Recapping Week 2’s Top Winners and Losers in the NFL (2021)

By Dan Vasta in Sports
| September 20, 2021 10:13 am PDT

Week 2 of the 2021 NFL season was spectacular. Some upsets and thrillers came down to the final kick yet again.

Some contenders are emerging that many did not anticipate. That has fans left wondering if they are for real.

After seeing Week 1 post nine upsets with the underdogs coming through, Week 2 lived up to the hype. This time we ended up with five underdogs winning outright, going into Monday Night Football.

There will be several more exciting matchups in the weeks ahead, but here are your top NFL winners and losers from Week 2.

Winner: Panthers

Sam Darnold has been remarkable two weeks in and has gained the confidence needed to play in the NFL.

Darnold looks great with Joe Brady calling the shots. The pieces are perfect, and Sam now has almost 600 yards passing through two weeks. He has a total of four touchdowns, three via passing.

Suddenly the Panthers are among the few undefeated teams in the league.

The most underrated part of this roster is the amount of youth they have on defense. The defense has speed at every level. The youngsters made life challenging on Jameis Winston. After he was nearly perfect against the Packers in Week 1, he struggled miserably against Carolina.

Alvin Kamara was limited to eight rushing yards on six carries. Brian Burns, Shaq Thompson, Jeremy Chinn, and Haason Reddick were stout upfront. Jaycee Horn also hauled in his first career interception against the same team that his father played on.

Loser: Seahawks

Everybody likely still believes the playoffs will feature Russell Wilson. Their Week 2 loss could be foreshadowing for the type of season it may become.

DK Metcalf was a non-factor for most of the game, and the rushing attack struggled as well. Chris Carson had 31 yards rushing on 13 measly carries. Carson had zero targets, and the backups failed to do any better. The lack of production from the running backs is worse than some of the bottom teams in the league.

It is far from elite or good enough to get the job done.

The inability to control the line of scrimmage showed up in overtime. Wilson was under duress, and they failed to slow down or even limit Derrick Henry.

After Henry was a no-show against Arizona and after the game was out of reach last week, Tennessee obliterated Seattle in the trenches. Henry finished with three scores and ran roughshod for 182 yards.

The offense has too much pressure to carry the franchise on its back. Wilson has connected time after time with Tyler Lockett, but they are only 1-1 with a challenging slate coming up. The NFC West could cause a handful of losses for the Seahawks, and there is reason to be concerned.

Winner: Bills

Buffalo had a shot at starting 0-2 this season after suffering a tough season opener to Pittsburgh. The Bills paved the way and did all the little things to dominate Miami, 35-0.

It was their biggest shutout win as a franchise over Miami since November 6, 1966!

The Bills looked like the formidable AFC Contender that they are. Josh Allen found Stefon Diggs for a productive day, but they ran the ball for 148 yards and three scores.

That was a component that has been missing, and the hope is they will build off this win over the Dolphins to have another highly touted year.

Loser: Steelers

The Steelers were down for most of the game and had issues getting after the passer once T.J. Watt left with a groin injury.

Derek Carr exposed the secondary, and the inability to run the football, yet again reared its ugly head.

Pittsburgh will need their passing attack to carry the offense. They need to be able to run the football more effectively at the very least.

This franchise has bounced back before, but this performance was not the outcome they were anticipating in their home opener.

Winner: Titans

Derrick Henry put together his tenth game with 150-plus yards rushing and two or more scores. Henry tied Barry Sanders for the third-most in NFL history (since 1950).

Henry took over and dominated the Seattle defense.

The road environment is never enjoyable, but they made explosive plays when they needed to. Julio Jones bounced back after a disappointing season opener against Arizona.

Taylor Lewan suffered a injury (knee) in pregame warmups and was inactive. Ryan Tannehill did enough, throwing for 347 yards. He took care of the ball as a passer.

Pressure came, and he did have a lost fumble, but the defense often rose to the occasion in this one. They pinned Seattle back in overtime, and that was all she wrote.

Loser: Jets

Zach Wilson was abysmal against the Patriots, and that is why Bill Belichick is the best coach ever against rookie signal-callers.

Belichick is now 22-6 all-time against a rookie passer, and he is also 13-0 at home against them, making life even more challenging for the Jets when they visit the Patriots later in the season.

Here’s the rookie’s final stat line from week two.

  • 33 attempts
  • 19 completions
  • 210 yards
  • 0 TDs
  • 4 INT
  • 56.1 passer rating

New England needed to win this divisional road game after suffering a home loss to Miami in Week 1.

The Pats are far from perfect on offense, but they did more than enough due to their defense. They will stay in the playoff and AFC East race for most of the season, and they will continue to grow under Mac Jones.

Winner: Raiders

Derek Carr has been playing like an absolute stud. He has never had star wideouts consistently, but he has made the best out of tight end Darren Waller.

Waller was solid again, but Henry Ruggs hauled in five catches for 113 yards and the backbreaking touchdown.

Josh Jacobs was out, and they failed to run the ball, but Carr ended up with 382 yards and two scores. He’s shaping up to be a legit NFL MVP candidate, but he’s suggested the Raiders need to be proactive about sustaining their early success.

“We’ve started 2-0 before, but we have to keep going and we can’t let this thing go downhill.”

Maxx Crosby and Solomon Thomas were putting pressure on Roethlisberger all game, and they won the battle at the line of scrimmage.

Las Vegas limited Pittsburgh to 39 yards on the ground and led by nine for most of the second half. The AFC West has no weaknesses right now, and the Raiders could be one of the bigger surprises as we get closer to October.

Loser: Vikings

It was another humbling loss for Kirk Cousins and Minnesota. Cousins has played well through two games and has yet to throw an interception.

Adam Thielen and Justin Jefferson are some of the better tandems in the NFL. Dalvin Cook (ankle) wasn’t running at 100% and yet still ran for 100 yards on only 14 carries.

Despite the offense’s success, the Vikes failed to convert a 37-yard field goal that would have won the game.

Talent isn’t an issue on the offense end, but this franchise has not been able to win any of the close games with much consistency. If anything, they have consistently been coming up on the short end of the stick.

Mike Zimmer entered the season on the hot seat, and he needs to pick up some wins before the holidays get closer. There is way too much talent on this offense to be 0-2.

Losing twice in September at the gun or on the final kicks has been disappointing. Their secondary was exposed yet again, allowing 400 yards on the dot to Kyler Murray.

Winner: Ravens

Lamar Jackson had only been an underdog twice at home going into Sunday Night Football, but he ended up with the last laugh. Jackson is insanely talented and eclipsed 100 yards rushing and found paydirt two times via rushing.

Here’s the damage he inflicted on the Chiefs.

  • 239 passing yards
  • 2 passing TDs
  • 107 rushing yards
  • 2 TDs

Trailing for the entire game, he overcame an 11-point deficit and carried the Ravens to a much-needed win after losing their Week 1 matchup on Monday Night Football.

Loser: Colts

Carson Wentz had a costly interception on a shovel pass in the second quarter. That made the difference in such a close game.

The Colts failed to get Jonathan Taylor going as they did in their opener, while Wentz ultimately left the game with an ankle injury.

Head coach Frank Reich had this to say about the injury.

“He rolled his ankle up pretty good. There was no chance to go back into the game.”

Despite Michael Pittman Jr. and Zach Pascal performing well in the passing attack, their secondary got torched by Matthew Stafford.

Cooper Kupp looked like Jerry Rice out there, making corners look like they were in high school.

Winner: Cardinals

Kyler Murray had a rushing touchdown and ended up with 400 yards passing on the dot. He had a few bad decisions as a passer, but his rushing ability often outweighed the mistakes he made.

The team needs him to play at an MVP-like level to reach the postseason. This performance in Week 2 is good enough to win most of their games.

Arizona was able to survive on a missed chip-shot kick by Minnesota. Still, this team failed to win enough close games last season, and a 2-0 start is just what the doctor ordered.

Loser: Saints

Jameis Winston couldn’t take care of the ball, but he had no help around him. Alvin Kamara was a non-factor against the Carolina defense.

It was the Panthers that dominated on both sides of the ball.

New Orleans received all the love after demolishing Green Bay, but they had too many starters out, and the next-man-up theory failed to work in Week 2.

Looking to Week 3 in the NFL

No team is safe at home after posting a 7-8 record in Week 2 going into Monday Night Football.

There are only seven teams thus far that are 2-0: Arizona, San Francisco, Los Angeles (NFC), Carolina, Tampa Bay, Las Vegas, and Denver.

The NFL is already two weeks done in the books. What a year it has been so far. So many upsets and thrillers have come down to the wire.

The fans are the biggest winners of the weekend after eight matchups came down to the final possession.

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