American Football Expert & Columnist
The Final Word: Derrick Henry carries load for Titans, Ravens revert to type and Tom Brady is still great
Sky Sports' Neil Reynolds has the final word on Week Two in the NFL; join Neil and guests for Inside the Huddle, every Tuesday at 9pm on Sky Sports NFL as they look back on the best of the weekend's action...
Last Updated: 21/09/21 1:55pm
Week Two in the NFL would not have helped anyone looking to break the habit of biting their fingernails. Eight games were decided by one score - that's half of all the games played from Monday to Thursday! There was plenty of drama across the board; here's what caught my eye...
Five Major Takeaways from Week Two
1) Ravens revert to type
Some teams around the NFL just have a winning culture and an identity. The Baltimore Ravens leaned into both of those things during Sunday's spectacular 36-35 win over the Kansas City Chiefs. The Ravens have heard all the offseason talk about how they have to improve their 32nd-ranked passing attack, and they do, but throwing the football is not going to make the Ravens who we think they can be.
John Harbaugh's men played with a makeshift offensive line and running backs cobbled together off the street, but they reverted to type by running 41 times for 251 yards and three touchdowns. Of course, it helps when quarterback Lamar Jackson can carry the ball 16 times for 107 yards and a score.
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It is clunky at times when he throws - he tossed two interceptions in regular play and one on a two-point effort - but he is a Madden cheat code when he plays free and is running around as if in the backyard.
Jackson's mistakes can be forgiven when you consider how many big plays he makes for the offense in comparison to his teammates. The Ravens also found defensive plays when they needed them. Sounds familiar, doesn't it?
2) Titans answer their coach
After a stunning home loss to the Arizona Cardinals in Week One, Tennessee Titans head coach Mike Vrabel admitted he was wondering about the culture of his team and his locker room. Those were some heavy words ringing in the ears of the Titans as they headed to Seattle to take on the Seahawks.
Tennessee lost Pro Bowl tackle Taylor Lewan to injury in the pre-game warm-ups and they found themselves down 30-16 with around 10 minutes remaining. That will put a strain on anyone's culture, let alone one already under the microscope.
But the Titans responded by showing who they have been for some time now, riding Derrick Henry to the tune of 182 yards and three touchdowns on 35 carries. It was enough to wear down the Seahawks and see Tennessee escape the most hostile of NFL venues with a 33-30 overtime win.
3) Raiders QB Carr is on fire!
Other passers around the NFL get way more attention than Las Vegas Raiders quarterback Derek Carr, but few have started with such a hot hand. Carr has been sensational in leading the Silver and Black to a pair of quality wins over Baltimore and the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Pittsburgh's defensive ability to take down opposing quarterbacks or force them into turnovers has long been the stuff of legend. But Carr, who has oft been questioned, stared them down and threw for 382 yards and two touchdowns. Add that to the 435 yards and two scores he threw for in Week One and you have a heck of a start to the new campaign.
Let's keep an eye on these Raiders. Carr has some explosive and productive targets in tight end Darren Waller and receivers Henry Ruggs and Hunter Renfrow. The defense is playing much better under the guidance of defensive coordinator Gus Bradley.
4) Tom Brady is good at football - story version 7,028!
We are so used to Tom Brady being great that another incredible display from him only ranks fourth on the things I want to talk about as we put Week Two in the NFL to bed. Brady threw for 276 yards, five touchdowns and no picks in the Tampa Bay Buccaneers' 48-25 win over the Atlanta Falcons.
That gives Brady nine touchdown passes in two games! Think about that for a moment. Brady is on pace to throw 76.5 touchdown strikes this year. Even if you take away the extra 17th game, he would be on pace to toss 72, which would obliterate the single-season record of 55 set by Peyton Manning with the Denver Broncos in 2013.
A reminder. Brady is doing this at the age of 44! I have no more words. He is four years older than the next-oldest player in the NFL and continues to dominate the league. We are living in a very special NFL era.
5) Teddy much more than steady
With good weapons around him and a very good defense on the other side of the ball, Teddy Bridgewater was simply supposed to be steady and reliable at the helm of the Denver Broncos. After a 2-0 start - albeit against shaky opposition in the New York Giants and Jacksonville Jaguars - Bridgewater looks like he can be much more than that.
Denver continue to be linked with Aaron Rodgers and Deshaun Watson at QB, which could mean Teddy is still only a stop-gap quarterback for 2021. But through two weeks, he has shown he can be an effective short-term solution.
Bridgewater threw for 328 yards and two touchdowns in Sunday's 23-13 cruise in Jacksonville. Teddy is only the second quarterback in Broncos history to complete more than 75 per cent of his passes for two touchdowns and no picks in back-to-back games. The other is Peyton Manning. That's some good company to be keeping right there!
Player of the Week: Derrick Henry
In a passing league, we always turn to Derrick Henry to remind us that the ground game is important. The Titans always turn to their beastly running back when they need something good to happen.
Henry not only pounds defenses into the dirt, he can also hit them with his quick feet. He had a wonderful change of direction on a nine-yard touchdown run and then showed a clean pair of heels on his way to a 60-yard scoring sprint.
Play of the Week
Damien Harris, of the New England Patriots, refused to be denied as he embarked on a tackle-breaking 26-yard touchdown run during his team's 25-6 victory over the New York Jets.
I had a go at counting the broken tackles live on air on Sunday night and definitely got to six, but I would raise that to seven given he then dragged several bodies into the endzone with him.
Harris lost a late fumble that cost New England a shot at a game-winning field goal in the Week One loss to the Miami Dolphins. Bill Belichick hates fumblers, but he loves physical football. This was the perfect way for Harris to get back into his coach's good books.
Coach of the Week: John Harbaugh
Some coaches are dictators, who tell players it is going to be done his way or the highway. Then there are those who energise their players by giving them the power to influence key decisions in games. John Harbaugh has long been one of the best in the business and he showed on Sunday night that he very much falls into that latter category.
Nursing a one-point lead and facing a fourth-and-one from his own 43-yard line with just over a minute remaining, Harbaugh was clearly caught on the TV cameras asking Lamar Jackson if he wanted to go for it? Lamar, of course, said yes and duly picked up two yards on a run that ended the game. Jackson then raced to the sidelines and leapt into his coach's arms. That's how you make them love you.
On my Radar
Let's see how this plays out, but I am keeping a firm eye on New Orleans Saints quarterback Jameis Winston. What we need from Jameis and this team is some consistency. Winston threw five touchdown passes and no picks in a Week One, 38-3 beatdown of the Green Bay Packers.
During Sunday's disappointing, lacklustre 26-7 loss to the Carolina Panthers, Winston completed just 11 passes for 111 yards, with two interceptions and zero touchdowns. He was also lucky not to lose a fumble that was originally ruled against him. This is not the kind of every-week adventure Sean Payton will want to endure early in the post-Drew Brees era.
Join Neil Reynolds and guests for Inside The Huddle, every Tuesday from 9pm on Sky Sports NFL for a look back on the best of the weekend's NFL action.