Play-action pass revives offenses

Going back to a basic yields high yardage for Colts, Broncos

Pro Football

NFL Week 2 in Review

September 25, 2001|By Ken Murray | Ken Murray,SUN STAFF

If opening week was defense inspired, the NFL's patriotic Week 2 return saw the pendulum swing back toward offense and big plays.

The keynotes were sounded by the Indianapolis Colts, who rolled up 555 yards and 42 points against Buffalo, and the Denver Broncos, who scored 38 points in three quarters against Arizona despite not having wide receiver Ed McCaffrey or running back Terrell Davis, both injured.

The common denominator was the power of play-action passes. Using a no-huddle offense and the threat of running back Edgerrin James, Colts quarterback Peyton Manning feasted on the Bills' attack defense for 421 yards and four touchdowns passing in a 42-26 romp. He hit 23 of 29 passes, including 12 in a row at one point. Three of his four touchdown passes came after faking a run to James.

Later in the day, Denver quarterback Brian Griese completed a staggering 17 in a row in a 38-17 victory. Griese's numbers (22-for-31 for 242 yards and three TDs) were not quite as gaudy as Manning's, but were just as effective. Like Manning, Griese found great success in play-faking to one of the Broncos' running backs and then going downfield, usually to Rod Smith (14 catches for 162 yards).

The Colts and Broncos - who were to meet in the original Week 2 schedule - weren't the only teams to put up big numbers. The San Diego Chargers gouged Dallas for 480 yards, and the St. Louis Rams ripped San Francisco for 424.

More offense? Only five teams went without an offensive touchdown Sunday, down from eight teams in Week 1. Starting with a 94-yard touchdown pass from Atlanta's Chris Chandler to running back Jamal Anderson, there were four offensive touchdowns of 60 yards or more this week. There were two in Week 1.

Week 2 goes to the offense.

Down and desperate

The Tennessee Titans and Minnesota Vikings will try to buck the league's trend of 0-2 teams missing the playoffs. In the previous two seasons, 18 teams started the season 0-2 and none of them made the postseason. In fact, only two (Green Bay and Pittsburgh last year) finished with a winning record.

The last time an 0-2 team reached the playoffs was 1998, when three teams did it. One, the New York Jets, reached the AFC championship game. Not since Dallas in 1992 has a team started 0-2 and won the Super Bowl.

Both the Titans and Vikings are reeling. The Titans fell to 0-2 with a 13-6 loss at Jacksonville when they had the ball inside the Jaguars' 20-yard line twice in the fourth quarter and failed to reach the end zone. They were 1-for-14 on third downs. Already without injured quarterback Steve McNair, the Titans lost playmaking wide-out Derrick Mason with a severe ankle sprain and a shoulder sprain on the same play.

Tennessee will get two weeks to heal for an Oct. 7 game in Baltimore.

The Vikings are in just as bad shape after a 17-10 loss in Chicago. They lost safety and defensive leader Robert Griffith for six weeks to a broken right fibula, and the 23-point total is their lowest in back-to-back games since a four-game losing streak in 1996.

The only good news for either team was commissioner Paul Tagliabue's optimism the league will send six wild-card teams into the postseason in a regular 12-team playoff format instead of the truncated version that has been discussed.

Detmer's tribulation

In his first start for Cleveland's expansion Browns in 1998, quarterback Ty Detmer completed just six passes. On Sunday, in his first start for the Detroit Lions since a Week 1 trade, Detmer threw seven interceptions in a loss to his former teammates.

The Browns took no joy in Detmer's humiliation. "It hurts to have it happen to Ty," Browns safety Percy Ellsworth told reporters after Cleveland's 24-14 win. "If it was anyone but him, I'd party all night long."

The league record for interceptions in one game is eight, by the Chicago Cardinals' Jim Hardy in 1950. Detmer had an eighth interception wiped out by a Cleveland penalty.

Call for Dilfer

Matt Hasselbeck's honeymoon in Seattle is over. Handpicked by Seahawks coach Mike Holmgren to run the West Coast offense, Hasselbeck has failed to produce a touchdown in two games this season. By the end of the first half of a 27-3 loss to Philadelphia, Seattle fans were booing. By the third quarter, they were chanting for backup Trent Dilfer.

Dilfer, of course, quarterbacked the Ravens to a Super Bowl championship last year before being let go. He signed with Seattle in August.

Holmgren said he never considered pulling Hasselbeck. "I will be the only one that ever makes that decision," he said. "Certainly not the crowd."

Two-minute drill

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