The first Sunday of the NFL regular season is in the books. Check out some highlights, as well as scores and Monday Night Football predictions.
Houston, We Don’t Have a Problem
Yesterday’s game between the Colts at the Texans was one of my Sunday surprises. Indianapolis had defeated Houston in 15 of their 16 meetings before yesterday.
Carried by the legs of Arian Foster, the Texans were able to overcome Peyton Manning’s career day. Foster lived up to his preseason hype with a record breaking performance. He had a franchise record 231 rushing yards on 33 carries, and all of his three touchdowns came in the second half. The Texans gained a total of 355 yards on offense, with 257 coming on the ground. Of their 23 first downs, 15 of them were earned on rushing plays. This is a different team than we are used to seeing. Last season, quarterback Matt Schaub threw for a league high 4,770 yards. In the Houston home opener, he had only nine completions for 107 yards, one touchdown, and an interception. On the other side of the ball, defensive end Mario Williams recorded his first sack of the year. While they only sacked Manning twice, the Texans’ defense was able to apply plenty of pressure on him.
Manning had a great game statistically. He went 40-57 for 433 yards and three touchdowns. His 57 attempts was a career high. Austin Collie, Dallas Clark, and Reggie Wayne each had a touchdown grab. Collie had a career high 11 catches for 163 yards, but he also had a critical fumble. After making a big catch inside the 15 yard line, he took a bigger hit from safety Bernard Pollard, turning the ball over one a drive where the Colts could have cut the deficit to 20-17. Instead, Houston went up 27-10 on the following drive. Joseph Addai had only 44 rushing yards. While the Colts survived last year with a less than spectacular rushing offense, they will need to have a more balanced offense next week, even though Manning has won his share of games almost by himself.
Taking Care of Business & Working Overtime
The Atlanta Falcons and the Pittsburgh Steelers gave us the first overtime game in the 2010 season. This game was definitely a defensive struggle, as neither offense was able to find any rhythm. Falcons kicker Matt Bryant matched Jeff Reed of the Steelers during regulation as each made three field goals.
Michael Turner ran for only 42 yards on 19 carries (only a 2.2 average). Matt Ryan threw for 252 yards, and an interception. Luckily, receiver Roddy White had a good game. As one of my fantasy receivers, White had 13 catches for 111 yards. Tony Gonzalez became the first tight end to reach 1,000 career receptions.
The Steelers found a way to win without Ben Roethlisberger, who started his four game suspension. Dennis Dixon got the game start, and was able to manage the game. Veteran receiver Hines Ward made a few nice catches to help his young QB. The unanimous Player of the Game was running back Rashard Mendenhall. He finished with 120 rushing yards, including a 50-yard game winning touchdown in the first few minutes of overtime. Pro Bowl safety Troy Polamalu added a pick. Linebacker James Harrison had a fumble return for a touchdown, but it was ruled an incomplete pass as Ryan’s arm was coming forward. While it may not be pretty, Pittsburgh picks up a big win while awaiting Big Ben’s return.
After Further Review…
Normally, I wouldn’t take time to review a game between the Bears and the Lions. However, we can’t overlook the controversy that decided the game. Jahvid Best gave the Lions a 14-3 lead with a pair of touchdown runs. Bears’ running back Matt Forte answered by taking a screen pass 89 yards, outrunning all of the Lions defenders to the end zone with just over a minute left in the half.
On the Lions’ following drive, quarterback Matt Stafford was sacked by Julius Peppers, fumbling the ball, and dislocating his shoulder, and will miss at least a month. Another Chicago star defender Lance Briggs forced a fumble on a sack in the fourth quarter. Backup QB Shaun Hill lost the ball on his own one-yard line. The Lions defense showed up on the next four plays, keeping the Bears out of the end zone. Chicago turned the ball over after a failed fourth down attempt trailing 14-13. Inside the two minute warning, Forte caught another touchdown as the Bears take a 19-14 lead.
This sets the scene for the questionable call. Hill drove the offense to Chicago’s 25-yard line. With less than 30 seconds remaining, Hill throws a jump ball to Calvin Johnson, who out jumps corner Zachary Bowman for what appears to be the game winning reception. He clearly has possession of the ball in his right hand as his left hand, both feet, both knees, and his rear end hit the ground. Johnson then allows the ball to hit the ground in an attempt to break his fall, and loses the ball. According to NFL rules, the receiver must maintain control of the ball through the air and as he falls to the ground. Whereas Johnson thought he had a catch after his feet and other body parts hit the ground, he didn’t control the ball throughout the entire motion of the catch. I personally agree with the call. Whether he knows the rules or not, Johnson must know if the ball hits the ground, it is an incomplete pass, and should have taken the fall and used both hands to hold the ball. Take a look for yourselves here. What do you think, catch or incomplete?
Disappointment in Dallas
My Game of the Week ended in a favorable fashion. Again, it was a low scoring affair, as the Redskins won 13-7. Donovan McNabb earned his first win in a red and yellow uniform, rather than his old green and white. He completed less than 50% of his passes for
only 171 yards, not the box score he was hoping for. He did show his mobility that made him a dual threat in his youth, taking off for a 17 scramble on his first drive. Washington’s only touchdown came on a fumble return by corner DeAngelo Hall. With time winding down in the half, Tony Romo flipped the ball to Tashard Choice, who was stripped by Hall, giving the ‘Skins a 10-0 lead going into the half.
The highlight of Dallas’ night was the lone touchdown throw by Romo. Inside the five-yard line, Romo found star receiver Miles Austin in the back of the end zone in the third quarter to come within three of the Redskins. Austin had 10 catches for 146 yards. After that, neither offense found any success. Dallas had a chance to win the game as Romo found Roy Williams in the end zone with no time left, but the score was called back when tackle Alex Barron was flagged for holding.
What does this game tell us about both teams? Is Dallas heading down another road of failure? They have plenty of talent around them, but can never seem to get the job done. As for Washington, can McNabb and the Redskins make a run for the NFC East title? Or was this just a lucky win due to a poor performance by Dallas?
Remaining Scores from Sunday
- Cleveland- 14
- Tampa Bay- 17
- Miami- 15
- Buffalo- 10
- Cincinnati- 24
- New England- 38
- Denver- 17
- Jacksonville- 24
- Oakland- 13
- Tennessee- 38
- Carolina- 18
- NY Giants- 31
- Arizona- 17
- St. Louis- 13
- Green Bay- 27
- Philadelphia- 20
- San Francisco- 6
- Seattle- 31
Monday Night Doubleheader
Baltimore visits the New York Jets in the New Meadowlands Stadium. Darrelle Revis makes his return after signing his big contract. Anquan Boldin will make his first start with the Ravens. This game will be a battle between two extremely strong defenses. I predict a low scoring affair. Rex Ryan’s hardnosed defense will get to Joe Flacco and the Baltimore offense. Give the Jets their first win to open the new field.
The later game tonight will send San Diego to Kansas City. These AFC West rivals will feature some big names at running back. The Chargers will be without Ladainian Tomlinson, who will play in the first game with New York. Rookie Ryan Mathews from Fresno State will replace the future Hall of Fame back. Without Vincent Jackson, who is still holding out, the Chargers should aim to run the ball. The Chiefs have two 1,000-yard rushers in the backfield. Jamaal Charles had 1,120 yards and seven touchdowns in 2009. Former Jet Thomas Jones had career highs in yards and touchdowns last year. However, the Chargers should take this game as they aim for another AFC West title.
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