Denver isn't the only Super Bowl team in trouble.
The Atlanta Falcons were wiped out, 24-7, tonight by the Dallas Cowboys, marking the first time both defending conference champions have started the following season 0-2.
"I'm embarrassed with the way we played and everybody in our locker room is embarrassed," said Falcons Coach Dan Reeves, whose team has already lost as many games as it did during the 1998 regular season.
But the loss was not the worst of it for the Falcons.
Quarterback Chris Chandler couldn't play because of a strained hamstring, and running back Jamal Anderson joined him on the sideline after spraining his right knee early in the first quarter of a weak offensive performance.
As for Dallas, things are looking good.
The Cowboys are 2-0 for the first time since 1995, their last Super Bowl season, and their defense didn't look anything like the group that got torched by Washington in the opener.
Then again, Dallas was stopping an Atlanta offense led by Tony Graziani and Byron Hanspard, third-year players with empty resumes compared to Pro Bowlers Chandler and Anderson.
Graziani was 7 of 16 for 90 yards. His second pass was intercepted, leading to a Dallas field goal, and he fumbled early in the third quarter, setting up an Emmitt Smith touchdown that put the Cowboys up 17-0.
Graziani's biggest highlight was making it to the third quarter, something he failed to do in his previous two starts. The thrill was short-lived, though, as Danny Kanell replaced him after two possessions.
Kanell, who beat Dallas twice with the New York Giants in 1997, was almost as ineffective. He short-circuited one decent drive with an interception, then rebounded with a 45-yard touchdown pass to Tim Dwight with four minutes left, the first time the Falcons crossed the Dallas 30 in the game.
The Falcons threatened again on a third-and-goal from the 4 with 1 minute 1 second left, but defensive end Greg Ellis returned an interception 87 yards for the final Dallas score.
"The ball just hit me right in the face mask," said Ellis. "I figured I better catch it or be on the bloopers film."
Things might have been different if the defense had to worry about Anderson.
The reigning NFC rushing champion was lost six minutes into the game without even being hit. On his third carry, Anderson planted his right foot, cut left and immediately knew something was wrong. He was grabbing his knee before he even landed on the artificial turf of Texas Stadium.
"My knee just gave out," said Anderson. "We really don't know the extent of the injury, we'll have to wait until we get back to Atlanta to really get it checked out."
Graziani's interception led to a 23-yard field goal by Richie Cunningham midway through the first quarter. A second-quarter missed field goal by Morten Andersen turned into Smith's two-yard touchdown run.