By: Edwards Kemedjio | September 21, 2021
Week two of the National Football League was just as exciting as week one and the world is better for it. From the 35-point blowouts to the last-second nail biters there was a little bit of everything this week, as is the norm in America’s Game. Once again, I am here to narrow your focus just a bit and take you through my likes and dislikes from Sunday’s action.
To cap off Sunday’s slate of games was what has become an annual duel between two of the most dynamic quarterback talents the league has ever seen as the Chiefs took on the Ravens on Sunday Night Football. Going into this game, the Chiefs had owned this matchup and had proven to be the Kryptonite to Raven’s star quarterback Lamar Jackson.
The Ravens came into the game having lost their last three games against Kansas City. It looked to be trending in that same direction after Jackson threw a pick-six in the first minute of the game and an uncharacteristically bad interception in triple coverage. The Ravens never went away though, as they went blow for blow with the reigning AFC champions. Kansas City’s Patrick Mahomes for the most part had his way with the Baltimore defense with 341 yards and three touchdowns, but his first every September interception opened the door for a Ravens comeback. The team that couldn’t play from behind came back to beat the NFL powerhouse after being down double digits multiple times during the game.
Jackson shook off a slow start and led the Ravens offense to three separate touchdown drives in the second half. Following a fumble recovery by the Ravens defense, head coach John Harbaugh put the game in Jackson’s hands on 4th & 1 with the game on the line and the former NFL MVP delivered, icing the game on a two-yard run. Jackson finished the game with 346 total yards and three touchdowns. It was his fourth career game with 200 yards passing and 100 yards rushing, an NFL record. Most importantly, he answered the call facing an 0-2 start to the year.
All Hail King Henry
Running backs matter, ladies and gentleman. They always have and they always will, and the NFL’s best put on a show in CenturyLink Field. Derrick Henry, the 2020 NFL Rushing Champion, led the Tennessee Titans to a 33-30 overtime victory against the Seattle Seahawks in the first Seattle game with fans in over a year. Henry dominated during the game, with 182 yards on the ground and 55 yards receiving on the day. His three second half touchdowns fueled the Titans comeback from a 14-point 4th quarter deficit.
The Seattle Seahawks looked to be on their way to a victory following a 68-yard strike from Russell Wilson to Freddie Swain put them up 30-16. Henry and the Titans didn’t buckle, however, and two plays later he was racing down the left sideline for a 60-yard run that made it a one score game. Henry would also score the tying touchdown and set up the game-winning field goal in overtime. The Titans commitment to getting their star back the ball in the second half led to Seattle's first loss in a home opener in 12 years.
The Las Vegas Raiders just might be for real. The Raider traveled to Pittsburg to take on the Steelers in an early window game and took down the Steelers 26-17 and boy did they look good.
Derek Carr looks like the MVP. He and the Raiders are playing the best football they’ve played since 2016, the last time they made the playoffs. Following his Monday night heroics against Baltimore, Carr lit up Heinz Field to the tune of 382 yards and two touchdowns. When the Steelers were attempting to mount a comeback in the fourth, Carr unleashed a 61-yard bomb to wide receiver Henry Ruggs to make it a two possession game. On the Raiders last drive of the game Carr led Las Vegas down the field to set up the game sealing field goal and move to 2-0. He is playing elite football and putting the league on notice.
Defensively, Las Vegas looks for real. The same defensive line that we saw cause havoc in the Raven’s backfield in last week’s win showed up again Sunday, and last week’s performance doesn’t seem to be an aberration. Ben Roethlisberger constantly felt the pressure from the Las Vegas front which led him to forcing multiple throws, one of which led to an interception. The Raiders were constantly in the Pittsburg backfield, and the defense as a whole is looking like a better group than anyone could have imagined. The Steelers only managed 39 rushing yards and only put up 17 points at home.
The Chargers just might be a cursed franchise. Last year Anthony Lynn continued the team tradition of finding the most unique way to lose football games, and Brandon Staley just submitted the first entry of his tenure. The Chargers lost this football game more than the Cowboys won it.
Coming into the game the Cowboys hadn’t won a game scoring less than 30 in their last 17 tries. Dak Prescott, who going back to his games last year had the most statistically prolific 5 game stretch in NFL history was held to 237 yards and no touchdowns. The Chargers did not have trouble moving the ball. Justin Herbert had 338 yards and the Chargers had 408 yards total, but penalties and untimely turnovers spelled their demise in the team’s faux home opener. The Chargers had 12 penalties for 99 yards, two of which took away touchdowns. Two interceptions by Herbert, one occurring in the red zone on a promising drive.
The Chargers are too good a football team to be losing these types of games. The AFC West is one of the best divisions in football, they can’t afford to drop winnable games. They need to shake off old habits and start playing 60 minutes of winning football.
Zimmer Down a Bit
In his time with the Minnesota Vikings, Mike Zimmer has more seasons .500 or under as he has playoff wins, one of those wins being the Minnesota Miracle. It is worth mentioning that both wins were followed by beat downs in the next game. He does have two AFC North titles under his belt, and in a division that includes Aaron Rodgers that is certainly nothing to sniff at, but an 0-2 start following a 7-9 season means that Zimmer’s seat needs to start heating up.
Defense has been a major issue for the Vikings. Facing two young quarterbacks in Joe Burrow and Kyler Murray the Vikings defense hasn’t been able to stop a nosebleed, and now ranks 27th in points and 28th in yards through two games. Now, the Vikings should have won in Arizona but missed a 37-yard field goal for the win, but having to score 30+ points to win football games is not a recipe for success. This is a defense that struggled last year as well but the issues on that side of the ball were supposed to be addressed in the offseason. Acquisitions like Dalvin Tomlinson and Patrick Peterson had analysts predicting a bounceback year, but we have seen no evidence of that through two games. The Vikings are in trouble and Mike Zimmer needs to provide some answers ASAP.
The Dolphins were embarrassed by the Bills Sunday, losing 35-0. While they did lose Tua Tagovailoa early in the match, the effort put forth by Brian Flores’ team was one that we didn’t see all of last year. At home against a Bills team that was coming off a loss, this was not a game that anyone predicted, even if they were aware of the injury to Tua.
The Dolphins offense, led for the most part by backup quarterback Jacoby Brissett, was not able to get anything going. They only averaged 3.1 yard per play and only totaled 216 yards on the day. They failed to convert on all four of their fourth down conversion attempts. Both quarterbacks were sacked a combined six times and only managed a measly 2.9 yards per attempt on their 44 passes. The Dolphins also committed three turnovers and were penalized nine times for 83 yard. It was an all around abysmal effort by Miami, and there’s nowhere to go but up as they travel to Sin City to take on the Raiders.