The Seattle Seahawks, fueled by comebacking receiver Mike Williams (pictured), dominated the favored San Francisco 49ers by a score of 31-6 in one of Week 1’s bigger upsets
The first weekend of the 91st NFL season titled: “The Grand Crossroads of Hope” is finally over. NFL nation just couldn’t get enough of America’s Game as Week 1 stretched over three game days (September 9th, September 12th, and September 13th). Even in the face of pending CBA Doom, fans turned out in record numbers as even the downtrodden Jacksonville Jaguars played to a sellout – only one of the NFL’s slate of 16 games, the Tampa Bay Bucs – Cleveland Browns in Tampa, FL was blacked out.
Overall the first week of the 2010 NFL season brought surprises (Houston Texans led by RB Arian Foster dominating the Colts, Chiefs taking out the Chargers in the 2nd MNF game, Seahawks pounding Niners who were supposed to be the NFC West favorites and several photo finishes), non-surprises (Bills finding a way to lose again, Steelers and Ravens winning “ugly” behind running the ball and attacking defense), cheers, and tears (Sorry Detroit Lions fans…Megatron did indeed catch that touchdown no matter what the officials say) that only NFL drama can provoke. The wins and losses no doubt will create a buzz of “Monday Morning Quarterbacking” around the water cooler and on sports radio, but remember the NFL season is a 16 game marathon. To the NFL’s credit, the majority of Week 1 games (11 out 16) were decided by 7 points or less.
The first game on Thursday night kicked off the excitement (fireworks, Grammy winners, etc) and featured the Super Bowl champion New Orleans Saints using a fast start by their offense to hold off the Minnesota Vikings 14-9. In the game you could see a couple of things: The Saints offensive line is physical and can run the ball when needed (didn’t hear Jared Allen’s name called once), Vikings QB Brett Favre looked extremely rusty as he threw a bad interception and couldn’t rally his team in the 4th quarter, and New Orleans probably has the NFL’s highest octane offense even if they were stuck in neutral for parts of the opener.
What I love about Week 1 is experts, fans, and some members of the media start making year-long assertions based on “one week” of real NFL games. Two of the comments/feedback that I have received after only one week of play that I consider “laughable” from one of my loyal listeners were: “After the way the Texans beat-up Indianapolis, Peyton Manning and the Colts are done…It is going to be a long year in Indy”; “The Philadelphia Eagles have to start Michael Vick because Kevin Kolb will never get it done” and “The Baltimore Ravens are this year’s Super Bowl champs based on their physical play”. Just slow your roll there a little bit “Mr. Overzealous Fan”.
C’mon some of these conclusions may prove to be true, but Week 1 isn’t enough game action to paint with such a broad picture. Sure Week 1 is important for setting the tone for the entire season — the last 44 Super Bowl Champions started out a combined 36-7-1 in Week 1 of their championship season and teams that made the playoffs last year were a combined 10-2 in 2009’s Week 1. But remember in the parity-laden NFL everything can change very quickly. The theme that I will continue to pound at this time of year is that an NFL season is a marathon and should be taken increments. Being on top early in an NFL season guarantees nothing. Teams can’t get caught up in thinking things are going to be biscuits and gravy throughout the entire season. The main thing right now is for teams to focus week-in and week-out on the team that they are facing. Last year after five weeks the NY Giants looked like Super Bowl contenders as they started 5-0 only to limp home to an 8-8 record.
Some Lloyd’s Leftovers from Week 1 included:
A Bad Rule Rears its Ugly Head – And you thought “Tuck” rule that thwarted the Raiders years ago was bad. The hard-luck Detroit Lions were jobbed by a rule that doesn’t pass the smell test in my opinion. In a game that was there’s for the taking, the Lions had fought through losing starter Matthew Stafford and were poised to beat their NFC North rival, the Chicago Bears. With 1:32 remaining in the game, backup Shaun Hill threw a great 25-yard apparent touchdown Calvin “Megatron” Johnson. Unfortunately after one official called touchdown, the zebras huddled and Johnson’s catch was ruled incomplete due to the big receiver not maintaining possession throughout his catch according to the officials….Bogus. I have even listed the cockamamie rule for you to interpret — “If a player goes to the ground in the act of catching a pass (with or without contact by an opponent), he must maintain control of the ball after he touches the ground, whether in the field of play or the end zone. If he loses control of the ball, and the ball touches the ground before he regains control, the pass is incomplete. If he regains control prior to the ball touching the ground, the pass is complete.” I thought the call was a disgrace and once again, officials are making themselves part of the story…Sorry Lions fans, you deserved better.
The Ravens Show talk is cheap on MNF – After selling Wolf Tickets on HBO’s Hard Knocks, the New York Jets expected to open their $1.6 Billion Dollar home stadium in style. Unfortunately, the Jets had no idea what was in store for them. In a physical dominating win, the Baltimore Ravens, led by veteran linebacker Ray Lewis, put all of the Jets’ Hard Knocks boasting to rest as they showed the country who is the NFL’s best defense. The J-E-T-S were held to six first downs and a one-of-11 rate on third-down conversions in a black-and-blue 10-9 loss. Plus Rex Ryan’s rowdy bunch produced a staggering 14 penalties for 125 yards. Ryan said of his team’s effort, “Today, was a joke.” Lewis said of the opening-game win, “All the trash talking, it’s out the door. Every time you challenge a warrior, a warrior is going to always respond.”
The NFL Season is Survival of the Fittest– The “tough” physical game of football causes a survival of the fittest on the way to the Lombardi Trophy. No team makes it to the top without dealing with injuries every week of the season. Unfortunately one of this week’s biggest stories was two season-ending injuries for the Philadelphia Eagles as leaders center Jamaal Jackson (torn triceps) and fullback Leonard Weaver (severe knee injury) unfortunately were badly hurt. The Eagles also will be on the NFL’s front page too for another set of injuries as both QB Kevin Kolb and MLB Stewart Bradley had concussions, but were allowed to return to the field briefly before being shutdown at halftime. Now both players will have to pass baseline testing and other tests administered by an independent source before returning to game action. Other major injuries were Lions QB Matthew Stafford (Shoulder), Panthers QB Matt Moore (Concussion), Packers RB Ryan Grant (ankle), Cardinals WR Early Doucet (Hamstring), Giants TE Kevin Boss (Concussion), Texans DE Conner Barwin (fractured ankle), Colts S Bob Sanders (elbow), Steelers LT Max Starks (high ankle sprain) and NT Kris Jenkins (knee).
Colts need to get serious about the run – Sure…QB Peyton Manning had great numbers 40-57, 433 yards and 3 TDs in a 34-24 road loss. But the Colts’ lopsided loss to the Texans showed that successful teams can run the football on offense and stop the run on defense. Houston out-rushed Indy 257 to 44, setting a franchise record for most rushing yards in Texans’ franchise history and most rushing yards allowed in Colts’ franchise history.
Former playoff teams struggle – As I always say, “Every year is different in the NFL”. That phrase was never more prophetic than in Week 1 where 2009 playoff teams went a combined 5-7 — winners were Patriots, Saints, Cardinals, Packers, and Ravens. Yes… the Patriots dominated the Cincinnati Bengals 38-24.
Witherspoon shows heart – Only days after learning about his mother’s passing, Carolina Panthers LB Will Witherspoon gave everything he had in a loss to the NY Giants.
Texans RB Arian Foster – What an amazing game for the 2nd year runner, who was viewed as a back-up just a short time ago. Foster (6’1, 220), running in OC Rick Dennison’s zone-blocking scheme, became the first player in NFL history to rush for 200+ yards and three touchdowns on Kickoff Weekend. The former Tennessee star finished with 33 carries for 231 yards — including 191 yards in the 2nd half — and 3 TDs as the Texans rushed for a franchise record 257 yards in the big 34-24 win over the Colts. The Texans maybe changing their ways into a rushing team first as shown by their 42-to-17 run-to-pass ratio in the much-celebrated win.
Honorable Mention – Chicago Bears RB Matt Forte, Green Bay Packers LB Clay Matthews Jr, Kansas City Chiefs kick returner Dexter McCluster, Tennessee Titans RB Chris Johnson, New York Giants WR Hakeem Nicks, Seattle Seahawks WR Mike Williams, New England Patriots WR Wes Welker, Pittsburgh Steelers RB Rashard Mendenhall, Houston Texans DE Mario Williams, Washington Redskins CB DeAngelo Hall and Baltimore Ravens LB Ray Lewis
Lloyd’s Lackey of the Week
Philadelphia Eagles Head Coach Andy Reid – After already quickly burning his 2nd half timeouts, with the game on the line Reid and/or offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg came up short. Backup QB Michael Vick had rallied the Eagles from a 17-point hole and the Birds had to convert a fourth-and-1 from the Green Bay 42-yard line with two minutes left for a chance to tie the score at 27 points. Reid decided that Vick – who lined up in the shotgun formation — should run a quarterback draw up the middle instead passing or getting the speedster to the edge. Of course, the Packers easily diagnosed the play and stuffed Vick for no gain to the ire of the Philadelphia Faithful. The 4th down play was the cherry on top of Eagles injuries, poor offensive execution in first half, poor offensive line, and penalties…I bet the Eagles will never wear those 1960 throwback jerseys again. Green Packers LB Nick Barnett said of the crucial 4th down play, “He’d been making all the plays, and we knew they were going to put it on him…So yeah, we were ready.”
Dishonorable Mention – The “Loudmouth” New York Jets, Officiating crew from the Bears-Lions game, Carolina Panthers QB Matt Moore, Niners RB Frank Gore, Bengals WR Terrell Owens and the Dallas Cowboys
2010 NFL Week 1
Thu, Sep 09
Saints 14, Vikings 9 — Fast start for Brees and his WR’s then a defensive battle..After missing most of camp was Favre rusty??
Sun, Sep 12
Jaguars 24, Broncos 17 — Big win for the Jags, Garrard 3 TDs
Titans 38, Raiders 13 — The Titans stomp all over the Raiders led by CJ2K who had 142 yds and 2 TDs
Patriots 38, Bengals 24 — Behind Brady and Welker, New England jumps out 24-3 in first half and cruises home. Moss bitching about contract
Bucs 17, Browns 14 — Tampa puts away the hard-luck Browns; Freeman had a good game
Texans 34, Colts 24 — Fueled by RB Arian Foster (231 yds, 3TDs) Houston rolled; QB Peyton Manning had big yards, but there were several drops
Bears 19, Lions 14 — Chicago wins a good game that was overshadowed by the officials overturning an apparent Calvin Johnson TD
Steelers 15, Falcons 9 — P-Burgh wins in OT on a Mendenhall run; Lots of D and FGs, but Steelers win on 50-yd TD run in OT
Dolphins 15, Bills 10 — Henne efficient.. Good running by R. Brown; Bills are a bad team
Giants 31, Panthers 18 — Eli and Hakim Nicks have huge days; Matt Moore (concussion) had 2 INTs in the endzone
Packers 27, Eagles 20 — Philly loses Jackson, Kolb, Bradley, and Weaver; Back-up Vick starts a QB controversy as he almost gets it done
Cardinals 17, Rams 13 — The Cardinals return to STL and get an ugly win; Though hurting, WR Larry Fitzgerald had the game-winner
Seahawks 31, SF49ers 6 — Hasselbeck has a big day and the Niners look bad; Singletary has some clean-up to do
Redskins 13, Cowboys 7 — McNabb efficient and Defense scores TD; Romo throws touchdown at end that is disallowed due to Barron’s holding penalty
Mon, Sep 13
Ravens 10, NY Jets 9 — Ray Lewis and his defense show the J-E-T-S that “talk” is cheap; Also NY Jets QB Mark Sanchez has to do better than 71 yards passing
Chiefs 21, Chargers 14 — Stayed up late for this one, but it was worth it; Romeo Crennel’s young defense came-up big when it mattered most; KC has some speedsters too
Lloyd Vance is a Sr. NFL Writer for Taking It to the House and Sports Journey Network , who is also an award-winning member of the Pro Football Writers of America (PFWA)
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