Raiders coach Josh McDaniels and Dolphins coach Mike McDaniel know all about crazy, improbable comebacks. They were assistant coaches on opposite sidelines when McDaniels’s Patriots put a dagger into McDaniel’s Falcons with the infamous 28-3 comeback in Super Bowl LI.
The stakes weren’t quite as big in Week 2, but McDaniels and McDaniel found themselves on opposite ends of the pain/joy spectrum. This time, it was McDaniels’s Raiders who took a gut punch loss after blowing leads of 20-0 at halftime and 23-7 in the fourth quarter to the Cardinals. And it was the Dolphins’ McDaniel pulling off a wild, historic comeback win over the Ravens despite facing a 98.7 percent chance they’d lose early in the fourth quarter.
“I’ve been on the opposite end of leads given up,” McDaniel said. “I told the guys that I was really hoping that we would get some adversity in this game, and I wanted to see how we respond to a deficit.
“Apparently, they took me way too literal.”
Week 2 actually saw three incredible comebacks, with the Jets pulling off a 31-30 shocker over the Browns. And that doesn’t count the Commanders and Falcons, who almost overcame deficits of 22-0 at halftime and 31-10 early in the fourth quarter, respectively.
The crazy comebacks are where we begin the Week 2 Review:
▪ The Dolphins are 2-0 for the first time in four years, and there hasn’t been this much excitement in Miami in decades after Sunday’s thrilling 42-38 win over the Ravens. The Dolphins trailed, 35-14, entering the fourth quarter, but gained 266 yards in the final frame and scored four touchdowns on four possessions. This was just the ninth game in history in which a team won despite trailing by at least 21 points entering the fourth quarter, and the first since the Titans in 2006.
The Dolphins gave Tua Tagovailoa two of the fastest receivers in the league in Tyreek Hill and Jaylen Waddle, and they all exploded Sunday — 190 yards and two touchdowns for Hill, 171 yards and two touchdowns for Waddle, and 469 yards and six touchdowns for Tagovailoa.
The Dolphins are exciting, McDaniel is off to a brilliant start, and it looks like the glory days of Marino to Duper and Clayton again. This Sunday’s Dolphins-Bills game is going to be huge for the AFC East race.
▪ Meanwhile, McDaniels is remembering that winning in the NFL is pretty hard. His Raiders are 0-2 after suffering a crushing 29-23 overtime loss to the Cardinals in which Arizona scored the game-tying touchdown and 2-point conversion on the final plays of regulation, then won it in OT on a 59-yard fumble return touchdown.
The Raiders had a 96 percent chance of winning at halftime and a 97.3 percent chance in the fourth quarter, but scored just one field goal on five possessions after halftime and couldn’t contain Kyler Murray as he danced around and through their defense.
A Raiders offense with a lot of individual talent is a little slow in learning McDaniels’s scheme, ranking 14th in scoring (21 points per game) through two weeks.
▪ Murray made life a lot more pleasant for himself and coach Kliff Kingsbury, whose seat was searing hot after a bad Week 1 loss to the Chiefs and a 20-point halftime deficit to the Raiders. Murray, too, has come under scrutiny for his apparent lack of study habits and a poor opening performance.
But the Cardinals gained 327 of their 413 yards after halftime and scored 16 unanswered points in the fourth quarter as Murray became the first NFL player with a passing TD, rushing TD, 2-point conversion run, and 2-point conversion pass in the same game. On a 2-point conversion to pull within one score , Murray kept the play alive for an incredible 20 seconds.
“He’s a special talent,” Kingsbury said. “The numbers may not be great, [but] we don’t care about numbers.”
▪ The Jets had a 99.9 percent chance of losing when the Browns’ Nick Chubb scored a touchdown with 1:55 left to put his team up, 30-17. But the Browns missed an extra point, lazily gave up a 66-yard touchdown from Joe Flacco to Corey Davis, muffed the onside kick, then let Flacco march 53 yards for the winning touchdown with just 22 seconds left.
NFL teams had won 2,229 consecutive games when leading by 13 points in the final two minutes. Technically, the Jets’ win was even more improbable than the Patriots’ over the Falcons in the Super Bowl.
This was a huge win for a team that had been 6-28 the last three seasons.
“I love the way this feels,” second-year coach Robert Saleh said. “I’m just proud of the guys because we didn’t quit. And that’s probably the biggest thing I’ll take away from it.”
▪ It’s not too surprising that the 49ers had to turn to Jimmy Garoppolo early this season, but no one wanted to see it happen like this. Garoppolo took over late in the first quarter of Sunday’s win over the Seahawks after Trey Lance suffered a significant ankle fracture on a designed run play that will knock him out for the season.
But injuries are a common part of the game, particularly for young quarterbacks, and the blow to Lance highlighted how smart and important it was for the Niners to keep Garoppolo. He only threw for 154 yards and a touchdown, but helped build a 20-0 lead and coasted to victory.
The Niners need to find a new backup quarterback, and won’t be able to properly evaluate Lance this year. But thank goodness they kept Garoppolo.
▪ It would be easy to chalk up the Bengals’ 0-2 start to a Super Bowl hangover, but the problems still stem from the offensive line. The Bengals added four starters from last year (including Ted Karras), but Joe Burrow was sacked six times in Sunday’s 20-17 loss to the Cowboys, and has been taken down a league-high 13 in two games. Last year, when Burrow was sacked a league-leading 51 times, he took 10 sacks in the first two weeks.
▪ Matt Ryan sure doesn’t look like the answer for the Colts. They’re 0-1-1 after opening with the Texans and Jaguars, and Ryan threw for just 195 yards and three interceptions in a 24-0 loss at Jacksonville. Perhaps there was a reason the Falcons traded him.
▪ Not only did the Jags beat the Colts at home for the eighth straight year, but coach Doug Pederson picked up his first win with his new team, and second-year quarterback Trevor Lawrence looked fantastic, completing 25 of 30 passes for 235 yards and two touchdowns. The Jaguars look like a team on the rise.
▪ The Broncos are quite dysfunctional under new coach Nathaniel Hackett and quarterback Russell Wilson. Though they escaped with a 16-9 home win over the Texans, they couldn’t punch the ball in twice near the goal line and are 0 for 6 in the red zone this year. They took two delay-of-game penalties on field goals, and almost took a handful of others. It got so bad that the Denver crowd chanted the snap count as it dwindled down as a reminder for Wilson and the offense.
Hackett looks totally overmatched as a head coach and Wilson looks like a shell of his former self.
Tracking former Patriots players
▪ Bucs QB Tom Brady: Threw as many tablets as touchdowns (one) in a 20-10 win over the Saints. But Brady had no one to throw to, and the Bucs are going to struggle until they get healthy.
▪ Browns QB Jacoby Brissett: Threw for 229 yards and looked like he had the win sealed up with two TD drives in the fourth quarter, but his defense and special teams had other ideas.
▪ Chargers CB J.C. Jackson: Played all 57 snaps and had six tackles in a loss to the Chiefs, his first action of the season after an ankle injury.
▪ Raiders S Duron Harmon: Played all 87 snaps, had five tackles, and nearly a game-saving pass breakup late in the game before his team fumbled the win away.
Tracking former Patriots coaches
▪ Giants coach Brian Daboll: Daniel Jones and the offense are still struggling, but who cares? The Giants are 2-0 for the second time in 13 years (2016).
▪ Texans GM Nick Caserio: His team is 0-1-1 and still lacks talent, but gave the Broncos all they could handle on Sunday and won’t be a fun opponent this year.
Stats of the week
▪ Before the Browns did it on Sunday, the last team to lose when leading by 13 points in the final two minutes was . . . the Browns in 2001 (Week 9 vs. the Bears).
▪ The Ravens’ Lamar Jackson became the first player with a 75-yard rushing TD and 75-yard passing TD in a game.
▪ Nelson Agholor became the first Patriots player with 100 yards receiving in a game since Jakobi Meyers in Week 15 of 2020.
▪ The Cardinals have won seven straight games as road underdogs, the NFL’s longest streak since the 1980-81 Seahawks.
▪ The Lions have scored 35 points in three straight games for the first time since 1952-53.
▪ This marked the first time since Week 4 of 2010 that there was a kickoff return for a touchdown (103 yards by Baltimore’s Devin Duvernay), a blocked field goal return for a touchdown (86 yards by Seattle’s Mike Jackson), and a blocked punt return for a touchdown (26 yards by Atlanta’s Lorenzo Carter) in the same week.
Read more Patriot stories
- Dan Shaughnessy: Yes, OK, the Patriots won, but so far what have we learned about Mac Jones?
- On Football: The Patriots’ offense is struggling, but at least the defense can still win a game
- Christopher L. Gasper: Mitch Trubisky and the Steelers’ pop-gun offense is just what the Patriots needed
- ‘End the game:’ The Patriots’ clock-killing drive to seal the win is the type of progress they want to see
- Between the hash marks: Patriots celebrate a special (teams) victory in 500th game for owner Robert Kraft, and other observations
Ben Volin can be reached at email@example.com.