Lopsided wins in Week 2 keep teams off balance

ON THE NFL

Titans 25, Ravens 10

Ravens Gameday

September 19, 2005|By KEN MURRAY

Look what showed up at the NFL's portal in Week 2.

Opportunistic, withering defense.

Lame, lame offense. (That's you, Ravens.)

Blowouts. Big blowouts.

Well, at least the Ravens (182 total yards) aren't alone in their offensive ineptitude. The San Francisco 49ers, who scored 28 points last week, totaled just 142 yards and three points in Philadelphia. The Buffalo Bills generated 147 yards and three points in Tampa Bay.

None of those three teams came close to winning, of course. They lost by 15, 39 and 16 points, respectively.

If Week 1 left you stunned with its wave of unseemly upsets, Week 2 left you drowsy with boredom from all those one-sided games early in the day.

Of the eight games that started at 1 p.m., only one - the Indianapolis Colts' 10-3 win over the Jacksonville Jaguars - had a winning margin of less than 10 points.

The average winning margin of those eight games was a numbing 21 points. Two games were 30-point plus spreads: the Eagles over the 49ers (42-3), and the heretofore offense-challenged Chicago Bears over the Detroit Lions (38-6).

The Cincinnati Bengals just missed joining the 30-point overkill club with a 37-8 romp over the Minnesota Vikings. And yes, Baltimore fans, if there's anybody in the league who feels as badly as you do, it's the people in the Twin Cities.

Last week, interestingly, the average winning margin for all 16 games was 12.69 points.

Why the run of blowouts? Bad matchups, good defense, one-dimensional offense. Here's this week's breakdown.

Best defense

Panthers: They held the Patriots' big-play offense to one touchdown in a 27-17 win in Charlotte and overcame the touchdown on an interception given up by quarterback Jake Delhomme.

Even without injured defensive tackle Kris Jenkins, the Panthers allowed just 39 rushing yards. The Patriots helped things along with three turnovers and 12 penalties on a day when their quarterback, Tom Brady, was less than super.

Buccaneers: After a 19-3 mugging of the Bills, the Bucs could become the surprise team in the NFC this season. Their defense held Willis McGahee to 34 rush yards and J.P. Losman to 113 pass yards. For the second straight week, the Bucs held the opposing team without an offensive touchdown.

Jaguars: The only thing the Jaguars didn't get in Indianapolis was the win. They held the explosive Colts' offense to 268 yards and Peyton Manning to 122 passing yards (no touchdowns).

Steelers: Eight sacks of David Carr highlighted Pittsburgh's 27-7 romp over the Houston Texans.

Worst offense

Vikings: Big trouble in Minneapolis, where Pro Bowl quarterback Daunte Culpepper has thrown eight interceptions and lost two fumbles in two weeks. The Vikings had seven turnovers in Cincinnati and now 12 on the season. Heads will roll.

Lions: Quarterback Joey Harrington threw five interceptions against Chicago; the emergency kicker, Remy Hamilton, had an extra point blocked; and Detroit's running game mustered 29 yards. Jeff Garcia can't wait to get back.

Ravens: When it happens over and over, it can't all be the quarterback's fault, can it?

Observations

The Patriots sure looked like they missed offensive coordinator Charlie Weis yesterday. On the play that broke their back, they were blocking five on three and Carolina defensive end Mike Rucker came clean on the back side to force a Brady fumble. Julius Peppers recovered, and the Panthers went in for the clinching score.

The Ravens missed the boat not getting Byron Leftwich in the 2003 draft, when they jumped on Kyle Boller. Leftwich may not be a spectacular NFL quarterback, but as he proved in yesterday's final moments, he is very capable moving the ball and leading the team. He nearly engineered a game-winning drive after getting bent-over backwards on a sack and fumble, limping down the field.

That Oct. 16 date with the Cleveland Browns doesn't look so automatic for the Ravens. Trent Dilfer, who never won at Lambeau Field with some good Tampa Bay teams, beat Brett Favre and the Packers with a weak Browns team. He did it in style, too, throwing for 336 yards with an 80-yard touchdown pass to Braylon Edwards.

The Texans have a real dilemma on offense. If they keep eight in to block for Carr, they have trouble getting receivers open. If they send four or five receivers out, they can't protect Carr from the pass rush. It'll make for some hard decisions on coach Dom Capers and his staff in Houston.

How hard is it to find a competent quarterback? Very. After going through an outlandish number of quarterbacks the past five years - including Cade McNown, Jim Miller, Kordell Stewart, Chris Chandler and Chad Hutchinson - the Bears found Kyle Orton, a fourth-round draft pick this year, when Rex Grossman got hurt in the preseason.

Orton is 1-1 as a starter, completing 29 of 49 throws for 291 yards. His advantage is offensive coordinator Ron Turner, the former Illinois coach the Ravens wanted to hire in the offseason. Turner had great success with Erik Kramer in a previous stint with the Bears.

ken.murray@baltsun.com

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