Cards, Eagles unbeaten while Saints sinking at 0-2
The Arizona Cardinals and Philadelphia Eagles are still perfect, surprising standouts on the NFL's quickly dwindling list of undefeated teams.
Sure, it's just two weeks into the season, but 2-0 sure sounds good. Especially when only five teams can say that.
The New Orleans Saints, however, are still looking for a win without their head coach or their once-dominant defense.
Kevin Kolb threw for one touchdown and ran for another, Stephen Gostkowski missed a potential winning field goal in the final seconds, and Arizona upset New England 20-18 on Sunday.
"Nobody really gave us a chance," said Arizona coach Ken Whisenhunt, whose team was a two-touchdown underdog, "but our guys believed they could do it and it's great to see them operate that way."
Houston, San Diego and San Francisco also improved to 2-0 on Sunday, with Denver (1-0) and Atlanta (1-0) looking to join the club heading into their Monday night matchup.
The Cardinals (2-0) have won nine of their last 11 games, and they got this one thanks in large part to Kolb, who filled in for starter John Skelton and sent the Patriots (1-1) to their first loss in 11 home openers since they moved into Gillette Stadium in 2002. The Cardinals also ended a five-game losing streak against the Patriots, beating them for the first time since Sept. 29, 1991.
"We knew what kind of game this was going to be," Kolb said. "We've been kind of stressing it all week: Stay patient, don't get greedy."
The Patriots began their final possession after Vince Wilfork recovered a fumble by Ryan Williams at the Cardinals 30-yard line with 1:01 left. A 30-yard run into the end zone by Danny Woodhead was nullified by a holding penalty against Rob Gronkowski. New England then moved to the 24 before Tom Brady spiked the ball to stop the clock with 6 seconds remaining.
But Gostkowski sent his kick to the left.
"I had a chance to win and it came down to me and I didn't pull through, and it stinks," said Gostkowski, who had been 3 for 3 in his career on field-goal attempts in the final two minutes with a chance to tie or win a game.
The Patriots suffered a big loss when tight end Aaron Hernandez, their most versatile offensive player, hurt his right ankle in the first quarter. He left Gillette Stadium wearing a walking boot and carrying crutches. The Patriots gave no update on the injury.
At Philadelphia, Michael Vick scored on a 1-yard TD run with 1:55 left, helping the Eagles overcome a slew of turnovers to beat the Baltimore Ravens 24-23 for their second straight comeback win.
The Eagles are 2-0 for the first time since Donovan McNabb and Terrell Owens led them to the Super Bowl in 2004.
"In the moment, you have to be at your best," Vick said. "It's got to be an any-means-necessary mentality."
Rookie kicker Justin Tucker made field goals of 56, 51 and 48 yards for the Ravens, but Joe Flacco couldn't get Baltimore (1-1) in his range in the final minute.
The Ravens had a lot to say about the replacement officials after this one.
"There's some serious calls the refs missed," Baltimore's Ray Lewis said. "It's just the way it is, man, all around the league. We have to correct that. These games are critical. Guys are giving everything they've got all across the league. But these are calls, with the regular refs, if they were here, we know the way the calls would be made."
At Charlotte, N.C., Cam Newton threw for 253 yards and ran for a career-high 71 yards and led the Panthers to a 35-27 win over New Orleans that left the NFC South champion Saints 0-2 for the first time since 2007.
"Times change," wide receiver Steve Smith said of Carolina's first win over New Orleans since 2009.
Coach Ron Rivera said a loss to Drew Brees and the Saints would have been tough to take especially with a tough game coming up Thursday night against the Super Bowl champion New York Giants.
"The way we responded as a team this week was outstanding," Rivera said of his 1-1 Panthers. "I think the attitude, the effort was great."
The Saints, meanwhile, have serious concerns on defense. They've allowed 922 yards and 75 points in two games against Newton and Robert Griffin III.
"If you look at our defense, and you look at the two offenses we've played, we've played the most unconventional offenses in the National Football League," said interim coach Aaron Kromer, who is running the team because coach Sean Payton and assistant head coach Joe Vitt are serving suspensions for their roles in the Saints bounty scandal. "So do we have to do better against those styles of offenses? Yeah, we do.
"One thing we need to get settled in on is on that style. But we've played two good offenses, and we just need to keep working at it and plugging away."
GIANTS 41, BUCCANEERS 34
At East Rutherford, N.J., Eli Manning came up with a near-record performance in throwing for 510 yards, and Andre Brown scored on a 2-yard run with 31 seconds left to lift the New York Giants over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Manning's yardage total was the second most for a Giants quarterback, and tied for the eighth-highest in NFL history. He threw three first-half interceptions, and came back with a monster 295 yards passing in the second, finishing 3 yards short of Phil Simms' team record.
The Bucs (1-1) led by 11 points before the Super Bowl champions came back and avoided an 0-2 start.
Manning threw touchdowns of 23 yards to Hakeem Nicks, 80 to Victor Cruz and 33 to Martellus Bennett with 3:59 to play to give New York (1-1) a 34-27 lead. Cruz finished with 11 catches for 179 yards, both career highs, while Nicks had 10 catches for 199 yards, with the yardage a personal best. Only the 1951 Rams had a 500-yard passer and two 150-yard receivers in the same game.
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