NFL Week 2 grades from around the league

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Stefon Diggs continues lead role in Josh Allen's rise
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Comebacks ruled the NFL season’s second week. Tua Tagovailoa, Kyler Murray, and Joe Flacco stunned three teams on the AFC’s contender radar, while the quarterback situation in San Francisco could alter the NFC landscape. Here are this week’s NFL grades.

 

1 of 32

Stefon Diggs continues lead role in Josh Allen’s rise

Stefon Diggs continues lead role in Josh Allen's rise

George Walker IV / USA Today Images

Receivers like Wes Welker, Charlie Joiner, and Bobby Mitchell jumped a level upon being traded; Diggs is moving toward joining them on the shortlist of greatest wideout trade acquisitions. The ex-Viking’s 2020 Buffalo arrival directly correlates with Allen morphing from erratic athlete to MVP-caliber passer. Diggs has catalyzed one of this century’s top rebuilds. The route-running machine shredded the Titans for 148 yards and three TDs in three quarters, carrying a passing attack missing Gabe Davis. As the Bills (2-0) make a joke out of their September opposition, Diggs’ short- and long-range abilities —  for a team lacking an upper-echelon running back — are enabling Allen’s ascent.

BILLS GRADE: A-plus | NEXT: at Dolphins (Sun.)

 

2 of 32

Henry-Tannehill era winding down?

Henry-Tannehill era winding down?

George Walker IV / USA Today Images

Removing A.J. Brown and Harold Landry from the Titans’ 2022 equation already left Mike Vrabel and Co. with an uphill battle. The Titans (0-2) had beaten the Bills in each of Josh Allen’s superstar-tier seasons, but their Monday edition lacked Taylor Lewan (and cap casualty Rodger Saffold, now the Bills’ left guard) and featured a low-gear Derrick Henry (13 carries, 25 yards). Henry crushed the Bills for 143 yards and three TDs last season. Tannehill’s midcareer climb was tied to Henry. With a passing game in transition and an O-line — one the Bills terrorized — presenting new questions, this Titans edition may not have a solution if a Henry decline is in progress. 

TITANS GRADE: F | NEXT: vs. Raiders (Sun.)

 

3 of 32

Darius Slay leads recharged Eagles defense

Darius Slay leads recharged Eagles defense

Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

Hurts’ dual-threat detonation of a Vikings defense that vexed Aaron Rodgers gave Jonathan Gannon plenty to work with, but the scrutinized defensive coordinator redeemed himself after the Lions piled up yards in Week 1. The Eagles (2-0) played up to their capabilities, forcing six three-and-outs on the Vikings’ first nine drives. Slay impacted those marches’ futility, muzzling Justin Jefferson (six catches, 48 yards) after his 184-yard opener. Aided by the usually blitz-averse Gannon’s attack orders, Slay ended his night with five passes defensed, two INTs (both on Jefferson targets), and the Vikes’ star wideout catching one of five targets against him. Slay, 31, continues to live up to his top-10 cornerback contract. 

EAGLES GRADE: A | NEXT: at Commanders (Sun.)

 

4 of 32

Kirk Cousins again at center of Vikings reality check

Kirk Cousins again at center of Vikings reality check

Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

As Jalen Hurts announced his MVP candidacy, his counterpart could not keep up. Cousins’ 2-10 “Monday Night Football” record (both wins coming against the Bears) may not tell the full story, but Monday’s three-INT outing reminds us of the low ceiling the veteran QB has offered the Vikings since 2018. Philadelphia outgained Minnesota 347-93 before halftime, and despite the Vikings (1-1) rostering a healthy skill corps housing two elite playmakers, the Eagles halted the Justin Jefferson-Dalvin Cook duo. Even when given the ball at the Eagles 9-yard line, the Vikes produced no points. While this is one to forget, big-spot Cousins clunkers are a rather prominent part of recent Vikings history. 

VIKINGS GRADE: F | NEXT: vs. Lions (Sun.)

 

5 of 32

Dolphins’ blueprint shines in Baltimore stunner

Dolphins' blueprint shines in Baltimore stunner

Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

Surrounding Tua Tagovailoa with weaponry and a better O-line defined the non-scandal portion of the Dolphins’ offseason. For a glorious quarter, that vision fell into place. Miami’s speed overwhelmed Baltimore’s defense, helping Tagovailoa assemble a 21-point fourth-quarter comeback. Tyreek Hill and Jaylen Waddle are the first Super Bowl-era teammates to each eclipse 170 yards and two TDs in a game. Be it on tunnel screens or straight sprints, the Dolphin burners took over the game and helped Tua (462 passing yards) tie Dan Marino and Bob Griese with a franchise-record six-TD day. It is too early to rule on Tua or the 2-0 Dolphins’ playoff viability, but this explosive outing stands out among recent comebacks.

DOLPHINS GRADE: A-minus | NEXT: vs. Bills (Sun.)

 

6 of 32

Depleted Ravens secondary spoils Lamar’s day

Depleted Ravens secondary spoils Lamar's day

Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

Lamar Jackson’s 11th 100-yard rushing game passed Michael Vick for the most in QB history; this was only Jackson’s 51st start. The Ravens (1-1) were without their Nos. 3 and 4 cornerbacks, and injuries limited starters, Marlon Humphrey and Marcus Peters. Baltimore’s defense looked like the malady-ridden unit that gave Joe Burrow monster box scores and led DC Don Martindale out of town. The Dolphins attacked fourth-round rookie Jalyn Armour-Davis, though Peters could not stay with ex-Chiefs teammate Hill on the latter’s first TD. Humphrey missing Miami’s final drive hurt, but excuses cannot completely justify allowing 28 fourth-stanza points — especially not by a team that used its top offseason resources on safeties. 

RAVENS GRADE: D-plus | NEXT: at Patriots (Sun.)

 

7 of 32

Joe Flacco adds unexpected chapter to Browns mastery

Joe Flacco adds unexpected chapter to Browns mastery

Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports

Flacco has mostly played out the string post-Baltimore, but in a stadium that has padded his win total, the former Super Bowl MVP provided his defining late-career sequence. The Jets (1-1) carried a 0.3% win probability after Nick Chubb’s third touchdown, but their 37-year-old backup authored two scoring drives to close out a game with 307 passing yards and four TD tosses. Looking out of place during much of his three-season Jets stay, Flacco did his best work after Braden Mann’s onside kick offering. Flacco’s game-closing strike to Garrett Wilson gave the maligned QB his first win as a Jet, moved his record against the Browns to 18-3, and provided a vital response after last week’s Jets no-show.

JETS GRADE: A | NEXT: vs. Bengals (Sun.)

 

8 of 32

Talent-laden Browns defense bends, breaks

Talent-laden Browns defense bends, breaks

Scott Galvin-USA TODAY Sports

No game on the Browns’ pre-Deshaun Watson schedule presented a friendlier spot than a Jets team featuring an aging backup quarterback. Instead, these Browns (1-1) became the first team since a considerably less talented 2001 Browns squad to blow a 13-point lead in the final two minutes ( shoutout Mike Brown ). Flacco’s 66-yard strike to Corey Davis featured the Jets wideout open by 10 yards, and a defense flush with first- and second-round picks allowing the Jets to finish the effort a drive later is a rough look for the Browns’ chances to be in the playoff race when Watson resurfaces. Blaming Kareem Hunt or Nick Chubb for not running more clock misses the mark. Cleveland’s defense letting a rebuilding team craft this comeback is inexcusable.

BROWNS GRADE: D | NEXT: vs. Steelers (Thu.)

 

9 of 32

Comeback Sunday wraps in desert

Comeback Sunday wraps in desert

Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

This game offered a microcosm of why the Cardinals (1-1) were justified in doing what it took to lock down Kyler Murray. After an ankle injury sapped his scrambling ability for much of last season, Murray showed how dangerous he is when fully equipped. The 5-foot-10 passer took over the league’s first desert duel, and his two two-point conversions showed the issues his arm and legs create. The Cardinals (1-1) may have saved their season with this 20-point comeback, one that required two two-pointers — the first a 21-second , 85-yard navigation and the second a laser to a not-open A.J. Green. This rally coming without DeAndre Hopkins, brought a change of pace after the Pro Bowler’s absence crushed last year’s passing attack.

CARDINALS GRADE: A-minus | NEXT: vs. Rams (Sun.)

 

10 of 32

Raider weapons go quiet

Raider weapons go quiet

Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

A Cardinals team with questionable pass-defending pieces gave up 33 first downs against the Chiefs. These cogs shut down the Raiders (0-2) in Sunday’s second half. Derek Carr (42 second-half passing yards) and the Davante Adams-Hunter Renfrow-Darren Waller crew could not keep Murray on the sidelines, with the Cards running 59 second-half plays to erase a 20-0 deficit. After his 17-target Raiders debut, Adams caught two passes for 12 yards. Arizona’s secondary winning this matchup, the Renfrow fumble/Byron Murphy walk-off being a strong closing statement, puts the revamped Raiders on thin ice in a deep AFC. 

RAIDERS GRADE: D | NEXT: at Titans (Sun.)

 

11 of 32

About those offensive line upgrades…

About those offensive line upgrades...

Kareem Elgazzar/The Enquirer / USA TODAY NETWORK

While the Bengals did not sign the best O-line free agents, the ones they did add (Alex Cappa, Ted Karras, La’el Collins) brought experience and some upside. The returns from Cincinnati’s O-line augmentation effort have produced 13 sacks in two games. Only four QBs have been dropped more through two games since the 1970 merger. It is too early to grade the signings themselves, but the Bengals (0-2) needed to win at least one of these first two games. Blocking issues and Joe Burrow’s struggles have stonewalled one of the NFL’s most talented offenses. Micah Parsons made Collins look bad during his two-sack, five-QB-hit day, and the Bengals potentially whiffing on second-round guard Jackson Carman (still benched) paints a bad picture of this O-line’s standing. The AFC champions are in trouble.

BENGALS GRADE: D-plus | NEXT: at Jets (Sun.)

 

12 of 32

Latest Dak hiatus starts better for Cowboys

Latest Dak hiatus starts better for Cowboys

Kareem Elgazzar/The Enquirer / USA TODAY NETWORK

The Cowboys lost their first four games without Dak Prescott two years ago, sinking their season even in a historically terrible NFC East . As Prescott eyes an earlier-than-expected return timetable, his replacement led the team to a crucial upset. Cooper Rush is now 2-0 as Prescott’s backup, adding this outing (235 yards, one TD pass) to the 2021 win in Minnesota. Rush had the Cowboys (1-1) moving better than they were in Week 1, and fellow sixth-year backup Noah Brown (five catches, 91 yards) rode sidecar. Rush’s stat line could have been better had a Dalton Schultz fumble not killed a drive. The Cowboys’ injuries and personnel moves might be too much to overcome, but Rush’s outing offers hope it can happen in a murky NFC.

COWBOYS GRADE: A | NEXT: at Giants (Mon.)

 

13 of 32

Seahawks miscues extend listless stretch

Seahawks miscues extend listless stretch

Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

Since Geno Smith’s surprising first-half salvo in the Russell Wilson revenge game, the Seahawks’ offense has not generated any points. The 49ers rendered Wilson’s successor a non-threat in Week 2 and benefited from two gaffes in a three-minute span. Deejay Dallas’ halfback-pass interception preceded a Tyler Lockett (feat. Xavier Crawford) punt-return fumble, leading to a 20-0 49ers halftime lead. Unlike some of the other underdogs to fire off a three-score comeback, the Seahawks (1-1) showed no similar capabilities. The Seahawks rushed for just 36 yards. Post-Wilson that is not a formula that will keep Seattle in many games.

SEAHAWKS GRADE: D-minus | NEXT: vs. Falcons (Sun.)

 

Jimmy Garoppolo trade market shuts down

Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

While it is uncertain what the 49ers were willing to take and what other teams were offering — both in trade compensation and contractually — San Francisco’s Garoppolo reunion now defines the team’s 2022 offseason. An in-season trade still loomed as a faint possibility. No longer. Trey Lance’s broken ankle will lead to a first-round QB with a historically light post-high school workload (420 passes) missing another year. While unfortunate, Lance’s injury may be the rare QB1 setback to improve a contending team’s chances. Questions about Lance’s readiness will be tabled to 2023, as the old Garoppolo offense returns. Garoppolo helped the 49ers (1-1) rebound Sunday, and while his injury history leaves the team vulnerable, he makes more sense for a Super Bowl-caliber roster.

49ERS GRADE: A-minus | NEXT: at Broncos (Sun.)

 

15 of 32

Bucs DBs stall Jameis Winston’s comeback

Bucs DBs stall Jameis Winston's comeback

Stephen Lew-USA TODAY Sports

As the other receiver-DB matchup devolved into on-brand madness, the Bucs’ experienced secondary did not let the new-look Saints receiving corps keep an NFC South trend going. After winning four straight regular-season games in this series to start the “Tompa Bay” era, the Saints did not see their Michael Thomas-Jarvis Landry-Chris Olave group help Winston like it did in Week 1. The first of two Jamel Dean fourth-quarter INTs set this game on a bad path for the hosts, with Mike Edwards’ third pick-six in two seasons and Olave’s late-game fumble punctuating a game that gave the Bucs (2-0) the upper hand after a run of one-sided Saints encounters during Brady’s run.

BUCCANEERS GRADE: B | NEXT: vs. Packers (Sun.)

 

16 of 32

Some legacy footnotes forming

Some legacy footnotes forming

Stephen Lew-USA TODAY Sports

The Marshon Lattimore-Mike Evans feud is now an inescapable legacy component. It was not difficult to guess the two players at the heart of Sunday’s brouhaha, one that started as Lattimore trash-talked Brady and an oddly still-sideline-stationed Bruce Arians. The rivals’ past ( headlined by the 2017 fracas , which cost Evans a game) could cost them games. Lattimore leaving certainly helped Brady, who found Breshad Perriman for what became the game-winning touchdown minutes later. Not either team’s finest hour, but the Saints (1-1) — who have less margin for error than the Bucs, given the Brady-Winston disparity — got the worst of it.

SAINTS GRADE: D | NEXT: at Panthers (Sun.)

 

17 of 32

Texans unable to stop last remaining Broncos WR

Texans unable to stop last remaining Broncos WR

Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

The Broncos lost Tim Patrick to a training camp ACL tear, were without K.J. Hamler (2021 ACL tear), and saw Jerry Jeudy go down in the first half. The team included three-year tight end starter Noah Fant in the Russell Wilson trade. This left Courtland Sutton alone as the last man standing. Despite taking Derek Stingley No. 3 overall (tied for the earliest cornerback pick this century), the Texans (0-1-1) could not stop Denver’s lone aerial weapon. Sutton (seven receptions, 122 yards) carried a Broncos offense tripping over its own feet. A coverage bust led to a 36-yard Sutton gain on third-and-15, setting up a Broncos go-ahead TD to prevent an in-play Texans upset.

TEXANS GRADE: C-plus | NEXT: at Bears (Sun.)

 

18 of 32

Hackett’s learning curve costing Broncos

Hackett's learning curve costing Broncos

Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

Nathaniel Hackett’s father, Paul, was a Bill Walsh assistant, a Marty Schottenheimer OC, and USC head coach. Nathaniel’s experience around football has not translated to game-managerial savvy. After his stupefying Seattle scene, Hackett oversaw an effort in which Broncos fans began counting down the play clock in a derisive (but helpful?) manner. The Broncos (1-1) committed two more delay-of-game penalties, running their season count to four (more than their 2021 season total) , and are now 0-for-6 in red zone TDs. Denver’s 25 penalties through two games are a team record. Hackett and Russell Wilson were shorthanded, and Denver’s defense played well despite top players Justin Simmons and Pat Surtain II out. But the new coach’s early struggles are the team’s lead story.

BRONCOS GRADE: C | NEXT: vs. 49ers (Sun.)

 

Matt Rhule era in week-to-week territory

Robert Deutsch-USA TODAY Sports

This year’s first-coach-fired favorite is moving into position. The Panthers are 0-2 and have lost nine straight, representing the league’s longest active skid. This also marks back-to-back losses to the rebuilding Giants, who routed Carolina last season to begin setting off Rhule alarm bells. The Panthers finished 2-for-12 on third downs, making for a tough Meadowlands return for ex-Giants HC Ben McAdoo, and saw their big-ticket tackle investment (Ikem Ekwonu) allow a third sack this season. The Giants were also missing both their starting edge rushers. The Panthers losing on 58- and 56-yard field goals may buy Rhule more time, but his seven-year, $60M contract looks like a sunk cost.

PANTHERS GRADE: C-minus | NEXT: vs. Saints (Sun.)

 

20 of 32

Gano a key presence in Giants-Panthers series

Gano a key presence in Giants-Panthers series

Robert Deutsch-USA TODAY Sports

The Odell Beckham Jr.-Josh Norman fight and the Derrick Ward-Brandon Jacobs game are notable Giants-Panthers timeline moments, but Graham Gano has become one of the central figures in this rarely discussed series. Four years after making a 63-yard field goal to lift the then-Ron Rivera-led Panthers past the then-Pat Shurmur-coached Giants, Gano ripped a 56-yarder to give Brian Daboll a 2-0 start. Gano, a Giant since the Panthers cut him in 2020, made four field goals in Sunday’s low-wattage matchup and has now hit three 50-plus-yarders against his old team since 2021. As the Panthers keep cycling through kickers, Gano has stabilized his career.

GIANTS GRADE: B | NEXT: vs. Cowboys (Mon.)

 

Nelson Agholor re-emerges to boost Patriots

Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

The Patriots’ 2021 free agency splurge has produced hits and misses. Agholor checks in squarely in the latter category. But he helped a team navigating extensive offensive issues Sunday, producing a six-catch, 110-yard day. That performance peaked with the former first-round pick’s “Mossing” of Ahkello Witherspoon on a 44-yard second-quarter touchdown. This was Agholor’s first 100-yard game as a Patriot, effectively complementing the steadier Jakobi Meyers’ 9-95 afternoon. Agholor’s two-year, $22M contract was ill-advised, but the ex-Eagle nevertheless aided a Patriots team (1-1) adjusting to another ill-advised idea — an OC-less season — against a quality defense.

PATRIOTS GRADE: B | NEXT: vs. Ravens (Sun.)

 

22 of 32

Kenny Pickett clock ticking

Kenny Pickett clock ticking

Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Mitch Trubisky’s $7M-per-year contract suggests the Steelers (1-1) should not be too surprised with how their offense is functioning. But this makes two games of Trubisky minimalism. Without T.J. Watt, Trubisky 168-yard days will be difficult foundations for victories. Trubisky playing it safe (15 passes at or behind the line of scrimmage) through two games plays to the Steelers’ strengths (pass defense, perhaps their run game), but this formula will not be enough. Nos. 2 and 3 wideouts Chase Claypool and George Pickens are each 0-for-2 in 30-yard games. Especially with Watt out, this team is stuck until Pickett is ready to take over. 

STEELERS GRADE: C | NEXT: vs. Browns (Thu.)

 

23 of 32

Colts fortunate the AFC South appears flawed

Colts fortunate the AFC South appears flawed

Corey Perrine/Florida Times-Unio / USA TODAY NETWORK

The Colts going winless through a Houston-Jacksonville start concerns, but the team was a Carson Wentz collapse from a playoff berth after a 1-4 start last season. Indianapolis’ handpicked Wentz successor fared worse in Florida than the highly scrutinized 2021 starter. Although Matt Ryan had a good excuse (no Michael Pittman Jr. or Alec Pierce), the immobile veteran throwing three INTs and being unable to lead any scoring drives — including on two goal-to-go sequences — was eye-opening. The Colts (0-1-1) have a veteran-laden team whose rosters impact players (Pittman, Jonathan Taylor) on rookie contracts. The team cannot afford to burn this season. 

COLTS GRADE: F | NEXT: vs. Chiefs (Sun.)

 

24 of 32

Jaguars pass rush leads way in another Colts rout

Jaguars pass rush leads way in another Colts rout

Bob Self/Florida Times-Union / USA TODAY NETWORK

Through Blake Bortles, Gardner Minshew, and Urban Meyer’s leftovers, the Jaguars have now won nine  straight over the Colts in Florida. The combination of Meyer-, Dave Caldwell- and Doug Pederson-acquired defenders mowed down their favored rivals. Josh Allen posted two of the team’s five sacks, and safety Rayshawn Jenkins (four passes defensed) patrolled the end zone on one of the Jags’ best defensive days in many years. Preying mainly on the two Colts O-linemen without Pro Bowl accolades (Matt Pryor, Danny Pinter), the Jags hit the stationary Ryan 11 times. Trevor Lawrence’s performance on the other side keeps a worst-to-first door open here, in what could be the NFL’s worst division.

JAGUARS GRADE: A-plus | NEXT: at Chargers (Sun.)

 

25 of 32

Hutchinson, blitzes bury Commanders

Hutchinson, blitzes bury Commanders

Junfu Han / USA TODAY NETWORK

One of the NFL’s better-kept secrets in the 2020s: Washington’s solid offensive line play. Pro Football Focus ranked both Washington Football Team O-lines sixth overall. This came as the franchise moved on from Trent Williams and battled injuries. This year’s front five did not hold up well, seeing the Lions hit Carson Wentz 11 times and sack him on five occasions (one of those a safety). Lions DC Aaron Glenn sent 18 blitzes, and No. 2 overall pick Aidan Hutchinson — after a Week 1 dud — got home three times. This helped Detroit mount a 22-0 lead during a first half in which Washington (1-1) mustered just 56 yards. Adding to the post-Brandon Scherff O-line’s early issues: center Chase Roullier left Ford Field on crutches.

COMMANDERS GRADE: D-plus | NEXT: vs. Eagles (Sun.)

 

Amon-Ra St. Brown checks off long-term Lions box

Kirthmon F. Dozier / USA TODAY NETWORK

The Lions’ Jared Goff bridge years are starting to reveal some foundational pieces. D’Andre Swift and Amon-Ra St. Brown will almost certainly be around when this rebuild progresses toward playoff-caliber squads. The latter is a bigger win for the Brad Holmes front office, which made the younger of the NFL’s two St. Browns last year’s 17th receiver taken. Detroit’s slot player is showing his late-2021 surge was not a byproduct of mediocre wideout depth. St. Brown (11 touches, 184 scrimmage yards) both helped the Lions (1-1) create their lead and protect it, scoring in the first and second halves. Seeing how he pairs with Jameson Williams will be a fun plotline for Lions fans/receiver buffs to follow.

LIONS GRADE: A | NEXT: at Vikings (Sun.)

 

27 of 32

Another request for stricter Bears limitations

Another request for stricter Bears limitations

Dan Powers/USA TODAY NETWORK-Wisconsin

Big-market status notwithstanding, Cris Collinsworth has not called a Jets game since the “Butt Fumble.” Frequent NBC fodder, the Bears have now lost their past six “Sunday Night Football” games by double digits. The Packers are only responsible for three of those. Chicago (1-1) may have deserved a touchdown on Justin Fields’ shotgun draw, but the second-year QB was 7-for-11 in passing for 70 yards. This team, as this space declared last year, does not belong on SNF schedules. If anything, it would help a Bears squad attempting to put pieces back together to be hidden in 1 p.m. slots (save for the mandatory Thursday tilt) for the foreseeable future.

BEARS GRADE: C-minus | NEXT: vs. Texans (Sun.)

 

Aaron Jones moves Pack back on track

Dan Powers/USA TODAY NETWORK-Wisconsin

To the delight of fantasy GMs annoyed by Green Bay’s inconsistent Jones usage, the Packers (1-1) unleashed their sixth-year weapon in Week 2. A Bears defense missing many of its veteran pieces from past SNF tilts could not contain the Packers run game, which went off for 203 yards. (The Bears nearly matched that, but Aaron Rodgers covered a bit more territory than Fields.) Draft classmates Alvin Kamara, Christian McCaffrey and Dalvin Cook have led to Jones (170 scrimmage yards) being a bit underrated. But the one-time Pro Bowler continues to be a vital piece for one of the NFL’s best teams. As defenses adjust to Green Bay’s unusually comprised receiving corps, Jones may take on a bigger role.

PACKERS GRADE: B-plus | NEXT: at Buccaneers (Sun.)

 

29 of 32

Falcons nearly make ’28-3′ work for them

Falcons nearly make '28-3' work for them

Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

The Falcons intercepted Matthew Stafford twice, stripped Cooper Kupp and returned a blocked punt for a touchdown. The final three turnovers nearly allowed the Los Angeles visitors to erase a 28-3 deficit. That would have been a rally-themed Sunday’s top margin erased. Mykal Walker’s INT, Troy Andersen’s block and Darren Hall’s Kupp strip moved the Falcons (0-2) within six. While Jalen Ramsey’s theft of Marcus Mariota ended the upset bid, Arthur Smith’s team has put forth quality efforts against two far superior rosters thus far. Not a bad start to the season for a team carrying an NFL-record dead-money sum ( Matt Ryan’s $40M). 

FALCONS GRADE: B-minus | NEXT: at Seahawks (Sun.)

 

30 of 32

Defending champs piling up turnovers

Defending champs piling up turnovers

Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

As should be expected against a Falcons team far less equipped than the Bills, the Rams played much better in Week 2. They ran out to a 25-point lead in a game where some of Kupp’s supporting cast showed up. But the Rams (1-1) have now committed six turnovers in two games (plus the blocked-punt sequence). Stafford’s five interceptions are the leading cause here. Postseason heroics aside, Stafford led the NFL with 17 INTs last season and has dealt with elbow trouble for months. As L.A.’s O-line injuries continue to mount — Tremayne Anchrum, the team’s third right guard option, left Sunday’s game as well — Stafford’s INT propensity bears watching.

RAMS GRADE: C-plus | NEXT: at Cardinals (Sun.)

 

Justin Herbert issue threatens Chargers' hopes

Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports

The long-running theme of Chargers summer optimism leading to fall-winter letdowns has involved significant injury troubles. The Bolts (1-1) probably hit their offseason-praise apex this year, but Justin Herbert’s rib cartilage fracture deals an early blow to the team’s hopes. The doctor overseeing Herbert is also being sued by predecessor Tyrod Taylor, adding another injury-related Chargers storyline into this equation. Herbert missed Keenan Allen dearly in Kansas City as well, yet the team nearly upended the Chiefs. The Herbert visuals were not good Thursday, making it difficult to believe he will move past this issue easily.

CHARGERS GRADE: B-minus | NEXT: vs. Jaguars (Sun.)

 

32 of 32

Chiefs defense off to more promising start

Chiefs defense off to more promising start

Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

The Steve Spagnuolo era has produced late-blooming Chiefs defenses. Shaky starts in 2019 and 2021 required shootout victories — or losses — early. Week 2 of last year brought a Lamar Jackson showcase against a bewildered Kansas City defense. Although Herbert and Allen’s injuries affected the Chargers, the Chiefs (2-0) turned the tide after halftime. Kyler Murray shredding the Raiders a week after the Chiefs contained him also reflects well on this post-Tyrann Mathieu unit, which was playing without first-round pick Trent McDuffie in Week 2. This defensive start is rather important. Kansas City’s schedule becomes a gauntlet soon. 

CHIEFS GRADE: A-minus | NEXT: at Colts (Sun.)





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