NFL Recap: Week 1
The NFL opened season on Sunday with fifteen servings of football for its fans to feast upon. To say the least, opening weekend did not disappoint and featured plenty of scoring.
Locally, the afternoon started with a dominant half of football from the Steelers as they cruised into halftime with a 24-point lead over their arch rival Cleveland Browns at Heinz Field. Early offensive prowess led by quarterback Ben Roethlisberger and wide receiver Antonio Brown along with key defensive pressure from defensive lineman Brett Keisel attributed to the Steelers early success. However, Cleveland demonstrated their saucy offense led by quarterback Brian Hoyer and lathered the Steeler D in “catch-up” during a second half 24 point rally to tie the game. The Steelers finally experienced some more offensive success during their final drive of the game as Roethlisberger and wide receiver Marcus Wheaton hooked up twice to set up a game winning 41-yard field goal by kicker Sean Suisham.
Across the state in Philadelphia, the Eagles struggled early against a rejuvenated Jaguars offense thanks to a surprise performance from wide receiver Allen Hurns, who caught two touchdown passes in the first quarter. The Eagles soared through the second half and scored thirty four unanswered points which began with a 49 yard touchdown run from halfback Darren Sproles. The Eagles won by a final score of 34 to 17.
Meanwhile, the New England Patriots also enjoyed a ten point lead at halftime over division rival Miami Dolphins highlighted by the hallowed and frequent red zone connection of quarterback Tom Brady and tight end Rob Gronkowski. The Patriots, however, were shut out in the second half as Miami halfbacks Knowshon Moreno and Lamar Millar both found the end zone on the ground and through the air respectively as the Dolphins splashed New England for 23 unanswered points in the second half on their way to a 33-20 victory.
The Cincinnati Bengals defeated AFC North Rival the Baltimore Ravens both teams season debut at M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore, Maryland Sunday afternoon. Quarterbacks Andy Dalton of the Bengals and Joe Flacco of the Ravens both recorded over 300 yards through the air on the afternoon. Wide receiver A.J. Green collected 6 receptions for 131 yards and a touchdown in a 23-16 victory for the Bengals.
In another division matchup, the Carolina Panthers defeated the Tampa Buccaneers in a NFC South contest. Panthers starting quarterback Cam Newton missed the season opener due to a nagging rib injury. Back up Derek Anderson threw for 230 yards and a pair of touchdowns while the Panthers defense surrendered only two 4th quarter touchdowns in a 20-14 win. Coach Ron Rivera stated that Newton will start next week in the Panthers home opener against Detroit.
The Oakland Raiders traveled east to face the New York Jets at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey. Rookie quarterback Derek Carr threw for 151 yards and two touchdowns in his NFL debut. Despite the rookie’s best efforts, the Jets prevailed in their home opener by a final score of 19-14.
Additionally, some teams worked overtime on Sunday to pull out that precious first win. The Atlanta Falcons offense soared under quarterback Matt Ryan, who threw for 448 yards and three touchdowns in a comeback victory over division rival the New Orleans Saints. Falcons’ kicker Matt Bryant nailed a 51-yard field goal at the end of regulation to tie the game at 34. The Falcons defense recovered an untimely Marques Colston fumble on the opening drive of the overtime, which set up kicker Matt Bryant for another 52-yard field goal and clinched their home opener with a final score of 37-34.
The Buffalo Bills and Chicago Bears also clocked in for some over time at Soldier Field in Chicago, Illinois. The Bears clawed back from a 10-point half time deficit and tied the game with 30 seconds left off of a successful 37-yard field goal attempt from kicker Robbie Gould. However, a 27-yard game winning field goal from Bills kicker Dan Carpenter sealed the upset win for Buffalo.
In another interleague, AFC – NFC matchup, the Houston Texans defeated Washington 17-6 Sunday afternoon at Reliant Stadium. Although the Texans defense held Washington to only two field goals, rookie defensive end and first overall draft pick Jadeveon Clowney suffered a knee injury and will likely miss 4-6 weeks.
North of Houston, in Arlington, Texas, the Dallas Cowboys hosted the San Francisco 49ers in what turned out to be a the day’s premier defensive showcase. The Niners’ defense intercepted Dallas quarterback Tony Romo three times and forced a fumble which was returned for a touchdown. San Francisco also sacked the defenseless Romo three times for a total loss of 26 yards. The 49ers cruised to 28-17 victory thanks to key defensive turnovers and quarterback Collin Kaepernick’s 201 passing yards and two touchdowns.
The Indianapolis Colts visited the Denver Broncos in the Sunday Night Football opener at Sports Authority Field at Mile High Stadium. Quarterback Peyton Manning connected with tight end Julius Thomas for three touchdowns in the first half as the Broncos enjoyed a 24-3 halftime lead. However, Andrew Luck and the Indianapolis Colts exploited the Broncos’ defense in the second half for two touchdowns on 14 unanswered points. Despite their efforts, the Colts comeback came up just short as the Broncos completed a key 4th down stop to seal a 31-24 victory.
Week 1 drew to a close with a Monday Night Football double feature. First, the Detroit Lions hosted the New York Giants at Ford Field in Detroit Michigan. Matt Stafford and the Lions offense dominated New York for a full 60 minutes as Stafford collected 346 yards passing including two touchdowns to stand out wide receiver Calvin Johnson who also recorded 164 yards receiving. The Lions defense recorded two interceptions in a painless 35-14 victory.
The final contest of the week featured the San Diego Chargers and Arizona Cardinals at University of Phoenix Field in Glendale, Arizona. Despite the surrender of an early lead, the Cardinals responded in the 4th quarter and with twelve unanswered points. Arizona quarterback Carson Palmer threw for 304 yards and two touchdowns, both in the final quarter, to seal the Cardinals first victory of the season.
Week 1 featured plenty of action for NFL fans worldwide. Players, coaches, and fans alike will enjoy a brief break before the action picks up again in the week two debut on Thursday night between AFC North division rivals the Pittsburgh Steelers and Baltimore Ravens.
Written by: Joe Rokicki