We are only a handful of hours into the NFL season and my voice has already tapped its helmet and headed to the sideline for a break. The day was spent in front of three strategically placed televisions sprawled across my living room. Why couldn’t I resist the urge to scream at these televisions on several occasions? The televisions had no problem avoiding yelling back at me. Anyway, no voice is needed for my first reaction to the first Sunday of the NFL season and ten more.
The difference between winning and losing a NFL game gets smaller each year. Ten of the twelve games played on Sunday afternoon were decided by ten points or less. Only the Dolphins and Chiefs won their games by more than ten points. The Jets, Bears, Patriots, and Rams won their games a total of 9 points. The Jets and Buccaneers had three lead changes in the final 5:05 seconds of the fourth quarter. The Patriots kicked a game winning field goal in the final ten seconds of their game and the Saints needed a stop on fourth down from their own four yard line in the last minute to win. Blowouts are few and far between and almost every game played is competitive. The difference between a team finishing the year 10-6 or 6-10 might be played out over just a handful of plays.
- Adrian Peterson broke a 78-yard touchdown run on his first touch of the season and scored two other times in the Vikings loss to the Lions. Peterson finished the game with only 93 yards on 18 carries and that isn’t nearly enough. The Vikings are going to win games on the back of AD and they should lose them that way too. 28 passes for Christian Ponder is about ten more than I would have called.
- A.J. Green and Brandon Marshall put on a show in Chicago. Two of the leagues top receivers combined to grab 17 balls for 268 yards and three touchdowns. Marshall caught the games winning score in the fourth quarter.
- Raise your hand if you thought the Saints would stop the Falcons from taking the lead when the dirty birds had a first down at the Saints 7 yard line on their last possession. On first down, Matt Ryan missed on a pass to Harry Douglas. On second down, Ryan hooked up with Roddy White for three yards. On third, Ryan was wide on a pass to Steven Jackson and on fourth Ryan was intercepted by Roman Harper. The Saints held the Falcons to 17 points. The Saints play the Buccaneers, Cardinals, and Dolphins in their three games before a week five showdown agains the Bears in Chicago. Will the Saints be 4-0 heading into that game?
- Bills fans would have probably rather lost by 30 today than have their hearts ripped out by Tom Brady in the last minute of the game. Stevie Johnson talked a lot of trash during the week but dropped a key pass in the fourth quarter. According to Tim Graham (@bytimgraham) on twitter, the Bills had third down and 2 yards or less to go six times. They ran it only twice, converting one and getting thrown for a 1-yard loss on the other.
- Did you see Reggie Bush pull away from everyone on his 71-yard touchdown in the third quarter? Bush finished the day with 191 yards from scrimmage and is going to be a dangerous weapon for the Lions this season.
- At one point on Sunday the league had combined for six touchdowns and four safeties. The Steelers got one of those safeties on a bizarre opening kickoff and then didn’t score another point until there was only 1:23 left in the fourth quarter. The Steelers rushed for only 32 yards and that isn’t going to be enough on a day when your quarterback only throws for 191. It might not be too early for panic in Pittsburgh. Go Pirates!
- Sam Bradford and the St. Louis Rams entered the fourth quarter down 11 and facing a long week of heat from the local media. Bradford anchored three fourth quarter scoring drives to lead the Rams to a come from behind victory over the Arizona Cardinals. Bradford hooked up seven times with tight end Jared Cook for 141 yards and two touchdowns. Bradford was most effective at Oklahoma when tight end Jermaine Gresham was healthy. Much was made about the impact Travon Austin would have on Bradford’s development but it might be the presence of Cook that helps Bradford elevate his game to the next level.
- Not a bad start for Geno Smith as the starting quarterback for the New York Jets. Smith completed 24 passes for 256 yards and a touchdown. Smith also rushed for over 40 yards and led a game winning scoring drive. After the pre-season that he had I don’t think expected him to complete a pass. The Buccaneers must have planned to have that win under their belt heading into a pair of games against the Saint and the Patriots.
- The biggest winner of the day might have been Colin Kaepernick. Kap passed for over 400 yards had three touchdowns and avoided any interceptions. Many (including me) thought Kaepernick would struggle after losing Michael Crabtree to a knee injury in the offseason. Anquan Boldin seemed to fill the void just fine with 13 catches for 208 yards and a touchdown.
- Terrelle Pryor competes hard and makes plays. Pryor passed for over 200 yards and rushed for 100. If Pryor can clean up some of the mistakes, namely his two interceptions, the Raiders might be better than most thought.
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