Analysis: Matt Ryan and the Falcons offense have yet to find the win column this preseason, but their offense began to show signs of lifeagainst the defending champs. Ryan went 8-15 for 97 yards and a touchdown to Julio Jones, while Steven Jackson added 42 yards on eight carries.
There was less to be happy back on the Ravens’ sideline. Joe Flacco did connect with Torrey Smith on a 77-yard touchdown pass where Smith displayed his electric speed. But aside from that connection, Baltimore’s offense sputtered, gaining only 54 yards on 18 plays in the opening half.
Takeaway: Mark Sanchez gaining steam as the Jets’ starter?
Analysis: In the Jets’ tune-up before their Preseason Week 3 tilt with the Giants, Sanchez made his case to be the starting quarterback. He went 13-23 for 169 yards and a touchdown to tight end Jeff Cumberland while his competition, rookie Geno Smith, sat out as a precautionary measure. Sanchez also threw an interception while playing through quarters.
Similarly, Blaine Gabbert did his best to separate himself from Chad Henne in the Jaguars quarterback competition. Gabbert piloted two scoring driving, completing 13-16 passes for 165 yards and a touchdown. Henne, on the other hand, completed just 4-10 passes for 30 yards, getting picked off in the process.
Seattle Seahawks 40, Denver Broncos 10
Takeaway: Peyton Manning, Russell Wilson look sharp; Denver’s D takes another hit
Analysis: Both Manning and Wilson put forth impressive outings. Manning helped Denver total 209 yards in the first half, throwing a touchdown pass to his newest weapon, Wes Welker. Wilson enjoyed similar success, throwing a pair of touchdown strikes, the first of which to Jermaine Kearse, who may end up making the team with Percy Harvin sidelined.
All was not well for the Broncos, though, who may be without defensive end Derek Wolfe. Denver will not have Von Miller for the first six games of the year, and the team lost its other pass-rusher, Elvis Dumervil, due to a fax machine error. Wolfe had six sacks in 2012.
Takeaway: Eddy Lacy makes a case to be Pack’s starting back
Analysis: The Packers' rookie running back has been a popular item for discussion, especially since an unflattering photo of him hit Twitter. Lacy is definitely in football shape, though, proving it with a 40-yard effort against the Rams. With DuJuan Harris sidelined, Lacy is doing everything he can to snag the starting running back job.
For the Rams, there wasn’t too much offense to brag about. Sam Bradford completed 8-12 passes for 156 yards but did not find the end zone. Isaiah Peed totaled only 19 yards on 11 carries. One bright spot was a 37-yard reception by tight end Jared Cook, which was certainly one for the highlight reels.
Houston Texans 24, Miami Dolphins 17
Takeaway: Dolphins lose Dustin Keller for the year; Texans’ DeAndre Hopkins sustains concussion
Analysis: Second-year quarterback Ryan Tannehill is expected to take a step forward in his development, but already he’ll be without one of his newest weapons. Free-agent addition Dustin Keller injured his right knee after a shot from Texans safety D.J. Swearinger, and Keller will now miss the rest of the season.
The better news is that Tannehill other’s new weapon, Mike Wallace, is looking more and more comfortable with his new quarterback. Wallace hauled in three passes for 58 yards and a touchdown.
The Texans had their own injury concerns. Wideout DeAndre Hopkins suffered a concussion and exited the game in the second quarter.
Cincinnati Bengals 27, Tennessee Titans 19
Takeaway: Giovani Bernard looks sharp as Bengals continue to roll in the preseason
Analysis: With the Ravens losing a number of key cogs, the AFC North may be the Bengals’ division to lose. In the preseason, the team moved to 2-0 with another stellar offensive outing. Andy Dalton went 9-14 for 115 yards with a touchdown pass to Mohamed Sanu, while Bernard, who drew the start for BenJarvus Green-Ellis, rushed for 37 yards and a touchdown. In the first half, Cincy totaled 220 yards and 17 points.
Unfortunately, there is not as much to be happy about in Tennessee. Jake Locker was unable to find the end zone, and his second-year receiver Kendall Wright injured his right knee.
Arizona Cardinals 12, Dallas Cowboys 7
Takeaway: ‘Boys turn it over 6 times in defensive-oriented showdown
Analysis: The Cowboys might want to work on ball security more leading up to their Week 1 tilt with the Giants. The team totaled six turnovers – three lost fumbles and three picks – in what coach Jason Garrett called an "inexcusable" performance.
While it wasn’t a six-turnover game for Arizona, it was not too impressive either. Carson Palmer completed fewer than half of his passes for all of 66 yards. And despite making three grabs for 44 yards, Larry Fitzgerald was upset his performance, saying he needs to a better job of learning his role in Bruce Arian’s offense.
Takeaway: 49ers D continues to look stout
Analysis: Alex Smith had his first meeting with his former team, and the Niners D wanted to remind him just what he’s missing. Smith was sacked three times, and as a team the Chiefs allowed seven on the night, as well as eight quarterback hurries and nine tackles for a loss.
Offensively, Frank Gore is getting better with age. Gore had a 52-yard gain on his first touch from scrimmage, making numerous Chiefs defenders look silly.
The Chiefs offense looked lost without Pro Bowl back Jamaal Charles, who sat out after straining his right foot earlier in the week. Overall, the team mustered 170 yards and zero offensive touchdowns.
New England Patriots 25, Tampa Bay Buccaneers 21,
Takeaway: Tom Brady looks like Tom Brady
Analysis: Brady had an injury scare earlier in the week, and he’s working with an almost entirely new cast of weapons on offense. Yet the perennial Pro Bowler looks as sharp as ever.
Brady went 11-12 for 107 yards and a touchdown to wideout Danny Amendola, then put the cherry on the cake with a 2-point conversation to Zach Sudfeld, who appears to be the leading candidate to take Aaron Hernandez’s role in the offense.
The Bucs’ offensive centerpiece, running back Doug Martin, exited earlier with what was a minor injury. But the team showed they can use an array of weapons in their backfield. Mike James and Peyton Hillis rushed for a combined 154 yards, though their aerial attack did not look as sharp.
Takeaway: Drew Brees, Saints D thrives against Oakland
Analysis: Whether the Saints are rounding into form or the Raiders are beginning to prepare for the first pick in April, Friday proved to be a positive step in New Orleans.
Brees threw for 202 yards and a touchdown en route to five scoring drives. Young wideouts Kenny Stills and Nick Toon both made plays, while Mark Ingram added 30 yards and a touchdown. The Saints did not have to punt in the first half.
The Raiders had less to brag about. Matt Flynn completed 12-16 for 124 yards and a touchdown, but was sacked five times by the Saints defense, which after finishing with record-bad numbers in 2012 was renovated in the offseason by Rob Ryan. Overall, the Raiders surrendered seven sacks.
Buffalo Bills 20, Minnesota Vikings 16
Takeaway: EJ Manuel takes hold of quarterback race, but suffers injury
Analysis: Manuel is doing everything he can to separate himself from veteran Kevin Kolb, but the rookie is now expected to miss the rest of the preseason after suffering a knee injury.
The injury is being called "minor," but it’ll be interesting to see if it impacts who first-year coach Doug Marrone names the starter. Manuel went 10-12 for 92 yards and a touchdown, while Holb went 13-21 for 111 yards and a pick.
It was a very unimpressive outing for Vikings quarterback Christian Ponder, who completed 5-12 passes for 53 yards. Between Ponder and backup Matt Cassell, the Vikings mustered 74 yards of offense in the first half.
Takeaway: Same old Bears
Analysis: Jay Cutler appears to be having issues getting adjusted to Marc Trestman’s offense. The Bears signal-caller went 4-5 for 38 yards, throwing a touchdown pass and an interception while getting sacked twice. It’s not only the new offense to be blamed; field position and the shaky offensive line play certainly had a role. The bright spot was Matt Forte, who rushed for 74 yards and a touchdown.
The Chargers had their own issues, largely due to a tenacious Chicago D. Philip Rivers was held to 50 yards through the air, was intercepted, lost a fumble and sacked three times. Like the Bears, the bright spot was in the running game. Ryan Mathews had 45 yards for the Bolts.
Cleveland Browns 24, Detroit Lions 6
Takeaway: Brandon Weeden continues to impress in preseason; Browns hit hard
Analysis: Though Weeden will soon be 30, he’s only in his second NFL season. And he’s figuring it out quickly. The Browns quarterback completed 8-12 passes for 117 yards and two touchdowns, both to tight end Jordan Cameron.
Despite the stellar outing from Weeden, the Browns suffered some losses. The injury bug has struck guard Jason Pinkston, tight end Gary Barnidge, running back Dion Lewis, kicker Brandon Bogotay and first-round pick Barkevious Mingo, who suffered a bruised lung.
Philadelphia Eagles 14, Carolina Panthers 9
Takeaway: Michael Vick, Nick Foles sharp; Cam Newton not so much
Analysis: The Eagles’ quarterback competition continues, and both Vick and Foles made a strong case against the Panthers. Vick went 9-10 but threw a pick, while Foles went 6-8 with a seven-yard touchdown scramble.
It’s a pivotal year for Newton, who is entering his third season and now will begin to be scrutinized if he can’t lift Carolina into contention. Against a defense Brady tore up last week, Newton went 8-17 and did not find the end zone.
Analysis: Kirk Cousins, Le'Veon Bell injured
Analysis: Injures are never what you want the headline to entail, but such is the case for both the Steelers and 'Skins after their Monday night showdown.
With Robert Griffin III out this preseason, the reigns have been handed down to Kirk Cousins, considered one of the best young backup quarterbacks in the league. His importance is especially high this year, with Griffin's health still a question mark.
Cousins sprained his foot early in the second quarter, leaving Pat White and Rex Grossman to fill in at quarterback. Neither presents a strong insurance policy should something go wrong in Griffin's rehab.
The Steelers also got bad news, as Bell, the projected starter at running back, hurt his right knee and was forced to exit early. Bell was already dealing with a sore left knee which kept him out of the Steelers' preseason opener.
Pittsburgh has a stable of veteran backs behind Bell, including Jonathan Dwyer and Isaac Redman, though Bell clearly had the highest upside.
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