Week 2 Takeaways: Herbert Hangs With Mahomes, Big Dak Comeback, Josh Allen on Fire - Sports Illustrated

Week 2 Takeaways: Herbert Hangs With Mahomes, Massive Dak Comeback, Josh Allen on Fire

Plus, Brady bounces back, Butker's heroic kicks, Kyler's got legs too, Falcons find a way to lose, McVay’s offense dazzles, Big Ben turns back the clock, the Colts restore order, the Vikings are in trouble, an afternoon of 1,000 injuries, and much more.
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Reacting and overreacting to everything that happened in the Week 2 Sunday afternoon games...

Things That Made Me Giddy

The Come-Dak. Dak-Back? Dak Had a Comeback: After a complete meltdown for Dallas in the first quarter that included three lost fumbles and a failed fake punt, Prescott led touchdown drives on four of their first five second-half possessions and moved them into position for the winning field-goal. And he did it all with both starting tackles missing, and after briefly leaving with an injury himself. On the day, he was 34-for-47 for 450 as the Cowboys rolled up 570 yards of offense and 30 second-half points.

Mike McCarthy’s Texas Instruments Calculator: The one he bought during his year out of football to discover analytics says his team just improved its win percentage by 500 points.

Greg Zuerlein Is a Hero, Too: Not only for the 46-yard game-winner, but for whatever this weird onside kick was to keep the Cowboys alive.

Harrison Butker Is in the League of Legs: He made from 58 in the third quarter, then in overtime hit from 53 (canceled by a false start), 58 (canceled by a false start), and 58 one more time to win it.

Surprise! It’s Justin Herbert: It’s a shame for Tyrod Taylor, one of the league’s good guys, who was a late scratch with a chest injury suffered during warmups. But Tyrod is also one of the league’s most obscenely conservative quarterbacks, and the Chargers are in a position to win games. On Sunday, Herbert threw a bad pick in the third quarter, but he also made four or five throws against the Chiefs that Tyrod would never consider even attempting. Overall, especially considering the fact that he didn’t know he was getting the start until just before the game, it was an awfully impressive debut.

Josh Allen Is Ablaze: Last week was about dink-and-dunk, this week they opened things up and went after the Dolphins safeties, especially in the fourth quarter when Allen—with the exception of one miscommunication with John Brown that left a big play on the field (and was probably the quarterback’s fault)—was spectacular. He threw for 417 on 35 pass attempts and had four touchdowns with no turnovers, leading a fourth-quarter comeback with two touchdown drives in the final 10 minutes. The Jets and Dolphins (minus Bryon Jones) aren’t world-beaters, but Allen is sitting at 9.00 yards per attempt, a completion percentage over 70, and six touchdowns without an interception through two games. He'll miss some layups and people will get all worked up about it. But the stress he put on his first two opponents—due to his arm talent, legs and improved accuracy—has been overwhelming.

Joey Bosa Takeover: He signed that huge extension after a relatively disappointing 2019, but Bosa is delivering so far. He dominated a bad Bengals line in Week 1, and a good Chiefs line (particularly old foe Mitchell Schwartz) in Week 2.

Kyler Murray’s Got Legs: He knows how to use them. His efficiency on the ground, as opposed to last year where he seemed unprepared for the speed of NFL defenders at times, has been a game-changer through two weeks. Kneel-downs excluded, he’s rushed for 167 yards on 19 attempts (8.8 per carry) with three TDs through two games. The sound you heard on this particular play was Troy Apke’s ankles—and possibly his soul—shattering.

Sean McVay’s Offense Is a House of Mirrors: The amount of misdirection on every snap is mesmerizing. The Rams ultimately rolled up 449 yards of offense in Philly with only one play that went longer than 30 yards, and featured six different designed ballcarriers (excluding Jared Goff scrambles) combining for 178 rushing yards on 5.6 yards per carry. The Rams are 2-0, and McVay is a genius again.

The Colts Restore Order: With an utterly dominant performance by the defense (175 yards allowed, three takeaways, three sacks), and a solid performance from Philip Rivers, Indy has re-established itself as a darkhorse contender after last week’s embarrassment in Jacksonville.

Gabriel Davis’s Fingers: Put this catch in The Louvre. And it came on a third-and-goal with the Bills trailing early in the fourth quarter.

Tom Brady, Not a Liability: Granted, that Panthers defense is not very good, but Brady went 23-for-35 for 217, a TD and an INT, and it should have been much more as two easy touchdowns and one other big play were dropped by wide-open receivers.

Better, Philip Rivers: It was a dominant performance by the Colts defense, which meant Rivers just had to not lose it. He did just that, as the one interception he threw wasn’t his fault (it bounced off Mo Allie-Cox’s chest).

Allen to Diggs: Buffalo got Diggs to make Allen a better downfield thrower, and that’s what they got on Sunday. Diggs caught 8-for-153, including a big 47-yarder to start the go-ahead drive in the fourth quarter.

Raheem Mostert Obliterates Angles: He goes 80 yards on the first play from scrimmage against the Jets, one week after a 75-yard catch-and-run TD in the opener. Then, in a show of solidarity with the rest of his team, he left with an injury later in the game.

Leonard Fournette as Kyra Sedgwick in The Closer: In style, with the 46-yard touchdown run to put the pesky Panthers away. He had five carries for 84 yards over the last 10 minutes.

Foye Oluokun Has the Boorish Manners of a Yalie: The punch-out is becoming a weapon for the Eli:

Trubisky Embraces the Wobble?: I don’t know if he’s now being taught to calibrate for the—some would say "unorthodox," others would say "end-over-end duck-like"—way the ball comes off his hand, but it was getting to the right spots in the first half on Sundays. And credit Chicago’s receivers for wrangling the least-catchable ball in football.

Gardner Minshew Won’t Die: This is a man playing for his job—and Minshew engineered scoring drives of 75 and 86 yards in the fourth quarter to bring the Jaguars back in Nashville. Also, he has a mustache.

Marcus Peters at the Improv: The jet sweep stuff is great, but if you’re not even going to pretend the motion man is part of the play (take a breather, Randall Cobb), and you’re facing a corner like Peters, he’s going to do something like fall off the non-threatening man and intercept a pass.

A Bit of Classic Ben: Granted, the Broncos came in ravaged by injury, but Roethlisberger lumbered around and ended up throwing for 311 and two scores. Short weeks are no fun and the Broncos hung around a little too long, but the Steelers move to 2-0.

DeForest Buckner Makes Sunday Pancakes: That’s second-year guard Dru Samia getting blown away. The moment was 100% representative of this game.

Abracadaniel, Almost: After a courageous showing on Monday, Daniel Jones lost Saquon Barkley and Sterling Shepard mid-game on Sunday yet came up just 10 yards short of a 17-point second-half comeback in Chicago. The Giants are a bad, bad team, but the second-year QB has been impressive while playing with a severely undermanned supporting cast.

Jordan Reed Is Now Invincible: The most injury-plagued player in the NFL stays healthy and catches two touchdowns on an afternoon when every other player in the league got injured. Just another day in Rand-McNally.

* * *

Regrets

The Day of 1,000 Injuries: An absolutely brutal afternoon. In the early games alone: Bosa, Barkley, McCaffrey, Barr, Byron Jones, Garoppolo, Lock, Parris Campbell, Malik Hooker (in a contract year after having his fifth-year option declined), Mostert, Linder, Akers, Shepard, and I’m sure I missed a bunch.

Falcons Find Creative Ways to Lose: Giving up 30 second-half points is embarrassing, allowing 570 yards of offense to an opponent missing two All-Pro starting tackles is embarrassing, blowing a 19-point lead at halftime is embarrassing, blowing a 15-point lead in the final five minutes is embarrassing, merely having to fall on an onside kick attempt to seal a win and instead watching in trickle to your opponent is embarrassing, their uniform redesign is embarrassing...

Gotta Try to Win It, A-Lynn: The Chargers punted on a fourth-and-inches in overtime against the Chiefs. You can't do that, regardless of field position. 

Patrick Mahomes Gets Knocked Around: This was the worst we’ve seen from the Chiefs in years, a shocker considering the extra three days of prep they had for an opponent they’re very familiar with. They got beat up front, repeatedly.

Daniel Jones Getting Stripped: It happened last week too, though the play was incorrectly ruled an incomplete pass. On Sunday, it was Robert Quinn getting him on the Giants’ first drive, leading to a field goal for Chicago in a game where points were at a premium. Those strip-sacks are killer.

49ers in the Return of the Curse of the Creature’s Ghost: The run of injuries for the defending NFC champs is alarming. On Sunday, it was Bosa with a potential torn ACL, Garoppolo leaving at halftime with an ankle injury, and Mostert going down. (As Bob Odenkirk once said: Please everyone, we must know what it is we’re supposed to be afraid of.)

T.Y. Hilton’s Lowlight Reel Continues: One week after two drops on the final drive sealed the Colts’ fate in an upset loss, he dropped an easy touchdown early against the Vikings.

Julio Jones Betrays Fellow Receiver Russell Gage: This throw from Gage, on the Wildcat look, is absolutely Randle El-esque:

Bucs Drop Everything: Scotty Miller and LeSean McCoy both had eeeeeaaaasssyyyy TDs bounce off their hands, and Cyril Grayson added some comic relief by letting a big play bounce off his face when he was uncovered (more on that later).

J.J. Arcega-Whiteside Is Still a Mess: After a nightmare rookie year, Philly's 2019 second-rounder was being counted on with Alshon Jeffery out. He wasn’t targeted in the opener. On Sunday he was targeted twice: A third-down drop in the first half, and an interception by the backside safety in the second half. It’s too early to give up on him, but it’s fair to wonder whether the Eagles—or more specifically Carson Wentz—can trust him enough to put him on the field right now.

Teddy Bridgewater Giveaways: Two in the first half: an ugly interception on a broken screen pass that looked like it was halfway to a throwaway, then a strip-sack when he just didn’t protect the ball late in the down. He had another pick during the comeback attempt. Your whole thing is avoiding turnovers, guy!

Vikings Are In Trouble: We know the secondary is a work in progress, but the offensive line also got its butt kicked in Indy. We already know they’re not built to play from behind. This is looking an awful lot like a team that will lose 10-plus games.

Jimmy Garoppolo Moving Around Like Joe Pera After His Ankle Injury: Before mercifully coming out at halftime.

joe-pera

That Lions "Defense:" We came into Sunday knowing they can’t rush the passer or cover anyone, but Sunday was a reminder that they’re capable of getting gashed by the run game as well. The Packers went for 428 yards on 31 designed runs (8.0 yards per attempt).

Chris Jones Like John Stockton on the Fake Punt: A shame, because the call worked! But the Cowboys punter threw a one-hopper to an open gunner, which paired nicely with the Cowboys’ three first-quarter lost fumbles.

* * *

Moments We’ll Tell Our Grandkids About

A Third-and-31 Conversion, on the Ground:

Josh Allen Does His Best George Kittle:

Another Stupid Mahomes Throw:

Ben to Claypool: For 84—which is also the approximate age difference between quarterback and receiver (heh heh)—and the touchdown.

Amari Cooper’s Mighty Right Hand: The throw was really good, but the catch was better:

James Bradberry’s No-Look Pick: Watching the hands and taking it away from a stud receiver in Allen Robinson.

Lots of Players Can Tell Their Grandkids They Caught a Pass from Tom Brady: But only Cyril Grayson can say that he ate a pass from Tom Brady:

* * *

What We’ll Be Talking About This Week

It's Justin Herbert's Team Now: And the Chargers will be better for it. They spent big on talented but aging veterans this offseason, and they had to hand the keys to Herbert sooner rather than later. It’s 2020, you have to score points to win games. They weren't going to do that with Tyrod. They at least have a chance to do it with Herbert.

The Nick Bosa Injury Changes Everything: The 2018 49ers had the fewest takeaways—by four—in NFL history. Last year's turnaround was in part luck turning around, but Bosa’s arrival to wreak havoc played a big role. If Bosa is out for the year, this defense goes from elite to good, meaning the quarterback is probably going to have to win a couple to keep pace in the stacked NFC West.

Too Early for the Eagles to Panic: Carson Wentz has to settle in—he was better with improved protection on Sunday, but still fired high and wide for no reason a few too many times. The defense was the issue, but ultimately it was just a matter of getting out-schemed by Sean McVay's wizardry. From 10,000 feet, the Eagles have no fundamental problems, and they’re in an eminently winnable division.

The Bills Cover Bachman-Turner Overdrive: Those trips to Miami can be an adventure for favored teams, but the Bills take care of business against the AFC East’s also-rans to start the year. (That is a contemporary reference, if I do say so myself.)

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