DeAndre Hopkins, Martellus Bennett among early stars of wild Week 2
The NFL produced plenty of nail-biting moments in Week 1 as a dozen games (75 percent of the action from last Thursday through Monday) were decided by fewer than 10 points. Week 2 started with another close one — New England’s 13-10 victory over the Jets — and that drama carried right on over into Sunday.
In only one game (Green Bay’s 38-20 win over Washington) was the outcome certain at the fourth quarter’s two-minute warning. Multiple games went down to the final play.
An abbreviated look at some of the excitement from Sunday’s early slate:
• Texans 30, Titans 24 (OT): This one circled from thriller to absurdity and back, with Houston managing to pull out the victory on a pair of sensational catches by rookie DeAndre Hopkins in overtime.
The Titans appeared to be in control late in the fourth quarter, thanks to an impressive 99-yard TD drive and subsequent pick-six by Alterraun Verner. Houston rallied, though, tying the game at 24 on a touchdown run and two-point conversion run, both by Arian Foster.
And then … well, things kind of went off the rails.
Tennessee punted and Houston moved into range for a game-winning field goal attempt. Rookie kicker Randy Bullock then proceeded to attempt that kick four times, ultimately doinking the try off the upright — the previous three boots were wiped out by two timeouts and an offsides penalty.
Bullock was let off the hook in OT. Houston took the kickoff and marched the length of the field, with Hopkins soaring for a 25-yard grab at the Tennessee 1 and then ultimately ending the slugfest with a leaping TD.
• Bears 31, Vikings 30: The two old NFC North rivals combined for seven turnovers and more than 400 return yards at soggy Soldier Field. Minnesota opened the game by scoring on a 105-yard kick return from rookie Cordarrelle Patterson, Chicago’s Devin Hester responded with a 76-yard return of his own and the roller coaster was off.
Neither team opened a lead of more than seven points — the Vikings had that initial 7-0 lead; Chicago grabbed 14-7 and 21-14 edges. Minnesota, however, slowly took control in the second half, holding the Bears off the scoreboard for more than 29 minutes of action and using three Blair Walsh field goals to grab a 30-24 cushion.
Jay Cutler and Martellus Bennett erased the six-point deficit in one swoop. In the closing seconds, with Chicago on the Minnesota 16, Cutler lofted one to Bennett at the goal line. There, the Bears’ tight end made an acrobatic catch and managed to keep his feet inbounds for what proved to be the winning grab.
• Chiefs 17, Cowboys 16: The Tony Romo-Dez Bryant combo was unstoppable early — Romo finished the first quarter 5-for-5 for 100 yards and a touchdown, with every single one of those completions going to Bryant, his No. 1 target.
The Chiefs defense responded over the final three quarters, limiting Bryant to 41 yards and keeping the Cowboys out of the end zone. Dallas trailed 17-13 late in the fourth quarter when Romo had an interception overturned by a penalty. He then nearly was intercepted on his next two attempts. Dallas settled for a field goal on that drive to pull within 17-16, then did not see the ball again until just 16 seconds remained.
• Dolphins 24, Colts 20: Andrew Luck has been nearly automatic in the fourth quarter of his young career, orchestrating five late comebacks and guiding the Colts to a 10-1 record in games decided by 10 points or fewer.
A little of the magic ran out on Sunday. Luck fired three incompletions on Indianapolis’ final drive, then took a fourth-down sack, stopping the team’s comeback bid at the Miami 23. The possession before ended when Brent Grimes picked off a Luck pass intended for Reggie Wayne in the end zone. Give full credit to the Miami defense, which twice held in its own territory to preserve the hard-fought victory, moving the Dolphins to 2-0.
• Chargers 33, Eagles 30: Win or lose, it looks as if the Eagles will be consistently exciting. Philadelphia disappointed its home fans Sunday, six days after taking it to the Redskins in Washington.
On the other end of the spectrum: The San Diego Chargers, who blew a 21-point lead to lose to Houston in Week 1′s Monday night finale, then turned around on a short week and handed Chip Kelly his first loss. The Chargers let a couple of 10-point leads slip away in this one, too, with the Eagles tying things at 30 with just 1:51 left.
Philip Rivers helped prevent a second straight heartbreak. Down to just three wide receivers after an injury to Malcom Floyd, Rivers found TE Antonio Gates twice for 36 yards on San Diego’s final drive. Those completions helped lead to Nick Novak’s 46-yard game-winner.
• Bills 24, Panthers 23: More on this game can be found here. The Bills needed a last-minute drive — not to mention an incredibly untimely pass interference penalty by Luke Kuechly — to rally for their first win.
EJ Manuel delivered that ‘W’ by finding Stevie Johnson for a two-yard TD with just six seconds left.