<
>

Week 2 NFL game balls: Jameis Winston, Larry Fitzgerald, Tom Brady among the Sunday stars

Each week NFL Nation team reporters award a game ball to a player, coach or unit. Here are the game balls for Week 2:


STEELERS 43, 49ERS 18 | ANALYSISVideo

Anquan Boldin. Sure, Colin Kaepernick’s Mr. Dependable had an egregious red zone drop in the third quarter when he was wide open, but Boldin’s tiptoe routine in the left side of the end zone was more than a highlight. By hauling in the pass on fourth-and-goal from the 14-yard line, Boldin gave Kaepernick his first fourth-quarter TD pass in 22 starts. Boldin finished with five catches for 60 yards. -- Paul Gutierrez

Antonio Brown. Brown is best known for his streak of consistency -- 34 consecutive games of at least five receptions and 50 receiving yards (the longest streak in NFL history). Sunday was about excellence as Brown finished with 195 receiving yards, 1 yard shy of his career high. -- Matt Williamson


BUCCANEERS 26, SAINTS 19 | ANALYSISVideo

Jameis Winston. The No. 1 overall pick didn’t put up huge numbers, but he put up the type of numbers the Bucs wanted. Combined with a strong showing from the defense and a competent running game, Winston’s performance was more than good enough for his first career victory. Winston completed 14-of-21 passes for 207 yards and a touchdown and, most importantly, no interceptions. -- Pat Yasinskas

Hau'oli Kikaha. It wasn’t a great day for the Saints' defense, but the rookie outside linebacker forced a fumble in the fourth quarter to give New Orleans two golden opportunities to come back and win this game. Kikaha forced a fumble on his first career sack and finished with seven tackles. -- Mike Triplett


PANTHERS 24, TEXANS 17 | ANALYSISVideo

J.J. Watt. He had a sack, two quarterback hits, two passes defensed and nine tackles. Ryan Mallett might have gotten the game ball had he completed what looked like it was going to be a game-tying touchdown, but the drive stalled due to an intentional grounding penalty. Mallett’s final pass, on fourth down, was thrown out of the back of the end zone.-- Tania Ganguli

Cam Newton. He ran for a touchdown and threw for two more against a tough Texans defense. He got the offense jump-started in the second quarter with a 15-yard run on a read option that led to a 25-yard touchdown pass to Ted Ginn Jr. -- David Newton


VIKINGS 26, LIONS 16 | ANALYSISVideo

Matthew Stafford. He might not have had the best numbers Sunday, but he hung in there, getting hit over and over again by Minnesota’s defense. Stafford finished 32-of-53 for 286 yards and two touchdowns while also leading the Lions in rushing with 20 yards. -- Michael Rothstein

Adrian Peterson. It was far from a perfect day for the running back in his return to Minnesota; he fumbled three times, losing one deep in Lions territory. But the Vikings needed a win Sunday, and they counted on Peterson to carry them there. He carried 29 times for 134 yards, caught another two passes for 58 yards and finished the day as both the Vikings’ leading rusher and receiver. -- Ben Goessling


CARDINALS 48, BEARS 23 | ANALYSISVideo

Larry Fitzgerald. He caught eight passes for 112 yards and three touchdowns. It was the first time in Fitzgerald’s career that he caught three TDs in a regular-season game. -- Josh Weinfuss

Jay Cutler. Before injuring his hamstring attempting to make a tackle on Tony Jefferson's pick-six, Cutler completed eight consecutive throws for 120 yards and one touchdown. Cutler had the Arizona defense on its heels prior to the game-changing interception. The Bears fell apart when Cutler left the field and backup Jimmy Clausen entered the game. -- Jeff Dickerson


PATRIOTS 40, BILLS 32 | ANALYSISVideo

Tom Brady. Is it possible that the 38-year-old is getting better with age? Rex Ryan defenses have traditionally given him some issues, but not today. After the Patriots fell behind early 7-0, Brady and the offense put their foot on the gas pedal and took control of the game. -- Mike Reiss

LeSean McCoy. What hamstring injury? The Bills’ star running back looked anything but hobbled as he averaged 5.9 yards per carry, finishing the game with 89 yards on 15 carries. He added 27 yards on three catches. -- Mike Rodak


BENGALS 24, CHARGERS 19 | ANALYSISVideo

Melvin Gordon. He rushed for 88 yards on 16 carries for a robust 5.5-yard per carry average. Even more impressive, he had three runs of 20-plus yards, showing that big-play ability the Chargers coveted when they moved up in the first round to select the Wisconsin product. -- Eric D. Williams

Giovani Bernard. Bernard had a solid day mostly playing in relief of starter Jeremy Hill, who was benched after fumbling for a second time in the third quarter of Sunday’s 24-19 win. Bernard had 20 carries for 123 yards, including a long run of 26. -- Coley Harvey


BROWNS 28, TITANS 14 | ANALYSISVideo

Dexter McCluster. On a day when the Titans struggled to find plays offensively, McCluster provided some. McCluster had a 44-yard run and finished with 98 yards on 10 carries and another 26 yards on four receptions. -- Paul Kuharsky

Travis Benjamin. When a guy scores touchdowns of 60, 78 and 50 yards, it's a near no-brainer. For the second week in a row, Benjamin gets the game ball. His first TD got the Browns going, his second gave them a 21-point lead, and his third secured the win. Benjamin's 269 total yards were the key to the Browns' victory. -- Pat McManamon


FALCONS 24, GIANTS 20 | ANALYSISVideo

Julio Jones. He tied a franchise record with 13 receptions resulting in 135 receiving yards. Jones’ 38-yard catch in the final minutes helped set up Devonta Freeman’s game-winning 2-yard touchdown run. -- Vaughn McClure

Odell Beckham Jr. During a first half in which the Giants' defense was struggling to stop Julio Jones and the running game couldn’t get going, Eli Manning kept trying to force the ball to Beckham in hope of a big play. With 3:19 left in the half, Beckham delivered, catching a 20-yard pass from Manning and speeding away to the end zone for a 67-yard touchdown. Beckham finished with seven catches for 146 yards and has set the record for most catches and receiving yards by an NFL player in his first 14 games. -- Dan Graziano


REDSKINS 24, RAMS 10 | ANALYSISVideo

Alec Ogletree. Pickings were slim for the Rams, but Ogletree did his best to slow down Washington's running game. He finished with 16 tackles in unofficial press box stats. -- Nick Wagoner

Matt Jones. The rookie running back showed some sizzle (a 39-yard touchdown run) and some power (a 3-yard run and a few forearm bruising carries) en route to 123 yards rushing. The offensive line overall was excellent and deserves half a game ball. But Jones’ speed and size gave the Redskins more than just a complement to starter Alfred Morris. -- John Keim


JAGUARS 23, DOLPHINS 20 | ANALYSISVideo

Rishard Matthews. He set a new career high with six receptions for 115 yards, including a 48-yard catch in the first quarter. Matthews was one of the few consistent players for the Dolphins in an otherwise inconsistent team performance. -- James Walker

Jason Myers. The Jaguars chose to keep Myers over Josh Scobee, who owns team records in field goals, points scored and field goal percentage because the GM said he didn’t want to risk losing him. It was a decision that the fans panned at first but certainly paid off on Sunday when the rookie kicker hit a 28-yard game winner. That wasn’t even his most impressive kick, either. He hit a 58-yarder just before the first half ended. -- Michael DiRocco


RAIDERS 37, RAVENS 33 | ANALYSISVideo

Crockett Gillmore. Just like Cincinnati's Tyler Eifert the week before, Gillmore is the latest tight end to expose the Raiders. He ran over Raiders tacklers to score two touchdowns in the first half, which exceeded his entire total of his rookie season. He finished with five catches for 88 yards. -- Jamison Hensley

Derek Carr. He looked like he was going to be the goat with a bad interception that setup the go-ahead field goal for Baltimore. But the second-year quarterback led a touchdown drive in the final two minutes to culminate a day in which he threw for 351 yards and three touchdowns a week after leaving the game with a bruised hand. -- Bill Williamson


COWBOYS 20, EAGLES 10 | ANALYSISVideo

Sean Lee. Playing in just his second game since late in the 2013 season, Lee had two tackles for loss and came up with a big interception in the end zone in the series after the Cowboys lost quarterback Tony Romo to a fractured left collarbone. Lee had nine tackles in the season opener against the New York Giants, reached double digits again and recovered the Eagles’ last-gasp onside kick. -- Todd Archer

Jordan Hicks The rookie linebacker doesn’t get the game ball for injuring Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo. But the Eagles were in trouble with two of their three veteran inside linebackers sidelined by injuries. Kiko Alonso hurt his knee and Mychal Kendricks injured a hamstring. That forced Hicks to play alongside veteran DeMeco Ryans. His sack of Romo created a turnover, giving the Eagles the ball and a chance. It wasn’t Hicks’ fault they couldn’t hold on to the ball. -- Phil Sheridan


PACKERS 27, SEAHAWKS 17 | ANALYSISVideo

Doug Baldwin. While Jimmy Graham and Tyler Lockett have generated some of the early-season headlines, it was Baldwin who gave the Seahawks a second-half boost. Baldwin had seven catches for 92 yards and a touchdown on eight targets. He produced the offense’s biggest play (32-yard catch) and briefly gave the Seahawks a lead in the third quarter with a 13-yard score. -- Shiel Kapidia

Jayrone Elliott. The little-known outside linebacker sealed the Packers’ big win over the Seahawks when he picked off a Russell Wilson screen pass with 6:50 left in the game. It came on the series that immediately followed the Packers’ go-ahead touchdown. Elliott, a former undrafted free agent from Toledo who is in his second season, snagged the interception with one hand for the Packers’ biggest defensive play of the game. He also forced a Fred Jackson fumble with 23 seconds left. -- Rob Demovsky


JETS 20, COLTS 7 | ANALYSISVideo

Darrelle Revis. He spearheaded a fantastic defensive effort by the Jets, as he was involved in three of their five takeaways – two fumble recoveries and an interception. The Jets paid a fortune for Revis – five years, $70 million – but this is what they had in mind when they stole him from the Patriots. He galvanized a dramatically improved secondary, which frustrated Andrew Luck. -- Rich Cimini

Donte Moncrief. He had seven catches for 122 yards, including a 26-yard touchdown reception from Andrew Luck that ignited the Colts offense in the fourth quarter. -- Mike Wells