Stafford and Grossman get victories; Newton smashes records
There are only seven undefeated teams left in the NFL after two weeks of games and a couple of those squads sporting a perfect 2-0 mark are led by former SEC quarterbacks.
In Detroit, the Lions are 2-0 to start the year for the first time since 2007. They did it in style with a 48-3 blowout of the Kansas City Chiefs, the most lopsided regular season win in franchise history. Leading the way was Matthew Stafford (Georgia). The third-year Lions quarterback threw four touchdowns on 23 of 39 passes that went for 294 yards.
Those four TD tosses in only his 15th NFL start puts Stafford in elite company. It marked the third time in his career that Stafford has thrown that many TD passes in a game. Only fellow Georgia alum Fran Tarkenton can top that. Tarkenton threw four touchdown passes four different times in his first 15 starts.
In Washington, it was a tale of two halves for Rex Grossman (Florida). In the first half of the Redskins game against the Arizona Cardinals, Grossman threw two interceptions including one at the goal line, while leading his team to only score one score in four chances inside the Red Zone.
But in the fourth quarter, Grossman completed 12 of 17 passes with a touchdown. On the day, the former Florida Gator ended throwing for 291 on 25 of 43 passes with two touchdowns and two interceptions.
“It was just one minor mistake here or there. But we got it done,” said Grossman, who has now thrown multiple touchdowns in three of his five games as Washington’s starter (three of them were last season). “That’s all that matters. I felt like on offense, we dominated yards-wise, but we had only 10 points to show for it (in the first half). That’s something we’ll look at film and work to improve on, but we won the game, and that’s what matters. We didn’t capitalize on some of our drives, but we did when it counted.”
He’s starting his NFL career 0-2 but the most celebrated former SEC quarterback continues to be Cam Newton (Auburn). One week after tying a rookie record for most passing yards in a game, Newton set the rookie record on Sunday against the Super Bowl Champion Green Bay Packers, throwing for 432 yards in the Panthers 30-23 loss. It’s not the only record he set.
Newton is the only rookie in NFL history to post two consecutive 400-yard passing yards in a team’s first two games of the season and is the only player to throw for 400+ yards in his first two starts. His passing-yards in his first two games – 854 – is also a record for a quarterback in his first two starts. The 432 passing yards were also a franchise record.
But Newton also threw three interceptions and the Panthers are now 0-2 on the season. How much blame should the quarterback get?
Writes Doug Farrar at Yahoo! Sports, “there’s no question that he helped his team lose the Packers game,” but Farrar also adds that Newton “kept his team in both of those games, and when you watch the tape against the Packers, it was the little things he did that impressed.”
For perspective, Farrar points out that last season Carolina quarterbacks failed to throw for at least 151 yards in six games. Newton threw for that many yards in the first quarter against the Packers.
The most popular backup quarterback in the NFL saw action Sunday but not at his normal position. Denver quarterback Tim Tebow (Florida) was forced into action as a wide receiver because of injuries.
“I’m going to do whatever I can to help the team,” said Tebow. “If they ask me to go out there and run some routes and block some people, I’ll go do it.”
Tebow did have any balls thrown to him. The Broncos beat Cincinnati 24-22.
Elsewhere around the league:
An impressive second-game showing for Bengals wide receiver A.J. Green (Georgia). The rookie wideout caught 10 passes for 124 yards and one touchdown in the Bengals loss at Denver.
The touchdown came on an impressive sideline catch early in the fourth quarter.
“I was trying to make the play when my number was called, and Andy (Dalton) did a great job giving me the ball,” Green said. “We’re young, and we’re going to get better every week. We’re taking steps every week.”
Oakland Raiders rookie Denarius Moore (Tennessee) was impressive at Buffalo on Sunday. Seeing action because of injuries in the Raiders receiving corps, Moore caught five passes for 146 yards. One of those catches resulted in a 50-yard touchdown.
“It was an OK day for me,” Moore said. “I came in and made plays when they called upon me. The overall thing is we took a loss today. We’ve just got to come back, practice Monday and get better.”
The Raiders lost to the Bills 38-35 despite a 323-yard passing day from quarterback Jason Campbell (Auburn).
Wide receiver Mike Wallace (Ole Miss) played a big role in the Steelers route of the Seahawks on Sunday.
Wallace had 8 catches for 126 yards and one touchdown in Pittsburgh’s 24-0 shutout of Seattle.
Three receivers of note with repeat 100-yard performances the first two weeks of the season:
Wide receiver Devery Henderson (LSU): Three catches for 103 yards and one touchdown in the Saints victory over the Bears. That follows his six-catch 100 yard performance in Week 1 against the Packers.
Tight end Jason Witten (Tennessee): Seven catches for 102 yards in the Cowboys’ 27-24 overtime victory at San Francisco. That follows his six-catch, 110 yard performance against the Jets.
Running back Ben Tate (Auburn): On Sunday, he went 103 yards on 23 carries in Houston’s 23-13 victory at Miami. That comes on the heels of his 116-yard rushing performance in a Week 1 blowout of Indianpolis.
Finally, it’s the absence of an SEC alum that’s causing panic in Indianapolis. With the Colts dropping to 0-2 following their loss to Cleveland on Sunday, Indianapolis Star columnist Bob Kravitz had this to say about a team playing without star quarterback Peyton Manning (Tennessee).
“They’re not going to win any football games with Kerry Collins. Nice guy, stand-up guy, and once upon a time, he was a pretty darned good NFL quarterback.
“I will acknowledge, when the Colts went out and grabbed Collins as a short-term insurance policy for Peyton Manning, I thought it was a terrific idea. Surround him with playmakers, run the ball a little better, play some defense and win some games.
“I was wrong.
“The Colts were wrong.”
Kravitz solution? Brett Favre.
“The next time Indianapolis Colts owner Jim Irsay tweets about visiting Hattiesburg, Miss., here’s hoping he’s not joking around.”