What We Learned in Week #1 in the NFL:
- Saints suspension reversal not enough to lift past RG3
- Eagles barely edge out Browns in an interception-fest in Cleveland
- Adrian Peterson is not human
- Jets find their offense
- Replacement refs still in way over their heads
- Steelers start the season same way the season ended last year
Welcome to overreaction Monday. The first NFL Sunday is behind us and it’s time to start taking individual performances and blow them completely out of proportion. The NFL week actually started on Wednesday night with the NY Giants becoming the first defending Super Bowl Champs to lose their opening game since 1999. Then the league was rocked Friday afternoon with the news that a judge panel had overturned the suspensions of the players involved in the Saints bounty scandal as well as the news that longtime NFL owner Art Modell had passed away. The league was instructed to observe a moment of silence before each game, except for Cleveland, who was instructed by the Modell family to refrain from any mention of Modell at all. Pretty odd request but I can see how the family didn’t want to see a possible bad reaction by the still bitter Cleveland crowd, who has hated Modell since moving the team to Baltimore in 1996.
I, for one, am not convinced that the Saints could still have a successful season without their head coach and the players suspended. Fortunately for the Saints, Jonathan Vilma and Will Smith were reinstated by a judge panel Friday afternoon, rendering Rogeez’s authority null and void in the case of the bounty scandal for the time being. Unfortunately for the Saints, RG3 was poised to break rookie QB records in his first NFL start and he picked apart the Saints defense as if he’s been doing it for years. Drew Brees completed less than half of his passes and this is the kind of loss that only a head coach and can pull the team back from.
If anyone suffered through the entire game in Cleveland against the Eagles I applaud your efforts. That was one of the ugliest, sloppiest games I’ve ever seen, and I’ve seen a game played in a hurricane. Quite painful to watch even with my attempts to watch all the games at once with carefully timed channel changing. Each quarterback threw 4 interceptions each as it seems like neither offense wanted to score at all. Brandon Weeden was momentarily stuck under the 100 yard wide American Flag before the game even started. Mike Vick attempted a ridiculous 56 passes and the Browns set up the Eagles to win late by failing to try for 2 after scoring a defensive touchdown in the 4th quarter. I realize a win is a win and no one gets style points but I’d have to say that the Eagles have no alibi because they looked U-G-L-Y.
The Jaguars and Vikings faced off in a game of teams that could either have one or both headed to Los Angeles in the next few years. Vikings RB Adrian Peterson showcased his bionicly repaired ACL by rushing for 84 yards and 2 TD’s 8 months after surgery. We were treated with the league’s first game which included the new OT rules when the Vikings scored a field goal first in overtime, but the Jags were given the chance to win or tie before the game ended. Quite odd to see a field goal kicked in OT and not end the game.
The Jets offense, which was absent during the preseason, exploded on the Bills causing everyone to wonder if the Jets are better than expected or if the Bills are just worse than expected? Tebow only had 11 rushing yards on 5 attempts and was more or less a nonfactor in the Jets offense. Of course if you ask Rex Ryan it was all part of his master plan to have the Bills over-prepared for the possible Tebow-Wildcat formations and not prepared enough for Mark Sanchez’s arm. The Jets seem to take it personal that they’re depicted as a circus by the media, as the media proves themselves to be clowns covering them to ridiculous amounts but they are a friggin circus. The Bills defense clearly wasn’t prepared, I’ll give them that, but the Bills offense didn’t look all that prepared either.
All was going ok with the scab refs yesterday afternoon until the late games started. I was watching the 49ers dismantle the still mediocre Packers defense and it was raining flags and the head official got maybe one player’s number right the entire game. In Arizona the scabs gave Pete Carroll and the Seahawks a 4th timeout, which they failed to capitalize on thanks to a drop by Braylon Edwards. Then to the Steelers game last night where the Steelers incurred roughly 173 illegal formation penalties and got away with 12 men on the field for one play. Thankfully no games were ultimately determined by these refs’ inabilities but unfortunately for the players and fans, the replacement refs have already been assigned to Week 2 and it looks like no agreement between the NFL and the NFLRA is anywhere in sight. You could argue that the scabs could improve from one week to the next, but I’m not betting on that. These refs couldn’t be more in over their heads if they were asked to call the games as well as officiate them.
It was déjà vu all over again in Denver as the Steelers started the 2012 season a lot like the 2011 season started and ended, with a loss. Peyton Manning looked like his old self and very comfortable in the altitude while carving up the Steelers defense like a friggin Thanksgiving turkey. The Steelers secondary were behind the passes all night long. While there was some pressure on Manning early and a turnover recovered by LaMarr Woodley, Peyton for the most part had his way with the defense. I don’t think we place enough emphasis on how important Ryan Clark is to the Steelers defense. They don’t look the same without him and I actually think that Polamalu doesn’t perform as well without Clark. Polamalu and Mundy do not play off of each other in the middle of the field nearly as well as he and Clark. Up front, Brett Keisel was virtually invisible the entire game, although it seems odd that not a single holding penalty was called on the Broncos offense all night.
Despite two trips to the endzone that resulted in field goals rather than touchdowns, the Steelers offense was having a rather successful night until Ben threw an interception that killed a potential game winning drive with less than 3 minutes left in the game. Stop me if you heard this one before – the offensive line suffered some injuries during the game and had to be shuffled around a bit. Marcus Gilbert and Ramon Foster had to be replaced by Doug Legursky and Mike Adams for the majority of the second half. Fortunately for them, Ben was pretty well protected for the majority of the night only getting sacked twice up until garbage time when he was sacked three more times in a span of about 80 seconds. The no-huddle was effective, and Jonathan Dwyer was very impressive running the ball. I think there are some very good positives that can be taken away from this game. Certainly doesn’t have the same suck level of last year’s opening game loss or the Wild Card game but it’s still a loss and I’m almost afraid to admit that maybe it’s going to take more than just training camp for the offense to adjust to Haley’s new system. Ben admitted to confusion on the field just before the interception was thrown and said that he probably should have called a timeout before the play. You have to have a short memory in the NFL because once the game is over the next week has already begun. Bring on Week 2!
For those playing along with the NPC staff week one picks; Craig is in the lead with 10 games going into the Monday night double header.
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