The Baltimore Ravens aren't going to apologize for a win, nor should they. Every victory counts the same in the NFL, and the Ravens avoided the dreaded 0-2 start. Ask teams like Washington, the New York Giants, Carolina and Minnesota how 0-2 feels.
So the Ravens are in the winners category. But, they also dip a toe in the losers side too.
Baltimore will have to improve a ton if it wants to make the playoffs to defend its Super Bowl title. And now the Ravens have to monitor running back Ray Rice's hip injury.
The team said Rice suffered just a strained hip flexor, but it was scary to see him go down in a heap with no contact in the fourth quarter.
The Ravens offense was pretty bad with Rice for three-plus quarters. They played an ugly game with no points in the first half. Baltimore, which was blown out in Week 1 at Denver, is lucky that the Browns couldn't find the end zone even if quarterback Brandon Weeden had a GPS navigation system installed in his helmet. They squeaked out a 14-6 win.
The champs are not playing like champs yet this season. But at least they'll be fixing some of their issues with a win in their back pocket.
Here are the rest of the Week 2 winners and losers:
Chiefs fans: Kansas City fans deserve this. They are good fans, and last year was as bad as it gets. A 2-14 season, an awful tragedy with the Jovan Belcher situation ... it was a horrible year in many ways.
There's renewed hope in Kansas City. The Chiefs are 2-0 after holding on for a 17-16 win against the Cowboys. A new coach in Andy Reid and a new quarterback in Alex Smith have done wonders. On Sunday, so did wearing red pants with red jerseys for the first time in franchise history. And Reid had a great comment about the fans' support on Sunday.
“They wanted to dress in red for the fans, and so they asked me about it, and I talked to (general manager) John Dorsey about it,” Reid said to the Kansas City Star. “He gave us the OK on it, and the players feel that. Believe it or not, they feel it … especially when the ground is shaking. When our fans are going, you can feel that field, and it just kind of rumbles. It’s crazy, but an awesome feeling.”
Drew Brees: When the Saints got the ball back with 1:06 left after Tampa Bay missed a field goal, trailing 14-13, there was little doubt Brees was going to work some magic, even if he wasn't great for the first 58:54 of the game.
Sure enough, Brees marched the Saints for a game-winning field goal. His 31-yard pass to Marques Colston, which set up the field goal, was brilliant and classic Brees. It was a gorgeous throw, right on the money from one of the most accurate passers ever.
Brees has checked every box for being a top 10 all-time quarterback. He doesn't always get that due, but he's one of the best who has ever played. That's why the Saints, at 2-0, should feel they can compete with anyone this season.
Miami Dolphins: Two road wins to start an NFL season is impressive. That would be a great start even if you played at Jacksonville twice to start the year.
The Dolphins are off to a fantastic 2-0 start. And the second win was a good one, against a Colts team that made the playoffs last season. Ryan Tannehill had a nice game and is maturing as a quarterback. Running back Lamar Miller played much better in Week 2, and high-priced receiver acquisition Mike Wallace showed up with 115 yards and a touchdown. The Dolphins spent a lot of money this offseason to compete with the Patriots in the AFC East. After wins at Cleveland and Indianapolis, it looks like the Dolphins might make it a good divisional race.
Mike McCoy: The Chargers had an incredibly stressful situation this week. They blew a late game on Monday night against the Texans, a loss that had to stick with the Chargers a little longer than usual, considering how many games they blew under Norv Turner in similar fashion. San Diego had to travel three time zones to play in the early game on the East Coast, a situation that is historically awful for West Coast teams. And the Chargers had less time to prepare for Chip Kelly's offense, which is unique in NFL circles.
Credit to McCoy for having his team ready. The defense was well prepared, especially holding Philadelphia to 10 first-half points. And when the Eagles rallied to tie the game late, the Chargers showed a lot of toughness to drive for the game-winning field goal. McCoy got his first win as an NFL head coach, and he was a main reason for it.
"Great win for the organization," McCoy said, according to the team's transcript. "You know coming on the road, we knew we had a tough test. The coaches put in a great game plan for how we wanted to execute it; offense, defense and special teams … and the players went out and executed the way it’s going to be."
Mario Williams: Williams, who signed a $96 million contract with the Bills last year, earned his money on Sunday. He had four-and-a-half sacks against the Panthers, a team single-game record (impressive considering Bruce Smith is a part of that history), and he said he feels at peace this season.
"I feel great," Williams said, according to the Bills' transcript. "Everyone’s talking about this and that but I know the deal. I know how I feel. I know my mental state. I’m definitely the best mentally, the best feeling of peace, just taking care of business and going out and playing hard."
NFC East: Last week was the AFC North's moment of shame, with all four teams losing. This week was the NFC East's turn.
Philadelphia lost in the final seconds to San Diego, Dallas lost a close game at Kansas City, and Washington and the Giants were blown out. The division is 2-6, and the two wins came against other division foes. The only good news for each of these teams is, despite a slough of problems from Philadelphia's defense to Washington's horrendous starts, nobody is more than one game out of first place yet.
Greg Schiano: His teams are tough, right? They enjoy blowing up victory formation just to show it. The good news for the Buccaneers is that they should get many opportunities to blow up opponents' victory formations the rest of the season.
The "toughness" of the Buccaneers fails to show up when it matters. In two weeks, Tampa Bay has melted down in the final minute, first against the Jets, then against the Saints. They had 13 penalties for 102 yards in Week 1, and 10 for 118 yards in Week 2. There's a fine line between tough and foolish.
Schiano spent plenty of the week making quarterback Josh Freeman look bad publicly, as rumors surfaced the vote that stripped Freeman of his captaincy might have been rigged (hmmm ... ). Schiano's act doesn't seem to be going over too well in Tampa Bay. The Buccaneers are unlucky to be 0-2 but make no mistake, this isn't a well coached team.
Carolina Panthers: Speaking of weighing bad luck vs. being poorly coached, the Panthers are 0-2. Between last season and this season, the Panthers are a staggering 1-9 in games decided by less than a touchdown. There's some bad luck involved in that. But at some point, you have to look at Panthers coach Ron Rivera.
The Panthers' offense is struggling badly, despite having Cam Newton at quarterback. The defense melted down when the Bills were 80 yards away, had to score a touchdown, had no time outs and just 1:36 left on the clock. This team is too talented to keep losing games this way. At what point does it cost Rivera his job?
Detroit Lions: So much for that Week 1 momentum. The Lions followed up that victory with a 25-21 loss at Arizona, which pretty much sums up the inconsistency of that team. The loss came despite Calvin Johnson breaking a 72-yard touchdown catch on a short pass and a 66-yard interception return touchdown by linebacker DeAndre Levy. You should win when that happens.
Even worse, the team has to be worried about running back Reggie Bush, who hurt his left knee during the game and will have an MRI. If Bush has to miss time, that would be a major blow to a team that took a step back on Sunday.
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