“He had a couple good plays you know,” Coach Andy Reid deadpanned to reporters after the game.
The underneath defenders don't look like they think the ball is being caught on the hash. I don't think Mahomes' eyes were on Hill when he released the ball. pic.twitter.com/UY4uTJBJIg— Kent Swanson (@kent_swanson) Sept. 10, 2018
Mahomes was drafted out of Texas Tech with the 10th pick of last year’s draft. Based on what he had shown in practice, and in the final game of last year’s regular season, Kansas City decided to trade Smith, who had gone 50-26 for the team over five seasons, to Washington.
Moving to such an inexperienced quarterback came with some risk, but Mahomes’s 10 touchdown passes through the first two weeks of the season broke the previous record of nine that was shared by and Charley Johnson of the Chicago Cardinals (1965), Drew Brees of the New Orleans Saints (2009) and Peyton Manning of the Denver Broncos (2013).
Travis Kelce, the tight end who caught two of Mahomes’s touchdown passes this week, said he does not believe the young quarterback’s success is a fluke.
“I see Pat doing this all season long,” Kelce told reporters. “He’s got the confidence. As long as we give him time and get open as wide outs and tight ends and running backs, he’s going to be able to get the best out of everyone.”
While Mahomes’s big day was certainly something to be excited about, especially with the touchdowns going to five different receivers, there was some cause for concern in how much the Chiefs’ defense let Pittsburgh stay in the game. Initially up 21-0 in the first quarter, the Chiefs let the Steelers tie the game by halftime. Mahomes’s 5-yard touchdown to Sammy Watkins got the lead back up to 42-28 late in the third quarter, but a safety, a fumble and a rushing touchdown by Ben Roethlisberger got the lead all the way down to 5 points in the game’s final minute.
Dallas Cowboys 20, Giants 13
Dak Prescott threw a 64-yard touchdown pass to Tavon Austin on the third play of the game and the Dallas Cowboys sacked Eli Manning six times in a 20-13 victory over the Giants on Sunday night.
The Dallas defense was strong again, just as in an opening loss at Carolina, as the Cowboys (1-1) avoided the first 0-2 start in seven seasons under Coach Jason Garrett. — AP
Jacksonville Jaguars 31, New England Patriots 20
Really, this was not about revenge for the Jaguars, because in no way could a Week 2 victory in dryer-vent conditions negate a season-ending defeat absorbed amid the New England winter, nor could it erase eight months of frustration, nor retroactively award them a conference title, and the Super Bowl appearance they covet still.
The Jaguars’ 31-20 thrashing on Sunday of the Patriots, who overcame a fourth-quarter deficit to topple the Jaguars in the A.F.C. Championship game last winter, served more as a rebuttal, and as a reminder that they will continue to pursue conference supremacy with all their might.
[Read Ben Shpigel’s game report from Jacksonville]
Bills Cornerback Vontae Davis Retires at Halftime
The Buffalo Bills have followed up last year’s playoff appearance with an 0-2 start, but their season took a turn for the bizarre on Sunday when Vontae Davis, a veteran cornerback, retired in the middle of a game.
Official statement from CB @vontaedavis. pic.twitter.com/8WXszhnrUo— NFL (@NFL) Sept. 16, 2018
Davis, the brother of Washington tight end Vernon Davis, was inactive in Week 1 but was one of just four cornerbacks that suited up for Buffalo in its 31-20 loss to the Los Angeles Chargers.
The team got even thinner at the position when Phillip Gaines was injured, but Davis did not enter the field and was nowhere to be seen on the team’s sideline.
Asked about Davis’s whereabouts after the game, Coach Sean McDermott seemed perplexed by the entire sequence of events.
“He pulled himself out of the game,” McDermott said. “He told us he was done.”
Lorenzo Alexander, a linebacker for the Bills, went a step further, confirming to reporters that Davis had, in fact, retired. He called the action “completely disrespectful.”
Davis, a 10-year veteran, was named to two Pro Bowl teams during his time with the Indianapolis Colts, and he signed with the Bills this off-season.
Davis later posted a statement on Instagram confirming his retirement, which the N.F.L. posted to its main Twitter account.
Minnesota Vikings 29, Green Bay Packers 29
Many thought an N.F.C. North rivalry matchup between Green Bay and Minnesota would come down to the left leg of Aaron Rodgers, but instead it was the right legs of Mason Crosby and Daniel Carlson that decided the final score, with the place-kickers of both teams missing field goal attempts that could have won the game late in what ended in a 29-29 tie.
The unsatisfying final result underplayed the excitement in a game that stumbled along for three quarters before turning into a nail-biter.
“You have to put games away like that, especially when you’re up a majority of the game. You have to finish,” receiver Davante Adams told reporters after the game. “It’s more frustrating. Yeah, we tied. It’s better than a loss, but I’m not happy about it. I don’t think anybody in here is.”
At the start of the fourth quarter, the Packers were up, 13-7, and would eventually stretch that lead to 20-7, but Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins was undeterred. The free agent addition, who was brought in to replace Case Keenum, threw for 134 yards and three touchdowns in the fourth quarter alone, and his 22-yard pass to Adam Thielen and 2-point conversion pass to Stefon Diggs with 31 seconds left to play evened the score.
With time on the clock, and needing just a field goal to win, Rodgers seemed to have a situation tailor-made for leading another game-winning drive. But after taking the Packers 41 yards to Minnesota’s 34-yard line, he had to leave the game in Crosby’s hands. The 12-year veteran at kicker, who already had five field goals in the game, initially made what appeared to be a game-winning 52-yard field goal, but thanks to a savvy Vikings timeout, Crosby had to make a second attempt, missing wide-left as time expired.
Momentum seemed to favor Minnesota, with the Vikings getting the ball to start overtime, but after they stalled out at Green Bay’s 31-yard line, Carlson came out and missed from 49 yards. After a Packers punt, Carlson got yet another chance, this one from 35 yards, and the strong-legged kicker missed wide-right as time expired.
The Vikings will get a chance to rebound from the tie when they host the struggling Buffalo Bills next week, while Green Bay will go on the road to face Alex Smith and the Washington Redskins.
In Case You Missed It
• It was a mostly forgettable game between the Tennessee Titans and Houston Texans, but some N.F.L. history was made when Kevin Byard, a third-year safety, threw a 66-yard touchdown pass which was the longest ever recorded by a defensive player. Byard set up as a blocker on a punt attempt in the first quarter, and after the ball was snapped directly to him, he threw a left-handed strike to the rookie wide receiver Dane Cruikshank who made a nice move in the open field to get into the end zone. Byard’s flat-footed toss broke the previous record of 13 yards which was set by Ed Meador, a defensive back for the Los Angeles Rams, in 1967.
No Mariota? No problem for the Titans. Just let Kevin Byard hit rookie Dane Cruikshank for the score #HOUvsTEN #TitanUp— Armchair NFL (@ArmchairNFL) Sept. 16, 2018
• Frank Gore ran for just 25 yards in Miami’s 20-12 victory over the Jets, but that was enough to push him past Curtis Martin for fourth place on the N.F.L.’s career rushing list. The 35-year-old Gore now trails only Emmitt Smith, Walter Payton and Barry Sanders, and while he is unlikely to get the 1,157 he would need to pass Sanders for third place, he has a chance to leapfrog both Sanders and LaDainian Tomlinson on the career yards-from-scrimmage list if he can stay healthy this season.
• The Saints barely escaped with a home win over the Cleveland Browns, but Michael Thomas continued his hot start to the season, with 12 receptions. He has 28 through two games, passing Andre Rison’s 26 in 1994 for the most by a player through the first two games of the season.
San Francisco 49ers 30, Detroit Lions 27
Jimmy Garoppolo’s one-week flirtation with losing is over, as the San Francisco 49ers held on to beat the Detroit Lions, 30-27, improving the young quarterback’s career record as a starter to 8-1.
It was not an easy path to victory for the 49ers, though, as San Francisco ran up a lead of 20-10 early in the third quarter, and 30-13 early in the fourth but had to endure a late attack by Matthew Stafford and the Lions offense to win at home.
Garoppolo completed 18 of 26 passes for 206 yards and two touchdowns, and got plenty of help from Matt Breida, who rushed for 138 yards. That was just enough to beat Stafford who threw for 347 yards and three scores, nearly engineering what would have been his 27th career fourth-quarter comeback.
The final margin of victory was entirely accounted for by three points San Francisco got on a field goal it scored following Detroit’s lone turnover, a fumble by Stafford at the end of a sack in the second quarter. Garoppolo nearly returned the favor with an interception in the fourth quarter, but the play was called back thanks to a defensive holding penalty.
#49ers QB Jimmy Garoppolo threw an INT in a really bad spot. It was called back due to #Lions penalty though so he was saved.pic.twitter.com/WEBlcBkm90— Dov Kleiman (@NFL_DovKleiman) Sept. 16, 2018
“I didn’t see it, but it doesn’t matter,” Lions Coach Matt Patricia told reporters of the penalty, which was called on Quandre Diggs. “That’s the way the game is being called all the way across the board. We just can’t do it, make plays and then the penalties.”
The loss dropped the Lions to 0-2 under Patricia, who came to the team with huge expectations after a successful career as a defensive coordinator for the New England Patriots. Detroit will host Patricia’s former boss, Bill Belichick, and the Patriots next week in a bid to avoid an 0-3 start.
Denver Broncos 20, Oakland Raiders 19
The Oakland Raiders took a lead less than six minutes into the game, and appeared to be in control deep into the fourth quarter. But at the tail end of a furious comeback, Denver’s Brandon McManus connected on a 36-yard field goal with just six seconds remaining, giving the Broncos a shocking 20-19 victory and Jon Gruden an 0-2 start in his reprisal as the Raiders’ coach.
McManus. For. The. LEAD!— NFL (@NFL) Sept. 16, 2018
: CBS #BroncosCountry pic.twitter.com/N68arOuVKE
The Raiders had large advantages in total yards and time of possession but simply could not push the score out of reach, leaving just enough room for Case Keenum and the Broncos to sneak back into things. It was Keenum, the newly acquired starting quarterback, who ran in a 1-yard touchdown with 5:58 remaining in the game, narrowing the gap just enough for McManus to win the game on Denver’s next possession.
Phillip Lindsay led Denver with 107 rushing yards, and the Broncos are off to a 2-0 start, which they will look to make 3-0 when they travel to Baltimore to face the Ravens next week.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers 27, Philadelphia Eagles 21
If it seemed unlikely for Ryan Fitzpatrick to throw for more than 400 yards and four touchdowns last week, then what were the odds that he would do it again a week later, this time against the defending Super Bowl champions?
That is just what the 14-year veteran quarterback did in the Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ surprising 27-21 victory over the Philadelphia Eagles on Sunday.
Fitzpatrick, who is filling in for the suspended Jameis Winston, got things started against Philadelphia with a 75-yard touchdown pass to the former Eagle, DeSean Jackson, on the first play of the game, and ended up completing 27 of 33 passes for 402 yards. He was intercepted once, holding his passer rating down to 144.4 a week after he registered a 156.3.
While it is unlikely that a quarterback controversy is brewing in Tampa Bay, Fitzpatrick has certainly made his mark on the team with the best two-game stretch of his career. Similarly, Nick Foles, who won a Super Bowl Most Valuable Player award in place of Carson Wentz last year, has performed well enough for Philadelphia, with a Week 1 win and a solid comeback attempt this week, but will likely head to the bench whenever Wentz is cleared to return.
Be Glad You’re Not a Kicker
It was a long day for kickers:
Cleveland Browns vs. New Orleans Saints
• Browns kicker Zane Gonzalez missed two extra points, including one with just over a minute left in the game that would have broken a tie, a 44-yard field goal early in the fourth quarter and a 52-yarder that could have forced overtime.
Minnesota Vikings vs. Green Bay Packers
•The Vikings successfully iced Packers kicker Mason Crosby at the end of regulation, nullifying his good 52-yard field goal and locking his subsequent miss. But the angry fingers are pointing at …
• Vikings kicker Daniel Carlson who missed two — two! — field goals in overtime. The second attempt would have won the game; instead the Vikings had to settle for a tie.
Falcons Safety Ejected After Scary Hit on Cam Newton
Falcons safety Damontae Kazee was ejected in the second quarter of Atlanta’s win over the Carolina Panthers after a frightening late hit on Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton.
Absolute cheap shot on Cam. Honestly surprised he didn’t miss a play. pic.twitter.com/XPml9fJj8f— Andrew Claudio (@Claudio_GSN) Sept. 16, 2018
Newton was sliding when Kazee dove in for the tackle, striking Newton in the head. The Panthers quarterback was (somehow) able to return for the next play, and finished the day 32 of 45 for 335 passing yards, with three touchdowns and one interception. He also had 42 yards on the ground.
Atlanta ended up winning, 31-24.
Miami Dolphins 20, New York Jets 12
Ryan Tannehill threw two touchdown passes, Kenyan Drake ran for a score and the Miami Dolphins took advantage of several mistakes by Sam Darnold and the New York Jets for a 20-12 victory.
T.J. McDonald and Xavien Howard each intercepted the Jets’ rookie quarterback, helping the Dolphins to their first 2-0 start to a season since 2013.
[Read our game report from the Jets’ home opener here.]
Tannehill finished 17 of 23 for 168 yards and also ran for 44 yards on eight carries for the Dolphins, coming off a win in the longest N.F.L. game since 1970 merger by outlasting Tennessee in 7 hours, 8 minutes last Sunday.
With the Jets (1-1) holding on to hopes for a late comeback, Frank Gore — who earlier passed Curtis Martin for fourth on the NFL’s career rushing list — took a short pass and gained 19 yards on third-and-19 to effectively seal the win.
Darnold was 25 of 41 for 334 yards and a touchdown with the two interceptions in his second N.F.L. start, but struggled to get the offense moving throughout the day.