Tua Tagovailoa had six passing touchdowns and led the Miami Dolphins back from three scores down against the Baltimore Ravens — in a game in which they trailed from the very first play after an 103-yard touchdown return.
A rivalry between the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the New Orleans Saints got heated. After both teams found little offensive success over three quarters, a scuffle resulted in Marshon Lattimore and Mike Evans getting ejected. Tom Brady and the Buccaneers’ defense came alive in the fourth quarter to lead Tampa to victory.
The Detroit Lions and Jacksonville Jaguars had offensive breakouts, while the New England Patriots and New York Jets got key road wins after Week 1 losses. And the New York Giants are 2-0 — a rare sight in recent years.
Our NFL Nation reporters react with the biggest takeaways and lingering questions coming out of this week’s matchups and look ahead to what’s next. Let’s get to it.
What to know: Efficient play from the quarterback. Creative playcalling with misdirection to confuse the defenses and set up future calls. Receivers wide open and getting the ball in position to gain yards after the catch. Coach Doug Pederson’s offense was rolling against the Colts. That was the expectation when the Jaguars hired Pederson to pair with quarterback Trevor Lawrence and spent big money on receivers Christian Kirk and Zay Jones, but it didn’t really show up in Week 1. If the Jaguars can consistently execute at the level they did Sunday, they have the potential to be a tough team to defend.
Is Sacksonville back? Whoa, slow down a bit. That 2017 defense was next level. But the Jaguars did get five sacks against the Colts, and all three of their interceptions were the direct result of pressure on quarterback Matt Ryan. It helped that the Jags had a big lead in the second half, but the pressure has been pretty consistent through the first two weeks, and as a result, the defense has created six turnovers. It had nine total last season. — Mike DiRocco
Next game: at Chargers (Sunday, 4:05 p.m. ET)
What to know: It’s one thing to open the season with a tie in Houston, as the Colts did in Week 1. But it’s quite another for Indianapolis to fall on its collective face against the Jaguars, the very team that denied its entry into the postseason in January. It’s not even the Colts’ 0-1-1 record that is most alarming; they are notoriously slow starters. Rather, it’s the fact that the team seems to be in disarray, with even its vaunted offensive line performing at an abysmal level and veteran quarterback Matt Ryan seemingly powerless to stem the tide of sloppiness and listlessness. Given owner Jim Irsay’s offseason demands for improvement, the rest of this season figures to be a referendum on its players, coaches and front office.
Who is most responsible for the Colts’ slow start? The lack of intensity from the Colts at times in their first two games has to prompt some questions about coaching. The Colts were missing No. 1 receiver Michael Pittman Jr. and All-Pro linebacker Shaquille Leonard on Sunday, but the underperformance of players who have in the past performed well does not reflect well on head coach Frank Reich and his staff. Offensively, the lack of execution calls preparation into question. And the defense has been disappointing under new coordinator Gus Bradley. The Colts didn’t challenge Jacksonville’s receivers, allowing easy completions all day long. — Stephen Holder
Next game: vs. Chiefs (Sunday, 1 p.m. ET)
What to know: It wasn’t pretty, but the Patriots badly needed a win. This buys them more time to figure things out. Just as Bill Belichick said last week, a couple of plays were the difference in the game — a 44-yard TD bomb to Nelson Agholor (who made an amazing catch) at the end of the second quarter was critical, as was Steelers punt returner Gunner Olszewski muffing a punt that the Patriots recovered and quickly converted into a touchdown. Quarterback Mac Jones was living dangerously at times — the Steelers dropped an easy interception in the second half — as he hasn’t gained the same level of comfort that he had for stretches of his 2021 rookie season.
How realistic is it to think the offense can transform itself into a unit that can keep up with the AFC’s elite? It’s hard to imagine the Patriots being an AFC contender the way they are currently playing offense. Everything is a struggle. From the get-go, players have preached patience, and they surely know they’ll need to be a lot better in the weeks to come. But those big-picture thoughts can be put on hold for now. No team is a finished product after Week 2. While it wasn’t pretty, here’s a possible silver lining: The way the Patriots finished the game, in the four-minute offense, was a potential identity-building drive. They jammed it right down the Steelers’ throat to close out the game. — Mike Reiss
Next game: vs. Ravens (Sunday, 1 p.m. ET)
What to know: For the second week in a row, the Pittsburgh Steelers‘ conservative offensive plan held them back, and this time, a short-handed defense couldn’t save them in a 17-14 loss to the New England Patriots. Mitch Trubisky completed 21 of 33 attempts for 168 yards with one touchdown and one interception, but the crowd at Acrisure Stadium grew restless with the checkdowns and short passes. At least two times, the crowd chanted “KEN-NY,” calling for first-round draft pick Kenny Pickett to take the reins under center. Trubisky averaged 5.1 yards per attempt and 4.6 air yards per completion, per NFL Next Gen Stats. While the run game got going behind a better day from Najee Harris, the Steelers still gained only 91 yards on the ground. The offense came alive when it went no-huddle in the final drive of the third quarter and capped it with an 8-yard strike to Pat Freiermuth on the first play of the fourth. The Steelers said they needed to play with a “killer instinct” in Week 2, and for most of the afternoon, they played with anything but.
Can the Steelers get pressure without T.J. Watt? The preliminary answer to this question is: not much. The Steelers did just about everything to bring pressure on Patriots quarterback Mac Jones, but they didn’t record a single sack while Watt (torn pectoral muscle) looked on from the sideline. At times, Malik Reed came close to getting Jones, but the Reed-Alex Highsmith tandem just didn’t generate the same pressure the reigning NFL Defensive Player of the Year brought in their Week 1 overtime win. Jones, who completed 21 of 35 attempts for 252 yards and averaged 7.2 yards per attempt, rarely had to rush his throws and had several deep and intermediate completions. The Steelers also had zero sacks in Weeks 3 and 14 last season, both losses. (Watt didn’t play in Week 14.) Watt will be out at least three more games on IR, and his timeline likely puts him back at the end of October. — Brooke Pryor
Next game: at Browns (Thursday, 8:15 p.m. ET)
What to know: The star of the first two games for the Giants: their defense. In this case, coordinator Wink Martindale. He has done it without his top two edge rushers, Kayvon Thibodeaux and Azeez Ojulari, and with defensive lineman Leonard Williams (knee) leaving Sunday’s game in the third quarter. Martindale has been the Giants’ best offseason acquisition this season by a wide margin with his relentless and aggressive approach. Martindale has been manufacturing enough pressure (using three-safety looks most of Sunday) and made Carolina quarterback Baker Mayfield look as pedestrian as Tennessee’s Ryan Tannehill looked the previous week. Mayfield threw for just 145 yards on 29 pass attempts in Sunday’s win, the second time in as many weeks the Giants have allowed fewer than 20 points. The key sacks in the second half came from the unheralded Oshane Ximines and Julian Love. Martindale is working his magic so far in his first year as Giants defensive coordinator.
Do we need to recalibrate expectations? The Giants are 2-0 for the first time since 2016. It took them until Week 10 last season to get their second win. While it hasn’t always been pretty, there is reason to be excited. The Giants are the only team in the NFC East that sits at 2-0 entering Monday. They also have winnable upcoming games at home against the Dallas Cowboys on Monday night and the Chicago Bears the following week. Maybe a winning season or the playoffs isn’t out of the question under new coach Brian Daboll, who has this team believing it can win. — Jordan Raanan
Next game: vs. Cowboys (Monday, 8:15 p.m. ET)
What to know: The Panthers traded for quarterback Baker Mayfield to bring more explosiveness to the offense. Through two games, the Panthers have had a few big plays but have been anything but explosive. The defense has played well enough to win, particularly against the Giants. The offense has been just average — enough to keep games close, but not win. A big part of that has been mediocre performances by Mayfield, who was 14-of-29 for only 145 yards Sunday. He did cut down on the batted passes at the line (two) but did nothing to make him look like a long-term solution.
How hot is coach Matt Rhule’s kitchen after an 0-2 start? Not quite sizzling, but it’s heating up fast. The roster is deeper and better than a year ago, but the bottom line is the Panthers have lost a league-high nine straight dating back to last year. Owner David Tepper won’t make any rash decisions this early in the season, but the fan base that already was restless could get brutal after two five-win seasons and now this. The team still isn’t disciplined enough or good enough to consistently win, and that falls back on the head coach. — David Newton
Next game: vs. Saints (Sunday, 1 p.m. ET)
What to know: The Jets delivered the biggest win of the Robert Saleh era, pulling off a miracle comeback only days after their coach was roasted for an ill-advised comment. Saleh said he was “taking receipts” on those who mock the Jets, promising to “shove it down their throat” when they flip the season. Everything flipped in a matter of seconds, as the Jets rallied from a 13-point deficit in the final two minutes. The Jets were dead at 30-17, and they rallied with two touchdown passes by Joe Flacco. This was a massive win for Saleh, who came under intense scrutiny for his comments. The players said they had his back, and they did.
Does Joe Flacco’s performance end the backup quarterback controversy? Yes. Flacco was outstanding in crunch time, finishing with four TD passes and winning his first start since 2019. With fans screaming for Mike White, Saleh stuck with Flacco amid criticism, and it paid off big time. Flacco turned back to the clock to his Baltimore Ravens heyday, quieting the QB talk. It’s only a one-game gig, though, as Zach Wilson (knee) is trending toward a Week 4 return. — Rich Cimini
Next game: vs. Bengals (Sunday, 1 p.m. ET)
What to know: The Browns had put the game away — only to suffer an epic collapse. Defensive miscues all game and costly special teams mistakes in the fourth quarter doomed Cleveland, as the Browns squandered a 13-point lead in the final two minutes.
Can the Browns clean up the defensive miscues? Cleveland allowed 37-year-old QB Joe Flacco and the Jets to hang around all game and then gave up two touchdowns in the final two minutes to lose the game. Too often, Flacco was throwing to wide-open pass-catchers. The Browns have the talent to boast an elite defense. But two weeks into the season, miscues and miscommunications are keeping them from showcasing that full potential. — Jake Trotter
Next game: vs. Steelers (Thursday, 8:15 p.m. ET)
Joe Flacco hits Garrett Wilson for a 15-yard touchdown, lifting the Jets to a wild comeback win over the Browns.
What to know: Tua Tagovailoa can carry this Dolphins offense with some fine-tuning. Trailing by three scores at halftime, Miami put the ball in his hands and he delivered to the tune of 469 passing yards and six touchdowns, eventually completing the comeback with a game-winning TD pass to Jaylen Waddle. Under the direction of first-year coach Mike McDaniel, the Dolphins appear capable of competing in a shootout. Tagovailoa’s two interceptions hurt, but beyond those two plays, he made smart decisions with the ball and navigated the pocket well. This was the biggest statement game of his career, and there are plenty who might need to retract their prior assessments.
Can the Dolphins get over the Bills hump? That was objectively fun to watch, but now the neighborhood bully returns to town. The Dolphins have lost seven of their past eight games to Josh Allen and the Buffalo Bills, and they play host to the two-time reigning AFC East champions in Week 3. It’s a true measuring stick matchup for Miami, which could put the Super Bowl favorites on notice with a win. — Marcel Louis-Jacques
Next game: vs. Bills (Sunday, 1 p.m. ET)
What to know: The big plays are back for the Ravens. Lamar Jackson became the first player in NFL history to produce a touchdown pass and run of at least 75 yards in the same game. The Baltimore offense had lacked electricity recently, totaling two plays of at least 70 yards in the past two years. Downfield passing was a point of emphasis for the Ravens in training camp, and it has paid off early this season. In two games this season, Jackson has connected with wide receiver Rashod Bateman on touchdown passes of 55 and 75 yards.
What happened to the Ravens’ defense? The Ravens matched the largest blown lead in franchise history, failing to hold a 21-point lead in the fourth quarter because of a banged-up defense. The Ravens gave up four touchdown passes in the fourth quarter with a secondary missing its top cornerback (Marlon Humphrey) for the final two series and its No. 3 cornerback (Brandon Stephens), who was inactive. Jaylen Waddle caught the winning 7-yard touchdown pass over rookie Jalyn Armour-Davis, who was pressed into action because of the injuries. — Jamison Hensley
Next game: at Patriots (Sunday, 1 p.m. ET)
What to know: Without receivers Chris Godwin and Julio Jones, and also missing left tackle Donovan Smith and his backup, Josh Wells (who left with a calf injury), quarterback Tom Brady and the Bucs once again struggled to put points on the board. The rushing lanes Leonard Fournette enjoyed last week against the Cowboys were nowhere to be found. An irate Brady threw yet another tablet in the third quarter — the second time he’s done that against the Saints in two seasons. Tempers continued to flare in the fourth quarter, with both Mike Evans and Marshon Lattimore being ejected. Just like Week 1, though, the defense kept the Bucs in this game, forcing a total of five turnovers: three interceptions and two fumbles. Mike Edwards‘ interception was also returned for a touchdown.
How long can the Bucs keep this up with so many injuries? It’s tough to say, with Godwin’s and Jones’ hamstring injuries being wildly unpredictable. Smith’s elbow injury is a matter of pain tolerance, but it’s unclear how effective he can be extending his arm. The fact that he traveled to New Orleans was at least encouraging. But losing Wells and entering a Week 3 home opener against the Green Bay Packers with a third-string left tackle in Brandon Walton hurts, as does the possibility of a suspension for Evans. Despite the offensive injuries piling up, the Bucs’ defense has given up only 13 points through two weeks. Coach Todd Bowles’ defense is showing why he was elevated into a head coaching role. — Jenna Laine
Next game: vs. Packers (Sunday, 4:25 p.m. ET)
What to know: There’s no need to worry about the Saints’ defense after watching it stifle Tom Brady again for three and a half quarters. The defense only stumbled after cornerback Marshon Lattimore was ejected late in the game for a fight with Mike Evans, leaving the Saints with two backup corners because of Paulson Adebo‘s previous injury. The offense is another story, after a very concerning performance overall. The offense was expected to take a step forward after a slow start against the Falcons in Week 1, but quarterback Jameis Winston‘s back injury complicates things.
Should the Saints be concerned about Jameis Winston going forward? Winston is reportedly dealing with several fractures in his back, which would be concerning for any player, much less the starting quarterback. The Saints’ offense was disappointing for most of the game, and it’s fair to be concerned about Winston — who looked hesitant at times when trying to run the ball, overthrew several deep passes and fell apart in the fourth quarter, throwing three interceptions on three straight possessions, including a pick-six. The Saints are going to have to make a decision about whether to sit Winston and let him heal or continue to play him while he’s injured. — Katherine Terrell
Next game: at Panthers (Sunday, 1 p.m. ET)
What to know: In his second career game, No. 2 overall pick Aidan Hutchinson recorded three sacks — all in the first half — of Washington quarterback Carson Wentz. The last time a rookie had 3.0 sacks in one of his first two career games was in 2002, when Julius Peppers, Carlos Hall and Ben Leber all did it.
Is the Lions’ offense for real? Yes. Detroit got major contributions from its top skill players, notably Jared Goff, Amon-Ra St. Brown, T.J. Hockenson and D’Andre Swift. There’s no reason to believe their production isn’t sustainable — if healthy. The Lions have scored 35 or more points in each of their opening two games for the first time since 1970. St. Brown was the star Sunday, recording nine catches for 116 yards and two touchdowns while adding another 68 yards on the ground. — Eric Woodyard
Next game: at Vikings (Sunday, 1 p.m. ET)
What to know: Washington’s offense will still be dangerous despite an ugly first half in which the Commanders managed just two first downs. However, the Commanders have a lot of issues on defense, and that’s going to be a season-long problem as well. Washington’s defense allowed three plays of at least 49 yards — every time the offense needed help, it failed to provide any. The Commanders’ special teams coverage wasn’t good, either, and they missed an extra point.
Where is the run game? Washington wanted to be a more physical team this season, but Antonio Gibson managed only 28 yards on 14 carries as Detroit gave him no room. It will help when Brian Robinson returns. He’s more of a power back than Gibson, but the Commanders need to be better up front. When the Lions were attacking in the first half and pressuring Wentz, Washington needed an alternative, but the run game provided nothing. — John Keim
Next game: vs. Eagles (Sunday, 1 p.m. ET)
Tristan H. Cockcroft explains why Amon-Ra St. Brown will continue his dominant fantasy performance.
What to know: The Chiefs can win with their stars not being stars. They beat a difficult AFC West rival with their touchdowns being scored by three backup players — rookie seventh-round draft pick Jaylen Watson, fourth-round wide receiver Justin Watson and running back Jerick McKinnon. It will serve them well if they can continue to win games without getting huge contributions from players like Travis Kelce and JuJu Smith-Schuster.
Who’s going to help Chris Jones rush the quarterback? Jones had both of the Chiefs’ sacks against the Chargers. It’s not a problem that Jones is their leader in sacks, but rather that he isn’t getting much support. Last week’s sacks against the Cardinals came from a blitzing cornerback, L’Jarius Sneed, and from end Carlos Dunlap (but his was more of a coverage sack). The most logical candidates to help Jones are Frank Clark and George Karlaftis. Each had a hit on Justin Herbert, but neither has yet to put a quarterback on the ground this season. — Adam Teicher
Next game: at Colts (Sunday, 1 p.m. ET)
What to know: Close doesn’t count. The Chargers were two plays away from starting the season 2-0 in AFC West action. Instead, they go 1-1 in a five-day span after an interception by cornerback Asante Samuel Jr. was overturned. “I thought it was a pick,” Samuel said after the game. In addition, quarterback Justin Herbert threw a pass intended for tight end Gerald Everett that was intercepted and returned 99 yards for a touchdown.
What’s the status of Herbert? The quarterback suffered a rib injury in the fourth quarter, leaving the game for only one play before returning, but he was clearly in pain as he continued to the end of the game. After the 27-24 loss, the medical staff and a gingerly walking Herbert entered the X-ray room. On Friday, he was diagnosed with a fracture in his rib cartilage. Herbert is considered day-to-day. — Lindsey Thiry
Next game: vs. Jaguars (Sunday, 4:05 p.m. ET)