NFL Week Two Wrap up: Who's for Real and Who's Not
I like to call Week Two in the NFL the “are you for real or not” week. An initial loss in Week One doesn’t mean too much, usually you have a few matchups of possible contenders (Saints/Packers, Bears/Falcons, Cowboys/Jets) and someone has to come out of those games with an 0-1 record. But if you come out of Week Two with another loss and an 0-2 record the numbers are pretty clear that your season is effectively over.
Since the league went to a 16 game schedule, a paltry 11% of teams that started 0-2 went on to right the ship and make the postseason. The number is a little misleading, mainly because most teams that go 0-2 are just plain old bad, like Indy and Seattle, and they weren’t going to make any serious runs at the playoffs no matter how they started out.
We also saw this Sunday what makes that number so low, and it’s because the good teams, the ones that are going to make a serious run at double digit wins and games in January, aren’t going to let themselves lose two games in a row to start their season. Those same teams that lost tough games in Week One, New Orleans, Atlanta and Dallas, all came out and took care of business in Week Two. They came out and showed us that they’re for real.
So let’s take a look at why Week Two was so great, and make sure to come back on Friday for a preview of the Week Three games.
Because sometimes all the experts are wrong: This one has to go to Baltimore this week, a team that we all thought would completely rough up their week two opponent, a Tennessee team that gave us nothing to believe in after Week One.
The Ravens were coming off a dominating performance against their arch rival the week before, and it made sense to us all that if they could destroy the defending AFC Champion Steelers they wouldn’t have any trouble against the lame duck Titans.
But what we all forgot to realize is that this was a clear cut example of that long known phenomenon, the “trap game”. For those of you unfamiliar with this concept, a trap game is one where a good team is facing a weak opponent either the week before or the week after they have a big game, bonus trap game points if they have to go on the road.
Baltimore must have spent this past week telling themselves how great they were and just assuming that they would walk all over the Titans. Well, we all know what happens when you assume. Actually, more truthfully, we all should know by now that nothing in the NFL is a foregone conclusion.
Because Stats Don’t Lie: Last week I used this section to talk about big numbers in the 400’s and 500’s. This week I want to talk about a smaller number, but one that made the difference between winning and losing.
That number is 3 and it’s the amount of touchdowns scored by Dallas receiver Miles Austin. The Cowboys win was one of the most exciting and impressive of the day, and much of the praise has been heaped on the gutsy comeback from Tony Romo and the Hollywood type story of a receiver catching the pass that led to a game winning kick in overtime. But without Austin and his 3 big scores, none of that would have been possible.
What made Austin’s touchdown catches most meaningful was when they came in the game. His first score came at the end of the first half, when if the Cowboys didn’t put points on the board they would have been faced with a 14-0 deficit at the half of a game that if they lost would have put them in the aforementioned 0-2 category.
Austin then came out with his team’s opening score in the second half, tying the game and giving his team the confidence it needed to believe they could win. Then, just when the Cowboys finally had some wind in their sales the 49ers came out with another 10 unanswered second half points to seemingly take control of the game.
And this is where Austin’s performance gets really good. With his quarterback playing with a broken rib or two he got open in the back corner of the end zone and scored the touchdown that, for the second time that afternoon, got his team back in the game.
While Romo and Jesse Holley deserve all the praise they're getting this week, let’s not forget it was Austin who stepped up and deliver at three crucial moments when his team needed him.