Winners and Losers in Week 2 of the 2020 NFL Season
There were some clear-cut winners on the team level and the personal level this week, and as always, there were plenty of losers.
Let’s take a look at some of the ups and downs of NFL Week 2.
Winner – Jonathan Taylor
Last week, I placed a winner tag on Colts rookie running back Jonathan Taylor. He moved up the depth chart to the starting position when Marlon Mack went down with a ruptured Achilles, so he was a winner by subtraction.
Taylor is now the undisputed RB 1, and he made the most of his opportunity on Sunday.
He had to grind, but the Wisconsin product gained 101 yards on 26 carries with a touchdown, and he caught a couple of passes. His efforts were not in vain, because the Colts won the game over Minnesota by a resounding 28-11 score to even their record at 1-1.
Loser – Atlanta Falcons
The Dallas Cowboys were in danger of opening the season in an 0-2 hole when they fell behind the Falcons 29-10 at halftime. They were banged up defensively, and the turnover-prone offense was sputtering.
Dak Prescott and Ezekiel Elliott got going in the second half, and the embattled defense got some stops.
Prescott ran for a touchdown late in the fourth quarter to cut the deficit to just two points, but their only chance was an unlikely onside kick recovery.
Greg Zuerlein dribbled the ball to his left, and it didn’t bounce around or spin in any unusual directions. A number of different Atlanta players could have easily fell on it or picked it up before it went 10 yards, which would have been totally legal for the kicking team.
Every high school player knows this, but inexplicably, they watched the ball go the required 10 yards, and it was recovered by Dallas. Prescott drove the ball into field-goal range, and Zuerlein drilled a 46 yarder to seal the win.
Winner – Browns Coach Kevin Stefanski
The Cleveland Browns named 38-year-old Kevin Stefanski as their new head coach during the off-season. He spent the 2019 campaign as the offensive coordinator for the Minnesota Vikings after his interim role was made permanent.
His Browns were crushed by the Baltimore Ravens in Week 1, but the second time was the charm for Stefanski. In the Week 2 Thursday night game, Cleveland gave him his first win as an NFL head coach when they outlasted the Cincinnati Bengals 35-30.
Losers – Saquon Barkley and the Giants
The New York Giants were pinning their offensive hopes on running back Saquon Barkley and second year quarterback Daniel Jones. Barkley suffered a torn ACL in Sunday’s loss to the Bears, and he is going to be out of commission for the rest of the season.
To make matters worse, Jones has looked a bit clueless at times during his two starts this year, so the Giants are in a bad way on the offensive of side of the ball.
Winner – Jalen Richard
The Raiders played their first game in Las Vegas on the big stage of Monday Night Football and they celebrated in style with a 34-24 victory. Derek Carr completed 28 of 38 passes for 282 yards and three TDs, and tight end Darren Waller snagged 12 aerials for 103 yards and a score.
Those guys played lights out, but my winner here is running back Jalen Richard. He went into the game in the second half with the Raiders on a drive with a 24-17 lead. Carr pitched him the ball and he had a lot of open real estate in front of him, but he never secured the rock. He fumbled, and it deflated the Vegas momentum.
That was his first and only attempt to that point, but Coach Jon Gruden inserted him again during the next Raiders drive. In a third and long situation they ran the same toss play that led to the fumble, but this time Richard galloped 26 yards for a Raiders TD that gave them a 31-17 lead.
Richard went from goat to hero in a matter of minutes, and that makes him a big winner.
These are some of the winners and losers of Week 2. Now we turn the page, wipe the slate clean, and move onward.
Next week, I will be back in this space shining the same spotlight on the NFL haves and have-nots.