It’s common knowledge in sports that if you take care of your own business, you don’t have to worry about anybody else as far as the standings are concerned.
While this is entirely true, getting some help along the way is never a bad thing. This column will be completely dedicated to the results of the other three NFC South teams throughout the season; hopefully we’ll be able to bask in their failures together.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers 20, Carolina Panthers 14 (TNF)
The national audience was (mis)treated to a battle between the two worst quarterbacks in the division on Thursday night, each one of whom was coming off of a poor performance in Week 1.
It wasn’t the most aesthetically pleasing game to watch, but Jameis Winston bounced back for the Bucs while Cam Newton looked worse than ever. Each team traded field goals in the first quarter, before Tampa Bay broke through with a Chris Godwin touchdown catch in the second quarter, mitigating Carolina’s two second quarter FGs and taking a 10-9 lead going into halftime.
Newton was routinely off target all night, constantly overthrowing his wide receivers who were getting separation. He also did nothing on the ground, rushing for zero yards on two attempts and losing a fumble in the process.
Despite all of that, Carolina was still in position to win the game with a touchdown in the late stages. Facing a fourth and inches from the 2 (a down and distance which has been tailor-made for a Newton rush in the past), Carolina dialed up a direct snap to Christian McCaffrey who couldn’t get to the first down line. Tampa escaped Charlotte with a victory, while the Panthers fell to 0-2 with both losses coming at home.
Winston had 208 passing yards, one touchdown, and (most importantly for him) no interceptions. Peyton Barber had an effective game on the ground with 82 rushing yards and a touchdown on 23 carries. Chris Godwin was the leading receiver with 121 receiving yards (more than half of Winston’s yardage) and a touchdown.
Newton had the emptiest 333 passing yards you’ll ever see. He has yet to score after two games. McCaffrey was stifled to the tune of 53 yards from scrimmage after going for over 200 in Week 1. Greg Olsen was the leading receiver with 110 yards.
Los Angeles Rams 27, New Orleans Saints 9
This was a rough week for the Saints. Not only did they not get the revenge they’ve been craving against the Rams, following the NFC Championship, but they lost Drew Brees to a thumb injury in the process.
The game started out rough for the visitors, and it was just a sign of things to come. On their first drive, Brees was intercepted by Josh Johnson. If that name sounds familiar, it should:
John Johnson intercepts Drew Brees. The more things change the more they stay the same. pic.twitter.com/VfbPM4UZR1— Adnan Ikic (@SayWhichWay) September 15, 2019
Things got even worse for the Saints on their second drive, after the Rams used a 57-yard Brandin Cooks reception to fuel a field goal — Brees’ throwing hand collided with Aaron Donald on a third-down pass attempt, and the result was a thumb injury which knocked the quarterback out of the game. Brees couldn’t even grip a football afterward.
Teddy Bridgewater entered the game for the Saints, and he did not look good. LA’s offense struggled and sputtered themselves, however, and they took just a 6-3 lead into halftime.
After New Orleans tied the game on their initial second half drive, Sean McVay’s offensive unit woke up and scored touchdowns on their next three consecutive possessions. Bridgewater and company couldn’t muster anything but another field goal, as the Saints ended up getting visibly overmatched.
Jared Goff threw for 283 passing yards, one passing touchdown, no interceptions, and he contributed a one-yard rushing touchdown as well. Todd Gurley recorded 63 rushing yards and a touchdown. The leading receiver was Cooper Kupp, who had 120 yards. However, it was Brandin Cooks who secured the lone receiving touchdown.
Bridgewater looked mediocre at best, recording 165 passing yards and no touchdowns. He at least didn’t turn it over, either. Alvin Kamara was contained on the ground, recording just 45 rushing yards. Michael Thomas was the leading receiver with 89 yards.
New Orleans now holds its collective breath, waiting for news on Brees’ injury.
NFC South Standings after Week 2
1. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (1-1 overall record; 1-0 division record) - Next vs. Giants
2. Atlanta Falcons (1-1 overall record; 0-0 division record) - Next at Colts
3. New Orleans Saints (1-1 overall record; 0-0 division record) - Next at Seahawks
4. Carolina Panthers (0-2 overall record; 0-1 division record) - Next at Cardinals