Eagles-Ravens battle highlights Week 2
AP Pro Football Writer
Andy Reid looks at John Harbaugh and sees exactly what he should be seeing.
“He’s a football coach. He’s a teacher,” Reid said of his former assistant who has led the Ravens to the playoffs in all four seasons he’s been the head man in Baltimore. “He’s intelligent and a hard worker. He’s tough and good with people. Those are qualities that you need to advance as you move up the coaching ladder.”
Like Reid, the longest-tenured head coach in the NFL who has taken the Eagles to five NFC title games and one Super Bowl, Harbaugh is way up on that ladder. On Sunday, he brings his Ravens up I-95 to the Linc to face Reid’s Eagles.
Both teams won their openers, but in entirely different ways.
Baltimore romped at home over Cincinnati, gaining 430 yards, most in the AFC, getting four sacks and an interception return for a touchdown by veteran safety Ed Reed.
“Ed Reed, even though he spells his name wrong, he’s a heck of a player too,” Reid joked.
There wasn’t much joking around Philly after the Eagles squeezed past Cleveland 17-16 with a late drive and touchdown pass by Michael Vick, who was picked off four times before that.
Vick threw a career-high 56 times, way too many by his own account.
“I can’t dwell on what happened last game because I just don’t plan on having that type of ballgame again,” Vick said.
Once again, replacement officials will work the games.
New York Jets (1-0)
at Pittsburgh (0-1)
The Steelers have owned the Jets over the years, going 15-4. But New York has taken the last two regular-season meetings and won at Pittsburgh for the first time in 2010.
Pittsburgh could be undermanned again with LB James Harrison and RB Rashard Mendenhall questionable.
Coming off an offensive outburst in which the Jets showed how little the preseason means – the starting offense scored 34 of the 48 points against Buffalo after not finding the end zone at all in exhibition games – another such display against the Steel Curtain would be noteworthy.
“I knew we had an explosive team,” Mark Sanchez said. “I knew we could run the football well. I knew I was playing better than I have the past three years and that if we take care of the football we can play well, nothing different. I didn’t necessarily expect it to go exactly the way it went, but we’re capable of having games like that …”
Denver (1-0) at
Now that we have Peyton Manning’s return to the NFL behind us, it’s time to see how the Broncos can handle another strong opponent while going on the road. Pittsburgh dominated time of possession and for long stretches outplayed Denver last weekend.
Atlanta did the same at Kansas City, but won. It also lost its best cornerback, Brent Grimes, to a torn Achilles tendon, not the wisest way to prepare for Manning.
“This is like facing Mike Tyson in a 12-round bout, but I’m excited for the opportunity,” said Chris Owens, who figures to get a lot more playing time with Grimes out. “It’s unfortunate what happened with Grimes, but the next man’s got to step up, and that’s the mentality you’ve got to have with this team.”
Arizona (1-0) at
New England (1-0)
Rarely do the Cardinals fare well heading to the East Coast, and there’s no more unfriendly place than Foxborough for visiting teams. New England has won the last five meetings and is 67-13 at Gillette Stadium, the best regular-season winning percentage at home since 1970. The Patriots are 10-0 in home openers at the stadium.
Arizona’s defense has been improving under coordinator Ray Horton since midway through last season, and now gets a true test against Tom Brady – with or without nose bandage – and the Patriots’ prolific offense.
Kevin Kolb is expected to replace injured John Skelton at quarterback for the Cardinals.
Dallas (1-0) at
Few teams were more impressive than the Cowboys in Week 1. Now they head to the Pacific Northwest loaded with confidence and with lots of weapons on offense. The emergence of Kevin Ogletree as the third receiver and the return to health of tight end Jason Witten from a lacerated spleen are encouraging signs.
For Seattle to have a shot Sunday, it needs to cut down on penalties. The Seahawks had 13 in their loss at Arizona after setting a franchise record with 138 a year ago.
“We did it all through the preseason, in an improving fashion, not to where we wanted but we improved,” coach Pete Carroll said of the penalties. “But to go out in the first game and go into double digits is wrong.”
Washington (1-0) at
St. Louis (0-1)
The Redskins have the Rams to thank for their new quarterback. Washington was so hot to get Robert Griffin III in this year’s draft that it sent St. Louis first-round choices in 2012, 2013 and 2014 as well as a second-round pick for the right to move up four spots. RG3 already has paid dividends in the upset win at New Orleans.
“Let’s not get carried away with all this,” coach Mike Shanahan said. “This is the first game and it’s a growing experience, and each game you are going to experience different things. It’s part of the maturation process that he is going to have some high and some lows. It’s just the nature of the game. I was really pleased with the way he handled himself in that type of atmosphere and I hope he keeps it going.”
St. Louis acquitted itself well at Detroit and fell just short of victory in Jeff Fisher’s debut as coach.
Tampa Bay (1-0) at
New York Giants (0-1)
Defending league champions had made a habit of winning their openers recently. The Giants ended that string with a mediocre performance against Dallas, and will have had 10 days to stew about it.
“I think guys did a good job of coming in with the attitude after the game … saying we’ve got to play better, but everything that occurred is very correctable and it’s just going to come down to fixing it, making better plays, better decisions during the game,” Eli Manning said.”
Greg Schiano’s reign in Tampa couldn’t have gotten off to a better start, particularly on defense; the Bucs allowed only 10 yards rushing, a club record, against Carolina.
New Orleans (0-1)
at Carolina (0-1)
It was jarring to watch the Saints self-destruct against Washington, looking as if they were confused and distracted. For one day, at least, the bounty scandal seemed to be an overriding issue.
Here’s their chance to prove otherwise, and they need to do so before the grumbling becomes a cacophony.
“We’re not in the business of making excuses,” Drew Brees said. “Obviously, that’s something that has been talked about a lot during the offseason and during the preseason. In fact, I think it’s been made too much of a big deal of. For us, it’s the guys in our locker room. It’s the coaches that are there. Let’s take what we have and move forward.”
The Panthers took a huge step backward at Tampa, looking nothing like the offensive force of 2011 as Cam Newton was stymied on the ground and also sacked three times.
at Jacksonville (0-1)
This has the look of a total mismatch. Look closer.
The Jaguars usually play the Texans tough, even last year when Jacksonville was awful and Houston won its first division title. Jacksonville acquitted itself well in its opening defeat at Minnesota and now Maurice Jones-Drew will have more practice and, supposedly, more conditioning. He did a nice job anyway in that loss with 95 total yards coming off his holdout.
If Houston is going to be an NFL power this year, it can’t stumble in these matchups.
at San Diego (1-0)
An impressive opener for the Chargers was spiced by their special teams, once a weakness but the deciding factor at Oakland. Tennessee has dropped eight in a row to San Diego and could be without starting QB Jake Locker (left shoulder).
Both teams need to find a running game: Tennessee gained 20 yards on the ground, only 4 by Chris Johnson, against New England, and the Chargers managed 32 in beating the Raiders.
Minnesota (1-0) at Indianapolis (0-1)
Get this: The Vikings are favored in a road game. Shows you how low the Colts have fallen.
Minnesota comes off a 26-23 overtime win in which rookie Blair Walsh kicked four field goals, including a 55-yarder to tie it at the end of regulation, then a 38-yarder in OT. Just as significant, star running back Adrian Peterson looked good in his return from major knee surgery at the end of last season.
Top overall draft pick Andrew Luck did throw for 309 yards against Chicago, but he also was intercepted three times. The Colts also could be without linebacker Dwight Freeney with a sprained left ankle.
Kansas City (0-1)
at Buffalo (0-1)
Two teams coming off ugly defeats, with the Bills also getting banged-up. Receiver David Nelson is gone for the season with torn right knee ligaments, and do-everything RB Fred Jackson, a team leader, will miss at least four weeks with right knee problems.
The defense didn’t rescue Buffalo in the opener, either, giving up 48 points – although 14 came on an interception and a punt return.
Kansas City gets back linebacker Tamba Hali and hopes he will wake up a dormant pass rush.
“I’m sure these guys are desperate. They want to win,” Hali said of his teammates, who yielded 40 points to Atlanta. “Coming into this game, yeah, it’ll be a lot more emotional. And then we’ll have to settle down and play a little more poised.”
at Cincinnati (0-1)
Battle of Ohio? More like a mild skirmish.
Actually, the Bengals are a whole lot better than they played on Monday night when the Ravens walloped them, and they tend to dominate the Browns, winning 12 of the last 15 meetings. Leon Hall has five picks against Cleveland, the most the six-year veteran has gotten against any opponent. Browns rookie QB Brandon Weeden threw four interceptions against Philadelphia.