As tempting as it is to call Tua Tagovailoa the most valuable player of Week 2, he had help. Tyreek Hill and Jaylen Waddle meep-meeped all over the Raiders, but he earned so much respect that this is the weekend everyone learned how to spell his last name. He’s now Mr. Tagovailoa. In Week 2, Micah Parsons was instrumental in holding the Bengals to 17 points. Parsons singlehandedly had Joe Burrow demanding hazard pay on top of his rookie deal. He’s currently the league leader in sacks, hits, and pressures after Week 2.
However, Kyler Murray played like he was on the sticks in front of his PS5 to earn our Week 2 MVP honors.
You can’t be any more valuable to a team than Murray was on Sunday against the Raiders. His 1:1 touchdown-to-interception ratio, 277 yards passing, and 28 yards rushing may appear modest, but he was the hardest working man in the NFL. The Raiders had everyone else stymied. So Murray put on a one-man show, scampering around the Raiders’ grown-man defense like Kevin McCallister.
Three quarters in, Murray’s play gave credence to the theory that there was a direct correlation between time-consuming Call of Duty events, his lackluster preparation, and his most atrocious performances. While active gamers were letting their scleras turn red testing out the ‘COD: Modern Warfare 2’ beta all weekend, Murray jumped out to a horrendous start.
By the fourth quarter, the only game he was fixated on was the one he trailed 23-7. On 4th-and-4 with 8:41 remaining, he placed a 35-yard lob pass into a pocket between two defenders and the sideline that 5-foot-9 Marquise Brown caught at the 1. He didn’t so much catch it as it fell into his belly. On Arizona’s 2-point conversion following the score, he ran for 21 seconds, covered over 80 yards scrambling, tiring out the defense and play-by-play announcer Greg Gumbel, who probably needed a respirator after making that marathon call.
On 4th-and-1 from the 43, Murray eluded Raiders edge rusher Maxx Crosby who had a clean shot on Murray, but couldn’t keep up when Murray quickly darted to his right.
A few plays later, Murray broke out of a clean Crosby sack and scampered around long enough for the officials to catch a Vegas defender committing a penalty that kept the drive alive.
And Murray’s pass to A.J. Green on the 2-point conversion was another tight-window throw to complete one of the most daring comebacks in recent memory. This wasn’t a quick-strike comeback. These were 11 and 18-play drives that featured multiple fourth-down conversions. The defense finished the job in overtime with a scoop and score touchdown, but just getting there was enough for Murray to ask for a day off so he can catch up on his COD campaign in peace.
And now Least Valuable Player
Jameis Winston is a stress-inducing passer. On every dropback, there’s a good chance he’s listening to a devil and an angel dispensing advice. Whom he listens to is a toss-up. This week our Least Valuable Player’s impulses doomed the Saints.
New Orleans has held the psychological advantage over Tampa Bay, having beaten them in each of their last four matchups. It was also personal for Winston, whom the Bucs kicked to the curb for Tom Brady following the 2019 season.
Mark Ingram’s red zone fumble left the Saints dejected at the end of the third. The score remained tied at 3, instead of Nola taking the lead as Winston began pressing. He was intercepted after leaving a jump ball in the air for rookie Chris Olave to nab. Instead, cornerback Jamel Dean reached it first. On the ensuing drive, Winston was picked off again by Dean AGAIN. On the Saints’ next drive, Winston was fooled into a third interception by safety Mike Edwards, who jumped Jarvis Landry’s route and returned it for a touchdown to give the Bucs a 20-3 lead.
Winston saved his worst for last, while Indianapolis Colts old-timer Matt Ryan spread his worst out over three quarters. A completion rate of 53 percent, 195 yards in a losing effort, zero touchdowns, and three interceptions would be an abysmal performance against the Bills, Bucs, or the Rams. But against the Jaguars? It makes you question whether Matt Ryan has entered the glue factory stage.
From the very first drive, he was jonesing to make bad decisions. When Julio Jones isn’t under those lobs, the result is more advantageous for the defense. Nick Foles is ready to resume his role as the Backup Gawd if Ryan keeps slipping up like this. Ryan and the Colts were going to be flayed either way, but the timing of Winston’s implosion couldn’t have been worse.
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