The NFL made history this weekend. For the first time in a National Football League game, there was a female official. And be sure, Shannon Eastin wasn’t the worst of the replacement officials. Not by a longshot.
Week 1 of the 2012 NFL season is almost over and we saw a load of great stuff on Sunday. Granted, we also saw the replacement officials, but to be fair, from the seven games I watched (on an on-and-off basis) they made a limited number of errors; so limited, in fact, that they were no worse, overall, than the real officials.
Meanwhile, it was a wonderful Sunday for Peyton Manning, Robert Griffin III, Randy Moss, Adrian Peterson, Matt Ryan, Mark Sanchez, Matt Schaub, Adrian Foster, Tom Brady, Alex Smith and Josh Freeman.
Let’s take a close look at Week 1 (with added queries, quips and quotes) and see where we stand heading into the first Monday Night of the campaign:
Minnesota 26 Jacksonville 23 (OT)
Adrian Peterson carried 17 times for 84 yards and two touchdowns. That was the big news. Christian Ponder went 20-for-27 for 270 yards and didn’t throw a TD pass, but he didn’t throw an INT either. The rest of the news from this one was, “Meh?” These were two bad teams going nose-to-nose in a game that will be forgotten as Jacksonville finishes 4-12 and the Vikings are 5-11. And, oh yeah, Maurice Jones-Drew will get better (19 carries for 77 yards and no TDs) after missing training camp and the preseason.
Chicago 41 Indianapolis 21
Rookie No. 1 draft pick Andrew Luck went 23-for-45 309 yards, a touchdown and three interceptions, but Jay Cutler-to-Brandon Marshall was just too much. Cutler went 21-for-35 for 333 yards and two touchdowns while Marshall caught nine passes for 119 yards and one major. Marshall will make the Bears offense considerably better. Brandon’s Izzy Idonije started at DE and had a tackle for the Bears.
Atlanta 40 Kansas City 24
Matt Ryan threw for 299 yards and three touchdowns. There are people talking about Matt Ryan as an MVP candidate. They might be right. Too bad the Chiefs offense collapsed in the second half. Matt Cassel might not be the answer.
Houston 30 Miami 10
Houston’s defense ate up poor Ryan Tannehill. The kid just wasn’t ready for this. The Texans’ Adrian Foster carried 25 times for 79 yards and two touchdowns. Knee injury? Yeah, right. Matt Schaub showed that he deserved the big contract extension by completing 21-of-30 for 266 yards, a touchdown and no interceptions.
Detroit 27 St. Louis 23
Matthew Stafford went 32-for-48 for 355 yards, a touchdown and three interceptions, but he hit Kevin Smith in the dying seconds for the TD that won it. St. Louis was better than advertised and Jeff Fisher might have something to build on in Ramsland. In the end, however, it was the Lions defensive line of Ndamukong Suh, Corey Williams and Nick Fairley that won this one.
Philadelphia 17 Cleveland 16
Michael Vick threw for 317 yards and two touchdowns, including the winner, to Clay Harbor in the final two minutes. Philly was not very good and despite Vick’s gaudy numbers, they were lucky to win. Cleveland is horrendous and Brandon Weeden is not very good. Colt McCoy’s career is not over yet.
NY Jets 48 Buffalo 28
Mark Sanchez went 19-for-27 for 266 yards and three TDs. Tim Tebow started as an inside receiver, didn’t throw or catch a pass, rushed for 11 yards and recovered an onside kick. Sanchez had a great season opener (see below).
New England 34 Tennessee 13
Tom Brady, 23-for-31, 236 yards and two touchdowns. The Pats defense was improved, too. Improving Tennessee had no answer for one of the best teams in the game.
Washington 40 New Orleans 32
What a debut by Washington’s rookie quarterback Robert Griffin III. He went 19-for-26 for 320 yards and two touchdowns and rushed 10 times for 42 yards. He also won in a very tough place to play. As one pundit put it, “either the Saints pass rush is awful or the Redskins offensive line is better than we think. Probably a little of both.” Indeed. RG3 might have been the players of the week.
Arizona 20 Seattle 16
Seattle had a chance to win but Braylon Edwards let a touchdown pass go right through his hands with only seconds left. This was not a good football game. Larry Fitzgerald had only four catches and no touchdowns and Arizona still won the game. All those pundits who picked Seattle to win the division must have been on some sort of PDD — Performance Debilitating Drug.
San Francisco 30 Green Bay 22
Aaron Rodgers went 30-of-44 for 303 yards and two TDs, which ain’t bad, but the 49ers’ Alex Smith went 20-of-26 for 211 yards and two TDs while Frank Gore rushed for 112 yards and one touchdown and that was the difference. Randy Moss had four catches for 47 yards and a touchdown. And kicker David Akers booted a 63-yard field goal to tie an NFL record. The Niners are for real and there is a legitimate chance that the two coaching Harbaughs could meet in the Super Bowl.
Tampa Bay 16 Carolina 10
Carolina’s Cam Newton went 23-of-33 for 303 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions and appeared to press as he attempted to carry the Panthers by himself. Josh Freeman threw for only 16 yards in the second half, but he didn’t turn over the football and when you have a decent defense, keeping the turnovers to a minimum can win you a lot of games.
Denver 31 Pittsburgh 19
In his first game in over a year, Peyton Manning went 19-for-26 for 253 yards and two touchdowns. This was an odd one. From his last play of the first half, through half time to his first play of the second half, Peyton Manning didn’t play for 57 minutes. Then, in the third quarter, he ran two plays and scored a touchdown in 36 seconds. That’s all Denver had the ball in the third. Pittsburgh ran 27 plays to Denver’s two, but Denver outscored the Steelers 7-3. So much for the time of possession stat.
Baltimore 44 Cincinnati 13
Joe Flacco went 21-for-29 for 299 yards and two touchdowns and no interceptions. Ray Rice rushed for 68 yards and two touchdowns and caught three passes for 25 more yards. Ed Reed took an interception 34 yards for a score, and the Ravens won at home for the 11th straight time. Flacco looked like a premier NFL quarterback and if he reaches upper echelon status, the Ravens might be near-impossible to beat.
San Diego 22 Oakland 14
San Diego took advantage of Oakland’s bad defense and mistake-prone special teams to win on the road. Philip Rivers went 24-of-33 for 231 yards and a touchdown. San Diego won because the backup longsnapper, Travis Goethel, made two bad snaps to give the Chargers great field position and then on a good snap, the Chargers had a blocked punt. Oh, oh. The Raiders have a load of stress.
THE FIVE MOST IMPRESSIVE (in no particular order):
Adrian Peterson, Minnesota Vikings: AP is obviously healthy again. He scored two TDs and rushed for 84 yards in a three-point overtime win and it was quite an impressive return from a knee injury that many thought could have ended his career. The key to the effort was the fact he took a number of low hits and didn’t even appear phased by it. If AP can go the distance, the Vikings might win more than five games.
Peyton Manning, Denver Broncos: What can you say? After missing more than a year with neck problems, Manning looked like he’d never left. With help from a terrific game by CB Tracy Porter, the Broncos whipped Pittsburgh 31-19 and Manning was in complete control from start to finish.
Robert Griffin III, Washington Redskins: In just one week, he looked like the rookie of the year. Backed by a great offensive scheme from Coach Mike Shanahan, the Heisman Trophy winner was tremendous, throwing screens, running options and taking off from the pocket on some big wide rollouts. He was smart, courageous in the pocket and accurate. He went 19-for-26 for 320 yards and two touchdowns and rushed 10 times for 42 yards. This guy can play.
Randy Moss, San Francisco 49ers: What a nice performance. Yes, yes, yes, I know, he took some plays off. That’s what he does. But when asked to make a play, he did. In his first game since 2010, he caught a 14-yard touchdown pass from Alex Smith in the second quarter that gave the Niners a 10-0 lead and they never trailed. He doesn’t make a lot of them, but Randy Moss is a playmaker and he’ll make a good Niners outfit even better.
Mark Sanchez, New York Jets: There was talk that this guy might lose his job to Tim Tebow. He sure didn’t demonstrate any weakness on Sunday. And he sure wasn’t afraid to lose his job. He went 19-for-27 for 266 yards and three TDs. He threw an early interception, but bounced back and owned the game. Mark Sanchez made a statement and Tebow was used as he should be used – as a good athlete who loves to play football and can do all sorts of things on the field. Sanchez-Tebow is going to work.