On Sunday night, Sep. 20, 2015, the Green Bay Packers capped off the second Sunday of NFL action, and got a measure of redemption when they defeated the Seattle Seahawks by a final score of 27-17. This was the first meeting between the two teams since the Seahawks beat the Packers in the NFC Championship game in Jan. 2015. Packers wide receiver James Jones continued to fill in for injured Jordy Nelson, and had a touchdown catch in the victory over Seattle. While Green Bay improved to 2-0, Seattle fell to 0-2 on the season. The Seahawks were playing their second straight game without star safety Kam Chancellor who is holding out for a new contract.
The injury bug which bit teams in week one was still biting in week two. The Packers lost running back Eddie Lacy to an ankle injury (X-rays were negative), and the Atlanta Falcons lost running back Tevin Coleman to a fractured rib. As far as the higher profile injuries, the Chicago Bears lost quarterback Jay Cutler to a hamstring injury, and the Dallas Cowboys lost quarterback Tony Romo to a broken collarbone. The extent of Cutler’s injury is not yet known, but Romo is expected to miss eight weeks.
The floundering Philadelphia Eagles lost star linebacker Kiko Alonso to a knee injury in the first half of the team’s loss to the Dallas Cowboys. Alonso has an MRI scheduled for Monday, Sep. 21. Here is a look at all of the action from the games of Sunday, Sep. 20, 2015.
Patriots (2-0) 40, Bills (1-1) 32: @ BUF – Having upset the Indianapolis Colts last week, the Buffalo Bills came out and scored the first points of the game against their division rival. The 7-0 lead would be as good as it would get for the Bills, as the defending Super Bowl champion Patriots methodically took them apart. The hometown crowd grew increasingly silent as they witnessed the dismantling of their beloved Bills. Trailing 37-13 entering the fourth quarter, Buffalo scored three touchdowns in under eight minutes to make the score interesting, but a final Patriots drive resulted in a field goal with just 1:18 left to play. This closed out the scoring. Buffalo quarterback Tyrod Taylor did throw three touchdown passes, but also was sacked eight times and threw three interceptions.
Cardinals (2-0) 48, Bears (0-2) 23: @ CHI – When Arizona Cardinals kick returner David Johnson ran back the opening kickoff 108 yards for a touchdown, it was a sign of things to come. The two teams combined for 48 points in the first half, but the Bears suffered a critical loss late in the first half, when quarterback Jay Cutler threw an interception. Not only was the interception returned for a touchdown to put the Cardinals up 28-14, but Cutler was injured trying to make a toucdown-saving tackle and did not return to the game. This left the game in the hands of backup Chicago quarterback Jimmy Claussen. When a backup quarterback enters the game down 14 points and has to face one of the best defenses in the NFL, the result is rather predictable.
Vikings (1-1) 26, Lions (0-2) 16: @ MIN – Last week, the Detroit Lions raced out to an 18-point lead over the San Diego Chargers before giving up 30 straight points in a gut-wrenching 33-28 loss. This week, they faced a motivated and rejuvenated running back named Adrian Peterson, and could not stop him. Coming off a weak performance in a loss to San Francisco last week, Peterson came out and ran for 70 yards in the first quarter. Although Peterson definitely looked strong at times, he did have three fumbles in the game. All’s well that ends well; the Vikings got the win and it looks as though Peterson is steadily rounding into his All-Pro form. On the day, Peterson had 29 carries for 134 yards. As for the Lions, it looks like they may have regressed a bit after having made the playoffs last season.
Panthers (2-0) 24, Texans (0-2) 17: @ CAR – This was an imperfectly played game. A gritty defensive struggle in which both teams had trouble finding offense. In the end, it was Carolina’s superior rushing attack which provided the edge. The Panthers out-rushed Houston 172-61 in total yardage as the Texans continue to search for a suitable rushing attack, with Arian Foster atill out of the lineup due to injury. Foster is not expected back for a few more weeks, so JJ Watt and the stout Houston defense will have their work cut out for them if they are to keep playoff hopes alive. Carolina quarterback Cam Newton was the game’s leading rusher, gaining 76 yards on 10 carries.
Bengals (2-0) 24, Chargers (1-1) 19: @ CIN – The Cincinnati Bengals rose to the occasion against a very game San Diego team. Late in the first quarter, a muffed punt by San Diego left the Bengals with great field position. Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton took full advantage as he found a leaping A.J. Green in the back of the end zone for the first points of the game. San Diego answered with two field goals, but Dalton then found Marvin Jones for a 45-yard touchdown midway through the second quarter. The Bengals led 14-6 going into halftime and never relinquished the lead. Dalton’s third touchdown pass of the day came with 8:54 remaining in regulation time and put his team ahead 24-13. The Chargers did score one more touchdown, but it was too little too late. Cincinnati wound up with a 389-354 edge in total yardage. Bengals running back Giovani Bernard led all rushers, with 123 yards on 20 carries.
Browns (1-1) 28, Titans (1-1) 14: @ CLE – The Cleveland Browns started quarterback Johnny Manziel in place of injured quarterback Josh McCown, and the results could not have been better. The second-year signal caller showed a poise and confidence which had been lacking in his previous starts, as he led his team to it’s first win of the season. On the other side, Titans rookie quarterback Marcus Mariota had debuted last week, by posting a perfect 158.3 QB rating in a 42-14 victory over Tampa Bay in his first-ever NFL game. This week, he experienced the other side of the coin. The Browns defense sacked the highly touted rookie seven times and never allowed him to find a good rhythm. Cleveland held a 21-0 lead at halftime and never looked back. The Browns also had zero turnovers, while the Titans had three. Two of the Titans turnovers were fumbles lost by Mariota.
Buccaneers (1-1) 26, Saints (0-2) 19: @ NO – Things are continuing to go downhill for the New Orleans Saints. Having lost to Atlanta last week, the Saints came out in week two and committed three turnovers in a rather shocking loss in their home stadium. As for Tampa Bay, rookie QB Jameis Winston was able to shake off last week’s lopsided loss to Tennessee. Tampa Bay led the Saints 10-7 at halftime and 23-7 by the end of the third quarter. Winston threw a touchdown pass and ran for another. His counterpart, Saints quarterback Drew Brees, threw one touchdown pass but also threw an interception. Brees did have a good completion percentage, but struggled all game long; he was sacked four times and wound up with a QB rating of just 80.5 compared to 114.6 for Winston.
Falcons (2-0) 24, Giants (0-2) 20: @ NYG – This was a battle of two teams headed in opposite directions. The Atlanta Falcons under new head coach Dan Quinn, are looking more and more confident while the Giants seem to be more and more in disarray. The real story of this game, was Falcons wide receiver Julio Jones. The dynamic pass-catcher had six recpeption in the first quarter alone, and went on to have 13 catches for 135 yards. As good as Jones was, the Giants still could have won this game. 17 straight points scored in the second half, gave New York a 10 point lead going into the fourth quarter. Unfortunately, the only points scored in the fourth quarter, were two touchdowns by Atlanta; the second of which was a 2-yard run by Devonta Freeman with just 1:14 left in the game.
Steelers (1-1) 43, 49ers (1-1) 18: @ PIT – This was the home opener for the Pittsburgh Steelers. Much to the delight of the 66, 472 fans in attendance at Heinz Field, the Steelers scored the first points of the game and proceeded to race out to a 29-3 halftime lead. There was no let up at any point, as the Pittsburgh defense also did their part; 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick wound up getting sacked five times for a total of 37 yards lost. Speedy Steelers wide receiver Antonio Brown had nine catches for 195 yards and one touchdown. Pittsburgh quarterback Ben Roethlisberger finished with a QB rating of 155.8; the highest possible rating is 158.3.
Redskins (1-1) 24, Rams (1-1) 10: @ WAS – Coming off the big overtime upset of the Seattle Seahawks last week, the St. Louis Rams were unable to find any rhythm against the Redskins. In this game played in our Nation’s capital, the world was introduced to Washington’s rookie running back Matt Jones. Jones carried the ball 19 times for 123 yards and two touchdowns. He did lose a fumble, but rookies have been known to do that occasionally. Redskins quarterback Kirk Cousins looked sharp as he completed 23 of 27 passes in the game. In the end, it was all about the Redskins’ devastating running attack. The home team outrushed the Rams 182-67 in total rushing yardage, this factored heavily in their 373-213 edge in total offensive yardage.
Raiders (1-1) 37, Ravens (0-2) 33: @ OAK – In a bit of a shocker, the Oakland Raiders have life. Playing in front of their raucous home crowd, the ‘silver and black’ built an early 10-0 lead and then survived a dogfight. The back and forth struggle saw Baltimore tie the game and 10-10 and the game tied 20-20 at halftime. The game was tied up four times, and Baltimore did not get their first lead until an interception thrown by Oakland quarterback Derek Carr, led to a Justin Tucker field goal which broke a 30-30 tie with just 2:13 left in regulation time. On the next possession, Carr made amends when he found Seth Roberts for a game-winning 12-yard touchdown pass with just 30 seconds left in the game.
Jaguars (1-1) 23, Dolphins (1-1) 20: @ JAX – The Miami Dolphins continue to look shaky. Quarterback Ryan Tannehill signed a big-money deal in the offseason and this was to be the year he and the Dolphins got over the hump and into the playoffs. So far, it does not look good. The defense bailed them out last week in a win over the Washington Redskins, but this week there was no such luck. Part of the problem is the anemic ground game which produced only 42 rushing yards against Jacksonville. The other issue is that Tannehill simply has not found the consistency the team had hoped for. While he does show flashes of brilliance, it is balanced out or nullified by curiously questionable decision making. The Jags deserve credit for this win, but bottom line is, the Dolphins’ quarterback has got to get better at situational football if the Dolphins are to go anywhere.
Cowboys (2-0) 20, Eagles (0-2) 10: @ PHI – The good news is Dallas won despite having lost Dez Bryant to injury, The bad news is that they will now have to figure out how to win without both Bryant and Tony Romo. Romo fractured a collarbone in this victory over the Eagles, so it looks like it will be at least eight weeks before the team will possibly have both their star wide receiver and star quarterback in the lineup together. All the Dallas injury problems may pale in comparison to the Eagles’ offensive woes. The Eagles only managed to get 226 yards of total offense. The ground game was supposed to be a staple of this year’s Philadelphia team, but they only managed seven total rushing yards against the Cowboys. In that horribly ineffective ground attack, DeMarco Murray had 13 carries for a net of just two yards. Last week, Murray had eight carries for nine yards in a 26-24 loss to the Atlanta Falcons. Last season, Murray was a member of the Cowboys and finished the season with 1845 total rushing yards, which was tops in the entire NFL.