Well if anyone was wondering how replacement officials were going to affect the game all you had to do was watch the 49ers/Packers game. I'm not trying to be cliché by blaming the refs because the honest truth was they stunk all around for both teams. I realize calls sometimes get missed but the sheer number was astounding. Then in the Seahawks/Cardinals game to give the Hawks an extra timeout in a critical moment, well I haven't seen anything that bad since Colorado scored the game winning TD against Missouri on 5th down back when Kordell Stewart was still a QB. Fortunately it didn't cost them the game like it did Missouri but it was still a pretty large oversight. Honestly, can't the NFL lift up the cushions of their 9 billion dollar couch and find some spare change to give to the refs? I can't wait to hear the outcry when a bad or blown call actually does affect the outcome of a game. I also want to say I'm glad Brian Wilson was able to find some work with NFL Network while rehabbing but why did he die his beard red?
Ha, ha, ha, ha! I hate the Cowboys but still, ha, ha, ha, ha! What's even more amazing is that the Cowboys beat the Giants in NY (or really NJ) yet the Giants are still listed 3 spots higher on ESPN's power ranking. There's some sound logic for you. The Cowboys jumped out to a 14-3 lead early in the third and cruised to the victory as Tony Romo threw for 307 yards and 3 touchdowns, and DeMarco Murray pounded the Giants defense for 131 yards on 20 carries. That's a 6.6 yards per carry average for those keeping score at home. Meanwhile Manning the Younger, who threw for 213 yards and a TD, watched helplessly from the sidelines as the Cowboys offense ran out the last few minutes on the clock. Oh well, at least he now has a part time gig as a tooth fairy working for Direct TV.
The rest of week 1 after the jump...
If you were wondering how much bounty gate and having an interim-interim head coach was going to affect the Saints, wonder no longer. The Saints got punched in the face by the Redskins and their rookie QB who's name I've momentarily forgotten, which is pretty impressive considering how ad nauseam he's mentioned on sports outlets everywhere thanks to the large number of man crushes being developed for him. Although I will say he looked pretty dang impressive throwing for 320 yards and 2 touchdowns while not turning the ball over. Like some of the other games played on Sunday the game wasn't as close as the score would seem to indicate. I wonder what the over/under is for the number of games before the Saints defense is compared to a wet Bounty paper towel?
You could hear them all over NY and America before the start of this game. "Nay, Sanchez, nay, nay, nay." Scoring only 1 TD in the preseason will do that. But Sanchez quieted all those naysayers, who got even louder after an early interception, by throwing for 266 yards and 3 touchdowns on way to a drubbing of the Bills. The new-look Bills defensive line couldn't even get close enough to breath hard on Sanchez who had plenty of time to pull out his mirror and make sure the black ink under his eyes looked good before finding wide open Jets receivers. It was the most the Jets had ever scored under Rex Ryan but what everyone really wants to know about is Tim Tebow. He only ran for 11 yards on 5 carries but he did recover an onside kick so I guess he has that going for him. Well, outside of being the pinup model of every good teenage Christian girl's bedroom wall.
Turns out all Jay Cutler needed to be successful was to actually have a WR to throw the ball to. Who knew? Cutler hooked up with newly reunited WR Brandon Marshall 9 times for 119 yards and a TD, while finishing with 333 yards and 2 touchdowns on the day, easily taking care of the Colts. "We have the guys," Marshall said. "We have the pieces. We have the coaches." And what he really means by that is we don't have that one coach anymore who likes those crazy slow developing plays. While for the Colts rookie QB Andrew Luck threw for 309 yards and a TD but also turned the ball over 4 times (3 interceptions, 1 fumble). Supporters of Luck are quick to point out that that's almost identical to the 302 yards, 3 interceptions, and 1 TD that Peyton Manning had in his rookie debut. Well to them I'll simply say Ryan Leaf won his first two starts so suck on that! Now that I think about it they actually make a pretty good point.
Brandon Weedon, the Browns 40-year old rookie QB, completed only 12 of his 35 passes (yes, barely 34%) for 118 yards and 4 interceptions. Weedon probably should have just stayed hidden under that giant American flag he got trapped under before the start of the game. When your minor league ERA is higher than your QB rating, you know that's not good. So that must mean the Eagles stomped all over the Browns, right? Well you would have been right had the Eagles not inexplicably called 58 passing plays and only 30 running plays despite the fact LeSean McCoy ran for 110 yards on 20 carries and Michael Vick felt so bad for Weedon he made sure to turn the ball over more times, 5 in all including one that was returned for the Browns only TD. "When you throw an interception for a touchdown," Vick said, "and it changes the dynamic of the game, you look at the scoreboard and now you're losing, you feel a sense of dissatisfaction." Something tells me dissatisfaction isn't what most Eagles fans were feeling. More like being punched in the left testicle while a sweaty fat man farts in your face.
The Lions sure seemed ecstatic to win this game. I realize maybe the Rams are much better this year and any given Sunday and all that, but I just had this image of a dad jumping up and down for joy after they beat their 12-year old son on a last second shot in a one-on-one basketball game. Maybe it was just the excitement being only mildly embarrassed as opposed to being horribly and totally embarrassed. Matthew Stafford threw for 355 yards but also had 3 interceptions, while the Lions defense looked much better keeping Sam Bradford and Steven Jackson in check for most of the game. Lions coach Jim Schwartz said of Stafford's performance after the game, "It wasn't like he was just having a bad day. He just had a couple of bad plays." Three bad plays actually, but who's counting. No, the bad day will come next Sunday.
This was about the worst thing that could have happened to Tom Brady. Sure he threw for 236 yards, 2 touchdowns, and easily handled the Titans. No, the tragedy was when Brady had his nose broken. Supermodels everywhere are crying and not from forcing their fingers down their throats. Jake Locker, who threw for 229 yards, a TD, and an interception, had to leave the game late because of a shoulder injury but it's not considered serious. Of course if Locker does have to miss some time it will mean they won't have anyone to run the ball now that Chris Johnson has been paid and doesn't have to work anymore. Honestly, 4 yards on 11 carries!? I've heard of people mailing it in before but Johnson isn't even doing that since he can't be bothered with finding a postage stamp.
Julio Jones showed flashes last year of why the Falcons gave up so much to be able to draft him but it was on full display in this game. Jones had 6 catches for 108 and 2 touchdowns, both of which came when the score was tied. That was important since the Falcons had very little going with their running attack in this game. It also helped that the team they were playing was quarterbacked by Matt Cassel who obligingly threw 2 interceptions and had a fumble. Even ex-longtime Chief Tony Gonzalez got into the act scoring a TD on the play after Cassel's fumble, effectively putting the game out of reach. "I think deep down in their hearts," Matt Ryan said, "Kansas City fans were happy to see that one more time." If that's true it would have had to have been really deep down. I mean so deep down they can't even access it with hypnosis.
Adrian Peterson may have blown out his left knee but like the six million dollar man they seem to have rebuilt him better, stronger, faster. Peterson hardly missed a beat rushing for 84 yards and 2 touchdowns while averaging just under 5 yards per carry. Christian Ponder and Blaine Gabbert actually looked like real NFL quarterbacks, a huge step for both, and we got our first chance to see the new overtime rules in a regular season game. Well, we got to see the highlights of the new overtime rules for the first time, only people in Jacksonville and Minneapolis got to see it live and then only those who bothered to turn it on.
The Dolphins had a 3 point lead when rookie QB Ryan Tannehill threw his first interception. They were tied 3-3 when he threw his second, and down only 10-3 when he threw his 3rd. By the time the Dolphins got the ball again they were down 17-3. Not wanting Tannehill to throw a 4th interception, 2 of which came on consecutive passing attempts, the Dolphins handed the ball off to their rookie RB Daniel Thomas who fumbled the ball allowing the Texans to go up 24-3. In all, the Dolphins offense managed only one FG. "That's a good defense," Tannehill said. "So being able to move the ball on a good defense like that gives us some confidence. Obviously, we have to fix a lot of things and eliminate those turnovers. But I think it gives us a look at what we could be if we played to our full potential." I find it best just to ignore the crazy people yelling on the street corner.
Seahawks 16, Cardinals 20
John Skelton won (if you can call it that) the starting quarterback job over Kelvin Kolb but had to leave the game after his offensive coordinator hit him in the ankle with a lead pipe for playing like complete crap (14-28, 149 yards, 1 interception). Kolb came in, completed 6 of 8 passes for 66 yards, and threw the game winning TD. Of course it almost wasn't the game winning TD thanks to the extra timeout given to the Seahawks, but we already went over that. Skelton's injury doesn't appear to be that serious so we may end up with another quarterback controversy regardless of the starter. It's not quite on par with Montana/Young, but this is Arizona so what did you really expect.
The Panthers were a trendy pick to reach the playoffs before the start of the season but their offense looked downright inept against the Bucs. Cam Newton did throw for 303 yards and a TD but he was also picked off twice and sacked three times. As for their running game, they managed 10 total yards on 13 carries. And here you were thinking Green Bay's running game looked bad. It seems the new Bucs coaching staff is taking a Mark Sanchez approach towards Josh Freeman, limit passing attempts (26), run the ball a lot (36), and play great defense. Now if they could only come up with a cool team wide celebration like running with your arms out and pretending to be a Jet. Maybe they could squint their eye, hook their index finger, and say, "Argh!" It would be just as dumb.
Manning looked good and the Broncos sealed the win with a 43-yard Tracy Porter pick-6. Now in my best Forrest Gump impersonation, "That's all I have to say about that."
The Bengals seemed to think the Seahawks have had so much success by taking players discarded by the 49ers they've developed a similar strategy. Turns out Taylor Mays is with them now. How does that saying go again about sloppy leftovers or hand-me-downs? Well good luck with that. Unfortunately for them it didn't do much good as they got crushed by the Ravens. Joe Flacco threw for 299 yards and 2 touchdowns, while Ed Reed chipped in with a TD of his own, returning an interception 34 yards. Even Ray Rice had a good game gaining 68 yards and 2 touchdowns on only 10 carries. "It was really fun for me," Rice said. "I barely got hit tonight." Yes, just what every defense wants to hear the opposing running back say after the game. You can put that up there with, "I got tired from running up and down the field all game," and "Who were we playing again? I couldn't see their jerseys from so far away."
Ouch! Now that was ugly. Do you think the Raiders can try to return a slightly used Carson Palmer for at least their second round pick? Not that Palmer played all that badly. In fact his numbers look pretty good, 32 of 46, 297 yards, and 1 TD. It was just that he could never make the big play when they needed it until the very end of the game when it was too late by then anyways. The Raiders defense also played well but when the Chargers are constantly starting in FG range thanks to botched punts there's not a lot they can do. "It's pretty hard. It's hard snapping on the dirt, too. I've never snapped on the dirt before," Goethel said. "Trust me, I wish it never happened." Now who hasn't said that last line before after having one too many and accidently ending up in a transvestite bar.
49ers 30, Packers 22
I have to be honest here. I thought the 49ers could win this game, I just didn't think they would. Now I can hear the screaming on both sides, "We're going to the Super Bowl!" and, "Packers are in some real trouble with the Bears coming up on Thursday." Let's all just take a deep breath and calm down. It was an important game but it was still just one game. Now, do you think it would be too early for me to buy Super Bowl tickets?