Our writers' review the action for the 2006 NFL Football season and what happened with most people's picks and other games.
While the NFL Football season is 17 weeks long, many people around the country seem to be talking about “must win games” come week two. Across the board this week there were many teams that were looking to get of their respective basements and into the win column. Some of them played good football and won, while others looked like they didn't’t even practice during the week. In case you missed any of the action this weekend, we will let you know all about what happened in week two of the National Football League.
One of the biggest disappointments in week one was the Carolina Panthers, who were one of the NFL Football Picks of many people to win the Super Bowl. The Smith-less Panthers were trounced by the Falcons in week one, and were looking to rebound in Minnesota in week 2. Carolina’s defense played well and the Panthers were well on their way to victory until their special teams blew it. First, the Panthers special teams decided to try a throwback pass on a punt, a trick play that Coach John Fox approved, and fumbled the football over to the Vikings. Next, the Panthers gave up a touchdown pass to kicker Ryan Longwell on a fake field-goal which tied the game. The Vikings kicked the game winning field goal in overtime, sending the Panthers to 0-2 after week two; two games back of the division leading Saints and Falcons. Carolina travels to Tampa in week three, where the loser will find themselves three games back in the NFC South.
A key NFC South battle took place in week two between the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Atlanta Falcons. The Falcons came into this game with one of the most impressive performances in the league behind them, and they did not disappoint. Atlanta’s defense held Chris Simms and the Bucs offense to just 3 points, defeating Tampa Bay 14-3. Atlanta also rushed for over 300 yards in the game, with both Michael Vick and Warrick Dunn going for over 100. When you accompany great defense with a great running game, you have a recipe for success. The Buccaneers, on the other hand, still have not found the end zone in two weeks of nfl picks. Chris Simms has struggled mightily, with most of his yards coming when the games were already decided, and the Bucs’ offensive line has not been able to block anybody. If Tampa Bay doesn’t get on track quickly, they could find themselves out of contention quickly.
One of the most intriguing, but not one of the more talked about battles in week two was the New Orleans Saints paying visit to the Green Bay Packers at Lambeau Field. Many people were anxious to see how Brett Favre would answer his critics and show that he still had some gas left in the tank, and was still very capable of playing NFL Football. That is exactly what he did. Favre went out and threw for 340 yards and three touchdowns. Favre’s main weapon in week 2 was his go-to receiver Donald Driver. Driver hauled in 8 catches for 153 yards in attempting to lead the Packers to victory. However, that would not be enough against Drew Brees and his big play offense. Brees out-dueled Favre and overcame his three first quarter turnovers, throwing for 353 yards and two touchdowns. Brees’s big play weapons all came through, as Bush and McAllister combined for 144 yards and Joe Horn added 88 receiving yards of his own. The Saints biggest came comes in week three, when they return home to the Superdome to face the NFC South’s most dominant defense, the Atlanta Falcons.
The NFC North had a very interesting week two match-up for everyone to pay attention to. The Chicago Bears played host to the Detroit Lions, and bulletin board material was immediately given to the Bears as wide-receiver Roy Williams guaranteed a victory over Chicago. This was a guarantee that was nowhere close to happening. It is no surprise to anyone that Chicago has a great defense; what is a surprise, however, is how sharp their offense has looked. Rex Grossman, who just a couple of weeks ago was involved in a quarterback controversy that many in Chicago thought he should lose, threw for 289 yards and four touchdowns in week two. The Bears sudden offensive explosion has many around the league wondering if they can be stopped. Grossman’s favorite target on Sunday was Bernard Berrian, who had 5 catches for 89 yards and one touchdown. If Chicago continues to play like they have been in weeks one and two, there is no reason that people in Chi-Town shouldn’t be thinking Super Bowl.
After week one of NFL Football, many wondered whether or not the Philadelphia Eagles were truly back as one of the elite in the game. Philadelphia looked fantastic against the Houston Texans, but then again, it was the Houston Texans. On many passes that McNabb completed, Houston Texans defenders didn’t get anywhere near him, allowing him to pick apart their secondary. People would get a true sense of how good the Eagles were in week two against the New York Giants; and the Eagles looked great…at least for three quarters. After an opening touchdown drive for the Giants to take a quick 7-0 league, the Eagles matched them with a score of their own, tying the game at 7-0. Philadelphia then went on to score 17 more points unanswered, taking a 24-7 lead into the fourth quarter, allowing Andy Reid to just pound the football to victory. However, the Eagles couldn’t find there running game. After a Giants touchdown to make it 24-14, Westbrook fumbled with under five minutes to go. The Giants took less than a minute to make it 24-21. They got the ball back with less than a minute to go and went right down the field, as Jay Feely made a 35 yard field goal to send it to overtime. In the overtime field, Eli Manning hooked up with Plaxico Burress for a walk-off touchdown pass, leaving the sellout crowd in Philadelphia silenced. Although the Eagles sacked manning eight times, it was not enough; the Giants were victorious in week two.
Another NFC East showdown occurred on Sunday Night Football. The Washington Redskins and the Dallas Cowboys clashed in a battle of winless teams. The winner would be tied for the NFC East lead; the loser would fall to 0-2. Dallas controlled this game from the get-go, forcing Washington into a three and out on their very first possession. Dallas then went right down the field and made a chip-shot field goal to take a 3-0 lead. It would have been a 7-0 had Mike Rumph not ripped away a potential Terrell Owens touchdown in the back of the end-zone. Dallas got out to a 10-0 lead before Rock Cartwright returned a kickoff for a touchdown, making it a 10-7 ballgame. However, that was not enough. The Cowboys pressured Mark Brunnell all night and held Santana Moss to only 4 catches for 69 yards; 3 of those catches coming when the game had been decided. Dallas beat the Skins 27-10, pulling themselves into a tie for first atop the NFC East. While Dallas got a victory against Dallas, they also lost Terrell Owens with a broken finger. While Owens required surgery, he hopes to be back for his return to Philadelphia on October 8.
A battle for first in the NFC West took place in Seattle between two 1-0 squads. The Arizona Cardinals, fresh off their victory over the San Francisco 49ers, were paying a visit to last year’s division champion, the Seattle Seahawks. The Seahawks came out of the gate firing, getting off to an early 14-0 lead which they would take into halftime. While the offense has not looked like that of the Super Bowl team from a year ago, the Seahawks defense has played outstanding. Seattle held the Cardinals to just ten points, and while Shuan Alexander, who only rushed for 89 yards, and the rest of the Seahawks offense was not as explosive as usual, their 21 points was easily enough to win this game and leave them the only undefeated team in the NFC West.
The other NFC West game was taking place in San Francisco, where the 49ers were playing host to the St. Louis Rams. The 49ers, which many expected to be one of the bottom-feeders of the NFL, looked very solid in week one, as Alex Smith looked head and shoulders above how he did last year. Thing would get even better for them in week two, as Smith through for 233 yards and one touchdown. More importantly, however, is that Smith didn’t throw any interceptions. Antonio Bryant hauled in 4 passed for 131 yards, including a 72 yard touchdown reception from Smith. The 49ers look to be the most improved team in the NFL thus far, and if Alex Smith keeps playing the way he has in the first two weeks, he will be one of the greats in NFL Football for years to come.
Peyton Manning and the Indianapolis Colts were fresh off their week one victory over brother Eli and the New York Giants. They were back at home in the RCA Dome hosting division rival Houston Texans. The Colts dominated this game from the get-go, quickly getting out to a 14-0 lead, a lead they would never look back on. Manning threw for 400 yards and three touchdowns in a 43-24 slashing of Houston. David Carr threw for 219 yards and 3 touchdowns, with no interceptions in a losing cause. The Colts look to be the class of the AFC South once again.
One team that would like to battle Indianapolis for the title of class of the NFC South is the Jacksonville Jaguars, who were at home against the Pittsburgh Steelers in week two, playing in front of the entire country on Monday Night Football. Much of the hype surrounding this game was whether or not Ben Roethlisberger, barely two weeks off an emergency appendectomy, would play. Roethlisberger did play, and to no avail. The Jacksonville defense dominated the Pittsburgh offense from start to finish, shutting out the Steelers for the first time in over two years. Byron Leftwich and the Jaguar offense put enough together to muster 9 points, as the Jags blanked the Steelers 9-0. Jacksonville moves in 2-0, and will play the Indianapolis Colts in week three; where the winner will be in soul possession of the division lead.
The in-state rival of the Cleveland Browns and Cincinnati Bengals was being played Sunday. Cincinnati came out of the gates hot, jumping out to a 17-3 lead over the Browns. Carson Palmer, Rudy Johnson and Chad Johnson all had big games as Cincy went on to beat the Browns 34-17. Rudi Johnson ran for 145 yards and two touchdowns, while Chad Johnson hauled in another. While the Bengals won this game, you wouldn’t know it by the price they paid through injuries. Chad Johnson took a monster shot to the head, jarring his helmet loose and requiring him to get stitches. While Johnson should be fine, others were not as lucky. The Bengals lost three key starters to injury going into week three, including linebacker David Pollack, who broke his neck. While the injury will keep him out the rest of the year, it is thankfully not life-threatening. Cincinnati must move on without him if they want to have any chance of beating out the Steelers and Ravens in the NFC North.
One of the most lopsided match-ups in NFL Football during week two play was the woeful Oakland Raiders visiting the dominant Baltimore Ravens. The Ravens were one of the biggest surprises during week one play, blanking the Tampa Bay Buccaneers 27-0 on their own home turf. Oakland, on the other hand, was one of the biggest disappointments, getting trounced 27-0 on their home soil to division rival San Diego Chargers. Most people said Oakland didn’t have a chance in this one, and they were right. Baltimore controlled the game from the get-go, demolishing the Raiders 28-6 at M&T Bank Stadium. Not only did the Raiders lose the game, they also lost quarterback Aaron Brooks for 2-4 weeks. Back-up Andrew Walter replaced him and will get the starts while Brooks is out. The Ravens are looking like they did when they won the Super Bowl, while the Raiders are looking like the worst team in the NFL.
One of the other teams in the AFC that looked just as impressive as the Ravens in week one was the San Diego Chargers. The Chargers were hosting the Tennessee Titans in a week two match-up, and they did not disappoint. The Chargers came into this game with arguably the most ferocious front seven in football, highlighted by Shawne Merriman, or “Lights Out” as his teammates call him. San Diego was just as impressive as they were in week one, holding the Titans to just one touchdown as they ran up a tally of 40-7. LaDanian Tomlinson rushed for 71 yards and two scores, and Phillip Rivers ones again methodically and efficiently directed the offense. The Chargers recipe for success seems to be taking care of the football and letting the defense control the game, and with an All-Pro running back like LaDanian Tomlinson, it is tough to argue that this recipe will be one that gets them into the playoffs.
The big clash in the AFC West in week 2 was the Kansas City Chiefs paying a visit to the Denver Broncos. The Chiefs came into this game without star quarterback Trent Green, who suffered a serious head injury in week one against the Bengals. Without Green, the Chiefs game plan was simple: pound the ball with their super-star running back Larry Johnson. That is exactly what they did, as Johnson got 27 carries for 126 yards. However, what Johnson and the Chiefs offense did not get was a touchdown. The Broncos defeated Kansas City 9-6 in overtime, behind three Jason Elam field goals. While the Broncos moved to 1-1, the Chiefs fell to 0-2, already two games out of the division race; and if Kansas City can’t find a way to win without Green, they may be out of the playoff race before he returns.
The AFC East had an intriguing match-up between the New England Patriots and New York Jets. The Pats jumped out 24-0 on New York, but Mike Mangini would not allow his team to quit. Chad Pennington threw two highlight touchdown passes to Jerricho Cotchery and Laveranues Coles and the Jets climbed within 7, at 24-17. The Jets then blocked a New England field goal with less than two minutes remaining, but were unable to finish the comeback. While the Jets may not have won the game, they proved to the league that they are not going to be the laughing stock of NFL Football.
Another AFC East division match-up took place in Miami, between the Buffalo Bills and Miami Dolphins. Both teams came into this game with 0-1 records and were looking to rebound. However, only one of those teams, the Buffalo Bills, accomplished that goal. The Bills’ defense dominated the Fins’ offense from start to finish, allowing their first points with less than two minutes to go in the game. Buffalo won the game 16-6, which lead many who had Miami as one of their NFL Football Picks to go to the Super Bowl questioning Culpepper and the offense.
Week two had many highlights and lowlights for NFL fans everywhere. While the Ravens and Chargers seem to be the class of the AFC, the Raiders are left wondering if Art Shell was the right man for the job. Week two also highlighted one of the greatest comebacks in history, as the Giants came back from 17 points down in the fourth quarter to defeat division rival Philadelphia, a comeback that many believe saved the Giants season. If week two was any indication of how the rest of the NFL Football season will go, we are all in for a major treat.
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