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Sunday September 18th, 2011

Let's face it: While there's nothing better than NFL Sundays, it can be a little intimidating keeping up with what's going on in every game. You can analyze the box scores or scan Twitter, but we'll make it even easier. Here you'll find the most important points from every game, so you'll be prepared no matter what comes up at the water cooler Monday morning. We'll be updating throughout the games, so keep checking back.

Bills 38, Raiders 35 (box score | recap)

1. Fred Jackson deserves  some recognition. The unheralded back had a long run of 43 yards and went over 100 again with two touchdowns on a day that the Bills' passing game needed him to spark the offense.

2. After going down 21-3 at the half, the Bills stormed back in the second half and managed to punch in the game-winning touchdown in the closing seconds. The game was the most exciting of the early batch. 

3. Give the Raiders credit for playing with energy. After playing the late game last Monday, they flew cross-country this week to play a game at what to them is essentially 10 a.m.

Lions 48, Chiefs 3 (box score | recap)

1. Jamaal Charles was carted off with a knee injury that might turn out to be serious. After losing Tony Moeaki and Eric Berry for the season, losing Charles for any length of time would be a death blow to last year's AFC West champs.

2. People always want to talk about Matthew Stafford and Calvin Johnson, but a major secret weapon on Detroit's offense is one of the league's better tight end groups. With a 36-yard grab in the second quarter, Tony Scheffler now has two TDs in two games.

3. Beyond the obvious offense and defense problems, the Chiefs are in danger of totally imploding just two weeks into the season. Kansas City was hit with four personal foul penalties and turned it over six times.

Saints 30, Bears 13 (box score | recap)

1. Jay Cutler needs a new offensive line. Cutler was sacked six times, and that total easily could have been doubled if Cutler didn't get off a few last-second throwaways in the first half. Late, with the Bears attempting a comeback, Cutler was sacked on three straight plays.

2. Drew Brees continues to make smart decisions. Brees threw 22 interceptions last year, but threw three touchdowns with no interceptions for the second straight game. His 79-yard scoring strike to Devery Henderson was a thing made for highlight reels.

3. Darren Sproles remains a fixture in the pass game. After catching seven passes in the season opener, Sproles was relied on heavily in the screen game, with a handful of rushes to boot. Meanwhile, Mark Ingram continued to struggle.

Browns 27, Colts 19 (box score | recap)

1. This was the Colt McCoy we expected. McCoy was ultra efficient against the Colts, one week after a disappointing opener against the Bengals. McCoy hit eight different receivers, playing nearly mistake-free ball.

2. Kerry Collins, on the other hand, proved he didn't benefit from another week in the Colts' system. Collins started the game out decent enough, but simply doesn't have enough to consistently get the Colts in (or even near) the end zone.

3. Adam Vinatieri is your Colts MVP. With four field goals, including a 52-yarder, Vinatieri was the main reason the Colts even had a shot in this one.

Buccaneers 24, Vikings 20 (box score | recap)

1. It took more than a half, but Tampa Bay finally got something going on the ground in the third quarter, with a 27-yard LeGarrette Blount TD run. Blount later picked up 4 yards for the game-winning score. Up until that point, the ground game had been just as lethargic as in Week 1 vs. Detroit.

2. Part of why Tampa Bay was struggling, though, was the play of the Vikings' defense. Just like in Week 1 against San Diego, though, the Minnesota defense folded in the second half after starting very strong.

3. Total domination for the Bucs in the third quarter. The only mistake they made, though, was a big one -- Josh Freeman threw an ill-advised interception to kill a red-zone drive after Tampa Bay had closed to within 17-7. But the momentum the Bucs gained in that 15-minute stretch set the table for the fourth-quarter rally.

Packers 30, Panthers 23 (box score | recap)

1. Cam Newton came out firing, tossing an early TD pass to Brandon LaFell and staking Carolina to a 13-0 lead. But the Packers' D started showing more zone looks and the momentum shifted -- Charles Woodson picked off Newton twice, Morgan Burnett once. Newton put another lofty yardage total under his belt, though.

2. After coming up just short on a potential game-tying drive at the end of Week 1, the same happened to Newton with the chance to tie the Packers at 23 late in the fourth quarter. The Panthers got deep into the red zone before turning it over on downs.

3. The current leader in the Packers' running back competition? Probably James Starks, who had a 40-yard run. Green Bay didn't going to the ground a ton, but the Pack's yards-per-carry average is through the roof.

Steelers 24, Seahawks 0 (box score | recap)

1. Ben Roethlisberger seems to take it up a notch when the critics come out. Roethlisberger picked apart the Seahawks, most notably connecting with his favorite big-play man Mike Wallace.

2. The Seahawks didn't find any room in the Steelers' defense. Questioned for their age coming in, Pittsburgh forced Seattle to play small-ball.

3. Tarvaris Jackson misses Sidney Rice. Though Jackson spread the ball around well, he clearly looked at a disadvantage without his safety valve and only real big-play threat.

Titans 26, Ravens 13 (box score | recap)

1. The Baltimore offense was not been able to duplicate its explosive Week 1. Aside from a Joe Flacco-to-Ray Rice 31-yard TD toss out the mix, the Ravens didn't find much room on the ground or through the air.

2. Chris Johnson still can't get going -- just 53 yards on 24 carries -- but Matt Hasselbeck stepped up and moved the ball to lead Tennessee. It was such a struggle for CJ2K so far that Javon Ringer replaced him in the backfield to start the second half.

3. You have to wonder if Baltimore simply suffered a post-Pittsburgh letdown. All that emotion from last week deserted the Ravens this time around.

Redskins 22, Cardinals 21 (box score | recap)

1. You still have to take the good and the bad with Rex Grossman. After marching the Redskins down the field to start the game, Grossman ended it with a goal-line interception. He tossed another pick later in the half but also found Fred Davis and Santana Moss for touchdowns.

2. What will help Grossman is a competent Redskins run game -- Tim Hightower and Roy Helu provided that against Arizona, with the team rushing for 172 yards.

3. Something that's not a coincidence: Beanie Wells got untracked after halftime and the Cardinals offense put together back-to-back impressive drives. One ended with a Kevin Kolb INT but Wells found the end zone on the second.

Jets 32, Jaguars 3 (box score | recap)

1. It was a good day to be Antonio Cromartie. Cromartie picked off Luke McCown twice and almost scored on his second but was ruled out of bounds at the 1.

2. ...And it was a terrible day to be Luke McCown. As if getting sacked for a safety by rookie Muhammad Wilkerson wasn't enough, McCown threw four picks and boasts a QB rating of 8.7

3. Welcome to the Blaine Gabbert show. The rookie replaced McCown in the fourth quarter and promptly dumped off to Maurice Jones-Drew for 12 yards. He finished 5 of 6 for 52 yards. -- Tom Mantzouranis contributed to this post.

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