(0-1) Atlanta Falcons 12-30 Chicago Bears (1-0)
CHI: J. Cutler: 22/32 for312 yards 2 TD’s 1 INT. M. Forte 16 rushes 68 yards, 5 Catches 90 Yards and 1 TD. 5 sacks.
ATL: M. Ryan: 31/47 for 319. M. Turner: 10 carries for 100. 4 sacks for Atlanta
This was a great start to the season for a Chicago team is looking to repeat as division winners in the NFC North. The Bears defense looks as if it will give any team that comes to Soldier Field a hard time and that includes the Super Bowl champion Green Bay Packers. The Bears offense also looks a lot more efficient this season with Jay Cutler’s decision making a lot better than we have previously seen, don’t be fooled by the INT it was the product of good pressure by John Abraham and a great play by Kroy Biermann. The Falcons never got going in this matchup with the offense blighted by conservative play calling and four turnovers that will have to be cut out if they are to make the playoffs. The defense didn’t look much better as they were shredded by Cutler and his receivers, basic fundamentals were also missing such as wrapping up and discipline in zone coverage.
What have we learnt:
- This Bears defense is for real and should finish in the top 10 for total defense come the end of the season, the pass rush is fierce and the cover 2 system proved effective in limiting big plays from Atlanta.
- The Falcons offensive line is a work in progress. The loss of Todd McClure to injury was a big factor in this game as the Falcons fielded two players making their NFL debut in the interior of their line (Joe Hawley & Garrett Reynolds), if McClure can come back then Reynolds transition to starter will be a lot smoother.
- The NFC North is going to be a competitive division, three wins from three games at the time of writing and in my opinion the Bears have looked the best of the bunch defensively. They eliminated the big play completely and had constant pressure on Matt Ryan. They have fantastic depth on the defensive line and the rotation will wreak havoc all year.
MVP: Brian Urlacher finished the game with an INT and a touchdown following a fumble recovery. The touchdown was his fourth of the year.
(1-0) Detroit Lions 27-20 Tampa Bay Buccaneers (0-1)
DET: M. Stafford 24/33 305 yards 3 TD’s 1 INT, C. Johnson 6 receptions, 88 yards, 2 TD’s
TB: J. Freeman: 28/43 for 259 yards, 1 TD. L Blount: 5 rushes for 15 yards, TB recorded 0 sacks.
This was a game between two impressive young teams that was decided by the impressive weapons that Matt Stafford has at his disposal. Stafford had Calvin Johnson and Nate Burleson to throw to all day as Tampa had no pass rush to speak of. With his clean pocket Stafford was able to utilize his weapons effectively as 8 players caught passes all together. Tampa’s offense was unbalanced to say the least as they struggled to establish the run against a Lions team that figured to be weak against the run. Still it was a tight game that ran right down to the wire with Freeman narrowly missing on a couple of Hail Mary tosses.
What we learned:
- If Matt Stafford can stay healthy these Lions are going to push for the playoffs. Stafford rallied after an early interception to throw for over 300 yards and an impressive three touchdowns. A huge plus points was the clean pocket he had for most of the day as he took zero sacks. With all the weapons he has surrounding him Stafford should be a top 10 quarterback if stays upright all season.
- The Buccaneers need to improve at the line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball. As already mentioned the Bucs got no pressure on Stafford and on the other side of the ball they couldn’t get any push in the run game as Blount was limited to just 15 yards rushing. The running game was strength for Tampa last year and the line is going to have to do a better job if they are to get it going this season.
- Tampa may take a step back this season. If you’re going to be a playoff team then this is the type of game you have to win, Tampa are loaded with talented young players but typically players take a step back in their second year. The Bucs will knock off talented team and be competitive this year but their record looks likely to lose a few wins off of last year’s record (10-6).
MVP: Matt Stafford, 300 yards and 3 TD’s cannot be argued with, Stafford to Johnson is something to look for a lot this season.
(1-0) Cincinnati Bengals 27-20 Cleveland Browns (0-1)
CIN: B. Gradkowski: 5/12 for 95 yards, 1 TD. Cedric Benson 25 rushes, 121 yards, 1 TD
CLE: C. McCoy 19/40 for 213 yards, 2 TD’s, 1 INT. P. Hillis 17 rushes for 57 yards. J. Gresham 6 catches for 58 yards, 1 TD
The battle of Ohio was a game that many saw Cleveland winning but the Bengals handled there rivals with a strong showing in the fourth quarter. The fact that Cincy did it without their starting quarterback for much of the game is even more impressive. This is due to the injury that Andy Dalton suffered to his wrist on the final play of the first half. Cedric Benson iced the game in the fourth quarter with a long 39 yard touchdown run. The Bengals got good pressure on Colt McCoy despite the lack of sacks and they made things difficult for the second year signal caller. The Browns defense were however caught flat footed by a quick snap from Bengals back up QB Bruce Gradkowski when he burnt them for AJ Green’s 41 yard TD grab. The Browns weren’t happy that the Bengals were able to snap the ball when they were just getting out of the huddle but the officials saw nothing wrong with the play.
What we learned:
1 These Bengals may not be as bad as we thought. Despite Cleveland not being a great team themselves, you can’t help but be impressed by the Bengals fourth quarter rally to open the season with a road win. The fact this win came in the division is all the more important for the Bengals looking to improve on last season’s dismal 4-12 record.
2 Time in jail is a good way to prepare for an NFL game. Cedric Benson teaches us this after he impressed in the season opener displaying good burst after his spell behind bars. If Benson can run like this all season then the Bengals will be able to shock a few teams as it will open up the play action passing game and make things easier for whoever is at quarterback.
3 Colt McCoy needs more help at wide receiver. His two TD passes went to tight ends and he appears to be more comfortable throwing to them. Wide Receivers only caught five of McCoy’s 19 completions, this number will have to improve if the Browns are to be competitive this season. If it does improve and that’s a big if, defenses playing the Browns will have to keep things honest and not just stack the box.
MVP: Cedric Benson, 121 rushing yards is a nice way to start the season for the veteran running back with the TD being the icing on the metaphorical cake.
(0-1) Pittsburgh Steelers 7-35 Baltimore Ravens (1-0)
PIT: B. Roethlisberger 22/41 for 280 yards, 1 TD. M. Wallace: 8 receptions for 107 yards.
BAL: J. Flacco 17/29 for 224 yards, 3 TD. R. Rice: 19 carries for 107 yards and 1 TD.
The Baltimore Ravens start off in record setting style in this AFC North battle, romping to a 35-7 win over their closest rivals, as Pittsburgh eight game winning streak in openers comes to a grinding halt. The Ravens started out fast taking a 14-0 lead in the first quarter followed by a TD pass in the 2nd quarter taking a 21-7 lead into the half. This mirrored the score we all saw last season and having seen how that turned out (the Steelers overturned the score and went on to win), Flacco et al wasn’t going to allow it to happen today, and victory was sealed when the Ravens D began wreaking havoc.
For the Baltimore, Ray Rice was impressive, especially considering he was facing the Steelers D, who don’t often allow many players to rush for over 100 yards, or allow a team to score more than 20 or so points. The most relieved man of the night? Joe Flacco. This was his first victory against a Pittsburgh Steelers team that featured Ben Roethlisberger, and without that monkey on his back, how far can he lead this team now?
What We Learned:
- Pittsburgh’s offensive line needs sorting out: The Ravens got constant pressure on Roethlisberger and his O-Line, causing three interceptions and four forced fumbles.
- Ravens GM Ossie Newsome will be handing out some more money: After an monstrous performance, Haloti Ngata is surely due a new contract, having caused a force fumble and a deflection for a turnover..
MVP: Ravens Defense, they created seven turnovers and were just lights out all game.
(0-1) Tennessee Titans 14-16 Jacksonville Jaguars (1-0)
JAX: L. McCown: 17/24 for 175 yards. M. Jones-Drew: 24 carries for 97 yards, 1 TD.
TEN: M. Hasselbeck: 21/34 for 283 yards, 2 TDs. K. Britt: 5 receptions for 136 yards and 2 TDs.
Having been handed the Jaguars’ starter’s job only days ago, Luke McCown went into the AFC South clash against the Titans with the pressure of the whole franchise on his shoulders, and to be fair, he played a steady game. In opposition, Tennessee’s QB Matt Hasselbeck started slowly, but did improve as the game went on, throwing for two TDs, however it wasn’t enough and they were edged out by just 2 points.
Apart from the two debutant QBs, there was huge interest in the 2 running backs. Maurice Jones-Drew, returning from a knee injury, ran for 97 yards, scoring a TD, and looking impressive as he returns to game shape. However the complete opposite could be said for Chris Johnson who was less than impressive, and after holding during preseason he only managed 9 carries and averaged 2.7 yards for his 24 yards on the day. Fortunately for the Titans, Kenny Britt who himself faced troubles (of a totally different nature) during the off season, was outstanding. He notched up 5 receptions for 136 yards and 2 TDs, including a particularly spectacular catch down-field.
What we learned:
- Luke McCown needs will take a minimum 2-3 games to feel comfortable in the starting role, which is impressive considering he was the 3rd string QB only a matter of weeks ago.
- CJ will not return to normal as quickly however, maybe facing four or five difficult weeks before getting back to a normal routine, and after today’s poor performance, he must improve to allow the Titans to have much chance of success.
MVP: Luke McCown, pressure coming into the game and did a good job in the end.
(1-0) Philadelphia Eagles 31-13 St Louis Rams (0-1)
PHI: M. Vick: 14/32 for 187 yards and 2 TDs. L. McCoy: 15 carries for 122 yards, and one TD. D. Jackson. 6 receptions for 102 yards and a TD.
STL: S. Bradford: 17/30 for 188 yards. C. Williams: 19 carries for 91 yards. S. Jackson: 2 carries for 56 yards and 1 TD.
Well, with their first play from scrimmage, the Steven Jackson rushed for 47 yards into the end zone for a touchdown…and for the Rams; that was all she wrote. Jackson could only make one more play, and with a tight quad, was forced to leave the field, and with him went St Louis’ impetus. The Rams barely got any offense started at any point, whilst paradoxically the Eagles were deadly. Michael Vick faced up to his doubters with a stunning display of passing and scrambling, picking up 285 all-purpose yards, the only problem that the Eagles offensive line may face is at center. Jason Kielce struggled against Fred Robbins and Chris Long all season.
Throughout the game, the Eagles seemed determined to help the Rams out by conceding three personal foul penalties on failed 3rd down attempts by the Rams. St Louis however didn’t take advantage of any of them, and with a 16% 3rd down conversion rate, looked very nervous without Jackson on offense, but most worryingly were the seven drops by the assorted St Louis receivers, with at least five very catchable. Standing out for the Eagles were RB LeSean McCoy who picked up a rushing TD on his way to 122 yards, with the lions share of them in the last five carries, including his 61 yard end-zone rush. Out wide, DeSean Jackson gave the Philly GM some food for thought in his hunt for a new contract with a great day receiving, including a great catch in the back of the end zone on a play that looked almost dead. The most worrying thing for Andy Reid’s team will be the way their defense played. For the most part, the Rams’ lack of offense was through their own inability, and the Eagles stacked the box far too often, leaving them vulnerable to a mid-length pass.
Before the weekend, a lot of previews and experts had this game as the one to cause the biggest upset….the Eagles “managed” the win, and not only did they complete their task, they did very impressively.
What we learned:
- The Eagles have little to worry about on offense. The Rams aren’t the best defense in the league, but they are no pushovers, so with Michael Vick demonstrating his strengths, the Eagles future opponents will be taking a heavy gulp this evening.
- The Rams have a much longer way to go then many thought. I was on the bandwagon and being a Rams fan, I had high hopes; however this game really showed that the team as a whole, but more worryingly Sam Bradford, have a lot to learn before they can compete on a higher level.
MVP: Michael Vick. The only man in NFL history to sign two $100m contracts began to repay the Eagles with a very imposing performance under center. Vick bossed the game, and extended three or four plays with not only the use of his legs, but an improved passing game.
(0-1) Indianapolis Colts 7-34 Houston Texas (1-0)
IND: K. Collins: 16/31 for 197 yards, 1 TD. R. Wayne: 7 receptions for 106 yards with 1 TD
HOU: M. Schaub: 17/24 for 220 yards, with 1 TD. B. Tate: 24 carries for 116 yards, 1 TD. A. Johnson: 7 receptions for 95 yards, 1 TD.
This one will live long in the memory for Houston fans. After a decade of struggles against the Colts and a combined 2-18 record, the Texans just let everything go in the first half, notching up all of their 34 points before the turn of the half. Derrick Ward, Matt Schaub, and rookie Ben Tate all impressed, with the latter taking the baton from the injured Arian Foster and running for 116 yards on 24 carries and a touchdown. The Colts on the other hand struggled with Kerry Collins, who came into this contest 0-7 against Wade Phillips, the current DC for Houston. The former Titans QB, who surpassed Joe Montana on the all-time passing yards list, was strip sacked twice in consecutive possessions within his own 20 yard line.
The Texans last score of the day came just before half time, but was undoubtedly their best. Jacoby Jones took a punt return to the house from his own 22 yard line, splitting the field, and dancing his way into the end-zone. After the break, the Colts afternoon went from bad to worse with veteran kicker Adam Viantieri missing a chip shot FG from 34 yards. A consolation TD thrown by Collins to the back of he end-zone for Reggie Wayne was barely celebrated, and whilst the game petered out, the Colts future without the son of Archie must be questioned. Their rush game never got started, and after ranking 29th last season in that category, it will be necessary to seek improvement.
Apart from an early pick thrown by Schaub, the Texans never looked in trouble in this one, and with such a convincing win, Houston’s fans will look forward to an exciting season.
What we learned:Guess what: Peyton manning is vital to how the Colts play. Seriously, Indy never looked at all threatening, which is a complete antithesis from the past decade or so. You have to think that Kerry Collins isn’t the answer.
- The Texans don’t need Arian Foster. With a questionable status all week, foster was ruled out before the game, but the mix of an exciting rookie and wily veteran worked well for Houston.
MVP: Rookie Ben Tate was particularly impressive on offense, however fellow rookie DE J.J. Watt recorded a team high 5 tackles, and was all over the field throughout the game.
(1-0) Buffalo Bills 41-7 Kansas City Chiefs (0-1)
BUF: R. Fitzpatrick: 17/25 for 208 yards, 4 TDs. F. Jackson: 20 carries for 120 yards. S. Chandler: 5 receptions for 65 yards and 2 TDs.
KC: M. Cassel: 22/36 for 119 yard, 1 TD. J. Charles: 10 carries for 56 yards.
Wow. Last season’s surprise package were the Kansas City Chiefs, winning the AFC West and impressing in a lot of areas. Well they began this season awfully. Buffalo came into Arrowhead Stadium pumped and ready to go, and before the Chiefs got started, they were 20-0 down. The Bills looked very impressive, with both Ryan Fitzpatrick and previously unknown WR Scott Chandler having career days, with the former tying a career-high 4 TDs. Chandler, a receiver who has only ever had one reception in the NFL before tonight, looked impressive, and made himself available for two TDs on the night.
Worryingly for the Chiefs, they got nothing going on offense. The one drive that ended in points had a couple of penalties go their way, and in the end, new TE Leonard Pope made a great catch at the side of the end zone with a very late toe-tap, however neither Jamal Charles, nor any Chiefs’ wide outs looked pumped up, in fact they didn’t even look alive. A really poor performance, but Buffalo score 40+ points for only the second time since Boxing Day 2004.
What we learned: This Bills team could be out to silence their doubter this season, and although they have very little hope of reaching the postseason, therefore ending the joint longest active streak in the NFL without a playoff appearance, the Bills were incredibly impressive, and the organisation will hope that Ryan Fitzpatrick can continue his form for the rest of their season.
- Kansas City are in trouble if they continue to play as they did this afternoon. It is hard to comprehend how bad they were on offense if you didn’t watch this game. Nothing got started at all, and they rarely looked like sparking a comeback.
MVP: Ryan Fitzpatrick edges out Scott Chandler for this accolade and with 4 TDs on the day, a very composed performance, and a convincing victory, who can disagree?
(1-0) Carolina Panthers 21-28 Arizona Cardinals (0-1)
CAR: Cam Newton 24/37, 422 yards, 2 TD’s, 1 INT
ARI: K. Kolb 18/27 for 309 yards, 2 TDs. B. Wells 18 carries for 90 yards, 1 TD. P. Peterson:89 yard punt return for a TD
The Panthers were much better than expected as they traveled to the desert to face a fired up Cardinals side that is feeling confident after the addition of QB Kevin Kolb. Kolb was impressive in this match-up leading the Cards up and down the field and throwing for 2 Td’s along with 300 yards through the air. The real story from this game however is the debut of the number one overall pick Cam Newton who threw for 422 yards in his first NFL game. Newton looked like a different player from the one we saw in preseason who was inaccurate and shaky against pressure, here he looked calm and found his receivers down-field regularly. Sadly for Newton the game was decided by another rookie, Patrick Peterson drafted number 5 overall showed his return skills with an electric punt return which sealed the game for the Cardinals.
What we learned:
- Cam Newton is going to win the Panthers some games by himself this season. In the long term I’m yet to be convinced by Newton but whilst teams lack game tape of him and don’t know how to prepare for him then he has the potential to shock a few people and lead the Panthers to some upset wins. His elusiveness and strong arm are impressive as was his accuracy against Arizona. Real tests are to come though against tougher defenses.
- The Cardinals need to find a way to keep Kevin Kolb in the pocket. When throwing from the pocket Kolb looks as if he can be an upper echelon NFL quarterback, too many times however he chooses to scramble at any sign of pressure and cuts the field in half for himself. If he can keep his eyes down the field and stay strong in the pocket this Cardinals offense could be good.
- The lockout had a big impact on special teams. This is for all of the games so far this week but is exemplified perfectly by Peterson’s big return. The lack of off-season condition and preparation is looking to have hurt teams big time in the return game as when kicks and punts are actually returned the returners always look capable of taking them to the house.
MVP: Beanie Wells, Wells strong running aloud the Cardinals to come away with a win as they controlled the line of scrimmage and were able to set up the touchdown pass. Wells 90 yards and a touchdown are also impressive stats.
(0-1) Minnesota Vikings 17–24 San Diego Chargers (1-0)
MIN: D. McNabb: 7/15 for 39 yards, 1 TD. A. Peterson: 16 carries for 98 yards.
SD: P. Rivers: 33/48 for 335 yards, 2 TDs. A. Gates: 8 receptions for 74 yards. M. Tolbert: 9 receptions for 58 yards, 2 TDs.
You can’t start a season better than he Vikings did, scoring off the opening kickoff, with Percy Harvin asking it 103 yards and all the way to 7-0 lead, but much like the St Louis Rams, it didn’t continue as well as it started. The Chargers were shaken into life after that, and although they didn’t really get started in first half, Phillip Rivers led his team impressively, and scored 17 unanswered points in the second half.
Although the Chargers were consistent throughout the later parts of the game, Minnesota fell away, dramatically. In the 2nd half, McNabb led his Vikings team to a pathetic 17 yards, that is correct, a net total of 17 yards in the whole half. It was dire and the Chargers took advantage. They were impressive on the run game, and Mike Tolbert had a career high 3 TDs on the game, although two of them were receptions.
What we have learnt:
- Donovan McNabb could make this a long season in Minnesota. It wasn’t so much that he was poor, it was just unimaginative play calling, however McNabb didn’t help.
- Adrian Peterson is the only thing that the Minnesota offense has going for it. Period.
- The Chargers will have to start faster than they usually do. They are known to perform slowly in September, and early October, and if they weren’t playing such a poor side, then San Diego would have been punished, and fallen to an 0-1 record.
MVP: Phillip Rivers. The San Diego QB had a couple of picks on the day, but was otherwise level headed and steady, throwing for a strong 335 yards, and 2 TDs.
(0-1) Seattle Seahawks 17–33 San Francisco 49ers (1-0)
SEA: T. Jackson: 21/37 for 197 yards, 2 TDs. D. Baldwin: 4 receptions for 83 yards, 1 TD.
SF: A. Smith: 15/20 for 124 yards. F. Gore: 22 carries for 54 yards.
In a game that many expected to be dire, expectations were met. In a poor first half, the 49ers ‘pounced’ on a lack of Seahawk offense, by scoring 16 unanswered points, with three FGs, and a 1 yard sneak by QB Alex Smith. However, the game slightly picked up in the second half, with the Seahawks making a game of it. Golden Tate, the impressive young WR got on the end of an 8 yard connection from former Minnesota scrambler Tavaris Jackson, and after K Steven Hauschka knocked over a 39 yard chip shot, the ‘Hawks found themselves trailing by 6, and in with a shot off winning one on the road. It wasn’t to be however, and even after they cut a now 9 point lead with an impressive pass by Jackson found Baldwin for a 55 yard TD, all hope was extinguished with two plays made by Ted Ginn Jr. ah yes, Mr Ginn stepped up to the plate, and returned a kickoff and punt for TDs to finish the Seahawks off late, and notch up an early victory for San Francisco.
What we have learnt:
- Not much. Neither team showed their best football, and the game met most peoples’ low expectations, however Tavaris looked reasonably steady under center. It may continue all season, and the Seahawks still didn’t win, however the hopes of Seahawks fans will have to rest on his shoulders.
- From San Francisco, there was very little to take from this game, however they will be delighted to walk away with the W. Frank Gore will be expected to deliver more than he did today, and if he continues to play as he did, it may be a long season at the Stick.
MVP: Unlikely before today, but Ted Ginn Jr. turned this game into a victory for the 49ers with two very good returns.
(0-1) New York Giants 14-28 Washington Redskins (1-0)
NYG: E. Manning 18/32 for 268 yards, 1 rushing TD.
WAS: R. Grossman 21/34 for 305 yards, 2 TDs.
An emotional day in Washington saw the whole country marking the 10th anniversary of 9/11, however many heads were turned at FedEx Field, as this game became a fascinating contest. Eli Manning started off quick with a deep pass to Hakeem Nicks, and for a while it seemed that it may be a long day for the ‘Skins, especially after Manning went in for the rushing TD, but slowly redskins got better with Grossman making opening start since 2007. As the Game went on Redskins defense and Grossman improved with the D stopping the giants on 4th and 1 and Rookie Ryan Kerrigan catching interception and running it back for a TD. Former 2nd round pick Fred Davis for the redskins looked impressive with 5 receptions for 105 yards looks as if he has built a rapport with Grossman.
What we learned:
Rex Grossman is the real deal for now, looks impressive at times in the game against the giants but at times looked very shaky getting sacked on number of occasion down him holding onto the ball longer he should do.
Eli Manning looked better especially with only 2 star WR after losing Boss, Steve Smith, Defence looked shaky at times after losing whole host of names how will they able to cope for the next couple of games.
Redskins defense is the real deal and that switching to 3-4 was the right move after getting constant pressure on Eli Manning forcing fumbles, stopping them 4th and 1 after finishing 32nd overall in defense last season, it can only get better.
MVP: Rex Grossman
(0-1) Dallas Cowboys 21-24 New York Jets (1-0)
DAL: T. Romo 23/36 for 342 yards, 2 TDs.
NYJ: M. Sanchez 26/44 for 335 yards, 2 TDs.
Easily described as a game of two halves, the first Sunday Night Football on CBS this season saw the Cowboys start off impressively, scoring getting a TD on their opening drive of the game. Romo & co looked impressive for the first 3 quarters, and was mistake free until the4th, where is seemed that the Cowboys forgot there was a 4th quarter. Going into leading by 14 points, Dallas collapsed, conceding two turnovers in the final period. The Jets looked vacant early on, however throughout the second half regained their composure, and managed to get in a game winning position. Step up Nick Folk, former Dallas kicker, now paying n New York, ad he knocked over a 50 yard FG to win the game.
There were some inspired plays to turn in the favor of the Gang Green, non-more so than a blocked punt that was returned for a TD. The scheme that led to the punt block was impressive ad allowed speedy defensive back Jim McKnight through the middle. That play tied the game, and the one play that tipped it in favor of New York was an interception by Darrelle Revis, who picked Romo off with less than 2 minutes on the clock.
What we learned:
- The Cowboys don’t look to have improved from last year, playing impressively at times, whilst at other times; they don’t get the job done. This season there will be huge pressure on Romo to start finishing off games strongly, and not falling to his now inconstant reputation. A plus for Dallas was Dez Bryant, who looked impressive after making a couple of catches during the opening drive, including a back shoulder catch for a TD.
- This could be the season that the Jets win it all. It looked bleak going into the final quarter, but after getting the interception with 59 seconds remaining in the game and hitting a 50 yard FG, it looks like this could be the start of things to come. New WR Plaxico Burress slowly got involved in the game and should become Sanchez’s red zone weapon late.
MVP: Nick Folk, hitting 50 yard FG to seal the game.
(1-0) New England Patriots – Miami Dolphins (0-1)
NE: T. Brady: 32/48 for 518 yards, 4 TDs. W. Welker: 8 receptions for 167 yards, 2 TDs
MIA: C. Henne: 30/49 for 416 yards, 2 TDs. B. Marshall: 7 receptions for 39 yards.
In the first Monday Night Football action of the season, the Miami Dolphins hosted a thrilling match, which saw the New England Patriots come out on top, with a superior mind-set throughout. In a game that saw over 800 yards in passing, Miami will walk away with a heavy heart as they failed to convert big chances, allowing the Patriots to run away with the game, the scoreboard, and on a record tying 99 yard reception, the ball.
The Dolphins suffered with inconsistency, however penalties really hurt them throughout the night, and with a lock of any discernible rush, there could be some tough times ahead. New acquisition Reggie Bush played well…for the first drive, however much like he did in New Orleans, disappeared into the shadows, and with only 3.5 yards averaged on 11 carries, Miami may have to rely on other aspects of their offense
What we learned:
- As if it needed confirming, but the New England backup QBs, Brian Hoyer and Ryan mallet have very little chance of any game time this year. It must be fun on the side-line to watch your teammate and leader throw for over 500 yards, breaking a franchise and MNF record. With only one reception, Chad Ochocinco didn’t feature heavily, however Brady used eight receivers throughout the game, connecting with both Deion Branch and Aaron Hernandez seven times. The three time Super bowl Champion ended the game fifth on the all-time list of single game passing yards, and looked unbelievably comfortable.
- New England will be a hard team to stop. Not so much learning, more of an education. This offense played hurry up, no huddle football throughout the game, and by the end of the 3rd quarter had
- The Miami defense, ranked by many in the top 5 (including their own DC Bill O’Brien), will need to improve to live up to their billing. Karlos Dansby, Jason Taylor, and Cameron Wake will be looked at as leaders of this D, and will be pivotal in the development of the younger players on this defense. With an unreliable QB, Miami will have to turn to this unit a lot throughout the year, and if they don’t step up to the plate, it could a long season at the Sun Life Stadium.
MVP: Tom Brady: Last year, he was voted as the league MVP unanimously, and after throwing for over 500 yards and 4 TDs, there is absolutely no other candidate.
(1-0) Oakland Raiders 23-20 Denver Broncos (0-1)
DEN: Kyle Orton 24/46, 304 yards, 1 TD, 1 INT.
OAK: Darren Mcfadden; 22 rushes, 150 yards, 1 TD, Sebastian Janikowski 3/3 kicks, NFL record 63 yard field goal
A wet and windy showdown in the AFC West was the story of the second Monday Night Football game of 2011. As shown in the key stats both teams were heavily penalized and this did a lot to ruin the ebb and flow of the game, this helped stall a number of key drives for both sides and leaving them facing a lot of third and longs. When yellow flags weren’t being thrown the game was dominated by the most talented player on the field, Darren McFadden. McFadden ran through the Bronco’s new 4 man defensive line with relative ease and piled up the yardage. Most of the Bronco’s damage offensively was done through the air with Kyle Orton joining the vast group of quarterbacks who threw for over 300 yards on opening weekend. This did the Bronco’s no good however as Orton produced two costly turnovers including a bizarre fumble in the fourth quarter that the Raiders recovered and ended up scoring from on the ensuing drive.
What we learned:
1 Mile High is a nice place to kick. Sebastian “Seabass” Janikowski hit an NFL record 63 yard field goal which shattered the record also set at Mile High by former Bronco, Jason Elam. Kicking like this will do wonders for Al Davis’ ego as he drafted Janikowski in the first round of the draft in 2000.
2 Darren McFadden is one of the top running backs in the NFL on his day and if he can stay healthy he could propel the Raiders to a winning record. The big question however is can he stay healthy, McFadden played his first season without major injury last year and was a key figure for the silver & black. Look for McFadden to contend for the rushing title if he stays injury free.
3 Tim Tebow is still a darling of the Denver fans. As Orton struggled late there were many chants for Tebow to come into the game. If the Bronco’s continue to struggle then it will be hard for coach John Fox to continue to ignore Tebow who in my opinion at least showed a lot of promise at the end of last season. Kyle Orton only has the ability to take you to about the 8-8 range and surely Denver has greater aspirations than that, they must also find out what they have in Tebow before the draft next year.
MVP: Darren McFadden without question was the star of this game and should be a superstar name before the season is done.