Entering Sunday's home matchup against the Bears, the Dallas Cowboys defense had not allowed a touchdown in their three previous regular season games. Chicago quarterback Jay Cutler(notes) didn't really seem like the guy who was going to disrupt that streak, either.
Cutler was a disaster on the road last season, tossing 20 interceptions, and his team wasn't particularly impressive in Week 1 this year. If it weren't for an arcane NFL rule governing possession and process, the Bears would have lost at home to Detroit.
But of course they didn't lose. And in Week 2, when most reasonable oberservers thought Chicago would get steamrolled by Dallas, the team won again. (Clearly, Dwyane Wade is not reasonable). Cutler completed 21 of 29 passes for 277 yards and three scores against the Cowboys, surviving a hellish pass rush. Coordinator Mike Martz burned the aggressive Cowboys' defense with a quick-strike TD to Greg Olsen(notes) in the first quarter, and Cutler managed to avoid the sort of reckless, game-altering mistake that seemed to define him last year. Johnny Knox(notes) made plays. Devin Hester(notes) made plays. Matt Forte(notes) made plays. Cutler spread the workload well, completing at least four passes to four different receivers. He looked suspiciously like an elite QB — like the guy the Bears thought they acquired from Denver.
"It was a signature game," said Chicago head coach Lovie Smith.
"I'm mad, I'm upset, I'm very frustrated," said Dallas owner Jerry Jones.
For another week, Chicago sits atop the NFC North alongside the Packers. Those teams meet at Soldier Field on Monday night in Week 3. I'm ready to launch the MNF live blog right now.
• Donovan McNabb(notes) answered many of the fantasy community's questions about the Washington passing game, throwing for an obscene 426 yards in an overtime loss to Houston. He connected with Santana Moss(notes) 10 times, but for only 89 yards. The lone passing score went to Chris Cooley(notes). Clinton Portis(notes) had a useful fantasy day, thanks to a pair of 1-yard rushing touchdowns. Joey Galloway(notes) had three catches for 88 yards, but he also let a potential TD slip through his fingers. He's not the answer — not for your roster, not for the 'Skins. And someone needs to tell Mike Shanahan that he can't use that timeout at a later date. As for the winners…
• Matt Schaub(notes) was relentless, attempting 52 passes and finishing with 497 yards through the air. Andre Johnson(notes) shrugged off an ankle injury and caught 12 balls for 158 yards and a late, game-tying score. (Why allow him to get in a jump ball situation in single-coverage? Brutal). Johnson will reportedly have an MRI on Monday, but he clearly finished strong on Sunday. Kevin Walter(notes) nearly matched AJ in terms of production, with 11 receptions for 144 yards and a score. Arian Foster(notes) didn't give us a historic line this week, but he was still plenty useful (69 rushing yards, 69 receiving).
• Darren McFadden(notes) had an outstanding matchup on Sunday, and he made the most of it, carrying 30 times for 145 yards against the Rams. He did some stat-padding in a blowout loss in Week 1, but Oakland needed every yard against St. Louis. Logic dictates that Bruce Gradkowski(notes) should get another look in Week 3, after leading the Raiders offense to a win in relief of Jason Campbell(notes). But logic doesn't always win the day in Oakland.
• Mike Sims-Walker(notes) reached the end zone on the mother of all garbage-time TDs, with his team trailing by 30-plus in the final minute in the fourth quarter. If that play cost you a fantasy win, you have my sympathy. I'm right there with you.
• Following the win over Buffalo, Green Bay head coach Mike McCarthy used the term "running back by committee" to describe his backfield situation. Brandon Jackson(notes) had a respectable fantasy day, thanks to a rushing TD, but he only carried 11 times for 29 yards. John Kuhn(notes) had nine carries for 36. Uh-oh. Perhaps a trade was the proper move.
• Both Shonn Greene(notes) and LaDainian Tomlinson(notes) ran well for the Jets, thanks in no small way to a very good run-blocking line. Green led the team in carries (15 for 52), LDT led the team in yards (11 for 76). That team is stuck in committee; neither back broke the plane in the 28-14 win over New England. Mark Sanchez(notes) tossed three TD passes, one week after the Jets stubbornly refused to throw in a loss to Baltimore.
• Let's reveal the numbers for one more RBBC while we're at it: Kansas City gave 22 handoffs to Thomas Jones(notes), and the veteran picked up 3.8 yards per carry. Jamaal Charles(notes) received just 12 total touches (11 carries, 1 catch) and finished with 76 yards from scrimmage.
• Devin Aromashodu(notes) was barely a rumor in Week 2, as Earl Bennett(notes) seemed to steal his looks. This may have something to do with the fact that Aromashodu dropped a TD in the opener, or it could simply be an indication that the Bears aren't going to have an easy-to-read offense. As Cutler said in his postgame comments, "We're creating so many match-ups for guys; I think it's almost even a bigger advantage to have what we have, and have a lot of weapons."
• Kyle Orton(notes) delivered yet another solid line, throwing for 307 yards and two scores against Seattle. Eddie Royal(notes) caught his first touchdown pass in forever, maybe since he was a junior at Westfield HS, and rookie wideout Demaryius Thomas(notes) had a breakout game for Broncos (8-97-1).
If you're looking to spend some FAAB dollars, Denver is a fine place to shop…
Early waiver plays for Week 3
SD RB Mike Tolbert(notes), at SEA (8 percent owned)
ATL RB Jason Snelling(notes), at NO (21 percent)
DEN WR Demaryius Thomas, vs. IND (28 percent)
GB WR James Jones(notes), vs. CHI (4 percent)
SEA WR Deon Butler(notes), vs. SD (1 percent)
OAK WR Louis Murphy(notes), at ARI (7 percent)
NYJ TE Dustin Keller(notes), at MIA (45 percent)
KC TE Tony Moeaki(notes), vs. KC (2 percent)
Posted at 10:45 pm ET
• We're going no-huddle in this update, because we may have potentially actionable news in San Diego. Rookie running back Ryan Mathews injured his right ankle in the first quarter against the Jaguars, and he was carted away. Here's video of the play.
It looked ugly in real-time, but Mathews owners may have caught a break. Here's a mid-game update via the San Diego Union-Tribune:
The Chargers announced Mathews was having his ankle examined, and he came jogging out of the locker room to cheers during the middle of the period. But as of halftime, he had yet to play again.
Mathews is still in pads, though he seems unlikely to return. Mike Tolbert, not Darren Sproles(notes), is dominating the carries while Mathews is on the sideline. Tolbert has reached the end zone in short-yardage twice.
• Andre Johnson limped off the field late in the third quarter, with the Texans trailing the 'Skins. He hauled in nine passes for 91 yards before checking out; Johnson appeared to have an ankle or foot issue. He went to the Houston locker room. In the same game, Clinton Portis seems to be dealing with a wrist or hand problem. He's on the sideline being harassed by a trainer.
Quick update: False alarm on Johnson. He jogged back from the locker room, and got right back to the business of making plays again. His tenth catch of the game was the 600th of his career, in fact.
• Here's Exhibit A in the case for never benching your elite skill players: Randy Moss(notes) made a ridiculous one-handed touchdown catch in the second quarter at New York, with Darrelle Revis(notes) chasing the play. Moss and Tom Brady(notes) nearly connected on another long TD earlier in the game, but Randy couldn't quite establish possession in bounds. Revis left the game after aggravating his hamstring injury, which leaves Antonio Cromartie(notes) on Moss. That may not end well.
• Mark Clayton(notes) hauled in a 7-yard pass from Sam Bradford(notes), giving the Rams an early lead in Oakland. If you're still a non-believer where Clayton is concerned, I get it. He's burned us before. But some wideout has to occasionally catch the ball for St. Louis.
• The Raiders have turned to Bruce Gradkowski at quarterback, sending Jason Campbell to the bench. Gradkowski hit Louis Murphy for a 4-yard TD in the third quarter. Darren McFadden has topped 100 yards for Oakland.
• Vince Young(notes) will reportedly get the start for the Titans at Week 3, when Tennessee faces the Giants. Ideally, he won't get the start for your fantasy roster, unless it's an uncommonly deep/odd league.
Posted at 6:30 pm ET
• If Chargers general manager AJ Smith happened to watch Sunday's Miami-Minnesota game, then he must be a fairly happy dude right now. The Vikings need a playmaking receiver in the worst way — someone like, say, Vincent Jackson(notes).
We won't try to tell you that Brett Favre(notes) had a respectable game against the Dolphins. He didn't. It was ugly. He was picked off three times and he posted a 44.3 passer rating. But it was painful watching Favre target guys like Greg Lewis(notes), Visanthe Shiancoe(notes) and Bernard Berrian(notes) in the closing minutes. Those players all have their uses, sure, but if you're firing the ball into coverage and hoping for one of 'em to make a game-changing catch, you're probably going to be disappointed. The Vikings need an upgrade; the Chargers have a 6-foot-5, 1,000-yard wideout on the trade block. Let's get this thing done, fellas.
• According to NFL Network's Jason La Canfora, the early word on Michael Turner's(notes) groin injury is that the "issue is mild." Turner may have simply been sidelined for precautionary reasons. Jason Snelling was an unholy monster in the Burner's absence on Sunday (against a lousy team), rushing for 129 yards, catching five passes for 57, and breaking the plane three times.
• Shaun Hill(notes) and the Lions nearly engineered a comeback that would have destroyed my Pick'Em pool this week, but the Eagles held on for a 35-32 win. Calvin Johnson(notes) saved his fantasy day with a TD and two-point conversion inside the final two minutes. He was very quick to toss the ball aside after the catch, despite last week's lesson in possession and process. Jahvid Best(notes) was phenomenal all day, finishing with three scores and 232 total yards. For reasons that only Hill can explain, Best didn't get a look on Detroit's final possession.
• If this update seems a bit late, that's perhaps because the author was, um … emotionally invested in Chicago's 27-20 win over Dallas. When a team goes on the road against a quality opponent and gives up a special teams touchdown (see below), they can't reasonably expect a W. But the Bears' offense was poised, Jay Cutler was outstanding (277 yards, 3 TDs), and Chicago's defense bent but never broke. Brian Urlacher(notes) had yet another terrific game; he covers the deep middle like few linebackers ever have. Dallas will likely dominate the NFL headlines this week, but Chicago flat-out won this game. Matt Forte caught another TD pass, his third of the year, but it's worth noting that the Bears couldn't get a thing going on the ground. They totaled just 38 net rushing yards.
Jason Witten(notes) was knocked woozy in the fourth quarter, and he could very well be concussed. (You don't want fantasy experts diagnosing your head injuries, though, so I'll leave that to the medical professionals. I have no authority to rule out Witten in Week 3). In addition to their many other problems, the Cowboys apparently have an issue at kicker, too. Don't be surprised if David Buehler(notes) is merely a kickoff specialist for Dallas next week, assuming he's still employed. He missed a 44-yarder that would have tied Sunday's game in the fourth quarter.
• Several quarterbacks were pulled today for performance reasons. Here's the list: Vince Young yielded to Kerry Collins(notes), Matt Moore(notes) gave way to Jimmy Clausen(notes), and Derek Anderson(notes) was benched late in favor of Max Hall(notes). There's nothing actionable here if you're in a standard public-style fantasy league, but if you're in a two-QB format, take note.
• LeSean McCoy(notes) seems to have found his way onto two-thirds of my imaginary rosters, and this week, that's a good thing. He rushed for 120 yards on just 16 carries against the Lions, crossing the goal line three times. McCoy also added four catches for eight yards.
• Rookie Ryan Mathews exited the San Diego-Jacksonville tilt in the first half with a right ankle injury that looked nasty. He was carted to the locker room. We'll try to dig up whatever information we possibly can for the next update. Darren Sproles and Mike Tolbert are rolling in Mathews' absence.
Posted at 5:25 pm ET
• We're only three quarters of the way through the early games, but we may have already identified the priority waiver add for Week 3. Jason Snelling has reached the end zone twice — once on the ground, once through the air — and he's dominating the backfield work for Atlanta.
Michael Turner suffered a groin injury of unknown severity, and Jerious Norwood(notes) was carted off with a knee issue. Snelling is basically the last man standing for the Falcons, and he's looked terrific thus far. He's totaled 93 yards from scrimmage through two quarters. You'll recall that he rushed for over 600 yards last season, filling in for an oft-injured Burner. Snelling is a 223-pound bruiser who doesn't look like he'd be serious receiving threat, but he's caught three passes for 36 yards against Arizona, and he had 30 receptions last year.
Turner rushed for 75 yards before checking out; we'll obviously update his situation as information is released. For now, it's the Snelling show.
• We all focused on Michael Vick(notes) this week, but the Cal guys are absolutely dominating the Eagles-Lions tilt. Jahvid Best is exceptional, a 20-yard play waiting to happen. He gained 170 total yards in the first half against Philadelphia, and he's broken the plane twice. Check the tape on his first score. DeSean Jackson(notes) finished the half with two catches for 98 yards, including a 45-yard score. When Jackson makes the catch and he's the only guy in the frame, you pretty much know it's six points. Vick, of course, is looking good against the Lions' defense. The man avoids contact like few can. But remember: When Kevin Kolb(notes) is clear-headed again, he's the Eagles QB.
• Dez Bryant(notes) is going to visit the end zone a few times in his NFL career. Here's video of his first trip, on a 62-yard punt return. Bryant had a quiet first half in the passing game, however, after leading all Cowboys receivers in targets in the opener.
• Perhaps the Williams Wall is not what we thought it was. The Vikings had the Fins pinned at their own goal line late in the second quarter, and they had to know what was coming. But Miami still opened a massive hole in the Minnesota O-line and Ronnie Brown(notes) rumbled for 51 yards.
• The Peyton Hillis(notes) post-touchdown celebration is just a little too elaborate, too lengthy, too full of premeditated posing. We get it, big man: You're a proud member of the Browns. You're apparently the back to own, not Jerome Harrison(notes). Got it. You can stop flexing now.
• The Dallas pass rush has been ripping through Chicago's line all day. It's as if Jay Cutler were protected by American Apparel models. Nonetheless, Cutler has only been sacked once (hit many times) and he's thrown a pair of first half TD passes. Devin Hester made a degree-of-difficulty catch in the end zone for a second quarter score, and Greg Olsen caught a 39-yard first quarter touchdown. Big assist to Earl Bennett for blocking downfield on the Olsen play.
• Chris Johnson had an 85-yard rushing TD called back due to a holding penalty. Remember this fact, just in case CJ2K finishes with an unimpressive line, and Brad Evans brags a little too much.
• Tony Gonzalez(notes) cleared out the middle of the field thoroughly (and perhaps illegally) on Roddy White's(notes) early TD. He tossed an Arizona linebacker to the ground, then let White fill the void. That was a little too easy.
• Minnesota's opening drive was basically the Percy Harvin(notes) show. He was on the receiving end of Brett Favre's first four completions. Harvin aggravated his hip injury in the first half, however, and he's only caught one pass since the Vikings' first series.
• Dennis Dixon(notes) injured his left knee in the first half of the Pittsburgh-Tennessee game, and he's been replaced by Charlie Batch(notes). Rashard Mendenhall(notes) is Plan A, Plan B and Plan C at the moment. And the Titans appear to have figured it out.
Posted at 3:20 pm ET
Early update: Beanie Wells(notes) is inactive versus Atlanta, so Tim Hightower(notes) and LaRod Stephens-Howling(notes) each get a bump. Hopefully you weren't relying on Beanie this week; it's really too early in the season to not have a Plan B.
Posted at 11:45 am ET
All hyperbole aside, NFL observers agree that this will be THE GREATEST WEEK 2 IN THE HISTORY OF AMERICAN FOOTBALL. We're so glad you've joined us. Today is going to be special, like with fighter jets and Bon Jovi. If Week 2 doesn't win an ESPY, then it's because the ESPYs are fixed.
Please join us over at Fantasy Football Live at noon ET for late-breaking news and spirited chat. If you're looking for position ranks, click here. Go get a win, gamers. And if you're lonely, feel free to check in with Sunday Scene throughout the day. Maybe make a new friend in comments…
Photos via AP Images (Snelling), US Presswire (Cutler, McNabb, Favre), and Getty Images (Mathews, creepy Raiders fan. As if there were another kind of Raiders fan)