The NFL season kicked off in grand fashion this past week, and what a way to start with the New York Giants, winners of last years’ Super Bowl as the opening game on Thursday night. Week one definitely was no slouch of a weekend. First off, everyone wore a patch on the front left of their uniform that said “GU” on it for recently departed player’s union chief Gene Upshaw in a tactful display of respect for a man who has definitely helped shape the league over many, many years. We saw one of the premier players knocked out for an entire season, and heard “It’s the story, of a man named Brady” run through our heads as it happened. NFL fans everywhere either cheered wildly or were forlorn, as that is how big a loss or gain Brady is, depending on one’s perspective. We were witness to Indianapolis actually losing a game prior to going at least 10-0 to start the season. We saw Jacksonville and Seattle bite it in upsets, and one game went down to the wire with Carolina pulling it out at the end of regulation. We watched someone or something from the media dub Brett Favre “Broadway Brett” and can only hope that little diddy of a nickname doesn’t stick. Chad Johnson is still a Johnson on the back of his uniform even though he officially changed his last name to “Ocho Cinco”. Instead he should have went with the Spanish slang word for the male body part that Johnson represents and it would have made a lot more sense. The Commish probably would have even allowed that on the jersey as an appropriate compromise for rename-ability. Instead Johnson wants ocho cinco. If you combine that with his male anatomy last name, it just sounds like he is bragging about size on the back of his uniform. Really, at that point, might as well stick with Johnson. We saw media darling picks Cleveland and Houston pummeled making us wonder how good great sports minds really are. Is it possible putting beer cans with football helmets on them in front of goats and marking the selections based on which can the goat ate first would have been close to or a more accurate way to determining this years teams’ records?
All this and its only week one!! Lets Review!
Best game of the Week #1 – Going into this one, you’d expect Carolina and San Diego to be a good one, assuming of course Jake Delhomme had regained some of his magic after last year’s injuries and Steve “temper, temper” Smith would not be missed because of his suspension. Now that I type that, maybe it shouldn’t have been a good one. Either way you slice it you would probably figure San Diego would still prevail. They almost did, coming to within seconds of victory. That’s when Jake Delhomme hoisted up a pass into the back of the end zone with seconds to play for the win. All this AFTER the Chargers went on top on a TD with just 2:29 to play. GOOD STUFF MAYNARD!! Delhomme finished 23/41 with 247 yards and a TD pass. Phillip Rivers was 17/27 with 217 yards and three scores. LaDainian Tomlinson just missed a buck, getting 97 yards on 21 carries. Carolina wins 26-24. People still wonder why the Chargers let Drew Brees go even though Rivers is not all that shabby.
Speaking of which – Drew Brees threw for the second most yards in week one, trailing only Donovan McNabb, and making you wonder why the Charg… never mind, we went through that already. Brees went off for 343 yards and guided the New Orleans Saints to a 24-20 win over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. New Orleans ended the day with 438 yards of total offense. After Tampa Bay went into halftime staked to a 10-7 lead, the score went back and forth and it looked like whoever scored last was going home a winner. With 40 ticks left on the clock and the Saints up 24-20, Garcia had the Bucs charging down the field until his only interception of the night ended the possible go-ahead drive. The Saints played in the Super Dome despite hurricane Gustav hitting earlier in the week. Reggie Bush had 112 yards receiving and 51 yards rushing in the victory. Doesn’t appear he’s a decoy so far this year. What a great idea! Use great players as actual players! Saints win 24-20. Beads are passed out in celebration of the victory and because of the possibility of seeing womanly body parts you’d never see otherwise without the cheap jewelry is reason enough to pass out cheap jewlery.
Biggest Blowout – Donovan McNabb always seems to look great until the injuries creep in, and the start of this year was no exception. He threw for 361 yards and 3 TD’s, a great day for a QB. Somebody earned a hot bowl of Campbell soup! In addition, he had three receivers in DeSean Jackson, Greg Lewis, and Hank Baskett each over a hundred yards in receiving. On a side note, how could you not throw to a receiver with the last name of ‘Baskett”, eh Boo Boo? That is a sure catch! Based on the 38-3 final score, you’d assume the Rams had a multitude of turnovers. Not the case. They just got stomped. Four sacks didn’t help much. Well, at least the city of St. Louis still has slim hopes for the Cardinals.
Second biggest Blowout – Willie Parker returned from a 2007 broken leg season by gaining 138 yards. Ben Rothensberger was 13/14 with two TD’s. The Texans went for a fourth down early and didn’t get it, and the route was on. Matt Schaub threw two interceptions and coughed up a fumble. Result? Pittsburgh beat the Texans 38-17. There’s a surprise.
So Favre is where? – If reading this column makes Brett Favre’s name turning up in the Jets / Dophins recap a gigantic surprise to you, then welcome back from your vacation from under a rock. Next time a travel agency asks if you’d like a really cheap vacation down under, make sure they are talking about Australia. Brett Favre looked like Brett Favre(kinda-sorta), and the outcome was definitely Favrish - Victory. The Jets beat the Dolphins 20-14. While a win is a win, I’m not sold on the Jets being markedly better because of Favre. Only time will end up telling that tale. He did pull off a Favre-like Houdini escape and up-for-grabs throw for a touchdown, the kind that only Favre makes and people cheer when it leaves his hand; unlike if someone else threw it and you could hear the collective wince from the audience. Favre threw for 293 yards. Chad Pennington, the guy he replaced threw for 277. That’s a net gain of fifteen yards for New York on the head-to-head match-up after the Jets Trade-and-Cut!! Come to think of it, that would be a great name for a sports memorabilia and Deli counter store, Thre Trade and Cut”. The most important stat though is a 1 in the win column and a 0 in the loss column versus the opposite Pennington’s team ended up with. Jets win 20-14.
It’s the story, of a man name Brady – see you still hear it. Going into week one, Tom Brady was third on the NFL’s starting streak list with 128 straight games. His season looks to be over from a serious knee injury. While New England pulled out a victory over the Chiefs with a 17-10 win, they are going to remember this one more as a loss. Brady was 7-11 with 76 yards passing prior to the first quarter injury. Matt Cassel took over and performed well, going a Brady-like 13 for 18 with 152 yards and a TD. The Chiefs also lost their starting QB as Brodie Croyle left in the third quarter with a bruised shoulder and was replaced by Damon Huard. Coach Bill Belicheck prides himself on his plug and play offense. It will be interesting to see how much of a beat the offense is missing without its heart, and leader Tom Brady. Like him or not, as an NFL watcher, it won’t be the same not seeing him at the helm of the Pats week in and week out this year.
The “Glad I didn’t stay up for the second half” game of the week – Thursday nights Giants / Redskins game went into half-time as a 16-7 score, the Giants on top. This was a great time to go to bed, but no-one told the people watching. As it turned out, the first half decided the game, and the Giants opened defense of their title with a victory over the Washington Redskins. That doesn’t mean the second half wasn’t worth watching though, even without any points on the board. Washington was driving for a score with just over two minutes remaining when they came up two yards short on a fourth and thirteen, turning the ball over on downs. Plaxico Burress had 10 catches for 133 yards for the Giants. The Redskins didn’t complete a pass until the first half was almost over, really somewhat of an embarrassment for Washington and a testament to New York’s defense. Giants win 16-7 and move to 1-0 while the Redskins drop to 0-1.
Most Courteous opponent – The Cleveland Browns win the most courteous opponent award in a narrow choice over the Seattle Seahawks. Sure the Cowboys are good, but how good? It was hard to tell since the Brownies elected to enhance the goodness of the Cowboys by playing particularly poorly, thus making them courteous opponents. Most particularly vexing was when the Browns were in the fourth quarter, down by three scores, finally moving the ball, and they faced a fourth down deep in Cowboy territory. They choose to kick a field goal which still leaves them three scores down, and also sucks all the wind out of the sails of momentum they’d happened to gain by having a good drive. You play to lose, you lose. Browns lose 28-10. But it could have been 28-7. Phew!!!
Second most courteous opponent – Like the Cleveland Browns, the Seattle Seahawks were picked to win their division. Based on the 34-10 drubbing at the hands of the Buffalo Bills, Seattle should be happy they play in a division that includes perennial loser Arizona, a bad 49ers squad, and a really bad Rams team. Looks like the only challenger this year will be the Cardinals. This one was won on special teams, Buffalo’s squad looking stellar, and Seattle looking pedestrian. The Bills had a 63 yard punt return and a fake field goal both go for touchdowns. Nothing like getting a 14 point spot!
Three games ended 17-10 – If you are one of those dudes that sit around and predict final scores, had you gone with 17-10 in all first week contests, you’d have been right on three games. Quite frankly, that is some pretty good picking! Feel free to read my prediction column later this week for final scores. Titans beat the Jags 17-10. Patriots beat the Chiefs 17-10 and the Ravens beat the Bengals 17-10. The Pats lose Tom Brady. The Jaguars miss out on their opportunity to FINALLY look down in the standings at Indianapolis, and the Bengals are, well basically the Bengals. Cincinnati should change their name to the locusts – once every x number of years they actually show up.
So, you are going to start Kurt Warner are you? After Coach Wisenhut looked constipated in choosing Kurt Warner as his main man at QB earlier in the week, because he’d earned it, Coach now looks like a genius, although, anyone who’d wizz in their own hut is no genius in my book. Maybe a name change to wizzoutside and I buy into the genius theory. If I were him, I’d call Ocho Cinco for some advice. Cardinals win 23-13. 49ers fans look like they are headed for another year of drinking and looking at their posters of Steve Young and Joe Montana.
Matt who? – The Atlanta Falcons threw rookie Matt Ryan into the fire, naming him their starter for the first game of the season. Guess what…. HE WON!! Atlanta takes down the Lions 34-21. The Detroit Lions were the only team to go 4-0 in the pre-season. Too bad the NFL isn’t like NASCAR’s chase for the cup. If it were, the Lions would get to carry some points from the meaningless part of the season into the season. Unfortunately for them, no such luck. Makes you wonder if mixed up their lists and cut the wrong players.
Brett Who? – After Brett Favre won on Sunday, we had to wait an entire 24 hours to see if his replacement Aaron Rogers could pull off the same stunt. Green Bay squeaks by division rival Minnesota 24-19. Cheese heads everywhere heave a huge sigh of relief, well at least for this week.
Finally, the Denver Broncos beat the Oakland Raiders 41-14. Per usual, will Denver jump out in front of the division only to fold like a ten-dollar card table later in the season? Will John Elway FINALLY come out of retirement? We’ll just have to wait and see.
Until next week, coach from the couch heads to the grocery store in preparation, purchasing extraordinary snacks and larger pants, as football is back and exercise and Sunday productivity are banished from the USA yet another year.