NFL Week 2 Recap: Steelers impress, Jay Cutler injured
By Anthony Cangelosi
Texans 17 at Panthers 24
Both of these teams were inconsistent on offense in this contest. Don’t let the score line, bolstered by a strong second half for Carolina and a late touchdown and even later potential tying drive by Houston, fool you; neither team had a good offensive line and each QB threw an interception, but the Panthers still took command in the second half. After Garrett Graham caught his only pass, a spectacular one handed seven yard touchdown grab early in the third quarter for the tie, Cam Newton (18/37, 195 yards, 2 TD, INT, rushing TD) and the Panthers rallied around a big 20 yard Newton run en route to a goal line conversion in which “Superman” somersaulted over the offensive line and stuck the landing for a go ahead touchdown. The Panthers held the lead, building with a Philly Brown 36 yard touchdown, even as Ryan Mallet (27/58, 244 yards, TD, INT) tried to build a comeback around a six yard touchdown scramble and a late drive that faltered as time ran out.
Cardinals 48 at Bears 23
The Bears’ miserable offensive performance was further marred by Jay Cutler’s (8/9 120 TD, INT for TD) exit with injury in the late first half, although his hamstring injury is apparently not severe. The Cardinals defense, bolstered by a pick-6 by CB Tony Jefferson, played well as they limited the impact of Matt Forte, a fantasy star in week one, to 60 yards rushing on 15 attempts for a good average of 4.1. But the star of the show was the chemistry between QB Carson Palmer (17/24 185 yards 4 TD, INT) and Pitt alumnus Larry Fitzgerald, who connected for touchdowns of 8, 9, and 26 yards. Fitzgerald finished with those three touchdowns on top of 8 receptions for 112 yards, and the team also got a useful 72 yard rushing contribution from “CJ2k” in the absence of the injured Andre Ellington.
49ers 18 at Steelers 43
If Fitzgerald made University of Pittsburgh fans happy to see his resurgence, then Antonio Brown certainly put a smile or two on the faces of Steelers faithful in the Steel City. The 49ers defense couldn’t find the antidote for the Roethlisberger to Brown poison pill, which they swallowed to the tune of 9 receptions for 195 yards and a touchdown. Deangelo Williams continued his strong run during the suspension of Le’Veon Bell, pounding the rock for 77 yards and 3 touchdowns on 20 carries. Darius Heyward-Bey (4 catches, 77 yards and a TD) played well, stepping up for another suspended player, Martavis Bryant. If the Steelers’ offense is hitting high gear, then the 49ers offense downshifted from its Monday Night Football performance, only gaining 43 yards out of Carlos Hyde and requiring garbage time to put up a few touchdowns, which included a pretty connection from Colin Kaepernick to Torrey Smith for a 75 yard touchdown. For the most part, though, Kaepernick and San Francisco’s offensive line fought constant pressure from the Steelers’ solid front 7 spearheaded by rookie DE/OLB Bud Dupree and second year LB Ryan Shazier.
Rams 10 at Washington 24
Don’t look now, but Washington D.C. may just have something positive to talk about in the form of their solid football team, who shut down a Rams team that looked impressive in its opener. Rookie RB Matt Jones, third round pick out of the University of Florida, made his mark, rushing for 123 yards of the team’s combined 182 yard ground attack effort and two crucial scores against a fierce Rams front led by Pitt alum Aaron Donald and Robert Quinn. Kirk Cousins played efficiently, throwing an 85% completion percentage with a touchdown and managing the Washington offense, which was running the ball effectively, into holding the ball for almost 38 minutes, or 63% of the game (if you’re into percentages). On the flip side, the Rams had trouble establishing a consistent offense, only rushing for 65 yards with Tavon Austin (4 rushes, 40 yards and 1 catch for 6 yards). The Rams have to surely find a rhythm in their air and ground attacks, as well as patch up surprising leaks in their run defense, to stand a chance next week against the Steelers, who will be getting Le’Veon Bell back from suspension.
Seahawks 17 at Packers 27
Consider this: James Jones was cut from the Giants and without a job about two and a half weeks ago when he got a call from Green Bay to come back and play in the absence of Jordy Nelson, who is out with an ACL tear. Since then, Jones has put up 3 touchdowns including his only catch, a 29 yard post touchdown catch that he burned Richard Sherman on. Aaron Rodgers (25/33, 249 yards, 2 TD) meticulously picked apart an ailing Seahawks defense that was struggling up front and missing its heart and soul in Kam Chancellor. Randall Cobb continues to prove himself a fine young playmaker, contributing 116 yards on 8 targets. The story of this game was almost Eddy Lacy going down with an ankle injury until James Starks, who seems to have a nice game every once in a while, gained 95 yards, with a long of 35 on a great cut back run. Seattle’s offense struggled once again as their offensive line couldn’t open lanes for “Beast Mode” Marshawn Lynch (41 yards, 2.7 yards per carry) and Russell Wilson was average (19/30 206 yards 2 TD, INT) in the pocket. Their best offense came in the third quarter, when, after trailing 13-3 at half, they let Russell Wilson run the read option, scramble, and create plays on the way to touchdown strikes to recent acquisition Fred Jackson (5 yards) and the stellar Doug Baldwin (13 yards). Perhaps the Seahawks should let Russell Wilson work to his strengths and tell Offensive Coordinator Darrell Bevell to step out of the way.