Column: Did we just see the end of 3 Hall of Fame careers?

September 17, 2019

Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger heads to the locker room as time runs out in a 28-26 loss to the Seattle Seahawks in an NFL football game in Pittsburgh, Sunday, Sept. 15, 2019. Roethlisberger did not play the second half of the game. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)

As 42-year-old Tom Brady tossed touchdowns to the talented but increasingly embattled Antonio Brown and enjoyed an assist from perhaps the best defense he’s had in years, Father Time was busy ravaging a pair of Brady’s contemporaries — and even one of his high profile former teammates — in Week 2 of the NFL season.

It’s rare to have three slam dunk Hall of Fame careers end in the same offseason, let alone the same week, but signs point to that very possibility.

Ben Roethlisberger suffered a season-ending injury to his throwing elbow in the Pittsburgh Steelers’ home loss to the Seattle Seahawks.

Drew Brees couldn’t even grip a football after his thumb injury in the New Orleans Saints’ failed attempt at revenge over the L.A. Rams.

And Adam Vinatieri has looked like Cody Parkey’s dad in his first two games of 2019, missing three extra points and two makable field goals.

Let’s take them one by one.

Big Ben is the youngster of the group at 37, but he’s taken so many hits his body probably operates closer to 57. His mobility has ground nearly to a screeching halt, and though he’s talking a good game about returning, he’s been flirting with retirement for years now.

Even before Sunday’s season-ending injury, there were musings from Deion Sanders, of all people, that Big Ben wouldn’t finish the season. Now that he officially won’t, it’s fair to wonder if he’ll just say enough is enough after 16 seasons that included six Pro Bowls and two Super Bowl titles in three appearances.

Brees is the real wild card, here. His thumb injury is expected to keep him out only six weeks, and he’ll get at least eight to recover since the Saints have a Week 9 bye. But Teddy Bridgewater’s performance in L.A. didn’t exactly inspire confidence New Orleans can do better than break even during a slate that includes road games in Seattle and Chicago, and home dates against Dallas and a competitive Tampa Bay squad.

If the Saints have a sub-. 500 record entering the bye, it might be prudent to shut Brees down and see what they have in Taysom Hill, especially if Atlanta grabs hold of the division by a significant margin. Head coach Sean Payton keeps comparing Hill to Steve Young — and it’s time to find out how apt that comparison is, because Bridgewater sure doesn’t look like the long-term answer as the heir apparent to Brees.

Furthermore, it’s unclear how much the 40-year-old Brees even has left in the tank. His regression may not be a future development as much as a past and present one. If the best case scenario of Bridgewater or Hill taking over and New Orleans playing at an even higher level plays out, it at least implies Brees will never see the field again.

Could Brees play elsewhere in 2020? Possibly. But given what he means to New Orleans and vice versa, he’d probably retire rather than suit up for another team.

As for Vinatieri, it’s a modern marvel that he’s even still playing at age 46. I know kickers generally have a longer shelf life, but if Vinatieri calls it quits now, during his 24th season, he will have spent more than half his life in the NFL.

But alas, it looks like he’ll play at least another week.

Only George Blanda and Morten Andersen retired at ages older than Vinatieri, who is such a legendary player at a totally underappreciated position, he’s the only kicker considered a stone cold lock for the notoriously anti-special teams Pro Football Hall of Fame.

But even if his struggles don’t continue, they happened. As the adage goes, once you start thinking about retirement, you’re already there — which is why Roethlisberger and Vinatieri are probably the most likely to be done sooner rather than later.

This much we know: Not every Hall of Fame career gets a Hall of Fame ending. For every Michael Jordan game-winner over Bryon Russell or John Elway back-to-back Super Bowl swan song, there’s Brett Favre’s finish with the Vikings and Dan Marino’s playoff pummeling in Jacksonville — both so brutal, retirement was the only logical follow up.

If this is the end of the line for Roethlisberger, Brees and Vinatieri, they leave in the uniforms in which they’ve played the most in their careers, without ignominy or debilitating injury — a respectable finish for those who spent decades playing a gladiator sport.

Except for Brady. He seems destined to play another 10 years and win five more Super Bowls. Damn it.

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<p><b><i>Browns 23</i></b><br />
<b><i>Jets 3</i></b></p>
<p>A week after <a href="https://profootballtalk.nbcsports.com/2019/09/08/obj-makes-browns-debut-wearing-a-350000-watch/" target="_blank" rel="noopener">wearing a ridiculously expensive watch on the field</a> in a blowout loss, Odell Beckham Jr. triumphantly returned to the Meadowlands and stuck it to <a href="https://nypost.com/2019/09/15/odell-beckham-gregg-williams-war-the-center-of-suddenly-huge-jets-game/" target="_blank" rel="noopener">his archnemesis Gregg Williams</a> with his career-high 89-yard TD catch to highlight his monster primetime debut for Cleveland. If nothing else, these Browns are fun to watch.</p>
EAST RUTHERFORD, NEW JERSEY – SEPTEMBER 16: Odell Beckham #13 of the Cleveland Browns makes a catch against Jamal Adams #33 of the New York Jets during their game at MetLife Stadium on September 16, 2019 in East Rutherford, New Jersey. (Getty Images/Al Bello)
<p><b><i>Eagles 20</i></b><br />
<b><i>Falcons 24</i></b></p>
<p>On a night when DeSean Jackson&#8217;s <a href="https://profootballtalk.nbcsports.com/2019/09/10/desean-jackson-trails-only-jerry-rice-in-career-touchdowns-50-yards-or-longer/">considerable big-play talents</a> were missed on the prime time stage, Julio Jones stepped up in the clutch with a 54-yard touchdown to save Atlanta&#8217;s season. Think that&#8217;s hyperbolic? It&#8217;s not. The Falcons play three of their next four games on the road before hosting the Rams and Seahawks. They needed this.</p>
<p>And Philly really needs the players they lost to injury in this game to be ok. Carson Wentz looked decidedly worse without DJax and Alshon Jeffery, and the second-oldest roster in the NFL doesn&#8217;t appear to have the depth to withstand multiple injuries to their skill positions.</p>
Atlanta Falcons wide receiver Julio Jones (11) runs toward the end zone for a touchdown against Philadelphia Eagles free safety Rodney McLeod (23) during the second half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Sept. 15, 2019, in Atlanta. (AP/John Bazemore)
<p><b><i>Saints 9</i></b><br />
<b><i>Rams 27</i></b></p>
<p>New Orleans were <a href="https://deadspin.com/if-you-can-believe-it-the-saints-got-horribly-screwed-1838133201?utm_source=deadspin_facebook&amp;utm_campaign=socialflow_deadspin_facebook&amp;utm_medium=socialflow&amp;fbclid=IwAR14E1b-oCGywQipWko2vRzSCCQvMTAkQ8CJUZAGB9S8VoxJpVSofQBKNz0">screwed again</a> in a loss to the Rams, but it&#8217;s hard to get as fired up about it this time around when, 1) the Saints lost their future Hall of Fame QB to an injury that <a href="https://twitter.com/garlandgillen/status/1173392202799747072">could keep him out for a while</a>, and 2) the game wasn&#8217;t close enough for the officiating gaffe to matter. The last meeting between these teams may be <a href="https://profootballtalk.nbcsports.com/2019/09/12/drew-brees-never-will-forget-the-ending-of-the-2018-nfc-championship/">unforgettable</a>, but this one might mark the end of the Saints&#8217; run in Super Bowl contention if Brees is out for an extended period of time.</p>
LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA — SEPTEMBER 15: Drew Brees #9 of the New Orleans Saints injures his throwing hand as he is hit by Aaron Donald #99 of the Los Angeles Rams during the first quarter in the gameat Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum on September 15, 2019 in Los Angeles, California. (Getty Images/Sean M. Haffey)
<p><b><i>Bears 16</i></b><br />
<b><i>Broncos 14</i></b></p>
<p>It was a crazy ending to the first game in which Denver&#8217;s stadium is christened with <a href="https://www.9news.com/article/sports/nfl/denver-broncos/mike-klis/denver-broncos-stadium-new-name-empower-field-at-mile-high/73-c0671177-03a1-461a-8161-50ba7e3ac155">a crazy new name</a>. And just like that, Chicago has a (momentarily) clutch kicker to help lift a lagging offense to 1-1 with a virtual prime time bye against the notoriously-terrible-on-MNF Redskins.</p>
Chicago Bears kicker Eddy Pineiro, center, celebrates his game-winning field goal with free safety Eddie Jackson (39) and cornerback Prince Amukamara against the Denver Broncos after an NFL football game, Sunday, Sept. 15, 2019, in Denver. (AP/David Zalubowski)
<p><b><i>Chiefs 28</i></b><br />
<b><i>Raiders 10</i></b></p>
<p>Thankfully, this was the last time we had to witness the sports abomination of seeing <a href="https://profootballtalk.nbcsports.com/2019/09/10/chiefs-raiders-on-sunday-will-be-last-nfl-game-on-a-baseball-infield/">football played on a baseball field</a>. If only we could ensure this is the last time we have to witness another Gruden-coached abomination …</p>
<p>Oh, and a duel between dual threats Patrick Mahomes and Lamar Jackson next week? Yes, please.</p>
Kansas City Chiefs wide receiver Demarcus Robinson (11) celebrates after scoring a touchdown as teammate Mecole Hardman (17) looks on during the first half of an NFL football game against the Oakland Raiders Sunday, Sept. 15, 2019, in Oakland, Calif. At right is Oakland Raiders cornerback Gareon Conley. (AP/Ben Margot)
<p><b><i>Cowboys 31</i></b><br />
<b><i>Redskins 21</i></b></p>
<p>Happy Birthday, Terry McLaurin. What better way to celebrate 24 than with another five catch, one touchdown performance in a loss to a division rival?</p>
<p>And before you crown the Cowboys, consider their &#8220;<a href="https://deadspin.com/the-cowboys-look-fun-as-hell-1838044163?utm_medium=socialflow&amp;utm_source=deadspin_facebook&amp;utm_campaign=socialflow_deadspin_facebook">fun</a>&#8221; offense just lit up the two worst teams in the division, the latter without its best defensive lineman and two corners. Wake me up when they face the Packers, Vikings and Patriots defenses.</p>
Washington Redskins wide receiver Terry McLaurin (17) makes a catch for a touchdown against Dallas Cowboys cornerback Byron Jones (31) in the second half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Sept. 15, 2019, in Landover, Md. (AP/Alex Brandon)
<p><b><i>Cardinals 17</i></b><br />
<b><i>Ravens 23</i></b></p>
<p>This game was less about T-Sizzle&#8217;s <a href="https://twitter.com/jamisonhensley/status/1171802753456386048  ">&#8220;BS&#8221; return</a> and more about these young QBs. Kyler Murray <a href="https://www.espn.com/nfl/story/_/id/27624186/murray-2nd-throw-300-yards-first-2-games  ">made history</a> during another fourth-quarter comeback that came up short and Lamar Jackson reminded us he is still one of the most dangerous dual threats in the league by becoming the first player in NFL history to notch at least 250 passing yards and 120 rushing yards in a single game (<a href="https://twitter.com/PFF_Jeff/status/1173401017867571200?s=20" target="_blank" rel="noopener">sort of</a>). If Action Jackson keeps this up in Kansas City, we&#8217;re in for a treat.</p>
Baltimore Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson (8) throws to a receiver as he is pressured by Arizona Cardinals outside linebacker Terrell Suggs (56) in the first half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Sept. 15, 2019, in Baltimore. (AP/Gail Burton)
<p><b><i>Seahawks 28</i></b><br />
<b><i>Steelers 26</i></b></p>
<p>It was a confluence of historical achievements for the Seahawks: Pete Carroll celebrated his 68th birthday with his 100th career victory as a head coach and Russell Wilson became the second sub-6-foot QB to throw for 200 touchdowns in his career (joining Redskins legend Sonny Jurgensen). I don&#8217;t think anyone&#8217;s sleeping on Seattle this year.</p>
Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson (3) scrambles past Pittsburgh Steelers defensive end Cameron Heyward (97), who is blocked by Seahawks offensive guard Ethan Pocic (77) during the second half of an NFL football game in Pittsburgh, Sunday, Sept. 15, 2019. The Seahawks won 28-26. (AP/Gene J. Puskar)
<p><em><strong>Patriots 43</strong></em><br />
<em><strong>Dolphins 0</strong></em></p>
<p>Despite winning only once in their last five trips to Miami, the heavily-favored Patriots <a href="https://wtop.com/nfl/2019/09/newcomer-brown-scores-as-patriots-beat-dolphins-43-0/" target="_blank" rel="noopener">quickly integrated Antonio Brown</a> into their offense and laid waste to a Dolphins team that should really come out and announce they&#8217;re tanking. I mean, if the third-worst scoring differential in the first two games of a season (-92) isn&#8217;t done on purpose, then Miami should be dumping that whole organization, not just their best players.</p>
MIAMI, FLORIDA — SEPTEMBER 15: Antonio Brown #17 of the New England Patriots scores a 20 yard touchdown thrown by Tom Brady #12 against the Miami Dolphins during the second quarter in the game at Hard Rock Stadium on September 15, 2019 in Miami, Florida. (Getty Images/Michael Reaves)
<p><b><i>Bills 28</i></b><br />
<b><i>Giants 14</i></b></p>
<p>Josh Allen completed a two-game sweep of the Meadowlands and <a href="https://buffalonews.com/2019/09/15/buffalo-bills-josh-allen-new-york-jets-new-york-giants-met-life-stadium/">claimed sole ownership of the state of New York</a> — all on a day when the Bills defense literally <a href="https://www.nj.com/giants/2019/09/bills-defense-admits-simple-plan-to-beat-giants-make-eli-manning-throw.html">called Eli Manning a liability</a>. It doesn&#8217;t exactly absolve <a href="http://www.nfl.com/videos/nfl-videos/0ap2000000213456/Super-Bowl-XXV-Scott-Norwood-misses-field-goal-wide-right">Scott Norwood</a> of Wide Right, but Buffalo will take their first 2-0 start in five years.</p>
Buffalo Bills quarterback Josh Allen, left, evades New York Giants’ Markus Golden during the second half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Sept. 15, 2019, in East Rutherford, N.J. (AP/Adam Hunger)
<p><b><i>Colts 19</i></b><br />
<b><i>Titans 17</i></b></p>
<p>Tennessee: Where <a href="https://deadspin.com/titans-home-debut-features-on-field-fireball-1838130393?utm_medium=socialflow&amp;utm_campaign=socialflow_deadspin_facebook&amp;utm_source=deadspin_facebook&amp;fbclid=IwAR0mNpiMJ35muTSsAvG9EVJopSWjA9y98A450P_5b6BtH_d4k82h3CihzxY  ">the turf gets lit up</a> and the Titans do, too.</p>
<p>Seriously, though. Indianapolis has won 19 of the last 22 games between these two teams and stand just a rapidly-decaying Adam Vinatieri away from a remarkable 2-0 start to the post-Luck era. Here&#8217;s hoping the greatest kicker of all-time rights the ship and gets to complete what is surely the final season of his Hall-of-Fame career.</p>
NASHVILLE, TENNESSEE — SEPTEMBER 15: Adam Vinatieri #4 of the Indianapolis Colts kicks an extra point after a touchdown against the Tennessee Titans during the first half at Nissan Stadium on September 15, 2019 in Nashville, Tennessee. (Getty Images/Frederick Breedon)
<p><em><strong>Jaguars 12</strong></em><br />
<em><strong>Texans 13</strong></em></p>
<p>Gardner Minshew actually played more like Deshaun Watson than Deshaun Watson did, and might have stole one in Houston if Leonard Fournette could reclaim his rookie form. Jacksonville is wasting one of the best defenses in the league.</p>
Jacksonville Jaguars quarterback Gardner Minshew (15) scramble for yards against the Houston Texans during the second half of an NFL football game Sunday, Sept. 15, 2019, in Houston. (AP/Eric Christian Smith)
<p><b><i>Vikings 16</i></b><br />
<b><i>Packers 21</i></b></p>
<p>Even though Matt LaFleur is the first Packers coach since Vince Lombardi to start 2-0, Aaron Rodgers <a href="https://profootballtalk.nbcsports.com/2019/09/15/aaron-rodgers-says-he-and-matt-lafleur-werent-yelling-how-much-we-love-each-other/" target="_blank" rel="noopener">still isn&#8217;t feeling him</a>. And Minnesota still isn&#8217;t feeling Kirk Cousins after he threw one of his two picks to former Redskins teammate Preston Smith, and the other to kill a potential go-ahead drive to continue <a href="https://www.yardbarker.com/nfl/articles/this_stat_shows_just_how_bad_kirk_cousins_has_been/s1_12680_30008363" target="_blank" rel="noopener">a mindnumbingly terrible trend</a>. Captain Kirk got a 154-yard performance from Dalvin Cook and the defense played well enough to win on the road, so dude really is running out of excuses.</p>
Minnesota Vikings’ Kirk Cousins throws as he falls during the second half of an NFL football game against the Green Bay Packers Sunday, Sept. 15, 2019, in Green Bay, Wis. (AP/Matt Ludtke)
<p><b><i>Chargers 10</i></b><br />
<b><i>Lions 13</i></b></p>
<p>In a battle of two of the NFL’s most durable-yet-underachieving passers, Matthew Stafford did a little more than Philip Rivers to give Detroit what will almost surely be their best win of 2019.</p>
DETROIT, MI — SEPTEMBER 15: Matthew Stafford #9 of the Detroit Lions drops back to pass during the fourth quarter of the game against the Los Angeles Chargers at Ford Field on September 15, 2019 in Detroit, Michigan. Detroit defeated Los Angeles 13-10. (Getty Images/Leon Halip)
<p><b><i>49ers 41</i></b><br />
<b><i>Bengals 17</i></b></p>
<p>Good for San Francisco: Jimmy G looks like the guy they banked on him developing into and the Niners are 2-0 for the first time since 2012. Beating the lousy Bengals and Bucs is one thing, but if they can knock off a desperate Steelers team (even with <a href="https://deadspin.com/heres-a-really-bizarre-stat-about-the-steelers-1830710641" target="_blank" rel="noopener">their infamous West Coast struggles</a>) it&#8217;ll be time to talk about whether the NFC West is the best division in football.</p>
San Francisco 49ers quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo, above, celebrates after wide receiver Marquise Goodwin, below, scores a touchdown during the first half an NFL football game against the Cincinnati Bengals, Sunday, Sept. 15, 2019, in Cincinnati. (AP/Gary Landers)
<p><b><i>Bucs 20 </i></b><br />
<b><i>Panthers 14</i></b></p>
<p>I don&#8217;t know if <a href="https://profootballtalk.nbcsports.com/2019/09/10/cam-newton-thinks-norv-turner-has-christian-mccaffrey-in-fantasy/">Norv Turner has Christian McCaffrey on his fantasy team</a> … but I do. Carolina is right to feed him, especially in the clutch over a clearly-banged up Cam Newton, whose Gone With the Wind look will soon match his status as a starting QB if his losing streak extends much further beyond the current eight games.</p>
CHARLOTTE, NORTH CAROLINA — SEPTEMBER 12: Vernon Hargreaves III #28 of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers forces Christian McCaffrey #22 of the Carolina Panthers out-of-bounds short of the first down marker on fourth down late in the fourth quarter of their game at Bank of America Stadium on September 12, 2019 in Charlotte, North Carolina. The Buccaneers won 20-14. (Getty Images/Grant Halverson)
(1/16)
<p><b><i>Browns 23</i></b><br />
<b><i>Jets 3</i></b></p>
<p>A week after <a href="https://profootballtalk.nbcsports.com/2019/09/08/obj-makes-browns-debut-wearing-a-350000-watch/" target="_blank" rel="noopener">wearing a ridiculously expensive watch on the field</a> in a blowout loss, Odell Beckham Jr. triumphantly returned to the Meadowlands and stuck it to <a href="https://nypost.com/2019/09/15/odell-beckham-gregg-williams-war-the-center-of-suddenly-huge-jets-game/" target="_blank" rel="noopener">his archnemesis Gregg Williams</a> with his career-high 89-yard TD catch to highlight his monster primetime debut for Cleveland. If nothing else, these Browns are fun to watch.</p>
<p><b><i>Eagles 20</i></b><br />
<b><i>Falcons 24</i></b></p>
<p>On a night when DeSean Jackson&#8217;s <a href="https://profootballtalk.nbcsports.com/2019/09/10/desean-jackson-trails-only-jerry-rice-in-career-touchdowns-50-yards-or-longer/">considerable big-play talents</a> were missed on the prime time stage, Julio Jones stepped up in the clutch with a 54-yard touchdown to save Atlanta&#8217;s season. Think that&#8217;s hyperbolic? It&#8217;s not. The Falcons play three of their next four games on the road before hosting the Rams and Seahawks. They needed this.</p>
<p>And Philly really needs the players they lost to injury in this game to be ok. Carson Wentz looked decidedly worse without DJax and Alshon Jeffery, and the second-oldest roster in the NFL doesn&#8217;t appear to have the depth to withstand multiple injuries to their skill positions.</p>
<p><b><i>Saints 9</i></b><br />
<b><i>Rams 27</i></b></p>
<p>New Orleans were <a href="https://deadspin.com/if-you-can-believe-it-the-saints-got-horribly-screwed-1838133201?utm_source=deadspin_facebook&amp;utm_campaign=socialflow_deadspin_facebook&amp;utm_medium=socialflow&amp;fbclid=IwAR14E1b-oCGywQipWko2vRzSCCQvMTAkQ8CJUZAGB9S8VoxJpVSofQBKNz0">screwed again</a> in a loss to the Rams, but it&#8217;s hard to get as fired up about it this time around when, 1) the Saints lost their future Hall of Fame QB to an injury that <a href="https://twitter.com/garlandgillen/status/1173392202799747072">could keep him out for a while</a>, and 2) the game wasn&#8217;t close enough for the officiating gaffe to matter. The last meeting between these teams may be <a href="https://profootballtalk.nbcsports.com/2019/09/12/drew-brees-never-will-forget-the-ending-of-the-2018-nfc-championship/">unforgettable</a>, but this one might mark the end of the Saints&#8217; run in Super Bowl contention if Brees is out for an extended period of time.</p>
<p><b><i>Bears 16</i></b><br />
<b><i>Broncos 14</i></b></p>
<p>It was a crazy ending to the first game in which Denver&#8217;s stadium is christened with <a href="https://www.9news.com/article/sports/nfl/denver-broncos/mike-klis/denver-broncos-stadium-new-name-empower-field-at-mile-high/73-c0671177-03a1-461a-8161-50ba7e3ac155">a crazy new name</a>. And just like that, Chicago has a (momentarily) clutch kicker to help lift a lagging offense to 1-1 with a virtual prime time bye against the notoriously-terrible-on-MNF Redskins.</p>
<p><b><i>Chiefs 28</i></b><br />
<b><i>Raiders 10</i></b></p>
<p>Thankfully, this was the last time we had to witness the sports abomination of seeing <a href="https://profootballtalk.nbcsports.com/2019/09/10/chiefs-raiders-on-sunday-will-be-last-nfl-game-on-a-baseball-infield/">football played on a baseball field</a>. If only we could ensure this is the last time we have to witness another Gruden-coached abomination …</p>
<p>Oh, and a duel between dual threats Patrick Mahomes and Lamar Jackson next week? Yes, please.</p>
<p><b><i>Cowboys 31</i></b><br />
<b><i>Redskins 21</i></b></p>
<p>Happy Birthday, Terry McLaurin. What better way to celebrate 24 than with another five catch, one touchdown performance in a loss to a division rival?</p>
<p>And before you crown the Cowboys, consider their &#8220;<a href="https://deadspin.com/the-cowboys-look-fun-as-hell-1838044163?utm_medium=socialflow&amp;utm_source=deadspin_facebook&amp;utm_campaign=socialflow_deadspin_facebook">fun</a>&#8221; offense just lit up the two worst teams in the division, the latter without its best defensive lineman and two corners. Wake me up when they face the Packers, Vikings and Patriots defenses.</p>
<p><b><i>Cardinals 17</i></b><br />
<b><i>Ravens 23</i></b></p>
<p>This game was less about T-Sizzle&#8217;s <a href="https://twitter.com/jamisonhensley/status/1171802753456386048  ">&#8220;BS&#8221; return</a> and more about these young QBs. Kyler Murray <a href="https://www.espn.com/nfl/story/_/id/27624186/murray-2nd-throw-300-yards-first-2-games  ">made history</a> during another fourth-quarter comeback that came up short and Lamar Jackson reminded us he is still one of the most dangerous dual threats in the league by becoming the first player in NFL history to notch at least 250 passing yards and 120 rushing yards in a single game (<a href="https://twitter.com/PFF_Jeff/status/1173401017867571200?s=20" target="_blank" rel="noopener">sort of</a>). If Action Jackson keeps this up in Kansas City, we&#8217;re in for a treat.</p>
<p><b><i>Seahawks 28</i></b><br />
<b><i>Steelers 26</i></b></p>
<p>It was a confluence of historical achievements for the Seahawks: Pete Carroll celebrated his 68th birthday with his 100th career victory as a head coach and Russell Wilson became the second sub-6-foot QB to throw for 200 touchdowns in his career (joining Redskins legend Sonny Jurgensen). I don&#8217;t think anyone&#8217;s sleeping on Seattle this year.</p>
<p><em><strong>Patriots 43</strong></em><br />
<em><strong>Dolphins 0</strong></em></p>
<p>Despite winning only once in their last five trips to Miami, the heavily-favored Patriots <a href="https://wtop.com/nfl/2019/09/newcomer-brown-scores-as-patriots-beat-dolphins-43-0/" target="_blank" rel="noopener">quickly integrated Antonio Brown</a> into their offense and laid waste to a Dolphins team that should really come out and announce they&#8217;re tanking. I mean, if the third-worst scoring differential in the first two games of a season (-92) isn&#8217;t done on purpose, then Miami should be dumping that whole organization, not just their best players.</p>
<p><b><i>Bills 28</i></b><br />
<b><i>Giants 14</i></b></p>
<p>Josh Allen completed a two-game sweep of the Meadowlands and <a href="https://buffalonews.com/2019/09/15/buffalo-bills-josh-allen-new-york-jets-new-york-giants-met-life-stadium/">claimed sole ownership of the state of New York</a> — all on a day when the Bills defense literally <a href="https://www.nj.com/giants/2019/09/bills-defense-admits-simple-plan-to-beat-giants-make-eli-manning-throw.html">called Eli Manning a liability</a>. It doesn&#8217;t exactly absolve <a href="http://www.nfl.com/videos/nfl-videos/0ap2000000213456/Super-Bowl-XXV-Scott-Norwood-misses-field-goal-wide-right">Scott Norwood</a> of Wide Right, but Buffalo will take their first 2-0 start in five years.</p>
<p><b><i>Colts 19</i></b><br />
<b><i>Titans 17</i></b></p>
<p>Tennessee: Where <a href="https://deadspin.com/titans-home-debut-features-on-field-fireball-1838130393?utm_medium=socialflow&amp;utm_campaign=socialflow_deadspin_facebook&amp;utm_source=deadspin_facebook&amp;fbclid=IwAR0mNpiMJ35muTSsAvG9EVJopSWjA9y98A450P_5b6BtH_d4k82h3CihzxY  ">the turf gets lit up</a> and the Titans do, too.</p>
<p>Seriously, though. Indianapolis has won 19 of the last 22 games between these two teams and stand just a rapidly-decaying Adam Vinatieri away from a remarkable 2-0 start to the post-Luck era. Here&#8217;s hoping the greatest kicker of all-time rights the ship and gets to complete what is surely the final season of his Hall-of-Fame career.</p>
<p><em><strong>Jaguars 12</strong></em><br />
<em><strong>Texans 13</strong></em></p>
<p>Gardner Minshew actually played more like Deshaun Watson than Deshaun Watson did, and might have stole one in Houston if Leonard Fournette could reclaim his rookie form. Jacksonville is wasting one of the best defenses in the league.</p>
<p><b><i>Vikings 16</i></b><br />
<b><i>Packers 21</i></b></p>
<p>Even though Matt LaFleur is the first Packers coach since Vince Lombardi to start 2-0, Aaron Rodgers <a href="https://profootballtalk.nbcsports.com/2019/09/15/aaron-rodgers-says-he-and-matt-lafleur-werent-yelling-how-much-we-love-each-other/" target="_blank" rel="noopener">still isn&#8217;t feeling him</a>. And Minnesota still isn&#8217;t feeling Kirk Cousins after he threw one of his two picks to former Redskins teammate Preston Smith, and the other to kill a potential go-ahead drive to continue <a href="https://www.yardbarker.com/nfl/articles/this_stat_shows_just_how_bad_kirk_cousins_has_been/s1_12680_30008363" target="_blank" rel="noopener">a mindnumbingly terrible trend</a>. Captain Kirk got a 154-yard performance from Dalvin Cook and the defense played well enough to win on the road, so dude really is running out of excuses.</p>
<p><b><i>Chargers 10</i></b><br />
<b><i>Lions 13</i></b></p>
<p>In a battle of two of the NFL’s most durable-yet-underachieving passers, Matthew Stafford did a little more than Philip Rivers to give Detroit what will almost surely be their best win of 2019.</p>
<p><b><i>49ers 41</i></b><br />
<b><i>Bengals 17</i></b></p>
<p>Good for San Francisco: Jimmy G looks like the guy they banked on him developing into and the Niners are 2-0 for the first time since 2012. Beating the lousy Bengals and Bucs is one thing, but if they can knock off a desperate Steelers team (even with <a href="https://deadspin.com/heres-a-really-bizarre-stat-about-the-steelers-1830710641" target="_blank" rel="noopener">their infamous West Coast struggles</a>) it&#8217;ll be time to talk about whether the NFC West is the best division in football.</p>
<p><b><i>Bucs 20 </i></b><br />
<b><i>Panthers 14</i></b></p>
<p>I don&#8217;t know if <a href="https://profootballtalk.nbcsports.com/2019/09/10/cam-newton-thinks-norv-turner-has-christian-mccaffrey-in-fantasy/">Norv Turner has Christian McCaffrey on his fantasy team</a> … but I do. Carolina is right to feed him, especially in the clutch over a clearly-banged up Cam Newton, whose Gone With the Wind look will soon match his status as a starting QB if his losing streak extends much further beyond the current eight games.</p>

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