Notes, Insights & Commentary about the NFL
After a record-setting Kickoff Weekend, offenses remained scorching hot in Week 2. A total of 1,502 points have been scored this year, the most in the first two weeks of any NFL season in history. There have been 172 touchdowns scored, also the most ever in the first two weeks of an NFL season.
Quarterbacks continue to play at a high level. Net passing yards are at 15,771, the most through the first two weeks of an NFL season. And there have been 22 individual performances by a quarterback with a passer rating of at least 100 (minimum 20 attempts), the most ever through the first two weeks.
As the league moves into Week 3, seven teams find themselves undefeated at 2-0. Of those seven clubs, four – Buffalo, Detroit, Houston and Washington – did not make the playoffs last year. But that’s the unpredictability of the NFL. In each of the past 15 seasons, at least five clubs made the playoffs that were not in the postseason the previous year. Will that streak continue in 2011?
“Being a young team, wins are so important at this point,” says Bills quarterback RYAN FITZPATRICK, who ranks second in the AFC with a 109.6 passer rating. “As (head coach) CHAN(GAILEY) said after the game, ‘2-0 feels good, but 2-0 feels right after all the work we put in. 2-0 feels right.’”
Since realignment in 2002, 29 of the 32 teams have qualified for the playoffs. The three teams that have not – Buffalo, Detroit and Houston – all stand at 2-0 this year.
And don’t count out any of the 1-1 or 0-2 teams. Since realignment, 62 of the 108 playoff teams (57.4 percent) began the year at either 1-1 or 0-2.
It’s two weeks down – but there is a long way to go. In Week 3, there are many important matchups, including eight division games. Here’s a look at some of the key division showdowns in Week 3:
There are seven 2-0 clubs in the NFL and three of them – Buffalo, New England and the New York Jets – play in the AFC East. On Sunday, the upstart Bills will look to knock off the defending division-champion Patriots.
New England leads the NFL in total (563.0 yards per game) and passing (463.0) offense. Patriots quarterback TOM BRADY ranks first in the league with a 128.0 passer rating and 940 passing yards. Brady’s 940 passing yards are the most by a quarterback in the first two weeks of a season and he became the first player in NFL history to follow a 500-yard passing performance with a 400-yard game (517 yards in Week 1; 423 yards in Week 2).
“Those are two pretty outstanding outings (by Brady),” says New England tackle MATT LIGHT. “He’s the leader of our offense. When he’s doing well, we’re all good.”
The Bills lead the NFL with 79 points scored and the team’s 80 percent touchdown conversion rate in the red zone (eight touchdowns, 10 possessions) ties for the best mark in the league. Buffalo quarterback RYAN FITZPATRICK ranks second in the AFC in passer rating with a 109.6 mark and his seven touchdown passes tie for the NFL lead.
“We’re excited about the matchup,” says Fitzpatrick about the upcoming game. “In order to get to the playoffs, you’ve got to win your division, and you’ve got to win games in your division. We feel like we may have the toughest division in all of football. It’s going to be a tough test for us and we’re looking forward to the challenge.”
The 2-0 Lions enter Week 3 coming off a 48-3 win against Kansas City, Detroit’s largest margin of victory in a regular-season game in franchise history.
Last week, Lions quarterback MATTHEW STAFFORD threw four touchdown passes, the third time in his 15 career games he’s passed for at least four TDs. The only other player in NFL history with at least four touchdown passes in three of his first 15 career starts was Pro Football Hall of Famer FRAN TARKENTON.
“It’s a good start,” says Stafford about the team’s 2-0 record. “That’s the way we look at it. We’ve got to keep it going, though. It’s a 16-game season. You’ve got to do it week in, week out.”
Minnesota running back ADRIAN PETERSON rushed for 120 yards and two touchdowns last week against Tampa Bay. It marked the 53rd and 54th rushing touchdowns of his career,surpassing CHUCK FOREMAN (52) and BILL BROWN (52) for the most in franchise history.
Peterson, who averages 110.6 rushing yards per game in September – second only to Pro Football Hall of Famer JIM BROWN (110.8) in the category (minimum 10 games) – looks to get the Vikings back on track.
“We’ve got a home game this week against a divisional opponent,” says Minnesota head coach LESLIE FRAZIER. “It’s a big game. We’ve just got to find a way this weekend.”
Two teams coming off 10-win seasons will meet in a key NFC South matchup. Both clubs bounced back from a loss on Kickoff Weekend to post a victory in Week 2.
Atlanta rallied for a 35-31 win over Philadelphia as quarterback MATT RYAN threw a career-high four touchdown passes, including two to tight end TONY GONZALEZ who moved into fifth-place on the all-time receptions list (1,081).
“Matt is a guy who will never give up,” says Falcons head coach MIKE SMITH about his QB. “When you have a guy like that leading your football team, it’s going to pay dividends in the long run.”
The Buccaneers also have a quarterback with a knack for comeback wins. Trailing 17-0 at halftime, JOSH FREEMAN led Tampa Bay to a 24-20 victory at Minnesota as running back LE GARRETTE BLOUNT scored with 31 seconds remaining.
“I just try to win,” says Freeman. “That’s all there is to it. It’s as simple as that.”
Week 3 concludes with an NFC East showdown in primetime on Monday night.
The Redskins moved to 2-0 last week with a thrilling 22-21 come-from-behind win over Arizona. Washington racked up 455 yards in Week 2, balancing the run (172 yards) and pass (283). Running back TIM HIGHTOWER led the club with 96 rushing yards and tight end FRED DAVIS topped the team with six catches and 86 receiving yards with one touchdown.
“We’ve won two games, but that’s about it,” says Redskins head coach MIKE SHANAHAN. “I don’t think our players get overly excited that we’re 2-0 because they understand that we have a big game Monday night against Dallas and things can change very quickly. Our concentration will be on Dallas.”
The Cowboys notched a 27-24 overtime victory at San Francisco in Week 2. Rookie kicker DAN BAILEY converted a 48-yard field goal at the end of regulation to force OT and then won the game with a 19-yarder in the extra session.
Playing with a broken rib and punctured lung, Dallas quarterback TONY ROMO threw for 345 yards and two touchdowns. He also set up the game-winning field goal in OT with a 77-yard completion to wide receiver JESSE HOLLEY.
“Tony is one of the best competitors I’ve ever been around,” says Cowboys head coach JASON GARRETT.
NFL FACTOID: Green Bay cornerback CHARLES WOODSON had two interceptions against Carolina quarterback CAM NEWTON on Sunday. Woodson, who won the 1997 Heisman Trophy, is the only player to win the award and intercept a fellow Heisman winner in an NFL game. In fact, Woodson has now recorded an interception against four former Heisman winners: MATT LEINART (2004), Newton (2010), CARSON PALMER (2002) and VINNY TESTAVERDE (1986).