NFL Week 1: A little good, a little bad and a lot of UGLY

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I hope you’ve been enjoying these blog posts.  I’ve done some different things and covered a lot of territory.  That’s about to change.  For the next four months or so, I doubt I’ll cover much more than a hundred yards.  That’s because it’s football season!  That doesn’t mean all my posts will be about football.  It does mean that, at least once a week, I’ll give into the urge to share my thoughts.  It’s in my blood.  It’s what I do.  Week 1 of the NFL season is in the books.  Let’s take a quick look at what happened.

300+ yards and 5 touchdown passes–good stat line, right?  That’s what Peyton Manning did in the second half alone last Thursday night as the Denver Broncos hosted the Baltimore Ravens to kickoff the 2013 NFL season.  Manning threw seven touchdown passes in all, which has been done before but not in the past forty-four years.  Had Manning thrown just one more, he would have matched the total number of touchdown passes thrown by the Kansas City Chiefs all of last season.  That doesn’t say much for the Ravens defense.  Either Manning and the Broncos are really, really good or the defending Super Bowl champions are mere shadows of their former selves.  I suspect it’s a little of both.

Not all Mannings fared so well in Week 1.  Eli and company traveled to Dallas where, prior to Sunday night, they were 4 and 0 in the Cowboys’ new stadium.  Big Blue opened with turnovers on their first three possessions.  Incidentally, the last team to do that was the 2005 Minnesota Vikings.  The Giants turned the ball over six times in all.  That’s tough to overcome and, predictably, they lost.  It will be Manning versus Manning Week 2 in New York.

Not to be outdone by their NFC East rivals, the Washington Redskins began their home opener with a fumble, an interception and a safety.  After an early score compliments of the Redskins defense, Washington allowed 33 unanswered points.  At the end of the first half, the Eagles had 21 first downs to the Redskins’ 4, and Washington had as many penalties as they had points.  To their credit, they came back to make things interesting in the second half.

Ford Field_DetroitThe Lions opened their 2013 campaign at Chapter 11 Stadium in Detroit.  They held League MVP Adrian Peterson mostly in check keeping him under 100 total yards.  He did score three touchdowns.  For the Lions’ part, they had one touchdown called back on instant replay, another wiped out on a penalty, one of many, and they botched the snap on a short field goal attempt and came away with nothing.  In other words, the Lions are still the Lions, dysfunctional and undisciplined as always.  Well, what do you expect from a team that names Ndamukong Suh their defensive captain?  He takes offense when you refer to him as a dirty player.  Maybe he’s just misunderstood.  Of course that doesn’t explain all the cheap hits.  He had another on Sunday and he’ll be hearing from the league later this week.  They probably have him on speed dial.  Suh will get fined, again, and absolutely nothing will change.  The Lions did have one thing going for them on Sunday, Vikings quarterback Christian Ponder still stinks.  More than two dozen career starts and he still stares down his receivers, seems reluctant to throw down field and consistently makes inexplicably bad decisions.   Detroit won by 10 and it probably should have been a whole lot more.  Reggie Bush hurt his thumb and his groin and still had nearly 200 total yards–more than double Adrian Peterson’s total, and more than the total offensive output from the entire Jaguars team.

Speaking of, the Jags were beaten by the Chiefs on Sunday.  You’d be hard pressed to find too many people who care.  However, it’s worth pointing out that it was the first 28 – 2 score ever recorded in the 94 year history of the NFL.  This just in–I’m told that wasn’t worth pointing out after all.  My apologies.

Some sloppy play in Week 1 is to be expected.  The starters don’t play much during the preseason and, under the current collective bargaining agreement, teams don’t have as much time to practice as they used to.  And some teams just start slow.  The Browns not only lost to the Dolphins on Sunday but set an NFL record with their ninth consecutive opening day loss.  Of all the teams that looked bad in Week 1, the Pittsburgh Steelers probably looked the worst.  What do we know about the Steelers?  They can run the ball, right?  WRONG!  Their leading rusher, one   LaRod Stephens-Howling, has more letters in his name (20 without the hyphen) than total rushing yards (19).  The season-ending injury to   Maurice Pouncey is that much more salt in the wound.

The bonehead play of the week belongs to Tampa Bay Buccaneers linebacker Lavonte David.  The Bucs traveled to New York where they were supposed to walk all over the Jets.  It didn’t happen.  The Bucs played a better game and are almost certainly a better team.  Still, the game was in the balance until Tampa Bay kicked what should have been a winning field goal with less than a minute left in the 4th quarter.  They had a 2-point lead.  All they had to do was keep the Jets mostly stagnant offense out of field goal range.  As time expired, rookie quarterback Geno Smith scrambled to the Bucs’ 45 yard line.  The game was over… or would have been had David not delivered the late hit out of bounds.  That’s a 15-yard personal foul and of course a game cannot end on a defensive penalty.  The Jets sent out the field goal unit.  Four months down the road, when the Buccaneers come up one win shy of a playoff berth, they can look at that one game, that one play and wonder what might have been.

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