A Look Back at Week One in the NFL

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A Look Back at Week One in the NFL
(Photo by Matt Sullivan/Getty Images)

The first week of the NFL is in the books. Every team has played a game and is 1-0 or 0-1.

Some teams showed promise even though they lost. Some teams still have questions even though they won.

The injury bug has already hit some big named players all over the league. Quarterback controversies could be looming in other places.

Rookies got a chance to shine in the first week. Old veterans showed they could still play.

Here is a look back at the first week of the NFL season. So let’s look at things that stuck out in the opening week.

 

You Must Be Sound in the Kicking Game

The Titans had a chance to ruin the home opener of the Steelers in the first game of the season. No matter what you think of the NFL’s overtime, this game should not have even made it to the extra period.

Tennessee’s Rob Bironas missed a 37-yard field goal attempt and had a 31-yard field goal blocked. Kicking at Heinz field is never easy, but the six points the Titans left on the field cost Tennessee a win.

Super Bowl winning teams like Pittsburgh make their field goals to win ball games. Jeff Reed made both his field goals and the Steelers won.

 

Nine Interceptions, Two Fumbles Lost, One Touchdown

Wondering what the numbers above mean? Those are Jake Delhomme’s numbers going back to last season's division playoffs.

Delhomme threw five interceptions and lost a fumble in a loss to the Arizona Cardinals. In the offseason, the Carolina Panthers gave Delhomme a five-year extension worth $42.5 million with $20 million guaranteed.

How did Delhomme thank the Panthers? In the opening week of the season he threw four interceptions and lost a fumble in a blowout loss to the Philadelphia Eagles.

Carolina’s day would get worse after Delhomme was pulled and Josh McCown replaced him. McCown went down with foot and knee injuries.

The Panthers would set a team record for turnover with seven. Rookie quarterback Matt Moore would throw an interception, and running back Mike Goodson added a fumble of his own.

 

For at Least One Week, Brett Favre Lets Adrian Peterson Carry the Load

After Brett Favre signed with the Minnesota Vikings, there was talk of whether the Vikings would move from a running game to a passing game.

Instead of throwing the ball all over the field and abandoning the run, the Vikings and Favre used an accurate short passing game.

Favre made the short throws and let his receivers do the work for him. The bulk of the Vikings' offense came from the running game.

Adrian Peterson got a chance to show why he is the best back in the NFL with 180 yards on 25 carries. Teams put more men in the box to stop the run on defense as the season goes on.

As long as Favre does not make any costly errors throwing the ball, teams will have to respect the Vikings' passing game more this season than last season.

 

No Sophomore Slump So Far

Week One in to the season and Matt Ryan and Joe Flacco continued the success they had in their rookie season.  In 2008, both quarterbacks led their teams to the playoffs and in Flacco’s case, won his first two playoff games.

The Flacons’ Ryan finished Week One with 229 passing yards and two touchdowns in a win over the Miami Dolphins. Baltimore’s Flacco got a win over the Chiefs while passing for 307 yards and three touchdowns.

For the first week of the season, Ryan and Flacco looked to pick up right where they left off in 2008.

 

Addition by Subtraction for Dallas

The 2009 offseason for the Dallas Cowboys was as quiet as it has been in years. After a disappointing 2009 season, the Cowboys released troubled cornerback Adam Jones and locker room nightmare Terrell Owens.

The thinking worked the first week of the season, as Dallas quarterback Tony Romo passed for 353 yards and three touchdowns. Romo completed passes to six different receivers and threw touchdown passes to three different receivers.

Instead of forcing the ball to Owens, the Cowboys were able to take what the defense was giving them and make plays.  The 353 passing yards was a career high for Tony Romo.

Is this the season the Cowboys finally live up to the hype, or will they fade in the later part of the season?

 

One Rookie Quarterback Looked Like Old Pro and One Rookie Quarterback Looked Like a Rookie

It’s only the first week but, Mark Sanchez looked great in his first pro start. Sanchez passed for 272 yards and a touchdown in a Jets' wins over the Houston Texans.

On third downs, Sanchez was at his best. He completed 12 of his 18 passes on third down.

Sanchez’s only mistake was an interception that led to Houston’s only score.

As good as Sanchez looked in his first game, his counterpart Matt Stafford struggled in his first game for the Detroit Lions. Stafford passed for 205 yards, but threw three interceptions. He did rush for a touchdown.

The Lions, who went 0-16 last season, got off to a slow start against the New Orleans Saints. Stafford showed signs of being a very good quarterback. Detroit looked like a better team overall from last season.

It might not show up in wins, but the Lions are improved, and as bad as they have been, it will take more than a year to make a turnaround.

 

Teams That Fired Their Offensive Coordinators Went 0-3 in Week One

Firing your offensive coordinator before the season might not catch on. The Bills, Chiefs, and Buccaneers all fired their offense coordinators before the start of the season.

Of the three teams that fired their offensive coordinators, only the Bills lost by single digits. Tampa Bay lost by 13 to Dallas and had a late touchdown to keep from losing by 20 points.

Kansas City lost by 14 points and was dominated by the Ravens' defense. It’s early in the season but maybe firing your offensive coordinator is not the best idea before the start of the season.

 

The Good and Bad of the Trick Play

First the bad: deep in their own territory, the Bears run a fake punt. Trying to catch the Packers with 12 men on the field, the Bears failed to get the first down and instead got the penalty for too many men on the field.

Green Bay turned the Bears miscue into a field goal.

The good trick play of the first week belongs to the Washington Redskins. Down 17-0 to the Giants late in the first half, the Redskins fake a field goal.

Punter Hunter Smith takes the ball and runs for his life into the end zone. It was the first touchdown of Smith’s career.

The fake field goal did not help the Redskins win. Washington fell to the Giants 23-17.

 

Welcome Back Osi Umenyiora and Tom Brady

Two players made their return from injury in Week One and made an impact on the field. The Giants and the Patriots welcomed back Osi Umenyiora and Tom Brady, respectively.

In his first game back against Washington, New York’s Umenyiora sacked the Redskins Jason Campbell to force a fumble and then picked up the ball for a touchdown.

In Brady’s return after an injury in the first game of last season, the New England quarterback led his team to a fourth quarter comeback over the Bills. Brady passed for 378 yards and two touchdowns, including the game-winner in his return.

 

Another Super Bowl Loss Hangover

After making to the Super Bowl for the first time in franchise history, the Arizona Cardinals look to avoid the Super Bowl loser hangover. Since 1999, every team but one has failed to make the playoffs the following year.

The Cardinals dropped their Week One game against the San Francisco 49ers. The talk has already begun if Arizona will not defend their NFC championship.

 

Heartbreaking Losses in Week One

Three teams suffered heart breaking losses. Here they are in order of how heart breaking they were:

 

3. Bills Fumble Away a Win against the Patriots

Leodis McKevin's fumble on a kickoff helped New England score its second touchdown in the final two minutes.

 

2. Oakland Chokes Away a Victory at Home

After harassing the Chargers on offense the whole night, the Raiders' defense disappeared in the final two minutes. Philip Rivers drove San Diego down the field and Darren Sproles scored with 18 seconds left to ruin the Raiders' home-opener.

 

1. The Bengals Snatch Defeat from the Jaws of Victory

Cincinnati playing from behind the entire ball game against Denver finally broke through with a touchdown in the final 38 seconds of the game to take a 7-6 lead.

All the Bengals had to do was run the final seconds off the clock for a win in the first week of the season. Cincinnati instead tips a pass meant for Brandon Marshall of the Broncos into the hands of his teammate Brandon Stokley.

Stokley raced down the field for an 87-yard touchdown. The Bengals were left to wonder what went wrong as they lost 12-7.

 

Denver Gets the Edge in Week One of the Jay Cutler Trade

Denver traded away Jay Cutler to the Bears in the offseason. The Broncos thought they got the better end of the deal with two first-round draft choices.

Chicago thought they had a quarterback to lead them back to the Super Bowl. Week One Denver’s Kyle Orton throws for 243 yards and one touchdown.

More importantly, Orton did not turn the ball over and got lucky with a game-winning touchdown. In Green Bay, Jay Cutler threw a career-high four interceptions, even though he passed for 277 yards and a touchdown.

Week One goes to the Broncos after Cutler throws the four picks in his first career game for the Bears.

 

Two Minute Drill

Peyton Manning

The Colts future hall-of-famer tied the Colts record for most wins in franchise history. Manning tied the late great Jonny Unitas’ record.

 

Drew Brees

Brees picked up where he left off in 2008 with 358 passing yards and six touchdown passes. Defensive backs on the Saints' schedule will have a lot of sleepless nights.

 

Santonio Holmes

Holmes scored the last touchdown last season and the first touchdown this season. In the Super Bowl, Holmes had nine catches for 131 yards and a touchdown, and he repeated those same stats against Tennessee in the first game of the season.

 

Notable Injuries

Troy Polamalu is out for the next three to six weeks, Donovan McNabb broke a rib and is out and undisclosed time, Jerod Mayo is out for an undetermined amount of time with a knee injury, but the biggest loss is Brian Urlacher, who is out for the season with a wrist injury.

 

Possible Quarterback Controversies

With McNabb hurt in Philadelphia and the signing of Jeff Garcia, the Eagles have four quarterbacks. Garcia led the Eagles to a playoff appearance a couple of seasons ago. The Eagles still have Michael Vick and Kevin Kolb waiting in the wings.

Carolina signed A.J. Freely after the injury to Josh McCown and the poor play of Jake Delhomme. If Delhomme’s struggles continue this week, look for the Panthers fans to want Freely at quarterback.

 

St. Louis Rams

The Rams are the only team in the NFL who failed to score in Week One. St. Louis did have a touchdown called back on a blocked 49-yard field goal. The Rams had 12 players on the field and the touchdown was overturned on replay. St. Louis never recovered from the change in momentum.

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