As week two of the National Football League (NFL) comes to a close, I decided to key in on three especially ridiculous results using one-sentence takeaways, more clever than the halfback dive on fourth and one.
Tua Tagovailoa has evolved.
In the game of the year up to this point, the Miami Dolphins managed to complete a miraculous comeback against the Baltimore Ravens. After being down 28-7, the Dolphins secured a 42-38 victory by virtue of Jaylen Waddle’s go-ahead touchdown with 14 seconds remaining. What made this game so entertaining was the ever fluctuating narrative throughout it. After Devin Duvernay’s opening kickoff touchdown, the Ravens went on a nearly 11 minute 18 play drive to the Dolphins one-yard line. It appeared to be the Ravens’ same old smash-mouth philosophy paying dividends, until a fumble by Jackson on fourth and goal seemed to turn the tides.
The Dolphins immediately capitalized with a long pitch and catch from Tagovailoa to Waddle, followed by another connection to make the game even at 7-7. Typically, a swing of this magnitude is the impetus of a back-and-forth game. But over the next two quarters, it devolved into the Lamar Jackson show, first throwing a 75-yard touchdown to second-year standout Rashod Bateman, then tossing touchdowns to Mark Andrews and Demarcus Robinson and finally completing the longest play from scrimmage this year with a 79-yard scamper for a touchdown. In the end though, it was all a setup for Tagovailoa’s defining moment thus far in the NFL: a fourth quarter where he went 13-17 with 199 yards and four touchdowns, including two deep bombs to the newly-acquired Tyreek Hill.
Yes, the Ravens need to improve communication on defense. And of course some credit should be given to the new Dolphins coach, Mike McDaniel, for building a masterful system. However, Tagovailoa’s apparent transition from game manager to game changer will be of importance as the Dolphins challenge the Buffalo Bills for supremacy atop the American Football Conference East.
Joe Flacco still owns the Browns.
Aaron Rodgers against the Chicago Bears, Eli Manning against the New England Patriots in the Super Bowl, any team against Kirk Cousins in primetime, add Flacco against the Cleveland Browns to that list of perennial victors against a single foe. Flacco moved to 18-3 against them with an incredible 13-point comeback with just under two minutes remaining. After a third touchdown run of the day by Nick Chubb, Flacco completed a 66-yard strike to Corey Davis to cut the lead to six. On the ensuing kickoff, the New York Jets recovered the onside kick and Flacco took advantage of the soft zone coverage deployed by the Browns to eventually hit rookie Garrett Wilson for his second touchdown of the lead.
While some in the New York media were clamoring for the removal of head coach Robert Saleh, it's clear this team still believes in him and personifies his unassailable resilience. Reports indicate second year quarterback Zach Wilson will miss another week, but it will be interesting to see where they stand when he returns and whether the Jets are closer to making the playoffs than many anticipated before the season began.
Kyler Murray saves Kliff from falling off a cliff.
Down 20-0 to the Las Vegas Raiders with six minutes remaining in the third quarter, the Arizona Cardinals were desperately trying not to cement their status as the worst team in the NFL. Then Murray decided to intervene. First, he found wide receiver Greg Dortch for six. Then, he connected with a tightly-covered Hollywood Brown leading to a short Darrel Williams touchdown. He then followed that up by running around for what felt like two hours to convert the two-point conversion and cut the lead to eight. Murray then ran in a touchdown on fourth and goal and completed the two-point conversion to A.J. Green in the back of the end zone.
The Cardinals defense then returned a Hunter Renfroe fumble for a touchdown to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat in overtime. Desecrating the Raiders performance is like complaining about too much blood in a Quentin Tarantino flick: somewhat valid but completely missing the point. Murray is one of the most entertaining players in the NFL and will single handedly keep the Cardinals relevant all year.
Rapid fire one-sentence takeaways:
Giants win on another late field goal, and no NFL seat is as hot as that of Panthers’ coach Matt Rhule.
New team, same old Mitch: Tribusky’s woes gracefully overshadow those of Patriots QB Mac Jones.
Jameis Winston with a fractured back is confirmedly worse than Jameis Winston with a perfectly intact back: Brady gets his first win as a Buccaneer against the Saints.
Matt Ryan missed Michael Pittman but not the Jags defenders, gifting them three interceptions in a shutout loss to the Jacksonville Jaguars.
Jimmy G returns spectacularly, confirming why the Niners never tried to replace him with an underdeveloped quarterback.
The Bills look like the ‘99 Rams on offense and the ‘01 Ravens on defense, dispatching the Titans and making us all wonder who let them sign Von Miller.