Sunday, September 14, 2014

Week Two's Rebounds And Stumblers

Has there been a week quite like the one leading to Week Two of 2014?  It's hard to remember so much derangement vented over such a wide swath of those following the game, lowlighted by the irrelevant Hannah Storm of ESPN giving a nonsensical spiel about how her daughter reacted to the Ray Rice incident and how she asked, "Why wasn't he fired?"  It apparently didn't occur to Ms. Storm to tell the truth - that it was a punishable act of viciousness but not an unprovoked assault, that Ray Rice is a first-time offender who fully cooperated with all investigators and entered a court-ordered court-supervised intervention program; in short it never warranted more than a two-game suspension by the league.

Then came a grand jury indictment of Adrian Peterson for child abuse, though the more one delves into the incident in question the murkier it becomes with conflicting accounts about whether there was an earlier grand jury investigation that led to no indictment, and the actual incident has received conflicting accounts as to whether it looks less like egregious assault than excessive punishment of a child - a punishable offense without question but less than the assumed level.

The ultimate stupidity of the derangement over Ray Rice and Adrian Peterson made the arrival of the actual games welcome, and it was an interesting case of last week losers becoming this week winners.   Some takes -


Ravens rally, Steelers melt - Far from being a burden on their shoulders, the Ravens took the abuse of the week and channeled it into a strong win over the Steelers, with solid effort by Joe Flacco and company that leaves the Ravens clearly improved from 2013's bridge year and leaves the Steelers staring at yet another 8-8 season.

Bengals and Browns go marching through the (NFC) South - That the Bengals are on their way to another playoff run seems obvious; that the Browns are showing moxie enough to contend with them should now be clear after rallying to defeat the Saints.   Sure, Johnny Clipboard came in for one play, but this is Brian Hoyer's Browns team, though coach Pettine should save some cigars reference in his postgame presser for his players.

Panthers are going to falter in 2014, right? - They changed their receiving corps, and the Panthers aren't exactly skipping a beat for it.  They also stand alone atop the NFC South with the rest of the division scrambling to try and keep up.

The Skins can forget about RGIII - He tore up his ankle and will be lost for about a month - and Robert Griffin III had to watch what looks like the future as Kirk Cousins went Tom Brady on the Jaguars by pummeling the life out of them 41-10.   Cousins showed more ability than Griffin has shown and the Skins better forget about their ostensible face of the franchise.

The Jets and Patriots sort of relive 1994 - In 1994 the Patriots erased a three-touchdown gap to beat the Vikings.   In 2014 they faced the Vikings again and after falling behind 7-0 exploded in all three phases of the game - the offense played well after a dismal second half at Miami, though it still needs work to get a proper flow; the defense exploded with four INTs; on a Vikings field goal attempt the kick was blocked into a Patriots touchdown.  

But the hilarity belongs to the NY Jets; in 1994 they blew a lead of eighteen points in the most infamous loss in team history - the Fake Spike loss to Dan Marino's Dolphins.   In 2014 they somehow topped that.   Not only did they bully the vulnerable Packers to a 21-3 lead only to blow that lead, they blew the comeback in the fourth quarter when Rex Ryan called a timeout before the 4th down snap that was a Geno Smith touchdown; they thus handed over only the second game in his career where Aaron Rodgers won after trailing by more than one score (2012's home win over the Lions from down 14-0 is the other). 

The Bills and Dolphins relive days of yore as well - With the Buffalo Sabers now literal brothers in arms with the Bills, the Dolphins witnessed a pounding reminiscent of the lopsided Jim Kelly vs. Marino era, this despite a truly sick Mike Wallace one-handed touchdown for the Dolphins.   The Bills for now stand alone atop the AFC East at 2-0 and it's clear they may not yet be a playoff contender but they're not the same old Bills.

No more aura of invincibility in Seattle - The Seahawks ran into a Chargers team smarting from Week One's loss to the Cardinals and Philip Rivers looks to return to elite status after a solid effort and three scores to Antonio Gates.  

Seattle's loss combined with Arizona's easy win over the punchless Giants keeps the NFC West as a slugfest right now. 

49ers not ready for prime time - The Bears under Jay Cutler have proven themselves mediocre at best - which raises more questions about the 49ers when they blew a big lead with 21 Bears points allowed in the fourth quarter, this following an offseason of soap opera antics between Jim Harbaugh and the front office. 

Chiefs can't tuck away comeback at Denver - The Broncos keep outlasting foes more than beating them as they didn't seal the deal against the Chiefs and nearly blew it when a Tuck Rule type call kept alive a late Chiefs drive, a drive Alex Smith once again could not finish.   While the Chiefs continue to struggle at 0-2, the Broncos at 2-0 aren't that much more impressive.

With Payback week closing on Monday Night's set-to the league marches toward Week Three.

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