The NFL took the field on the 10th anniversary of the September 11 terrorist attacks, and there were some spectacular results. There were a lot of close games, and football fans were on the edge of their seats all day.
This week was the first chance to see any team line up for a game that counted so we can come away with the first insight of what to expect from this NFL season.
In professional football, rankings may not count, but they provide a good way to view how your team stacks up against the rest, so read on to find out exactly that.
The Colts will be stuck here until they get Manning back. They showed that he is their leader, and for the most part, their hope at winning any game.
With Kerry Collins at the helm, the Texans didn't have much trouble containing Indianapolis' receivers, and they don't have the running game to keep the offense rolling.
The lone bright spot for the Colts was the secondary. Sure, you could point out that Andre Johnson was pretty dominant, but he's an elite receiver; you aren't going to stop him. Back to the point, they picked off two Matt Schaub passes and did not allow one pass over 25 yards.
The Titans started off very slowly, and you could tell it threw them off. Their strength, the running game, was never able to get started. Chris Johnson is a playmaker, but Jacksonville was able to keep him in check.
Matt Hasselbeck led the team on a late charge, but they weren't consistent enough through the air to pull it off. Kenny Britt's 80 yard touchdown was a little fluky, so that will inflate Hasselbeck's stats. When you look at the total performance, he wasn't very good.
On the other side of the ball, they were not bad nor good. Maurice Jones-Drew didn't break off any long runs, and you can't put much blame on the defense for the loss.
Cleveland didn't play their brand of football, and it showed. Colt McCoy passed the ball 40 times, and while he showed flashes, he's not going to carry this team.
The Browns needed to establish the running game and put the game away in the fourth quarter. Instead, they allowed 14 points to the Bengals in the final five minutes and weren't able to stop Bruce Gradkowski. That doesn't sound good because it isn't good. The Bengals hardly have a scary passing game, but they were able to score when it counted most.
The Browns need to shore up their defense and find their identity, because their play in Week 1 doesn't reflect the direction that they were headed in.
Seattle's decision to let Matt Hasselbeck leave for Tennessee is looking more questionable than ever. Tarvaris Jackson was overwhelmed in his first start with the Seahawks, and with exception to a 55-yard touchdown to Doug Baldwin, they had little success in the passing game.
Special teams becomes a huge concern for Seattle now, based off of Ted Ginn's ability to take over the game with two returns for touchdowns. San Diego showed last season that special teams can dismantle even the better NFL teams. If Seattle wants to remain in the division race, the first order of business should be to shore up their coverage team.
I still cannot comprehend why the Chiefs don't better utilize Jamaal Charles. They have two game-breakers in Charles and McCluster, but they deferred to Matt Cassel to keep them in the game.
The secondary was exploited by Ryan Fitzpatrick, and they were unable to slow down the Bills' running game. I'm not going to lose all confidence in Kansas City yet, but they will need to show a more efficient passing attack next week if they want to justify 36 attempts through the air.
Unlike their Week 1 opponents, the Bengals looked like they knew who they are. They pounded the ball with Cedric Benson, who's fresh off his jail sentence—I know, the stereotype continues—early and often.
Andy Dalton was having a solid outing until he was sidelined, and Bruce Gradkowski stepped in and played well. He was poised in a tough situation and got the ball to rookie A.J. Green, who was otherwise invisible, for the go-ahead touchdown.
Cincinnati's run defense was solid as well, containing a tough rusher in Peyton Hillis and not allowing any runs over 20 yards. They're out to a good start in the battle for third in the division.
Denver stayed true to their roots and passed the ball all night, refusing to make any attempt at establishing a rush game. They utilized Willis McGahee as a receiver out of the backfield and he looked younger. After a down season in 2010, he may just have been rejuvenated with the Broncos.
Eric Decker had a very impressive punt return, and it almost enabled Denver to recover from a 13 point deficit, but they were unable to stop Darren McFadden on the ground, so the Raiders were able to kill the clock and add another score to extend their lead.
Miami's defensive performance in 2010 was solid. They gave their team a chance to win every week, but from what I saw Monday night, this defense is not the same.
The entire defensive lineup seemed exhausted by the Patriots' high paced offense, and by the second half, they never had a chance. They were at the will of Tom Brady and the 622 total yards of offense that the Patriots put up on Miami is eye opening.
Chad Henne quietly passed for over 400 yards, but he wasn't as impressive as the numbers would dictate. His accuracy was better than usual, but he still has some work to do.
After making an absolutely appalling move by releasing David Garrard, the Jaguars were able to escape with a win, and it didn't come easy.
The moves that Jacksonville made at linebacker in the offseason were evident. They held Chris Johnson to 24 yards rushing and no touchdowns. They also kept the Titans' tight ends in check, with Jared Cook only hauling in a seven yard reception.
The secondary was suspect, though. Matt Hasselbeck had Tennessee rolling in the second half and gave Jacksonville a scare, but Dwight Lowery's late interception was enough to put the game away.
The Vikings were not overwhelmed by taking on the daunting task that is the Chargers offense, but when it came to crunch-time, they failed to stop Philip Rivers.
Donovan McNabb's debut for Minnesota was dismal—only 39 total passing yards. That's a sad statistic in today's NFL. Adrian Peterson looked great, but they're going to need a balanced attack to improve as a team, and they won't always have a special teams score to give them an early lead. They'll need to consistently move the ball, or they will get blown out by the league's high powered offenses.
The running game will clearly be Oakland's bread and butter once again. Jason Campbell is a serviceable quarterback, but he isn't anything special. With the right parts around him, he could take the Raiders to the playoffs, but they'll need to play better defense to do so.
The loss of Nnamdi Asomugha was felt at times, as Brandon Lloyd was able to approach 100 yards receiving, but the secondary truly stepped up in his absence, which was impressive and a good sign moving forward.
A second half run by Denver was stunted, and Sebastian Janikowski's 63 yard field goal—yes, 63 yards—proved to be the difference maker. He may just be one of the most valuable players on this team.
For the most part, Carolina outplayed Arizona, but at the end of the day, it comes down to wins versus losses, and the Panthers lost, plain and simple.
Cam Newton had a fantastic rookie debut, but the team put far too much on the young quarterback. They failed to establish any formidable running game and could not run out the clock when they had the lead in the fourth quarter.
The defense allowed far too many big plays, and I'll put the blame on the safety's this time. Charles Godfrey and Sherrod Martin had some lapses in judgement and were a little slow to break on some passes.
However, the future looks very bright with Cam Newton as the Panthers' franchise quarterback.
Ted Ginn has made a name for himself as one the league's premier returner and he showed why on Sunday. He returned a punt and a kickoff for a touchdown, becoming the first player to accomplish that feat since 2009.
Ginn's special teams performance made the difference for San Francisco in a game dominated by defense. Neither team could pound the ball on the ground or move it vertically through the air. It was one of the more boring affairs of the day, but in the NFC West, every division game counts.
St. Louis put up an encouraging performance against one of the league's best teams. The secondary didn't let Michael Vick to get in a groove, but they were very prone to the run. LeSean McCoy and Vick slashed through the defense with regularity.
The bigger concerns are on the offense though. Sam Bradford and Steven Jackson were both sidelined, and while it appears Bradford will be good to go next week, Jackson is a question mark. If their star running back is out for a significant amount of time, it will be tough to win this division, no matter how weak it is.
The Giants had a very rough offseason, considering injuries and free agent losses, so it was evident that this wouldn't be their year, but losing to the Redskins makes it seem all the worse.
The Giants now firmly sit at the bottom of the NFC East, and I don't expect them to dig their way out and into the playoffs. They have some problems on their defense that they won't be able to mend mid-season. They still have a solid core of the players there, but the playoffs don't seem in the cards for 2011.
It seemed that Tampa Bay completely forgot that they have a solid young running back with LeGarrette Blount. They put the game in quarterback Josh Freeman's hands, but he was not able to do it by himself.
The defense seldom put pressure on Stafford, who was able to pick apart the Bucs' secondary for over 300 yards. They tightened up in the second half, but the offense was not there to complete the comeback.
Tampa Bay was very efficient on third down—six of 14—but they were dreadful in the red zone, scoring on only one of their four opportunities.
Towards the end of the preseason, the Redskins' quarterbacks came around and actually impressed. Most of the talking heads around the league refused to accept Rex Grossman or John Beck as starting caliber players, but Grossman played a solid game.
It seemed that the 'Skins would struggle to stop the Giants' offense all night after two long scoring drives, but they came around in the second half and even scored a touchdown of their own. They made Eli Manning uncomfortable in the pocket, and it was enough to come out with the win.
This game was certainly one of Sunday's best, and it came down to the final play. The Cardinals were able to hook up for some big plays and squeak out a win.
The Panthers held the lead heading into the fourth quarter, but Arizona's offense was up to the task. A 70 yard touchdown pass to Early Doucet tied it up early in the fourth, and a bonehead play by Carolina's special teams gave the Cardinals the lead. Patrick Peterson fielded a punt at the 11-yard line, and the Panthers' gunners strolled past him, assuming that he'd called a fair catch. He then proceeded to return the punt 89 yards for a touchdown, winning the game for the Cards.
Ryan Fitzpatrick stomped on the Chiefs defense, and the Bills were able to complete the shocking victory with ease.
Fitzpatrick had a spotless performance, and the only blemish on the stat line is an interception thrown by free agent addition Brad Smith. The running game was switched on as well, as Fred Jackson surpassed the century mark and C.J. Spiller bounced out a pretty nine yard touchdown run.
By putting the Chiefs behind early, they forced them to abandon the running game, and Matt Cassel couldn't find any holes in the Bills' secondary. It was hard to watch, as he went to the air 36 times, but was only able to come away with 119 yards.
Tony Romo failed in the clutch once again and it seems that Dallas is stuck in a never ending case of Déjà vu. The fourth quarter debacle was difficult to watch as the Cowboys let a two score lead slip away.
There were some holes in the secondary, as Mark Sanchez was mildly successful, but the bigger area of concern is the run game. Felix Jones couldn't find much running room, and we're used to dominating Cowboys offensive lines—they simply did not seem strong at the point of attack.
Matthew Stafford made a convincing return to the starting lineup as the Lions overtook the Buccaneers by seven. Stafford has a nice repertoire of receivers to distribute the ball to, and he used every one. Calvin Johnson was the favorite target; he reeled in two touchdowns.
The defense was stellar as well. They don't have a lot of talent in the secondary, but they eliminated the Bucs' run game, and Josh Freeman was slowed down just enough for the Lions to complete the victory.
Two stats to think on: The Lions controlled the ball for 36:25, but were only two for 11 on third down.
Atlanta's big problem was capitalizing. They made drive after drive into Chicago territory, but each time, it turned into a turnover or a field goal. You aren't going to win games like that.
They also tackled poorly and gave Chicago very good field position. Chicago didn't have to move the ball far and were set up for a lot of scoring opportunities.
Atlanta has a lot to work on heading into Week 2, but it's not time to jump ship yet. They have a lot of talent, and the ball just didn't bounce their way this time. Look for them to ground the ball more and give Michael Turner a chance to put Atlanta on the other side of the time of possession line.
Houston took advantage of a Peyton Manning-less Colts team, but don't shortchange them; they were playing without their star running back, Arian Foster.
Ben Tate and Derrick Ward stepped up in his absence, and they were able to fill his shoes for a week, but the Colts have an awful interior line, so don't go crying for Tate to start splitting carries with Foster. Also, that defense must be scarred from the beating Foster put on them last year, and they must still be shell-shocked.
The defense played well, and the signing of Johnathan Joseph looked to have made a difference. The defense was able to prevent the big play, which was key in keeping the Colts from making any real threat to the Texans' lead.
New Orleans didn't start off the season the way they wanted, but losing to the defending champions by one score doesn't affect my opinion of them much. Drew Brees will bring them around in no time, and they will be in contention for the playoffs.
With exception to a long run by Pierre Thomas, the Saints really struggled to get the run game going. On the most important play of the game, rookie Mark Ingram was stuffed when the offense was trying to punch it in from yard out to tie up the game.
The Saints secondary was exposed. Roman Harper was the most glaring weakness, and Jabari Greer didn't play up to his abilities. Young cornerback Patrick Robinson was not impressive, either. They won't have to face passing offenses like Green Bay better often, but it looked like any quarterback could pass on them with their showing on Thursday night.
I wasn't as impressed with Mark Sanchez as some might have been. What won the game for New York was disciplined play and Tony Romo's nerves.
Darrelle Revis didn't play up to par, as the Cowboys were able to move the ball around very well the entire night. The run defense was what we expected, though, as Felix Jones' longest run of the night was eight yards.
It was nice to see the elderly Jets, LaDainian Tomlinson and Plaxico Burress, contribute to the win, but those guys won't last all season. Shonn Greene and Dustin Keller will have to replace their production once we get to December.
San Diego almost fell due to their special teams once again. After Percy Harvin returned the opening kickoff for a touchdown and Nate Kaeding left the game with a knee injury, you got the sense that San Diego was in trouble.
However, Philip Rivers led the Chargers back in the fourth quarter and the Chargers left with the win. They struggled to contain Adrian Peterson, but Donovan McNabb couldn't get anything started for the Vikings through the air—the Vikings netted 28 yards passing.
That performance by the Chargers' secondary is very significant, because as we continue to see more passing in the NFL, being able to slow down the New Orleans and Green Bay type offenses will be of utmost important if a team wants to make a championship run.
Surprisingly, the offense won Chicago this game, and Matt Forte was the star. His 56-yard receiving touchdown was one of the best highlights of the young NFL season.
Jay Cutler avoided game-breaking mistakes, and I was very encouraged by his body of work. Simply put, the less we talk about Cutler, the better Chicago will be playing.
Looking at the box score, the defense wasn't up to par, but they were able to create turnovers in key situations and set up the offense for success. They stiffened on third downs, and they didn't allow Atlanta to move the ball vertically—Atlanta's longest pass on the day was 32 yards.
I was one of the Steelers' biggest proponents in the offseason, but they didn't look like the team that was the class of the AFC last season. Can you say "Super Bowl Slump?"
I try not to put too much stock in trends that predict seasonal performances, but the mental part of the game is huge, and the Steelers didn't seem mentally in the game.
Ben Roethlisberger made numerous uncharacteristic turnovers—five of them, in fact. That's a stunning statistic, but maybe I should have foreseen it, considering his play in the Super Bowl wasn't much better than his debacle against Baltimore.
Michael Vick wasn't a huge threat through the air, but boy, did the Eagles kill the Rams on the ground. Vick and running back LeSean McCoy pushed the Eagles to well over 200 yards rushing, and a few long passes to DeSean Jackson kept the offense balanced.
The defense wasn't spectacular, but they didn't allow St. Louis to keep pace with Vick and the offense. After Steven Jackson exited, the Rams had little hope, as Cadillac Williams wasn't able to break off a run to put the Rams back in the game.
The hyped Eagles secondary didn't force any turnovers, but the defensive line was all it was supposed to be. Juqua Parker recovered a fumble and returned it 56 yards to give the Eagles a lead that they wouldn't give up.
Green Bay's offense looked just as impressive to start off the season, and New Orleans' secondary isn't a joke. Jabari Greer leads an opportunistic bunch that can match up with the league's most powerful passing offenses, but Rodgers used all of his weapons to the fullest.
Randall Cobb has emerged as another threat for the Packers. His 108-yard kick return was particularly impressive, but many will forget that he also entered the end zone through the air on a 32 yard grab.
The pass defense looked suspect near the end, but they'll get it straightened out in no time. Drew Brees is a fantastic player, so it's nothing to hang their hats on, especially considering that they played very conservatively in the fourth quarter, where Drew Brees picked up a big chunk of his yardage.
It almost seemed unfair what Tom Brady did to Miami's defense. He set a personal record for passing yards in a game, and him and Wes Welker took down my fantasy team single handed—no kidding.
The Patriots had an efficient running game going, displaying a very balanced attack against one of the NFL's better defenses. BenJarvus Green-Ellis and Danny Woodhead have a nice clash of styles that combine for a great complimentary tandem to Brady and the passing game.
The Patriots' secondary didn't look the part, though, as Chad Henne went for over 400 yards. This is the same story as 2010, where they bent but didn't break in the red zone. However, once the playoffs come around and Chad Henne becomes Philip Rivers, they'll have something to worry about.
I'd be lying if I said I expected anything close to what I saw on Sunday from Baltimore. I forgot for a moment that Pittsburgh was in the Super Bowl last season—that's how bad Baltimore made them look.
The defense looked rejuvenated. They are one of the oldest groups in the league, but they appeared young and forced a lot of mistakes. Terrell Suggs was unstoppable all game long, and Ray Lewis and Ed Reed accounted for three interceptions combined.
It doesn't seem Todd Heap will be missed. Baltimore's pair of young tight ends, Ed Dickson and Dennis Pitta, had nice performances, and with Ray Rice's production, this offense will be more explosive than some expected.