I hate jumping to quick conclusions two weeks into the NFL season, but have we been just a tad bit premature in trying to force retirement on Green Bay Packers quarterback Brett Favre? I know, the season still is young; the offense did next to nothing in Week 1 against the Philadelphia Eagles; and the New York Giants as a whole might be even more bruised and beaten up than Eli Manning's shoulder.
Still, Green Bay is reminding us that parity is as prominent in the league as commissioner Roger Goodell's tendency to hand out punishments. And on any given Sunday, Favre easily looks like one of the 10 best quarterbacks in the league.
Favre, who hadn't thrown three touchdown passes in a game since Week 3 of last season, tossed three scoring passes in the win over New York to pull within four of breaking Dan Marino's career record (420). But it's not just records – he surpassed John Elway for most wins by a quarterback by getting his 149th on Sunday – or the 2-0 start that's making me believe the Packers are better off that he opted to return for his 17th season.
The Packers have the longest winning streak (six) in the NFC going back to last season. And whether it’s a veteran such as Donald Driver (73 yards, one touchdown against the Giants) or a rookie like Mason Crosby (three field goals against the Eagles), folks other than No. 4 are making an impact.
But again, the season is incredibly early and the Packers will be tested over the next five contests – including home games against the San Diego Chargers and Chicago Bears, and a road trip to face the Denver Broncos. At this stage, I'll probably hold off on planning for Favre's retirement until he actually makes the announcement.
Here are some more thoughts from Week 2:
Biggest winners: Frank Gore, playing with the pain of having lost his mother to kidney disease Wednesday, helped the San Francisco 49ers go 2-0 with a 17-16 victory over the St. Louis Rams. Gore, who will be leaving the team for two days to attend his mother's wake and funeral in Miami, scored two touchdowns in San Francisco's second straight victory over an NFC West foe.
• Jason Elam benefited from a seemingly quirky rule that set up a second straight game-winning kick as the Broncos defeated the Oakland Raiders 23-20 in overtime on Sunday. After Sebastian Janikowski nailed a 52-yarder that presumably gave Oakland the win, the officials waved off the kick, ruling that Denver had announced its intentions to call a timeout before the attempt. Of course, Jan-O missed the second attempt and the Broncos drove on the ensuing possession to set up Elam's successful 23-yard attempt.
• At times last season, Houston Texans coach Gary Kubiak seemed to be making strides with quarterback David Carr, only to experience setbacks which ultimately led to Carr's offseason departure. In comes Matt Schaub from the Atlanta Falcons and the Texans are 2-0 for the first time in their six-year history.
• In all the talk about Charlie Frye and Brady Quinn, Derek Anderson was the forgotten QB with the Cleveland Browns. At least for another week, Anderson held on to his job by throwing for 328 yards and five touchdowns in a 51-45 victory over the Cincinnati Bengals.
Biggest losers: Marv Lewis – do you realize the Browns just scored again? How is it that the likes of Anderson, Joe Jurevicius and Braylon Edwards can shred your defense after the Browns essentially were no-shows a week earlier against the Pittsburgh Steelers? I guess this is just another reminder that schemes are great, but a coach still needs players … especially if they're named Ray Lewis, Sam Adams and Tony Siragusa.
• Sort of like Favre and the Packers, I don't want to overreact to anything that happens over the course of two weeks, but the New Orleans Saints look like they're ready to reclaim the "Aints" moniker after a 31-14 loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. If New Orleans gets knocked around at home by the Tennessee Titans next week, you can all but write off its season.
Perception that should become a reality: Don't expect to see the Baltimore Ravens go 13-3 again. Six turnovers in the opener, no Steve McNair for Sunday's game, and struggling to hold on late against Kellen Clemens and the New York Jets suggest that Baltimore definitely will come back to earth this season.
Draft blunder: Cam Cameron, that ninth overall selection on Ted Ginn Jr. is paying dividends … not. In two games, the Ohio State alumnus has yet to catch a pass. He has done a decent job in the return game, but with a first-round pick that early, you should be hoping to find the next Steve Smith – not Desmond Howard or Dante Hall.
Reserving judgment: OK, the Steelers are 2-0, but what does that mean? Their two wins have come against two teams that didn't put up much of a fight. Let's see what happens at home against the 2-0 Niners next week.
More on the Steelers: One thing I do know – those throwback jerseys Pittsburgh wore against the Buffalo Bills could have stayed tucked in a closet chest. Those compilation jerseys (a mixture of concepts from uniforms worn through the 1940, 50 and 60s) with the gold helmets look more like cheap replicas or Pop Warner digs than NFL game-issued attire.
The mane event: I know we're used to seeing guys with long hair, but the foxtail-like 'do Cincinnati Bengals D-lineman Domata Peko has coming out the back of the helmet is kind of scary.
Question of the day: Were those actual lightning strikes in Denver or did Al Davis hire some gifted special effects company to stage inclement weather after watching Josh McCown throw a pair of interceptions in the first quarter?
- the Packers