Football is back. Between now and February 3, 2013 every weekend is about football (especially until January 1 while every Saturday is about college ball, too). The National Football League has become America’s favorite pastime and every weekend in the fall and winter people are glued to their television sets and hanging out with friends at local sports bars just to find out what incredible, almost un-human acts Roger Goodell and the gentlemen who suit up on his gridirons will come up with next. Even in the south and other areas where college football is king, the same fans who root on their favorite schools on Saturday don completely different colors on Sundays (and the occasional Monday, Thursday, Wednesday….or even the odd Saturday) to watch their favorite pro football team compete. There is no better drama than the NFL season for many sports fans.
With that said, here is my recap of Week One of the 2012-2013 NFL Season:
Cowboys 24 – Giants 17
The season got underway with a matchup of two teams that I really don’t like. Tony Romo (22-29, 307 yards, 3 TDs) led his Cowboys into MetLife Stadium and knocked off the defending champions Giants, and with that there will be no more mentions of last year. Kevin Ogletree, a 25 year old Cowboys receiver from the University of Virginia, was Romo’s key target reeling in 8 catches for 114 yards and two scores.
Patriots 34- Titans 13
As you all know, the Patriots are my squad. They looked very, very impressive on Sunday. This was the ninth straight season opening win for Tom Brady (22-31, 236 yards, 2 TDs) and it was also a game in which the defense carried the team. Rookies Chandler Jones and Dont’a Hightower combined for a strip-sack touchdown in their stellar debuts, and the Patriots defense held Chris Johnson (yes, that Chris Johnson) to just 4 yards on 11 carries.
Colts 21 – Bears 41
This game was the NFL debut for the #1 pick in this year’s draft, the one and only Andrew Luck. All in all, Luck could have done a few things better, but his 23-45 performance for 309 yards and a touchdown is about what you would expect for a future star making his first start. Luck did throw 3 interceptions in addition to getting sacked 3 times, mistakes that he would like to clean up. The talent level in Indianapolis needs to improve around Luck if the organization wants to experience the type of success that they had with Peyton Manning, but even in a 20 point loss there were a few glimpses of hope for the Colts.
Eagles 17 – Browns 16
Somehow the Eagles survived Ohio. Michael Vick and Brandon Weeden each threw 4 interceptions in this ugly early game on Sunday afternoon, but in the end it was all about the experience and talent in Vick’s legs and his left arm. For much of the game it appeared Vick was suffering from missing most of the preseason after getting roughed up by the Patriots, but when it mattered most Vick pulled through with a 91 yard drive, capped off by a 4-yard touchdown pass to Clay Harbor with 1:18 left in the fourth quarter to take the 17-16 decision.
Rams 23- Lions 27
This game wasn’t supposed to be this close. Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford shook off the worst half of his football career and still managed to have a respectable day as he found Kevin Smith in the endzone with just 10 ticks left to seal the victory for Detroit. Stafford, who finished the game 32-48 for 355 yards and one score (with three interceptions to his credit also) found his top receiver Calvin “Megatron” Johnson 6 times for 111 yards for the home team.
Falcons 40- Chiefs 24
Tony Gonzalez went back to his old place of employment and did the only thing he knows how to do: he scored a touchdown. That was all the inspiration that the Falcons needed as they used 20 unanswered points in the second half to put the Chiefs away and start the season off on a winning note. Matt Ryan fell just one yard shy of 300 while accounting for four total touchdowns (3 passing, 1 on the ground). Julio Jones had 6 catches for 108 yards (and two touchdowns) as one of Ryan’s main men, and that’s the type of game that Falcon fans want to come to expect from #11.
Jaguars 23 – Vikings 26 (OT)
Surprisingly the matchup of Jacksonville and Minnesota was one of the most entertaining games of the weekend. You know things are crazy when fantasy football owners across the country bench Adrian Peterson (myself included) because of injury concerns, and then AD goes off for 84 yards and 2 touchdowns and makes it look like he didn’t have serious knee surgery just eight months ago. Things got even crazier when Blaine Gabbert led the Jaguars down the field and scored a go-ahead 39-yard touchdown with just 20 seconds left. Vikings rookie kicker Blair Walsh (out of the University of Georgia) wasn’t having any of that though, as he connected on a 55-yarder to force overtime. Walsh would notch another field goal in the OT and the Vikings defense stopped the Jaguars rebuttal to close out this insane game under the ‘new’ OT rules (the same rules that previously were only used in the playoffs).
Redskins 40 – Saints 32
Andrew Luck wasn’t the only premier quarterback making his NFL debut over the weekend. This dude Robert Griffin III is a name you might want to get to know as he’ll be involved in many a discussion about the quarterback roundtable over the next few years. RGIII threw 26 times in his first NFL game, completing 19 of those attempts for 320 yards and 2 touchdowns. More importantly, he did not turn the ball over. His incredible play and a Saints team that at times showed their lack of discipline and direction was enough for this remarkable upset to occur and for the greater D.C. area to find some hope. The Saints will be alright, but a loss to the Redskins is not a good look.
Bills 28 – Jets 48
The Jets cruised in this early season AFC East pillow fight, and honestly I don’t think there is really too much that either team can take out of a game like this. Mark Sanchez looked comfortable as the Jets quarterback; throwing for 266 yards and 3 touchdowns, while Tim Tebow’s biggest impact on this game was recovering an onside kick (he also had 11 yards on 5 carries and probably over a minute on SportsCenter for each one of those yards). For the Bills, C.J. Spiller had a breakout game, gaining 169 yards on 14 carries and adding a touchdown. Unfortunately for Buffalo, Spiller’s rise was due to the fall of Fred Jackson who injured his right knee and did not return to the game.
Dolphins 10 – Texans 30
There was a stretch of Miami Dolphins football where three straight plays resulted in turnovers: two interceptions, one fumble. For some reason, as wacky as it sounds, I don’t think that will be the last time a string of horrid results like that happen to this team. The Dolphins are just simply not a good team, and Ryan Tannehill at quarterback doesn’t help them much in that regard. They were simply overmatched by the Texans, and especially by defensive end J.J. Watt who deflected two passes that led to interceptions and also recorded 1.5 sacks. For the Texans offense, Matt Schaub went 20-31 for 266 yards, with much of those statistics coming as a result of Andre Johnson’s great hands (8 catches, 119 yards, TD). Arian Foster added 79 yards and two scores for the Texans ground attack, and I know it is only one game against a subpar team but Houston is looking like contenders again.
49ers 30 – Packers 22
David Akers tied an NFL record with a ridiculous 63-yard field goal to end the first half, while Randy Moss found the familiar end-zone at Lambeau Field to power San Francisco. Alex Smith looked fantastic completing 20 of 26 passes for 211 yards and 2 touchdowns, and the 49ers defense is the truth.
Seahawks 16 – Cardinals 20
One of the major examples of the replacement officials currently used by the NFL came out in this game as the Seahawks were afforded an extra timeout with 30 seconds remaining in the game. Two plays earlier a Seattle player was injured and the ‘Hawks should have had to surrender their final timeout. Because the play that the player was injured in resulted in an incomplete pass (thus stopping the clock), the Seahawks were not charged that injury timeout. Ultimately it didn’t matter as Russell Wilson guided Seattle to the Arizona 4-yard line late in the 4th quarter but threw 3 straight incompletions to end their chances and clinch the game for the Cardinals.
Panthers 10 – Buccaneers 16
The Bucs picked off Cam Newton twice in coach Greg Schiano’s debut with the club, ending a 10-game losing streak for the organization dating back to last season under former coach Raheem Morris. Bucs rookie running back Doug Martin from Boise State impressed in this game (as he did in the preseason as well) racking up 95 yards on 24 carries in his first NFL game.
Steelers 19 – Broncos 31
Peyton Manning’s wearing a different color orange than he’s used to. The 4-time MVP coming off major neck surgeries made his first appearance at Mile High Stadium on Sunday night and reached another milestone in his career: his 400th career TD. This was a game where Pittsburgh held over a 10 minute advantage in time of possession (Denver took just two snaps in the third quarter), but not on the stat sheet or the scoreboard. The Broncos Demaryius Thomas shined with his new quarterback, catching 5 balls for 110-yards (including a 71-yard touchdown play).
Bengals 13 – Ravens 44
Blowout city, baby. The Bengals just looked overmatched all evening on Monday night. Joe Flacco commanded the Ravens offense to the tune of 21-29 for 299 yards and 2 TDs, and Ray Rice provided 68 yards and 2 scores on 10 touches. Ed Reed made sure the world knew he was back for another year, as he pick-sixed his way into the record books with his seventh career touchdown off an interception. Reed returned an Andy Dalton pass 34-yards to the house and now has 1,497 yards in interception returns, eclipsing the mark of 1483 by the great Rod Woodson.
Chargers 22 – Raiders 14
The Raiders botched 3 punts last night. You do not deserve to win any football game if you botch 3 punts in a game, I don’t care if it’s at the NFL level or the Pee-Wee or Pop Warner level. The Chargers Phillip Rivers capitalized on those mistakes as he threw for 231 yards and a touchdown, and Nate Kaeding added 5 field goals to push the Chargers past the Raiders. The one positive for the Raiders was the play of running back Darren McFadden, who caught a career high 13 passes (for 86 yards), while adding 32 yards of production on the ground also.