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Aaron Rodgers passed for 328 yards and 3 TDs.
(AP Photo/Paul Sancya)
Let's not lose our minds with Aaron Rodgers just yet.
However, for all those who said there was no way Rodgers could follow Brett Favre and the Green Bay Packers were making a huge mistake. it might be time for some adjusted thinking. While Favre was struggling against the Patriots, Rodgers was annihilating a terrible Lions defense, passing for 328 passing yards and three first-half touchdowns.
Those digits could have been better, but the Packers pulled their foot off the pedal after jumping to a 21-3 halftime lead. Detroit stormed back and then imploded with mistakes, but this game and day will be remembered for Rodgers being one of the biggest winners in the NFL. He once again showcased his strong arm and perfect timing with most of his receiving corps. Rodgers' touchdowns went to three different wide receivers (Donald Driver, Jordy Nelson and James Jones), none of them to big-play guy Greg Jennings.
Through two games, Rodgers has thrown for 506 yards and four touchdowns, and has rushed for a score. He has also notched passer ratings of 117.0 and 115.5. Few could have hoped for a better start to a season in which he's replacing a certain Hall of Famer. But the real test comes next week when the Packers face Dallas, with the chance to prove that they have the best team in the NFC.
Far-fetched? We would have said the same thing about Rodgers' start two weeks ago, too.
Here are some of Sunday's other winners and losers …
• The Buffalo Bills and quarterback Trent Edwards
Through two games against very good defenses, Edwards is 39-of-55 passing (70.9 percent) for 454 yards and two touchdowns. With Oakland and St. Louis up next, this franchise could be looking at a 4-0 start.
Darren McFadden rushed 21 times for 164 yards and 1 TD.
(Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
• The Oakland Raiders' offensive line and running game
With Justin Fargas out with a pulled groin, Darren McFadden finally became the focal point of the backfield (21 carries for 164 yards and a touchdown), and Michael Bush got plenty of burn, too (16 carries for 90 yards and a touchdown). All-told, the three-headed monster of McFadden, Bush and Fargas ran for a staggering 300 yards.
• Packers wide receiver Greg Jennings
His 167 receiving yards against the Lions put him at 258 in his first two games. Last year wasn't a fluke. Jennings is a superstar.
• Eli Manning and Justin Tuck of the New York Giants
These are the guys we remember from the Super Bowl run. Tuck was dominated the hapless Rams with two sacks and one interception for a 41-yard touchdown return. Meanwhile, Manning was nearly flawless, going 20-for-29 for 260 yards and three touchdowns to three different players. Yes, it was against the crummy Rams, but Manning showed no signs of a letdown.
• Washington Redskins quarterback Jason Campbell
This is the kind of improvement the Redskins were hoping for after all of coach Jim Zorn's work with Campbell in the offseason. Granted, his 321 passing yards came against a porous New Orleans secondary, but Campbell showed poise and was particularly good in the fourth quarter when the Redskins scored two touchdowns in a comeback win.
• Redskins rookie safety and 7th-round draft pick Chris Horton, who snagged two pivotal Drew Brees interceptions and also recovered a key fumble
Forget all the other stars, Horton was the difference maker in this game and should be defensive rookie of the week.
• Tennessee Titans running back Chris Johnson
This is the playmaker on this offense: two games, 34 carries, 202 yards and a touchdown. Now you know why the Titans spent a first-rounder on him despite having 1,000-yard rusher LenDale White in the backfield.
• Mike Shanahan, Jay Cutler and Brandon Marshall of the Denver Broncos
OK, maybe they shouldn't have been in the game at the end. But for Shanahan to go for a two-point conversion when trailing 38-37 with 24 seconds left shows unbelievable guts, not to mention faith in Cutler. It still seems like one of those insane decisions. But when they work, they pay off huge. A nod to Cutler, who had his best day as a pro, and Marshall, who had an astounding 18 receptions in the win. The best quarterback-wideout combination in the league? You might be looking at it.
Most pass receptions in a game
Dec. 17, 2000
Sept. 14, 2008
Dec. 3, 1950
Sept. 21, 1980
• Tampa Bay Buccaneers running back Earnest Graham
He continues to be one of the game's hardest runners, even after getting his money this offseason. He went for 116 rushing yards and a touchdown on 15 carries against Atlanta. Now why can't he get 20 carries in that backfield?
• Kurt Warner and Anquan Boldin of the Arizona Cardinals
On the same week Boldin's agent, Drew Rosenhaus, said his client would like to be a Dolphin, Boldin catches three touchdowns from Warner. Here's hoping that Boldin looked across the field and saw what a disaster Miami is, and has the patience to work out his contract issues with the Cardinals.
• San Diego Chargers running back and returner Darren Sproles
He kept the Chargers in the game with a team-record 103 yard kick return for a TD in the second quarter and put them in position to win with a 66-yard scoring reception with 4:22 left in the contest.
• Cincinnati Bengals coach Marvin Lewis
I wouldn't be surprised to see him lose his job in the next 24 hours. With this team playing this horribly, the Bengals could lose their next five games (Giants, Browns, Cowboys, Jets and Steelers).
Jon Kitna was sacked 5 times.
(AP Photo/Duane Burleson)
• The Lions and quarterback Jon Kitna
We already knew the defense was felonious, and that was enforced with another early 21-0 deficit. But the last thing the Lions need is for Kitna to continue his meltdowns. In a week after head coach Rod Marinelli gave Kitna a strong endorsement, Kitna nuked a close game by throwing interceptions on three straight possessions. Worse yet, two of them were returned for touchdowns.
• The Jacksonville Jaguars
An 0-2 start with Indianapolis, Pittsburgh and Denver in three of the next four is bad news. The offensive line has been devastated, and running backs Maurice Jones-Drew and Fred Taylor have a combined 97 rushing yards through two games.
• The Minnesota Vikings
Leading 15-0 and with a perfect opportunity to bounce back after a tough opening loss to Green Bay, Minnesota went into the tank, going into an offensive shell and giving up 18 points in the final 17 minutes against Indianapolis. What's the point of having Tarvaris Jackson at quarterback if you don't design an offense that occasionally makes use of his scrambling ability? Jackson's one rushing attempt for one yard was absurd.
• The Indianapolis Colts' offensive line
With center Jeff Saturday and left tackle Tony Ugoh out, this unit has looked atrocious. Peyton Manning is being forced to move far too much in the pocket, and running back Joseph Addai now has 64 yards on 27 carries through two games.
• The Chicago Bears' return game
The Bears are playing solid football, with running back Matt Forte and a patient offense controlling tempo and an aggressive defense looking good again. But losing Devin Hester to a rib injury would be monumental. For a conservative offense like this, field position is vital, which makes Hester an instrumental part of this team's success even when he isn't scoring touchdowns.
• The St. Rams' offensive line
Marc Bulger was sacked six times against the Giants and now has been put down 10 times in two games. Meanwhile, running back Steven Jackson is seeing virtually no running room. No wonder the Rams were praying offensive tackle Jake Long would fall to the No. 2 pick in the draft.
• New Orleans Saints tight end Jeremy Shockey
With wide receiver Marques Colston out, Shockey was supposed to become a larger part of the game plan and also loom large in the red zone. Instead, he caught two passes for 22 yards and fumbled away a scoring opportunity in the first quarter.
• Atlanta Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan
Too bad he can't play Detroit every week. He completed 13 of 33 passes against Tampa Bay, with two interceptions, no touchdowns and four sacks. Welcome back to earth.
“Our quarterback can't be a piñata.”
– Rams tight end Randy McMichael on the struggles of Bulger, who was sacked six times by the Giants on Sunday.
The number of interceptions Jaguars quarterback David Garrard has this season in only 63 passing attempts. He had three interceptions all of last season – in 325 attempts.
(Five things I loved and five things I loathed)
Kurt Warner passed for 361 yards and 3 TDs.
(AP Photo/Matt York)
Loved: Watching Cardinals quarterback Kurt Warner tear it up on Sunday and put a hammer lock on his starting job. It just goes to show patience, hard work and trust in a coaching staff's word can trump the paycheck of a young first-round quarterback like Matt Leinart.
Loved: Seeing New England's Matt Cassel win in his first start at quarterback in nearly nine years. And how coincidental was it for him to win his first NFL game on the day Matt Leinart, who Cassel backed up at USC, did mop-up duty for the Cardinals?
Loathed: Hearing a Fox play-by-play man compare Rodgers looking over the middle of the field to Favre. Enough already.
Loathed: Seeing Chargers tailback LaDainian Tomlinson sitting on the sideline with his shoe off and staring at his foot. Toe injuries are unforgiving for skill position players. Just ask Antonio Gates. This is going to be a big problem as the season goes on.
Loved: Seeing Denver's Tony Scheffler show why he should be considered one of the top five tight ends in the NFL.
Loved: Watching Bills backup running back Fred Jackson. You have to feel the same way about this guy as you did when you used to watch Michael Turner in San Diego. He's got starter written all over him.
Loathed: Turning on Miami-Arizona and thinking maybe the Dolphins would be a little better than we thought this season. Ugh. Never mind.