Week 2 of the NFL has passed and all the players have removed their rust and cobwebs. Now that everyone is loose and are more fluent with less sloppiness, each week in the NFL will get better and better. This was the case for Week 2.
Here are LockerReport.com’s reasons; Why They Won (WTW) and Why They Lost (WTL) for Week 2 of the NFL.
Buffalo Bills 35, Kansas City Chiefs 17
Why Bills Won: With the absence of running back Fred Jackson, who may be out 3-4 weeks due to a knee injury, the Bills should have struggled offensively, with no balance, to put points on the board against a decent defensive unit. Wrong. The forgotten man in running back C.J. Spiller, who was the Bills’ first round draft pick in 2010 (ninth overall), led Buffalo to a huge victory as he averaged 8.2 yards per carry and finished with 123 yards off 13 carries, including two touchdowns. Spiller also chipped in three catches for 47 yards.
Why Chiefs Lost – The Chiefs battled well against the Atlanta Falcons in Week 1, until the second half began. Against the Bills, the Chiefs did not battle at all.
Carolina Panthers 35, New Orleans Saints 27
Why Panthers Won: The Panthers’ running game spotlighted the afternoon for Carolina as they dominated the Saints on the ground with 41 carries totaling 219 yards, led by the team’s leading rushing, quarterback Cam Newton.
Newton had a career-rushing high of 71 yards as he carried the rock 13 times, once for a score. The former Auburn Tiger was effective in the air as he completed 14 out of 20 attempts for 253 yards and a touchdown.
Why Saints Lost: Offensively, the Saints looked out of sync early on in the contest, similar to their Week 1 performance against the Washington Redskins. Due to countless attempts to battle back into the game, quarterback Drew Brees forced many throws, which opened the door for two picks. Defensively, the Saints appeared to be uninterested in their efforts to stop the Panthers.
Cincinnati Bengals 31, Cleveland Browns 24
Why Bengals Won: Quarterback Andy Dalton spearheaded the Bengals to victory as he threw three touchdowns, while moving the ball up and down the field. With Cleveland eyeing a comeback, Dalton kept firing away to place the team in the best position to win. He completed 24 out of 31 attempts for 318 yards, three touchdowns and an interception.
Why Browns Lost: If there was more time on the clock, the Browns probably would have had one of the most memorable comebacks in NFL history. Instead, the Browns fell short once again towards the end. Despite being on the losing end of the stick, the Browns demonstrated their talent as quarterback Brandon Weeden showed he has the stuff to be a major player in the NFL.
Weeden bounced back from a disappointing NFL debut in Week 1 as he completed 26 out of 37 attempts for 322 yards and two touchdowns. But rookie running back Trent Richardson was the story of the day as he exploded for 109 yards on 19 carries and a score and pitched in for the Browns’ passing attack with four catches for 36 yards, including another score.
Richardson ran through defenders and made them miss. Nevertheless, the Bengals tackled the win.
Indianapolis Colts 23, Minnesota Vikings 20
Why Colts Won: The clutch performances by rookie quarterback Andrew Luck and veteran, Super Bowl winning kicker Adam Vinatieri proved to be the different in the game down the stretch. With back-to-back big completions by Luck and a Vikings’ offside penalty later, Vinatieri’s Hall of Fame (to-be) leg booted a 53-yarder through the uprights to win the game. Luck completed 20 out of 31 attempts for 224 yards and two touchdowns.
Why Vikings Lost: Despite a great comeback in the making, the Vikings could not stop the hot young quarterback who was in the zone.
Houston Texans 27, Jacksonville Jaguars 7
Why Texans Won: Houston’s ground game rolled like gangbusters and Jacksonville couldn’t do anything about it. On 48 carries, the Texans stampede the Jags for a total of 226 yards and three touchdowns. Off the legs of running backs Arian Foster, Ben Tate and Justin Forsett, quarterback Matt Schaub did not have to toss the ball around as much and the defense gave the Jaguars no hope for any type of a rally.
Why Jaguars Lost: The Texans’ balanced attack was too tough to contain and the team’s defense stifled Blaine Gabbert (threw for just 53 yards and a score on seven completions) and company.
Miami Dolphins 35, Oakland Raiders 13
Why Dolphins Won: Running back Reggie Bush demonstrated his desire to be a full-time, every down ball carrier as he sliced and diced for 172 rushing yards with two scores on 26 attempts and added 25 yards on three catches against Oakland.
“I actually felt like we did a good job today up front. It started with our offensive line in the trenches,” said Bush. “It’s something that we talked about all week. We know what kind of running game we have, and we know what we’re capable of. So we felt like that’s the foundation of our offense. We’ve got to be able to run the ball, and the run and pass go hand in hand, and we felt like we were successful at that today, and I think you saw the results today. They made it real easy for me to go out and be a playmaker.”
Rookie quarterback Ryan Tannehill picked up the paste from there and led the charge in the fourth quarter to seal the Dolphins’ first win of the 2012 season.
Why Raiders Lost: The offensive line struggle throughout the contest and did not give quarterback Carson Palmer the time he needed, consistently, to help his team win. For a 60-minute game, the Raiders only had the ball for a possession time of 25:19.
“At the end of the day we’ve got to coach better,” said Raiders’ head coach Dennis Allen. “We’ve got to play better. They were the better team today. They out executed us. We’ve got to do a better job.”
Arizona Cardinals 20, New England Patriots 18
Why Cardinals Won: Apparently, Arizona played not to lose instead of playing to win. The Cards did not take many chances as they played it safe on offense with five different ball carriers, including backup quarterback Kevin Kolb, and took what New England gave them, instead of creating their own opportunities.
Kolb’s duty was to manage the game as the majority of his passes were intermediate throws. He completed 15 out of 27 attempts for 140 yards and scored twice (one pass and one rush). Patriots quarterback Tom Brady registered more yards than the Cardinals’ offense (245) with 316 as he completed 28 out of 46 attempts, including a touchdown and an interception. The Cardinals’ defense was physical, which help kept Brady and company off balance.
Why Patriots Lost: The Patriots could not get out of their own way Sunday. With a late touchdown called back with minutes left in the game and a missed field goal, the Patriots had a bad day.
When tight end Aaron Hernandez went down to an ankle injury in the first quarter, Brady was unable to run his favorite two tight end sets which forced the Patriots to change their game plan.
New York Giants 41, Tampa Bay Buccaneers 34
Why Giants Won: Due to the absence of running back Ahmad Bradshaw, who sustained a neck injury in the first quarter and did not return, quarterback Eli Manning put the game on his shoulders so his team would not start the season with an 0-2 record.
Late in the fourth quarter, Manning and his receivers were finally on the same page as the Super Bowl MVP could not miss his targets. After a rocky beginning of throwing three interceptions, Manning finished strong as he completed 31 out of 51 attempts for a career-high 510 yards and three touchdowns.
“Stopped throwing interceptions,” said Manning when asked what changed in the second half. “They did a good job and they had some good things in the first half and then we made some adjustments and started to see what they were doing, started making better decisions and throwing the ball more accurately. So just a couple bad decisions on my part that led to the interceptions and learning we can’t put our defense in those types of situations.
“Our defense is just too good to give up points and throw interceptions for touchdowns,” he continued. “But second half I thought our guys fought, we were confident we could get going – we were very much still in the game; just had to go down and score a couple touchdowns. We had to keep settling for field goals, which is a little frustrating, but finally got within eight, so now we’re one touchdown and a two-point conversion away, and guys stepped up and made some big plays.”
Why Buccaneers Lost: At times, it’s difficult for a team to play with a lead, especially if that team isn’t used to handling the pressure of an opponent that can score anytime. This was the case for the Bucs as they controlled the majority of the game, but near the end, they folded. The Buccaneers will bounce back from this loss and use this defeat as a lesson.
“You know, I’m not really sure,” said Buccaneers’ quarterback Josh Freeman when asked what happened differently from the first half to the second half. “Looking back it’s going to be tough. It’s going to be an area where we are going to have to find a way to stay going. We started out the game well, made some plays, moved the ball, but then in the second and third quarters we hit kind of hit a lull. Now we have to go back and evaluate the tape and see what we’ve got to do to avoid that for next time.”
Philadelphia Eagles 24, Baltimore Ravens 23
Why Eagles Won: No matter how a game is played or called, players must perform and execute. And the Eagles did so. Down 17-7 at the half, quarterback Michael Vick took the hard shots of the great Ravens’ defense and stood tall in a physical outing among competitive men. Vick did not have one of his best games, but his desire to win was at center stage.
“I told him (Vick) to just keep playing,” said Eagles’ head coach Andy Reid. “You just keep playing. He’ll work through this. He has enough history to know what a great player he is, and that part hasn’t changed. He just has to get through all of this and he’ll be fine. He has to keep battling, and that’s what he did.”
Thanks to an aggressive Eagles’ defense that challenged the Ravens, and the officials, Baltimore allowed the Eagles to get the best of them and Vick took advantage of his opportunities down the stretch as he capped the game with a 1-yard touchdown run with 1:55 remaining in the contest.
“Going into the fourth quarter, I felt confident,” said Vick. “Obviously I’m saying to myself, here we go again. You never know how it’s going to pan out or what the outcome is going to be. You just look at your teammates. You look at your coaches, the people who depend on you — obviously we’re home and the crowd. You just want to get it done. It’s just another opportunity to be 2-0 and that’s what it all boils down to.”
Why Ravens Lost: For one, the Ravens went away from their early game plan of using running back Ray Rice heavily in the second half, who finished with 16 carries for 99 yards. Baltimore lost its composure to the physicality of the Eagles and the bad calls (made and non-made) from the officials. Bottom line was Baltimore had its opportunities and fell short.
Most specifically, the Ravens blew a defensive assignment that left Eagles’ wide receiver Jeremy Maclin wide open for a touchdown in the third quarter and a questionable push off call on Ravens’ wide receiver Jacoby Jones late in the fourth quarter, which could have ultimately won them the game, hindered their chance of victory.
“That was a tough football game,” said Ravens’ head coach John Harbaugh. “Give credit to the Eagles, very well coached team. Obviously they compete right down to the end, and they found a way to win the game, they made the plays that they had to make to win the football game…did a nice job. To my guys, I feel the same way…I feel the same way about the Ravens.
“The Ravens fought, competed, it was a chaotic game out there and it didn’t go our way at the end, but I’m proud of our guys,” he added. “I like the way they competed, and I think we’ll be just fine coming out of this game going forward.”
Seattle Seahawks 27, Dallas Cowboys 7
Why Seahawks Won: The two special teams’ plays the Seahawks came up with in the first quarter set the tone for the game. The two Cowboys’ turnovers led to 10 points for the Seahawks and Seattle’s defense attacked aggressively for the rest of the contest. Rookie quarterback Russell Wilson led the charge for his first career-NFL win, and running back Marshawn Lynch pounded his way for 122 yards and a score.
Why Cowboys Lost: The constant pressure up the middle by the Seahawks’ defense was huge because it disrupted QB Tony Romo’s flow. Frankly, Dallas was not prepared to play in that environment, especially after being down early.
St. Louis Rams 31, Washington Redskins 28
Why Rams Won: Quarterback Sam Bradford and wide receiver Danny Amendola impersonated the likes of quarterback Tom Brady and wide receiver Wes Welker of the Patriots as they played off each other and rallied back from a 21-6 deficit.
Bradford completed 26 out of 35 attempts for 310 yards, three touchdowns and an interception. And more than half of Bradford’s completions went to Amendola as he caught 15 passes for 160 yards and a touchdown. The physical play of the Rams’ defense was huge, especially in the second half.
Why Redskins Lost: There is a saying in sports that one player can not make a team lose as a squad wins and loses together. Wrong. The actions of wide receiver Josh Morgan completely cost the Redskins the game. Out of frustration, Morgan threw the ball at the back of the league-wide known instigating Rams’ cornerback Cortland Finnegan who suckered the pass catcher.
On third-and-8 in Rams’ territory, Morgan connected with rookie quarterback Robert Griffin III, who had another outstanding performance, for a 7-yard gain that D.C. native fought for to get to the 29-yard line.
Finnegan pushed Morgan’s head and Morgan threw the ball at the Rams’ corner. Morgan was hit with an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty, which took the Redskins out of field range. Kicker Billy Cundiff missed the 62-yard field goal attempt to force overtime.
Pittsburgh Steelers 27, New York Jets 10
Why Steelers Won: Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger dominated the game with his wit and strength. The Jets’ defenders could not get Roethlisberger down when they had their shots and when New York pressured, the field general made them pay as he connected with 10 different receivers. Roethlisberger completed 24 out of 31 attempts for 275 yards and two touchdowns. After the Jets’ first drive, which ended with a touchdown, the Steelers’ defense simply put the Jets to bed with 219 total yards gained.
Why Jets Lost: The Steelers were just the better team as they out-muscled and out-witted them.
San Diego Chargers 38, Tennessee Titans 10
Why Chargers Won – In honor of the late-great linebacker Junior Seau, who committed suicide earlier this year, the Chargers went out a destroyed the Titans at all phases of the game. Tight end Antonio Gates was sidelined due to an injury, but did the Bolts discover another talent in tight end Dante Rosario? Rosario had four catches for 48 yards and three touchdowns.
Why Titans Lost – The Titans were outmatched.
San Francisco 49ers 27, Detroit Lions 19
Why 49ers Won – The 49ers were physical on both sides of the ball. San Francisco’s game plan to stop Lions’ wide receiver Calvin Johnson worked masterfully as their doubled-teams helped kept him out of the end zone and ended his bid of achieving 100-yards per game (94).
“Well, a guy like that and a quarterback the caliber of [Matthew] Stafford and the other playmakers they have, you’re not going to just shut them down to negative yards every single time,” said 49ers’ head coach Jim Harbaugh. “But, thought that overall did a tremendous job. Let a couple, couple get out, the screen late and a few others. But, eventually getting them stopped, keeping them out of the end zone for 58 minutes of the game. I thought was very impressive as well.”
Quarterback Alex Smith is getting better and better, folks. Smith is the only starting quarterback in the NFL to have not thrown an interception.
Why Lions Lost: Without the balance of their running game, quarterback Matthew Stafford and the Lions could not get on track, due to the pressure of the 49ers.
“Yeah. And they did a pretty good job of it and our guys did a pretty good job of getting them shut down,” said Harbaugh about stopping the run. “And we didn’t let any big runs get out. And then you try to keep the big runs, the big passes from happening and then eventually you get them shut on a series of downs and I our guys I thought did a real good job of that.”
Atlanta Falcons 27, Denver Broncos 21
Why Falcons Won – The early mistakes by Broncos’ quarterback Peyton Manning set the stage for the Falcons to take the lead quickly – and for good. The defense confused Manning by disguising they zone coverage and pressured the four-time NFL MVP with four down linemen up the middle to disturb his rhythm and blitzed more towards the end of the game.
Why Broncos Lost – Even after the major mistakes made in the first half, the Broncos still had opportunities to win, but they could not take advantage of their chances.
All quotes were via teams’ press releases.