Cowboys and Vikings: From Super Bowl contenders to 0-2 and uh-oh
In the NFL standings, they are 0-2.
In their locker rooms, they are "Uh-and-Oh!"
The Dallas Cowboys were going to be the first team to play a Super Bowl on its home field.
And the Minnesota Vikings? Their overflowing talent was the reason Brett Favre came back for a 20th year, one season after bringing them to the brink of a Super Bowl appearance.
But heading into Week 3, both franchises are still looking for their first victory.
Is it too early to panic? In a word, no.
"We've got to climb our way out of this," Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo said Sunday after a 27-20 loss at home to Chicago. "You sit there and you wonder if you're ever going to win a football game. At this point I'd think that's not what you'd expect going into the season. It's frustrating. We've got to do things better, and we need to figure it out in a hurry."
Although an 0-2 start does not spell curtains for the season, it's worth noting that none of the 12 teams that made the playoffs in 2009 began their season with consecutive losses.
The Vikings lost to Miami, 14-10, at the Metrodome, a place where Minnesota went 9-0 last season and outscored opponents by an average of 33-14.
A year after he had 33 touchdowns and seven interceptions, Favre already has four interceptions to go with his lone touchdown. Sidney Rice, his favorite receiver, is out with a hip injury.
That has prompted talk that the Vikings might swing a deal with San Diego for Vincent Jackson, the 6-foot-5 Pro Bowl receiver who's suspended for at least the first four games and currently embroiled in a contract dispute. If he isn't traded by Wednesday, Jackson will have to sit out the first six games.
After the loss Sunday, Favre was asked about the possibility of acquiring Jackson but said, "It's not for me to decide."
"I've heard the talk just like everyone else has heard, and I'll tell you the same thing I tell everyone else: You know as much as I do," said Favre, who as a Packer lobbied heavily for Green Bay to sign Randy Moss. "But we've got to play Detroit (on Sunday) and all I know is we have to get better, the guys we have in the room. I can't speak for other guys who are not here."
Sunday wasn't just a day for underdogs — seven of them won — but understudy quarterbacks. Four of them started in Week 2: Philadelphia's Michael Vick, Pittsburgh's Dennis Dixon (replacing the suspended Ben Roethlisberger), Detroit's Shaun Hill, and Cleveland's Seneca Wallace.
But the revolving door didn't stop spinning. After Dixon hurt his knee, he was replaced by third-stringer Charlie Batch. Carolina's Jimmy Clausen came in for the ineffective Matt Moore. Vince Young had three turnovers and was benched in favor of Kerry Collins. And stepping in for shaken-up starters were Jacksonville's Luke McCown and Oakland's Bruce Gradkowski.
Two of the more interesting quarterback situations are in Pennsylvania.
The Steelers, who are awaiting the return of Roethlisberger from his four-game suspension, felt comfortable enough with their quarterback depth to cut Byron Leftwich last week. Had Batch been hurt Sunday, the Steelers would have had to use receiver Antwaan Randle El at quarterback.
Pittsburgh Coach Mike Tomlin told NBC's Peter King that the Steelers plan to re-sign Leftwich on Monday, and that Leftwich, Dixon or Batch could start Sunday at Tampa Bay.
Then, there's Vick, who made his first start Sunday in almost four years. He threw for 284 yards and two touchdowns and was typically elusive in a 35-32 victory at Detroit. Still, Kevin Kolb was cleared to return from his concussion and will resume his role as starting Eagles quarterback, Coach Andy Reid said after the game.
That makes sense. Philadelphia can't give up on Kolb on a whim after one bad half, not after investing three years in grooming him to take over for Donovan McNabb.
However, Kolb will have the tough task of playing at Jacksonville, a stiff challenge for any quarterback. If he struggles there, it could get really interesting, because the Eagles play host to Washington the following week. If Kolb doesn't outplay McNabb — or at least make a strong showing — well, those patient fans in Philadelphia will be calling for a change.
The Chargers only punted twice in their 38-13 stomping of Jacksonville. The Jaguars, meanwhile, didn't even punt once — but that's because they were forced into six turnovers.
San Diego rookie running back Ryan Mathews hurt his right ankle in the first quarter and had to be helped off the field. After being examined on the bench, Mathews was taken to the locker room on a cart. He jogged back to the bench midway through the second quarter.
Green Bay linebacker Clay Matthews Jr. already has six sacks — three in the opener against Philadelphia, and three Sunday against Buffalo.
What a timing pattern for Jets quarterback Mark Sanchez. Not only did he play his best game — 21 for 30 for 220 yards, with a career-high three touchdowns and no interceptions — but he also did it at a vital time. The Jets needed to show they aren't the jalopy that sputtered through the Monday night opener — and they shined against a Bill Belichick-coached New England defense.
Jets cornerback Darrelle Revis missed the second half with a hamstring injury. Speaks to the importance of training camp, which he missed as a contract holdout. The Jets said Revis will have an MRI examination Monday.
Kicker Mike Nugent was cut by Tampa Bay early last season and spent the year out of football. Sunday, he kicked five field goals for Cincinnati to account for all the Bengals' scoring in a 15-10 victory over Baltimore. The Bengals have won a club-record eight consecutive division games.
Denver cornerback Champ Bailey left the locker room on crutches following the Broncos' victory over Seattle. Bailey told a local TV station that the crutches were precautionary.
Last updated: 2:55 pm Thursday, December 13, 2012