 17 - 0, Rec: 3 - 11 - 0 (8 targets) - Davis was one of Orton's favorite targets, seeing the ball come his way eight times. Unfortunately, Davis was only able to haul in three of these targets and finished with only 11 yards. Most of the balls he failed to catch were poorly thrown, however he did drop a pass that hit him right in the hands on a Bears' third down. Davis also received a pass in his direction in the end zone, but the Panthers defenders were all over him and had him double covered. Davis also ran the ball once on an end around for a 17 yard gain.
WR Devin Hester, Rec: 1 - 6 - 0 (2 targets) - Hester's lone catch was good for a first down, but he was only targeted twice all game. Hester was also quiet on special teams, only gaining a total of 25 return yards. Late in the third quarter Hester left this game due to a rib injury.
WR Marty Booker, Rec: 1 - 4 - 0 (3 targets) - Booker had one catch for four yards, but the more critical play came later in the game. Booker got open deep downfield and had at least three steps separation, but Orton overthrew him. Had this pass been on the mark, it is likely Booker would have scored a touchdown and put the game out of reach.
WR Mark Bradley (1 targets) - Bradley was targeted once by Orton, however he did not make the catch.
TE Desmond Clark, Rec: 2 - 21 - 0 (2 targets) - Clark caught both of his targets, finishing with a receiving total of 21 yards.
TE Greg Olsen, Rec: 2 - 7 - 0 (2 targets) - Olsen had a tough day against the Panthers; although he caught both of his targets he fumbled the ball away both times. The first of the fumbles wasn't very costly, however the second fumble set the Panthers up for a touchdown, beginning their comeback.
PK Robbie Gould 1 - 1 FG, 2 - 2 XP, 5 points - There is nothing significant to report in the kicking game, Gould made all of his field goal and extra point attempts.
CHI Rush Defense - Strong early, the Chicago rush defense came apart in the second half as Jonathan Stewart ran all over them. Although a tackler always seemed to be there, they were constantly unable to wrap him up and he would seem to bounce off of them. Stewart converted on both of his goal line opportunities, scoring twice as the Bears were unable to come up with a stop.CHI Pass Defense - Like the rush defense, the pass defense seemed to wear down as the game went on. Delhomme was visibly frustrated in the first half, unable to get anything going against the Bears' tough coverage. However, on the Panthers' final scoring drive which would lead to their win, the defense failed to stop Delhomme as he completed all three of his pass attempts for 43 yards QB Jake Delhomme, Pass: 12 - 21 - 128 - 0 TD / 1 INT, Rush: 4 - 3 - 0 - Delhomme struggled against the Bears most of the game, but he seemed to improve as the second half went on. The turning point seemed to be after he took a big hit on an attempt to run for a first down, as he came back out and led the Panthers to touchdowns on two of the next four drives. During these drives Delhomme was five for seven for 54 yards, compared to going seven of 14 for 74 yards and an interception the rest of the game.
RB Jonathan Stewart, Rush: 14 - 77 - 2 (1 targets) - Stewart was the star of the Panthers' offense as he racked up 77 yards on 14 carries, adding two touchdowns. Stewart saw the majority of his action in the second half, and he showed his power as he bounced off of Bears' defenders. His long run of the afternoon was 24 yards, as he broke tackles and ground out extra yards. Stewart's two touchdown runs came on goal line carries, from four yards and one yard out.
RB DeAngelo Williams, Rush: 11 - 31 - 0, Rec: 1 - -6 - 0 (1 targets) - Williams didn't have a very productive day, running for only 31 yards on 11 carries. He also had a negative six yard reception, getting swallowed up in the backfield by the Bears before he had much of a chance to react. Any yards he gained today he had to fight for, and after running ineffectively for the first half, the team gave most of the carries to Stewart in the second half.
RB Brad Hoover, Rush: 1 - 5 - 0, Rec: 2 - 18 - 0 (2 targets) - Hoover had two catches for 18 yards, and also added one carry for five yards today.
WR Muhsin Muhammad, Rec: 5 - 59 - 0 (6 targets) - Muhammad very nearly had a tackle breaking 32 yard touchdown catch, but it was called back because of a holding penalty on the offense. However, Muhammad still managed to haul in 5 balls for 59 yards, as Delhomme's most consistent receiver of the afternoon. His best catch came early in the third quarter when Delhomme connected with him for a 33 yard gain, however the drive ended the next play when Delhomme threw an interception.
WR D.J. Hackett, Rec: 1 - 22 - 0 (7 targets) - Hackett was targeted seven times but only managed to haul in one of the attempts, mostly due to errant throws by Delhomme. On his lone catch, he made a nice grab down the sideline for a 22 yard gain. He also would have had another 23 yard catch, but it was called back because of an illegal formation by the Panthers.
TE Jeff King, Rec: 2 - 29 - 0 (5 targets) - King had two catches for 29 yards, the majority of the yardage coming on a catch where he was tackled at the Bears' one yard line. One of the key plays of the afternoon was a pass that Delhomme appeared to complete to King early in the third quarter, but King juggled it and a Bears defender tipped it to Charles Tillman for the interception. It was a tough break for Delhomme, because he hit King in the hands and this was clearly King's fault.
TE Dante Rosario, Rec: 1 - 6 - 0 (2 targets) - After breaking out in week one, Rosario was held to just one catch in this afternoon's game. Rosario's lone reception came on a short pass play when he fell down, but managed to get back up and still make the catch for a six yard gain.
PK John Kasay 2 - 2 FG, 2 - 2 XP, 8 points - There is no significant news to report in the kicking game, Kasay made all of his field goals and extra points.
CAR Rush Defense - Carolina did a good job holding down Matt Forte most of the game this afternoon. Forte often was met by defenders at the line of scrimmage, however there were instances where he would find himself with space and cut through defenders for moderate gains. Carolina also gave up a rushing touchdown to FB Jason McKie in the third quarter, but later came up with a huge stop when the stuffed him on a fourth and one at the end of the game.CAR Pass Defense - The Panther's struggled to stop Kyle Orton early in the game, as he hooked up with most of his targets early in the game. However, they had a bend but don't break look about them as the Bears only managed three points off of their first two drives, which was when Orton was looking his best. From that point on Carolina's defenders were blanketed over Bears' receivers, making it difficult for Orton to find an open man, and their two fumble recoveries played a big part in the Carolina victory today.
Oakland Raiders 23, Kansas City Chiefs 8
What you need to knowOakland Raiders - This team likes to run. They began with the RB tandem of Justin Fargas and Darren McFadden, and were moving the chains somewhat, until Fargas went down with a groin injury. That's when McFadden turned the lights on and tore up the KC defense for 164 yards and a touchdown. He was virtually unstoppable in the second half although there are reports that he may be dealing with a turf toe injury. Third string option Michael Bush almost cracked the century mark with 90 yards and a touchdown when he replaced McFadden.
The passing game was the polar opposite. JaMarcus Russell could not get anything going all day. Only one pass was completed to any of the wide receivers, and his total for the day was 6-17-55-0. He did limit mistakes -- no interceptions, fumbles, or sacks, and looked in control of the offense if not exactly in synch with it.
The defense was a bright spot. Both against the pass and run, they dominated the Chiefs. Notably, they shut down Chiefs RB Larry Johnson, who has a long history of torching the Raiders in the ground game. Their coverage and pass rush were excellent; the Chiefs rarely had much time to throw, and when they did manage to get rid of the ball, their target was invariably blanketed by a Raiders DB.Kansas City Chiefs - Quarterback Brodie Croyle was already out of action, and now add backup Damon Huard to the list. For most of the game, the snaps were split between third stringer Tyler Thigpen and fifth string WR Marques Hagans, with Thigpen getting the majority. He got better as the game progressed but did not look quite NFL ready.
Larry Johnson, who normally runs wild over the Raiders, was strangely silent. 12-22-0, with zero receptions. He had only two carries, for one yard each, in the second half. This offense looked bad no matter who was under center, but it was strange that they gave up on the man that is supposed to be the main focus of the offense so easily, since the game was in reach (despite being shutout for most of it) right up to the end.
Dwayne Bowe (6-90-0) and Tony Gonzalez (5-39-1) did enough to give the offense some small bit of respectability (and watchablility). Both players were tightly covered yet still made key catches in the clutch. Gonzalez is still the Chief's top red zone target, and Bowe was unflappable, making tough catches with the game on the line.
What you ought to knowQB JaMarcus Russell, Pass: 6 - 17 - 55 - 0 TD / 0 INT, Rush: 1 - 3 - 0 - Russell looked lost at times (and the numbers certainly back that up) but the other side of the coin is that he looks to have the poise and composure to bounce back from this debacle. Despite the poor showing, the main positive was that he made no costly errors. No sacks, no interceptions, and no fumbles. Unfortunately, you can almost add completions to that list. His WR corps was seemingly missing, which did not help (only one catch by any wideout); he had some success throwing to his running backs and tight end, but inexplicable kept trying to get the ball to the wide receivers, even though it clearly wasn't happening. Bottom line, the running game bailed him out this time.
RB Darren McFadden, Rush: 21 - 164 - 1, Rec: 1 - 9 - 0 (1 targets) - No doubt they will be calling this McFadden's coming out party. He had a spectacular second half, busting loose for five 20+ yard rushes (one was for 19 but only because the end zone got in the way). Once Fargas went down, he became the main rushing threat, and was rested in favor of Michael Bush after each big play. It is worth noting that in the first half (while splitting carries with Fargas) he was ineffective, showing a good initial burst but failing to find the hole for any serious yardage -- once he became the focus of the running game, he found his rhythm and had no trouble at all finding holes. There was some concern that McFadden was dealing a turf toe injury during the game and he did yield to Michael Bush at the end of the game. Stay tuned this week to see how that goes.
RB Michael Bush, Rush: 16 - 90 - 1 - Bush saw his first action in the second half, after the Fargas injury. He spelled McFadden regularly -- like clockwork, he was subbed in on the play following all four of McFadden's 20+ yard runs, and often for a couple plays after that. He showed good power charging through the line, and had a nice TD run to cap off the scoring near the end of the game. Like McFadden, the bulk of his yardage came in the second half of the game. His one negative was a fumble that he lost, after allowing the ball to be stripped away.
RB Justin Fargas, Rush: 9 - 43 - 0 (1 targets) - Fargas was running well before he suffered a groin injury late in the first half. He pulled up lame while running a deep passing route and did not return. McFadden actually started the game and got the ball on the first play, while Fargas carried the ball on the second play of the game. It looked like about a 60-40 split in carries, favoring Fargas, pre-injury.
RB Justin Griffith, Rec: 2 - 11 - 0 (2 targets) - If only his QB had noticed him earlier. Hard to believe, but Griffith, the starting fullback, was the second leading receiver for the Raiders. Both catches came in the second half.
WR Ashley Lelie, Rec: 1 - 11 - 0 (6 targets) - Lelie appeared to be Russell's favorite wide receiver on the day, and reaped the benefits -- a whopping one catch for 11 yards. Lelie did nothing to separate himself from an all around horrendous looking passing game, but neither did he have any glaring errors. He was targeted once in the red zone.
WR Ronald Curry (4 targets) - Curry dropped the first ball thrown his way, and had no luck the entire game, ending with zero catches for the day. He was primarily looked to in the second half, before the Raiders realized they could just run the ball all day.
WR Chaz Schilens (1 targets) - Not a big part of the offense, Schilens was targeted once on a deep route in the second quarter.
WR Johnnie Lee Higgins (1 targets) - Higgins had no chance on his one target, a poorly thrown ball in the red zone.
WR Javon Walker - Was a non factor in this game.
TE Zach Miller, Rec: 2 - 24 - 0 (2 targets) - Miller was the Raiders' leading receiver. He hauled in one very nice catch in traffic, and in an all too small sample size (two targets, two catches) was easily the most reliable Raiders receiver on the field.
PK Sebastian Janikowski 3 - 3 FG, 2 - 2 XP, 11 points - With some heavy wind, he looked very good. He booted a career long 56 yard field goal (with a small bit of help from the wind) and all but one of his kickoffs were downed for touchbacks.
OAK Rush Defense - They made Larry Johnson and company look positively mortal. They were consistently strong against the ground game; the longest rush they allowed was seven yards (not counting a 15 yard QB scramble). In the second half, with the Chiefs trailing, they only had four rush attempts to defend (which totaled 5 yards).OAK Pass Defense - The Raiders pass rush and coverage were so good that it's hard to praise one or the other. KC quarterbacks had very little time to throw, and very little to throw to. They showed chinks in the armor late in the game when they seemed to have a little trouble keeping pace with the Chiefs no huddle offense, which led to the only TD they allowed all game. QB Tyler Thigpen, Pass: 14 - 33 - 151 - 1 TD / 1 INT, Rush: 1 - 6 - 0 - Upon entering the game, Thigpen appeared confident but also seemed nervous. To beat the pass rush, he was taking three step drops and unloading the ball quickly and fearlessly into coverage. As the game progressed he showed slightly better decision making and accuracy. His one shining moment came on a drive late in the game, playing mostly hurry up offense, in which he marched the team 80 yards in under three minutes for the touchdown and two point conversion. The main difference being that he locked onto Dwayne Bowe and Tony Gonzalez. He did throw one interception, a pass intended for a triple covered Gonzalez.
QB Damon Huard, Pass: 2 - 4 - 17 - 0 TD / 1 INT, Rush: 1 - 15 - 0 - Huard mysteriously did not return to the game after throwing an interception. Later it was reported that he had suffered "mild head trauma". He looked good on a 15-yard scramble. He did not have any particularly accurate throws, but did not play enough to warrant any real criticism, good or bad.
RB Kolby Smith, Rush: 1 - 3 - 0, Rec: 4 - 19 - 0 (4 targets) - Late in the second half, Smith caught a few dump passes, and also dropped one. He shared time with Jamaal Charles as the backup to Larry Johnson, but none of the Chiefs tailbacks had any success on the ground.
RB Jamaal Charles, Rush: 3 - 7 - 0, Rec: 1 - 15 - 0 (2 targets) - The Chiefs appeared to be trying to get the ball in Charles' hands a bit more. The first play of the game was a deep pattern (underthrown by Huard) to Charles. He only had three carries as the Chiefs all but abandoned the running game in the second half.
RB Mike Cox (1 targets) - Cox, the starting fullback, caught the ball on the Chiefs successful two point conversion. He also recovered a fumble earlier in the game.
WR Dwayne Bowe, Rec: 6 - 90 - 0 (9 targets) - Bowe was the only Kansas City player who truly rose above the pure awfulness that this offense was exuding. Once Tyler Thigpen realized he had a receiver who could haul in anything within close proximity, they were off to the races. His splits tell the story: One reception for seven yards in the first half; 5-83 in the second.
WR Marques Hagans, Pass: 1 - 1 - 5 - 0 TD / 0 INT, Rush: 1 - 2 - 0 (2 targets) - Hagans was a part of the Chiefs apparent "Musical Quarterbacks" strategy, implemented after Damon Huard's injury. Thigpen and Hagans rotated somewhat randomly, subbing in for each other within the same offensive series'. Hagans, normally the fifth string wideout, completed his only pass attempt, but for the most part spent his time under centre scrambling away from the Raiders pass rush.Hagans actually saw the field more as quarterback. Early in the game he caught a seven yard pass that was called back due to a penalty.
WR Devard Darling, Rec: 1 - 10 - 0 (2 targets) - Darling was not a big part of the passing game. He was part of a three man rotation that shared the field opposite Dwayne Bowe. In other words, one third of the fourth option on offense.
WR Jeff Webb (4 targets) - Webb's main contribution was in drawing a pass interference penalty. He had no success getting open and was blanketed each time he was targeted.
TE Tony Gonzalez, Rec: 5 - 39 - 1 (16 targets) - It seemed like about twelve of those sixteen targets came in the final four minutes of the game. Gonzalez was barely targeted throughout the match, until desperation time. He rose to the challenge, proving again that he is without a doubt the Chiefs best red zone threat.
PK Nick Novak 0 - 0 FG, 0 - 0 XP, 0 points - Novak had no field goal attempts or PAT attempts.
KC Rush Defense - In the first half, they kept the damage to a minimum, but consistently gave a little on each rushing play. In the second half, things basically fell apart as Darren McFadden absolutely carved them up.KC Pass Defense - The pass rush was good, pressuring Russell often, but not good enough to garner even a single sack. They limited the passing game to a paltry 55 yards, and that mostly on screen patterns and dump passes. But when the team can't stop the run, even when they know it's coming, that is simply not enough.
New England Patriots 19, New York Jets 10
What you need to knowNew England Patriots - The New England Patriots began life without QB Tom Brady in week two against the New York Jets.
The offense was very reminiscent of the New England teams from the years they won Super Bowls with a focus on the running game and safe but effective pass plays. The team did have some trouble getting the ball into the end zone despite Sammy Morris' touchdown run in the third quarter, with both RB Kevin Faulk and RB Laurence Maroney failing on their attempts to score.
QB Matt Cassel did not make any crucial mistakes but the team's conservative play calling limited the possibilities that he could lose the game for them. He only attempted one deep pass which was not well thrown and WR Randy Moss could not hold on to it. The team settled for two red zone field goals in three red zone appearances.
The Patriots ran the ball effectively, especially late in the game when RB Lamont Jordan became the featured back. Jordan barreled over defenders and showed a quickness and toughness that had been missing in his last year in Oakland. Maroney was injured early in the game but returned for the final drive.
The defense played well, holding the Jets to two field goals in the red zone in three tries. DB Rodney Harrison was tripped on the Jets' only touchdown which allowed WR Chansi Stuckey to get open for the score.New York Jets - The New York Jets failed to take advantage of opportunities in this game.
They missed a great opportunity on their first drive as they drove the ball down the field into the red zone only to have recently signed PK Jay Feely miss a short field goal attempt badly. They also failed to score despite three attempts with goal to go from the three yard line and again settled for a field goal attempt later in the game.
QB Brett Favre and his receivers had one large gain called back due to penalty. WR Jerricho Cotchery and WR Laveranues dropped a combined three passes, as well. WR Chansi Stuckey appears to be developing into a favorite target of QB Brett Favre as he hauled in another touchdown pass and also converted on a third and 22 pass play.
RB Thomas Jones looked quick at times but failed to convert two goal to go situations from the three yard line and also took a nine yard run down to the one yard line which set up the team's only touchdown of the day.
The defense did not give up any big plays but they were generally untested by the conservative play of the New England offense. They were unable to stop the Patriots running game in the fourth quarter as they ate up valuable clock.
What you ought to knowQB Matt Cassel, Pass: 16 - 23 - 165 - 0 TD / 0 INT, Rush: 2 - 7 - 0 - QB Matt Cassel made his first start in any football game since high school in week two against the New York Jets. The Patriots ran a very conservative offense consisting of screens, quick passes behind the line of scrimmage, and short passes over the middle. Cassel did attempt one deep pass but it was not well thrown and WR Randy Moss could not reel it in. Cassel managed the game well enough to win but there were a few instances of confusion before and during plays for the offense. He did not turn the ball over but also showed some inexperience on plays where he should have thrown the ball away instead of taking the sack. He did not appear to sense pocket pressure very well. Cassel also overthrew WR Wes Welker in the end zone in the first quarter and the team settled for an easy field goal. He was shaken up at one point and limped noticeably for a few plays but showed no ill effects as the game progressed.
RB LaMont Jordan, Rush: 11 - 62 - 0 - Jordan was the best running back for the Patriots in week two. He did not receive his first carry until the second half but he ran strong with quick bursts of speed. He did not shy away from contact and was instrumental in the team being able to eat up the clock so effectively in the fourth quarter to seal the win.
RB Sammy Morris, Rush: 8 - 0 - 1, Rec: 2 - 7 - 0 (2 targets) - Morris ran for a total of zero yards on his eight carries. He did score a one yard rushing touchdown in the third quarter.
RB Laurence Maroney, Rush: 8 - 16 - 0 - Maroney missed nearly three quarters of this game with a shoulder injury. He returned to action very late in the fourth quarter as the Patriots were eating up the clock.
RB Kevin Faulk, Rush: 3 - 16 - 0, Rec: 4 - 50 - 0 (4 targets) - Faulk saw his first action of the season in week two. He was suspended for week one by the league. He reeled in a very lucky catch on a pass that was intended for WR Wes Welker but was tipped by a defender into the clutches of Faulk as he fell to the ground.
WR Wes Welker, Rec: 7 - 72 - 0 (11 targets) - Welker was the most utilized receiver for new QB Matt Cassel, particularly on a handful of receptions from behind the line of scrimmage that allowed Welker to run for gains. These plays basically acted as 'extended handoffs' and were very effective for the Patriots. Welker did have one drop on a pass he should have caught and was overthrown in the end zone on a crossing route by Cassel.
WR Randy Moss, Rec: 2 - 22 - 0 (3 targets) - Moss was not a big part of the offense for the Patriots as the team played very conservatively on offense. QB Matt Cassel did heave one bomb for Moss but the release was not clean and Moss could not hold onto the wobbly ball.
PK Stephen Gostkowski 4 - 4 FG, 1 - 1 XP, 13 points - Gostkowski was perfect on field goals and extra points in the victory.
NE Rush Defense - The Patriots rush defense stuffed RB Thomas Jones on two rushing attempts from the three yard line. LB Pierre Woods was injured when DL Vince Wilfork fell on him in the first half, but he was able to walk off the field on his own power.NE Pass Defense - The New England Patriots pass defense was able to force QB Brett Favre out of the pocket frequently. They also batted some balls out of the hands of defenders that prevented a couple of big plays. On the Jets' sole touchdown, DB Rodney Harrison was tripped up by his teammate and WR Chansi Stuckey was able to scamper open in the corner of the end zone. QB Brett Favre, Pass: 18 - 26 - 181 - 1 TD / 1 INT, Rush: 2 - 6 - 0 - Favre simply lacked opportunity in this game. His receivers did not seem to get open frequently enough and they also dropped at least three passes. WR Jericho Cotchery was whistled for offensive pass interference on a large gain which was called back. His interception was a poor decision, though, as it was underthrown due to pressure. He was throwing off of his back foot throughout the game which led to some inaccuracy and dangerous throws. He moved well behind the line of scrimmage to create room and open up plays but he was also called for an illegal forward pass in typical Favre fashion. Favre also missed a wide open RB Thomas Jones in the flat on a poorly underthrown ball which could have led to a decent gain and a first down. At one point, Favre also threw consecutive passes for losses.
RB Thomas Jones, Rush: 17 - 70 - 0, Rec: 2 - 5 - 0 (4 targets) - Jones looked quick at times when running with the ball. He made some very nice moves to break tackles and gain some extra yardage. Jones also lined-up as wideout on the first drive of the game. He failed to score on two carries from the three yard line and also took a nine yard run down to the one yard line late in the game to set up the team's only touchdown on the day.
RB Leon Washington, Rush: 2 - 28 - 0, Rec: 4 - 22 - 0 (2 targets) - Washington makes a nice change of pace back for the Jets. He is a great sideline to sideline runner which can also be a curse. In one instance, he ran the opposite direction to avoid tackles and ended up being swarmed by Patriots defenders for large loss.
WR Chansi Stuckey, Rec: 4 - 43 - 1 (4 targets) - Stuckey is developing into a favorite target of QB Brett Favre. He caught a wide open touchdown in the fourth quarter after DB Rodney Harrison had fallen to ground after tripping on a teammate. He also converted on a third and 22 pass from Favre for the first down.
WR Laveranues Coles, Rec: 3 - 72 - 0 (6 targets) - Coles improved from his totals in week one and was able to haul in one large gain in the loss for the Jets. He dropped a key first down pass from QB Brett Favre along the sidelines in the first half and had another ball bounce of his finger tips in the second half.
WR Jerricho Cotchery, Rec: 1 - 20 - 0 (3 targets) - Cotchery only caught one pass in the loss, but had a large gain called back due offensive pass interference. He also had a touchdown catch deflected away at the last second by a defender.
TE Dustin Keller, Rec: 1 - 19 - 0 (1 targets) - Keller was not much of a factor for the Jets in the loss.
PK Jay Feely 1 - 2 FG, 1 - 1 XP, 4 points - Feely won a tryout before week two to replace injured PK Mike Nugent. He badly missed right on his first attempt which was for 31 yards but was able to connect on his second try.
NYJ Rush Defense - The New York Jets run defense was unable to get the stops when they needed them late in the game. RB Lamont Jordan and the Patriots' offense effectively ran down the clock in the fourth quarter to clinch victory.NYJ Pass Defense - The Jets pass defense was able to get to QB Matt Cassel for a handful of sacks. They were not tested by the conservative play calling of the New England Patriots but often allowed good gains on short passes and screens.
Philadelphia Eagles 37, Dallas Cowboys 41
What you need to knowPhiladelphia Eagles - QB Donovan McNabb looked very good in this game, he was patient in finding open receivers and making plays when the pass protection broke down. He had no problem moving the ball against the Dallas defense even though none of his starting receivers did play in this game. McNabb only had one passing touchdown but should have had at least two. WR DeSean Jackson dropped the ball on the one yard when he started to celebrate too early on what should have been a sure touchdown. He also came close to having another touchdown to WR Greg Lewis, but Lewis was tackled at the one yard line.
RB Brian Westbrook had an excellent game as he got into the end zone three times for the Eagles. Even though he didn't have his most effective game rushing the ball, he did cash in on two goal line carries from the one yard line by getting in both times and got his other touchdown on six yard pass reception. Westbrook had good yardage in the game as he had 113 total yards, but he really took advantage of his opportunities near the goal line each time by scoring three times.
Rookie WR DeSean Jackson made one of the more memorable boneheaded plays in recent memory when he dropped the ball prematurely before crossing the goal line to celebrate on what would have been a 61 yard touchdown pass from QB Donavan McNabb. Instead it was 60 yard completion, and the Eagles got the ball on the one yard line. Philadelphia scored on the next play with a running play, but Jackson cost himself and McNabb a touchdown with that mistake. Despite that stupid play, he had a very nice game catching six passes for 110 yards.Dallas Cowboys - QB Tony Romo had a productive game as he threw for 312 yards and had three touchdowns. He got off to quick start with a perfect throw to WR Terrell Owens for a 72 yard touchdown. He did have two huge consecutive turnovers, an interception and fumble, that lead to 14 points for Philadelphia. He bounced back with a touchdown to Owens again in the second quarter and another touchdown to RB Marion Barber in the third quarter. The Cowboys' offensive line gave Romo pretty good protection from the blitz-happy Eagles as he had time drop back and find his receivers, which was key to his success in this game.
RB Marion Barber did not do much in the first half of this game as the Eagles did a good job of holding him to 12 yards on seven carries in the first half. But the second half was a totally different story for Barber who scored two touchdowns and added 102 yards of total offense in that half. Like so often is the case, Barber looked seemed to get stronger and run harder as the game went on and was a big factor in the second half of the game.
WR Terrell Owens had a very big first half and got off to a quick start by getting open deep behind the Philadelphia pass coverage for a 72 yard touchdown. It was his 131st receiving touchdown which put him second all-time, only behind Jerry Rice. He would catch a second touchdown later in the half on a quick slant for four yards. The Eagles did a good job shutting him down in the second half as he did not catch a pass in the second half.
Arkansas rookie Felix Jones showed his phenomenal speed by returning a kickoff 98 yards for a touchdown in the first quarter of the game. Jones averaged 41 yards a return on six attempts.
What you ought to knowQB Donovan McNabb, Pass: 25 - 37 - 281 - 1 TD / 0 INT, Rush: 5 - 20 - 0 - McNabb played very well in the game, finding receivers with exceptional accuracy and making good decisions. He also looked much more nimble when the pass rush did get to him, often eluding defenders and buying more time with his feet. But McNabb often had all day to sit in the pocket and throw in the first half, as the Dallas pass rush wasn't very effective early in the game. McNabb got his only touchdown pass when he hit RB Brian Westbrook on short pass out in the flat and he took it in for a six yard touchdown. Later on in the half in what was a bizarre play, he threw a deep pass to rookie WR DeSean Jackson on what appeared to be a 61 yard touchdown pass, but Jackson tossed the ball behind him as he started to celebrate too early on what should have been McNabb's second touchdown pass of the game. He did have a big first half and finished the half with 181 yards and one touchdown. The Dallas defense played a lot better in the second only giving up seven points. McNabb came close to having another passing touchdown to WR Greg Lewis in the second half, but Lewis was tackled on the one yard line.
RB Brian Westbrook, Rush: 18 - 58 - 2, Rec: 6 - 45 - 1 (7 targets) - Westbrook had an excellent game and took advantage of every opportunity near the goal line. RB Tony Hunt almost got a carry from goal line, but a penalty pushed the ball back to the six yard line, which open the door for Westbrook to come back into the game and catch a six yard pass for a touchdown. Westbrook looked terrific in the open field, making defenders miss and gaining extra yards. Unfortunately, he did not have too much rushing room and did most of his damage in the passing game. Westbrook was the benefactor of WR DeSean Jackson's bonehead play after he dropped the ball before crossing the goal line to celebrate a possible touchdown. Westbrook dove into the end zone on the next play of the game for a one yard touchdown and his second score of the game. Westbrook got his third touchdown of the game on another one yard run where his second effort got him the score.
RB Correll Buckhalter, Rec: 2 - 15 - 0 (3 targets) - Buckhalter had two catches for 15 yards, but did not have a rush in the game.
RB Tony Hunt - Hunt was going to get a goal line carry from the one yard line but one of the offensive linemen jumped early and penalty was called pushing the ball back to the six yard line. He had no carries and catches in the game.
WR DeSean Jackson, Rec: 6 - 110 - 0 (6 targets) - Jackson made one of the more memorable boneheaded plays in recent memory. He caught what appeared to be a beautiful 61 yard touchdown pass from QB Donovan McNabb on a perfectly thrown deep ball, but Jackson appeared to drop the ball before the goal line as he started to celebrate. The play was challenged and it was determined he dropped the ball before crossing the goal line. The ball was given to Philadelphia on the one yard line. Jackson did have an exceptional game as led the team in receiving with six catches and 110 yards receiving.
WR Greg Lewis, Rec: 3 - 36 - 0 (6 targets) - Lewis caught a 17 yard pass across the middle for a first down early in the first quarter for his only catch of the first half. Lewis did have a few scoring opportunities later in the game. He got open deep behind the coverage and may have had a touchdown, but the Cowboys' defender was able to get his fingers on the pass and tip it away. QB Donovan McNabb tried to go back to Lewis again on the next drive on a deep pass into the end zone. Lewis did not catch the ball, but did draw a questionable pass interference penalty. Lewis almost had a touchdown in the fourth quarter when he caught a 13 yard pass and was tackled just before the goal line.
WR Jason Avant, Rec: 2 - 28 - 0 (4 targets) - Avant caught his first pass after a vicious hit from a Cowboys defender but was able to bring the ball down after it was jarred loose for a 12 yard gain and a first down. He had two catches for 28 yards the game.
WR Hank Baskett, Rec: 2 - 10 - 0 (3 targets) - He had two catches for ten yards in the game.
TE L.J. Smith, Rec: 1 - 10 - 0 (4 targets) - Smith only had one catch for ten yards in the game. He did almost have one very long catch, but the pass was knocked down by the defender.
PK David Akers 3 - 3 FG, 4 - 4 XP, 13 points - Akers made a 34 and 44 yard field goals on first two drives of the game. He would add a 22 yard field goal before the end of the first half.
PHI Rush Defense - LB Chris Gocong recovered a QB Tony Romo fumble in the end zone for a defensive touchdown. Philadelphia did a good job of shutting down RB Marion Barber in the first half holding him to 12 yards. They held the Cowboys running backs to a very respectable 73 yards in the game.PHI Pass Defense - Asante Samuel intercepted a pass late in the first quarter to give the Eagles excellent field position and set up their first touchdown. Philadelphia struggle to get pressure on the quarterback in the first half, but did a lot more blitzing in the second half. They did not get a sack in the game. QB Tony Romo, Pass: 21 - 30 - 312 - 3 TD / 1 INT, Rush: 3 - -5 - 0 - Romo wasted no time going to work by hitting WR Terrell Owens deep down the field on a 72 yard pass. The touchdown throw was a perfect strike over the defense as he hit Owens in full stride. It was longest pass touchdown in Romo's young career. Things went down hill briefly for Romo as he threw an interception on the next possession that set up an Eagles' touchdown. On very next possession, with the Cowboys backed up in their own end zone, he bobbled the ball while trying to hand it the running back and the Eagles eventually recovered the ball for a touchdown. Romo came back and led the team on 54 yard drive and capped it off with a four yard touchdown pass to Owens. He was nine for 13 for 177 yards and two touchdowns in the first half. Romo's third touchdown of the game came on nice 17 yard pass to RB Marion Barber in the third quarter. The Philadelphia defense seemed to blitz a lot more in the second half as he seemed to have less time to pass in the second half. Despite the couple of miscues early in the game, Romo played very well, making several big plays in the second half.
RB Marion Barber III, Rush: 18 - 63 - 1, Rec: 4 - 51 - 1 (5 targets) - Barber had very little room to run in the first half against a tough Philadelphia run defense and only gained 12 yards on seven carries. After a quiet first half, Barber had a big second half. Barber had his biggest run of the game on an 18 yard run on the first play of the second half. He then caught a 17 yard touchdown pass later in the third quarter as he showed his versatility as a pass catcher. Barber seemed to wear down the Philadelphia defense somewhat in the second half and he added another touchdown with a one yard run.
RB Felix Jones, Rush: 3 - 10 - 0 - Jones made huge play early in the game by returning a kickoff 98 yards for a touchdown in the first quarter. He only had three carries for ten yards in the game.
WR Terrell Owens, Rec: 3 - 89 - 2 (6 targets) - Owens made a splash early in this game by getting open behind the coverage and QB Tony Romo hit with a perfect deep pass for a 72 yard touchdown pass. The touchdown reception put him only behind Jerry Rice for all-time touchdown receptions with 131. Owens beat S Brian Dawkins on a short slant route for his second touchdown reception of the first half. Owens had a 54 yard reception called back on a holding penalty in the second quarter. He had three catches for 89 yards and two touchdowns in the first half. The Eagles made a concerted effort to stop in the second half as they doubled him often and had maybe their best cover cornerback, Lito Sheppard, cover him a lot. Owens did get another great scoring opportunity late in the game as he had a ball thrown to him in the end zone, but he was practically tackled before the ball reached him by the defender in what was an obvious pass interference. After a big first half Owens did not have a catch in the second half.
WR Patrick Crayton, Rec: 2 - 23 - 0 (3 targets) - Despite a big day in the passing game, Crayton only caught two passes for 23 yards.
TE Jason Witten, Rec: 7 - 110 - 0 (11 targets) - Witten was pretty quiet most of the first half but caught a big 42 yard pass over the middle of the field toward the end of the first half. He finished the half with three receptions for 59 yards. He was QB Tony Romo's favorite target in the second half. Witten had a big 32 yard catch over the middle late in the game that almost resulted in a touchdown, but he was tackled around the five yard line. Romo seemed to look for Witten more often as the Eagles' defense keyed in WR Terrell Owens. He finished as Dallas' leading receiver with seven catches and 110 yards.
TE Martellus Bennett, Rec: 1 - 20 - 0 (3 targets) - Bennett caught a short pass and took it 20 yards for a first down in the second quarter for his only catch of the game.
PK Nick Folk 2 - 2 FG, 5 - 5 XP, 11 points - Folk made a 54 yard field goal at the end of the first half and added a 47 yard kick in the second half.
DAL Rush Defense - Dallas got their only turnover of the game on fumble recovery by DT Jay Ratliff in the fourth quarter. The rush defense played pretty well, they only gave up 58 yards rushing against RB Brian Westbrook.DAL Pass Defense - The Dallas secondary played poorly in the first half as they gave up several big plays and the Eagles had no trouble moving the ball. They did not get much of pass rush in the first half, but got a little more pressure in the second half and finished with four sacks.
San Diego Chargers 38, Denver Broncos 39
What you need to knowSan Diego Chargers - Star RB LaDainian Tomlinson came into the game with a sprained toe that he suffered in Week 1. He re-injured it during this game and was checked out on the sideline. Tomlinson returned to play sparingly, though he didn't see an offensive touch in the fourth quarter.
After starter LaDainian Tomlinson reinjured his toe, backup Darren Sproles put the Chargers on his back. He tied a team record with a 103 yard kick return touchdown and added another 125 yards from scrimmage on just nine touches (including a 66 yard touchdown reception late in the fourth quarter).
QB Philip Rivers continued his ascension into the NFL's elite. After a rough start for the San Diego offense, he marched them downfield for several second half scoring drives and put up some gaudy numbers to match Denver QB Jay Cutler.
WR Chris Chambers hauled in two more touchdown passes from Rivers, and the two seem to be developing quite a rapport. He has now scored in each of his last four games dating back to last season.Denver Broncos - WR Brandon Marshall made up for lost time after missing last week's game and simply could not be covered by the Chargers. He set a Denver team record with a whopping 18 receptions on mostly short and intermediate routes.
QB Jay Cutler is unquestionably the leader of this team and played extremely well to move the ball. He did have two costly turnovers in the red zone, though he was bailed out of one by an official's error. For the most part, however, he showed terrific poise and arm strength.
TE Tony Scheffler had a coming out party of sorts in the first half. He scored twice in the second quarter to help get the Denver offense going, and they didn't look back from there.
What you ought to knowQB Philip Rivers, Pass: 21 - 33 - 377 - 3 TD / 1 INT - Rivers truly appears to be coming into his own in his third full season as the team's starter. It helped that he was given ample time to throw, but even when he wasn't given a ton of time he was able to improvise well and elude the oncoming rush. He was sacked just once and intercepted once, though the interception was controversial. Rivers appeared to have connected with Chris Chambers for a reception, but as Chambers was tackled by CB Champ Bailey, the ball came loose and Bailey recovered. The ruling on the field was questionable at best, as it appeared that Chambers' arm was already down prior to the ball coming out. Unfortunately for Rivers and the Chargers, the replay equipment had malfunctioned and the officials were unable to view a replay for the challenge. The call stood, and it was ruled an interception since it was determined that Chambers had never maintained possession of the football. Later in the first quarter, Rivers overthrew a wide open Chris Chambers in the end zone for what would have been an easy score. Despite these setbacks and the early game woes of the San Diego offense, Rivers was able to regroup the team and lead them on several first half scoring drives to get the team back in the game. The San Diego offense didn't miss a beat when LaDainian Tomlinson went out of the lineup; they simply took to the air more. That is perhaps the biggest difference of this Charger team. If Tomlinson is ineffective or injured, they can still move the football because the passing game has been so outstanding. His long touchdown pass to Chambers later in the first half was a thing of beauty, as the ball was perfectly placed just beyond CB Champ Bailey. Rivers' stats were certainly helped along by his teammates in the second half. FB Mike Tolbert took a simple circle pass and turned it upfield for a 67 yard gain. RB Darren Sproles grabbed a screen pass and took off for a 66 yard score. And Chambers added a second touchdown displaying remarkable body control in reaching up and over the defender to snatch the ball out of his grasp for the score.
RB LaDainian Tomlinson, Rush: 10 - 26 - 0, Rec: 2 - 14 - 0 (2 targets) - Tomlinson, who suffered a sprained toe in last week's loss against the Panthers, was in and out of the lineup for much of the afternoon. He appeared to re-injure the toe trying to block LB Boss Bailey, though it could have conceivably happened on any number of plays. Denver was getting a great push up front from the defensive line, but it didn't help that Tomlinson seemed to lack an ability to really drive back at them. He lacked that burst that we typically see from him, and wasn't very effective. He spent much of the second quarter on the bench with his shoe off as the training staff checked out his toe. He returned for the third quarter, but was again largely ineffective. He'll be re-evaluated during the week to see if there is anything that should be a concern, and we'll of course keep on top of it for you. In the meantime, Tomlinson's backup, Darren Sproles, should already be on a roster in every league but just in case he's not he'll certainly be a waiver priority this week.
RB Darren Sproles, Rush: 7 - 53 - 0, Rec: 2 - 72 - 1 (2 targets) - There aren't enough superlatives to adequately describe how good Darren Sproles looked with the ball in his hands. As if a 103 yard kick return touchdown to tie a team record wasn't enough, he provided more than adequate relief in place of injured LaDainian Tomlinson. Sproles picked up 125 yards from scrimmage on just nine offensive touches, most of the yardage coming in spectacular fashion. He stole back the momentum with the return touchdown, which really provided the spark to get San Diego back in the game. And he consistently looked to have a better burst off the line than Tomlinson. At no time was that more evident than on his 66 yard touchdown reception late in the fourth quarter. Sproles took a simple screen and turned upfield like he was shot from a cannon. The Denver defenders appeared to badly underestimate his acceleration, as several players appeared to have an angle on a tackle only to watch him fly right by them. His afternoon could have been even more spectacular had he not lost a long gain due to a penalty. He sprinted upfield for nearly fifty yards, but a holding penalty downfield by WR Chris Chambers wiped out much of the run and Sproles had to settle for a 15 yard gain. With the news on Tomlinson so up in the air, Sproles is clearly a player to keep an eye on. During the preseason, most were unsure who would receive the lion's share of the work between Sproles and Jacob Hester if Tomlinson were to get hurt. Sproles saw twelve touches in this game to Hester's zero, so that question has been answered rather emphatically.
RB Mike Tolbert, Rush: 1 - 1 - 0, Rec: 2 - 68 - 0 (2 targets) - The little used fullback caught a simple circle pass over the middle and turned it upfield for a huge gain of 67 yards. In a game that featured 77 points and nearly 1,000 yards worth of yards from scrimmage, it's a bit surprising to see that a 243 pound fullback turned in the game's longest play. He's not likely to have many more 67 yard receptions the rest of the way, but could be leaned on a bit more in the passing game if Tomlinson isn't at full strength over the next few games.
WR Vincent Jackson, Rec: 6 - 73 - 0 (8 targets) - Jackson's contributions were somewhat sporadic, though he did catch a team-high six passes on the day. He caught passes in bunches it seemed, and then almost disappeared from the offense for stretches. The passes were spread around fairly evenly amongst the San Diego receivers, so he only saw one pass head his way in the end zone.
WR Chris Chambers, Rec: 4 - 83 - 2 (11 targets) - For the fourth consecutive game, Chambers was able to find the end zone. He and QB Philip Rivers are becoming one of the league's better QB/WR combos, and this game was a perfect illustration of that. Despite some bad luck early on, Chambers and Rivers were able to connect several times on some big plays that made up for the fact that he wasn't catching a high number of passes. Chambers lost a reception early in the game when he and Denver CB Champ Bailey went to the ground fighting for the ball. Replays appeared to confirm that Chambers had caught the ball and was down by contact, but the ruling on the field was that the ball had been intercepted. Because the replay equipment wasn't working properly, the call on the field stood. Later, Chambers lost 18 more receiving yards on a penalty. But it wasn't a penalty on San Diego. The call was against Denver. The Chambers catch would have given the Chargers 18 more yards but would have set up a third and two situation. The penalty on Denver only gave San Diego five yards, but it resulted in an automatic first down. The Chargers opted to take the penalty and give up the yardage, so hopefully there aren't any Chambers owners out there who lost their games by less than two points. Later on that same drive, Chambers got wide open in the end zone but an overzealous Rivers overthrew him for an incompletion. Despite the early-game bad luck, Chambers settled in to have an outstanding game. First, he beat Champ Bailey deep for a 48 yard touchdown bomb. And later, he made an acrobatic leap of a short fade pass to the front corner of the end zone. He had to reach down and in front of the defender to snag the ball out of the air on the play, and he made it look easy.
WR Legedu Naanee, Rec: 1 - 6 - 0 (3 targets) - Naanee's big contributions to this game were that he failed to haul in a pass intended for him in the end zone, but later caught the two point conversion that put the Chargers up by seven points. He wasn't a huge factor in the passing attack, however.
TE Antonio Gates, Rec: 4 - 61 - 0 (7 targets) - It could just be that Gates is still at less than 100%, but after two games it appears that the Chargers are focusing more on getting the ball into the hands of the wide receivers than they are to Gates. He's still an integral part of this offense, but his contributions may be more quality than quantity, at least for the time being. He was targeted just once deep down the field, and the pass was nowhere within reach for him. He also wasn't thrown to once down near the end zone, typically a staple of Gates' game.
PK Nate Kaeding 3 - 3 FG, 3 - 3 XP, 12 points - Kaeding connected on three chip shot field goals (34, 21, 28), but what was more noteworthy was how many kickoffs he put into the end zone for touchbacks. Kaeding kicked off eight times in this game. Six of those kicks went for touchbacks, with the other two going into the end zone but being returned anyway. It could have been the thin air of Denver, or perhaps Kaeding's leg strength is much-improved over past seasons. If it's the latter, that can only help him in terms of fantasy value.
SD Rush Defense - Lost in all of the madness of Jay Cutler's 350 yard performance and the game's wild finish is the fact that Denver ran the ball exceptionally well against the Chargers. Denver rushers carried 24 times for 145 yards (6.0 YPC) and a touchdown. Some more very poor tackling by San Diego defenders constantly allowed Bronco rushers to pick up several yards after contact on nearly every play. More significantly, the Chargers over pursuit of the run game was absolutely killing them on several occasions. Denver got a great push up front from the offensive line, and San Diego looked very poor in this aspect. The most glaring example of this was in the second quarter. Facing a second and 24 situation, Selvin Young took the handoff to his right. He stopped momentarily, allowing several Charger defenders to over pursue right by him. He quickly changed direction and scampered the other way for a 49 yard gain on a drive that eventually led to a field goal.SD Pass Defense - It's difficult to play much worse in any one phase of the game than the Chargers did in this regard. They did intercept Jay Cutler once, on a ball thrown directly at Antoine Cason in the end zone. But they failed to sack him at all, and didn't really come all that close, either. It's difficult to play well when your best defensive player, All-Pro CB Antonio Cromartie, is being repeatedly torched by the opposition's best player. Cromartie had a game he very likely wants to forget all about. Among his many lowlights: he dropped a sure interception in the third quarter, he was whistled for two penalties, he allowed the Brandon Marshall touchdown late in the first half, he missed several tackles, and the man he was covering for most of the game (the aforementioned Marshall) hauled in a team-record 18 passes for 166 yards. The eighteen receptions represented the second-highest single game total in league history, and was just two off the all-time mark held by Terrell Owens. The San Diego secondary was very nearly bailed out by a Jay Cutler gaffe late in the fourth quarter, but some bad luck and an unfortunate decision by the referee ensured that they would ultimately be the goats in this contest. Cutler rolled out and dropped the ball while attempting to pass, resulting in what appeared to be a game-clinching fumble. San Diego recovered, but due to a mistaken call by an official, the Broncos retained possession. Two plays later, Eddie Royal beat the Chargers for a touchdown, and Royal again beat several defenders on the ensuing two point conversion try. CB Quentin Jammer limped off the field early in the third quarter, but returned to play the ensuing defensive series. QB Jay Cutler, Pass: 36 - 50 - 350 - 4 TD / 1 INT, Rush: 2 - 6 - 0 - Cutler is the hero of the game after throwing for 350 yards and four touchdown passes, including the game-winning two point conversion with just :24 left in the game. But he could have just as easily been remembered as the goat, if not for a costly turnover and an official's mistaken call that saved him from a second one. Throughout the contest, Cutler essentially had his way with the San Diego secondary. He connected with WR Brandon Marshall a whopping 18 times as Marshall shattered the Denver record for receptions in a single game. Cutler also rediscovered his TE Tony Scheffler, tossing two touchdowns his way in the first half. He showed great awareness at all times, particularly on a third quarter pass. He fumbled the ball in the backfield, but had the wherewithal to calmly pick it up and actually complete a pass despite the oncoming rush. About the only blemish anyone could have pointed to on his ledger was a shot that the CBS cameras caught of him on the sideline. After the Denver defense had allowed a key third down conversion, Cutler looked visibly ticked off. It may be reading too much into it, but it could be perceived as showing up his defense if Cutler is going to be so outward with his frustrations when they don't do their jobs. Aside from that possibly benign instance, he had a nearly flawless afternoon. Until the fourth quarter, that is. He threw an interception in the San Diego end zone on a pass intended for Eddie Royal. It was a bad read by Cutler and a very poor decision. The Chargers quickly turned that turnover into a touchdown, and the lead. Cutler then led Denver on a late drive in the fourth quarter with Denver trailing 38-31. Facing a second down at the doorstep of the San Diego end zone, Cutler rolled out and attempted to throw a pass to Michael Pittman in the flat. Cutler wound up, but the ball slipped out of his hands. San Diego recovered the ball, seemingly ending the game. Referee Ed Hochuli, however, had blown his whistle to signify an incomplete pass. Despite the fact that the ball was very clearly fumbled (or at the very least a backward lateral, essentially the same as a fumble), it was ruled incomplete -- admittedly a mistake according to Hochuli. With new life, Cutler found WR Eddie Royal in the end zone for the score and Royal again on the next play for the eventual game-winning two pointer.
RB Selvin Young, Rush: 8 - 78 - 0, Rec: 1 - 8 - 0 (2 targets) - Young, unlike Andre Hall and Michael Pittman, had one big gain that set him apart in this contest. For the most part, the Broncos picked up several yards here and several yards there without many huge gains. Young was the only one of the three to actually get loose for a long run, though it was more a case of the Chargers playing poor defense than anything spectacular Young did. He ran to his right and was met by a sea of tacklers. Fortunately for Young, that sea of tacklers was mostly made up of players who were in the process of badly over pursuing him and in the process of losing their containment of him on the back side. So he changed direction, turned upfield, and had himself an easy 49 yard run.
RB Michael Pittman, Rush: 7 - 30 - 1 - Pittman is very clearly the Denver short yardage/goal line back at this point. The first opportunity the Broncos got near the goal line, Pittman's number was called. And after being stuffed for a one yard gain on his first chance, he leaped over the pile and into the end zone for a one yard plunge on second down. On the eventual game-winning drive, Pittman was again given the opportunity to score from the two yard line, but was stopped short after a one yard gain.
RB Andre Hall, Rush: 7 - 31 - 0 - Selvin Young was the more effective runner between the 20's, and Michael Pittman saw all of the goal line looks. So all in all, it was not a banner day for the fantasy prospects of Hall. He didn't look bad running the ball, but with only seven offensive touches on the day, it's tough to make a significant impact. If Hall isn't going to be a primary focus even on a day when Denver scores 39 points, one has to wonder when he will at all.
WR Brandon Marshall, Rec: 18 - 166 - 1 (21 targets) - No, that isn't a typo. Marshall, making his season debut after a Week 1 suspension, was thrown to an astounding 21 times. Perhaps even more amazing is the fact that he caught 18 of them. He broke Rod Smith's team record of 14 receptions in one game, and came within two of tying Terrell Owens for the all-time NFL record of 20. He did finish with 166 yards, and 34 of those yards came on one play. Which means his other 17 receptions went for just 132 yards (7.8 YPC). That suggests, correctly, that almost all of the damage done by Marshall was on short and intermediate routes. Denver had so much success with those types of passes that it made no sense to do anything else. Marshall abused San Diego's All-Pro cornerback Antonio Cromartie, all game long. On Denver's two minute drill to end the first half, Marshall caught six passes -- on one drive. He then capped it off by displaying some nice footwork to remain inbounds for a touchdown just before the first half clock ran out. He nearly added a second score late in the fourth quarter on his 18th reception of the game, but he was taken down at the San Diego two yard line. Any fears fantasy owners may have had about Marshall and rookie upstart Eddie Royal turning Denver's passing game into a 1A and 1B situation were put to rest after this performance.
WR Eddie Royal, Rec: 5 - 37 - 1 (9 targets) - Following his smashing debut a week ago, fans were eager to see what Royal would do for an encore. It took him awhile, but he eventually lived up to the hype. Statistically, he couldn't come close to matching what Brandon Marshall did (18 receptions, 166 yards). But he made two of the biggest plays of the entire afternoon, both on the eventual game-winning drive. To start off, he hauled in the game-tying touchdown on fourth down that San Diego's lead to 38-37. Rather than go for the extra point, Denver head coach Mike Shanahan opted to go for the two point conversion. QB Jay Cutler found Royal between several defenders for the two pointer, but unfortunately for Royal, he was tackled awkwardly on the play. He remained on the ground for a little extra time, though there was no immediate report after the game as to whether he had suffered an injury.
WR Brandon Stokley, Rec: 3 - 47 - 0 (6 targets) - Stokley quietly caught three balls for 47 yards. He wasn't heavily involved in the gameplan despite the fact that the Broncos threw it fifty times. That's mostly due to the fact that they had so much success throwing it to Brandon Marshall that there was no reason to go elsewhere.
TE Tony Scheffler, Rec: 6 - 64 - 2 (10 targets) - After a Week 1 performance that saw him catch just one pass and drop another that would've gone for an easy touchdown, Scheffler came out of the gate ready to roll in Week 2. He caught five first half passes, including two touchdowns, and forced the Chargers to make an adjustment to cover him. They did, and he had a quiet second half with just one reception. Still, the damage he did before halftime was significant. He showed great hands on the first score, and beat S Clinton Hart downfield for the second one. He and Cutler have certainly picked up where they left off last season as far as having a mental connection with one another, and that's more than evident in the stat line. He nearly added a third score in the fourth quarter, though that would've been more of a case of simply being in the right place at the right time. Daniel Graham had a ball deflected away from him and it bounded towards the back of the end zone towards Scheffler, but it was just beyond his reach.
TE Daniel Graham, Rec: 2 - 22 - 0 (5 targets) - Graham actually saw a fairly decent number of targets, including once in the end zone, but it was very clear to see that he is predominantly a blocker in this offense while Tony Scheffler is the pass catching tight end.
PK Matt Prater 1 - 1 FG, 4 - 4 XP, 7 points - Prater's only field goal attempt of the game came from 52 yards out. He didn't exactly crush it through the uprights, but it got through with a few yards of leeway on the end of it.
DEN Rush Defense - Surprisingly, Denver was very effective at containing RB LaDainian Tomlinson early on. When Tomlinson went to the bench in the second quarter with a reoccurrence of his toe injury, it became a little clearer as to why the Broncos had success. Tomlinson's backup, undersized Darren Sproles, rolled for 53 yards on seven carries. That doesn't necessarily mean that Tomlinson would've been successful if he had been healthy, but it's likely that he would've mustered up more than 26 yards on ten carries. Still, the Broncos got a very good push up front from the defensive line and linebacking crew. That, coupled with the fact that Denver jumped out to such an early lead, really helped turn the Chargers into a one dimensional passing offense, which obviously made it easier to slow the run game.DEN Pass Defense - Despite the presence of cornerbacks like Champ Bailey and Dre Bly, the Broncos had a ton of trouble keeping the San Diego receivers in check. WR Chris Chambers was open all over the field against Bailey, and the Chargers almost seemed to make it a point to attack Bailey's side of the field whenever possible. It helped that Rivers was being afforded a ton of time to throw the ball, as the Broncos had very little in the way of a pass rush against him. Bailey was credited with an interception, though it's very much up for debate as to whether or not he should've had one. While covering Chambers, Bailey tried ripping the ball loose. Chambers appeared to be down before the ball came loose, but the ruling on the field was an interception. The Chargers challenged the call, but the replay booth wasn't working properly within the allotted two minute timeframe, and so the call had to stand.
New Orleans Saints 24, Washington Redskins 29
What you need to knowNew Orleans Saints - With Marques Colston out for the game, many fans were wondering who would be the beneficiary of this from a fantasy perspective. The starting receivers for the game were David Patten and Devery Henderson as expected. The Saints also mixed in Robert Meachem, Lance Moore and Terrance Copper at spots during the game. Some suggested that TE Jeremy Shockey was expected to see more targets in Colston's absence, however this did not materialize. Reggie Bush and David Patten were the favored targets of Brees throughout the day as they both had double digit targets.
RB Reggie Bush was contained all day on offense especially running the ball. He went for a paltry 2.8 average per carry. The Redskins were effective at neutralizing Bush for no big gains in the passing game as well. His longest offensive play went for 14 yards.
QB Drew Brees was better than his line showed. The game plan was very conservative with much of the passing being of the short and dump off variety. Both interceptions were not poor decisions or bad throws. The first interception was to Jeremy Shockey who had the ball glance off of his hands. The other pick was caused by a deflected pass at the line of scrimmage. Both throws were nabbed by rookie Chris Horton of the Redskins secondary.Washington Redskins - After a rather pedestrian start to the game, Clinton Portis and the left side of his offensive line got things untracked. Portis had big gain after big gain with power sweeps and toss plays to the left. Portis and the run game took control of the game and tired the Saints defense.
Santana Moss came up big. He caught the game winning touchdown late in the fourth quarter on a perfectly thrown ball by QB Jason Campbell. The winning play went for 67 yards as Moss simply blew by his defender. Moss was the deep target on multiple throws and showed his explosiveness throughout the game.
We have a Chris Cooley sighting! The Pro Bowl TE was much more involved with the offense and the overall game plan. This has to be a welcomed sight for Redskin and Cooley fans alike as last week Cooley was a total non-factor.
What you ought to knowQB Drew Brees, Pass: 22 - 33 - 216 - 1 TD / 2 INT, Rush: 1 - 9 - 0 - It was not a day Drew Brees will remember fondly. In his defense, he completed an impressive 66% of his passes and neither of the 2 interceptions were his doing. The Washington defense was able to generate a sufficient pass rush to limit his time in the pocket to look down the field for big plays. Many of Brees completions were of the short variety. He was frequently checking the ball down to his RB's. It was clear that he missed injured WR Marques Colston's big body and frame to throw to. He led a drive just before the half that was ruthlessly efficient and ended up with the Saints kicking a field goal. The lone touchdown pass of the contest went to Robert Meachem when the Saints went to a four wide set.
RB Reggie Bush, Rush: 10 - 28 - 0, Rec: 7 - 63 - 0 (10 targets) - The Washington Redskin defense deserves a ton of credit for keeping Bush in check. Bush was unable to get much going against the pumped up Redskins who stacked the box frequently. Most of his rushing yards came on two draw plays during the final drive right before the half. The Redskins were in a prevent style defense at the time and were happy to give the Saints and Bush small chucks of yards in the run game. Aside from these plays it was a forgettable day on the ground.Bush hauled in seven receptions for 63 yards. Most of the plays were screens, short outs and swing passes that never netted big plays. The highlight of the day for Bush came on a punt return that he took to the house for 55 yards.
RB Pierre Thomas, Rush: 6 - 8 - 1, Rec: 2 - 29 - 0 (2 targets) - Thomas was featured often in the red zone in favor of Bush. Both of his targets came from inside the 20 yard line and he saw goal line carries. He was successful in converting one of his goal line carries for a short touchdown. Thomas runs hard but lacked wiggle in this game. With the limited running lanes he did not fare too well only amassing eight yards.
RB Deuce McAllister, Rush: 2 - 10 - 0 - McAllister made a very brief appearance in the game when the Saints were looking for some sort of running spark. He entered the game in the third quarter and made the most of his limited carries. He ran hard and got positive yards on both of his carries. It looks like the Saints coaching staff want to bring him back slowly from his injury.
RB Mike Karney, Rec: 1 - 3 - 0 (2 targets) - The big fullback was targeted for two passes, one of them being in the red zone. The other pass was caught for a short gain on a check down.
WR David Patten, Rec: 5 - 55 - 0 (11 targets) - It was obvious that Brees was using Bush and Patten as his primary options. Patten had a solid game with 55 yards. He was primarily used as a possession type receiver with many of his routes being of the short and intermediate range. Patten ran good routes throughout the day and after some early success he started to garner more attention from the Washington defense. Patten was targeted in the red zone as well.
WR Devery Henderson, Rec: 2 - 6 - 0 (3 targets) - Henderson had a quiet day getting only three targets. On both of his catches it was apparent that he was not the primary read for QB Drew Brees. These were both scramble type receptions for little gain. Henderson was targeted for a deep ball after an excellent play action fake from Brees. They play was ultimately broken up by the defender who made a great play in coverage otherwise this would have been a long score.
WR Robert Meachem, Rec: 1 - 19 - 1 (1 targets) - Meachem was thrown to sparingly. He seemed to be in the game in some single WR sets as well as three and four wide receiver sets. On his only target he scored a touchdown when he was left uncovered in the end zone. He is a player to watch during the next couple of weeks to see if his work load increases.
TE Jeremy Shockey, Rec: 2 - 22 - 0 (3 targets) - Shockey was a seeing a lot of double coverage with Washington linebackers and safeties. It was a rough game for Shockey as he lost a fumble and had another ball glance off of his hands for an interception. It has been a slow start to the year for the new TE.
TE Mark Campbell, Rec: 1 - 12 - 0 (3 targets) - In a mild surprise, back up TE Campbell had as many targets as counterpart Jeremy Shockey. On his lone catch he showed excellent hands and was able to hold onto the ball while surrounded in coverage.
PK Martin Gramatica 1 - 1 FG, 3 - 3 XP, 6 points - Gramatica drilled a 49 yard field in his only attempt and was three for three in his extra point tries.
NO Rush Defense - After holding Clinton Portis in check for much of the first half they ended up giving up two rushing touchdowns and 149 yards. Time of possession was a factor as this defense tired as the game wore on. It was an extremely hot day in Washington and the Saints were wearing the away black jerseys.NO Pass Defense - This is a banged up group with many starters injured, they also lost CB Aaron Glenn in the second half. Washington passed for 306 yards and they never found an answer for the duo of Santana Moss and Chris Cooley. QB Jason Campbell, Pass: 24 - 36 - 321 - 1 TD / 0 INT, Rush: 3 - 1 - 0 - Campbell and his team outplayed the Saints in the first half but could not convert any of their first five drives into touchdowns, instead settling for field goal attempts in all cases. Campbell was moved around quite a bit during the game. He started the game doing some shot gun formations which was not part of the offense in week one. Coach Jim Zorn also called many plays that had Campbell rolling out to move the pocket and slow the Saints rush attack. Campbell threw for over 300 yards and progressively got better as the pressure increased. He displayed a great rapport with both Chris Cooley and Santana Moss. He did an excellent job of leading his receivers which led to some impressive after catch results. Quicker reads and decisive throws were seen this week as Campbell reduced his poor decision making and increased his accuracy. Campbell really took charge of this offense leading them to back-to-back scores in the fourth quarter. All in all it was an excellent outing.
RB Clinton Portis, Rush: 21 - 96 - 2, Rec: 2 - 3 - 0 (1 targets) - Portis during the week called out his teammates and coaching staff with regards to last weeks performance. He made good on his ask for more carries and refocus on the run game. The Saints defense started strong and bottled up Portis for much of the first half. In the second half the Redskins found their old power run game and hammered the Saints right side on their defense. Portis and company had multiple runs that generated big gains behind their left guard, tackle and leading full back.Portis displayed his trademark patience in following his blockers, especially FB Mike Sellers. On his first touchdown run he sat in Sellers back pocket the whole run until he could just leap over the fallen blocker for a score.
RB Ladell Betts, Rush: 6 - 25 - 0, Rec: 2 - 8 - 0 (5 targets) - Much like Portis, Betts found huge holes on the left side of his offensive line. There was a return to more of a power style running game. This fit Betts hard running style very well. Betts looked crisp and displayed his trademark power by running over several would tacklers. His two catches came on a swing pass and a check down for a total of eight yards.
RB Mike Sellers, Rec: 1 - 1 - 0 (1 targets) - Sellers had an outstanding game from a blocking perspective but had very few opportunities for touches.
WR Santana Moss, Rush: 1 - 27 - 0, Rec: 7 - 164 - 1 (7 targets) - Moss had a near perfect game. He was a thorn in the sides of the Saints secondary the entire game. He displayed his outstanding speed and after the catch abilities. He and Campbell were on the same page all game long and eventually hooked up for the game winning touchdown late in the fourth quarter. Another key play came was the fourth and two that Campbell showed his confidence in Moss and called a slant which was easily converted for the first down and ended any hopes for the Saints.
WR Antwaan Randle El, Rec: 4 - 53 - 0 (6 targets) - Randle El was flying all over the field. He is known for his speed and strong route running and this game was no different. He really aided a scrambling Campbell on a couple of occasion. He was smart enough to come back for the ball to convert some key third down situations.
WR James Thrash, Rec: 1 - 8 - 0 (2 targets) - Thrash was only used in three wide receiver sets and saw limited targets. It appears that Thrash is moving down the depth chart with the coaching staff wanting to develop the rookies Thomas and Kelly.
WR Malcolm Kelly, Rec: 1 - 6 - 0 (2 targets) - Kelly made a nice catch to convert a third down were he ran a good slant route.
WR Devin Thomas (1 targets) - Thomas was unable to come up with a catch on his one target as he was blanketed by Aaron Glenn who happened to get injured on the play.
TE Chris Cooley, Rec: 5 - 72 - 0 (7 targets) - Cooley returned to form this week after a quiet 2008 debut last week. The Redskins capitalized on the mismatch that Cooley presented the Saints linebackers. Cooley was often left wide open. He had a couple of solid gains by finding the soft spots in the New Orleans zone coverage. Last week was likely not the normal stat line to expect for Cooley.
PK Shaun Suisham 3 - 4 FG, 2 - 2 XP, 11 points - Suisham was three for five on his field goal attempts. He missed from 49 yards on the first drive of the game. The other miss was from 30yards as Suisham flubbed the ball when the holder was unable to get the ball down cleanly. He was successful from 22, 36, and 35 yards respectively.
WAS Rush Defense - The Redskins stacked the box the entire game and limited the Saints to only 55 yards on 19 carries. The defense accomplished their game plan effectively in keeping the Saints one dimensional on offense. They did give up one rushing touchdown to Pierre Thomas who scored on a one yard run.WAS Pass Defense - They did a great job of limiting the Saints big play ability and made Drew Brees try to drive the entire field. The only miscue was a botched coverage by Shawn Spring allowing Robert Meachem to run uncover to the end zone for a touchdown. They did generate some pressure when they blitzed and ended up sacking Drew Brees twice.
Atlanta Falcons 9, Tampa Bay Buccaneers 24
What you need to knowAtlanta Falcons - The Falcons struggled right out of the gate as QB Matt Ryan missed his first eight pass attempts and threw two interceptions that Tampa Bay turned into scores. Ryan struggled to find time and open receivers down field throughout the game, and he finished with just 158 yards passing. He felt a great amount of pressure compared to his first start and did not get the help from his running game he did in the opener.
Michael Turner ran 14 times for just 42 yards on the ground following last week's team record breaking performance. The Buccaneers swarmed to Turner all game long and finished tackles, which made everything tougher on an offense that seems to be built around Turner and the rushing attack.Jeff Garcia saying they thought his ankle wasn't healed (Garcia disagreed) and turned the reins over to backup Brian Griese. Griese responded by throwing for 160 yards and a touchdown to lead Tampa Bay to the win. His final numbers and his actual play on the field didn't seem much different than what was seen from Garcia last week though, so it will be interesting to see how Jon Gruden reacts to the play of his signal callers.
The Buccaneers wanted to get Earnest Graham more touches against the Falcons and they did just that. Graham ran for 116 yards on 15 carries and had the game clinching score on a 68 yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter. He also had a touchdown run called back for penalty earlier in the game.
WR Joey Galloway still does not seem to be himself and looked to be slowed by injuries throughout the game, so the Buccaneers and Griese distributed the ball to a number of players in the passing game. While they didn't produce huge numbers, they came up with the only big pass play for either team when Griese connected with TE John Gilmore on a five yard score in the first quarter.
What you ought to knowQB Matt Ryan, Pass: 13 - 33 - 158 - 0 TD / 2 INT, Rush: 6 - 10 - 0 - Matt Ryan ran into the first real defense of his rookie year and the results of his stat line show what you would expect from a rookie quarterback going into Tampa Bay for the first time in his career. Ryan threw for 158 yards on 13 of 33 passing, zero touchdowns and two interceptions. He also had six rushing attempts for ten yards. While Ryan remained poised throughout the game and was able to keep the Falcons close, he still had too many costly mistakes. Ryan started the game zero of eight with two interceptions, and the Buccaneers turned that into an early 10-0 lead. The Falcons had their chances, but the pressure from Tampa Bay and their inability to run the ball were too much for Ryan and Atlanta to overcome.
RB Michael Turner, Rush: 14 - 42 - 0, Rec: 1 - 6 - 0 (1 targets) - Michael Turner and the Falcons faced a much tougher defense this week and the Tampa Bay game plan was clearly to focus on Turner and make QB Matt Ryan have to try to beat them through the air. The Buccaneers held Turner to just 42 yards on 14 attempts, for a 3.0 ypc average. He still ran hard and hit the holes with the burst he showed last week, but the difference was Tampa Bay was meeting him in those holes and finishing tackles. Turner was targeted one time in the passing game, catching the pass for an eight yard gain.
RB Jerious Norwood, Rush: 6 - 18 - 0, Rec: 1 - 8 - 0 (4 targets) - Norwood spelled Michael Turner occasionally throughout the game and finished with six rushes for 18 yards on the ground and one reception for eight yards on four targets in the passing game. He had a long run of just six yards but had just seven total touches in the game.
WR Roddy White, Rush: 1 - 2 - 0, Rec: 4 - 59 - 0 (10 targets) - White was the most targeted Atlanta receiver as he finished with ten for the game. He totaled four receptions for 59 yards and looked to be QB Matt Ryan's favorite target by far. Atlanta even tried getting the ball in White's hand on a running play and while White was only able to gain two yards, it showed the Falcons were trying to get the ball in his hands as much as possible.
WR Laurent Robinson, Rec: 4 - 45 - 0 (5 targets) - Laurent Robinson was targeted five times in the game and finished with three receptions for 26 yards. On two of his catches, Robinson showed great concentration and athleticism, as he made both a juggling catch on a ball thrown behind him and a catch on a jump ball while being covered by Tampa Bay DB Ronde Barber.
WR Michael Jenkins (7 targets) - Jenkins failed to record a reception but was targeted seven times in the game, four of which came on third downs. One attempted target to Jenkins was intercepted by Tampa Bay.
TE Ben Hartsock (1 targets) - Hartsock was targeted just one time and did not record a reception in the game.
ATL Rush Defense - Atlanta's defense allowed 164 yards on the ground and two rushing scores, but most of that damage came late in the game on Graham's long touchdown run. Prior to the Graham score, the Falcons were able to keep the Tampa Bay rushing attack in check. Unfortunately for the Atlanta defense, their offense was not able to keep them off the field and the unit seemed to wear down later in the game.
DB Lawyer Milloy led the way with seven solo tackles and one assist and rookie Curtis Lofton chipped in with five solos and three assists of his own.ATL Pass Defense - The Falcons secondary played well against Tampa Bay, as they gave up just 147 net passing yards and virtually shut down the Buccaneers passing game. They did allow a first quarter touchdown on a short field, but aside from that, Atlanta was able to keep Tampa Bay's aerial attack under control.
DL John Abraham recorded a sack and caused a Griese fumble for the Falcons.QB Brian Griese, Pass: 18 - 31 - 160 - 1 TD / 0 INT, Rush: 1 - -1 - 0 - Brian Griese got the starting nod against the Falcons, and while he started off playing pretty well, in the end Griese's numbers looked similar to a typical game from the player he replaced in the lineup, Jeff Garcia. Griese was 18 of 31 for 160 yards and a first quarter touchdown pass from five yards out to TE John Gilmore. Behind Griese, the Tampa Bay offense seemed as out of sync as it was in the opener, and Head Coach Jon Gruden look disappointed after a number of missed opportunities Griese missed throughout the game. While he did not throw any interceptions, Griese did have a fumble on a play he was flushed out of the pocket and hit from behind that Atlanta was able to recover. The good news for Griese is that the Buccaneers came out with a victory, something Garcia was unable to produce in week one.
RB Earnest Graham, Rush: 15 - 116 - 1, Rec: 1 - 12 - 0 (2 targets) - For the second week in a row, Earnest Graham looked like the best offensive player on the Tampa Bay roster. Graham rushed for 116 yards on 15 carries and caught one pass for 12 yards in the passing game. While he split carries with Warrick Dunn, Graham is still the clear starter and the guy you want in the Buccaneers backfield. Graham put the game away for Tampa Bay on a 68 yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter after Atlanta cut the deficit to eight points that put the Buccaneers up 24-9. Graham also had an eight yard touchdown run nullified for a holding penalty.
RB Warrick Dunn, Rush: 12 - 49 - 1, Rec: 3 - 21 - 0 (4 targets) - Dunn was utilized in both the running and passing attack for Tampa Bay as he finished with 12 rushes for 49 yards on the ground and three receptions for 21 yards on four targets through the air. Dunn helped the Buccaneers put away his former club with a 17 yard second quarter touchdown run. Coming off of what some thought was a down year for Dunn, he has showed glimpses of his shiftiness in the open field we saw early in his career, and for the second week in a row, Dunn was involved in a near 50/50 split for carries in the rushing attack.
WR Ike Hilliard, Rec: 4 - 41 - 0 (6 targets) - Ike Hilliard was targeted six times and finished with four receptions for 41 yards. Hilliard seems to be a security blanket no matter who the quarterback is for the Buccaneers. He was targeted four times on third downs, and three of his receptions on third down targets resulted in first downs.
WR Joey Galloway, Rec: 2 - 18 - 0 (5 targets) - Galloway received five targets and totaled just two receptions for 18 yards. For the second week in a row, he seemed to be out of sync with the Tampa Bay quarterback. Whether it's a result of him missing much of the preseason or the nagging injuries he's had so far this season, Galloway does not seem himself. Late in the game he was on the sideline with an undisclosed injury.
WR Antonio Bryant (3 targets) - Bryant was targeted three times but did not record a catch against the Falcons. His biggest contribution came as a blocker downfield on the Earnest Graham touchdown run.
TE John Gilmore, Rec: 2 - 41 - 1 (2 targets) - John Gilmore made the most out of his two targets as he caught both passes thrown his way, including a five yard touchdown on Tampa Bay's first score of the game.
TE Alex Smith, Rec: 2 - 20 - 0 (6 targets) - Smith was targeted six times and finished with two receptions for 20 yards.
PK Matt Bryant 1 - 1 FG, 3 - 3 XP, 6 points - Bryant connected from 33 yards out on his only field goal attempt for the game and added three extra points to finish with six points in the game.
TB Rush Defense - Tampa Bay knew what they had to do in order to beat the Falcons, and that was slow down RB Michael Turner. They were up to the task, as they held the Atlanta back to just 42 yards on 14 carries after his breakout performance last weekend. Their ability to completely shut down the Atlanta rushing attack allowed them to pin their ears back and go after rookie QB Matt Ryan.
LB Barrett Rudd led the way defensively with five solo tackles and three assists, but the Buccaneer front seven all contributed in slowing down the Falcons rushing attack.TB Pass Defense - The Buccaneers defense did what you would have expected them to do against a rookie QB. They brought pressure and forced Matt Ryan to rush his throws and worry about where they were coming from all game long. Tampa Bay sacked Ryan four times and turned two early interceptions into ten points.
DE Gaines Adams had a strong game as he finished with three solo tackles, three assists and two sacks, and DB's Aqib Talib and Sabby Piscitelli each added interceptions for the Buccaneers.