Sports

QBs beat up, early MVP candidates and what’s up with Ezekiel Elliott


The 32 things we learned from Week 2 of the 2021 NFL season:

1. Tough day for quarterbacks throughout the league, the Chicago Bears’ Andy Dalton (knee), Houston Texans’ Tyrod Taylor (hamstring), Miami Dolphins’ Tua Tagovailoa (ribs) and Indianapolis Colts’ Carson Wentz (ankle) all going down. The Las Vegas Raiders’ Derek Carr and Cleveland Browns’ Baker Mayfield also endured (kneeling) eight counts, but persevered and continued in victorious efforts.

1a. Makes you wonder if momentum could build to resolve Texans QB Deshaun Watson’s limbo in Houston. He’s been most frequently linked to the Dolphins and Philadelphia Eagles – both teams that hold additional future first-round picks, and both teams that appear to have issues under center.

2. Could Carr emerge as an MVP candidate after throwing for 817 yards and four TDs through two games? Maybe. This much we know: Since moving to Las Vegas, the Silver and Black have started 2-0 twice.

2a. And give some love to the beleaguered Raiders defense, which limited the Pittsburgh Steelers to 17 points and 2.8 yards per rush.

2b. The Raiders have beaten the Steelers in six of eight meetings going back to 2006.

3. But Arizona Cardinals QB Kyler Murray may be the (prematurely) early MVP front-runner amid a 2-0 start that’s seen him produce seven TDs through the air and two on the ground.

Arizona Cardinals quarterback Kyler Murray 1, has a zen moment after scoring a touchdown against the Minnesota Vikings during a football game Sunday, Sept 19, 2021, in Glendale, AZ.

Arizona Cardinals quarterback Kyler Murray 1, has a zen moment after scoring a touchdown against the Minnesota Vikings during a football game Sunday, Sept 19, 2021, in Glendale, AZ.

4. Unless it’s Tampa Bay Buccaneers QB Tom Brady, who’s got three league MVP trophies on the mantle. TB12 already has nine TD passes, a personal best through two weeks, which puts him on pace for 77 – or 22 more than arch-frenemy Peyton Manning’s single-season mark in 2013.

4a. Brady is now 9-0 all-time against the Atlanta Falcons.

5. Bucs S Mike Edwards is probably your NFC defensive player of the week after cashing in two fourth-quarter pick-sixes – the first player to manage that in 29 years – during Tampa’s 48-25 rout of Atlanta.

5a. Bummer for Bears LB Roquan Smith, who had eight tackles, a sack and 53-yard pick-six of his own.

6. Lots of conjecture last week about Dallas Cowboys RB Ezekiel Elliott’s role in the offense, particularly in light of a contract that averages $15 million annually and trails only Carolina’s Christian McCaffrey. Don’t expect that talk to die down after Elliott was outrushed 109-71 by teammate Tony Pollard in Sunday’s win in LA over the Chargers.

7. New Chargers same as the old Chargers, a series of penalties (12) and a dubious sack of QB Justin Herbert helping them blow a 20-17 decision to the undermanned Cowboys. The Bolts (1-1) were the first AFC West or NFC West team to lose a game this season … but were summarily joined by the Seattle Seahawks after their collapse at home, which included 10 penalties for 100 yards, against the Tennessee Titans.

8. Sunday night offered yet another captivating prime-time performance early in the 2021 season as the undermanned Baltimore Ravens knocked off the two-time defending AFC champion Kansas City Chiefs 36-35 thanks to a sublime display by 2019 league MVP Lamar Jackson. He passed for 239 yards and a TD and rushed for an additional 107 yards and two scores as Baltimore held the ball for nearly 36 minutes.

8a. It was Jackson’s first triumph over 2018 MVP Patrick Mahomes in four matchups.

8b. Salute to Ravens coach John Harbaugh for keeping the ball in Jackson’s hands on fourth-and-1 from the Baltimore 43-yard line with 65 seconds to go rather than punting back to Mahomes. Jackson let his offensive line maul K.C.’s defensive front one final time on a night when the Ravens rushed for 251 yards, going up the gut behind a jumbo package that netted the game’s 2 decisive yards.

8c. Mahomes was spectacular in his own right, passing for 343 yards and three scores. But he ultimately suffered his first loss in 12 career September starts while throwing his first-ever interception in the opening month of a season.

8d. Almost surely a different outcome, though, if Chiefs RB Clyde Edwards-Helaire doesn’t cough up his first career fumble on the Ravens 34-yard line with 80 seconds left to play.

9. Jacksonville Jaguars first-year head coach Urban Meyer is 0-2. He never lost more than two games in any of his seven seasons at Ohio State.

9a. Meyer urged fans afterward, “Don’t give up on us.” Sorry, coach, did that last week.

9b. Jacksonville Jaguars rookie QB Trevor Lawrence is also 0-2. He was 34-2 at Clemson.

9c. Lawrence has five interceptions through two games … same as he had in 10 games for Clemson in 2020.

10. The Buffalo Bills have averaged 38.7 points during their six-game winning streak against the Dolphins, eclipsing 30 in every contest (including Sunday’s 35-0 whitewash).

11. Let’s not hand comeback player of the year honors to Dallas QB Dak Prescott just yet. San Francisco 49ers DE Nick Bosa, who tore an ACL in the second game of 2020, has three sacks through two weeks – putting him on pace for a record 25½. Just sayin’.

11a. And welcome back, too, to Denver WR Courtland Sutton, who also missed most of 2020 due to an ACL tear. He posted a career-best 159 receiving yards in Sunday’s win at Jacksonville for the 2-0 Broncos.

12. Gotta feel for Minnesota Vikings coach Mike Zimmer, whose team is 0-2 thanks to a defense that’s surrendered 61 points, an overtime fumble by Dalvin Cook in Week 1, and K Greg Joseph’s 37-yard field-goal miss on the final play of Sunday’s 34-33 loss to Arizona.

13. Since coach Sean McVay took over in 2017, the Los Angeles Rams are 37-0 when leading at halftime – the only team to remain unbeaten under those circumstances in the past five seasons.

14. You’d think Colts QB Jacob Eason, who made his regular-season debut Sunday, would at least know better than to go right at All-Pro CB Jalen Ramsey with the game hanging in the balance.

14a. Just when HBO’s “Hard Knocks” finally delves into regular-season coverage, it lands with a Colts team that might not be relevant in Week 11 when the docuseries resumes.

15. Shoutout to Cowboys K Greg Zuerlein, who bounced back from a rough Week 1 loss at Tampa to drill a game-winning 56-yard field goal at the gun to zap the Chargers.

16. Cincinnati Bengals QB Joe Burrow saw his streak of 200 consecutive passes without an interception end … as he reeled off three picks in three consecutive attempts in Sunday’s loss to Chicago.

17. The Carolina Panthers beat the New Orleans Saints 26-7 on the scoreboard and 28-6 on the first-down board.

18. Saints QB Jameis Winston had an ugly reversion from his five-TD opener, throwing a pair of INTs in Charlotte. But, hey, he did rush for a team-best 19 yards, 14 more than teammate Alvin Kamara.

COVID-19. New Orleans was missing eight assistant coaches Sunday due to virus protocols.

20. New York Jets QB Zach Wilson had four INTs in Sunday’s loss to the New England Patriots. Wilson, the No. 2 pick of this year’s draft, had three INTs with BYU in 2020 … for the entire season.

21. Wilson lost his first matchup with Pats rookie QB Mac Jones. It was the earliest game two rookie quarterbacks from the same division faced off in the same division since 1970.

21a. The Patriots have beaten the Jets 11 times in a row. The last time New England lost to them, Ryan Fitzpatrick was the NYJ QB in 2015.

22. Appears Titans All-Pro RB Derrick Henry is back on track to win a third rushing title after grinding out 182 yards and three TDs on the ground.

23. Poor Tyrod Taylor. The Texans’ (interim) quarterback was off to another good start Sunday (TD pass, TD run) before that hamstring issue shelved him in Cleveland. Rookie Davis Mills took over. This could mark the third season in the past four that an injury causes Taylor to lose his job to a first-year player after Mayfield replaced him in 2018, while eventual offensive rookie of the year Herbert capitalized last season after Taylor was sidelined by a painkilling injection that punctured his lung in Week 2.

24. No one could figure what Texans coach David Culley was thinking when he declined an offside penalty committed by the Browns in the first half and chose to punt rather than replaying third down.

25. The last time the New York Giants did not start 0-2? Try 2016, which is also the last time they reached the playoffs.

26. The Giants’ Daniel Jones played like a franchise QB on Thursday night – his 95 rushing yards the most by a NYG passer in the Super Bowl era – yet suffered a loss to Washington for the first time in five career starts. Big Blue’s defense currently seems like a much bigger question mark than its oft-maligned signal caller.

26a. Fun fact: Former Giants QB Eli Manning never rushed for more than 80 yards … in a season.

27. CBs Jaycee Horn (Panthers) and Patrick Surtain II (Broncos), the No. 8 and 9 selections of this year’s draft, respectively, both picked off their first career passes Sunday. Horn victimized the Saints, whom his father, Joe, played for.

28. Best name in the league right now? One vote for Lil’Jordan Humphrey, who led the Saints with 27 receiving yards Sunday.

29. The Steelers now have a sack in 75 consecutive games, an NFL record.

30. What’s more annoying: (Sam) Darnold to (Dan) Arnold or (Jalen) Hurts to (Zach) Ertz?

31. Fantasy line of the week goes to Cleveland FB Andy Janovich, who had two carries for zero yards and one TD.

32. (Bad) line of the week goes to Browns All-Pro DE Myles Garrett, who anointed Mayfield “Brett Favre 2.0” after he played through an injury to his non-throwing shoulder. “Honestly, I wouldn’t say he’s a carbon copy, but he’s like Brett Favre 2.0. Less picks, though,” said Garrett.

32a. Study your history, Myles. Mayfield’s only in Year 4, but with nary a Super Bowl appearance nor MVP trophy. Favre 0.21 – at best – for now. Also, you beat the Texans. Come on, dude, let’s do better.

***

Follow USA TODAY Sports’ Nate Davis on Twitter @ByNateDavis.

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: NFL scores and more, Week 2 2021: 32 things we learned



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