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NFL Sunday Recap: Eli Manning and Tom Brady Take a Knee

Drew Brees Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

Flop Watch. Now we know the next football player Taylor Kitsch can play onscreen: former NFL MVP Drew Brees. Once a small-screen football icon, Kitsch has helmed some big time flops since his playing days on Friday Night Lights, and the big story of week two's NFL action was the John Carter/Battleship of a season that Drew Brees and the Saints may be having.

There's always one NFL team whose players and fans start the year dreaming of the Super Bowl and end up scheming for the No. 1 pick. After last week, 2012's candidates were the New York Giants, Green Bay Packers, Pittsburgh Steelers, Philadelphia Eagles and Saints, all losers of unexpected blowouts or, in the case of Philadelphia, survivors of a putrid effort that somehow beat hapless Cleveland. All of them but the Saints got big wins in week two. The Saints dropped to 0-2, which is especially bad news considering that the two teams they've lost to—the Washington Redskins last week and Carolina Panthers Sunday—are among the worst teams they play all year.

This isn't entirely unexpected. The Saints are playing without their head coach, Sean Payton, suspended for the team's bounty-for-injury scandal.

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But few expected the Saints, who've won 41 games over the last three years, to lose to two teams who've won 31 combined in that time. The Saints have been to the playoffs every year since 2009 when they won the Super Bowl, but that streak is now firmly in peril. Only nine teams since 2001 that started 0-2 made the playoffs (though there is a silver lining: Two of those early underachievers won the Super Bowl).

On Bended Knees: While Brees and the Saints may figuratively be on their knees, it was the actual knees of two other superstar QBs, Eli Manning and Tom Brady, that had fans scratching their heads and pulling their hair.

None of the big name teams needed a win more than the defending Super Bowl champion Giants, and none worked harder to get it. Manning threw for 510 yards to beat the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, 41-34, but it was his final kneel down that will be talked about the most this week. Eli took a simple snap on the last play of the game then knelt down to run out the final seconds of the clock. Against NFL etiquette, the Bucs defense charged after Manning in a last-ditch effort to get the ball. Several players exchanged punches in the pile-up and the team's head coaches exchanged heated words about the play at mid-field moments later.

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Meanwhile in Boston, the Patriots, easy winners in week one, found themselves trailing the Arizona Cardinals 20-18 with 52 seconds to go, with Brady on the Cardinals' 18-yard line. Normally, time to shine for Giselle's better half. But rather than try for a touchdown, or even get closer for a game-winning kick, Brady took two kneel-down snaps before letting New England's Stephen Gostkowski try a 42-yard game-winning kick with just a few seconds left. Gostkowski missed badly, and the Patriots somehow lost to a two-touchdown underdog at home.

Grandma's Boys: Though week two had its share of great performances, none came with a better story than the Giants' Hakeem Nicks and Victor Cruz. The game was Cruz's first since his grandmother passed away last week (he attended the funeral Friday) while Hicks' grandmother, who raised him, was in the stands to see her grandson for the first time as a Giant.

Both boys made their grandmas proud: Hicks caught 10 passes for 199 yards and Cruz caught 11 for 179, including an 80-yard bomb. As he crossed the goal line, he broke into a small salsa for his grandmother, a dance teacher.

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Two Things You Need to Know for Your Monday Night Football Party:

1. Peyton Manning was widely hailed for his performance in week one, throwing for 253 yards and two touchdowns in his debut as a Denver Bronco. Not bad. But way behind his opponent tonight, Atlanta's Matt Ryan, who threw for 299 yards and 3 touchdowns in a blowout of the Chiefs.

2. Both Manning and Ryan have lost three times in Monday Night games. But while Peyton has won 11, Ryan is looking for his first win.

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