By: Rob Bishop
Back again, and in one of the wildest regular-season games in recent memory, the Dallas Cowboys mounted the most improbable of come-from-behind wins over the reeling Atlanta Falcons. Dallas erased a 20-point deficit and secured a comically absurd onside kick to improve to 1-1. As for the Falcons, for the second consecutive week, quarterback Matt Ryan’s outstanding play was wasted by a team in desperate need of a coaching change. Atlanta will look for better fortune next week against the Chicago Bears, who are off to a 2-0 start.
Sunday’s final tilt saw two masterful quarterback performances as Cam Newton and Russell Wilson went head-to-head in a thrilling shootout. Despite the tough match-up against the Patriots defense, Seattle continued to embrace a pass-first philosophy, and Wilson delivered a gem and a hard-earned victory. Wilson continues to excel as one of the NFL’s best deep passers, and he lifts an average receiving corps through sheer will. As for Newton, the veteran passed for 397 yards despite a rough collection of pass-catchers at his disposal, and he accounted for 47 of New England’s 67 rushing yards. Ultimately, Newton’s efforts at a game-winning drive came up a yard short as a failed designed quarterback run at the goal line failed as time expired.
Tom Brady tallied his first win as Tampa Bay Buccaneer behind a strong Week 2 showing against the Carolina Panthers. Aside from a few underthrows—one of which ended up as an INT—Brady was solid despite missing elite receiver Chris Godwin (concussion). There remains room for Tampa Bay improvement, especially concerning the usage of a noticeably slow Rob Gronkowski, but the Bucs look every bit the playoff threat. Meanwhile, the Panthers are 0-2 and look every bit a threat to challenge for the top spot atop the 2021 NFL Draft.
San Francisco managed to rebound from a disappointing Week 1 showing with a win over the lowly New York Jets, though it came with a high cost. During the game, injuries ravaged the team. San Francisco lost quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo and running back Raheem Mostert to injuries on the offense, and pass rusher Nick Bosa and interior defensive lineman Solomon Thomas on defense. Already without tight end George Kittle, cornerback Richard Sherman, and receiver Deebo Samuel, the 49ers are absolutely depleted. Bosa’s injury is expected to be confirmed as a torn ACL, an obvious season-ender. The severity of the others remains unclear heading into Week 3’s tilt against the winless Giants.
Boston managed to figure things out on Saturday night, winning Game 3 of the Eastern Conference Finals against the Miami Heat. The Celtics welcomed veteran wing Gordon Hayward back from a multi-week absence due to a sprained ankle, and Boston once again looked like a championship contender. Jaylen Brown led the charge for Boston, going for 26 points while continuing to shine as a defender. Marcus Smart also deserves plenty of credit for the win as his defense on Goran Dragic was incredible. The series will take a few extra days off to allow the Western Conference to play catch-up. Game 4 will be on Wednesday night.
Out West, the Nuggets delivered some more second-half magic to mount a comeback against the Lakers on Sunday night, only for L.A. big man Anthony Davis to spoil things with an incredible, buzzer-beating game-winner. Nuggets big man Nikola Jokic had put his team on his back, scoring 11 straight for Denver to give his team a lead with less than three seconds on the clock. Enter Davis, who nailed the contested game-winner to give the Lakers a 2-0 advantage in the series. The Nuggets certainly played better in Game 2, most notably in the second half as the defense became much more aggressive, and the offense developed flow running through Jokic. It will take a full 60 minutes of that kind of play from Denver to make this a series. Game 3 is Tuesday night, and it’s a must-win for Denver.