After a record-setting Kickoff Weekend, offenses continued to put up points in Week 2. A total of 1,556 points have been scored this year, the most through the first two weeks of any NFL season in history.
POINTS THROUGH TWO WEEKS
As the NFL enters Week 3, six teams – Arizona, Atlanta, Houston, Philadelphia, San Diego and San Francisco – find themselves undefeated at 2-0. Of those six, three – Arizona, Philadelphia and San Diego – did not make the playoffs last year. But that’s the unpredictability of the NFL. In each of the past 16 seasons, at least five clubs made the playoffs that were not in the postseason the previous year. Will that streak continue in 2012?
“We’re 2-0,” says Eagles linebacker DE MECO RYANS. “We’re excited about it and we’re happy about it. A win is a win. Wins are hard to come by in this league. Any time you can get one, no matter how you get it, it counts as a ‘W.’ So we’re excited to be 2-0 but we know we still have things to clean up.”
And don’t count out any of the 1-1 or 0-2 teams. Since realignment, 70 of the 120 playoff teams (58.3 percent) began the year at either 1-1 or 0-2, including eight teams last year. Among those eight were the Super Bowl XLVI champion New York Giants.
There are 20 teams with 1-1 records, the most through the first two weeks of a season in NFL history.
It’s two weeks down – but there is a long way to go. Here’s a look at some of the key showdowns in Week 3:
NEW YORK GIANTS (1-1) at CAROLINA PANTHERS (1-1) (Thursday, NFL Network, 8:00 PM ET)
Week 3 kicks off on Thursday night when the Giants visit the Panthers at Bank of America Stadium. Both teams are coming off Week 2 victories.
The Giants knocked off Tampa Bay 41-34 and became the second team in NFL history – 1951 Los Angeles Rams – to have a 500-yard passer and two 150-yard receivers in the same game. ELI MANNING passed for 510 yards and HAKEEM NICKS (199 yards) and VICTOR CRUZ (179) each went over the 150-yard mark. The other trio to accomplish the feat featured three Pro Football Hall of Famers: NORM VAN BROCKLIN (554 passing yards), ELROY (CRAZYLEGS) HIRSCH (173 receiving yards) and TOM FEARS (162).
“We hung in there and kept playing,” says Giants head coach TOM COUGHLIN about the team’s Week 2 win. “It was right down to the wire. We are happy to be 1-1 at this juncture. There’s plenty to correct but it’s a lot better correcting it when you win.”
The Panthers were victorious in Week 2, defeating New Orleans 35-27. Quarterback CAM NEWTON passed for 253 yards with a 129.2 passer rating and rushed for 71 yards with a touchdown in the win. He joins MICHAEL VICK (11/15/10) as the only players in NFL history with at least 250 passing yards with a 125+ passer rating and at least 70 rushing yards with a TD in a single game.
“The vibe is changing,” says Newton about the attitude in Carolina. “Not only this team, but the whole organization. The fans are building as well. We found out so much about ourselves with this win. Our potential is through the roof.”
PHILADELPHIA EAGLES (2-0) at ARIZONA CARDINALS (2-0) (Sunday, FOX, 4:05 PM ET)
A pair of 2-0 teams will meet at University of Phoenix Stadium on Sunday afternoon. Both teams are also coming off thrilling last-minute victories in Week 2.
Quarterback MICHAEL VICK passed for 371 yards and rushed for the game-winning touchdown with less than two minutes remaining in the Eagles’ 24-23 win over Baltimore. In Week 1, Vick threw the game-winning TD to CLAY HARBOR with 1:18 left in the game as Philadelphia beat Cleveland 17-16. The Eagles are the first team in NFL history to start 2-0 and win each of its games by one point.
“Going into the fourth quarter, I felt confident,” says Vick. “You just want to get it done. It was an opportunity to be 2-0 and that’s what it all boiled down to.”
Arizona aims for the franchise’s first 3-0 start since 1974. The Cardinals defeated the Patriots 20-18, handing New England its first loss in a home opener at Gillette Stadium, which opened in 2002 (previously 10-0). Arizona’s defense limited the Patriots to 18 points, snapping New England’s streak of 25 consecutive home games with at least 20 points.
Over the past 11 games dating back to last season, the Cardinals are tied for the best record in the NFL at 9-2.
“We have a lot of games left,” says Cardinals head coach KEN WHISENHUNT. “We still have a story to tell as far as who this team is going to be.”
NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS (1-1) at BALTIMORE RAVENS (1-1) (Sunday, NBC, 8:20 PM ET)
On Sunday night, the Patriots and Ravens will meet for the first time since last year’s AFC Championship Game, which was won by New England (23-20).
Both teams will look to rebound from Week 2 losses. The Patriots lost by two points to Arizona while the Ravens were knocked off by a single point at Philadelphia.
New England quarterback TOM BRADY passed for 316 yards last week and moved past Pro Football Hall of Famer JOHNNY UNITAS (40,239) with 40,531 passing yards. Brady has a touchdown pass in 34 consecutive games, the fourth-longest streak in NFL history.
For the Ravens, running back RAY RICE had 152 scrimmage yards (99 rushing, 53 receiving) against the Eagles. He will look to continue his success against the Patriots. In four career meetings, including the playoffs, Rice has 515 scrimmage yards (128.8 yards per game).
“We fought and competed,” says Baltimore head coach JOHN HARBAUGH about the team’s Week 2 contest. “It didn’t go our way at the end, but I’m proud of our guys. I like the way they competed and I think we’ll be just fine coming out of this game going forward.”
GREEN BAY PACKERS (1-1) at SEATTLE SEAHAWKS (1-1) (Monday, ESPN, 8:30 PM ET)
Week 3 concludes with a Monday-night showdown between two NFC clubs coming off Week 2 wins. The Packers defeated the division-rival Bears 23-10 and the Seahawks beat the Cowboys 27-7.
Green Bay’s defense had seven sacks and four interceptions last week, including 3.5 sacks by linebacker CLAY MATTHEWS and two interceptions by cornerback TRAMON WILLIAMS. Combined with an offense led by MVP quarterback AARON RODGERS, the Packers hope to build momentum off last week’s win.
Seattle rookie quarterback RUSSELL WILSON, who led Wisconsin to a Big Ten title and a berth in the Rose Bowl last year, won his first NFL game and posted a 112.7 passer rating last week. Running back MARSHAWN LYNCH rushed for 122 yards and has now recorded 100+ rushing yards in a team-record six consecutive home games.
“We’re a smart team, a tough team and a team that plays together,” says Seahawks safety KAM CHANCELLOR. “We’re very stingy and stubborn and we don’t want to give up anything.”
NFL FACTOID: Buffalo running back C.J. SPILLER, who leads the NFL in rushing with 292 yards, is only the second player in NFL history to open a season with back-to-back 100-yard games while averaging at least 8.0 yards per carry in each contest. Pro Football Hall of Famer JIM BROWN accomplished the feat in 1963.