Cardinals-Patriots stunner, Eagles' comeback, more Week 2 early thoughts
The early games of the NFL's Week 2 slate produced a handful of thrilling endings, a couple major surprises and several electric individual performances.
Here's what went down during the 1 p.m. ET group of games:
In what may go down as one of the biggest upsets of the season -- and certainly the biggest of Week 2 -- the Cardinals frustrated Tom Brady's Patriots all day Sunday. Still, New England was in position to win late after Ryan Williams unforgivably fumbled with a minute left and the Patriots out of timeouts. But Patriots' kicker Stephen Gostkowski absolutely shanked a potential game-winning field goal with one second left to preserve the Cardinals' win ... and make Williams feel a lot better.
The Philadelphia Eagles have committed nine turnovers in the first two weeks of the regular season. And they are 2-0. Michael Vick tossed two more picks and fumbled again, but also led a late scoring drive and scored the game-winning touchdown with a little less than two minutes to go. His counterpart, Joe Flacco, may have reawakened his critics by failing to come through on Baltimore's final drive, sailing back-to-back passes out of bounds on third and fourth down.
Better late than never for Super Bowl champs (Giants 41, Buccaneers 34)
The Giants were lethargic in a Week 1 loss to the Cowboys and didn't look much better early in Week 2, carrying a 27-16 deficit to the fourth quarter. But Eli Manning threw a pair of fourth-quarter touchdowns, including a brilliant 80-yard hookup with Victor Cruz, as New York stormed all the way back for a win. Once the Giants cranked it up on offense, Tampa Bay simply could not keep pace.
Total mismatch in Jacksonville (Texans 27, Jaguars 7)
The difference between the AFC South's best and arguably its worst was on full display in Jacksonville's home opener. Houston put on an incredibly balanced display -- 216 yards rushing, 195 passing -- while Blaine Gabbert threw for all of 53 yards before leaving with a thigh injury.
After Christian Ponder rallied the Vikings for 14 points late to tie the game at 20, Andrew Luck responded by taking the Colts 45 yards in 23 seconds to get in position for the game-winning field goal. Go ahead and say it: Manning-esque. The Vikings tried to blitz Luck into a panicked throw on the Colts' second play of that final drive. Luck responded by finding Reggie Wayne for a big 20-yard gain.
Kansas City's train jumps the tracks (Bills 35, Chiefs 17)
The Chiefs were a popular playoff pick by experts this offseason. Two weeks into the year, though, they look like they'll be lucky to win three or four games. K.C. was embarrassed in Buffalo on Sunday, falling behind 21-0 at halftime and 35-3 after three quarters en route to a 35-17 defeat. Give the Bills some credit for bouncing back from last week's disastrous loss to the Jets. But, man, the Chiefs are in trouble.
Forget Sean Payton ... Where's Gregg Williams? (Panthers 35, Saints 27)
OK, so maybe the Saints are missing both of those guys -- New Orleans is 0-2 without Payton, the team's suspended head coach, and Williams, its former defensive coordinator. But the Saints' biggest issues seem to be on the defensive side of the ball. They gave up 40 points to Robert Griffin III and Washington last week, then turned around and coughed up 463 more yards Sunday (though Carolina also scored on a pick-6 of Drew Brees). It's a long way back to the playoffs from 0-2.
After throwing four interceptions in a loss to Philadelphia last week, Cleveland QB Brandon Weeden bounced back to toss two TDs and zero picks Sunday. Unfortunately for him and the Browns, Cincinnati QB Andy Dalton was even better -- 318 yards, three touchdowns. This was a huge one for the Bengals, who have playoff hopes.
The Reggie Bush Show (Dolphins 35, Raiders 13) Plenty of people scoffed at Reggie Bush's impressive 2011 as a bit of a smoke-and-mirrors job. Two weeks into the 2012 season, he's likely won over a lot of his remaining doubters. Bush carried 26 times for 172 yards and two touchdowns Sunday, a dominant performance against the Oakland run defense. Ryan Tannehill also threw for 200 yards for Miami, which might have some hope yet this year if it can maintain that run-pass balance.