Cam Newton and the 5 Most Surprising Stat Lines from Opening Weekend
No one can predict what will happen in an NFL game once the ball is kicked off. Many have tried; many have failed. This is the true essence of the game of football, that on "Any Given Sunday," just about anything can happen. While that is true in many cases, there were still some eye-popping stat lines from this Sunday that are sure to have some fans saying, "I don't believe that."
Tampa Bay QB Josh Freeman
Stats: 26 rushing yards (leads team)
Josh Freeman is one of the most athletically gifted and exciting young quarterbacks. That being said, it was very surprising to see Freeman lead the team in rushing yards in what was, for the most part, a pretty close game. LeGarrette Blount, a 1,000-yard rusher, only managed to get five carries all game.
Carolina WR Steve Smith
Stats: 178 yards receiving
This stat line was very surprising for several reasons. The first being that Smith hadn't registered a 100-plus receiving game in over a year. While that can be explained by the lackluster passers tossing him the ball last year, you would have to go back to 2006 to find Smith being as productive as he was on Sunday. On Oct. 15 of that year, he torched the vaunted Ravens defense for 189 yards. This surprise is surely tied to the epic performance of the rookie tossing him the rock this year.
Minnesota QB Donovan McNabb
Stats: 39 yards passing on 15 attempts
This might be the saddest of the stat lines from the whole weekend. It only makes it to No. 3 on the list because, despite McNabb's talent, there are many in the sports world who are not too surprised to see him struggle.
However, even his staunchest critics couldn't have predicted 39 yards passing. It's only Week 1, and all the games haven't even been played yet, but surely, there will be quarterback controversy in the Twin Cities.
Buffalo QB Ryan Fitzpatrick
Stats: four touchdown passes in a 41-7 win over Kansas City
Let's be honest, even the biggest Bills fans on the planet (and after a performance like this, I vote they should be called the "Buffalo Thrills" at least for the rest of this week) didn't see this coming.
Ryan "Fitzmagic," as he has been called by Thrills fans, put up a performance that surely was magical. His numbers could only be outdone by the most surprising performance in recent NFL history.
Carolina QB Cam Newton
Stats: 422 passing yards
Wow. Cam Newton's biggest fans couldn't have seen this coming. They are elated. His biggest critics will blame a weak Cardinals secondary. But the truth is, this Newton guy made some big time plays and throws. He is not JaMarcus Russell, and from the looks of it, he could be something we haven't seen at the quarterback position. At his best on Sunday, he looked like an even more athletic Big Ben.
While I won't be signing up the Panthers for this year's Super Bowl, I will say it looks like they have something special in Carolina.