The first regular season week in the NFL was awesome as usual. No let down here, even with all the hype we give to football season now. The League delivers the goods for sure.
To start off the 2014 season, Thursday night saw defending Super Bowl Champs, the Seattle Seahawks, take on the Green Bay Packers. This game had the build up from last year’s game which featured the scab referees and the so called “Fail Mary”. This 2014 version of the matchup was not even close to coming down to a last second controversy. The Seahawks, for this game at least, were just in a another class than the Pack. That could change over the course of a long season. Green Bay could get on a roll and be a better match for the Champs. But after getting whooped 36-16, Aaron Rodgers and his crew have a long way to go to get on the Hawks’ level.
As the Sunday action got started I had a buffet of games to get settled into. Atlanta and New Orleans is a great NFL rivalry even though the Saints have owned Atlanta ever since Drew Brees and Sean Payton have been together in The Big Easy. The Falcons hoped to get the 2014 season kicked off on a better note than 2013, which saw the team crumble to a shell of themselves. The Saints had edged the Falcons in the prior season’s opening game and Arthur Blank felt like that one game set the tone for the year. The whole off season for the Birds involved being tougher as a team. This stemmed from the Saints late hit on Matt Ryan in that 2013 opener in which no Falcon came to the aid of their leader. This 2014 opener started out like last year with Atlanta unable to stop anyone from scoring at will. Drew Brees had all the time in the world to pass to whomever he wished. Matt Ryan had to buy time with some “annoying scrambling” as his line was barely able to give him enough time to get the ball out. The Falcons managed to keep the game close and in the second half they actually managed to get some pressure on Brees. Atlanta’s much maligned defensive backs made some key plays and the Birds won the turnover battle. The game went to over time where Matt Bryant sealed the deal with a 52 yard field goal to close out the visiting Saints 37-34. This game was a fantasy football dream with all the scoring and yards that were piled up.
In an upset in the AFC East, the Patriots were dropped by the fair weather Dolphins 33-20. New England went ahead early in this matchup but was held scoreless in the entire second half. That is a surprising stat from a Tom Brady led offense. Usually the guy gets on the board even with a bunch of no names as weapons. Maybe these underwhelming offensive players are finally going to hurt the Pats, but they did get Gronkowski back for this game. The biggest issue versus the Dolphins was the pressure from Cameron Wake. Brady was sacked twice by the defensive end and felt pressure more often than not from the Dolphins line.
In one of the national games of the week, San Francisco and Dallas faced off. The Cowboys allegedly have no defense and that proved true for the most part in this game. The 49ers got big play after big play in their passing game. They made the Cowboys look pretty silly along the way. Tony Romo certainly did not help his defense any though. He was a turnover factory of ineptness. I lost count at one point of how many picks he had thrown in such a short time span. That is not a good sign for a QB by the way. For the record he threw three interceptions overall. After the Boys fell so far behind, the game was pretty much a wrap. The final score shows a game that got closer on paper, but that is about it. The Niners had this game in the bag at halftime. The final was 28-17.
The Sunday Night feature game was the Broncos and the Colts. This one shaped up to be a good rematch from last year’s surprising win by Indy. But as Manning led Denver to a 24-0 lead, this one was a yawn for the first half unless you are a Broncos fan or have Julius Thomas on your fantasy team. However, the Colts have a guy named Andrew Luck who is not too shabby and was not to be outdone by his veteran counterpart, Manning. Luck brought his team back to within a touchdown but could not get them in the end zone on the final drive. Colts lose 31-24. Trent Richardson was a no show for Indy in this game, only gaining 20 yards on six carries. The Colts had to throw a ton to get back in the game but they have to get more out of the former Alabama star running back.
As for the rest of the games, the Eagles came back to beat a game Jacksonville team in Philly. Detroit laid waste to a Giants team that does not look much better than last year’s train wreck of a unit. Cincinnati edged Baltimore and Cleveland was barely topped by Pittsburgh. The Texans, Titans, Jets, and Vikings were all winners. The Panthers, without Cam Newton played well enough to beat division rival Tampa Bay. In the last part of the Monday Night double header, Arizona beat San Diego 18-17. Carson palmer led a long late drive for the go ahead score. Rivers and the Chargers had time to get down the field for a field goal but could not generate enough offense to get close.
The first week of the 2014 season is in the books and without much of a hesitation, Thursday Night Football is right around the corner. The feature game this week will be the Steelers and Ravens, who cut Ray Rice following the video release of his knockout punch of his girlfriend.