Week 2 of the 2009 NFL season was all about validation, both good and bad.
Teams like the 49ers and Jets needed to submit more evidence. Were they as potent as they seemed in their season openers? Could they advance the notion that they are worth taking seriously? Meanwhile, there were teams like the Patriots, Browns and Panthers that needed to quell the suspicion that they were a little — or a lot — off.
The picture gets a little clearer every week. And while that picture is about three months from becoming crystal clear, we know twice as much now as we did a week ago.
So who got validation in Week 2?
Start with a few teams that missed the playoffs last season. The Jets, 49ers, Broncos and Saints.
All week, New York talked the talk. Sunday, they walked the walk and made the Patriots look flat and uncertain in a 16-9 win at Giants Stadium. The Niners followed up last week’s win over Arizona with another one in the NFC West, hammering the Seahawks, 23-10. It was the sixth win in seven games dating back to last year under head coach Mike Singletary. The Broncos lucked into a win last week against Cincinnati in the final minute on a fluke play. This week, they came back and put a 27-6 beating on Cleveland and all the controversy of their offseason seems little more than a footnote now. New Orleans hung 48 points on the Eagles as Drew Brees threw four more touchdown passes. The ease with which they’re scoring makes them a scary opponent.
A couple of surprise teams from last year, the Falcons and Ravens, have so far ducked the kind of fall-back so many teams face. The Falcons handled the Panthers with relative ease while Baltimore, playing on the road in San Diego, came up with a huge 31-26 win. Both teams are 2-0.
On the downside, it looks like the Chargers and Patriots are a long way off from being the class of the conference as so many people expected. Neither team looked good in Week 1 but escaped with wins. Neither team looked good in Week 2 and both were beaten.
We told you after Week 1 to withhold judgment, that no hard conclusion can be drawn after 60 minutes of football. After 120 minutes, we stress the same thing. But you can begin to make some assumptions. And the safest one to make? A shift in the balance of power has begun.
Jets display some bite with their bark
Anyone who’s seen “Reservoir Dogs” — and even those who haven’t — know the line: “Are you gonna bark all day, little doggy, or are you gonna bite?” It’s almost as if Quentin Tarantino wrote it with this Sunday’s Patriots-Jets game in mind.
You can stack up reasons or excuses for the Patriots. They were playing without middle linebacker Jerod Mayo and receiver Wes Welker. They had a short week after a Monday night game. Brady was playing just his second game since coming off last year’s knee surgery. The Pats were on the road. Rex Ryan leaves better voice mails than Bill Belichick.
The “why” doesn’t matter. The “what” does. And the “what” is that the Jets beat the Patriots at home for the first time since 2000.
And in the end, that’s going to mean a lot more to them than the Patriots. New England doesn’t need validation that they are good (though they might soon). The Jets, after a dominant performance in their opener against the Texans, did. Normally, you don’t say “losing is not an option” in Week 2. The Jets were pretty close.
The temptation is to mythologize the Jets' performance. To make it seem a downtrodden band of football misfits got together and rose up against the tyrannical Patriots. Anyone doing that will be conveniently forgetting that, through 11 games last season New York was 8-3 and coming off a dominating win over the previously unbeaten Titans. A Favre-led collapse took the shine off of them but they are in fact, a good team.
(Jets corner Darrelle Revis sums this up pretty well. He's like another guy who wore 24 for Gang Green, Ty Law. Revis embraces the challenge of going head up with the opponent’s No. 1 receiver. In two games, he's held Andre Johnson and Randy Moss to eight receptions and 59 yards combined.)
Yeah, this Mark Sanchez kid is as good as we hoped. Yup, we are playing just like Rex said we would. And absolutely, we can not only play with and stay with the Patriots, we can shut them down.
Broncos bucking the experts
Check out who’s 2-0 and leading the AFC West. The Broncos. You had that? Yeah, me neither.
In a battle between former Patriots coordinators, Josh McDaniels got the drop on the Browns and Eric Mangini, 27-6. The only thing that could possibly have stopped the offseason fixation on the loss of Jay Cutler and the ongoing irritation of Brandon Marshall was wins. And the Broncos — even opening with Cincinnati and Cleveland — didn’t figure to get them.
But think about this: Denver’s now beaten a Bengals team that walloped the Packers in Green Bay and they’ve bludgeoned Cleveland. They allowed just 200 total yards on Sunday and, in eight quarters, have allowed just one touchdown and 13 points.
PFT: Defensive end finally finds a new team in San Diego — and for a honey of a deal that would be worth a max of $13.35 million.
PFT: Jets RB Mike Goodson was charged with five gun and drug counts Friday morning, after New Jersey State Police found the car he was riding in parked in the middle of Route 80 in Denville, N.J.
Week 17 action
Take a look at shots from the NFL's 17th week of play in 2009.
2013 SNF Schedule
Check out the 2013 Sunday Night Football schedule.
Video: Football from NBC Sports
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