NFL Week 2 Recap: Manziel tops Mariota, Pats humble Bills
By Roger Sinclair
Patriots 40, Bills 32
The Patriots start the 2015 season 2-0 after a big win in Orchard Park on Sunday. Rex Ryan came into this game with bravado similar to his first few years with the Jets, claiming his defense would befuddle Bill Belichick and the rest of the Patriots’ offense. Rex was humbled, with his defense allowing 40 points and over 500 yards of total offense. There was just too much firepower from Tom Brady for the Bills to handle. Brady finished the day with 466 yards passing and torched a Bills’ defense that made Andrew Luck look like a rookie in Week 1. Down 37-13 heading into the final quarter, Tyrod Taylor led the Bills on an exciting comeback, scoring 19 unanswered points and pulling to within a touchdown of New England. However, Brady orchestrated a 72 yard drive that ended in a Gostkowski field goal, all but sealing Buffalo’s fate. Taylor, coming off a win in his first career start, fell back to Earth with 3 interceptions in the game. Taylor did score 4 total touchdowns, though, and Rex has to be satisfied with his starter’s ability to generate big plays. Rex conceded that he was “outcoached” by Belichick, but regardless the Patriots dominated the game and deserved the win. Pitt graduate Dion Lewis had 138 all-purpose yards in this game, including a rushing touchdown that helped seal the Patriots victory.
Game Note: Rex Ryan made news this week for displaying a large amount of confidence in his defense and its (supposed) ability to stop Tom Brady and the Patriots. This claim may not have much statistical evidence, as Rex Ryan is 4-10 in 14 career matchups against Belichick. His last victory against New England was in 2013 with a rookie Geno Smith at the helm of the Jets.
Browns 28 Titans 14
The hype is real, and so is Johnny Manziel’s talent. The Browns picked up their first win of their season and cooled off the red-hot Marcus Mariota. Cleveland’s defensive line had Mariota running the entire afternoon, sacking him seven times and forcing 3 fumbles. The Manziel-Travis Benjamin tandem produced another 60-yard touchdown pass and also connected later in the game. Benjamin finished with 3 grabs, 115 yards, 2 scores receiving (both 50+ yards) and a 78-yard punt return TD. The running game was also working for the Browns, with the team finishing with 116 yards on the ground. The Titans were playing catch-up most of the afternoon after going down 21-0 early in the second quarter. Mariota did not have a great game, but hit Anthony Fasano and fellow rookie Dorial Green-Beckham with touchdown passes. Titans coach Ken Whisenhunt has to be pleased with his quarterback’s performances so far this year, with Mariota not only showing flashes of greatness but also being able to play productively even when taking a complete beating. Also, did the Titans really expect to win at the House that Johnny Football built?
Game Note: While Cleveland came away with the win, they led the Titans in almost no statistical categories. The Titans had more passing yards, rushing yards, total yards, 3rd down efficiency, 4th down efficiency, and first downs. Cleveland, however, had no turnovers and only four penalties in comparison to Tennessee’s three turnovers and nine penalties.
Raiders 37 Ravens 33
Derek Carr continues to build on a promising rookie year by leading a last second drive to grab a win against a banged-up Ravens defense. Carr, coming off a hand injury in Week 1, was able to get the ball to his new toys picked up over the offseason very proficiently and led the offense with conviction. Both Amari Cooper and Michael Crabtree finished the game with over 100 yards receiving and a touchdown, demonstrating their abilities as receivers as well as Derek Carr’s ability to spread the wealth on offense. This game looked like it was going to get out of hand early, with the Raiders having a 10-0 lead half way through the first quarter. However, Joe Flacco led the Ravens back into the game, which was tied 20-20 at half. The Ravens offense was able to find their stride after a rough first game, with Flacco finishing with 384 yards passing and two touchdowns. However, the vaunted Baltimore defense couldn’t stop a nosebleed. The team uncharacteristically was penalized for defensive holding on what would have been the game ending interception, but thanks to the penalty Oakland got new life and ultimately the win. Oakland had one of its best offensive showings in recent memory and Baltimore looked lost on defense. Terrell Suggs will be missed by this Ravens defense, but Steelers fans surely aren’t losing any sleep over it.
Game Note: Last night’s victory for Oakland was only their second win against Baltimore in franchise history. The last time the Ravens lost to the Raiders was in December 2003, with a final score of 20-12.
Dolphins 20 Jaguars 23
The rivalry matchup of the weekend saw Blake Bortles steal the show with an incredibly efficient performance to beat a Miami Dolphins team that has underwhelmed thus far this season. Miami’s 114 million-dollar man, Ndamukong Suh, was unable to get any pass rush going, allowing Blake Bortles to finish the day with 2 touchdowns, no sacks and, most importantly, no turnovers. After the game, rumors began developing that Suh refused to listen to defensive playcalling and ad-libbed many plays, causing confusion among his fellow linemen. These rumors are not good for the Dolphins, a team that showed a ton of promise heading into the year. Ryan Tannehill looked aggravated all game, and the Dolphins only had 42 rushing yards the entire game, 17 of which came from Tannehill himself. You’ve got to feel for Tannehill, who did his part to be a catalyst for the offense but was unable to get help from anyone else on the field. These teams seem to be heading in opposite directions, one towards consistency and the other towards disarray. The Jags corrected their mistakes from a Week 1 loss to Carolina by not turning the ball over and improving pass protection. The Dolphins, on the other hand, seem to have a disgruntled super star who wants to call his own plays, a defense that makes too many mistakes, and a quarterback with no weapons around him. The Jaguars head to New England next week (upset alert?) and the Dolphins take on Buffalo.
Game Note: Blake Bortles had his best game as a starter in the NFL Sunday afternoon. The second year quarterback only had his third career start without throwing an interception and this was his only start in which he was not sacked. Bortles sure hopes this trend continues, as he averaged being sacked 4.08 times per start last year.
Colts 7 Jets 20
The New York Jets capitalized on the miscues and mistakes of Indianapolis and picked up the win a big road win Monday night. Ryan Fitzpatrick continued playing the field general role for New York, hitting both Brandon Marshall and Eric Decker for touchdowns and limiting his mistakes to only one interception. While the Jets came away with the win, they didn’t capitalize on all the bountiful opportunities that the Colts gave them. Andrew Luck accounted for four turnovers alone (three picks and a fumble) and Frank Gore quite literally dropped the ball on the one-yard line. To add insult to injury, Adam Vinatieri missed a 29-yard chip shot that would have given some points to Indy in the first half. The Colts continued to look abysmal on offense; being shut out in the first half in consecutive games. The team looked uncomfortable all game and questions are being raised about what the Colt actually looks like and if they are even contenders in the AFC. On the other hand, are the Jets a legitimate contender? A convincing win on Monday night makes them seem like it, but the jury is definitely still out on that one. The Jets defense did not register a sack, but gained 11 QB hits in the game and was continually applying pressure in the pocket. Neither of these teams has performed as expected, and it will be interesting to see whether these teams continue on their current streaks.
Game Note: Indianapolis has huge problems playing teams not in the AFC South, arguably the worst division in football. Since the start of the 2013 season, the Colts are 12-0 against the AFC South and 10-12 against teams outside their division. In the same span, the Colts have lost to every team in the AFC East and are 0-6 against the division in all competitions (3 losses to NE and one loss to each MIA, BUF and NYJ).