Just a few notes on the games that have already taken place this evening (or afternoon if you’re in America):
– Philly pulled out a nail biter against the Ravens at Lincoln Financial Field, despite committing four turnovers a week after giving the ball away five times. Michael Vick scored the winning touchdown with two minutes left and the Eagles defense held against Joe Flacco in a battle of two potential play-off teams. Huge win for the birds, crushing loss for Baltimore.
– New England was shocked by Kevin Kolb and the Cardinals, at home no less. I predicted a big Patriots win, but that goes to show what I know. The Pats struggled to score points and Kolb did just enough to get the Cardinals over the line. New England kicker Stephen Gostkowski had a chance to win the game with three seconds left but hooked his kick, giving Arizona the biggest upset of the season so far.
– Another upset was registered in Carolina, where the Panthers edged out New Orleans 35-27. I predicted this result correctly, so I guess that makes up for the Cardinals win. Drew Brees was intercepted twice and the Saints were playing catch up nearly the whole way as Cam Newton reaffirmed his status as one of the NFL’s rising stars. The Saints, having fallen to 0-2, now face a fight to save their season in the coming weeks and this divisional game will leave a sour taste in the mouth.
– Houston handled Jacksonville, with Arian Foster scoring one and Ben Tate two touchdowns as the Texans rolled 27-7. They really look like the real deal after two games, and the Jaguars look like a team with little to no chance of even breaking .500 this season.
– The Giants rallied to a 41-34 victory over Tampa Bay after the Buccaneers had led 27-16 heading into the fourth quarter. Eli Manning threw three picks but bounced back to record over 500 yards passing and Victor Cruz erupted for 179 yards and a score following his drop laden performance in week one. This was a must have for New York and they have their passing game to thank for it, although Tampa Bay will be furious to have let such a winnable game slip through their grasp.
– Christian Ponder nearly led the Vikings to an unlikely comeback against the Colts in Indianapolis, throwing two fourth quarter touchdowns to tie the score at 20 with just 30 seconds left, only to see Adam Viniatieri nail a 53 yard field goal as time ran out. How New England would love to have Viniatieri back, but their loss is the Colts gain and Andrew Luck deserved his first career win after a steady performance including two touchdown tosses, including one to the evergreen Reggie Wayne.
– Buffalo handled Kansas City 35-17 to bounce back nicely from last weeks humiliation at the hands of the New York Jets, with the Chiefs scoring 14 of their points in the fourth quarter after the game had already been decided. C.J Spiller ran for 123 yards and two touchdowns in place of the injured Fred Jackson, and on this evidence Jackson will struggle to regain his starting role. With New England losing it will come as a bit of a shock to some that the Bills possess the same record as the Patriots despite their polar opposite results last weekend.
– Cincinnati defeated Cleveland 34-27, with Andy Dalton throwing three touchdown passes in what was an impressive offensive outburst from the Bengals. Their defense however has some questions hanging over their head after they allowed Brandon Weeden to throw for 322 yards, although it was the play of Trent Richardson which drew the most attention for the Browns. Richardson rushed for and caught one touchdown, totalling 109 yards on the ground on just 19 carries. The short term future isn’t bright for Cleveland but at least they know they have one of the premier young running backs in the game on their roster.
– Oakland was annihilated by Miami, 35-13 in a result far more lopsided than anyone could have foreseen. The Raiders actuallly led 10-7 at the half, but a Reggie Bush inspired Dolphins offense put up 28 points in the second half after the former USC tailback scored two touchdowns and compiled 172 rushing yards. Carson Palmer threw for 372 yards but he also threw an interception as ultimately the Raiders run defense tired and was unable to stop a rampant Miami run the score up.
After you’ve digested an already enthralling day of football, here’s a sneak peak at the late game tonight and tomorrows Monday Night Football match up.
Detroit @ San Francisco
Detroit and their explosive passing game, highlighted by quarterback Matthew Stafford and Calvin Johnson, meet the 49ers and their stout defense. Patrick Willis and Navarro Bowman are the best inside linebacker pairing in the NFL, so running lanes will be at a premium putting pressure on Stafford to win the game with his arm. He’s done it before, but against lesser teams than the niners and Alex Smith continues to defy those who have labelled him a mediocre NFL QB and a bust. The niners are the real deal, so I’m going with them, especially at home. Lions 18, 49ers 24
Denver @ Atlanta
Peyton Manning faces Matt Ryan and the Falcons in the Georgia Dome, with both teams coming off encouraging week one wins. Atlanta seems set on airing it out this year but the Broncos and Champ Bailey don’t get beat often in the air so the dirty birds may have to lean on Michael Turner in the running game once more. I’ve never quite been sold on Matt Ryan, particularly in big games, and Manning has the pedigree to go and grab an upset road win in a hostile environment. If, and it’s a big if, Denver can contain Julio Jones they win this one. Broncos 27, Atlanta 21
It’s already been a great weekend of football and as I write this Dallas are being handled by the Seahawks and Washington are slugging it out with the Rams, so hopefully tonight and tomorrow continue to provide entertainment for those of us in the UK who stay up late to digest some more NFL action.