If Week 1 of the NFL was anything to go by, Week 2 was guaranteed to bring more thrills and excitement. From explosive plays on offense and defensive masterclasses to incredible feats on special teams, this week had it all, but which were Decyfr Sport’s top matchups?
Baltimore Ravens @ Cincinnati Bengals
Final Score: 27 – 24
After the loss of J.K. Dobbins to a torn Achilles injury, Lamar Jackson and the Ravens were without their star running back but that did not deter them. Jackson threw for 237 yards with two touchdowns, while also carrying some of the rushing workload, as expected, running for 54 yards. Second-string running back, Gus ‘The Bus’ Edwards had 62 yards rushing and a touchdown, trying to fill the void left by Dobbins.
Joe Burrow and the Bengals fell to 0-2 on the season with turnovers in the red-zone costing the team. Bengals fans also fear the worst as it was revealed that Burrow may have aggravated his calf injury which left him out of pre-season and questionable for the first game of the season. It remains to be seen whether he’ll be available for Week 3.
Player Of The Game: Lamar Jackson, Quarterback, Baltimore Ravens
— Decyfr Sport (@DecyfrSport) September 19, 2023
Seattle Seahawks @ Detroit Lions
Final Score: 37 – 31
Following the Seahawks’ disappointing loss to the Los Angeles Rams, they travelled to Ford Field to face the formidable Detroit Lions and Dan Campbell. Geno Smith and Jared Goff had a shootout in this game, taking it to overtime following 24 points in the final quarter. Smith threw for 328 yards and two touchdowns whilst Goff and the Lions offense combined for 323 yards passing and three touchdowns. The Lions quarterback threw a costly interception to Tre Brown who returned it for a touchdown in the third quarter, his first in 383 attempts. Seattle won the coin toss and never looked back, with Geno Smith taking the offense a full 75 yards in eight minutes, with Kenneth Walker III finishing off the game with a two yard rush to get the hawks their first win of the season.
Player Of The Game: Geno Smith, Quarterback, Seattle Seahawks
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Washington Commanders @ Denver Broncos
Final Score: 35 – 33
The Washington Commanders overcame their second biggest points deficit to prevent Sean Payton and Russell Wilson getting their first win of the season despite some late fourth quarter drama. Sam Howell threw for 299 yards and two touchdowns in his first start on the road for the Commanders. Washington then went on a 32-point scoring streak before Denver almost forced overtime. Two seconds remained on the clock when Wilson hurled a 50-yard pass which was deflected in the end zone before being caught by Brandon Johnson.
Broncos got this Hail Mary…but then failed to convert the two-point conversion to force OT vs Washington. Commanders go to 2-0. pic.twitter.com/pEGGlyUmyp
— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) September 17, 2023
This meant Denver had to score the two-point conversion to send the game to overtime. Wilson threw a ball intended for Courtland Sutton before Commanders defensive back, Benjamin St-Juste, deflected the pass, despite it looking like he drew a pass interference penalty, but that was never called. Washington left Mile High City with the win and go into Week 3, 2-0.
Player Of The Game: Sam Howell, Quarterback, Washington Commanders
New York Giants @ Arizona Cardinals
Final Score: 31 – 28
The New York Giants had potentially the worst start to a season possible, after losing 40-0 to the Dallas Cowboys in Week 1. After a scoreless first half for the Giants, the team came out in the second half completely revitalised.
Daniel Jones threw for 321 yards and two touchdowns, connecting with Isiah Hodgins and Saquon Barkley, who is now out for three weeks following a sprained ankle in this game. It was the biggest comeback win for the New York Giants since 1949, also against the Cardinals where they came back from 21-points down. Scottish-born Graham Gano kicked the winning field goal, with fellow Scotsman, Jamie Gillan, holding for him from 34 yards out.
The big storyline from this game, despite the comeback from New York, will be the loss of Barkley for the next three weeks with games against the 49ers, Seahawks and Dolphins coming up. How the Giants will do without their star man is anyone’s guess.
Player Of The Game: Daniel Jones, Quarterback, New York Giants
— Decyfr Sport (@DecyfrSport) September 19, 2023
San Francisco 49ers @ Los Angeles Rams
Final Score: 30 – 23
San Francisco gained their ninth consecutive win against the Rams in the regular season, with a 30-23 victory at SoFi Stadium. It was a closely contested battle between two of the NFL’s all-time great franchises. The fabled 49ers defense also learned a lot, as did the rest of the league, about the Rams unsung heroes in Tutu Atwell, Kyren Williams and Puka Nacua with the three of them combining for 333 all purpose yards.
Deebo Samuel and Christian McCaffrey of the 49ers showed why they are two of the very best players in the NFL with McCaffery having 116 yards rushing on 20 carries for one touchdown, and Samuel having 101 yards in total for one rushing touchdown. The difference between the two teams were Matthew Stafford’s costly interceptions resulting in the 49ers holding on, to secure the win.
Player Of The Game: Christian McCaffery, Running back, San Francisco 49ers
Miami Dolphins @ New England Patriots
Final Score: 24 – 17
New England’s offensive line struggles were highlighted in the divisional matchup against the Miami Dolphins. Miami got to a strong start in the first half, with touchdowns from Tyreek Hill and Raheem Mostert putting the team ahead, 17-3 at half time. Touchdowns from Rhamondre Stevenson and Hunter Henry got the Patriots within one score in the fourth quarter and an incredible piece of special teams work from Brenden Schooler, blocking one field goal and then distracting Jason Sanders by getting a running start on his pursuit, gave the Patriots the ball back inside the two minute warning with no timeouts.
— NFL (@NFL) September 18, 2023
Controversially, the game ended following a lengthy review from the referees after Mike Gesicki’s lateral to offensive guard, Cole Strange, was overturned from a first down to being short, despite a lack of evidence to overturn the play. Tua and the Dolphins go to 2-0 whilst the Patriots go to 0-2, for the first time since 2001.
Player Of The Game: Brenden Schooler, Safety/Special Teamer, New England Patriots
Cleveland Browns @ Pittsburgh Steelers
Final Score: 22 – 26
In the first Monday Night Football doubleheader of the season, the story of the game was the season ending leg injury to Cleveland Browns star player, Nick Chubb. The four-time pro-bowler had a promising start to the game, rushing for 64 yards in the first half, but a low tackle from Steelers Safety, Minkah Fitzpatrick, ended his season two plays into the second half.
The game started poorly for the Browns as linebacker, Alex Highsmith, took a pick-six 30 yards on the very first play of the game. Highsmith and the 2021 defensive player of the year, T.J. Watt, had huge games as a part of the Steelers defense that forced four turnovers from the struggling Browns offense. The Pickett–Pickens connection was once again at large for the Steelers with Pickens catching four passes for 127 yards of Picketts’ 222 passing yards and a touchdown, the only Steelers touchdown on the offensive side of the ball. The Steelers secured their 81st victory over the browns, and with Chubb out for the season, it looks likely that they’ll get their 82nd in November.
Player Of The Game: George Pickens, Wide Receiver, Pittsburgh Steelers
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