The NFL regular season lasts 18 weeks, from early September to early January.
In New York City, the 2023 NFL season was 30 minutes from being declared dead by Week 2.
The Jets, as we all know, were dealt a fatal blow in Week 1 when they lost Aaron Rodgers to a torn Achilles’ tendon. And the Giants, a surprise playoff team a year ago who have bigger dreams this year, had the worst possible start to the season — a 40-0 blowout loss at home to the Cowboys, followed by a 20-0 halftime deficit to the lowly, possibly-tanking Cardinals. An 0-2 start for the Giants, coupled with the loss of Rodgers, would have all but killed the NFL season in the country’s largest market.
But like a mild-mannered reporter at a metropolitan newspaper, Daniel Jones emerged from his phone booth, led four touchdown drives in the second half, and saved football in New York City for 2023.
The Giants’ wild comeback win over the Cardinals is where we begin the Week 2 review.
▪ Credit the Giants for keeping their wits at halftime after a disastrous six quarters to start the season.
“Nobody was flipping tables, but it wasn’t too soft,” receiver Darius Slayton told the New York Post. “In light of last week it was, ‘We’re not about to let this be here we go again.’ ”
The result was four straight touchdowns and a field goal to pull off a 31-28 win, marking the Giants’ largest comeback win since 1949. Jones, playing under intense scrutiny after signing a massive contract this offseason, became the first quarterback ever to throw for 250 yards, rush for 50 yards, throw multiple touchdown passes, rush for a touchdown, and not commit a turnover in the second half of a game.
With a difficult road game coming up Thursday night at San Francisco, the Giants simply had to beat the Cardinals.
▪ As for the sad-sack Jets, their 30-10 loss to the Cowboys was all too predictable. The defense played with heart and held the Cowboys to two touchdowns in more than 42 minutes of possession. But Zach Wilson was basically nonfunctional, completing just 12 of 27 passes for 170 yards, with one touchdown and three interceptions.
Their miserable reality without Rodgers is already leading to emotions boiling over, from Breece Hall expressing frustration about getting only four carries to Ahmad Gardner deactivating his Twitter account after hearing it from Cowboys fans.
The Jets say they are committed to Wilson, but they really should reconsider getting someone like Matt Ryan or Nick Foles. There simply must be better options at quarterback for a team whose defense is talented enough to keep them in most games.
▪ After struggling against the Jets in Week 1, Josh Allen was nearly flawless against the hapless Raiders, completing 31 of 37 passes for 274 yards with three touchdowns and, most importantly, no turnovers in a 38-10 win.
The Bills also held the Raiders to just 240 yards of offense, and made a statement that they’re too talented to let their bad loss to the Jets define them.
“Coach [Sean] McDermott challenged us and said it’s a man-whooping-man day,” defensive end A.J. Epenesa said, via The Athletic.
It was a disheartening loss for the Raiders, who scored 3 points in the final 56 minutes and couldn’t get a stop on defense. What exactly did they do all week in West Virginia?
▪ Last year’s Super Bowl teams are a combined 3-1, but both are struggling. The Chiefs earned a hard-fought 17-9 win in Jacksonville to improve to 1-1. But even with Travis Kelce back, Patrick Mahomes didn’t look comfortable with his new cast of receivers, and the Chiefs have turned the ball over four times in two games.
The Eagles are 2-0 but are frustrated after closer-than-expected wins over the Patriots and Vikings. The passing offense under new coordinator Brian Johnson isn’t clicking yet, with Jalen Hurts taking four sacks against the Vikings, generating 117 of his 193 yards with two completions to DeVonta Smith, and getting in a heated sideline argument with A.J. Brown. A surprisingly big showdown at 2-0 Tampa Bay awaits next Monday.
▪ What was up with the Rams kicking a meaningless field goal as time expired in their 30-23 loss to the 49ers? Sean McVay unfortunately wasn’t asked about it in the postgame press conference, but the obvious connection was that the field goal affected the point spread, which was anywhere from 7 to 8.5.
With the NFL fully embracing legalized gambling, these types of things should be avoided at all costs. Instead, it is only fair to wonder whom McVay was trying to help. Himself? Other members of the Rams organization? The sportsbooks who are partners with the NFL?
“That definitely helped us,” Caesars assistant director of trading Adam Pullen told the Las Vegas Review-Journal. “We had some puzzled looks in the trading room on why that happened. Obviously, if they were going to kick a field goal, they should’ve did it the play before.”
▪ After an historically sloppy Week 1, offense bounced back in a big way. The 14 games through Sunday night averaged 50.8 points, with 80 touchdowns scored. The 16 games in Week 1 averaged 41.0 points per game, with 69 touchdowns.
▪ Did not like Jaguars coach Doug Pederson’s decision to go for it on fourth and 12, trailing, 17-9, instead of kicking a 34-yard field goal. Yes, it only would have cut the deficit to 5, but 4:23 is plenty of time to get a defensive stop and drive for a touchdown. Instead, Pederson panicked.
▪ But loved Falcons coach Arthur Smith’s decision to go for it on fourth and 1 from the Green Bay 23 with 2:08 left despite trailing, 24-22. Bijan Robinson converted it with a 7-yard rush, and the Falcons closed out an impressive win.
▪ Colts rookie QB Anthony Richardson likely suffered a concussion on his second touchdown run, coach Shane Steichen told reporters, but Richardson didn’t self-report his symptoms until two drives and one quarter later. Why did he have to self-report? Where was the concussion spotter requiring him to take an evaluation?
▪ The Broncos maybe could have gotten a pass interference call on the 2-point conversion that fell incomplete in their 35-33 loss to the Commanders. But it’s hard to have any sympathy for Sean Payton after his classless comments about Nathaniel Hackett during training camp.
▪ The Bengals say they aren’t panicking after falling to 0-2 for the fourth time in five seasons, but they should be. They didn’t start 0-2 in their 2021 Super Bowl season, and Joe Burrow’s calf is going to be a lingering issue after he reinjured it Sunday. Burrow is averaging just 4.22 yards per attempt this year, 31st out of 32 quarterbacks.
▪ Hey, Buffalo Bills, let’s get Takeo Spikes a better seat.
Congrats to @BuffaloBills for getting a dominant win in home opener. I wish I could've stayed for the entire game but seating accomodations were NOT the standard. How you gonna have the @NFLLegends supporting with this obstructed sample size of a view!? Felt like I was in timeout https://t.co/RT8kAvLomK pic.twitter.com/DTBDMmccJX— Takeo Spikes, M.B.A (@TakeoSpikes51) September 17, 2023
Tracking Guys That Boston Fans Might Care About
▪ Titans WR DeAndre Hopkins: Had only four catches for 40 yards, but two were third-down conversions, and the final one got the Titans in range for the game-winning field goal in overtime.
▪ Titans K Nick Folk: Has been perfect this year — 7 for 7 on field goals (including five in Week 1 and the overtime winner in Week 2), 3 for 3 on extra points, and even has five touchbacks on 11 kickoffs.
▪ Ravens WR Nelson Agholor: Led the team with five catches for 63 yards and his first touchdown of the year.
▪ Bills RB Damien Harris: Had seven carries for 33 yards and his first rushing touchdown of the season, plus a 41-yard kickoff return.
Ben Volin can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.