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NFL Week One Recap: Part One

Andrew Garda@andrew_gardaFeatured ColumnistSeptember 14, 2009

ATLANTA - SEPTEMBER 13:  Quarterback Matt Ryan #2 of the Atlanta Falcons rolls out against the Miami Dolphins at Georgia Dome on September 13, 2009 in Atlanta, Georgia.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

FALCONS 19, DOLPHINS 7

FALCONS

While they started out a bit slow, Matt Ryan and the Falcons eventually got their offense in gear and had little trouble moving the ball against Miami. Ryan’s 22/36 got 229 yard performance wasn’t the stuff of legend but he made few mistakes and found his receivers twice for touchdowns.

One was by new Falcon Tony Gonzalez, whose touchdown capped a five catch, 73 yard performance. No other receiver had what you might term a big game, as Ryan spread the ball around quite liberally.

Michael Turner also had a very quiet game with just 65 yards on 22 carries. That’s only 2.95 yards a carry which is unusual for him. Owners shouldn’t worry yet, but given the enormous amount of carries in 2008, it’s something to watch. 

DOLPHINS

When 2008 started we knew Miami wasn’t as bad as they had looked in 2007. We also knew going into this year they weren’t as good as they looked in 2008 either. They likely lie somewhere between though tonight they struggled in every aspect of the game.

Chad Pennington had a decidedly pedestrian night, totaling 176 yards and one touchdown, while also tossing an interception as well. He also fumbled away the ball once as did tight end Anthony Fasano.

Many people expected big things from running back Ronnie Brown but he was only able to get 43 yards on 10 carries, adding 10 yards on three catches. Even the vaunted Wildcat looked more mild than wild and Pat White, named No. 2 presumably to run the Wildcat, didn’t do much.

No receiver stepped up, the best being Davone, with seven catches for just 57 yards.

COLTS 14, JAGUARS 12

COLTS

The Colts totaled some impressive numbers but in the end, still only just beat the rival Jaguars as the defense stood up at the end and forced the Jaguars to turn the ball over on downs. Peyton Manning looked to be in midseason for, totaling 301 yards with one touchdown, though he also threw a pick.

His biggest weapon ended up being Reggie Wayne, who not a week ago was saying he expected good but not great numbers this season. How’s 10 catches for 162 yards and a touchdown for good, not great?

Another guy for whom expectations might have been low was running back Joseph Addai, who responded with 77 total yards and a touchdown. The guy nipping at his heels, Donald Brown, did pretty well with 11 carries for 33 yards and another 16 added with two catches.

JAGUARS

The bright spot for the Jags was running back Maurice Jones-Drew who wasn’t much slowed by the bruise he sustained in the preseason and had 123 total yards and a touchdown. He looked every bit the top back many thought he would be coming into the season and he got all the carries. But that in and of itself is a concern. 

We have long contended that a constant string of 20-25 carry games will wear him down. Whether he will continue to get that workload or not is unclear—after all, Jack Del Rio said he wouldn’t get that many carries during the preseason.

If the rest of the offense can’t get going, it may get harder and harder to move the chains. And the question remains—who will carry the ball when Jones-Drew doesn’t?

RAVENS 38 CHIEFS 24

RAVENS

Baltimore started off hot, then cooled off for a while before finishing the Chiefs off late. Quarterback Joe Flacco looked good aired the ball out often, ending up with 26/43, 307 yards and a trio of touchdowns. His one interception didn’t kill him either. He looks confident and cool in his second year.

We’ll see what happens when he hits a better defense before getting too excited though.

A guy who does get us excited though is running back Ray Rice. Rice had an outstanding day gaining 108 yards on 19 carries. He added a pair of receptions for a dozen yards. Willis McGahee added a pair of touchdowns and 75 yards while the third head of the monster—Le’Ron McLain—managed a touchdown of his own.

Mark Clayton had five catches for 77 yards and a touchdown, showing no ill effects from his preseason injury.

CHIEFS

The fact that the Chiefs managed to claw back into the game speaks volumes for their grit, especially since newly minted starter Matt Cassel was slotted to be out due to injury. Yet backup Brodie Croyle stepped in and while he didn’t blow anyone away, his 177 yards and two touchdowns were a credible effort. More importantly, he didn’t turn the ball over.

Wide receiver Dwayne Bowe was stifled for the most part with 40 yards and a touchdown and while Mark Bradley had 73 yards, he couldn’t get into the end zone. Larry Johnson had exactly what he predicted happen – he saw a lot of bodies determined to stop him and they did – LJ had a paltry 20 yards.

EAGLES 38, PANTHERS 10

EAGLES

The good news here is the Eagles put a lot of points on the board. Brian Westbrook looked OK when in the game with 64 yards on the ground, just 8 through the air and a touchdown. Things got crazy early so Westy got more rest than he might have otherwise. LeSean McCoy looked good in his stead with 46 yards on 9 carries.

DeSean Jackson had an 85 yard punt return touchdown. New tight end Brent Celek had a great day with six catches for 37 yards and a touchdown. Donovan McNabb had three touchdowns—two in the air, one on the ground but the last one was very costly as McNabb ended up with a broken rib on the play.

The current thought is he is ‘doubtful’ for week two (the team officially haven’t ruled him out) and it’s likely he will miss the game against the Saints. But rib injuries can linger and it may affect him throughout the year. 

PANTHERS

When you miss, you miss and boy did we seem to miss on Jake Delhomme. He usually has a bad game now and then, but to look as awful as he did was a surprise. Just 73 yards with four interceptions was a terrible stat-line and you have to wonder if the team will look to acquire a free agent like recently freed—I mean dropped—ex-Raider Jeff Garcia or trade for a backup like displaced Vikings quarterback Tarvaris Jackson.

With Delhomme playing badly, Steve Smith was nonexistent and was clearly frustrated by the game. DeAngelo Williams had to give up running for a while, but still put together a nice night with 42 yards through the air to match his 37 on the ground.

Williams also had a touchdown. Jonathan Stewart looked OK in his carries as well with 35 on 11 carries and also caught a pair of balls for 32 yards. Overall though it’s a game the Panthers have to put behind them and quick.

SAINTS 45, LIONS 27 

SAINTS

The score makes it look closer than it was, and that’s saying a lot. I said Saints QB Drew Brees was set for a great game, but who knew he’d drop 358 yards and six touchdowns on the hapless Lions defense. His target of choice was not Marques Colston, Lance Moore, or Robert Meachem, but Devery Henderson totaled an unconscious 103 yards and a touchdown.

Reggie Bush caught five himself for 55 yards, but had no luck on the ground with just 14 yards. The man toting the rock was Mike Bell, who made some hay with 143 yards—a career total. Jeremy Shockey got his first touchdown as a Saint, followed soon by his second. Brees spread the ball around a lot, hitting eight different receivers for 26 completions. 

LIONS

Rookie quarterback Matt Stafford had a relatively rough outing, throwing three picks in his debut as Lions starter. Running back Kevin Smith did most of his work in the pass game after the Lions had to basically abandon the run. Smith got 72 yards total and a touchdown which saves his day from a fantasy standpoint but wasn’t enough to help turn it around for the Lions.

Neither did Calvin Johnson’s 90 yards but as happened so often in 2008, Johnson only got three catches. The Lions defense was terribly over-matched as the Saints spread the field and used constant multiple receiver sets to rip the secondary apart. 

COWBOYS 34, BUCCANEERS 31 

COWBOYS

Maybe you can get addition by subtraction—or at least Dallas quarterback Tony Romo can. After the team ejected Terrell Owens, Romo had a career day, totaling 353 yards and three touchdowns without any turnovers.

Patrick Crayton had an outstanding day with 135 yards and a touchdown on just four receptions. Roy Williams (86yds, 1 TD) and Jay Witten (71yds) performed well also. Marion Barber had 79 yards and a touchdown while his sidekick Felix Jones didn’t look as sharp as he did last year, with just 22 yards on six carries.  

BUCCANEERS

Byron Leftwich looked OK in his Buccaneers debut, with 276 yards and a touchdown, hitting ten different receivers for 25 completions. Antonio Bryant was sharp and showed no signs of lingering issues from his knee, catching a pair of balls for 29 yards.

The real story here was the return of Cadillac Williams to the lineup. Williams was very good, carrying Cowboy defenders at times as he totaled 97 yards and a touchdown in a great performance.

The No. 2, Derrick Ward, had a good game as well, with 62 and a touchdown as well. Earnest Graham will be the odd man out here if this keeps up—he got no work and really shouldn’t have the way the other two were going.

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