It sure felt great to have football back.
It was an unbelievable feeling sitting down on the couch and watching nonstop football on the Red Zone Channel for 10.5 hours on Sunday. Every football fan is looking forward to the next 4-5 months as the football season unfolds.
In Week 1, we saw some players pull off shocking performances. We saw the same old stars continue to dominate. We saw some teams sit there and wonder if this is going to be a long season.
And, most importantly, we saw a country unite again as we remembered the most tragic day in our generation.
That being said, we as fans learned important lessons from each team after the games. Here are the most important lessons we learned from each team.
Media outlets praised plenty of quarterbacks this week, but one guy who has been ignored is Kevin Kolb.
The newly-acquired Arizona quarterback was stunning. He threw for 309 yards, two touchdowns, completed two-thirds of his passes and had a passer rating of 130.
Yes, it was against Carolina's defense, but Kolb did what he had to do. He hit Early Doucet and Jeff King for big strikes. The Doucet touchdown came in the fourth quarter to equalize the game and eventually helped give the Cardinals the victory.
Going into future weeks, the Cardinals know they have a major threat in Larry Fitzgerald, and with a competent quarterback in Kolb, Cards fans know they can easily capture the divisional crown in the weak NFC West.
As good as Matt Ryan is, no quarterback should be throwing the ball more than 45 times per game. He had a solid game, completing 66 percent of his throws and throwing for more than 300 yards, but he threw the ball for 47 times—and this hurt the Falcons.
In fact, Ryan is now 2-8 lifetime when he throws the ball 40 times or more.
When Michael Turner averaged 10 yards per carry and ran for a 100 yards on 10 carries, it makes no sense why Atlanta didn't run the ball more often. Chicago controlled the time of possession, and they were able to capitalize on the Falcons' predictable offense with turnovers that led to touchdowns.
Joe Flacco can finally say he has defeated Ben Roethlisberger in a football game.
And he can say it with conviction.
Although he wasn't the major storyline of the game, Flacco definitely got a huge monkey off his back with the win.
The Ravens' defense stole the show with seven turnovers. That being said, they shouldn't get over their heads thinking they're better than they really are.
The Ravens played an exceptional game, but a game like this won't happen again for a long time.
They're not going to force seven turnovers every week. They need to know this and approach every game the same way they did last week.
Fitzpatrick went to Harvard and majored in economics. He scored a 1580 on his SAT and scored a 47 on his Wonderlic. Fitzpatrick has a sharp mind, and he has constantly proven that a quarterback doesn't necessarily need unbelievable athleticism to help win football games.
Fitzpatrick is highly intelligent, and he wins games because of it. He's no Aaron Rodgers, but he studies the game and playbook hard, and makes smart decisions on the field.
Put Fitzpatrick on a team like the Jets or Steelers, and all of a sudden he's a playoff quarterback, maybe even a Super Bowl quarterback.
The Carolina Panthers were the happiest losers this past Sunday.
Cam Newton was stellar in his debut with the Carolina Panthers, throwing for more than 400 yards and scoring three touchdowns.
Newton was exuding confidence on the field with each play. Although he was playing against a weak Arizona defense, Newton's pocket presence was remarkable. He looked like a veteran Pro Bowler at times, biding his time and slinging missiles to his receivers.
On one particular play when he couldn't spot any receivers, Newton moved around the pocket. Instead of making a risky play trying to run it for a first down, he stayed calm, cool and collected, and found his target for the first down. The drive led to a punt, but it was plays like this that helped give Carolina fans hope for the future.
Jay Cutler may have stolen the spotlight in this game with his strong passing game, but let's be real—the Bears are a defensively-minded team.
When the weather gets colder in Chicago in November and December, it's going to be harder for Cutler to air out the ball like he did this past Sunday, and the Bears are going to rely on their defense.
After Sunday's performance, the Bears have to be feeling good about themselves. Brian Urlacher still has it. He recorded 10 tackles and was involved in two turnovers that led to touchdowns.
It's also important to note that only six teams scored 14 points or less this week, and some of these teams are atrocious, like the Titans and Colts. The Bears were able to keep the high-powered Falcon offense under 14 points, and that is definitely something to be proud of.
Many people believed that because of a tumultuous and short offseason, the Bengals were going to have an absolutely dismal regular season.
They took the first step in proving their critics wrong with a comeback victory over the Cleveland Browns. Andy Dalton looked very good before getting hurt and provided a spark of hope for Bengals fans, despite having a short offseason and not having OTAs.
Cedric Benson was the leading rusher of the week in the NFL with 121 yards despite just being released from prison.
It may have been against the Browns, but it was still a big road victory for a team in search of an identity. The victory showed the football world that the Bengals are going to do whatever it takes to become respectable in the NFL.
Why in the world was the Browns' defense not set when Bruce Gradkowski snapped the ball and threw a touchdown to seal the victory for the Bengals?
Mistakes like this are inexcusable. It's something that people will never see a team like the Patriots or Steelers make.
That play on its own showed that even though Colt McCoy played a great game and the Browns are heading into the right direction, they still have a lot to work on.
It was the same old story for Tony Romo. He fumbled the ball on the 1-yard line and threw a key interception.
Because of this and a blocked punt returned for a touchdown, the Cowboys choked a 14-point fourth-quarter lead away to the Jets.
It's easy to point fingers at Romo and say he's the ultimate choke artist. While he has been involved in some losses where the Cowboys turned losing into an art form, he did play a remarkable game.
The regular season is a marathon, and it's important to note that the Cowboys have a ridiculously easy schedule coming up. Other than a game at New England, the Cowboys face the 49ers, Cardinals, Seahawks, Lions, Redskins, Bills, Rams, Dolphins and Cardinals this season.
Dallas is going to be fine. Romo is a top 10 quarterback. He absolutely shred apart Rex Ryan's Jets defense, and if it wasn't for a couple miscues, Dallas would've won the game.
It was also great to see Romo show some emotion and yell at his teammates when they weren't doing their jobs. He has really turned into the leader of the team.
Dallas isn't going to lose games like this to the mediocre teams mentioned above.
Knowshon Moreno ran the ball a total of eight times Monday night.
He didn't do a good job either, and that's probably the reason why the team lost faith in him and ended up airing the ball for most of the game.
They really didn't do a great job passing either, though.
Kyle Orton barely completed more than half of his passes and had a quarterback rating of 71.3. It's definitely too early to let Tim Tebow start, because just imagine what kind of a nightmare this game would've been if Tebow had thrown the ball 46 times like Orton did.
It has to be a difficult time to be a Broncos fan.
And quite frankly, can we get rid of those hideous orange jerseys already?
The lesson the Lions taught us this weekend was one we already knew.
Calvin Johnson is an unbelievable specimen. On his first touchdown reception, it seemed like he cradled the ball in with one hand before stomping into the end zone. He added another touchdown later on to help give the Lions the victory.
Matt Stafford and the rest of the Lions are trying to make this be the year they turn their fortunes around.
These aren't your dad's Lions.
They've won five straight games dating back to last season, and they're out to show the rest of the NFL that they will be a threat this year.
Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers showed they have no Super Bowl hangover and are going to be ready to provide us with some exciting football all year long.
More importantly, Rodgers showed that the six-game winning streak he established during the end of last season that eventually led to a Super Bowl victory was also no fluke.
Some people feel the Packers were not the best team last year and they were just the hottest team. They felt that Rodgers, as good as he was, was playing over his head, and that's why the Packers were able to dominate.
Rodgers may have been playing his best football, but he showed us on Thursday night that he's here to stay as an elite quarterback in the NFL.
The Houston Texans didn't defeat the same Colts team that had been beating up on them for a decade; there was no Peyton Manning.
However, it was clear to see that all of the bottled up frustration after years of turmoil against the Colts was released Sunday.
The Texans perhaps sent the biggest message in the NFL. It's a message we all knew, but they showed everyone that the Texans were the new head honchos in the AFC South.
Their offense was spectacular as they quickly jumped to a 17-0 lead in the first quarter. Then, Jacoby Jones returned an electrifying kick return touchdown.
Everything clicked for the Texans, and the lesson we learned is that they are ready to back up their bold statement of making the playoffs.
Everybody always praised the Colts for being such a great franchise and organization during their heyday.
Peyton Manning's absence has proved that otherwise.
Manning had masked years of poor coaching, an irrelevant running game and a terrible defense with his golden arm. He was the most valuable player on the team.
He was the team.
Now that he's gone, we see that the Colts have done a terrible job drafting the last few years. They never thought there was a chance that Manning could get hurt, and this is evidenced by the fact that they don't have a competent backup.
The defensive players they have are aging, and the new ones they have drafted haven't done much. The Colts never really addressed their running game and have let Joseph Addai be their mediocre starting tailback for six seasons now.
This goes to show that the organization was too reliant on Manning, and now that he's gone, they're going to suffer the consequences.
Did anyone see the empty seats at midfield in Jacksonville on Sunday?
It was absolutely pathetic. There were so many empty green seats, and it was an entertaining opening kickoff match against division rival Tennessee.
Let's face it.
Jacksonville may be a nice town, but that's all it is: a town.
It would be nice to see the Jaguars move to Los Angeles where they will get a large fanbase and instantly become one of the most popular teams in the country.
It'll be great for the city of L.A. and great for the league.
And, quite frankly, Jacksonville probably won't even notice that their team left.
Last season, the Kansas City Chiefs exploded on Monday Night Football in a huge win over the Chargers.
They were focused and ready to go. They fought hard and won in front of their home crowd.
It was just the beginning of a very successful season for a team that had years of torment.
The Chiefs forgot to bring that same energy this past Sunday at Arrowhead Stadium against the Bills and got pounded, 41-7.
They need to realize this is a new season, and if they want to make the playoffs again, they're going to have to work even harder in a tougher AFC West.
The Miami Dolphins have some solid pieces. They have a good quarterback in Chad Henne who will help them win some games, and their newly-acquired running back, Reggie Bush, is explosive and exciting.
However, Monday night's game against Tom Brady and the New England Patriots showed us all just how far back the Dolphins are from the big guns of the AFC East. They are nowhere near them, and it must definitely be a disgruntled feeling to have a solid team and not be able to compete because of hefty competition.
Miami would've loved to be in a division like the NFC West or AFC West.
Donovan McNabb's debut with the Minnesota Vikings was not so triumphant.
Although the team has one of the best running backs in the league with Adrian Peterson, they're going to have a long, unsuccessful season.
McNabb only threw for 39 yards, and the score of the game was not very indicative of how much the Chargers controlled the game.
Percy Harvin's opening kickoff return touchdown made the game a lot closer than it was. The Chargers also made plenty of mistakes throughout the game that gave the Vikings chances they wouldn't have had otherwise.
There isn't really much to say here.
Tom Brady threw a 99-yard touchdown pass to Wes Welker and threw for 517 yards in the game. This was possibly one of the best performances in his illustrious career.
The Patriots have the best quarterback in the league. Although his regular-season streak of consecutive passes thrown without an interception ended, Brady once again showed the world that they can stop talking about Aaron Rodgers, Drew Brees, Matt Ryan, Tony Romo and Ben Roethlisberger.
He's the best, and he's going to be the best until he doesn't play anymore.
When Al Pacino said football is a game of inches in Any Given Sunday he was right.
We are a few inches short of calling Drew Brees a great clutch quarterback after he led the Saints down the field twice in an attempt to tie the game at Lambeau.
It's a shame somebody had to lose that game, and unfortunately for Drew Brees, it was the Saints.
Just because they lost it doesn't mean they didn't play well. They were fantastic. Their defense might've been shaky, but the Saints were playing against Aaron Rodgers.
Last year nobody could stop him. It's not an easy task to halt the Super Bowl MVP.
But the lesson here was that the Saints will once again be a force to be reckoned with. They missed out on the division crown to Atlanta last year and had a disappointing playoff loss in Seattle.
They've put that behind them though, and they're ready to win this year.
The New York Giants came into Week 1 with a depleted defense and plenty of inconsistencies in the trenches, making Rex Grossman look like one of the best quarterbacks in the league.
That being said, the Giants still showed some good signs.
Eli Manning and Hakeem Nicks connected for a huge 68-yard pass that led to Manning's first rushing touchdown in about three years. They also still have one of the better coaches in the league with Tom Coughlin.
The Giants will get their players back and heat up in the latter half of the season. New York may have problems now, but it was pretty easy to see on Sunday that they're a decent team.
They need to get over their inconsistencies, and they'll be a threat.
Mark Sanchez is a great up-and-coming quarterback in the NFL. He's 4-2 in the postseason, and all of those playoff games were played on the road. That's pretty impressive.
But let's just say the Jets would've still been able to win the game on Sunday night if Sanchez wasn't their quarterback.
It was a great come-from-behind win for the Jets, but Tony Romo's turnovers and a great special teams play by Joe McKnight set up the Jets for the win.
The same could be said about most of Sanchez's playoff wins.
The Jets have won despite him; their defense is unbelievably strong, and it's the main reason why they win. Sanchez should be commended for his strong numbers, but Sunday's win showed everyone that the Jets' defense is the heart of the team—not Sanchez.
Sanchez is an average-to-above-average quarterback. But let's stop giving him full credit for wins.
Sebastian Janikowski is still in the league.
And he's still kicking missiles.
How often have we checked a Raiders box score and seen that Janikowski has nailed a 50-plus-yard field goal?
It seems like he's been in the league forever, but he hasn't lost a step.
He booted a record-tying 63-yard field goal Monday night in Denver.
Could it have been the altitude that gave him an advantage? Perhaps.
But it was great to see Janikowski do what he does best. He hit two other field goals in the game and was a key factor in the Raiders' win.
The Eagles may have defeated the Rams, but their offensive line was very leaky. They didn't help protect Michael Vick at all, and he was forced to make some bad throws.
Although he had a great rushing game, Vick had a completion percentage below 50 percent. That's not the recipe to beat teams like Atlanta, New Orleans, Dallas and Green Bay.
Vick needs to be more of a pocket quarterback guy if the Eagles want to win the Super Bowl. He was good at doing that last season, but took a step back Sunday afternoon against the Rams
The win may have been impressive, but let's not praise Michael Vick as the sole reason for the victory.
The Eagles' defense and skill players at the wide receiver positions are more important than Vick. In fact, Andy Reid may have a huge hand in why Vick is playing so well with the Eagles.
Under Reid, Kevin Kolb, Jeff Garcia and Donovan McNabb played their best football. Now Vick is playing his best football.
Can there be a correlation between Reid's coaching and Vick's solid play?
Vick may not be as valuable as coach Reid is.
Is Pittsburgh the worst team in the NFL because they had seven turnovers?
The easiest explanation for this is that the Steelers just didn't show up. Complacency is never a good thing, especially in the NFL's short season, but it happens to the best of them.
The Steelers will be ready eventually. Roethlisberger is a slow starter generally, and he needs time to get it going.
Fourth-and-20 in the Minnesota zone, and the Chargers decide to go for it.
Rivers throws an incompletion, ending the Chargers' drive.
What in the world was Norv Turner thinking?
Sure, Nate Kaeding got injured, but Mike Scifres is more than capable of kicking field goals. He's probably done it at some point during his football career.
(Scifres proved his coach wrong later by nailing a 40-yard field goal.)
Did Philip Rivers also need to throw the ball more than 45 times? The Chargers have a solid ground game with Mike Tolbert and Ryan Mathews. They should develop a more balanced attack, and by doing this, their offense will be more unpredictable.
They may have won and controlled the game, but the Chargers were playing a very weak Minnesota team. They probably would've lost against superior opponents if they had played the same way.
Ted Ginn's two return touchdowns had us all wondering how explosive he would be if he had a competent teammate under center.
Even Michael Crabtree could benefit.
The 49ers have plenty of weapons, including Frank Gore. It's just hard to utilize them with Alex Smith.
Smith is just not the answer. The 49ers struggled moving the ball in the red zone and had to settle for field goals early on.
And if it wasn't for Ginn's run-backs, the game wouldn't have looked as lopsided.
In other words, the Niners have bullets, but no gun to make them effective.
The Seattle Seahawks are in for a long season. Their offense was pathetic against the San Francisco 49ers, who by the way, aren't even that strong defensively.
What's sad is that the Seahawks actually have a shot for the playoffs in that weak division.
Steven Jackson scored a huge touchdown in the first quarter of the game for the Rams. They actually had a shot against Philadelphia.
Right after that, he got injured and left the game.
His lack of presence was noticeable. The Rams became predictable on offense, and the Eagles forced turnovers to score. They ended up losing to Philadelphia by a large margin.
The Rams need Jackson to stay healthy and return strong if they want to compete against Arizona in the NFC West. Sam Bradford also got nicked up, and he's just as important to the Rams' offense as Jackson is.
Hopefully for the Turf Monsters, they'll both be back soon.
Josh Freeman and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers may have a nice, talented, young team, but boy are they boring to watch. It was difficult watching them on offense.
Josh Freeman, LeGarrette Blount and Kellen Winslow are solid pieces, but they're not exciting stars who will develop high television ratings.
That game against the Lions as a whole may have been the toughest watch of the week. If it wasn't for Calvin Johnson and Matt Stafford connecting several times, it would've been completely unwatchable.
In the offseason, Kenny Britt was in trouble with commissioner Roger Goodell. He avoided discipline from the league and came out strong on Sunday with two touchdowns and 136 yards.
Britt may be the only bright spot for the Titans in what seems to be a long, dark season.
Everyone kept talking about Cam Newton this week, but Rex Grossman had a spectacular day, too.
The Giants' defense may have been hurt, but we hadn't seen Grossman thread the needle like this since probably the year he led the Bears to the Super Bowl. He made some great throws that led to touchdowns, and the Redskins hope that his success continues as we progress through the season.