The Games that Shaped the 2019 Season: Week 2
The 2019 season began on September 5th 2019 and culminated at Super Bowl LIV on February 5th 2020. However, in between those games at Soldier Field in Chicago and Hard Rock Stadium in Miami, the season took a number of twists, all of which impacted the path to Super Bowl LIV for many teams. In this series we will take a look back at the games that shaped the 2019 NFL season, with this article focusing on Week 2.
Week 2 is always an intriguing one in the NFL, with Week 1 having thrown up surprises. Week 2 is where we see the teams that started well either demonstrate that their performance was for real, or sees them crash back to earth. The same goes for the teams that struggled, Week 2 allows them to either prove it was blip or have their struggles confirmed.
The reason that it is was so important for teams to either validate their Week 1 performance or bounce back is clear when you look at teams chances of making the playoffs. Teams that start 2-0 made the playoffs 61% of the time, while 0-2 teams made the playoffs just 10% of the time.
Seattle Seahawks 28 - 26 Pittsburgh Steelers
This matchup in Pittsburgh saw two teams that had had their troubles in Week 1 go head to head. The Seahawks had barely squeaked past the Cincinnati Bengals in Seattle, while the Steelers had been man-handled by the New England Patriots. This ended up being a back-and-forth game between two teams many had pencilled in as playoff teams prior to Week 1.
The Steelers led 10-7 at the half, before the Seahawks took control in the third quarter. While the Steelers rallied in the fourth, a failed two-point conversion with 11 minutes left in the game would ultimately prove to be the deciding factor as the Seahawks left Pittsburgh winners by the thin margin of just two points.
What was the games significance?
The significance of this game for the Steelers was huge, as Ben Roethlisberger was unable to take to the field for the second half of the game with an injured right elbow. While Mason Rudolph would produce an admirable rally, Roethlisberger’s injury would require surgery and he would not take another snap in the 2019 season.
Without Roethlisberger, the Steelers offense would struggle their way through 2019, ranking 27th in points scored and 30th in yards. Thanks to a defense which ranked fifth in both points and yards allowed as well as first in total turnovers, they would finish the year 8-8 and just miss out on the playoffs. This game was a huge turning point in their season.
With Roethlisberger healthy, there is every chance the Steelers would have made the playoffs. However, on the flip side of that is the question of whether they would have made the bold move of trading for Minkah Fitzpatrick if they had not started the season 1-4? This game has the potential to have not only shaped 2019 for the Steelers, but 2020 and beyond.
The main significance from a Seahawks point of view is that they managed to start 2-0, including a tricky 1 pm EST kickoff, which can be tough for the West Coast teams. The Steelers game was their first of four early kickoffs, of which they would win all four, continuing a surprisingly good run on the East Coast in the early time slot.
Jacksonville Jaguars 12 - 13 Houston Texans
This game certainly did not win any awards for being entertaining, well at least until the last five minutes when Gardner Minshew exploded the game into life. Through the first three quarter this game had just 9 points scored. The fourth quarter would see a relatively massive 16 points scored, with both sides adding a touchdown as well as the Jaguars adding a field goal. The game was decided on the decision by Jaguars head coach Doug Marrone to go for two and the win instead of going for one to force over time.
What was the games significance?
Winning the game was huge for the Texans, who had suffered an agonising Week 1 loss in New Orleans on Monday Night Football. In a division with as much parity as the AFC South was expected to have an 0-2 start would have been a big blow to their division chances. However, instead they escaped Week 2 at 1-1, and ultimately won the division by just one game over the late charging Tennessee Titans.
The significance of this game for the Jaguars was the performance of Gardner Minshew when under pressure at the end of the game. Having struggled to generate offense through the first 55 minutes of the game, Minshew took matters into his own hands and nearly put the Jaguars on his back. Ultimately, they would fall short and slip to an 0-2 record, leaving them in a perilous position in the AFC South.
Minnesota Vikings 16 - 21 Green Bay Packers
Both teams came into this game at 1-0 after knocking off the Bears and Falcons in Week 1. The Vikings had impressed in beating a Falcons team many expected to be good in 2019. Meanwhile, the Packers had struggled for offense in a low-scoring Week 1 slug fest in Chicago.
The Packers took control of the game early, taking a 21-0 lead less than minute into the first half. The Vikings would rally to trail 21-16 entering the fourth quarter. However, Kirk Cousins, Dalvin Cook and company could not take advantage of the Packers falling asleep on the job and complete the comeback in Lambeau Field.
What was the games significance?
Much like Week 1 this game really set a tone for the Packers. Another unconvincing win in which they relied on their defense to stop the game slipping away. After a tough first week, Aaron Jones stepped up, with 150 combined yards and a touchdown. However, this game emphasised the Packers concerns at the receiver position, with Davante Adams the only receiver or tight end to put up over 100 yards or find the endzone. The running backs provided an outlet for Rodgers seeing as many targets in the game as the other wide receiver options, with Jamaal Williams catching Rodgers other touchdown pass.
For the Vikings, this loss would become somewhat symbolic of their season. Good but with an inability to get over the line costing them a shot at the division and a potential first-round bye. Losses against the Chicago Bears, a Matt Moore-led Chiefs team and another disappointing performance against the Packers in Week 16 made for a frustrating season for the Vikings, despite going 10-6 and winning on the road in the first-round of the playoffs.
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