Paul Gallant recaps EVERYTHING you need to know from the second NFL Sunday of 2019

NFL Sunday Week 2: In a nutshell

ICYMI, here is EVERYTHING important from Sunday's NFL matches...

Rams 27 - Saints 9

Don't be fooled by the final score. This was the craziest game of the day.

And I haven't even touched on the topic that will be beaten to death this week: a DISASTROUS bleep up by the referees that cost the Saints a fumble return touchdown. Who'd have thought the rematch of a game [that was somewhat] decided by a controversial call would feature AN EVEN MORE CONTROVERSIAL CALL?

Saints fans were insufferable whiners after that missed pass interference call in the NFC Championship game. They might secede from the United State if no one faces punishment for this. And there should be some accountability here. That call would have completely changed the flow of the game. Why was the referee so quick to blow the whistle? Why not just wait until the end of the play? Please, explain yourself Walt Anderson.

This was a big win for the Rams, and in particular for LA's defense. Aaron Donald and the Rams pass rush were harassing Brees and Bridgewater all game, and held a pretty explosive (at least historically) Saints offense in check. On offense, Jared Goff bounced back from a shaky season opener with a solid day of game managing, and showed a lot of chemistry with Brandin Cooks. On top of that, Cooper Kupp - not even a year removed from a torn ACL - had a MONSTER game (5 catches for 120 yards). The bad sign? The Rams are being extremely cautious with the work load they're giving Todd Gurley (just 16 carries for 63 yards, 3 catches for 4 yards).

Seahawks 28 - Steelers 26

Ben Roethlisberger is one of the toughest QBs in the game. You could argue that he loves playing hurt, or that he REALLY LOVES talking about playing hurt. Whatever the case, seeing Roethlisberger knocked out of Sunday's game with an elbow injury is EXTREMELY problematic for a supposed Super Bowl Contender. Especially when that team is now 0-2.

The Seahawks have to be feeling significantly better about their defense, which REALLY struggled against Andy Dalton (who also was without A.J. Green and Joe Mixon for nearly a half) last week. But they must be a little nervous about bruising running back Chris Carson's early fumble problems. He's already lost the ball 3 times this season, including twice against Pittsburgh.

Packers 21 - Vikings 16

The Packers are 2-0 (with 2 NFC North wins) despite two mediocre Aaron Rodgers outings. I'm a little concerned about his first two outings, not to mention his relationship with head coach Matt Lafleur. But there was a lot of good to take out of this game. Aaron Jones ran into the heart of a stout Vikings defense for 116 yards and a touchdown. And the Packers defense REALLY impressed, picking off Kirk Cousins twice, forcing 5 fumbles, and holding Minnesota to just 16 points.

Speaking of Cousins, yikes. 14-32? And a QBR of just 4!? Gross.

This is the reality with Kirk Cousins: he's Minnesota's Matt Schaub (classic Gary Kubiak). He can put up statistics, and plays well in games that don't matter. But in big time spots - like a massive game on the road against an arch-rival - he just doesn't play well enough.

Patriots 43 - Dolphins 0

The Dolphins stink, blah, blah, blah. But this Patriots defense - which has allowed 6 points over its last three games - might be the best in the NFL. Hell, they could make a case for themselves as the best defense that Belichick has ever had. Think about it. Belichick defenses usually improve as the season goes along. But the defense is playing at this level ALREADY! How good could they be by January?

This wasn't the crispest game for the Patriots offense and newcomer Antonio Brown. Brown had 3 catches on the first drive of the game, and later caught a touchdown pass (4 catches for 56 and a TD on 8 targets). His rapport with Tom Brady should only improve. That said, it's important to note that Brown is a notorious route free lancer (he improvises a lot instead of running the play called, which led to 11 interceptions on passes thrown his way last year) and COULD rub Brady the wrong way.

Cowboys 31 - Redskins 21

The Cowboys offense has looked outstanding the first two weeks of the season thanks to quarterback Dak Prescott AND new offensive coordinator Kellen Moore.

Prescott has SO MANY WEAPONS (which often gets held against him). Ezekiel Elliott (who had 100+ on the ground), Amari Cooper, Randall Cobb, and Michael Gallup are a fantastic supporting cast. And with that loaded arsenal, Prescott seems to have developed some REAL confidence. How the hell else would he be looking to bomb a TD pass to someone named Devin Smith?

I think we're all in agreement that the Cowboys could do better at head coach than Jason Garrett. So here's a hot take: should Dallas continue to dominate on offense, the 'Boys MUST find a way to promote Moore to head coach. They have been big fans of Moore for a while. And with every team hoping to hire the next Sean McVay, he'll draw a lot of interest.

Falcons 24 Eagles 20

I learned something today: if you're diving headfirst into the end zone, you better make sure your knee isn't down. I'll keep that in mind the next time I lace up that cleats.

I don't feel good about the Falcons offense after this game. But their defense played well. Atlanta sacked Carson Wentz three times, picked him off twice, and stopped the Eagles on downs deep in their own territory to clinch the game.

For Philly, this loss will LITERALLY hurt, and potentially for a while. Take a look at all these injuries:

  • Dallas Goedert (calf)
  • Desean Jackson (groin)
  • Alshon Jeffery (calf)
  • Carson Wentz (ribs)
  • Jason Kelce (concussion? he seemed confused and went to the Atlanta sideline)
  • Nelson Agholor (head)
  • Corey Clement (shoulder)
  • Tim Jernigan (foot)
It'll also hurt because the game actually slipped through their fingers. Wentz hit Agholor in stride for what could have been a late go ahead touchdown, but Agholor lost the ball in the stadium lights.

Ravens 23 - Cardinals 17

If you drafted Lamar Jackson in fantasy football, you may be well on your way to a championship. He had another solid day passing (272 yards and 2 TD tosses) and a great day on the ground (16 carries for 120 yards after just 3 carries against Miami).

But I want to focus on Kyler Murray's performance. The first overall pick and Heisman winner was 25-40 for 349 yards against a very good Ravens defense. And if you watched him, he just LOOKS the part. He has a rifle for an arm, an unconventional Frank Tarkenton-esque drop back style, and is exceptionally quick. He'll need to improve in the red zone, but with time, this Murray/Kliff Kingsbury combination SHOULD only get better.

By the way, shoutout to 36 year old ageless wonder Larry Fitzgerald having 5 catches for 104 yards and a touchdown. The man is the Tim Duncan of NFL wide receivers: unflashy, but a guy who consistently produces year in and year out.

Arizona may have lost, but congratulations! They're the first recipients of my coveted "Moral Victory of the Week!" Award.

Chiefs 28 - Raiders 10

I was curious about how Patrick Mahomes would look...

  • Just a week after suffering an ankle injury
  • AND in his first game without speed demon Tyreek Hill
And when the Raiders jumped out to a 10 - 0 lead, I started thinking to myself "maybe he won't be able to overcome this..."

And then Mahomes threw for 278 yards and 4 TDs in the second quarter, including 2 to someone named Demarcus Robinson. Robinson - a 2016 4th round pick out of Florida - had 7 catches for 172 yards and 2 TDs. Unbelievable.

Also unbelievable: Sunday may be the last time that we ever see a football game played on a baseball diamond. Oakland is on the road for four of its next five games, and their only "home game" will be played against the Bears in London. Assuming they're playing in another stadium next season, that's that.

Lions 13 - Chargers 10

It's hard to take the Chargers seriously as Super Bowl contenders, and this stretch on the same drive in the early third quarter is the epitome of why:

  • Justin Jackson ran for a 60 yard touchdown, but it was nullified due to a Dontrelle Inman holding penalty
  • Austin Ekeler scored a 22 yard touchdown 2 plays later, but it too was nullified because of an illegal block by Sam Tevi
  • Austin Ekeler fumbled the ball on 1st and goal from the 1

To make matters worse, Rivers screwed up twice at the end of the game:

  • Taking an AWFUL delay of game penalty to force a 3rd and 19
  • Chucking up a home run into double coverage on that 3rd and 19 (which was intercepted) despite being in field goal range AND down just 3 points
The Los Angeles San Diegos have a lot of talent. But this self-inflicted doom that they experience so often seems to be a part of their DNA.

49ers 41 - Bengals 17

THIS is what a Kyle Shanahan offense can do for you

  • Help Jimmy Garoppolo go 17-25 for 297 yards, 3 TDs, and 1 INT
  • Run 42 times for 259 yards and 2 TDs (averaging 6.2!!! yards per carry)
Shanahan deserves the majority of credit for helping the 2016 Falcons dominate on offense (Atlanta hasn't been the same since he left) and definitely has the ability to recreate that success in San Fran. But I'd like to see the 'Niners do this against a real contender.

Texans 13 - Jaguars 12

Shoutout to Gardner Minshew taking a page out of Miami Pawl's playbook.

Whitney Mercilus had a great offseason for the Texans, and he's off to an INCREDIBLE start. Hell, he's a legitimate Defensive Player of the Year candidate right now. He had 2 sacks Sunday after a sack and an interception last Monday, and has developed a Dwight Freeney esque spin move.

I'm not sure that Doug Marrone is long for Jacksonville. First off, the Jags should be BENDING OVER BACKWARDS to make Jalen Ramsey happy / convince him to stay, not getting in mid-game shouting matches with him. Second, while I liked Marrone's decision to go for two points and the win (instead of a game tying PAT) after scoring a last minute touchdown, I HATED the playcall: a run up the middle from the 2 by Leonard Fournette. Justin Reid made a great tackle stopping Fournette JUST SHORT of the goal line.

Colts 19 - Titans 17

It's never a good omen when your field catches fire before the home opener and delays the kickoff.

The most feel good moment of the week? When David Quessenberry - former Houston Texan and cancer survivor - caught a touchdown pass.

But there were some depressing moments too. Watching Adam Vinatieri - one of my childhood heroes - miss 2 extra points a week after missing 2 field goals and another extra point made me very sad. It sounds like he might retire on Monday at age 46.

This was such a classic Titans loss: following up a dominant victory with a complete dud. Indy is no pushover. But no one will take Tennessee seriously until they upgrade at quarterback. Marcus Mariota - who was sacked 4 times and averaged a paltry 5.5 yards per attempt - is only dangerous when he runs. And he constantly checks down when passing, likely due his struggles throwing the ball downfield.

His worst moment? On the heels of back to back fourth quarter three and outs, Mariota spiked the ball twice in three plays - INCLUDING ON A THIRD DOWN - on Tennessee's last drive of the game.

Bills 28 - Giants 14

Some quick observations:

  • The Bills defense is excellent
  • First round pick / former Coog Ed Oliver deflected an Eli Manning pass into an interception
  • The NFL is a worse place with Eli Manning under center.
Buffalo - now 2-0 - was a trendy "don't be surprised if they make the playoffs" pick by several pundits this offseason. They've won their first 2 games on the road (Jets, Giants), and could easily be 3-0 after they host the Bengals next week.

But this game is MORE important because of what you see above. NFL Primetime - my favorite sports show as a kid - made its triumphant return to ESPN Plus Sunday night. In a world before YouTube, Twitter, and Instagram, this was THE ONLY WAY to see highlights from around the league. And the best way to find out if your team was nationally relevant. Add in Chris Berman's one liner heavy highlights AND great chemistry with former Bronco Tom Jackson, and you had a fantastic wrap up show that led into Sunday Night Football on ESPN.

The duo was a little rusty early. But once the show got into full gear, you got VINTAGE Boomer. And best of all, during THE CRITICAL moment of the show, Berman knocked it out of the park. NFL Primetime is BACK, BACK, BACK, BACK, BACK, BACK!

Bears 16 - Broncos 14

Watching Eli Manning is hard enough. But thoughts and prayers to the many who made it through an entire game featuring both Joe Flacco and Mitchell Trubisky under center.

The end of this game was wacky. Before we discuss the bad call above, how about this sequence of events:

  • Denver scored a TD, and attempted a 2 point conversion. BUT, they got called for a Delay of Game
  • The next play, the Broncos tried an extra point. THEY MISSED IT. But, the Bears were offsides
  • On try 3, the Broncos went for 2, and converted, taking a 14-13 lead
The Bears got the ball back with :31 seconds to play and 1 timeout. Considering Trubisky is the Bears starting quarterback AND that the Broncos defense is good, it would have been very easy to call Game Blouses. But that awful call above gave them a MASSIVE extra 15 yards.

Trubisky threw 3 straight incompletions, and a too many men on the field penalty left Chicago in a 4th and 15 situation from their own 40 with just 9 seconds left. But on the very next play, Trubisky found a WIDE OPEN Allen Robinson for over the middle for 25 yards, and called that final timeout with just 1 second left on the clock. That set up Eddy Pineiro for a game winning 53 yard field goal.

Paul Gallant hosts the "Gallant Says" podcast (Tuesdays & Fridays), "Just Sayin'", Friday nights at 10:30 on Kube 57. He also hosts "NFL Rush", Sundays 3-6 on SB Nation Radio. Have any questions? Get after him on Twitter, Instagram, or Facebook.

NFL Week 11

NFL Week 11: Good, bad and ugly

Jenna Watson, Indy Star

Week 11 in the NFL is in the books. We saw great performances, even better celebrations, and perhaps some of the worst calls from officials. Here's how I saw it play out:

The Good

-The Colts' offensive lineman Quenton Nelson thought he scored on a fullback dive and what ensued was a celebration that should be top 5 this season: they simulated a keg stand and used a fellow lineman as the human keg! Was it choreographed? Of course. But these guys get style point nonetheless because it's something we haven't seen before. He didn't get in after review, but the celebration was still awesome.
-Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott had himself a game against the Lions. The Cowboys needed all 444 of his passing yards and three touchdowns to beat the hapless Lions who were playing with backup quarterback Jeff Driskel. This was one of those games in which his contract demands went up like a good day at the Stock Market. But just like the market, it can fall quickly.
-The Patriots defense is for real. Despite their one hiccup against potential league MVP Lamar Jackson and the Ravens, they've been lights out. They beat the Eagles 17-10 and held the Eagles to only 255 total yards, sacked Carson Wentz five times, and held them to 3.9 yards per pass and the same per run. The aforementioned Prescott and Cowboys come to Foxboro next week and should present another test.

The Bad

-The Falcons have won their last two games by a combined score of 55-12. Not only did they dominate, but they beat the top two teams in their division. Why would I say this is bad? Because they're only 3-7 after those two wins! This team is way too talented to have that bad of a record after 10 games. Their Super Bowl hangover has lasted two seasons now!

-The 3-6 Broncos were up 23-7 over the Vikings heading into the 4th quarter in Minnesota. They ended the day 3-7 after giving up 20 unanswered points. They only committed one turnover which was a first half interception that the Vikings failed to do anything with. They simply stopped being able to move the ball or stop the Vikings from scoring. Remember when they decided to stand pat at the trade deadline? Wondering if Broncos general manager John Elway is regretting that decision now?

-Here's a reminder that the Bears moved up from #3 to #2 unnecessarily to draft Mitchell Trubisky and passed on Pat Mahomes and Deshaun Watson. Trubisky went 24/43 for 190 yards with a touchdown and an interception, as well as getting sacked once. Not only do they have kicker issues, but the guy pulling the trigger for them sucks. Guess having the TVs off at Halas Hall to drown out the noise didn't help.

The Ugly

-Broncos fullback Andy Janovich suffered a gruesome injury Sunday. The injury occurred when he caught a short pass and tried to brace himself for the tackle, but ended up dislocating his elbow. It was so bad, CBS refused to show any replays of the play. Think of the Alex Smith leg injury, but at the elbow.

-Browns defensive end Myles Garrett and Steelers quarterback Mason Rudolph were at the center of a melee Thursday night. It started with Rudolph being a jackass and trying to rip Garrett's helmet off after he got hit. Garrett, in turn, ripped Rudolph's helmet off and managed to hit him with it which sparked an all out brawl between the two teams. A number of guys were suspended and/or fined, but Garrett received an indefinite suspension. Sure it's not wise to hit a guy with a helmet after ripping it off, but an indefinite suspension is a bit much NFL.

-Pass interference is the new catch rule. Remember a few years ago when the league tried to define waht was and wasn't a catch, only they never really did and we're still all not sure? Pass interference is now the same thing. In the 49ers vs Cardinals game, Cardinals linebacker Joe Walker was flagged for PI after 49ers fullback Kyle Juszczyk tackled him! Texans' wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins was interferred with at least twice on one play, no flag was thrown and the ruling on the field was upheld upon challenge. Seriously, something needs to be done because the refs simply aren't doing their jobs when it comes to the calls and challenges.

By opening Pandora's Box on being able to review pass interference, I don't think the league and competition committee really took into consideration human nature. How likely is a ref to admit he or one of his crew messed something up? On the other hand, it's been great seeing the celebrations the last couple years. For as much as we bitch and complain about things in the league, it's pretty healthy. Games are good, young players are stepping up as new stars, but there's still much left to be desired. We'll all keep coming back for more because the product is so enjoyable and popular. It's like that one restaurant you go to time and again despite the service not being up to par, but the food is so good, you don't mind paying the prices they charge.

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