The Designed Rush, Week 2: Everything's Not Lost. At Least Not Yet

The main pitfall for fans with the high stakes nature of Week 1 of the NFL season is, having spent seven months buying into fiercely stoked expectations and dreaming the impossible dream, the question of how to react when all goes awry for their favorite team. For backers of probable losers like the Lions, Chiefs, Browns and Rams, the search for minor moral victories ("Matt Stafford was bad, but he wasn't that bad!") is probably easier than for those who know each loss can be a step further from a coveted postseason berth.
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↵Raiders fans, however unlikely the prospect for them, can take minor solace in their team having taken a clearly superior foe to the brink. ↵

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↵But ↵Bills and Bengals fans, witnessing yet another elusive victory in their grasp slip away, just can't help but feel kicked in the teeth. ↵

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↵Then there are teams like the Texans and Panthers, considered by many to be among the contenders, both decisively dropping home games to start the year in devastating fashion. How does such a talented Texans team look so inept against the Jets? How can Panthers fans, having seen now consecutive four-plus turnover performances by quarterback Jake Delhomme separated by an offseason, do anything but cringe at the mindless extension their team offered its 34-year-old starting QB and albatross? I'm sure the desperation signing of A.J. Feeley hasn't offset a great deal of that. ↵

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↵It stands to reason that, barring ties, 16 teams start out the year in the loss column. And certainly most of the teams in the league came out looking flat to some degree, even many of those who came away winners - you can't tell me the Patriots offense won't be more refined at any point this year than what we saw last night. So full-on panic seems a little premature no matter how staggeringly awful the result. ↵

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↵But given that these are the first tangible results an observer can use after months of roster building and weeks of preseason hype, that's a difficult prospect. How do Redskins fans, having hoped against hope that the plodding offense from a year ago would have renewed life this season despite indications to the contrary in the preseason, build excitement for 2009 following a listless start that bore so many similarities to the one they suffered a year ago? What of Dolphins and Cardinals fans, who saw their team respond to surprising 2008 by getting off on the wrong foot? ↵

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↵Naturally, some teams will bounce back and right the ship, while others (looking at you, Broncos) are enjoying the giddy thrill of a 1-0 mark before plunging headlong into mediocrity. Of course, those whose teams came up short this past weekend will defiantly double down on their emotional investment for Week 2's games. If their faith is rewarded, all's well for the most part. Should failure continue to reign for even one more week, however, a great fretting will sweep the land, searing a year's worth of irrational belief in no time at all. ↵

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↵Five games to watch even if you don't have a rooting interest or fantasy players involved ↵

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↵New York Giants at Cowboys ↵

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↵The Imaginarium of Doctor Jerry Jones opens to what will no doubt be unworldly fanfare against a fellow 1-0 division rival. Roy Williams, dogged by the media and even former Cowboys legends in the offseason, restored some faith in his ability to be a No. 1 receiver with a long touchdown catch and run against the Bucs. ↵

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↵Baltimore at San Diego ↵

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↵Both teams let their overmatched Week 1 opponent hang around longer than they would have liked, though Baltimore certainly had more of an edge statistically over the Chiefs than the Chargers had against the Raiders last night. If LaDainian Tomlinson wants redemption for a relatively poor performance in his first outing (55 yards, a touchdown and a lost fumble), he's not altogether likely to get it against a stifling Ravens defense. ↵

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↵New England at New York Jets ↵

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↵When these teams met last year in Week 2 at the Meadowlands, the Jets were showing off new quarterback Brett Favre to the defending division champs. Suffice it to say, the Pats weren't much impressed and went on to win 19-10. Mark Sanchez will see if he can do better after a promising first start against Houston. If the Patriots offense is as riddled with drops as it was against Buffalo, he has a realistic shot at pulling a win. ↵

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↵Pittsburgh at Chicago ↵

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↵Week 1 exacted a heavy toll on these defenses, with Troy Polamalu gone 3-6 weeks with an MCL sprain and Brian Urlacher lost for the season after dislocating his right wrist against the Packers. Jay Cutler has to be itching to improve upon a humiliating and sulk-ridden Bears debut that saw him throw four interceptions, while the Steelers would probably like to see the arrival of something resembling a running game. ↵

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↵New Orleans at Philadelphia ↵

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↵Jeff Garcia, once an Eagle, then a member of several other teams, is an Eagle once more. So naturally, while the injured Donovan McNabb gave his blessing to this signing just as he did with Michael Vick, this will do nothing but add to the impending Philly QB circus, which will be overreported whether or not there is any actual drama. Drew Brees, meanwhile, made many a fantasy owner swoon (or, conversely apoplectic, if you faced him) with a six-TD highlight show against the Lions. A handy, but obvious caveat: that was the Lions. ↵

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↵NFL Player Tweet of the Week ↵

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↵"And every single person who is supporting him is probably guilty of being a WOMAN BEATER AND ABUSER AS WELL! For shame!" -- Tila Tequila, Sept. 12 ↵

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↵Ha ha, Chargers fans are woman beaters! Okay, okay, I know, she's obviously not an NFL player, but if you've missed the still ongoing tirades and onslaught of crazy coming from her feed in the wake of the announcement that no charges will be filed against Shawne Merriman for allegedly attacking her, well, you're not getting all the lunacy you could in life, and that's a shame. ↵

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↵Truth About Advertising ↵
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↵Let's talk about the Adrian Peterson ad for Nike Pro Combat, shall we? It's very stylized - all acts of Purple Jesus dominance on a snowy gridiron, lovingly captured in glorious black and white. It's all shown in super slow motion, the better to draw out the ad to what seems like a full quarter of an actual game. But still, the commercial goes on. Peterson walks off the field from his game within a commercial, inattentive to the wild celebrations going on around him. He heads to the locker room where he starts to undress, but then you see little hexagonal shapes start to extrude from his skin. Yes, they look like scales. Adrian Peterson is the lizard king, he can do anything. Of course, the ad is pushing some sort of athletic padding that uses hexagonal shaped foam cells to protect wearers "in strategic zones". But the real takeaway here is that it turns you into a giant lizardman. No word if upon purchase you get any tips on how to fight Spiderman. ↵

↵Dispatches from Madden Nation ↵

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↵Last week's announcement that ranked online games will be extended to seven-minute quarters couldn't be better received from my end. With the accelerated clock, the games go by way too quickly, to the point that it can greatly alter your style of play. In many cases, you're fortunate if you can have three drives per half. I've had drives that have taken up eight minutes - nearly an entire half of the game. Not that that isn't a nice way to stick it to your opponent, but it forces players into quick strike sandlot mode too much of the time, even for Madden. ↵

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↵(Quick gloating aside: I've been occupied watching actual football so I haven't played much this week, but the one game I did play was after the Sunday night Packers-Bears contest. I played with the Steelers; my opponent, the Bears. True to form, Cutler throws four interceptions and I win 7-3. So no need to change him much in the roster update.) ↵

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↵A Delicious Bundle of Gripes ↵

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↵-- Lots of annoying hindsight judgments by commentators in the wake of the last second touchdown catch by Brandon Stokley to beat the Bengals. I've heard analysts gripe that Leon Hall should never have tried to tip the pass in the first place because it would have likely been incomplete. Well, how was he to know that? He was in a position to make a play on the ball so he did. If anyone is deserving of criticism, it's Roy Williams abandoning the centerfield role to make a hit on Brandon Marshall on the play. Similarly, the knock on Hines Ward for not going to a knee rather than charge for the end zone at the end of regulation against the Titans has been predictably glib. Fine, the guy ended up fumbling, but in situations like that you want to leave as little to chance as possible. And hadn't Jeff Reed barely knuckled a field goal through to tie the game minutes before? Falling down at the 10 may have given the Steelers an earlier victory but it certainly didn't guarantee it. ↵

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↵-- As someone being bled dry for DirecTV's NFL Sunday Ticket, it doesn't affect me, but there are plenty who were miffed about the NFL RedZone channel offered to other cable services being dramatically different than the The Red Zone Channel that DirecTV has. I understand DirecTV is ponying up the money, so they'd probably prefer that every non-subscriber gets an inferior version of the concept they created, but I'm not sure why the NFL caters to that when they don't have to. ↵

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↵-- Thanks for the fantasy points bonanza, Matt Forte. Jerk. ↵

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↵-- Terrell Owens storms out of the locker room following a loss in which he only had two catches (and an inexcusable drop)? Color me disinterested. ↵

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↵-- A performance in which his defense made a joke out of Jay Cutler's Bears debut and held Matt Forte under three yards per carry won't do anything to quiet the sudden "Dom Capers is a genius" buzz, but let's wait until the Packer sweep all the defensive categories before pronouncing him a game-altering wunderkind for installing a 3-4 package for the Packers. ↵

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↵-- ESPN's punishment for caving to popular sentiment and dropping Tony Kornhesier from the Monday Night Football booth: once again foisting Mike & Mike on everyone who decided to stick around for the second half of their twin bill Monday night. The Worldwide Leader has any number of capable, if almost as annoying, broadcasters. Any of them would be preferable to two guys who stretch asinine arguments about irrelevant topics across entire quarters of the game. ↵

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This post originally appeared on the Sporting Blog. For more, see The Sporting Blog Archives.

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