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NFL Preseason talking points: Commanders snap Ravens' 24-game win streak

Week 2 of the NFL preseason wrapped up on Monday night with one of the best tune-up games football fans have seen in a while.

Commanders snap Ravens’ preseason win streak at 24

The Baltimore Ravens’ preseason win streak is no more.

Sam Howell threw for 188 yards and two touchdowns as the Washington Commanders did what no team has done since 2015 – defeat the Ravens in the preseason. John Harbaugh’s men had won 24-straight, an unprecedented streak given how most NFL teams treat the preseason.

Commanders kicker Joey Slye nailed a 49-yard field goal with nine seconds left to cap a fourth quarter comeback and 29-28 win. 

“I feel like we just had the biggest preseason W in history,” Washington WR Jahan Dotson said, per ESPN. “It was definitely pretty cool knowing what they had on the line that we could end that."

Although it won’t count towards the regular season, the victory marks the start of a new era in Washington. New ownership – led by Josh Harris and including Magic Johnson – took over in mid-July. Howell, in his second-year out of UNC, was named the team’s starting QB last week. 

Now, a near decade-long streak ends at the hands of the Commanders. 

Washington begins its season against the Arizona Cardinals at 1 PM ET on Sunday, September 10.

Starting quarterbacks rounding into form

Several starting quarterbacks looked on from afar this weekend, such as the New York Jets’ Aaron Rodgers, Los Angeles Rams’ Matthew Stafford and Chicago Bears’ Justin Fields.

But last year’s MVP Patrick Mahomes played multiple series for the Kansas City Chiefs in their 38-10 rout of the Arizona Cardinals on Sunday, going 10-for-15 for 105 yards and a touchdown.

New York Giants QB Daniel Jones was sharp in his lone series, going 8-for-9 for 69 yards and a touchdown on the drive as New York edged Carolina, 21-19.

New England’s Mac Jones went 6-for-9 for 52 yards, while Green Bay’s Jordan Love was 5-for-8 for 84 yards and a touchdown as the Patriots beat the Packers, 21-17, in a game cut short due to a traumatic injury to Pats defensive back Isaiah Bolden.

Jimmy Garoppolo, who in December last year injured his foot and ended his season with the 49ers, went 4-for-4 for 39 yards in his debut drive for his new team, the Las Vegas Raiders, who defeated the Rams 34-17.

His replacement last year, Brock Purdy, made his first appearance since injuring his elbow in the 49ers’ NFC Championship game loss to the Philadelphia Eagles. He went 4-for-5 for 65 yards in San Francisco’s 21-20 win over the Denver Broncos.

Superstar rookies Bryce Young and CJ Stroud continued to grow on the field as well.

Young went 3-for-6 for 35 yards in two series of work for the Panthers in their loss to the Giants. Carolina’s first team has not gotten out of park yet in the preseason, going three-and-out on 3 of 4 drives so far.

Stroud was 7-for-12 for 60 yards for the Houston Texans, who lost 28-3 to the Miami Dolphins.

Miami’s starting quarterback, Tua Tagovailoa, also made his preseason debut after his season ended last year on Christmas Day with a concussion.

He went 5-for-7 for 61 yards and led the Dolphins on a 14-play, 93-yard drive for a touchdown after earlier throwing an interception on his first play.

Backups take the spotlight

Many teams sat most or all of their starters, using combo practices with other teams to max out reps for their first units ahead of the regular season. That meant backups were on the marquee at many of the preseason contests.

Tampa Bay’s Kyle Trask went 20-for-28 for 218 yards and a touchdown in the Buccaneers' 13-6 win over the New York Jets as Baker Mayfield did not play.

Camp surprise Tyson Bagent, from Division II Shepherd (WV) University, went 9-for-10 for 76 yards for the Chicago Bears, who lost 24-17 to the Indianapolis Colts.

Malik Willis played the whole game, rushing for 91 yards and throwing for 85 more in the Tennessee Titans’ 24-16 victory over the Minnesota Vikings.

Tennessee rushed for 281 yards in the game, even with Derrick Henry not playing, and they are +320 to win the AFC South title this season.

Steelers look sharp early

It’s the preseason, so take all victories and impressive stats with a grain of salt.

The list of teams who went undefeated in the preseason only to post a losing regular season, as well as the list of players who posted video game stats in the preseason - only to end up on the practice squad - is long.

However, the Pittsburgh Steelers need a jolt of energy after two consecutive mundane, nine-win seasons and a seat outside the playoffs last year.

Second-year quarterback Kenny Pickett is looking sharp early. He has led the Steelers on three drives so far in two preseason games and all of them have ended with touchdowns on plays of 25 yards or longer.

That is important for a team who produced just one touchdown of 25 yards or longer throughout the whole of last season, with the Steelers +130 to make the playoffs this season.

Injuries mar several contests

New England defensive back Isaiah Bolden lay motionless on Lambeau Field as a game ended unexpectedly.

Tampa Bay quarterback John Wolford suffered a neck injury in East Rutherford and spent the night in the hospital, while Eagles wide receiver Tyrie Cleveland and defensive tackle Moro Ojomo were carted off the field in Philadelphia.

Injuries, even severe ones, are commonplace in the NFL, but they are still never easy to see.

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