Week 2 is over for 75 percent of the NFC North (Lions play at New York Monday Night). The Lions are now in first place in the division due to losses by the Bears, Vikings and Packers on Sunday on the road. Let’s take a look at the beautiful results.
Falcons 34 Packers 23
The Falcons opened their new stadium with a bang. Atlanta controlled the game on offense for the first three quarters and managed to hold onto the 24 point lead this time.
Atlanta drove right down the Packers throats on the opening drive with two first down passes to Julio Jones (19, 34). Ryan hit Devonta Freeman for a 6 yard pass first down and Freeman punched in the 3rd and goal from the one yard line.
The Packers responded well, despite missing their starting (Bakhtiari and Bulaga) and backup tackles (Spriggs and Barclay. A Cobb run and a dart to Richard Rodgers moved the chains early. Keanu Neal had a costly DPI and ty Montgomery made some nice moves on a 23 yard reception the Falcons 2 yard line. Montgomery punched it in on second down to tie the game.
The teams traded punts and the Falcons got their third possession. Ryan hit Sanu on a great catch for 24 yards to end the first quarter. The Falcons methodically drove down the field again with another strike to Sanu and 15 yards to Julio Jones on 3rd and 12 (costly). Justin Hardy got in the mix with a 19 yard catch to the Packers two. Freeman punched it in again for the 14-7 Falcons lead.
Green Bay was stopped due to pressure and punted again. The Falcons drove 58 yards in 7 plays but the Packers bent but didn’t break allowing only the field goal. Clay Matthews had a big sack to stall the drive. Green Bay punted again down 10 points but then forced a Falcons three and out.
The Packers appeared to be driving to get back in the game but a controversial OPI call on Martellus Bennett (pick play) negated a Cobb 36 yard pass play. The very next play the game got out of control for the Packers when Rodgers threw an interception to Desmond Trufant intended for Geronimo Allison. The Falcons made the Packers pay on the 36 yard short field and Ryan hit Tevin Coleman in the flat for the 3 yard TD. Falcons had a big lead at half time.
Green Bay started with the ball but the comeback attempt got worse. Rodgers threw a backwards pass under heavy pressure that the Falcons returned for a TD and a 31-7 lead.
The teams swapped field goals drives and the lead remained at 24 late in the 3rd Quarter. The stage was set for a Falcons epic late collapse. Green Bay started strong with a 13 play 75 yard drive but failed on the two point attempt. Atlanta led 34-16. The Falcons punted quickly after one first down and Green Bay had a long shot. Green Bay drove down the field again 85 yards for the quick score. Atlanta’s lead was cut to 11.
Rodgers got his rating up to 90.7 with the two late TDs. Ryan notched a 108 rating and Atlanta earned 5.2 YPC rushing with 141 yards. The key was Atlanta’s run game and poor coverage for the Falcons offensive explosion.
However, Atlanta finally got it together and killed 4:49 off the clock on 9 plays after two Packers scores. Green Bay had one last gasp but couldn’t score with only 1 minute remaining. Atlanta beat Green Bay yet again pretty easily. The Falcons own the Packers. Fact.
Steelers 26 Vikings 9
The Vikings got real bad news on Sunday as Sam Bradford was out. He missed the game due to knee inflammation (a knee he injured in 2013 and 2014). Minnesota had to turn to Case Keenum at QB against a good Steelers team on the road.
The teams traded punts but the Steelers then marched 78 yards in 9 plays. A five yard encroachment penalty by Brian Robison converted a 4th down for the Steelers on the drive. Rhodes committed a DPI and Bell ran for two first downs. Martavis Bryant returned from suspension and caught a 27 yard pass for the early TD.
The Vikings went 3 and out with Keenum again. The Steelers drove 60 yards in five plays set up by a 49 yard DPI by Trae Waynes on Bryant. Roethlisberger hit rookie Ju Ju Smith Schuster (yes Ju Ju) for a 4 yard pass TD.
The Vikings showed life and responded with a field goal. The team each had two punts a piece to end the second quarter. The Steelers were in control up 14-3 at half.
The Vikings started with the ball and went 3 and out. For some reason, they tried a fake punt that ended horribly and the Steelers had a short field. The Vikings defense forced a 3 and out but the Steelers got three free points for a 17-3 lead.
The Vikings responded well with their only TD drive of the game. A DPI, a Cook run and 21 yards to Stefon Diggs moved the ball. Cook had a 26 yard TD but the replay showed he went out at the one. Backup CJ Ham punched it in from one yard out. Kai Forbath missed the extra point and nightmares of Blair Walsh danced in Vikings fans heads.
The Steelers didn’t like the one score game and drove 74 yards on 10 plays for another field goal. They led 20-9. The Vikings punted twice and the Steelers punted once. The Steelers ate another 4:44 with a field goal drive up 23-9 now.
Minnesota was stopped on downs in 6 plays. Pittsburgh got another short field and hit another easy field goal for the 26-9 lead. Minnesota fumbled to end their day. The Steelers were too much for Case Keenum and the Vikings defense.
Tampa Bay 29 Chicago 7
The Bears had an awful day in Mike Glennon’s return to Tampa Bay. Tampa Bay moved the ball early and got a field goal drive to open the game. The Bears moved the ball with 11 plays but it ended with a Glennon interception. Chicago’s defense stood strong and forced a 3 and out but rookie Tarik Cohen fumbled the punt return and gave Tampa Bay a short field.
The Bucs made them pay in one play with a 13 yard TD from Winston to Mike Evans. The Bears drove to midfield in response but Noah Spence strip sacked Glennon and Tampa Bay started at the Bears 35 yard line. The Bucs moved the ball with Jacquizz Rodgers (former Bear) and two defensive holding penalties on Chicago. Rodgers punched it in from one yard out and a commanding 17-0 lead in the second quarter.
Hilarity continued as Mike Glennon threw a pick 6 to Robert McClain for 47 yards. Tampa Bay led 23-0 after a failed extra point.
Chicago finally punted on the next drive which was actually the best result they had on a drive. Tampa Bay drove 48 yards late in the half and tacked on a field goal. The score was 26-0 at halftime for Tampa Bay.
The Bears defense was strong in the second half allowing only one field goal but already down big. The Bears finally got a mercy garbage TD on their final drive of the game for a 29-7 result.
The Bears had major trouble with turnovers in this game. They had injuries to Josh Sitton and Kyle Long didn’t play as well. Jerrell Freeman is on IR along with WRs Kevin White and Cameron Meredith. The Bears depth is being tested early and they are not responding well. Chicago must regroup quickly or this season will get ugly. Is it time for Mitch Trubisky already?
Three NFC North teams lost on Sunday and the Lions are in first place. We will preview the Lions at Giants Monday Night game later today. It wasn’t a good Sunday for most NFC North fans, but I enjoyed it.