BASN’s Week One NFL Review

By Lloyd Vance
Updated: September 10, 2008

NFLPHILADELPHIA — The first weekend of the 89th NFL season titled: “Believe in Now” is finally over. NFL nation just couldn’t get enough of America ‘s Game as week one stretched over three game days (September 4th, September 7th, and September 8th).

For the fourth consecutive year, all 16 games of the NFL’s Kickoff Weekend were sold out in advance of the local TV blackout deadline, enabling every game to be televised in the home-team market.

The first game on Thursday night kicked off the excitement (fireworks, grammy-winning singers, Strahan introducing the Giants, etc) and featured the Super Bowl champion New York Giants pounding the Washington Redskins 16-7.

The Giants must have known they were on the clock as the contest started promptly at 7 p.m. ET and was off right on schedule for the Republican National Convention just before 10 p.m.

On the field the Giants took advantage of a young Redskins team and their new head coach Jim Zorn as they rolled up 354 total yards including 154 yards on the ground.Big bulldozing running back Brandon Jacobs led the way with 116 yards rushing including providing one the hits of the week as he ran over Redskins safety Laron Landry.

The Redskins will need to go back to the drawing board as their offense could not get on track (only 133 passing yards) and quarterback Jason Campbell did not look comfortable in the pocket.

What I love about week one is experts, fans, and some members of the media start making year long assertations based on “one week” of real NFL games.Sure week one is important for s etting the tone for the entire season — the 42 Super Bowl Champions started out a combined 34-7-1 in week one and in ’07, nine of the 12 playoff teams (Dallas, Green Bay, Indianapolis, New England, Pittsburgh, San Diego, Seattle, Tennessee, and Washington) were winners in week one — but remember in the NFL everything can change real quickly.

Just ask the Giants how they felt after blowing a lead in week one of the 2007 season and losing to the Cowboys in Dallas.After their week one loss, Giants didn’t lose another road game all season on their way to being Super Bowl champs.I always like to say cut the NFL season into four quarters and you will know plenty by the end of the second quarter when games really start to matter most.

Overall the first week of the 2008 NFL season brought drama that surely will create a buzz of “Monday Morning Quarterbacking” around the water cooler and on sports radio.

The NFL Season is a Marathon of Survival of the Fittest – The “tough” physical game of football causes a survival of the fittest on the way to the Lombardi Trophy.No team makes it to the topwithout dealing with injuries every week of the season.Unfortunately this week’s biggest story was New Englad quarterback Tom Brady going down with a bad knee injury that ended his season in the first quarter of the Patriots 17-10 win over the Chiefs.

The 2007 Offensive MVP was in the pocket when safety Bernard Pollard came crashing in just as America’s quarterback was releasing his pass downfield — The play eerily reminded me of Randall Cunningham going down in 1991 with a season-ending knee injury at the hands of a lunging Bryce Paup.Pollard knew immediately that Brady was hurt bad as Captain America screamed in agony as Patriots trainers rushed to the field.

Some are trying to say the play was dirty, but I didn’t think so as Pollard was fighting through a block and was trying to make a play — the NFL agreed as there was no fine or suspension accessed.Pollard said of Brady’s injury, “It was really an accident, I can’t change what happened. I can’t do anything but pray for him and hope he has a speedy recovery.”The Patriots will now turn to fourth year backup Matt Cassel while leaning on their defense and solid running attack (Laurence Maroney, Kevin Faulk, Sammy Morris, and Lamott Jordan).

Other major injuries to Seattle WR Nate Burelson (knee), Jaguars guards Vince Manuwai (knee) and Maurice Williams (triceps), Colts RB Joseph Addai (head), Cowboys RB Marion Barber (ribs), Baltimore DB Corey Ivy (leg injury), Chiefs QB Brodie Croyle (shoulder), Seahawks RB Maurice Morris (knee), Colts TE Dallas Clark (knee), Bucs LB Derrick Brooks (hamstring) and Titans QB Vince Young (sprained knee).

Great Debuts – Rookie quarterbacks and 2008 first round picks Atlanta’s Matt Ryan and Baltimore’s Joe Flacco won their professional debuts.The pair’s wins marked the first time two rookie quarterbacks won in Week 1 since 1971 (Jim Plunkett for the Patriots and Archie Manning for the Saints).Ryan knew his day was going to be great as he found Michael Jenkins for a 62-yard touchdown on his first pass of the day (tied record of former Patriots quarterback Michael Bishop who accomplished the feat in ’00).The throw sparked a great effort by the Falcons including RB Michael Turner (see Game Balls) and John Abraham (3 sacks) in their 34-21 win over the Lions.Flacco rumbled 38 yards for a touchdown run and was steady (15-29, 129, 0 TD, 0 INT) as the Raven led by their defense produced a 17-10 win for the rookie over the Bengals.

Also the two rookie quarterbacks made winners out of their rookie head coaches (Ravens John Harbaugh and the Falcons Mike Smith). Special debut shout-outs go to Green Bay Packers QB Aaron Rodgers (18-22, 178, 1 TD, 0 INT plus 35 yards rushing w / 1 TD) who replaced legend Brett Favre in a 24-19 win over the Vikings and Brett “the Jet” Favre (15-22, 194, 2 TDs, 0 INTs) as he did his usual No..No..Yes Pass for a touchdown on the way to a 20-14 win over the Dolphins in Miami.

Bad Teams looking like they are ready for the ’09 draft – I know it is week one, but several on the hot seat coaches Scott Linehan (Rams), Marvin Lewis (Bengals), Lane Kiffin (Raiders) and Mike Nolan (49ers) did not do themselves any favors with weak week one losses.The Rams looked they quit in the second half as the Eagles rolled up 522 yards and 38 points.The Bengals could only 154 total yards (Carson Palmer only 99 yards passing) and committed 5 penalties.The Raiders made a mockery of the MNF national spotlight by allowing the Broncos to lead after three quarters 27-0.The Niners playing at home produced 5 turnovers to the Cardinals.

The All- Didn’t Dress Team – I will name this squad after “Bobbie Williams”, who was an often deactivated Eagles player during his 3 years with the team. San Francisco 49ers QB Alex Smith (former 2005 first overall pick), Jacksonville Jaguars WR Ernest Wilford (FA got $6 million guaranteed), New Orleans RB Deuce McAllister (wasn’t healed from knee injury yet), Rams OT Orlando Pace (shoulder), Eagles WR Reggie Brown (looked like Wally Pipp as DeSean Jackson had a rousing debut), and Eagles OT Winston Justice (former high second round draft pick is the new Bobbie Williams).

Game Balls

Atlanta Falcons RB Michael Turner – There were several outstanding performances in week one, but Turner lived up to his nickname as he became the “the Burner” in a 34—21 win over the Lions.After receiving a huge payday this off-season, Turner lived up to expectations setting a Falcon’s franchise single game record of 220 rushing yards over 22 carries and scoring two touchdowns in his first game as a Falcon.Turner’s highlight run was a 66-yard burst where he ran over a guy on his way to speeding past the secondary and taking one to the house.The Falcons finished with 313 rushing yards in head coach Mike Smith’s debut.

Honorable Mention

Philadelphia Eagles QB Donovan McNabb – After an off-season where everyone wondered could he regain his ’04 form, McNabb stormed from the gate. The 10-year veteran threw for numbers 21-33, 361 yards, and in the Eagles’ lopsided 38 – 3 win over the St. Louis Rams.

Arizona Cardinals DE Travis LaBoy – Another free agent pick-up that earned his money.LaBoy was everywhere in the Cardinals 23-13 win over the Niners.The former Titan producedfour tackles, two sacks and one forced fumble with his biggeest play coming with under two minutes remaining as he sacked 49ers QB J.T. O’Sullivan, forcing him to fumble and then added the recovery for good measure.

Chicago Bears RB Matt Forte’ — The high second-round pick showed why the Bears got rid of Cedric Benson.Forte’ rushed for 123 yards on 23 carries including scoring on a tough 50-yard touchdown in the Bears 29 – 13 win over the Indianapolis Colts.

Pittsburgh RB Willie Parker – After returing from a broken leg in ’07 there were some who wondered if Parker would be the same.Well fast Willie showed he is more than okay as he carried the ball 25 times for 138 yards and three touchdowns in the Steelers’ 38-17 win over the Houston Texans.

Others standouts: Broncos Rookie WR Eddie Royal, Jets QB Brett Favre, Falcons coach Mike Smith, Titans RB Chris Johnson, Titans DB Courtland Finnegan, and Eagles LB Stewart Bradley.

Lloyd’s Lackey of the Week

Cincinnati Bengals WR Chad “Ocho Cinco” Johnson – First “Ocho Stinko” learned that the NFL would not allow him to where his new legal name (Ocho Cinco) until the Bengals loqcauois receiver worked out a deal with NFL jersey supplier Reebok.So going on the field as just plain “No. 85 Chad Johnson” led to a 1 catch for 22 yards day as the Ravens limited the Bengals to only 99 passing yards.Unfortunately for Johnson and his agent Drew “next question” Rosenhaus the only way to get go publicitiy is to producce on the field and forget about all of the antics and other stuff.

Honorable Mention

Dolphins rookie LT Jake Long — No. 1 overall pick, was called for a pair of crucial penalties, both negating first-downs

Raiders CB DeAngelo Hall — Was picked on all-night by the Broncos as Eddie Royal had a field day also had 2 bad penalties including an unnecessary roughness way out of bounds.

Titans QB Vince Young — May have quit on his team after hearing “Boos” from the fans as he went for numbers of 12-22, 110 yards, 1 TD, 2 INT before leaving with with a bad knee. Also disappeared on Monday prompting loved ones and head coach Jeff Fisher to call the police.

The St. Louis Rams Secondary – Allowed the Eagles playing without injured starting receivers Reggie Brown and Kevin Curtis to run wild in their secondary as three receivers went over 100 yards receiving (DeSean Jackson, Greg Lewis, and Hank Baskett).Rookie receiver Jackson had a great day of 6 catches for 106 yards including a 47-yarder on his first catch.Donovan McNabb threw for 397 yards and 3 TDs to seven different receivers with none bigger than a third down touchdwon connection to a wide-open Hank Baskett (90 yards) after starting deep in Eagles’ territory.