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Bidding for Carolina Panthers reaches $2.5 billion; Rubin-Curry group out

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CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Bidding for the Carolina Panthers has reached a record $2.5 billion, according to Bloomberg.

That would set a record for the sale of a professional sports franchise in the United States. The Los Angeles Dodgers sold for $2 billion in 2012.

Sources close to the process could not confirm to ESPN.com that the $2.5 billion is accurate, however.

At least one candidate to purchase the team owned by Jerry Richardson currently is not willing to go that high, a source told ESPN.com.

Fanatics owner Michael Rubin is willing to go higher than his initial bid and remains interested at what he considers the right price, according to the source who spoke on the condition of anonymity because the bidding process is confidential.

The Panthers are valued by Forbes at $2.3 billion. It is unclear what Rubin considers the right price.

Rapper and mogul Sean “Diddy” Combs and Golden State Warriors All-Star Stephen Curry are among potential minority partners with Rubin. At this point, billionaire businessman Joseph Tsai is the only confirmed partner with Rubin, sources said.

A source also confirmed that Salisbury, North Carolina, native James Goodnight, the co-founder and CEO of the software company SAS, has shown interest in purchasing the Panthers. It is not clear whether Goodnight, valued by Forbes at $10 billion, has made a bid.

However, sources close to the situation told ESPN.com that initial bids have been put in by Rubin, Bedrock Industries LP chairman and CEO Alan Kestenbaum, Charleston, South Carolina, billionaire Ben Navarro and hedge-fund billionaire David Tepper.

The 55-year-old Kestenbaum, whose business focuses on owning and operating metals, mining and natural resources assets and companies, surfaced on Wednesday.

He is believed to have strong backing from Canadian businessman Jim Pattison, according to a source.

Bedrock Industries purchased Canadian steel company Stelco Inc., now known as Stelco Holdings Inc., last year.

Pattison, according to Forbes, has a net worth of $6.8 billion. The magazine did not list a net worth for Kestenbaum, but Stelco reportedly has a market value of about $1.3 billion.

Richardson, 81, announced in December plans to put the team up for sale amidst an NFL investigation into allegations of sexual and racial workplace misconduct.

He stepped down from the day-to-day operations of the organization after a Sports Illustrated article detailed the allegations. Tina Becker was named the chief operating officer.

After Richardson selects his choice for the winning bid, three-fourths of the 32 NFL owners have to approve the sale. The most likely timeframe for that, ESPN.com reported last month, is the May 21-23 meetings in Atlanta.

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Judging Week 2 NFL overreactions

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If there’s a fan base anywhere in the world that knows it’s not enough to be up 20-0 at the end of the first quarter, or 29-10 at halftime or even 39-24 with five minutes left in the game, it would be the Atlanta Falcons‘ fan base. So when Greg Zuerlein‘s field goal split the uprights with time expired to give the Dallas Cowboys the improbable 40-39 victory on Sunday, Falcons fans still stinging from Super Bowl LI couldn’t have been surprised. Angry? Sure, but not surprised. They are seasoned veterans of disappointment. We will get back to them in a moment.

The rest of us could feel free to be stunned. Dazzled. Left to wonder if what we’d just seen was something that had never happened before. Which it was.

Yes, seriously. There has never been a game like the one the Cowboys and the Falcons played Sunday. The Falcons didn’t just have all of those big leads, they possessed the ball for 33:48 and won the turnover battle 3-0. According to the Elias Sports Bureau research, since 1933 — when team turnovers were first tracked — teams that scored 39 or more points and had no turnovers in a game were a combined 440-0. Until Sunday.

A lot went into this, and what will be dissected the most as everybody on both sides of the Cowboy Hot Take battle goes to their respective corners, is how badly the Falcons messed up on the onside kick that set the Cowboys up to kick the winning field goal. If there’s one team on the planet that should know the onside-kick rules, it’s the Falcons, who execute them successfully more than any other team. Yet there they stood, watching the ball bounce as if they didn’t know they were allowed to touch it before it went 10 yards while the Cowboys (who weren’t) were happy to pick it up once it had.

The result will inevitably be arguments about whether the Cowboys really won this game or if the Falcons lost it. But that takes away from what Dak Prescott accomplished, and nothing should.

The Dallas quarterback had 312 passing yards, a touchdown pass and three rushing touchdowns in the second half of this game. His full-game passing numbers were 34-for-47 for 450 yards and no interceptions. Playing for a team that fumbled four times in the first quarter, failed on two fake-punt attempts in its own territory and trailed by seemingly impossible margins all game long, Prescott kept his cool, delivered a signature comeback win and — perhaps most importantly — put himself in position to lead this week’s overreaction column.

Dak Prescott will be the NFL’s highest-paid player next year

You might have heard, but over the offseason, Prescott and the Cowboys were unable to come to an agreement on a contract extension, which means Prescott is playing this season on a $31.4 million franchise tag and will be eligible for unrestricted free agency in March. Per the league’s franchise player rules, because no deal was done by July 15, the Cowboys and Prescott are not allowed to negotiate again until after their season ends. If the Cowboys don’t sign him to a long-term deal or franchise him again between their last game and the start of the league year in March, he will be a free agent, and any team can sign him.

The verdict: NOT AN OVERREACTION. The main issue between the Cowboys and Prescott this summer was the length of the contract extension. He wanted a shorter-term deal that would have allowed him to hit the market again sooner. The Cowboys wanted a long-term deal that would help them manage their salary cap. But make no mistake: Dallas was willing to pay. At the time Prescott was tagged — before new deals came in for Patrick Mahomes and Deshaun Watson — the highest-paid player in the league was Seattle quarterback Russell Wilson at $35 million per year. The Cowboys’ offer was in that neighborhood. They were willing to pay him at the top of the market.

Now, the top of the market has soared much higher. The new money in Watson’s deal averages $39 million per year. Mahomes’ deal is harder to synthesize, because it’s 12 years long and heavily backloaded, but assuming he plays out the whole thing, you can say he’ll make $45 million a year in new money. Prescott’s floor has to be $40 million if Dallas wants him to talk extension again in February, and if he wants to play hardball he can easily go higher. Franchising him again in 2021 will cost them about $37.7 million, and then franchising him again in 2022 would cost them about $54.3 million. That’s roughly $92 million over two years, which averages out to $46 million per year.

Prescott is very much in the driver’s seat here. The Cowboys will need to sign him in order to drop that potential 2021 cap number in a year in which the cap is projected to drop to $175 million per team. If he has another great year and hits the open market, his price could easily soar past Watson’s and maybe challenge Mahomes’. Multiple teams bidding on a 27-year-old star quarterback? Tell me you can put a cap on where the market might value that.


Dan Quinn will be the first head coach fired this season

The Falcons are 0-2 and have allowed a combined total of 78 points in their first two games. Quinn was on thin ice with a 1-7 record at midseason last season and saved his job with a 6-2 finish. His background is on the defensive side of the ball, and so far his defense has been a sieve in 2020. Perhaps most damning of all is the fact that his team looked unprepared for the most important play of the game, which turned out to be that onside kick.

This is Quinn’s sixth year as Atlanta’s coach. He’s 46-41 counting postseason play and took the team to the Super Bowl in his second year. But he has been 7-9 two years in a row and is off to a brutal start in a tough-looking division. Not looking great.

The verdict: OVERREACTION. Falcons owner Arthur Blank is close with Quinn and thinks highly of him, and Blank has shown plenty of patience through some major disappointments. It’s possible — even likely — that Quinn won’t be back in 2021 if the Falcons have another losing season, but it would be a surprise to see Blank move on while a season is still in progress.

Elsewhere, Matt Patricia isn’t on the thickest of ice in Detroit, and Adam Gase doesn’t look as if he’s about to turn things around with the Jets. There are other candidates for this distinction, and it’s too early for anyone — especially in a year as weird as this one has been — to be firing coaches right now.


The New York teams will pick first and second in the 2021 NFL draft.

The Giants lost to the Bears 17-13 and almost certainly lost superstar running back Saquon Barkley to a season-ending knee injury. The Jets lost 31-13 to the injury-ravaged 49ers. Both teams are 0-2, neither was expected to contend this season anyway, and it’s really hard to map out a road to a successful season for either one of them.

What the Giants and the Jets need to do is find out as much as they can about their young quarterbacks so they’re in position to make long-term decisions in the offseason based on how they feel about Daniel Jones and Sam Darnold, respectively. The only question is how long they can go relative to the other non-contenders.

The verdict: NOT AN OVERREACTION. Heading into the week, the ESPN Football Power Index projected the Giants to pick No. 2 and the Jets to pick No. 6 in next year’s draft. So heck yeah, it’s possible.

I’ve been thinking since the spring that Carolina was the most likely team to pick first next year, but without Barkley, I don’t see what’s keeping the Giants from making a real run at it. They play the 49ers, Rams and Cowboys the next three weeks, and the last two are long road trips. In the second half of the season, they have road games in Seattle and Baltimore.

The Jets’ schedule still includes games against the Colts, Chargers, Chiefs, Seahawks, Rams and two each against the Bills and Patriots. And don’t forget — those are only the tough-looking games. Right now, as they have been for several years, the New York teams are the easy-looking games on other teams’ schedules.


You guys. Seriously. Is Josh Allen, like, really, really good? He came out of Sunday’s lightning delay in Miami as if he’d been struck by lightning and gifted with enhanced super powers. Allen finished the day 24-for-35 passing for 417 yards, four touchdowns and no interceptions for the 2-0 Bills.

Allen is the fourth quarterback in NFL history to throw for more than 700 yards and at least six touchdowns without an interception in his first two games. The others are Peyton Manning, Tom Brady and Patrick Mahomes, who have combined to win nine MVP awards.

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In the final minute of the first half on 3rd-and-8, Josh Allen avoids the sack, then simply refuses to go down as he fights through multiple Dolphins defenders.

The verdict: NOT AN OVERREACTION. There’s never been any doubt about Allen’s physical gifts. The questions about him have been about accuracy and consistency — whether he can improve the former and maintain the latter. He still seems to do one or two things every game that make it look as if he’s playing his first game ever, but so far this season he has been as impeccable as anyone in the league.

On paper, Buffalo has the best roster in the AFC East by far. Coming into the season, the only major question mark was Allen. If he has truly taken a major step forward and can maintain this level of performance throughout the season, he’s in the discussion, because the Bills are going to win a lot of games.


The Vikings’ season is already over

Woof. Outside of the Jets, has any team looked worse in its first two games than Minnesota? In Week 1, Aaron Rodgers treated the Vikings’ defense like a piñata with Brian Gutekunst’s face on it. In Week 2, the Colts absolutely smothered the Vikings’ offense. Kirk Cousins on Sunday was a Peterman-esque 11-for-26 passing for 113 yards and three interceptions. He was the first Vikings quarterback with a sub-50 completion percentage in a game since Brad Johnson in 2006. You don’t hear a lot of Vikings fans pining for a return to the Brad Johnson era.

Minnesota was outgained by Indianapolis 354 yards to 175. It had 12 first downs to the Colts’ 24. It possessed the ball for just 21:35 out of a possible 60:00. NFL offenses don’t look much more inept than Minnesota’s did in Week 2, and there’s no sugarcoating it.

The Packers are 2-0 and so, somehow, is a Bears team that was outscored 23-6 in the first three quarters of its first game and 13-0 in the second half of its second. So the Vikings are already two games behind the defending division champs and some sort of Mitchell Trubisky magic show. Not the way you want to start a season.

The verdict: OVERREACTION. First of all, there are seven playoff teams per conference this year. So the otherwise troubling fact that only four of the 108 teams to reach the Super Bowl started 0-2 is no longer relevant.

Second of all, Mike Zimmer hasn’t had a losing record since he went 7-9 in his first season as Vikings coach in 2014. His team has a young secondary and a defense that has gone through a lot of change for the first time in years, but there’s still plenty of talent there. They will need time to get their feet under them.

Cousins has had a stinker or two before but tends to bounce back, and he seems to be driven by the doubters. It’s a tough climb back, but I’m willing to bet Sunday was the worst game the Vikings will play in 2020.

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NFL Week 2 takeaways, stat leaders

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Week 2 in the NFL was marked by numerous injuries to big-name players, wild comebacks, huge individual performances and then some more injuries to big-name players.

In Sunday’s early slate, Saquon Barkley, Drew Lock, Nick Bosa and Jimmy Garoppolo headlined a long list of players who were forced out of their games and potentially face longer absences. The 49ers, in particular, were battered with injury issues throughout their win on Sunday. Elsewhere, the Cowboys mounted a huge comeback against the Falcons to win on a field goal in the final seconds, the Titans held off the Jaguars for a close win to take sole possession of first place in the AFC South and the Bears escaped a Giants rally in the closing minutes. The Eagles stumbled to another loss, and the Vikings’ offense couldn’t find any footing in their defeat. And as far as big performances go, Aaron Jones shined in going over 200 scrimmage yards and scoring three times.

All that and more in Week 2‘s biggest takeaways from NFL Nation.

Jump to a matchup:
LAR-PHI | ATL-DAL | DEN-PIT
SF-NYJ | MIN-IND | DET-GB
CAR-TB | BUF-MIA | JAX-TEN
NYG-CHI | CIN-CLE

Standout performer for LAR-PHI: Jared Goff, 20-of-27, 267 passing yards, 3 TDs, 0 INT

The Rams’ offense fired on all cylinders. Jared Goff completed 13 consecutive passes to start the game, as the Rams’ play-action and misdirection kept the Eagles’ defense on its heels. Seven Rams players recorded a carry, while six caught a pass. “We had guys open, and I was throwing the ball pretty good,” Goff said. Now the offense must maintain momentum as the Rams return to L.A. before traveling to the East Coast again next Sunday to play the Bills. — Lindsey Thiry

Next game: at Buffalo (1 p.m. ET, Sunday, Sept. 27)

Carson Wentz (242 yards, two interceptions) could not match the level of play of his old training partner, Goff, and now the Eagles are in an 0-2 hole. Philadelphia needed its franchise quarterback to elevate the offense and meet the moment, and he didn’t deliver despite a much-improved performance from the offensive line. There is plenty of time to turn things around, but the concern is growing when it comes to the starting QB.

Next game: vs. Cincinnati (1 p.m. ET, Sunday, Sept. 27)


Standout performer for ATL-DAL: Dak Prescott, 450 passing yards, 1 passing TD, 3 rushing TDs

The difference between 1-1 and 0-2 might not mean what it had in past years, with an additional wild-card team being added to the mix this season. But how the Cowboys got to 1-1 is more meaningful than the fact that they’re back to .500. Overcoming a 20-0 deficit in the first quarter and a 15-point hole with less than five minutes to play to beat Atlanta is something that could give this team a push going forward. “I think we all know where we want to go, and we all understand it’s a process,” linebacker Jaylon Smith said. “We embrace each moment, but whenever you win in the National Football League, you have to embrace it. We’re going to evaluate the footage and figure out how we can get better and grow. This is not a sprint. It’s a marathon, and we want to peak when we need to peak.” — Todd Archer

Next game: at Seattle (4:25 p.m. ET, Sunday, Sept. 27)

No matter how you dissect it, this was an embarrassing loss for the Falcons and one that could linger the rest of the season. An 0-2 start was not what owner Arthur Blank signed up for when he decided to keep both coach Dan Quinn and general manager Thomas Dimitroff after back-to-back 7-9 seasons. Yes, it’s too early to rule the Falcons out of playoff contention, but a fast start was critical, especially with how difficult NFC South play will be against Drew Brees‘ Saints and Tom Brady‘s Bucs. Quinn said he’s just going to take things game by game, and he gave an emphatic “No,” when asked whether any coaching changes would be made. The Falcons have no choice but to turn it around against a surprisingly undefeated Bears team next week at home, or else they could find themselves 0-4 out of the gate with a road trip to Green Bay in Week 4. — Vaughn McClure

Next game: vs. Chicago (1 p.m. ET, Sunday, Sept. 27)


Standout performer for DEN-PIT: Mike Hilton, 1 sack, 1 fumble recovery, 8 tackles

Ben Roethlisberger looked mortal in his home debut with an interception and a couple of missed throws, but he emphasized that the offensive miscues were his fault, complimenting his receivers for running the right routes and being in the right place. “A lot of the throws I missed is me needing to trust myself and that the guys are in the right spots because they are in the right places,” Roethlisberger said. With the offense struggling to find an identity in the third quarter, the defense came through to preserve the win, making up for gifting the Broncos six first downs on penalties with a massive 11-yard sack on fourth down by Terrell Edmunds with less than two minutes remaining. — Brooke Pryor

Next game: vs. Houston (1 p.m. ET, Sunday, Sept. 27)

Since Peyton Manning retired after the 2015 season, the Broncos have used seven different starting quarterbacks, and Pat Shurmur is now their fifth different offensive coordinator in the past five years. Jeff Driskel could be the eighth starting QB next week after Drew Lock left the game in the first quarter with a right (throwing) shoulder injury. Driskel tried to rally the Broncos before a failed fourth-down conversion inside the two-minute warning ended those hopes. And for the Broncos to have any success next week, they need to protect Driskel. Lock and Driskel were sacked a combined seven times and hit 18 others. — Jeff Legwold

Next game: vs. Tampa Bay (4:25 p.m. ET, Sunday, Sept. 27)

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Drew Lock exits the game and would not return after a hard hit by Bud Dupree causes him to fumble and injure his right shoulder.

Standout performer for SF-NYJ: Jordan Reed, 50 receiving yards, 2 TDs

A team that was already without tight end George Kittle, receiver Deebo Samuel, defensive end Dee Ford and cornerback Richard Sherman watched as defensive end Nick Bosa (left knee), quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo (right ankle), running backs Raheem Mostert (knee) and Tevin Coleman (knee) and defensive tackle Solomon Thomas (knee) departed the game and did not return. Bosa might have suffered a torn ACL, something coach Kyle Shanahan said is “most likely,” and a high ankle sprain for Garoppolo could cost him time. “You’ve got a little mixed emotions when you lose some guys like that,” Shanahan said. “We had a good team last year and we have got a good team this year. I just told the guys we do have a good team, but there’s also so many guys in our place that can get a lot better.” The Niners will need that improvement to happen fast as they wait and hope for better days to come on the injury front. — Nick Wagoner

Next game: at N.Y. Giants (1 p.m. ET, Sunday, Sept. 27)

The Jets are an absolute mess, and the Adam Gase Watch is on. They were noncompetitive for the second consecutive week, regressing in all areas. CEO Christopher Johnson said last week that he will base his end-of-season evaluation on Gase on whether the team shows progress. At the rate the Jets are going, he won’t make it to the end of the year. Injuries are mounting, making the challenge that much greater. — Rich Cimini

Next game: at Indianapolis (4:05 p.m. ET, Sunday, Sept. 27)


Standout performer for MIN-IND: Jonathan Taylor, 101 rushing yards, 1 TD

The Colts’ defense responded to a poor performance in Week 1 by intercepting Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins three times, sacking him three times and holding Minnesota’s offense to 175 yards. At one point in the second half, Cousins had a 0.0 rating. The Colts needed a game like Sunday to avoid questions about a defensive unit that was supposed to take a step forward with the addition of DeForest Buckner and the return of Darius Leonard. For one week, they answered those questions. — Mike Wells

Next game: vs. N.Y. Jets (4:05 p.m. ET, Sunday, Sept. 27)

The Vikings are in trouble. In a year in which the defense is undergoing a major rebuild, the offense has not been able to pull its weight and bail out the entire team in two miserable early-season losses. The identity of this team is not what it’s been for the past six seasons, and according to coach Mike Zimmer, the Vikings are “not very good at anything.” It’s going to take a while before Minnesota’s defense is back to being one of the top units in the NFL. Until then, the offense has to find workarounds for its lackluster pass protection, unproven receiving corps (outside of Adam Thielen) and disastrous play at quarterback. — Courtney Cronin

Next game: vs. Tennessee (1 p.m. ET, Sunday, Sept. 27)


Standout performer for DET-GB: Aaron Jones, 168 rushing yards, 68 receiving yards, 3 total TDs

How can the Packers not pay Aaron Jones after he totaled a career-best 236 yards from scrimmage and scored three touchdowns against the Lions? In a perfect, non-salary-cap world, that wouldn’t even be a question. Even in the world in which the Packers operate, they’re going to have to start asking themselves that question if the fourth-year running back with an expiring contract keeps doing what he did in Sunday’s win over the Lions in the home opener at Lambeau Field. — Rob Demovsky

Next game: at New Orleans (8:20 p.m. ET, Sunday, Sept. 27)

The Lions lost a double-digit lead for the fourth consecutive game, which was also their 11th straight loss. At least the collapse didn’t come at the end of the team’s loss to Green Bay this time. Instead, it happened at the end of the first half and start of the second, when a 14-3 lead evaporated with 31 straight Packers points. At 0-2, 2020 is starting to feel a lot like a continuation of last season, when the Lions went 3-12-1 and were one of the worst teams in the league. — Michael Rothstein

Next game: at Arizona (4:25 p.m. ET, Sunday, Sept. 27)


Standout performer for CAR-TB: Leonard Fournette, 103 rushing yards, 2 TDs

The Bucs’ defense notched four takeaways, with two setting up scoring drives, while Leonard Fournette broke out for 103 rushing yards and two touchdowns on 12 touches. The offensive line also didn’t give up a sack. That’s exactly the kind of support Tom Brady and his receivers need while they continue to get more on the same page. Brady went 23-of-35 for 217 passing yards, a touchdown, an interception and a fumbled exchange with Ronald Jones II. “I think consistency, dependability are gonna be things we really need,” Brady said. “Defense played great the first two games. We’ve gotta match ’em.” — Jenna Laine

Next game: at Denver (4:25 p.m. ET, Sunday, Sept. 27)

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Leonard Fournette gives the Bucs a 14-point lead with under 2 minutes remaining to put away the Panthers.

The question isn’t whether the Panthers can turn things around after an 0-2 start. It’s whether they can do it without their best player, running back Christian McCaffrey, if he misses time with an ankle/lower-leg injury suffered on a 7-yard touchdown run with about 13:30 remaining. Sunday’s loss to Tampa Bay was filled with mistakes, highlighted by quarterback Teddy Bridgewater‘s four turnovers. Those things can be corrected, and Bridgewater doesn’t have a history of being mistake-prone. But replacing McCaffrey, who last year became the third player in NFL history to have 1,000 yards rushing and receiving in the same season, won’t be so easy if his injury is serious. — David Newton

Next game: at L.A. Chargers (4:05 p.m. ET, Sunday, Sept. 27)


Standout performer for BUF-MIA: Josh Allen, 417 passing yards, 4 TDs, 0 INT

Buffalo didn’t just improve its passing offense this offseason — it might have become one of the most proficient aerial attacks in the NFL. Josh Allen has looked like an elite passer over his past two games, and trading for Stefon Diggs (8 catches, 153 yards, TD) has immediately paid off. The Bills’ ability to put points up quickly will serve them well now that their schedule gets a lot more difficult over the next month. — Marcel Louis-Jacques

Next game: vs. L.A. Rams (1 p.m. ET, Sunday, Sept. 27)

It was eye-opening to see how Allen exposed what was supposed to be the strength of the Dolphins: their pass defense. But the biggest takeaway? The Dolphins continue to show fight and improvement, but they have gaping flaws that show they are still a rebuilding team rather than a team truly competing for the AFC East. At 0-2, the Dolphins look like a team at least a year or two away, rather than a team truly ready to compete for a playoff spot. — Cameron Wolfe

Next game: at Jacksonville (8:20 p.m. ET, Thursday)


Standout performer for JAX-TEN: Stephen Gostkowski, 2-of-2 FGs, including 49-yard game winner

Even in a win, the defense needs to perform better. Tennessee gave up 165 rushing yards to the Jaguars, and it had a lot of missed tackles. Gardner Minshew II also threw for 339 yards and three touchdowns, as Jacksonville gained 480 yards on offense. But the Titans were fortunate to get two late stops on the last two drives by the Jaguars, and Jeffery Simmons‘ tipped pass intercepted by Harold Landry sealed the game. — Turron Davenport

Next game: at Minnesota (1 p.m. ET, Sunday, Sept. 27)

The Jaguars made stopping Derrick Henry a priority, limiting him to 84 yards on 25 carries. But they couldn’t stop Ryan Tannehill, who threw for 239 yards and four TDs. The Jaguars were down starting free safety Jarrod Wilson but had every other starter in the secondary until cornerback D.J. Hayden was evaluated for a concussion on the Titans’ game-winning drive. The Jags didn’t get much pressure on Tannehill, either. They sacked him just once and now have only two sacks through the first two games of the season. — Mike DiRocco

Next game: vs. Miami (8:20 p.m. ET, Thursday)


Standout performer for NYG-CHI: David Montgomery, 82 rushing yards, 45 receiving yards, 1 receiving TD

The Bears are 2-0, but it’s impossible to tell whether they’re actually any good. Just when you want to start believing in Matt Nagy’s offense and quarterback Mitchell Trubisky, the Bears score zero second-half points against a depleted Giants defense. Chicago’s defense — a group Nagy recently referred to as the NFL’s best — has played spotty football through two weeks. And New York’s offense — without Saquon Barkley or Sterling Shepard — almost erased a 17-point deficit and won the game as time expired Sunday. That is not how a championship defense is supposed to look. The Bears have benefited from playing two subpar teams to open the season, but the schedule won’t remain soft forever. — Jeff Dickerson

Next game: at Atlanta (1 p.m. ET, Sunday, Sept. 27)

The Giants likely lost Saquon Barkley for the season to a torn ACL. “I mean, that’s Saquon Barkley,” running back Dion Lewis said after the loss. “You lose a guy like that, it’s a huge loss.” The Giants also lost WR Sterling Shepard (toe) and are off to an 0-2 start for the fourth consecutive year and seventh time in eight seasons. But at least they can take some solace from almost battling back from a 17-point halftime deficit without Barkley. The Giants had the ball on Chicago’s 10-yard line with four seconds remaining and a chance to win the game. — Jordan Raanan

Next game: vs. San Francisco (1 p.m. ET, Sunday, Sept. 27)

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After being forced out of bounds, Saquon Barkley clutches at his right knee in pain and has to be helped off the field.

Standout performer for CIN-CLE: Baker Mayfield, 219 passing yards, 2 TDs, 1 INT

Coming off a rough 2019 season and even rougher 2020 season opener on Sunday, QB Baker Mayfield roared back with perhaps the sharpest performance since his rookie season. Mayfield connected on his first five passes, including a 43-yard TD to Odell Beckham Jr. After struggling in the 32-point season-opening loss at Baltimore, Mayfield said the potential of a talented offense built around him was “not just false hopes.” Cleveland will have tests ahead tougher than Cincinnati, but this was a strong step, both for Baker and the Browns. — Jake Trotter

Next game: vs. Washington (1 p.m. ET, Sunday, Sept. 27)

Rookie quarterback Joe Burrow showed flashes of his potential for the second time in five days, throwing for 316 yards on 61 attempts with three touchdowns. But after Thursday’s loss, it’s clear Burrow needs those around him to play well if he’s going to make the most of his first NFL season. In his second pro start, Burrow was able to move the offense down the field despite the lack of big plays. However, the rookie constantly found himself under pressure and needing to overcome the play of his teammates. — Ben Baby

Next game: at Philadelphia (1 p.m. ET, Sunday, Sept. 27)

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Ho-hum: Yet another big Patrick Mahomes-led comeback for Chiefs – Kansas City Chiefs Blog

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Patrick Mahomes on Sunday led the Kansas City Chiefs back from a double-digit deficit to victory for the fourth time in the past five games.

This time the victims were the Chargers, who led by 11 in the third quarter in Los Angeles but fell to Mahomes and the Chiefs 23-20 in overtime. The Chiefs kicked a 30-yard field goal on the final play of regulation to put the game into overtime, where they won it on Harrison Butker‘s 58-yard field goal.

Mahomes made a huge play in the fourth quarter in throwing a 54-yard touchdown pass to Tyreek Hill while on the run. Mahomes found receiver Mecole Hardman for the 2-point conversion to tie it at 17.

The Chiefs got the ball in overtime after the Chargers elected not to go for it on fourth-and-1 from their own 34-yard line. According to ESPN’s win probability, there was a less than 1% difference between winning by going for it and winning by punting.

The Chiefs trailed by at least 10 points in all three of their postseason games last season. They were down 20-10 midway through the fourth quarter of Super Bowl LIV but rallied to beat the San Francisco 49ers 31-20.

STILL THE AFC WEST LEADERS: At 2-0, the Chiefs are alone in first place in the AFC West. By rallying, they avoided falling out of first place for the first time since Week 16 in 2016.

HERBERT ISN’T RIVERS: The Chiefs intercepted former Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers six times in two games against L.A. last season and 15 times in the past six games. But they could force rookie QB Justin Herbert into only one mistake, a second-half interception by L’Jarius Sneed.

BUTKER’S INCREASED RANGE: The Chiefs said they believed kicker Harrison Butker increased his range during the offseason by several yards and that they weren’t shy about using him from up to 60 yards on field goals. He made them look good by hitting a 58-yard field goal in the third quarter and then the game winner from the same distance in overtime. Butker made a 77-yard field goal while working out in the spring, though with a strong wind at his back. He made one from more than 70 yards in pregame in the altitude of Mexico City last year.

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