Thursday night’s shootout between Green Bay and New Orleans was the appetizer. On Sunday, the 10 year anniversary of one of America’s darkest days, the Good Lord said “Let there be light!” and the heavens rained a surplus of football games. Heading into kickoff weekend, the big game every football fan had circled was Steelers vs. Ravens. For years, the matchup has proven to be the NFL’s #1 rivalry for a variety of factors. Both teams are in the same conference, in rather close proximity to one another, but most of all, it’s the closest thing we’ve got in pro football to a gang war.
Unfortunately for fans of The Steel Curtain, things got ugly quick. Baltimore looked lightning fast, while Pittsburgh looked uncharacteristically sluggish. The Ravens defense was clicking on all cylinders – future Hall of Famers Ed Reed and Ray Lewis both grabbed interceptions – while the Steelers defense appeared to be stuck in lockout mode. And it needs to be said Joe Flacco played one hell of a ball game. Meanwhile, Big Ben never mentally checked in.
Just a week removed from Labor Day and 15 more games left, there really isn’t too much cause for concern for Pittsburgh. However, losing to a division rival in such a fashion always means the fear of something like this lingering throughout the season is a possibility.
Speaking of making dominant first week impressions, Cam Newton showed up and showed the hell out. The reigning Heisman Trophy winner made history by breaking, actually shattering, Peyton Manning’s record throwing for 422 yards in his first ever NFL game. There were doubts about whether Cam’s style of quarterback would transfer over to the pro game. At least for one week, those are put on the back burner as Newton made Steve Smith relevant all over again with deep route after deep route. The only downside to his debut? Carolina took the L (as did every other team in the NFC South). Jimmy Clausen has to be the loneliest person in the United States right now.
Not to be completely outdone, fellow 2011 lottery pick Patrick Peterson took a punt to the house showing signs of a defensive and special teams monster in the making.
— Yes, Texans fans, you demolished the Colts. But this was a Peyton Manning-less Indy team led led by Kerry Collins, who looked somewhere stuck in between a hangover and a migraine. In fact, I’d even go so far to say that Peyton is the leading MVP candidate after Week 1. Who’s more valuable than him? More on this topic very, very soon.
— At least right now, the Buffalo Bills sit atop the AFC East. Ryan Fitzpatrick and his four touchdown performance embarrassed the Chiefs so badly that the Royals actually look like the better Kansas City ticket come September. Again, we’re in the infant stages of the season, but still.
— Ted Ginn lost his mind against the Seahawks returning a kickoff and punt in less than a minute ensuring San Francisco started the season on the good foot. Speaking of kickoff returns though, there were three this week making it the most in an opening week since 1998. So much for that prediction, huh? Those guys are running out the back of that end zone with the utmost disregard for the new rule, almost like it’s a challenge. It’s either that or teams just decided to say “f*ck special teams coverage practice” during their abbreviated training camps.
— Michael Vick and the Eagles kept it close with St. Louis for awhile before using their overload of talent to pull away. To make matters worse, Sam Bradford, Steven Jackson and Danny Amendola all suffered injuries; Amendola’s looks to have him wearing street clothes for the next two months. And in the blink of an eye, there goes my fantasy squad.
— They say you’re only as good as your last game. If that’s the case, Rex Grossman is the next coming of Mark Rypien. Meanwhile, the Redskins new look defense had Eli Manning flustered all game, sacking him four times.
— I saw this on Twitter from a Browns fan and I swear I’m not making this up. “The Cleveland Browns. Even when we’re supposed to win, we lose. Better yet, just make that all Cleveland sports.” They said it, I didn’t.
— Chicago and Detroit both took their NFC South opponents, Atlanta and Tampa Bay, to the woodshed. As for now, Jay Cutler’s knee is just fine and Matthew Stafford is still healthy. I think, on that last one.
— The Sunday night showdown of the Brothers Ryan went down to the wire. In the end, Rex beat out Rob in a game that saw Dallas completely nut up in the fourth quarter allowing 17 unanswered points. And while I hate putting losses on Romo, his goal line fumble and late interception stick out like Malcolm X at a Klan meeting. Maybe it was hunch before the game that let me know there was no chance in Harlem that Dallas would waltz out of tri-state area with a win on 9/11 of all days. Or maybe it was the same old Cowboys and their same mental mistakes rearing their ugly heads at the most inopportune of times.
What’s apparent is I support sports entities with fourth quarter inferiority complexes and years are being taken off my life as a result.