Around The NFL breaks down what you need to know from all of Sunday's action in Week 2 of the 2023 NFL season. Catch up on each game's biggest takeaways using the links below:
- Atlanta Falcons 25, Green Bay Packers 24
- Buffalo Bills 38, Las Vegas Raiders 10
- Baltimore Ravens 27, Cincinnati Bengals 24
- Seattle Seahawks 37, Detroit Lions 31
- Indianapolis Colts 31, Houston Texans 20
- Kansas City Chiefs 17, Jacksonville Jaguars 9
- Tampa Bay Buccaneers 27, Chicago Bears 17
- Tennessee Titans 27, Los Angeles Chargers 24
Coral Smith's takeaways:
- Mostert headlines Miami rush. The Dolphins opened their season by exploding for 466 passing yards, piling on the points thanks to Tua Tagovailoa throws mainly to Tyreek Hill. The Patriots largely negated Hill's impact Sunday by limiting him to just 40 yards -- a much different finish than his Week 1 215-yard total -- but the Dolphins found ways to score nevertheless. Notably, after accumulating only 70 rushing yards in Week 1, Raheem Mostert was the highlight of a much more potent rushing attack this week. Mostert alone had 121 total rushing yards (6.7 yards per carry), including a 43-yard TD in the fourth quarter that ultimately made the difference. The Dolphins proved they can find the end zone through multiple avenues.
- Pats' mistakes leave points on board. For the second straight week, mistakes put the Patriots in an early hole and kept them from making their way back. Mac Jones and the New England offense marched 46 yards down the field in the first quarter, but the possession was cut short by a fumble from rookie receiver Demario Douglas, who initially brought in a 10-yard reception before Miami linebacker Bradley Chubb punched it out from behind. The Dolphins' resulting drive ended with a touchdown. And in the third quarter it again felt like the Patriots had momentum, using a revelatory running start from Brenden Schooler to block a field goal attempt and begin a possession in Miami territory. But they came away scoreless after Jones was picked off by Xavien Howard. Two potential scoring drives came to a halt that could have changed the outcome.
- Dolphins D holds strong. In last week's shootout versus the Chargers, the defense largely struggled, giving up 433 total yards to Los Angeles and almost surrendering the victory. This time around, the unit looked dominant against the Patriots, sacking Jones four times, forcing two turnovers and limiting the run game to just 88 yards -- a far cry from last week's 233 yards given up to Austin Ekeler and Co. The Patriots averaged only 4.1 yards per play, and when it counted most, the Dolphins stood strong, just barely stopping a fourth-down attempt after Pats tight end Mike Gesicki lateraled to offensive lineman Cole Strange, who was tackled inches short of the line to gain to seal Miami's win.
NFL Research: With Sunday's loss, the Patriots started the season 0-2 for the first time since 2001. They finished 11-5 that year and went on to win Super Bowl XXXVI.
Next Gen stat of the game: On Raheem Mostert's 43-yard touchdown run, the running back reached a top speed of 21.62 miles per hour, the second-fastest speed by a ball carrier this season. The Dolphins are responsible for the top-three fastest speeds this year, with the other two turned in by wide receiver Tyreek Hill.
Christian Gonzales' takeaways:
- Daniel Jones shrugs off first-half woes, rallies Giants to comeback win. After a humiliating Week 1 loss at home, the Giants started Sunday's game much the same. Jones couldn't find a rhythm with his offensive line struggling to protect him, and the G-Men trailed 20-0 at halftime. Jones and the Giants flipped the script to open the third quarter, executing a three-play, 75-yard drive to get on the board. Saquon Barkley delivered touchdowns on the team's next two drives, cutting the deficit to 28-21, and Jones threw a dart down the middle to Isaiah Hodgins to tie the game at 28 apiece with 4:25 remaining. After forcing the Cardinals to punt, the Giants drove 56 yards on eight plays to set up Graham Gano's game-winning 34-yard field goal to complete the comeback. Unfortunately for Big Blue, Barkley hobbled off the field late in the game with an apparent leg injury.
- Arizona's offense falters late. Cardinals QB Joshua Dobbs distributed the ball to six different receivers in the first half, leading the team to four consecutive scoring drives. But it was a different story in the fourth quarter. Dobbs couldn't find open pass-catchers like he did earlier in the game, and Arizona came up empty, punting three times. It was the only quarter the Cardinals didn't score in. James Conner was a workhorse on the ground, rushing the ball 23 times for 106 yards and a touchdown. Meanwhile, Dobbs completed 21 of 31 passes for 228 yards and a score. But it wasn't enough.
- Giants' defense eventually steps up. New York's D was in a blender trying to keep up with Arizona in the first half. Defensive coordinator Wink Martindale's unit came out in better form after halftime. Xavier McKinney and Adoree’ Jackson each had a pass breakup in the second half, while Jason Pinnock contributed a game-high three tackles for loss. Despite not recoding a sack or interception in the game, the Giants defense didn't allow the Cardinals to cross New York's 44-yard line in the fourth quarter. The Giants will have just a few days to recoup and prepare for a Thursday night matchup against a 2-0 San Francisco squad.
Next Gen stat of the game: The Giants scored 24 unanswered points to complete the franchise's largest comeback in the Super Bowl era. New York's win probability was as low as 4.7 percent with 38 seconds left in the third quarter (trailing 28-14).
NFL Research: Daniel Jones' 259 passing yards in the second half are the most he's had in his career for any half.
Eric Edholm's takeaways:
- Late first-half TD changed the momentum. For the first 28 minutes and 15 seconds of the game, the Rams looked like the better team. Los Angeles had just three first-half possessions and scored on every one of them, gaining 16 first downs and leading 17-10 -- against a defense that's regarded as one of the very best around. The 49ers were moving the ball but needed the seven-play, 75-yard drive to tie the game going into halftime. A huge completion to Jauan Jennings for 20 yards got them going, and two penalties helped them get to the Rams' 1-yard line. The problem? The clock. Kyle Shanahan took a massive risk in keeping the offense on the field for second-and-goal with one second on the clock, risking zero points if the Rams stopped them. Instead, Brock Purdy sneaked it in for a tie game at the break. In the second half, the 49ers defense forced two Matthew Stafford INTs and the offense did just enough to finish off a tough game.
- Rams rookie Puka Nacua breaks impressive record. We can now put Nacua in the Marques Colston-Cooper Kupp-Amon-Ra St. Brown club -- receivers drafted well outside of Round 1 who clearly were NFL-ready the minute they stepped on the field. On Sunday, Nacua broke the NFL record for most catches in a player's first two games with 25. He had 10 for 119 yards in Week 1 and somehow was even better against a fine 49ers defense, catching 15 passes for 147 yards. Over and over, Nacua diced up the San Fran secondary with surgical curls, outs and slant routes, and Sean McVay called two run plays for him. That means the rookie is basically playing the Kupp role in his first two NFL games. The trust McVay and Stafford have shown in Nacua in key spots has been eye-opening. Once Kupp comes back, the Rams will have two tough one-on-one covers, plus Tutu Atwell, who has had two good games now. That has the makings of a very respectable top three receivers for a rejuvenated Stafford.
- Purdy's downfield inaccuracy helped keep the game close. Let me make this clear: The Rams are far better (without arguably their best player in Kupp) than I expected them to be. The 49ers smothered this team twice last year defensively, so the Rams appear to be trending back to pre-2022 form. But the 49ers could have put the Rams away earlier had Purdy connected on a few misfired deep balls. There was a would-be touchdown to Brandon Aiyuk and a big miss to Jauan Jennings on third-and-7. And then they missed out on another possible score via an overthrow to Deebo Samuel that harkened back to Jimmy Garoppolo's Super Bowl overthrow. Is there a reason to panic over Purdy? For now, no. It was his first game versus the Rams. He's still only two games removed from a major elbow injury. Plus, as I said, the Rams are competing hard and well. So perhaps it's a one-game blip, but it's something I'll keep one eye on.
Next Gen stat of the game: 49ers RB Christian McCaffrey reached a top speed of 20.92 mph on his 51-yard run against the Rams, which was McCaffrey's fastest speed as a ball-carrier since Week 8 of the 2019 season.
NFL Research: With two second-half interceptions Sunday, Matthew Stafford now has eight INTs in six games against the 49ers since joining the Rams. Stafford also was sacked once on Sunday, but he'd been sacked 17 times in their previous five meetings.
Kevin Patra's takeaways:
- Cowboys' offense rolls over Jets' D. Dak Prescott started the game with 13 consecutive completions as Dallas picked apart a good Gang Green defense with precision and balance. A Mike McCarthy fever dream, the Cowboys moved the chains, gobbling up 26 first downs while rushing for 134 yards and throwing for 255 yards. Prescott got the ball out quickly against a deep Jets D-line and found CeeDee Lamb 11 times for 143 yards. The offensive precision allowed Dallas to stay on the field all game, earning a whopping 83 plays and 42:15 time of possession with three drives of 75-plus yards. The death-by-100-cuts plan worked with aplomb, as Prescott attempted just two passes of 20-plus air yards, per Next Gen Stats, but completed 81.6 percent of his 38 attempts. The ground game averaged just 3.0 yards per carry but made enough gains to keep the Cowboys out of bad situations. Given the menacing Jets pass rush, it's a credit to the Dallas O-line and plan that Prescott was sacked only once. The biggest quibble for the Cowboys was their performance in the red zone, where they went 2 of 6, including four consecutive field-goal drives to open the second half.
- Micah Parsons is on a DPOY pace. The Cowboys boast the best defense in the NFL behind Parsons' play. Once again, the linebacker was all over the field, discombobulating the entire Jets offense. Parsons finished with two sacks, a strip of Dalvin Cook, nine pressures, three tackles for loss and a turnover caused by pressure, per Next Gen Stats. Thanksgiving Turkeys don't get stuffed as much as Parsons' stat sheet. His .57-second average get-off on 29 rushes is mind-boggling. Dan Quinn's defense is off to a ridiculous start to the season. The unit forced three INTs, a fumble, three sacks and held New York to 1 of 10 on third-down conversions. The defense has allowed one TD through two weeks.
- Zach Wilson struggles on the road. Wilson made one great throw, hitting Garrett Wilson in stride on a slant for a 68-yard touchdown to get Gang Green back in the game in the first half. The QB also showed some poise, stepping up through the pocket for key runs and showing a willingness to take the easy throws when the game was close. As things got out of hand, so did Wilson's play. The QB made some bad reads, missed a host of passes and threw three fourth-quarter INTs to kill any chance for a comeback. Wilson completed 44.4 percent of 27 attempts for 170 yards a TD and three INTs for a 38.1 passer rating. The run game was nonexistent. Breece Hall, Dalvin Cook and Michael Carter combined for 24 yards on 10 carries with a fumble (Cook). The Jets' six second-half possessions went: three-and-out; 2 plays, fumble; three-and-out; three plays, INT; six plays, INT; five plays, INT. Woof. Facing the Cowboys D played a part, but it's back to the drawing board for Wilson after Week 1's dramatic win.
Next Gen stat of the game: CeeDee Lamb had 10 receptions for a career-high 130 yards against zone coverage.
NFL Research: The Cowboys have their second-best scoring margin through two games in franchise history (+60; only behind 1968's +67).
Nick Shook's takeaways:
- Take a bow, Sam Howell. If ever there were a game with a true tale of two halves, it was this one. Howell and the Commanders gained 90 yards on their first 20 plays and had just three points to show for it. Things started to turn late in the first half, when Howell led the Commanders on a nine-play, 49-yard drive ending in a touchdown pass to Logan Thomas on fourth-and-goal. From there, Howell took off, lighting up the scoreboard with three touchdown drives in the second half, including the best pass of his young career, a 30-yard scoring strike to Terry McLaurin. Howell commanded (no pun intended) the offense throughout the game, showing poise, confidence and decisiveness on every dropback. He extended plays and picked up yards with his feet when necessary. He stood tall in the pocket and delivered bullets to 10 different targets, finishing with an impressive passing line (27 of 39, 299 yards, two touchdowns). I see what Ron Rivera saw in him entering 2023. I'm officially sold after another performance in which Howell battled and came out on top.
- Jekyll and Hyde Broncos fall to 0-2. Denver's first half was spectacular, a true dream scenario for an offense that mustered only 16 points in Week 1. Russell Wilson's deep pass was working to perfection, producing beautiful completions to Marvin Mims Jr. (including one for a 60-yard score) and a well-placed, on-time touchdown pass to Brandon Johnson. Everything was working ... until it wasn't. Perhaps Wilson and Co. fell too deeply in love with the downfield shot. It sure seemed like he wasted too much time looking for it in the second half. Denver's second-half stumbles allowed Washington back into the game, and when Washington's pass rush started to pressure Wilson, he had no answer until connecting on a Hail Mary in the final seconds. Worst of all: Denver's struggles in the red zone (2 of 4) likely reminded onlookers of last year's problems, and ultimately cost the Broncos the game.
- Washington's defensive front is an absolute menace. Make that two straight weeks in which the Commanders' lauded front four singlehandedly swung a game in their favor. Last week, it was Daron Payne and Co. harassing Joshua Dobbs in a tight affair in Washington. This time around, the return of Chase Young helped boost the group, which threw a massive wrench into Denver's offensive plans, buying Washington time to regain the lead and denying Denver a chance to pull off a comeback. When hyping up defenses around the league, don't overlook Washington's group, which tallied seven sacks on Sunday. It's a huge reason why the Commanders are 2-0.
Next Gen Stat of the game: Sam Howell's 30-yard TD pass to Terry McLaurin traveled an air distance of 41.2 yards with 1.2 yards of target separation for a completion probability of 22 percent.
NFL Research: Sam Howell is the first Commanders quarterback to win his first three career starts since at least 1950.
Kevin Patra's takeaways:
- Bijan Robinson shines as Falcons overcome double-digit fourth-quarter deficit. In the nascent stage of his NFL career, the rookie running back continues to show his difference-making ability. Robinson's combination of burst, strength and cutting ability makes defenders look silly. Robinson generated 172 scrimmage yards, including 124 rushing on 19 totes. He finished with four forced missed tackles on runs and 88 rushing yards after contact. The rookie's versatility was on display late in the game, splitting out wide versus linebacker De'Vondre Campbell on a third-and-3. Robinson got wide open for an easy conversion to milk more time off the clock before the game-winning field goal. He's a force for the 2-0 Falcons. Meanwhile, Desmond Ridder was fortunate not to have more than one INT and needs to be better in the red zone, where Atlanta went 2 for 5. But the QB made some clutch plays late to spearhead a comeback, particularly with his legs. Despite trailing by 12 points entering the fourth quarter, the Falcons' young offensive players didn't lose their heads and made enough plays to squeak out the win.
- Packers' offense hits the skids late. Jordan Love threw three TD passes and didn't have an interception, but missing Aaron Jones, Christian Watson and David Bakhtiari proved big for Green Bay's offense. The Packers' young receivers showed some juice, with rookies Jayden Reed (4/37/2) and Dontayvion Wicks (2/40/1) making plays early. However, Green Bay lacked fluidity and consistent oomph. After generating a 24-12 lead late in the third quarter, Love and the offense went in the tank, unable to earn a single first down on three fourth-quarter drives. With the run game stymied sans Jones, the Packers' offense couldn't stay on the field. Green Bay was out-gained by 222 yards and 10 first downs by Desmond Ridder's Falcons.
- Falcons' revamped defense off to a good start in 2023. After clamping down on Bryce Young in Week 1, the Falcons' defense, particularly the newcomers, made plays to get off the field against Green Bay. Kaden Elliss flew in for a massive sack. Calais Campbell ate up blockers against the run. Bud Dupree had a big pressure late to get Love off his spot and force an incompletion. A.J. Terrell continues to show he's one of the best cornerbacks in the NFL, making a huge pass breakup in the end zone early and he nearly had an INT late. There still are issues to clean up, and Atlanta didn't have the big turnovers like last week, but keeping any offense under 225 yards and 18 first downs is a good sign.
Next Gen stat of the game: Bijan Robinson registered 17 rushes for 118 yards (6.9 average) on runs outside the tackles and just 6 yards on two rushes inside the tackles.
NFL Research: Desmond Ridder has not lost at home as a starting QB in his career 4-0 (0-2 on the road). It's the first time Atlanta has won its first two games since 2017 (beat the Packers in Week 2 at home that season as well).
Nick Shook's takeaways:
- The Bills ran the ball well! Too often in recent seasons, Buffalo has disproportionately relied on Josh Allen to power its offense. Week 2 was not one of those games, thankfully. Offensive coordinator Ken Dorsey trusted the run early and often, riding the full stable of runners to a total of 183 yards on the ground. James Cook compiled his best day as a pro, racking up 123 yards on 17 carries and catching four passes for 36 yards. Damien Harris chipped in 33 yards on seven totes and Latavius Murray added 22 yards on six carries, with each accounting for a rushing touchdown. For once, the Bills didn't need Allen to lead them on the ground. Unsurprisingly, they thrived because of it.
- Do not do this to Jimmy Garoppolo all season, Raiders. Las Vegas started the day on a strong note, going 75 yards in five plays thanks to a 34-yard Tre Tucker run and two completions to Davante Adams, with the second producing a touchdown. But that was the last time the Raiders would score a TD. Las Vegas encountered remarkable struggles on the ground, with 2022 rushing champion Josh Jacobs finishing with -2 yards on nine attempts. Tucker's single run ended up leading the Raiders in rushing for the day. And with so much offensive responsibility placed on Garoppolo's shoulders, the Raiders were doomed. Garoppolo threw two interceptions and would've had to be a superhero to lead the Raiders out of the hole they found themselves in. He was merely human.
- It took them six quarters, but the Bills remembered who they are. Buffalo seemed to enter Week 2 still reeling from their Week 1 loss to the Zach Wilson-led Jets. The effects were visible for much of the first half. Fortunately, a couple of very impressive second-quarter possessions placed Buffalo back on track, fueling its offensive engine via two Allen touchdown passes, including an excellent bit of improvisation on the connection with Khalil Shakir for six points. Those drives set the tone for the second half, in which Buffalo simply outclassed Las Vegas on both sides of the ball. Rumors of Buffalo's demise were greatly exaggerated, it seems.
Next Gen Stat of the game: Josh Allen completed 7 of 8 passes for 73 yards and two touchdowns while throwing on the run in the 38-10 win over the Raiders.
NFL Research: Josh Jacobs recorded the fewest rushing yards in a single game by a reigning rushing leader since 1950.
Nick Shook's takeaways:
- Lamar Jackson is settling in. Although Baltimore won in Week 1, Jackson's outing that day wasn't entirely memorable. That's to be expected of a quarterback operating in a new offense. But on Sunday, Jackson started to flourish in Todd Monken's system. He tossed multiple beautiful passes, including a majestic missile downfield to rookie Zay Flowers for 52 yards (leading to a Mark Andrews touchdown grab), but his best pass came on a pivotal possession early in the fourth quarter. After watching a similar pass to Devin Duvernay fall incomplete earlier in the drive, Jackson dropped a gorgeous dime on Nelson Agholor on third down, pushing Baltimore's lead to 10. The score proved pivotal, as the Ravens held onto a three-point lead in the final minutes, thanks in part to Jackson's scrambling ability. Jackson made a few mistakes, but he was better in Week 2 than he was in Week 1. And Baltimore likely doesn't win without his rare talent.
- Cincinnati is still finding its footing offensively. The Bengals' disastrous Week 1 outing bled over into Week 2, so much so that fans at Paycor Stadium began raining boos on the offense following another first-half failure. At one point early in the second quarter, Cincinnati had run just six offensive plays, gained 14 yards, maintained possession for just 4:02 and hadn't picked up a single first down. Joe Burrow entered halftime with 35 passing yards, one less than the 36 he recorded in the first half of Week 1. But the tide started to turn in the second half, when Burrow began relying on short completions to build a rhythm. It seemed to unlock Cincinnati's offense, as Burrow put together two touchdown drives of 13-plus plays in the third and fourth quarters to keep the game close. They just didn't get one more opportunity to try to pull out a win, dropping to 0-2 -- but it's not as ugly as it seems after Sunday.
- Todd Monken's offense is starting to take shape. Because it wasn't explosive statistically or visually, Baltimore's Week 1 win was somewhat strange. That was not the case in Week 2. The strength of Baltimore's offense under Monken might be versatility. Take the second half, for example. Odell Beckham Jr. exited due to injury, and instead of starting to slow down, Jackson simply leaned on the teammates available to him. Agholor made a semi-significant contribution, Flowers had another nice outing and Rashod Bateman got involved. Andrews made a big catch on second-and-23 to help Baltimore earn a first down on the next play during what was the most important scoring drive of the afternoon. Baltimore distributed carries almost evenly, with Gus Edwards and Justice Hill tallying 10 and 11, respectively, for a combined total of 103 yards. Add in Jackson's 12 totes for 54 yards and you have a well-rounded, if not spectacular, offense. That's winning football.
Next Gen stat of the game: Lamar Jackson was 13 of 19 for 123 yards and 2 TDs when targeting receivers aligned in the slot. His 19 attempts to receivers aligned in the slot is the second most in a game in Jackson's career (20 in Week 2, 2019 vs. Cardinals).
NFL Research: With five catches for 31 yards on Sunday, Ja'Marr Chase now has more games with fewer than 40 receiving yards (two) this season than he had in all of 2022 (one).
Eric Edholm's takeaways:
- Geno Smith atones for late mistake, leads brilliant overtime drive. Late in regulation, the Seahawks were sitting on a 31-28 lead, trying to run out the clock. Smith had played pretty brilliantly most of the game, but he made a critical error in taking a 17-yard sack white trying to do too much. That allowed the Lions to tie the game in regulation and send it to overtime. Smith wasn't about to make the same mistake twice. He completed six of his seven passes on the opening drive of OT, hitting Noah Fant for 17 big yards to start, DK Metcalf for a massive 16 on third-and-6, Colby Parkinson for 21 and then Tyler Lockett for the 6-yard walk-off score. Smith, who threw for 328 yards and two scores on 32-of-41 passing, was in control all game -- just as he was in the Week 4 meeting at Detroit a year ago. This was why the Seahawks paid Smith in the offseason. He played a big-time game on the road against a team coming off its biggest win in years and helped the Seahawks avoid an 0-2 start.
- Lions struggle to block late, make key stops. The Lions were without LT Taylor Decker, forcing RT Penei Sewell to shift over and Matt Nelson to start at right tackle, but the Lions blocked well through most of the game. The trouble seemed to start when Halapoulivaati Vaitai left the game with about 10 minutes to go. From that point on, the Seahawks got far more consistent pressure. A couple plays after Vaitai left the game, Jared Goff was sacked. On the play after the sack, Goff was pressured and he threw his first INT in 383 attempts, a pick that was run back for six by the Seahawks' Tre Brown. Defensively, the Lions struggled to handle the Seahawks' pass-catchers and get off the field on third downs. Injuries and missed tackles plagued them throughout the game, and CB Jerry Jacobs had a target on his back all afternoon. Jacobs allowed eight catches on eight targets for 85 yards and a TD, per Next Gen Stats.
- Seattle's backups come up huge. Both teams came in with significant injuries, and each left with more. But it was Seattle that emerged from this game with the more competent reserves, several of whom came up big. Backup OTs Stone Forsythe and Jake Curhan had clean sheets -- zero penalties, QB hits or sacks allowed. CB Riq Woolen went down mid-game with a shoulder injury, giving way to Tre Brown, who has played fewer than 200 defensive snaps the previous two seasons combined. After a facemask penalty, Brown took over in the fourth quarter with a sack of Goff and a pick-six that gave Seattle a 10-point lead. The Lions lost RB David Montgomery and struggled to run the ball thereafter. The loss of Vaitai also clearly was huge. They also lost pass rusher James Houston and had trouble finding any semblance of a pass rush most of the game.
Next Gen stat of the game: Geno Smith was 19-of-22 passing for 189 yards and two TDs (+20.1% CPOE) when targeting receivers outside of the numbers in the Seahawks' 37-31 win. Smith targeted receivers outside of the numbers on 57.5% of his targets, his highest rate in a game as a Seahawk.
NFL Research: The Lions lost their third game since the start of the 2022 season in which they scored 30-plus points, the most such losses in the NFL in that span (two of the three losses were against the Seahawks).
Michael Baca's takeaways:
- Gardner Minshew maintains Colts' offensive surge in relief. Colts quarterback Anthony Richardson was off to a strong start before leaving early in the second quarter due to a concussion. Minshew then entered the game and orchestrated consecutive 75-plus yard touchdown drives to end the first half with a 28-10 lead. That was all that was needed with Indy's defense taking care of business. Minshew's ability to make short, accurate passes and Indianapolis' efficient play (zero turnovers) allowed for a decisive victory. Running back Zack Moss turned in 88 yards off 18 carries (one TD) and added four receptions for 19 yards, but on a day when everything was seemingly planned around Richardson (scored two first TDs of game), Shane Steichen successfully adjusted on offense to earn his first career win as a head coach.
- Texans' O-line issues rear their head. C.J. Stroud's second career start was just as grueling as his debut thanks to a hobbled offensive line dealing with the absence of left tackle Laremy Tunsil. The Colts' defense mauled the rookie to the tune of nine QB hits and six sacks, one of which forced Stroud to lose a fumble in the first quarter, setting up an Indianapolis touchdown. Even when Stroud did have time to throw, he had happy feet and his accuracy on short throws was greatly affected in the early going. Eventually things settled down in the second half and Stroud was allowed to find a connection with Nico Collins, who led the team with seven receptions for 146 yards and caught the rookie's first-career TD pass. Robert Woods (6/74) and Tank Dell (7/72, TD) also got into the mix, but the Texans' inefficiency in the red zone (1 of 4) hamstrung any real threat of a comeback.
- Michael Pittman Jr., Josh Downs lead Colts' sure-handed receiving corps. Their stat lines won't jump out and wow you, but the Colts' receivers were instrumental in the win. Pittman led the team with eight receptions for 56 yards on 12 targets and Downs (4 receptions for 37 yards) turned heads with some impressive grabs in key situations. The Colts converted half of their third-down conversions (6 of 12) and scored points on all four of their red zone trips.
Next Gen stat of the game: During his 18-yard touchdown run on the Colts' opening drive, Anthony Richardson reached a top speed of 19.15 mph within 19.3 yards of distance traveled. The average quarterback would have scored only 1.8% of the time, according to the NGS expected rushing yards model.
NFL Research: Anthony Richardson is the first Colt to have 2-plus rushing TDs in the first quarter of a game since Edgerrin James did so in Week 11 of the 1999 season.
Eric Edholm's takeaways:
- Chiefs' offense not amazing, but Patrick Mahomes delivers on birthday. Mahomes' 28th birthday got off to a tough start as he and the Chiefs gave the ball away three times in the first half. Mahomes threw a pick with pressure in his face, and the Chiefs were lucky their defense held on fourth down on the ensuing possession. But on their final possession of the first half, trailing 3-0, Mahomes hit six straight passes to five Chiefs and led a much-needed TD drive. That seemed to loosen up Kansas City a bit, and Mahomes was even better on the first drive of the third quarter, getting Travis Kelce more involved after he was targeted just twice in the first half. Then Mahomes had his typical moment late in the game when he improvised and found a wide-open Skyy Moore for the backbreaking play in the waning minutes. On a day when the Chiefs lost the turnover battle 3-1 and the penalty battle 12-2 (Chiefs RT Jawaan Taylor was flagged five times and briefly benched for Prince Tega Wanogho), Mahomes did just enough to atone for his team's mistakes.
- Jaguars' offense stalls despite gift-wrapped chances. Jacksonville was unable to sustain any type of drive in the first half, gifted three points thanks to a Kansas City muffed punt return. Things were only slightly better in the second half as the Jaguars drove to the Kansas City red zone twice in the fourth quarter. But they failed to punch it in, settling for a field goal on the first one, and on the second they turned the ball over on downs for the second time in the game. On a day when the Jacksonville defense kept Patrick Mahomes relatively contained for most of the game, the Jaguars' offense couldn't find any space to operate against Kansas City. Doug Pederson and Press Taylor had no answers in this game, especially as rookie OT Anton Harrison struggled, which seemed to slim down their playbook.
- Chris Jones is back. Jones' holdout was a big storyline in Week 1, as Jones sat out as his Chiefs couldn't take down the Lions at home in the season opener. But after signing a reworked contract last week, Jones made his presence felt in a huge defensive effort by the Chiefs, coming up with several big plays. The Jags were looking to tie the game late in the fourth quarter, down 17-9, but Jones and Felix Anudike-Uzomah converged on Trevor Lawrence, whose fumble set up a fourth-and-12 and an eventual turnover on downs. Jones had a sack earlier on a fourth-and-5 play that was another huge momentum turn and had a big pressure on third-and-14 to force an incompletion. The Chiefs put Jones on Harrison and it yielded big results. Jones is back, and the Chiefs' defense came up big to avoid an 0-2 start.
Next Gen stat of the game: Trevor Lawrence finished with the most pass attempts in the red zone (seven) without a completion in a game in the NGS era (since 2016). Lawrence lost -6.9 EPA on his seven red-zone pass attempts.
NFL Research: The Jaguars' nine points were the second-fewest points scored by the Jaguars in the Doug Pederson era, just behind the six points they scored against the Texans last year.
Kevin Patra's takeaways:
- Baker Mayfield, Mike Evans light up Bears D. Blessed with good blocking against a limp pass rush, Mayfield torched the Bears' secondary, finding chunk gains easily. Evans made a host of big plays, including a 70-yard catch and run and a 32-yard TD. Mayfield went 26-of-34 passing for 317 yards and a score without taking a sack. The Bucs offense moved the ball at will between the 20s, racking up 437 total yards -- including 103 scrimmage yards and a TD from running back Rachaad White. The blowout would have ensued earlier had it not been for red zone issues (1 of 4). Sunday was a reminder that with weapons at his disposal in Tampa Bay, Mayfield can still make plays when his head isn't scrambled by pressure.
- Sack party for Bucs D. Tampa's defense dominated the line of scrimmage, sacking Justin Fields six times and bottling up the athletic quarterback (4 rushing attempts for 3 yards with a TD run). Joe Tryon-Shoyinka led the fiesta with two QB takedowns. Vita Vea dominated the middle, gobbling up 1.5 sacks and three QB hits. Shaquil Barrett put the cherry on top late, reading an inside screen and intercepting a pass for a TD. Tampa's D has questions with injuries on the back end, but when the front plays like it did on Sunday, it can control games.
- Justin Fields can't find consistency. Fields and the Bears' offense got off to a good start, driving 75 yards, capped off by a 5-yard TD run for the QB. Things sputtered from there. Fields missed a host of throws, took too long in the pocket and the offense generated 62 net yards on its next six drives. There were some flashes, with Fields getting DJ Moore (6/104) involved this week. The QB lasered a TD to Chase Claypool to get the Bears back in the game in the fourth quarter. However, Fields ended the game with two INTs, squelching any chance for a comeback. For long stretches, the play-calling feels stale, the QB looks rattled and the offensive line remains a massive issue. Missing the explosive plays with his legs, Fields and the Bears' offense are in a bad place to open the season.
Next Gen stat of the game: The Bears' defense generated 17 team pressures on Baker Mayfield (50% pressure rate), but did not record a sack, tied for the sixth-most pressures without a sack since the start of last season.
NFL Research: Baker Mayfield has done something Tom Brady never did in Tampa: start a season 2-0 and not throw an INT in either game. The last TB QB to do so was Shaun King in 2000.
Michael Baca's takeaways:
- Chargers let another close one slip away. The opportunity was there for Los Angeles to change the narrative. Down three points with 2:22 to play, Justin Herbert marched his team down the field to get the Chargers into the red zone. Everything seemed dandy with the QB in a groove, but after two short completions, the Chargers were faced with a third-and-3 from the 7-yard line. That's when Harold Landry sacked Herbert for an 8-yard loss and forced the Chargers to settle for the short field goal. The play seemed to take the life out of the Chargers, too, despite L.A. finding some luck by picking the right side of the coin in overtime. Herbert's next three pass attempts in OT all went for incompletions. The Titans got the ball back and an eight-play, 38-yard drive set up Nick Folk's game-winning kick. Brandon Staley will be left with some tough questions after another instance where the Chargers snatched defeat from the hands of victory.
- Titans' offense should take more chances. Ryan Tannehill completed 20 of 24 passes for 246 yards and a touchdown, which looks like an efficient day on paper. But the numbers don't tell the whole story of what was a frustrating afternoon for the Titans' passing attack. Two of Tannehill's completions came on big plays by Treylon Burks (70 yards) and Chris Moore (49 yards), which accounted for nearly half of his passing yards, and everything else came in short, safe throws that seemed to give the Chargers' defense little worry. Tannehill was sacked five times, but it still begs the question of why the Titans don't take more chances down field, which could aid a Titans rushing attack powered by Derrick Henry (80 yards, TD). Tannehill added a rushing TD to his day and was instrumental in getting the Titans into field goal range in OT with a perfect 14-yard dish to DeAndre Hopkins, but to say Tennessee should be thrilled about the current makeup of its offense would be a stretch.
- Austin Ekeler's absence was certainly felt. The Chargers were sorely missing the man who has scored more TDs than anyone in the NFL the past two seasons, as Ekeler was out with an ankle injury. The Chargers scored on just two of their five trips to the red zone. Running back Joshua Kelley, who started in place of Ekeler, totaled just 39 yards off 13 carries. Herbert played very well with 305 yards (27 of 41) and two touchdowns, finding Keenan Allen (111 yards, 2 TDs) and Mike Williams (83 yards) eight times apiece, but the offense should have scored more points considering all the opportunities it had. Ekeler has a nose for the end zone and his presence could have been the difference.
Next Gen stat of the game: Justin Herbert pushed the ball downfield, averaging 10.6 air yards per attempt, his most in a game since his rookie season.
NFL Research: The Chargers are 21-10 with Justin Herbert in games in which they led at any point in the fourth quarter. Herbert's 10 such losses are the most in the NFL since 2020. The Chargers are now 2-5 in OT with Herbert as the starter.