NFL Week 2 Winners and Losers: Giants and Commanders Come Back, Bills Rebound, Bengals Struggle Again

Week 2 of the 2023 NFL season offered plenty of surprises -- some good, some bad. Here all the winners and losers from the second week of NFL action.

We still only have a two-game sample size for the 2023 NFL season, but we can at least begin to gauge the production and performances of most teams in the league. After two weeks of NFL action, we’re not overreacting — we’re just…reacting!

Who looked the best during today’s games, and who’s already looking ahead to Week 3? Here are all the winners and losers from Week 2 of NFL action.

Winners and Losers From Week 2

Winner | NFC East Comebacks

The New York Giants and Washington Commanders just had to make things interesting in Week 2.

The Giants, fresh off a Week 1 beatdown at the hands of the Dallas Cowboys, decided to fall behind the Arizona Cardinals — widely regarded as the NFL’s worst team — 20-0 at halftime.

But then Brian Daboll’s squad turned on the jets. New York outscored Arizona 31-8 in the second half to escape with their first win of the season. Saquob Barkley scored twice in the second half, while Daniel Jones ran for a touchdown and passed for another as the Giants made their furious comeback.

The win may end up as a Pyrrhic victory if Barkley suffered a serious injury, but at least New York isn’t staring at an 0-2 record.

The Giants weren’t the only NFC East to manage an incredible comeback on Sunday. The Washington Commanders only had to fight back from an 18-point deficit, but their win against the Denver Broncos was nonetheless impressive.

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Sam Howell hit Logan Thomas and Terry McLaurin for scores to bring the score closer, and then Brian Robinson posted two touchdowns in roughly six minutes to give Washington the lead.

The Commanders nearly blew the game by allowing Russell Wilson to hit a 50-yard Hail Mary to Brandon Johnson to bring the score to 35-33 with no time left on the clock. But Denver failed to convert a two-point conversion (and the refs might have missed obvious pass interference against Broncos receiver Courtland Sutton).

Winner | Buffalo Bills

The Bills were on the losing end of the New York Jets’ miraculous, overtime, Aaron Rodgers-less victory in Week 2. Josh Allen was incredibly erratic, tossing three interceptions to Jets safety Jordan Whitehead while essentially giving New York a free field goal by fumbling deep in Buffalo territory.

Week 2 was a much different story. Allen looked like his usual self, missing on just six of 27 attempts while posting three touchdowns. But the Bills’ rushing success was just as big of a story in their 38-10 destruction of the Las Vegas Raiders on Sunday.

James Cook managed 7.2 yards per carry on 17 attempts, while Damien Harris and Latavius Murray both scored touchdowns. Buffalo managed a 59% rush success rate in Week 2 — for reference, the Philadelphia Eagles led the NFL with a 50.7% rushing success rate in 2022.

If Allen can rein in his worst impulses, and the Bills can run the ball (especially in short-yardage situations), they’ll be the Super Bowl contenders we all expected.

Loser | Joe Burrow and the Cincinnati Bengals

The Bengals’ Week 2 loss against the Baltimore Ravens wasn’t nearly as disastrous as their Week 2 defeat to the Cleveland Browns, but it was still a loss nonetheless. Cincinnati started the 2022 campaign 0-2 yet still made a second consecutive AFC title game, but beginning the season winless is never the preferred path.

Burrow was hardly as poor as he was last week, but he still threw an ugly interception at the goal line when it looked like the Bengals were about to punch in a touchdown.

Even more concerning, Burrow said he tweaked his right calf on a fourth-quarter incompletion to Ja’Marr Chase. Burrow missed most of training camp and all of the preseason with a calf strain and said the injury is “pretty sore right now.”

Baltimore is 2-0, and the Cleveland Browns will be 2-0 if they defeat the Pittsburgh Steelers on Monday. The Bengals have proven they can dig themselves out of a hole, but the fact that slow starts are becoming the norm is a problem.

Winner | The NFC South

Most observers thought the NFC South would be the NFL’s worst division, but they boast two of the league’s undefeated teams through two weeks.

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ 2-0 start is the most surprising, as they followed their Week 1 win over the Minnesota Vikings with a victory against the Chicago Bears on Sunday. Baker Mayfield played turnover-free football, while Mike Evans turned back the clock with 171 yards and a touchdown.

Elsewhere in the division, the Atlanta Falcons are also 2-0 after scoring 13 unanswered fourth-quarter points to take down the Green Bay Packers. Desmond Ridder looked more efficient than he did in Week 1, but Bijan Robinson was the star of the show, averaging 6.5 yards per attempt en route to 124 yards on the ground.

On Monday night, the New Orleans Saints and their elite defense also moved to 2-0 after taking down the Carolina Panthers. The Saints allowed their first touchdown of the season with 1:16 remaining in the fourth quarter of Monday’s contest. The jury is still out on whether Dennis Allen is a competent head coach, but he’s one of the league’s best defensive coordinators.

Loser | Los Angeles Chargers

The calls for Brandon Staley’s job will only continue to get louder after the Los Angeles Chargers fell to 0-2 with a 27-24 loss to the Tennessee Titans.

The Bolts have certainly gotten unlucky. Justin Herbert has looked outstanding under new offensive coordinator Kellen Moore, and the Chargers almost pulled out wins in Weeks 1 and 2.

But the NFL is a results-oriented league, and the Chargers have been viewed as underachievers during Staley’s tenure. A quick in-season firing seems unlikely given that Los Angeles is coming off a playoff appearance, but Staley’s seat is at least warm.

Winner | Seattle Seahawks

The Seahawks got embarrassed by the Los Angeles Rams in Week 1 and nearly fell to 0-2 in a back-and-forth game against the Detroit Lions. Seattle took a 10-point lead with eight minutes remaining in the fourth quarter but allowed Jared Goff and Co. to come back, with kicker Riley Patterson hitting a 38-yard field goal to send the game to overtime.

Seattle got the ball first and never gave the Lions a chance. Geno Smith — who had an outstanding day, especially outside the numbers, after struggling against the Rams last week — took the Seahawks down the field before hitting Tyler Lockett for a six-yard, walk-off touchdown.

The Seahawks were a trendy Super Bowl pick heading into the season, but an 0-2 start might have dashed those hopes, especially with the San Francisco 49ers beginning the season 2-0 and looking utterly dominant. It’s still unclear if Seattle is on the Niners’ level, but they’re clearly a threat in the NFC.

Loser | Kansas City Chiefs OT Jawaan Taylor

Jawaan Taylor’s alignment and jump got plenty of attention in the Kansas City Chiefs’ season opener, and the veteran right tackle was on display again in Week 2 — and not in a good way.

Taylor, whom the Chiefs signed to a four-year, $80 million contract during the offseason, was briefly benched by head coach Andy Reid after committing four penalties — two holdings, one false start, and one illegal formation.

Taylor was only benched for one series, but when he returned, he was promptly flagged for another false start.

“Yeah, so listen, I took him out for a couple of plays,” Reid said after the game. “Just step back. This is home, not only home, but it’s also where he played. You know, step back and let us get you back out there. He had some big blocks down later in the game. So, he did a nice job finishing.”

Loser | Everyone Who Watched Browns-Steelers on Monday Night

Where do we even begin? Browns-Steelers took a whopping three and a half hours of real time to complete, and the NFL may have lost one of its best running backs when Nick Chubb suffered a severe knee injury during the first half.

Pittsburgh pulled off a 26-22 win despite looking woefully unprepared on offense and managing only 255 yards. Chants of “Fire Canada” erupted in the fourth quarter as the Steelers’ faithful voiced their displeasure with play-caller Matt Canada, and Pittsburgh’s defense had to get points on the board by scoring two touchdowns.

Kenny Pickett didn’t look great, but Deshaun Watson was even worse, completing just 22 of 40 attempts for 235 yards, one touchdown, and one pick-six while improbably picking up two facemask penalties. Cleveland put up 408 offensive yards, but the team’s turnovers and going a combined 5-of-18 on third and fourth down did them in.

Browns-Steelers wasn’t nearly the debacle that 2022’s Colts-Broncos 12-9 overtime thriller became, but it was close. Let’s hope next week’s Monday night doubleheader isn’t quite as grueling.

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