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NFL Week 2 observations

Keelan Cole had the catch of the year so far. Jacksonvillejaguars.com

Week 2 of NFL action is in the books. Some teams are as bad as they looked in week 1, some looked completely different, and some have shown two different sides. Here are a few observations I’ve made:

The Good

-Jags receiver Keelan Cole had seven catches for 116 yards and a touchdown, but he had perhaps the catch of the year. About 4:30 left in the first quarter, Jags up 7-0 already, it was 1st & 15 when Blake Bortles threw one up to Cole and he proceeded to catch the ball over a Patriots defender one-handed, pull it in and keep it away from being knocked out.

-Chiefs second year quarterback Patrick Mahomes has 10 touchdowns in his first two games this year! Nobody in NFL history has ever thrown this many touchdown passes in the first two games of the year. What’s more impressive is the fact that he hasn’t thrown an interception yet.

- The Dallas Cowboys entered this season with questions on the defensive side of the ball. They signed defensive end Demarcus Lawrence to the franchise tag, but don’t have anything proven other than him as far as a pass rush goes. They totaled six sacks against division rival New York Giants Sunday night. If this keeps up, that maligned defense will be feared.

The Bad

-The “Aaron Rodgers Rule” is becoming a boil on the ass of the game. Defenders are now penalized for roughing the passer if they land all of their body weight on a quarterback. It earned that nickname from the hit Vikings’ linebacker put on the Packers quarterback and broke his collarbone last year. Karma bit the Packers as Clay Matthews was assessed one at a crucial point Sunday that may have cost the, the game. Competition Committee needs to address this.

-Speaking of the Packers, their game with the Vikings ended in a tie, just as the Browns/Steelers game the previous week. Ties are like kissing your Aunt Hilda who has weather-beaten leather for cheeks. How about a field goal competition starting from 40 yards and moving five yards back after every make until someone misses?

-The Seahawks offensive line gave up five sacks in the first half against the Bears! This is just the latest in teams having franchise quarterbacks and not giving them an offensive line to protect them. Colts’ Andrew Luck, Packers’ Rodgers, Texans’ Deshaun Watson, and others are all at risk because teams don’t invest well enough in protecting these guys.

The Ugly

-The Buffalo Bills are bad at football. They are so bad in fact that cornerback Vontae Davis apparently retired at halftime. Reports state that he got dressed and left the stadium. A team has to be bad for a guy to walk away from the game. But at halftime of a game in week two of the season?

-Kickers have it bad. No matter what they do, they’re not seen as “real” football players to many. However, they are real people who have high-pressure jobs that are on the line each week. Former Browns and Vikings kickers Zaine Gonzalez and Daniel Carlson respectively were cut because of poor performances this week. Hopefully those guys land on their feet. Such is the life of a kicker that costs their team games.

-The Arizona Cardinals are abysmal. They may give the Bills a run for their money in the number one pick sweepstakes. They’ve been outscored 58-6 and outgained 861-350 in total yards in their first two games. Don’t know about you, but this isn’t a recipe for success.

The league is in a healthy place right now because of parity. Teams come out of nowhere every year to make playoff appearances. There are also perennial Super Bowl contenders. It’s too early to tell, but there will be a mix of both when the playoffs roll around. Let’s see if water finds its level when the Wildcard round rolls around.

 

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After rallying in the ninth inning in Game 1 to take the pivotal opener of this best-of-three ALWC series, the Astros were in the driver's seat to try and end the series on Wednesday with another win at Target Field. Here is a quick rundown of Game 2:

Final Score: Astros 3, Twins 1.

Series: HOU Wins 2-0.

Winning Pitcher: Cristian Javier.

Losing Pitcher: Cody Stashak.

Houston gets the first hit and first run in the fourth

Through the first three innings, neither team could get a hit off of Jose Berrios or Jose Urquidy, though the Twins did load the bases in the bottom of the first on two walks and an error, but Urquidy would strand the runners before getting 1-2-3 innings in the second and third.

Meanwhile, the Astros lineup was retired in order in three perfect innings by Berrios. That changed in the top of the fourth when Houston would get back-to-back two-out walks to set up the first hit of the game, an RBI-single by Kyle Tucker to give the Astros a 1-0 lead.

Dusty Baker makes another early call to the bullpen before Twins tie it up

Urquidy was able to keep the 1-0 lead by working around a two-out single in the bottom of the fourth, the first hit for the Twins. He returned in the fifth, allowing a leadoff single before a strikeout for the first out. Dusty Baker would pull another early hook, like Greinke the day prior, dipping into his bullpen early to end Urquidy's day at just 76 pitches in the fifth. His final line: 4.1 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 2 BB, 3 K, 76 P.

Brooks Raley was who Baker called on to face the top of the Twins' lineup. He would walk his first batter, putting runners on first and second, get a strikeout for the second out, then allow an RBI-double to Nelson Cruz that almost scored a second, go-ahead run. Instead, the runner was out at home thanks to a terrific defensive play by Carlos Correa, bulleting the ball to Maldonado at home, who made a great tag to save the run and keep it tied 1-1.

Correa homers, Astros advance to ALDS

After Raley completed the fifth inning for Urquidy, Cristian Javier was the next reliever out to begin the bottom of the sixth. He would toss a 1-2-3 frame, sending the tie game to the seventh. In the top of the seventh, Carlos Correa broke the tie with a long, loud two-out solo home run to center-field, putting the Astros back in front 2-1.

Javier held on to the one-run lead in the bottom of the seventh by working around a leadoff walk, then returned for the eighth. He would get through it scoreless, despite allowing a one-out walk to Nelson Cruz, who would be pinch-ran for by the speedy Byron Buxton. After a strikeout for out number two, Javier would catch Buxton between first and second base in a rundown, getting the big final out of the inning.

Houston added insurance in the top of the ninth, getting two on base before an RBI-single by Kyle Tucker, his second of the day to make it 3-1. That left things up to closer Ryan Pressly, making his first appearance of the postseason. He would notch the save, advancing the Astros to the ALDS for their fourth-straight year.

Up Next: The Astros will now have a few days off to travel to the west coast before starting their ALDS with the winner of the A's / White Sox ALWC series. Game 1 of their ALDS will be on Monday, October 5th, at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles, with start time TBD.

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