NFL week two analysis: Five things we learnt as the Dallas Cowboys lose Tony Romo to injury and the Seattle Seahawks lose again

A look back at week two's action

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The Independent Online

The second week of the NFL season has been and gone and whilst some teams continue to progress, others have taken considerable steps back. Zander Swinburne evaluates the outfits that repeated their mistakes, who is back on track in the AFC, as well as which team’s pre-season promise has failed to materialise.

New York Giants are becoming renowned for their fourth quarter meltdowns

For the second week in a row the New York Giants will have to face the wrath of the New York media, and any criticism they receive is all of their own making. Despite a 10 point lead in the fourth quarter, New York were given their second straight loss of the season when the Atlanta Falcons fought back to win 24-20.

Clock mismanagement was the main talking point in the Giants’ loss to the Cowboys last week, yet this week it was their inability to minimise their mistakes. They look an almost completely different team in the fourth quarter and it’s costing them dear. The failure of Giants safety, Landon Collins to tap down a Falcons receiver and stop the play during the games dying minutes was a classic example of indiscipline which shouldn’t exist in the fourth quarter.

 

Eli Manning looked remarkably improved, yet this was negated by his inability to make two simple passes in the dying minutes of the game. One can’t help but think same old Eli and same old 0-2 Giants. They are now developing a reputation as chokers and we’re barely two weeks into the season. Admittedly, New York’s season should not be completely written off, especially as they were able to get the better of the Cowboys and Falcons for the most part. Nevertheless, if their inability to close out the fourth quarter continues, the losses will mount up and Tom Coughlin’s seat will only get warmer.

Philadelphia not the team we expected to see

It took two weeks, but it appears as though the city of brotherly love is waking up to the possibility that their treasured Philadelphia Eagles may not be the hottest and most revolutionary side in the NFL. Think back to the off-season, not long after Philadelphia’s ejection from the 2014 play-off race and it would be easy to believe that the Eagles are a sure favourite in the NFC for 2015.

Head coach Chip Kelly has developed an almost mythical reputation as one of the great offensive geniuses of the game, a reputation that was needed after trading Nick Foles for injury-prone former No 1 pick Sam Bradford. Yet after two weeks, there is seemingly nothing special about this Eagles team. In their 20-10 loss to the Dallas Cowboys, Philadelphia were unable to score a single point until the fourth quarter.

In what is a quarterback friendly offence, one that can even make Mark Sanchez look good, Bradford is playing much the same way he did in St Louis. His red zone interception was inexcusable and the fact that Bradford was the team’s leading rusher with nine yards is no compliment to anyone - DeMarco Murray, the league's leading rusher in Dallas last year, has just 11 yards in 21 attempts this season.

The Eagles’ expectations have seemingly crashed down to earth, whether they can salvage their dreadful start remains to be seen.

The Cowboys lose their biggest star

Whilst a 2-0 start is just about as much as any team can ask for at this point in the season, one team with such a record will be looking anxiously towards the future. Despite an undefeated opening to the 2015 season, the Dallas Cowboys will have to endure the foreseeable future without its two main stars.

Following last week’s win over the New York Giants, Dallas were dealt a huge blow when they learnt of wide receiver Dez Bryant’s broken foot that will likely keep him sidelined until December. Whilst Bryant’s absence will be painful to endure, Dallas’ most significant injury casualty came on Sunday against the Eagles as quarterback Tony Romo left the field with a broken left clavicle, an injury that ruled him out of the majority of the 2010 season.

Despite having his critics, Romo is the backbone of this team. Under Brandon Weedon it would be easy to see Dallas descend into mediocrity. The former Browns QB looked good enough when he replaced the injured Romo, but his 5-21 record as a starter is unlikely to fill the team with confidence.

Admittedly football is a team sport, but losing Romo is like a horse running most of a race without a jockey, whilst the absence of Bryant is the equivalent of its shoes falling off. If the Cowboys are to make the play-offs, their 2-0 start may be vital as they begin the rest of the season without their brightest stars.

Steelers get back on track

As a team widely tipped for Super Bowl contention before the season started, Pittsburgh’s embarrassing opener against the New England Patriots cast doubt as to whether they were truly capable of living up to the hype.

This Sunday showed, however, that the Steelers’ offensive unit is more than capable of carrying the team to glory. In a 43-18 rout of the San Francisco 49ers, Pittsburgh’s offence looked terrifyingly dominant. Ben Roethlisberger’s connections with Antonio Brown was a pleasure to watch and even running back DeAngelo Williams got in on the action, scoring three touchdowns to equal a team record.  There was an aura of utter supremacy about the Steelers, going for two points after their opening touchdown as well as being totally unafraid to throw the deep ball.

Whilst the 49ers appeared incapable of stopping Pittsburgh, who the opposition was had almost no bearing on the end result. Pittsburgh and its offence looked destined to score over 40 points from the start, and most importantly, they knew it. As long as their defence and somewhat shaky secondary can keep Pittsburgh in contention, Big Ben and his offence could be in for a standout year.

Time to start panicking in Seattle?

With two Super Bowl appearances in as many years, as well as a strong off-season where a number of important players were signed to long term contracts, it would have been unthinkable to suggest that anything other than a good start to the Seattle Seahawks’ season was possible. Yet with two weeks gone and Seattle’s fan base staring at a record of 0-2 with disbelief, a sense of panic may not be too far away.

Following their 27-17 loss to the Green Bay Packers on Sunday, Seattle have been left with a lot of work to do and the season has barely started. A surprise loss to the Rams coupled with a beating from the Packers, Seattle’s season is not going the way fans have come to expect. One must give Seattle credit in that a win against Green Bay at Lambeau was never going to be easy, as the Packers had won their last nine home games.

The Seahawks can also boast a franchise quarterback at the helm, one who has proven himself on multiple occasions. The 0-2 record, however, is important as history shows that those who lose their opening two games have little to no chance of making the play-offs. Since 2009, 45 teams have started their seasons 0-2 and 43 of them were unable to make the play-offs. Whilst Seattle’s loss to the Rams was worrying and their next defeat to the Packers understandable, week three will prove to be crucial as to whether Seattle is a real contender.

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