The Cardinals starting 2-0 for the first time since 1991? No way. Carolina winning both games without Steve Smith? Nah. The Broncos resembling the New England offense of yesteryear? Ha! And yet, all of the above (and much more) are stone cold truths through Week 2 of the NFL season. Here’s a few more. The Packers haven’t missed Brett Favre. The Broncos offense can’t be stopped. And never count out Peyton Manning. Even if the Colts are down on the road in the fourth quarter.
Backyard football. It was a good old fashioned after school game with all the neighborhood kids and the team with the highest score when mom calls for dinner wins. Denver and San Diego wowed us with a 77 combined point effort. Seattle and San Francisco needed overtime to decide their contest and still put up 63 points. NFC North rivals Green Bay and Detroit kept the score keeper busy, totaling 73 points. And Philly and Dallas showed the nation what uncontrollable offense is all about. The boys and the birds nearly wore out the lightbulbs on the scoreboard, combining for 78 points.
Aaron Rodgers. Who needs No.4 when you have No.12? Only Arizona’s Kurt Warner has been better through the air in the first two weeks. Rodgers has completed 70 percent of his passes while throwing for 506 yards and four touchdowns, good for an early season passer rating of 117.8. He carved the Lions up for 328 yards and three TD’s. Big test coming next Sunday night against the Cowboys.
J.T. O’ Sullivan. Despite being sacked eight times by Seattle, O’ Sullivan bounced back against the Seahawks after losing his first career start a week prior. O’ Sullivan passed for 320 yards on 20/32 passing and one score to lead San Francisco to a victory in overtime. Winning at Qwest Field is no easy task for any quarterback. Tip of the cap to JT. His 300+ passing day was the first in four years that the 49ers had a quarterback throw for 300 or more yards in a game.
Colts. Gutsy is the best word to describe their 18-15 win in Minnesota. Their offensive line is being decimated by injuries, the biggest of which is center Jeff Saturday’s absence. They can’t run the ball or stop the run very effectively. And yet, with Peyton Manning under center, you should learn never to count Indy out. Manning led the Colts on a game-tying and game-winning drive in the fourth quarter. Kicker Adam Vinatieri missed a 30-yard gimmie earlier, but he atoned his miss by nailing a 47-yarder with three seconds left to play.
Calvin Johnson. The only relevant and good thing about the Detroit Lions. CJ has been the lone bright light in what’s been and what appears to remain an otherwise dark world in the Motor City this season. Two games, two 100+ yard performances. He torched the Packers secondary for 129 yards and two scores on Sunday. Sure it’s just his second year, but Johnson is becoming almost uncoverable. Say hello to the game’s next big thing at wide receiver.
Carolina Panthers. Call them the Cardiac Panthers after two weeks of play. First, they knock off the Chargers on the road as time expires. Then they erase a 17-3 deficit to Chicago and pull off their second come-from-behind win in as many weeks, 20-17. Both wins come without their best player, wideout Steve Smith, who’ll make his 2008 debut Sunday in Minnesota after serving out his two-game suspension for punching teammate Ken Lucas during a preseason scuffle.
Isaac Bruce. There’s still some juice left in those 35-year-old legs. His four-catch, 135 yard performance in the win over Seattle reminded me of the glory days in St. Louis when the Greatest Show on Turf was the main attraction.
Arizona Cardinals. Look who’s 2-0 for the first time since 1991? Their 31-10 pasting of Miami has them at the top of the NFC West. Warner threw for nearly 400 yards. Boldin and Fitzgerald combined for almost 300 receiving yards and three scores (all by Boldin). The defense appears for real, surrendering just 23 points in two games. They lead the NFC with five takeaways, while they’ve yet to commit a turnover.
Broncos offense. Mike Shanahan and company are taking no prisoners. They showed no mercy in Week 1 against the Raiders and in Week 2, the Broncos shredded San Diego’s defense. The Mile High City boasts the NFL’s best offense through two weeks. 80 points in two games has Denver atop the AFC West at 2-0. More importantly their controversial, slugfest win last weekend over San Diego put the Orange Crush up two games in the division over the Chargers.
Philip Rivers. He’s off to a terrific start and don’t look in his direction as a reason why San Diego is off to an 0-2 start. Rivers has shown no signs of problems from his knee surgery in the offseason. He threw for 377 yards and three TDs in the shootout loss to Denver. Rivers’ six touchdown passes has him tied for the league best with fellow AFC West quarterback, Denver’s Jay Cutler.
Darren McFadden. McFadden had his rookie coming out party against Kansas City, leading the Raiders to their first win of the season. McFadden rushed for 164 yards and found the endzone for his first career touchdown. His numbers through two games are statistically better than last year’s rookie phenom, Minnesota’s Adrian Peterson. He’s carried the ball 30 times for 210 yards and one score.
Greg Jennings. Calvin Johnson’s becoming a star and you better believe his fellow North wideout is right there with him. Jennings had good chemistry with Brett Favre and better chemistry with current Packers QB Aaron Rodgers. Rodgers has found Jennings often in 2008; 11 times for 258 yards. Jennings ran amock in the Detroit secondary on Sunday, hauling in six catches for 167 yards. Next up, a Cowboys unit that can be had deep.
New York Giants. They beat the dust out of St. Louis,41-13, and that’s putting it kindly. Manning threw for three TDs. The defense throttled Rams QB Marc Bulger, sacking him six times. They’re off to a 2-0 start and the G-Men notched their 12th straight road victory last weekend, after losing the 2007 opener in Dallas.
Tennessee Titans. I’ve said it before and I’ll continue to say it. As long as Jeff Fisher has this team running the football well and playing good defense, they’re going to be a playoff team until further notice. The Titans are 2-0 and have given up 17 points in two games. They’ve got the AFC’s best defense and sixth best rushing attack. Whether it’s Vince Young or Kerry Collins, it doesn’t really seem to matter. Tennessee beat down the Bengals, 24-7 on the road, holding Carson Palmer to 134 yards and picking him off twice. They’ve found a stud in rookie runner Chris Johnson.
Adrian Peterson. One of his goals is to rush for 2,000 yards, and with Tarvaris Jackson under center, he may have to in order to get the Vikings to the postseason. Peterson carried the rock for 29 times for 160 yards, an effort that went to waste as Minnesota failed to hold a 15-0 lead over Indianapolis and ended up losing 18-15 on the finals seconds of play. Two strong outings of 100+ yards by Peterson have been wasted away by the Vikings poor quarterback play.
Brandon Marshall. What a debut. Flat out stellar. 18 catches for 166 yards and one TD against the Chargers. What’s more impressive is that Marshall did it against one of the league’s best up-and-coming corners, Antonio Cromartie. Defensive coordinators and secondaries, you’ve been warned. Attempt to cover Marshall at your own risk.
Buffalo Bills. They scored 10 points in the fourth quarter, erasing the Jaguars’ 16-10 lead, to win in tough spot on the road, 20-10. Trent Edwards continues to grow and improve as a quarterback. He completed his first 10 passes and finished the day 20/25 for 239 yards and his go-ahead touchdown to rookie wideout James Hardy was a picture perfect pass in the back of the endzone, outdone by the fantastic footwork displayed by Hardy to get both feet inbounds.
Anquan Boldin. He took the Miami Dolphins secondary to the woodshed. Boldin caught six balls for 140 yards and hauled in three scores. He’s been a favorite target of QB Kurt Warner, catching 14 passes in two games. He’s made it known he’s unhappy with his contract, but what’s refreshing is that despite his trade requests and desires to play elsewhere, Boldin hasn’t been a distraction or problem in the locker room.
Kurt Warner. He’s an oldie but a goodie, and he can still play the game. Warner threw for 361 yards and three TDs on 19-of-24 passing. Warner is the NFC’s top passer through two weeks, and only Pittsburgh’s Ben Roethisberger has better passing numbers.
Jay Cutler. The class of the 2006 draft as far as QBs are concerned. Cutler leads the NFL in passing yards with 650 and is tied with Philip Rivers for the league lead in passing touchdowns with six. He’s spearheaded the Broncos high voltage offense, scoring 80 points in two games, while throwing for back-to-back 300+ yards and posting multi-touchdown performances. Culter has established great rapport with rookie receiver Eddie Royal and he got his favorite target, Brandon Marshall, back last weekend.
Tony Romo. He’s in midseason form just two weeks into the season. Romo completed 21-of-30 passes for 312 yards and three TDs in Monday night’s thrilling 41-37 win over Philadelphia. In two games, Romo has passed for 632 yards and four scores. The offense will be a difficult chore to slow down all season. His INT and fumble that resulted in an Eagles score put Dallas behind the eight ball, but his play down the stretch allowed Dallas to regain the lead and hold on for the win