NFL preseason Week 2 takeaways: Falcons’ QBs air it out, Giants’ Daniel Jones looks poised

11:10 PM ET

  • ESPN NFL Nation reporters

The Seattle Seahawks and Chicago Bears kicked off Week 2 of the preseason on Thursday in Seattle.

Second-year quarterback Justin Fields looked sharp for the Bears in his lone drive to begin the game, while Seahawks starter Geno Smith and the offensive unit struggled to pick up first downs in their first couple of drives.

On Friday, the Green Bay Packers topped the New Orleans Saints behind a roller-coaster night from rookie wide receiver Romeo Doubs, who had a touchdown catch but also a couple of drops.

Saturday brought an eight-game slate that featured Pittsburgh Steelers rookie QB Kenny Pickett impressing against the Jacksonville Jaguars and Miami Dolphins QB Tua Tagovailoa getting his first live game action against the Las Vegas Raiders.

Sunday featured the New York Giants coming from behind to top the Cincinnati Bengals, while the Baltimore Ravens won their 22nd straight preseason contest with a triumph over the Arizona Cardinals.

The Atlanta Falcons wrapped up Week 2 on Monday night with quarterbacks Marcus Mariota and Desmond Ridder passing for a combined 275 yards in the first half, but the New York Jets came back to win the game.

Our NFL Nation reporters have the biggest takeaway from each game.

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NFL preseason game on Monday, Aug. 22

New York Jets 24, Atlanta Falcons 16

Jets: The story for the Jets was who didn’t play. Concerned about potential injuries, coach Robert Saleh held out temporary QB1 Joe Flacco and every other starter on offense. He lost QB Zach Wilson (knee) last week, and he didn’t want to risk another injury at the position. On defense, only four starters saw action. Saleh said he will treat next week’s game against the Giants as a “dress rehearsal,” meaning the starters will play. It’s a bit unconventional, but he didn’t want to over-work them on a short week by having them play on Monday night. The story on the field? Fourth-string QB Chris Streveler, an NFL journeyman, replaced starter Mike White and rallied the Jets to a come-from-behind victory for the second straight week. His two-game production: seven possessions, four TD drives. An afterthought at the start of camp, he now has a chance to stick on the practice squad. — Rich Cimini

Next game: vs. Giants (1 p.m. ET, Aug. 28)

Falcons: Starting quarterback Marcus Mariota was sharp running the offense — 6-of-10 for 132 yards, a touchdown, no interceptions and a 137.5 passer rating. He looked ready for the regular season. Rookie Desmond Ridder replaced Mariota and went 10-of-13 for 143 yards.

The Falcons also got good pressure from their defense, particularly second-year players, including defensive end Ta’Quon Graham and edge rusher Ade Ogundeji. The Falcons will need that from both of them when games count.

The biggest concern for Atlanta? Penalties. The Falcons had eight of them in the first half, although most came from the second team. Still, Falcons coach Arthur Smith will not be happy about that. — Michael Rothstein

Next game: vs. Jaguars (3 p.m. ET, Aug. 27)

NFL preseason games on Sunday, Aug. 21

Baltimore Ravens 24, Arizona Cardinals 17

Ravens: Rookie tight end Isaiah Likely showed the football world why he has been the biggest surprise of the Ravens’ training camp. During a nationally televised preseason game, Likely produced 100 yards receiving in one half of work. He caught eight passes (including an eight-yard TD), showing a knack for finding open spaces in coverage and breaking tackles for yards after the catch. The Ravens are looking for a No. 3 target to complement tight end Mark Andrews and wide receiver Rashod Bateman. Likely, a fourth-round pick who wasn’t even the first tight end drafted by the Ravens this year, has become the leading candidate for that role. — Jamison Hensley

Next game: vs. Commanders (7 p.m. ET, Aug. 27)

Cardinals: The Cardinals’ running back room got even more competitive Sunday night. James Conner is the undisputed starter, but Jonathan Ward’s performance — three runs for 11 yards, one catch for 27 yards and three kickoff returns for 90 yards, including a 48-yarder, before he left the game with a shoulder injury — muddied the conversation about Conner’s backup. Eno Benjamin had been the talk of training camp, but Ward might have won himself considerable playing time, if not the backup role. His injury, however, could dictate how his role is affected. — Josh Weinfuss

Next game: at Titans (7 p.m. ET, Aug. 27)

New York Giants 25, Cincinnati Bengals 22

Giants: Quarterback Daniel Jones looked comfortable and confident in the pocket in the Giants’ second preseason game. His decision-making was sound. It was a strong overall performance by the starting quarterback and first-string offense, dampened somewhat by top pick’s Kayvon Thibodeaux’s knee injury. Jones went 14-of-16 passing for 116 yards with an interception that clanked off the hands of rookie tight end Daniel Bellinger. Jones’ third and final drive ended with a 2-yard rushing touchdown by rookie Jashaun Corbin. Despite competing against the backups of the Bengals and Patriots, Jones has completed 77% of his passes and has been sacked just once in the first two preseason tilts. Should he even play next week against the Jets? The crosstown rivals have a joint practice on Thursday before the final tuneup on Sunday. — Jordan Raanan

Next game: at Jets (1 p.m. ET, Aug. 28)

Bengals: No matter what happens with Bengals safety Jessie Bates, who has yet to sign his franchise-tag tender, rookie Dax Hill showed why Cincinnati drafted him to be a future leader of the secondary. Hill tallied an interception and was in the mix constantly against the Giants. He played every defensive snap of the first half and finished with six tackles and the turnover. If Bates does sign and plays this season, Hill gives the Bengals a key asset in schemes with six defensive backs. And should the Bengals and Bates split ways, Hill should be ready to be a starting free safety. “[He] has come in and really focused on what we do and how we play,” Bengals director of player personnel Duke Tobin said on the team’s broadcast. “And then on game day, he’s shown up.” — Ben Baby

Next game: at Rams (6 p.m. ET, Aug. 27)

Philadelphia Eagles 21, Cleveland Browns 20

Eagles: The plot thickens at wide receiver. Deon Cain — the 6-foot-2, 202-pound 26-year-old out of Clemson — had a game-high five catches for 66 yards, highlighted by an acrobatic 24-yard grab down the right sideline on a pass from Gardner Minshew. He has provided similar splash plays on the practice field this summer. The Eagles have some tough choices to make at wideout, with former first-round pick Jalen Reagor, undrafted rookie Britain Covey and Cain all vying for spots in a crowded receiver room featuring A.J. Brown, DeVonta Smith, Quez Watkins and Zach Pascal. As if the evaluators didn’t have enough to think about, Devon Allen, the world-class hurdler and former Oregon receiver, turned on the jets and hauled in a 55-yard touchdown pass Sunday. These players will present their closing arguments in the preseason finale in Miami. — Tim McManus

Next game: at Dolphins (7 p.m. ET, Aug. 27)

Browns: The Browns rested the majority of their starters after the joint practices with the Eagles on Thursday and Friday. That allowed QB Josh Dobbs to steal the show Sunday. On the opening drive, he reeled off a nifty 36-yard run, tight-roping the sidelines with a ripped jersey. Dobbs has been terrific overall in Cleveland’s two preseason games, completing a combined 24 of 33 passes for 249 yards to go with two TDs and no picks. Assuming the Browns don’t add another QB, Dobbs is sure to be Cleveland’s backup behind Jacoby Brissett while Deshaun Watson is serving an 11-game suspension without pay after he was accused by more than two dozen women of sexual misconduct during massage sessions. — Jake Trotter

Next game: vs. Bears (7 p.m. ET, Aug. 27)

NFL preseason games on Saturday, Aug. 20

Dallas Cowboys 32, Los Angeles Chargers 18

Cowboys: KaVontae Turpin earned his spot on the roster on Saturday, returning a kickoff 98 yards for a touchdown in the first quarter and a punt 86 yards for a score in the second quarter in the Dallas Cowboys’ 32-18 win against the Los Angeles Chargers. Not bad for a guy who wasn’t with the team to start training camp after earning USFL MVP honors for the New Jersey Generals. How valuable was his showing? Turpin wasn’t in shoulder pads for the second half, which is a sign of how much the Cowboys want to keep him fresh. Last year’s returners, CeeDee Lamb and Tony Pollard, will see larger roles on offense this year, which created the need for someone like Turpin. The Cowboys averaged just 6.6 yards per punt return a year ago and 24.8 yards per kick return, although Pollard did have a 100-yard return for a score. If Turpin can be a difference-maker in the return game, it will be a huge boost to an offense that will enter the season with some questions.

“I’m an exciting player, and every time I get the ball, there’s a big play waiting to happen,” Turpin said. “I’m happy to be here and take advantage of this opportunity.” — Todd Archer

Next game: vs. Seahawks (8 p.m. ET, Aug. 26)

Chargers: The biggest takeaway should have been the standout play of second-year wideout Joshua Palmer, who caught three passes for 75 yards and a touchdown against the Cowboys. Instead, it’s the abysmal performance by special teams, which allowed Cowboys returner KaVontae Turpin to take a kickoff 98 yards for a touchdown and later score on an 86-yard punt return. What’s most concerning, while most starters are sitting out of the preseason, is that the guys on special teams are competing for roster spots and should be putting forth maximum effort. — Lindsey Thiry

Next game: at Saints (8 p.m. ET, Aug. 26)

Pittsburgh Steelers 16, Jacksonville Jaguars 15

Steelers: Kenny Pickett flourished in varsity action against the Jacksonville Jaguars, completing 6 of 7 attempts for 76 yards and leading his unit on a five-play, 42-second touchdown drive before halftime to take the lead. Pickett played only two series — less than 10 snaps — but it was enough for Mike Tomlin. Pickett showed poise under pressure and had completions of 18, 10, 24 and 11 yards on the scoring drive, and he had a beautiful 11-yard touchdown pass to Diontae Johnson wiped off the board for a holding call against James Daniels. Through two preseason games, Pickett has completed 17 of 22 attempts for 171 yards with three touchdowns and a QBR of 138.6. Mitch Trubisky started the game and played three series, completing 5 of 8 attempts for 60 yards and a scramble of 10 yards. He was sacked once, though, and constantly felt pressure from a subpar performance by the offensive line. Mason Rudolph played the entire second half and completed 17 of 21 attempts for 127 yards and led the game-winning touchdown drive. — Brooke Pryor

Next game: vs. Detroit, 4:30 p.m. ET, Aug. 28

Jaguars: Wide receiver Christian Kirk made his preseason debut and caught five passes for 54 yards against the Steelers. Trevor Lawrence targeted Kirk eight times, including twice on third downs. Lawrence’s throws were high and incomplete on those two third-down throws, but it’s clear that Kirk, who signed a four-year, $72 million contract in March, has settled in nicely in the No. 1 receiver role. The Jaguars’ first-team offense didn’t find the end zone in two quarters of work, but it did generate 189 yards and went 5-for-9 on third down. It was the most efficient the unit has looked this preseason. — Mike DiRocco

Next game: at Atlanta, 3 p.m. ET, Aug. 27

Las Vegas Raiders 15, Miami Dolphins 13

Raiders: Derek Carr could not have liked what he saw Saturday night. No, not UFC honcho Dana White saying he brokered a deal for Tom Brady to replace him as Raiders QB in 2020. Rather, the Raiders’ leaky offensive line continuing to be, well, leaky. Especially projected starting right tackle Alex Leatherwood, who came out of the game early in the second quarter, only to return in the second half. Las Vegas surrendered four more sacks against Miami, making it 13 sacks surrendered in three preseason games thus far. Yes, the Raiders added the best wideout in the game in Davante Adams to Pro Bowlers Hunter Renfrow, Darren Waller and Josh Jacobs, and as former Raiders QB and NFL MVP Rich Gannon said of Carr during the broadcast, “If he has time this year, he’ll throw for 5,000 yards. Mark my words.” That’s a big “if” with this offensive line. — Paul Gutierrez

Next game: vs. New England, 8:15 p.m. ET, Aug. 26

Dolphins: Tua Tagovailoa got his first live-game action since January, completing 6 of 8 passes for 58 yards. Playing without Tyreek Hill, Jaylen Waddle, Raheem Mostert and Terron Armstead, there was only so much to expect from Tagovailoa, who took what the Raiders gave him over two series and didn’t push the ball downfield. Miami’s struggles running the ball and lack of live snaps with its projected first-team offense likely set the stage for a dress rehearsal next week against the Eagles, who will join the Dolphins for two joint practices before Saturday’s game. — Marcel Louis-Jacques

Next game: vs. Philadelphia, 7 p.m. ET, Aug. 27

Tennessee Titans 13, Tampa Bay Buccaneers 3

Titans: Rookie quarterback Malik Willis got the start once again and looked better in the pocket. “I was a little more comfortable,” Willis said. “But it’s more about making it a point to stay in the pocket when I can and not just get out because I’m athletic.” Willis completed his first throw on a play-action pass that was very similar to his final play in last week’s game against the Ravens, when he got pulled for not throwing the football. The comfort level really showed on Willis’ first touchdown pass, when he sensed the outside pressure, climbed the pocket and went through his progressions before finding tight end Chig Okonkwo for a touchdown. Willis finished 7-for-17 for 80 yards and a touchdown. He showed signs of progress but still has a way to go, and the Titans are going to be patient with him. — Turron Davenport

Next game: vs. Arizona, 7 p.m. ET, Aug. 27

Bucs: Is it time to hit the panic button for the Bucs’ offensive line? First there was the abrupt retirement of Pro Bowl guard Ali Marpet this spring. Then Pro Bowl center Ryan Jensen suffered a significant knee injury just three days into training camp and will miss a large portion of the season, if not all of it. Then in the second half against the Titans, Aaron Stinnie, who is battling for the starting left guard spot, got rolled up on and was carted off the field with a left knee injury. Rookie Luke Goedeke, also battling for the job, had two holding calls and surrendered a sack. In addition to that, Pro Bowl right tackle Tristan Wirfs left Thursday’s joint practice with the Titans early due to an oblique injury. Perhaps they need to tell Tom Brady to stay away for another week, although his actual return date is unknown at this point. — Jenna Laine

Next game: at Indianapolis, 7:30 p.m. ET, Aug. 27

San Francisco 49ers 17, Minnesota Vikings 7

49ers: The 49ers rested 27 players, most of whom are expected to be starters or key contributors. But one of the few projected starters to play was defensive tackle Javon Kinlaw, who is returning from a torn right ACL. Kinlaw not only needs to knock off the rust but show that he’s ready for a larger workload. It was a small sample with Kinlaw playing for only most of the first half, but it appeared to be a step in the right direction. He was disruptive against the run and came up with an impressive sack against Vikings rookie guard Ed Ingram on third down. This is a pivotal season for Kinlaw, who was the No. 13 pick in the 2020 NFL draft. The Niners still have high hopes for him, and if he can stay healthy and produce, it would go a long way toward keeping San Francisco’s defense among the league’s best. — Nick Wagoner

Next game: at Houston, 8:15 p.m. ET, Aug. 25

Vikings: The Vikings will keep their fingers crossed after losing rookie cornerback Andrew Booth Jr. to an ankle injury. Booth suffered the injury midway through the second quarter and was quickly ruled out by the team’s medical staff. His longer-term prognosis was not immediately clear. A second-round pick from Clemson this spring, Booth was a complicated prospect to assess. When healthy, he was one of the best and most physical cornerbacks in the country. But he dealt with a series of injuries, including a core muscle ailment that required surgery in 2021 and again in the spring of 2022. The Vikings’ new coaching staff penciled him into a competition with incumbent starter Cameron Dantzler. With Dantzler sitting out Saturday night along with most of the Vikings’ other starters, Booth was set to get a long run against the Niners. He was involved in three tackles before the injury. In total, the Vikings sat 27 players for the game. Coach Kevin O’Connell had previewed that approach after two days of joint practices last week with the 49ers. The only potential starters to be in uniform were rookie right guard Ed Ingram and defensive end Armon Watts. — Kevin Seifert

Next game: at Denver, 9 p.m. ET, Aug. 27

Buffalo Bills 42, Denver Broncos 15

Bills: While it’s hard to make much of a statement in a preseason game, the Bills’ offense left quite the impression against the Broncos’ backups, averaging over nine yards per play and scoring touchdowns on all six of the team’s first six possessions. All three Bills quarterbacks found success, with Josh Allen playing only the first drive — 3-for-3 for 45 yards and one spot-on touchdown to Gabe Davis. The touchdown had a completion probability of 21.6%, according to NFL Next Gen Stats. Allen completed just six passes with a completion probability under 25% all of last season.

While Allen’s preparedness for the regular season was expected, backup quarterback Case Keenum had a key bounce-back day after a poor performance in the first preseason game. Keenum completed 16 of 18 passes for 192 yards and one touchdown to tight end O.J. Howard.

“I thought, really when he came in the day after the game last week, you could just tell,” coach Sean McDermott said of Keenum’s improvement. “… Not that it wasn’t before, but you could just tell he was dialed in on what he wanted to get done this week.”

McDermott also said that running back Zack Moss has had ” one of the more consistent training camps to this point,” scoring two of the Bills’ touchdowns and trending toward being one of the team’s top option in short-yardage situations. — Alaina Getzenberg

Next game: at Carolina, 7 p.m. ET, Aug. 26

Broncos: This past week Broncos coach Nathaniel Hackett said he didn’t like the preseason. Saturday, his team echoed his sentiment. In the big picture, the Bills’ rout over the Broncos’ reserves, when many of the Bills starters played some in the first half, will mean little.

But in the moment, the Broncos’ reserves in the defensive front seven continue to get moved off the ball in the run game, and their reserve cornerbacks continue to be too passive, whether it’s challenging receivers at the line of scrimmage or at the top of the routes.

Overall, rookie safety Delarrin Turner-Yell had the only hit in the game that would have made the Bills take notice.

Hackett has done what many coaches in the league have in recent years — prioritize health over all else in the preseason — and he has been open and honest about doing that. And no one will question any of it if September goes well for the Broncos. But for one preseason Saturday, the Broncos didn’t look nearly physical enough, even when it was reserves against reserves, to be a heavyweight. — Jeff Legwold

Next game: vs. Minnesota, 9 p.m. ET, Aug. 27

Detroit Lions 27, Indianapolis Colts 26

Lions: Despite playing without any offensive starters including quarterback Jared Goff, Detroit won its first preseason game since 2018. Although wide receiver Tom Kennedy is well behind DJ Chark, Amon-Ra St. Brown, Josh Reynolds and Kalif Raymond on the unofficial depth chart, he continued to stand out as he fights for a spot on the 53-man roster. Kennedy was impressive again with a pair of touchdowns in Indianapolis plus an onside kick recovery that secured the victory. He also finished with a team-high 104 receiving yards in the preseason opener versus Atlanta. It’ll be interesting to see what decision the Lions make on him before the regular season. — Eric Woodyard

Next game: at Pittsburgh, 4:30 p.m. ET, Aug. 28

Colts: The Colts sat practically all their starters after two days of intense joint practices with Detroit, but they saw some promising things from their passing game. Among them: the performances of young receivers Dezmon Patmon and Mike Strachan, both of whom are vying for the final roster spots at the position. Patmon finished with five catches for 103 yards, including a 50-yard touchdown pass from Sam Ehlinger. Strachan caught three passes for 45 yards, including a 15-yard touchdown from Ehlinger. Nick Foles — who started at quarterback and played the first quarter — and Ehlinger combined to complete 14 of 17 attempts for 192 yards. Ehlinger had another strong performance, throwing accurately and showing composure while eluding the pass rush before leaving in the third quarter. He has thrown four touchdowns in two preseason appearances. — Stephen Holder

Next game: vs. Tampa Bay, 7:30 p.m. ET, Aug. 27

Kansas City Chiefs 24, Washington Commanders 14

Chiefs: Backup tight end Jody Fortson is emerging as a red zone threat. Fortson caught touchdown passes from Patrick Mahomes of 5 and 7 yards in the win over the Commanders. Mahomes fit the second one into a tight window, suggesting confidence in Fortson’s ability to make the catch, and Fortson indeed made a contested grab. Fortson was starting to emerge last year before a torn Achilles tendon ended his season prematurely. — Adam Teicher

Next game: vs. Green Bay, 8 p.m. ET, Aug. 25

Commanders: Washington’s third-down defense remains a big problem, one that must be solved if the Commanders want to improve. The starting defense allowed Kansas City to convert all five of its third downs, one week after letting Carolina convert three of five. It was a huge issue last season as Washington ranked 31st by allowing 48.5% to be converted. Some of that can be attributed to Mahomes making special plays. But the Commanders also need to be more disciplined in their rush lanes, shutting down areas to step through. Safety Kamren Curl, one of Washington’s better defensive players, has allowed key grabs in both games. It’s only the preseason, but this issue remains a concern because of what the Commanders did last season. The fact they haven’t caused a turnover in the preseason, after ranking 21st in that area last year, is worth noting as well. — John Keim

Next game: at Baltimore, 7 p.m. ET, Aug. 27

NFL preseason games on Friday, Aug. 19

New England Patriots 20, Carolina Panthers 10

Patriots: After a shaky start with two three-and-out drives, quarterback Mac Jones (4-of-8 for 61 yards) ended on a high note as he led an 81-yard touchdown drive. It was the type of confidence boost — albeit against the Panthers’ backups — that Jones & Co. needed after a training camp filled with “growing pains” as they adjust to a “new offense.” Jones looked uncomfortable early (his accuracy was off) before settling down on his third and final drive. A 7-yard completion to Nelson Agholor was critical to convert the first third down of the night, and then Jones hit Agholor with a 45-yard bomb down the left sideline. That deep ball is what players say should show up more in the revamped offense. Last season, 41% of Jones’ pass attempts thrown at least 20 yards downfield were overthrown or underthrown, an off-target mark that ranked 21st in the NFL (league average: 36%). Also, Patriots receivers ranked 25th with only 1.6 yards of separation on deep balls, per NFL Next Gen Stats. So the Jones-to-Agholor long hookup sparks promise for the team. — Mike Reiss

Next game: at Las Vegas, 8:15 p.m. ET, Aug. 26

Panthers: Left tackle Ikem Ekwonu was in the spotlight with the Panthers resting quarterbacks Baker Mayfield and Sam Darnold. Carolina saw both the good and the bad it can expect out of the sixth overall pick from the 2022 draft. He gave up two sacks on the second possession, magnifying the concerns over his readiness in pass protection. He also had several key run blocks, reinforcing why offensive coordinator Ben McAdoo said Ekwonu can “block out the sun.” The inconsistency is why the Panthers would be better off keeping Darnold if they name Mayfield the starter, as expected. They are one hit from being down to the their second quarterback, and Darnold is more consistent than PJ Walker or Matt Corral, who took all the quarterback snaps Friday. Corral did show improvement over his 1-for-9 performance last week, but left in the fourth quarter with a foot injury and is undergoing X-rays. — David Newton

Next game: vs. Buffalo, 7 p.m. ET, Aug. 26

Green Bay Packers 20, New Orleans Saints 10

Packers: Aaron Rodgers might just have to live with Romeo Doubs and his drops. The rookie receiver makes too many other plays. He did so again Friday night against the Saints with three catches for 24 yards and a touchdown. His other two targets, however, were drops — including a deep ball on the opening drive in which he appeared to get turned out or misplayed.

Rodgers expressed his frustration with the young receivers, although he lumped them into a group and didn’t mention anyone by name. But Doubs, a fourth-round pick, also had two drops and a touchdown in last week’s preseason opener at the 49ers.

In all, the Packers had four drops by first- or second-year receivers (the two by Doubs, one by Samori Toure on a well-placed deep ball and one by Amari Rodgers down the seam). Several drops would have been explosive plays, affecting Jordan Love’s numbers (12-of-24 for 113 yards and one touchdown), but at least they didn’t turn into interceptions like they did last week.

“It’s not going to be perfect,” coach Matt LaFleur said about Doubs. “There’s going to be some lessons along the way. He’s a guy that is pretty resilient. He doesn’t get fazed by a negative play. He just keeps on playing. That’s what excites you about him. You see a guy with really good feet. He’s gotten really good in his transition. He’s got a burst. He’s been able to separate, which is something that’s tough to coach. Guys can either do it or they can’t. There’s stuff to clean up, for certain, but he’s a guy that we are excited about it.”

Doubs makes plays that not every receiver on the Packers’ roster can make. He perfectly timed a 4-yard fade for a touchdown catch, outjumping Saints safety Brian Allen. He caught a 17-yard deep out and had another 17-yarder wiped out by a penalty. At this point, Doubs is probably the Packers’ fourth receiver behind Allen Lazard, Randall Cobb and Sammy Watkins — none of whom have played in preseason games. — Rob Demovsky

Next game: at Kansas City, 8 p.m. ET, Aug. 25

Saints: With most of the Saints starters sitting on the sideline for the evening, the specialists ended up being the stars of the show. Punter Blake Gillikin boomed an 81-yard punt and kicker Wil Lutz showed he was back from the injury that kept him out during the 2021 season, easily nailing a 59-yard field goal.

Nothing else came so easily to the Saints, with coach Dennis Allen pointing out they spent a lot of time shooting themselves in the foot, as the Packers scored 10 points after a key Saints penalty and a fumbled snap.

It was also an up-and-down night for third-string quarterback Ian Book, who played the entire game with both Jameis Winston and Andy Dalton sitting out. Book had a fumbled exchange and was picked off when targeting tight end Taysom Hill, who slipped on his route. He threw one touchdown to rookie first-round pick Chris Olave and finished 16-of-28 for 113 yards. — Katherine Terrell

Next game: vs. L.A. Chargers, 8 p.m. ET, Aug. 26

Houston Texans 24, Los Angeles Rams 20

Texans: It wasn’t a good showing for the Texans’ first-team offense, which struggled throughout the first half. The offense had six possessions and only scored seven points. The run game was nearly nonexistent as they ran for 34 yards on 10 carries. Quarterback Davis Mills went 10-for-17 for 96 yards with one touchdown, but 60 of those yards came on the only scoring drive before the end of the first half. None of the Rams’ impact defensive players were on the field either, so the Texans’ offensive struggles came against the Rams’ backups. The Texans’ two best offensive players in wideout Brandin Cooks and left tackle Laremy Tunsil didn’t play, but that’s no excuse to struggle how they did against the Rams. — DJ Bien-Aime

Next game: vs. San Francisco, 8:15 p.m. ET, Aug. 25

Rams: For the second week in a row, it’s wide receiver Lance McCutcheon who is the Rams’ top playmaker. Now, Los Angeles doesn’t play its starters in preseason games, but Friday night, McCutcheon impressed anyway. The undrafted free agent finished with five catches for 96 yards. After McCutcheon’s performance in the Rams’ preseason opener (five catches for 87 yards and two touchdowns), head coach Sean McVay said there’s “certainly” a chance that McCutcheon makes the Rams’ 53-man roster to start the season. McVay said after that first game that McCutcheon “shined in a really big way.” It’s unlikely McVay’s view of McCutcheon goes anywhere but up after his Week 2 performance. — Sarah Barshop

Next game: at Cincinnati, 6 p.m. ET, Aug. 27

NFL preseason game on Thursday, Aug. 18

Chicago Bears 27, Seattle Seahawks 11

Bears: The Bears’ starting offense saw limited action on a short week and was done after 10 plays in Seattle. Fields strung together an opening drive that culminated in a field goal — the first-team unit’s first scoring drive of the preseason — after he went 5-for-7 for 39 yards. Fields didn’t have more than three completions on any of his first offensive possessions in 2021 and threw for 39 (or more) yards on an opening drive only once (Week 6 against the Green Bay Packers), a sign that his execution and operation of the offense are coming along.

Fields is being pressured at one of the highest rates in the NFL (44% of his dropbacks) while Chicago is still trying to sort out its offensive line, notably with Teven Jenkins now in the mix to start at right guard. But we can already see the tendencies of this new-look Bears scheme take shape. The expectation of a heavy dose of play-action and bootlegs showed up Thursday with two of Field’s pass attempts coming on designed rollouts, including his 19-yard completion to tight end Cole Kmet. Last season, Fields had only 18 attempts on designed rollouts, and he completed 78% of those with two touchdowns. — Courtney Cronin

Next game: at Cleveland, 7 p.m. ET, Aug. 27

Seahawks: The Seahawks’ quarterback competition seems no closer to being decided after their ugly loss to the Bears. With COVID-19 sidelining Drew Lock for what would have been his first start of the summer, Smith had a chance to widen his lead but didn’t do anything with it.

Seattle’s six full possessions (excluding the final one in the closing seconds of the first half) with Smith under center ended with five punts (three of them after three-and-outs) and a missed 47-yard field goal. Not that it was all Smith’s fault. He was victimized by three drops and several penalties. He also had Tyler Lockett and DK Metcalf on the field for just one possession, then lost starting left guard Damien Lewis to an ankle injury.

Smith then watched the second half with an ice wrap over his right knee. Lock’s bout with COVID was a significant setback in his quest to overtake Smith, but Smith’s underwhelming night keeps the door open. Lock will need a strong showing in next week’s preseason finale at Dallas to convince coach Pete Carroll that he’s the guy — and he probably needs Smith to struggle again as well. — Brady Henderson

Next game: at Dallas, 8 p.m. ET, Aug. 26