Giants star Saquon Barkley’s ankle injury has once again put the dire state of the NFL’s running back market back in the spotlight.
Broncos quarterback Russell Wilson threw a last second hail mary in wild scenes, but it wouldn’t be enough to earn a first win for the Sean Payton era in Denver
Meanwhile, the NFL’s highest-paid player is in a form slump but even worse, there’s new injury concerns for the Bengals quarterback.
Read on for our Monday morning NFL Wrap!
BARKLEY INJURY HIGHLIGHTS BRUTAL NFL REALITY
The New York Giants are set for a nervous wait after star running back Saquon Barkley was assisted off the field late in his team’s come from behind win over the Arizona Cardinals with a lower leg injury.
With the game tied at 28 and the Giants driving, Barkley was slow to get up after a carry and was unable to put any weight on his right leg.
According to the Giants beat reporter for ESPN Jordan Raanan, Barkley was “limping around the locker room” with a swollen ankle.
Barkley’s injury shines a light on the dire state of the running back market, with some of the game’s best at the position unable to negotiate for a deal longer than a year this past offseason.
Colts star Johnathan Taylor hasn’t been sighted this season after requesting a trade from Indanapolis – one that has yet to be granted.
Barkley was the face of the attempted movement to save the running back position financially, and it even looked as though he’d hold out instead of signing a $10.091 million franchise tag tender, however the Giants star ended up agreeing on a one-year deal which could be worth up to $11 million ($17m AUD)
It appears Barkley will be out for at least a few weeks, so while the injury may not be season-ending, it provides a reminder how fickle the NFL can be, and why these running backs are feeling slighted by the state of the market at their position.
WASHINGTON WIN THRILLER DESPITE RUSS’ LAST SECOND HAIL MARY
The cross-conference clash between the Commanders and Broncos wasn’t expected to be a highlight of Week 2, but it ended up being a barn burner.
The Broncos and their quarterback Russell Wilson were rolling early, putting up a 21-3 lead in the first half.
However the Sam Howell-led Commanders roared back, going on a 32-3 run to take a 35-24 lead in the final quarter.
This left 48 seconds on the clock for the Broncos to try and drive 87 yards to score and convert a two point conversion.
They would get to the halfway line with three seconds left on the clock, meaning Wilson and the Broncos needed to connect on a hail mary.
Amazingly, they did when a tipped ball from a Wilson bomb fell into the hands of Denver reciever Brandon Johnson.
Unfortunately for the home fans, Wilson’s pass to Courtland Sutton for the two point conversion was incomplete and the Commanders held on to win 35-33.
The loss improves Washington to an improbable 2-0 while Sean Payton’s Broncos are 0-2, losing their first two games by a combined three points.
INJURY HORROR FOR $275 MILLION MAN AS BENGALS DROP FIRST TWO
Look away Bengals fans.
Cincinati quarterback Joe Burrow has re-aggravated a calf injury late in the 27-24 loss to the Baltimore Ravens, although the early signs appear to be positive.
Burrow, who missed the preseason and much of training camp with a right calf issue, was seen receiving treatment on the injury in the fourth quarter.
“It’s pretty sore right now but no telling how it’s going to feel so I think we’re going to take it day-by-day,” Burrow said.
The 26-year-old, who became the highest-paid player in NFL history when signing a 5-year, $275 million ($427m AUD) contract extension on September 7, hasn’t been anywhere near his best or worthy of that pay packet to begin the season.
Burrow was benched against Cleveland in Week 1, and while he was much better against the Ravens on Monday morning (AEST), a number of erratic throws sunk his team’s chances.
“That is not Joe Burrow. The Bengals just don’t look in sync,” ESPN’s Herm Edwards said after Cincinnati’s loss to Baltimore.
It has been a less-than-ideal start for the Bengals, who have now lost their first two games, both against division rivals.
It’s a long season, so Burrow and the Bengals have plenty of time to turn it around, but for a team picked by many to win the AFC, very few would have anticipated this start.
What fans can take solace in is that the Bengals were able to bounce back from a 0-2 start last season to reach a AFC Championship game.
RODGERS REPLACEMENT FLOPS AGAINST SCARY DALLAS D
The New York Jets were left reeling after star recruit Aaron Rodgers was ruled out for the season, and the play in Week 2 of back up Zach Wilson wouldn’t have improved the mood.
Wilson, taking on the vaunted Dallas Cowboys defence, had one big play when connecting with stud wide reciever Garrett Wilson for a 68-yard TD, but outside of that, went 11-26, 102 yds and three interceptions.
He’s not the first quarterback to struggle against the Cowboys (see Daniel Jones) and he won’t be the last, but I’m sure the Jets fans and front office would have wanted to see a much better performance.
Wilson was able to orchestrate a come-from-behind win against Buffalo in Week 1, and off that performance, the Jets were keen to stress that the former second overall selection is their guy going forward this season with Rodgers suffering an achilles injury.
However, after the poor performance against Dallas, perhaps the Jets brass’ looks harder at the free agency pool.
The Cowboys meanwhile proved they are a team to fear this season, with both sides of the ball humming.
Dallas hung 30 points on a talented Jets defence, with Dak Prescott and Ceedee Lamb starring.
But again, the most impressive aspect of their win was the performance of the defence, led by Micah Parsons, who had two sacks of Wilson.
Dan Quinn’s men kept the Giants scoreless last week, and only limited the Jets to 10 points this week, forcing four turnovers.
BAKER, BUCS PROVE WEEK 1 WAS NO FLUKE
The Bucs have so far proven to be the surprise packet of the NFL at this early stage.
Former number one pick Baker Mayfield has been outstanding over the first two games, throwing for 490 yards, three touchdowns and no interceptions. Importantly, Tampa Bay is 2-0.
Star wideout Mike Evans, who has so far refused to commit to the Buccaneers past this season, had a huge game (six receptions, 171 yards and a TD).
The Bucs defence came up big when it mattered, shutting down Chicago’s run game with quarterback Justin Fields unable to threaten with his legs.
It’s a dream start for a team that weren’t given much winning hope this season.
This is mainly due to the lack of expectations placed on this team since the retirement of Tom Brady, with the new quarterback room at Tampa Bay much-discussed this offseason for all the wrong reasons.
Mayfield started training camp in a battle with third-year pro Kyle Trask for the job, but the reports and videos that filtered out of Tampa were anything but positive.
Mayfield, on his fourth team in three years since leaving the organisation that drafted him (Cleveland Browns), ended up winning the job, but it wasn’t a decision that pleased everyone, with many feeling Trask has the more upside at this stage of his career.
However, coach Todd Bowles’ decision is proving a masterstroke at this stage, as Mayfield enjoys a career resurgence.
In fact, Mayfield’s 2-0 start without throwing an interception is something that Brady never achieved in his three seasons in Tampa.
CHARGERS COACH FIRMLY ON THE HOT SEAT
The Los Angeles Chargers dropped their second straight game to begin the season on Monday, which has only warmed the seat their coach Brandon Staley sits on.
The Chargers lost in overtime to the Titans in Week 2, and could easily end up starting the season 0-4 with games against the Vikings (away) and Raiders up next.
Staley began the season on a short leash thanks in part to his team’s infamous loss to the Jaguars in the Wild Card Round when somehow coughing up a 27-7 lead.
It’s hard to be too critical, considering the Chargers have lost both games by less than three points against teams expected to challenge for a playoff spot in the Titans and Dolphins.
However, to lose so many close games like this throughout Staley’s tenure isn’t a coincidence, it’s more an ugly trend that has failed to be rectified.
Staley is just 19-17 at the helm, but on paper, leads one of the most talented rosters in the NFL.
If Staley fails to turn it around in the coming weeks, he’ll be on the hunt for a new gig.
FIRST ROUND QB’S PROVE THEIR WORTH
It was a battle of first round quarterbacks in Indianapolis on Monday, with Texans’ second-overall pick CJ Stroud and the Colts fourth-overall pick Anthony Richardson facing off in a AFC South battle.
Both rookies had shaky starts to their careers in Week 1, but were able to bounce back with strong showings in Week 2 in their time on the field.
Unfortunately, Richardson left the game early after suffering a concussion. Colts owner Jim Irsay said post-match that the quarterback was “fine.”
Richardson ran for two touchdowns and went 6/10 for 56 yards before being replaced by Gardner Minshew in the second quarter, who wound up leading the Colts to a 31-20 win.
Stroud showed off his arm talent by throwing for a whopping 384 yards, adding two touchdowns.
The former Ohio State quarterback has quickly formed a strong rapport with third-year reciever Nico Collins. Collins had 145 receiving yards, with him and Stroud linking up for a number of long gains throughout the game.
This included an 8-yard touchdown in the first quarter which was Stroud’s first in the NFL.
Chargers 24 @ Titans 27 (OT)
49ers 30 @ Rams 23
This content was originally published here.