Week 2’s early games featured injuries and injury scares before a few ended with wild finishes. Unlikely heroes came up clutch and some teams that were expected to look shaky before the season began — hi, Bears and Rams — stormed out to 2-0 records.
The Washington Football Team travels to Arizona, defending champ Kansas City kicks off against the Los Angeles Chargers and Baltimore challenges Houston as the afternoon’s late games get under way.
Here’s what you need to know:
Cowboys recover onside kick, complete comeback over Falcons.
Collapse complete. It wasn’t quite the Super Bowl, but the Falcons lost a game in which they jumped out to a commanding lead and lost through lax defense and poor execution.
After leading by as many as 20 points, the Falcons failed to recover an onside kick and gave the Cowboys one last chance to win the game. The Cowboys made the most of their good fortune when Greg Zuerlein kicked a 46-yard field goal with time running out to secure a 40-39 victory.
The Falcons were up by 15 points with under five minutes to play.
After Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott scored on a one-yard run with 1:49 remaining, Zuerlein kicked an onside kick. Instead of using a tee, he left the ball on the turf and spun the ball to the left side of the field. The Falcons could have jumped on the ball at any point, but instead let the ball spin 10 yards. By the time a Falcon player lunged for the ball, it was too late: C.J. Goodwin of the Cowboys recovered the ball on the Cowboys 46-yard line.
Prescott marched down the field, hitting CeeDee Lamb for 24 yards to the Falcons 30-yard line. Four plays later, Zuerlein split the uprights and sent the Falcons home.
Justin Herbert gets first start for the Chargers.
After 14 years with one quarterback, Philip Rivers, the Chargers have now had two starting quarterbacks in two weeks this season.
The Los Angeles Chargers rookie quarterback Justin Herbert is starting the game against the Kansas City Chiefs. According to CBS Sports, quarterback Tyrod Taylor had a chest injury during pregame warm ups. Taylor had complained of a rib injury during the week and appears to have reaggravated it, according to CBS Sports.
Herbert scored on a 4-yard run to start the game. The Bolts are up 7-0 in their new home, SoFi Stadium.
Gostkowski nails second straight game-winner.
Stephen Gostkowski is coming through when it matters. Tennessee Titans kicker put his team ahead to stay against the Jacksonville Jaguars, ending a wild 33-30 victory with a 49-yarder that came with less than two minutes to play.
Gostkowski’s heroics come a week after kicking a game-winning 25-yard field goal to beat the Broncos in Week 1.
The clutch kicks stand out as the veteran has been hugely inconsistent. He had missed an extra-point and was 0-for-3 on field goal attempts before the game-winner last week and he missed an extra-point in this game to go with his two field goals, which came from 51 and 49 yards.
Tennessee sealed the win — and officially held off what had been a remarkable comeback from the Jaguars — when Harold Landry intercepted a Gardner Minshew pass with 51 seconds left to play. Minshew was electric at times, throwing for 339 yards and three touchdowns, but he was not able to pull off a second straight upset.
Giants flub final drive against Bears.
Given how slowly the Giants started against the Chicago Bears, it’s amazing they still had a shot to win on the final play of the game.
But the Giants clawed back from down 17-0 at the half, starting with a 39-yard field goal in the third quarter. Quarterback Daniel Jones engineered a 95-yard, 11-play drive that ended when Barkley’s replacement, Dion Lewis, scored on a one-yard run.
The Giants added another field goal midway through the quarter, to narrow the score to 17-13.
The Bears missed a field goal just before the two-minute warning. Jones then led the Giants all the way to the Bears 14-yard line with four seconds left. On the last play, Giants wide receiver Golden Tate was charged with offensive interference as time expired.
The Giants fell to 0-2 while the Bears improved to 2-0.
Jaguars-Titans nears wild finish.
It looked like it might be a laugher in Tennessee when the Titans got off to a 14-0 lead over the Jacksonville Jaguars in the first quarter. But Gardner Minshew does not know when to quit, and in a game that has turned into an absolute slugfest, Jacksonville has tied it up, 30-30, with two minutes left in the fourth quarter.
Minshew has not been as efficient as he was last week, but he’s been plenty productive, completing 28 of 40 passes for 319 yards and another three touchdowns. That has been enough to keep up with the Titans despite Ryan Tannehill having a nearly perfect 158.0 rating based on 15-of-17 passing for 211 yards and four touchdowns.
Running back Derrick Henry has been mostly a non-factor for Tennessee, which has left it up to Tannehill to keep up with the red-hot Minshew in a game that was not expected to be nearly this competitive.
The Packers stopped messing around with the Lions.
Remember when the Detroit Lions were leading the Green Bay Packers, 14-3, nearly five minutes into the second quarter? They probably don’t either after an absolute barrage by the Packers that has resulted in Green Bay leading, 31-14, halfway through the third quarter.
After allowing touchdowns on Detroit’s first two possessions of the game, the Packers’ defense has locked things down, forcing four punts, a missed field goal and then chipping in on the scoring with a 6-yard pick-six from Chandon Sullivan.
The Packers’ offense, meanwhile, is cruising. Aaron Rodgers has 171 passing yards and two touchdowns and running back Aaron Jones has 173 yards from scrimmage, scoring a rushing and a receiving touchdown.
It is looking like a second straight N.F.C. North romp for Green Bay, who dropped 43 points on Minnesota last week.
Prescott shakes off injury scare to run in his second touchdown.
The Falcons famously blew a 25-point lead in the Super Bowl. Now, their 19-point lead over the Cowboys in the first half on Sunday has nearly evaporated.
After the Cowboys scored a quick touchdown to start the second half, the Falcons were poised to answer. But their star receiver Julio Jones let a pass slip through his hands on a trick play, with the ball thrown by wide receiver Russell Gage, that would have led to a touchdown. On the next play, on fourth-and-short yardage, the Falcons were set to go for it. But Atlanta was called for having too many men in the field and had to punt.
On the Cowboys’ drive, quarterback Dak Prescott hit receiver Amari Cooper on a 58-yard bomb that Cooper reeled in with one hand. Deep in Falcons territory, Prescott was knocked out of the game for two plays, and backup Andy Dalton came in. But Prescott returned and sneaked the ball in for another touchdown to narrow their deficit to five points, with Atlanta leading 29-24 with just over four minutes left in the third quarter.
Dak Prescott wakes up the Cowboys offense.
After spotting the Atlanta Falcons 19 points in the first half, the Dallas Cowboys came charging down the field to score a quick touchdown and cut their deficit to 29-17 to start the second half.
Quarterback Dak Prescott ran for a two-yard touchdown to complete a seven-play, 72-yard drive that took just two and a half minutes. The big play of the drive was a 37-yard pass from Prescott to rookie wide receiver CeeDee Lamb over the middle.
So as efficient as the Falcons were, capitalizing on the Cowboys’ missteps, Dallas is just two possessions behind.
Philip Rivers settles in to lead Colts over Vikings.
It looked like it might be a long day for the Indianapolis Colts when Philip Rivers threw an interception in the red zone on his team’s first possession, but as the second half starts, the Colts are leading the visiting Minnesota Vikings by the odd score of 15-3, thanks to a touchdown, a safety and two field goals.
Rivers was erratic in his first game for the Colts last week, throwing for 363 yards. But handing the Jaguars two interceptions cost his team dearly in a shocking upset. The early interception today, however, ended up costing Rivers’s team nothing, as Indianapolis forced the Vikings to punt on the ensuing possession. The veteran quarterback has been better since, with 116 yards passing in the first half to help complement the team’s run-heavy attack, which is spearheaded by the rookie Jonathan Taylor, who has 75 yards on 18 carries and scored the Colts’ lone touchdown on a 5-yard run early in the second quarter.
The Vikings will want to forget a first half where the team had just 97 yards of total offense and turned the ball over twice.
49ers lose Garoppolo and Mostert to start second half.
Two more potentially serious injuries for the San Francisco 49ers, whose first offensive series of the second half began without their starting quarterback, Jimmy Garoppolo, and running back, Raheem Mostert. Garoppolo is out for the rest of the game after sustaining an ankle injury, while Mostert will not return because of an injured knee.
Garoppolo appeared to injure his ankle early in the first quarter, while being sacked by Quinnen Williams, but he stayed in the game to throw two touchdown passes to Jordan Reed. He was replaced by Nick Mullens.
The 49ers barely have enough players left to play the Jets, but they are still leading, 24-3, midway through the third quarter.
The Jets trailed the depleted 49ers, 21-3, at halftime, after playing a gruesome first 30 minutes encapsulated by San Francisco’s final drive of the first half.
Taking possession after stoning the Jets on fourth-and-1 at the 49ers’ 20, San Francisco was able to rampage 80 yards for a touchdown in part because the Jets forgot how to tackle, forgot not to rough the passer on third down and forgot that Jordan Reed is a big, strong human. Reed scored his second touchdown Sunday, a 4-yarder from Jimmy Garoppolo, by all but grabbing it away from safety Marcus Maye, who tried in vain to impede him at the 2.
Stefon Diggs is helping Bills QB Josh Allen to another big day.
Stefon Diggs got his first touchdown as a member of the Buffalo Bills, and the team’s balanced attack on offense, and a bend-don’t-break day on defense, have the Bills leading the Miami Dolphins, 17-10, at halftime.
A week after putting together his first career 300-yard passing game, it is shaping up to be another huge day for Josh Allen, who has completed 15 of 22 passes for 249 yards and two touchdowns against the Dolphins, who lost starting cornerback Byron Jones to a groin injury. Much of Allen’s production has come on passes to Diggs, who has five catches for 76 yards, including a 22-yard touchdown.
Buffalo has complemented that production in the passing game with 93 rushing yards. Devin Singletary and Zack Moss have effectively split up carries and Allen, an underrated two-way threat at quarterback, has contributed 20 yards on the ground as well.
For Miami, a 7-point deficit at home is tough, especially with quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick having had a decent enough day against Buffalo’s stellar defense, completing 12 of 22 passes for 126 yards and a 2-yard touchdown to DeVante Parker.
Falcons receive warm welcome at Jerry’s World.
So much for fans giving home teams an advantage. After sticking to Jerry Jones’s plan to have fans in their enclosed stadium, the Cowboys have fallen behind the Atlanta Falcons, 20-7, in the first quarter of the home opener in Dallas.
The Cowboys have been great hosts to the visitors. They have fumbled the ball three times — once each from quarterback Dak Prescott, running back Ezekiel Elliott and wide receiver Dalton Schultz.
The Falcons converted the turnovers into two touchdowns and two field goals, all on short drives. Their first score took just eight seconds and one play, a 22-yard pass from quarterback Matt Ryan to wide receiver Calvin Ridley. Their next three drives were four, four and seven plays long. The Cowboys got on the board with a one-yard touchdown punched in by Elliott midway through the second quarter.
Buffalo Bills head coach Sean McDermott was among those criticizing the N.F.L.’s decision to let teams host fans if their local authorities allowed it. He and other coaches felt those teams would have an unfair home field advantage over teams, including the Bills, that have not been allowed to host fans yet.
The Falcons lost last weekend at home in their opener to the Seattle Seahawks. There were no fans in Atlanta for the game.
Rams are rolling against Eagles.
Jared Goff completed his first 12 passes, throwing for 145 yards and two touchdowns, as the Los Angeles Rams got off to an early 21-3 lead against the scuffling Philadelphia Eagles. The game so far is confirming that both teams’ results last week may have been pretty indicative of where they stand.
Everything in this game has gone right for the Rams, who are following up last week’s 20-17 win over Dallas by rolling up 191 yards of offense early in the second quarter. Goff has spread the ball around to five receivers and the Rams have run the ball with decent success even after an early injury to Cam Akers, the team’s rookie running back.
Philadelphia, meanwhile, collapsed against Washington last week and looks equally lost against Los Angeles, struggling on third down and giving up the ball on a Miles Sanders fumble on their first possession, which helped set up a Rams touchdown.
Saquon Barkley goes down as Giants struggle in Chicago.
The Giants were having enough trouble getting their anemic offense going against the Bears in Chicago. Then the news got much worse: Their star running back, Saquon Barkley, left the game with an apparent right knee injury early in the second quarter.
Barkley was carried off the field after he was tackled while running to the right side of the field. His right leg appeared to twist as his foot was planted on the turf. TV cameras showed him grabbing his right knee after he was thrown to the ground by Bears safety Eddie Jackson. Barkley was helped off the field by Giants staff while grimacing in pain. A few minutes later, he was loaded onto a cart and driven inside the stadium. Barkley will not return, the Giants announced.
Lions leap to early lead in Green Bay.
They should be wary of any lead after last week’s epic collapse against Chicago, but the Detroit Lions are having an awfully nice day so far in Green Bay, leading, 14-3, at the end of the first quarter.
Quarterback Matthew Stafford has completed 7 of 10 passes for 75 yards and a touchdown — a 4-yarder to Marvin Jones — and Adrian Peterson is continuing to turn back the clock, with 31 yards on four carries, a week after he had 93 yards against the Bears.
The Packers, who romped to a win over Minnesota last week, had promised to do Lambeau Leaps despite the lack of fans at the game, but thus far the only leap came from Detroit’s Kerryon Johnson, who scored on a 1-yard run early in the quarter before mimicking the Green Bay tradition.
Injuries to Bosa and Thomas hobble 49ers defensive line.
A double dose of awful injury news for the San Francisco 49ers, who are already missing tight end George Kittle, cornerback Richard Sherman and defensive end Dee Ford. Within a span of three plays in the first quarter, two of their defensive linemen — Nick Bosa and Solomon Thomas — were carted off the field with knee injuries.
Bosa, last season’s top defensive rookie, appeared to injure his left knee while engaged with Jets tight end Trevon Wesco, who pushed him backward while finishing a block. Bosa’s leg bent at a weird angle, and after trying to get up, he went back down and waited for medical attention.
The 49ers announced that both Bosa and Thomas will not return Sunday. Without Bosa, Ford and Thomas, the 49ers’ best remaining pass-rushers are Kerry Hyder Jr. and Arik Armstead. Any extended absence for Bosa, who totaled 80 sacks, hurries and pressures for San Francisco last season, will seriously damage the 49ers’ chances of contending, let alone repeating as N.F.C. champions.
Minshew Magic wears off fast.
The glass shoe is not fitting so well for last week’s Cinderella team. Gardener Minshew was the talk of the N.F.L. in Week 1 when he completed 95 percent of his passes in the Jacksonville Jaguars’ shocking victory over Indianapolis, but he threw an interception on his first drive this week and his team is trailing the Tennessee Titans, 14-0, in the first quarter.
The Titans are rolling so far thanks to a familiar combination of strengths. Quarterback Ryan Tannehill hooked up with tight end Jonnu Smith for a 63-yard catch-and-run on the team’s first drive, and then got into the end zone with a 13-yard pass to Smith. Then, after Minshew’s interception, Tennessee capitalized by going 30 yards on five plays, with Tannehill throwing a 9-yard touchdown pass to Corey Davis. Derrick Henry, the team’s star running back, has been quiet so far with three carries for 8 yards.
Minshew, who only had one incompletion last week — and that was a drop — is just 2 for 6 so far.
The 49ers start with a touchdown.
It’s possible that the beginning of the Jets’ game Sunday could have gone worse. The San Francisco 49ers could have run the kickoff back for a touchdown. Instead, they scored on their first offensive play. Raheem Mostert took a pitch from Jimmy Garoppolo, zipped through a crease on the right side and sprinted down the sideline for an 80-yard touchdown. Mostert, the 49ers’ speedster who had four touchdowns in the N.F.C. championship game against Green Bay, had a 76-yard touchdown reception last week against Arizona.
It might be easier to say who isn’t hurt for San Francisco.
Health is a huge factor for sustained success, and with the luck the San Francisco 49ers have been having recently, it could be what puts them in an enormous hole in the N.F.C. West just a season after they made a trip to the Super Bowl.
Until shortly before Week 1, the 49ers believed they might have wide receiver Deebo Samuel back for the start of the season despite a broken foot sustained in June. Instead, the dynamic second-year player did not reach benchmarks the team set, and he was placed on this season’s unique three-game version of injured reserve.
San Francisco also began the season without starting center Weston Richburg, and in the team’s shocking loss at home to Arizona in Week 1, cornerback Richard Sherman injured his calf and joined Samuel on the injured reserve. In perhaps the biggest short-term blow, tight end George Kittle sprained his knee and will be out for this week, and potentially longer.
The 49ers are a talented team, with a enough depth to compete even with several stars sidelined — especially against the Jets. But with Seattle, Los Angeles and Arizona having each won their opening week games, and each having a solid chance at winning again this week, the pressure is suddenly on the 49ers to figure things out in a hurry.
Is it a Lambeau Leap if no one is there to catch you?
The Green Bay Packers won’t be playing in front of any fans at Lambeau Field, but that won’t stop running back Aaron Jones from making a Lambeau Leap — it just means there won’t be anyone to catch him.
“You’ll definitely still see a Lambeau Leap from me, probably right on one of those tarps,” Jones told reporters after practice on Friday.
Jones has reason to be confident he’ll score. The 25-year-old scored 19 touchdowns during the 2019 regular season, getting into the end zone at least once in 10 of his 16 games. In Green Bay’s Week 1 demolition of the Minnesota Vikings, Jones carried the ball 16 times for 66 yards, scoring on a 5-yard run in the fourth quarter.
George Kittle and Chris Godwin headline this week’s inactives.
Heading into the 1 p.m. games, there was good news and bad news for teams waiting for updates on their injured players.
In: The Miami Dolphins are bolstered by wide receiver DeVante Parker being cleared to play after injuring his hamstring in a Week 1 loss to New England. Parker had a quiet day against New England’s stellar secondary, and he has an equally difficult task this week against Buffalo’s terrific defense.
Wide receiver Golden Tate is active for the Giants after he missed the team’s loss to Pittsburgh with a hamstring injury.
Linebacker Khalil Mack of the Chicago Bears was able to get into last week’s surprising win over Detroit despite a knee injury, and he’s active again this week for Chicago’s matchup with the Giants.
Out: Tight end George Kittle will miss San Francisco’s game against the Jets as he works his way back from a sprained knee. Kittle was able to jog off the field at the time of the injury, and was practicing earlier in the week, but the team decided to rest him.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers will be short at wide receiver with Chris Godwin ruled out as he works his way through the N.F.L.’s concussion protocol. His fellow star receiver, Mike Evans, will be active despite a hamstring injury.
The Denver Broncos will be without running back Philiip Lindsay, who is out with a toe injury. That should lead to an increased workload for Melvin Gordon.
The stellar offensive line of the Dallas Cowboys will be shorthanded with left tackle Tyron Smith sitting out with a neck injury. The team was already missing right tackle La’el Collins, who is on this season’s mini version of injured reserve..
Can any of last week’s Cinderellas get to 2-0?
A savvy observer might have been keeping an eye on the upstart Arizona Cardinals for a potential upset in Week 1, but no one saw the Washington Football Team or the Jacksonville Jaguars coming. Those teams were both predicted to be basement dwellers all season, but they got off to a terrific start by beating the Philadelphia Eagles and the Indianapolis Colts, respectively.
So … can they do it again?
The bad news for the Footballers is that they’re playing the Cardinals, and Arizona’s offensive line is not nearly as beat up as Philadelphia’s was. With Kyler Murray slinging balls all over the field to wide receives DeAndre Hopkins and Larry Fitzgerald, while also serving as a huge threat while running the ball, Washington could be in a lot of trouble.
The Jaguars, meanwhile, have to be thrilled with Gardner Minshew’s execution in a game in which he completed 95 percent of his passes while throwing three touchdown passes, but they might want to remember that they wouldn’t have beaten the Colts if not for Philip Rivers gift-wrapping them 14 points in the form of two interceptions. Expecting the Tennessee Titans to be so generous would not be wise.
The Vikings and the Colts would like to forget Week 1.
It was a truly ugly Week 1 for Minnesota’s defense, as the absence of the injured Danielle Hunter — and the team’s decision to jettison several stars — led to Green Bay doing just about anything it wanted. But hey, at least they didn’t lose to the Jacksonville Jaguars. The Indianapolis Colts would likely have preferred their destruction coming at the hands of Aaron Rodgers.
Today, Minnesota and Indianapolis will face off trying to erase any and all memories of last week’s failures. Barring a tie, one of these playoff hopefuls is about to begin the season with an 0-2 record.
Indianapolis is favored in the game, largely because Minnesota still has the same problems on defense it did a week ago. There also exists a fairly pervasive belief that the Colts simply can’t be that bad on offense or defense, even with running back Marlon Mack out for the season with a ruptured Achilles’ tendon. Jonathan Taylor was expected to take over for Mack at some point this season anyway, so this just moves up the timetable, and a defense that has Darius Leonard, Justin Houston and DeForest Buckner can typically be counted on to not be embarrassed.
Big wait for the big games
The 4 p.m. Eastern time games can sometimes seem like a chance to catch a break between the hectic early action, and the Sunday night game. That strategy won’t work today, as some of the best action is set to kick off at 4:25 p.m Eastern.
The Kansas City Chiefs are on the road facing the Los Angeles Chargers, a team that probably shouldn’t be expected to give Patrick Mahomes all that much trouble, but is far from a pushover. The Baltimore Ravens, meanwhile, are in Houston where Lamar Jackson and Deshaun Watson will face off in a battle of two of the best quarterbacks in the game — Watson, however, probably wishes he had Jackson’s teammates.
The good news is that the Sunday night game shouldn’t feel like that much of a letdown, as Cam Newton and the new-look New England Patriots are in Seattle to face Russell Wilson and the Seahawks. Between Newton’s running, Wilson’s overall brilliance, and the star-studded defenses on both teams, the nightcap could live up to its game of the week billing.