Sunday Evening Quick-Hitters: Reactions from Week 1 in the NFL

Every Sunday evening throughout the 2011 NFL season I’ll compile quick-hit reactions from the day that was in football. I vow to always overreact, side with sensationalism over rationalism, and draw conclusions based on small sample sizes instead of cold, hard facts. It’s the only way I know how to write…


Carolina Panthers Quarterback Cam Newton (1) laughs after running the ball during first half action, between the Miami Dolphins, and the Carolina Panthers at Sun Life Stadium in Miami, Florida on August 19th 2011. The Miami Dolphins beat the Carolina Panthers 20-10.. UPI/Susan Knowles

– According to every NFL analyst in America, there was a better chance of Cam Newton putting his pants on backwards than resembling anything even close to a quarterback. But lo and behold the kid can play a little. He completed 24-of-37 passes for 422 yards with two touchdowns and one interception, setting a record for most passing yards in a NFL debut. He also rushed eight times for 18 yards and scored on the goal line in the Panthers’ 28-21 loss the Cardinals. Thanks to Newton, Steve Smith looked rejuvenated after spending a year in NFL hell last season. Obviously the former Auburn product isn’t going to throw for 400-plus yards every week but even his biggest critics have to be impressed with how he performed in his debut. And hey, the young man even put his pants on straight, too.

– The Steelers, the Falcons and the Chiefs: What are three teams who apparently forgot that the preseason was only four weeks long, Alex? Give credit where credit is due – the Ravens, Bears and Bills were dominate on Sunday. But it’s not like any of those teams used black magic to fool the Steelers, Falcons and Chiefs, who were absolutely shocked that they had to suit up today. Those three teams, who all won their divisions a year ago, mind you, managed to make flying to the moon look easier than playing football.

– Speaking of the Bills, this team isn’t a pushover any more. Forty-one points on the road? Good grief, man. Ryan Fitzpatrick is just good enough to be dangerous and they have some offensive weapons in Steve Johnson, Fred Jackson and C.J. Spiller. Given how bad the offensive line looked in preseason, Chan Gailey has to be thrilled with his team’s performance. And the best part about the Bills today? They acted as if they expected that outcome. I dare say they were fun to watch.

– Not many people had the Bengals beating the Browns in Cleveland today, which is why they wind up in the “DIDN”T SEE THAT COMING” section. But I’m telling you, if Andy Dalton can play mistake free and just mange games in his first year, Cincinnati won’t be as bad as everyone expects.


Seattle Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll works the sidelines against the San Francisco 49ers during their NFL football game game in San Francisco, California, September 11, 2011. REUTERS/Robert Galbraith (UNITED STATES – Tags: SPORT FOOTBALL)

– Tell me Pete Caroll isn’t playing to win the Andrew Luck sweepstakes this season. I want to see him look someone in the face and tell them Tarvaris Jackson is a starting quarterback in the National Football League.

– Nobody told me it was Halloween today at Solider Field. It was cute the way Atlanta’s entire offensive line dressed up like revolving doors.

– Atlanta HC Mike Smith has received praise over the years for resting his veterans throughout the week so that they’re fresh on Sundays. But maybe if those vets practiced more they would actually know how to tackle somebody. The Falcons’ defenders might as well have ushered Matt Forte and Devin Hester to the end zone like they were walking bridesmaids down the aisle of a wedding. Because they had zero interest in tackling either player today.

– Wait, I’m not done with the Falcons. During the game, I watched Roddy White run directly into the backfield at the snap, turn around, and run right back to the same sideline in order to catch a pass for a 1-yard loss. I hope for the Falcons’ sake White ran the wrong route because if that was actually how the play was designed then this team is in for a long year with Mike Mularkey at the controls. I want to know who that play was supposed to fool: the Bears, or Falcon fans for believing their team actually employs an offensive coordinator.

– Jim Brown couldn’t have run behind the Giants’ offensive line today.

– Methinks this could be the second straight season Donovan McNabb will be benched for his ineffective play. How the Vikings managed to keep things close in San Diego despite McNabb only throwing for 39 yards is beyond me.

– Fort knox wouldn’t have stood upright behind the Steelers’ offensive line today.

– If anyone questions whether or not Peyton Manning has been one of the best on-field generals this game has ever seen, pop in the film of the Colts’ loss to the Texans on Sunday. Outside of Reggie Wayne’s ridiculous touchdown grab, there was nothing positive about Indy’s offense on Sunday. The Colts looked absolutely befuddled without Manning calling the shots. It’s simply a different team.

– A.J. Green’s touchdown may wind up going down as the easiest score in NFL history. Hey Cleveland defense, this isn’t T-ball. The officials don’t ask if everyone is ready before play can begin. Break the huddle and get into position so you don’t allow opponents to walk into the end zone.

– How long before Cleveland fans start ramping up the complaints that Mike Holmgren should have stayed at No. 6 last April and taken Julio Jones? Greg Little: 1 catch for 12 yards today in his debut.

– Speaking of the Browns: at no point should this team ever be 6.5-point favorites over anyone. Ever.

– Pretty slick of Mike Munchak and the Titans to give everyone the impression that Chris Johnson was going to be a big part of their offense in Week 1. After holding out throughout the preseason, the Titans barely used Johnson but because of Munchak’s deceiving words, the Jaguars still had to game plan for him anyway. Of course, that strategy did absolutely nothing to help the Titans on the scoreboard, but it was slick nonetheless.

– Mostly because of their ridiculous first-half schedule, the Rams were already in for a bumpy ride this season. And that was before Sam Bradford and Steven Jackson suffered injuries right out of the gates.

– Hey Carolina, next time a player suffers an Achilles’ injury, give him time to actually recover. If Jon Beason is lost for the season, and he may very well be, the Panthers have nobody to blame but themselves.

– Talk about adding injury to insult: Eric Berry’s knee injury could be serious. The Chiefs’ secondary is in for a long year.


Baltimore Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco throws a pass against the Pittsburgh Steelers in the first half of their NFL football game in Baltimore, Maryland September 11, 2011. REUTERS/Joe Giza (UNITED STATES – Tags: SPORT FOOTBALL)

– This was the game that Raven fans have been waiting to see for a while out of their team. A good Pittsburgh squad came to town and instead of Baltimore toying with them for a couple of quarters and losing in the end, the Ravens beat the Steelers’ ass up and down the field. Joe Flacco threw some of the best passes of his career and Ray Rice played like a man trying to prove a point against a defense that has shut him down over the years. If the Ravens play with this kind of consistency every week, they’re going to be tough to beat.

– Pass me some of that Lions Kool-Aid because damn it that stuff tastes fantastic. Detroit fans have waited a long time to see their team dominate anyone on the road like the Lions did today against the Bucs. And who was responsible for the majority of their success? Calvin Johnson, Matthew Stafford, Brandon Pettigrew and Jahvid Best – four players that should help transform this team into a contender soon (if not very soon).

– I’m not going to ramble on about the Texans’ victory because it came against a downtrodden Indianapolis team that’s about to suffer its worst season in over a decade. But I will say this: The Texans are the clear favorites to win the AFC South with Peyton Manning out of the way. They showed up today and did exactly what they were supposed to in crushing the will of a team that has tormented them for years. Now let’s see them play with that same fire every week.

– The Eagles house more weapons than the United States’ military. On every play Michael Vick, DeSean Jackson and LeSean McCoy could take one to the house. The only drawback to Philly’s offense is its O-line, but otherwise this team looks every bit as good as people thought they would in preseason.

– On Sunday, the Bears’ defense resembled the same unit that took them to the Super Bowl back in 2006. They were relentless, they swarmed to the football, and they pressured Matt Ryan for all four quarters. Everyone expects the Bears to drop off this season after reaching the NFC Championship Game a year ago. But if they play as well throughout the season as they did today, then it’s going to be a battle royal in the NFC North this year.

– Courage this: Jay Cutler is now 22-0 in his career in games when he finishes with a 100-plus passer rating. His offensive line is still shaky but the dude played his ass off today and didn’t give his critics much to write about.

– Cedric Benson rushed for 121 yards and a touchdown on 25 carries against the Browns. And he was in jail last week.

– The answer is “yes,” as in yes Mario Williams can play linebacker.

– Bruce Gradkowski is a terrible starter but man can that guy come off the bench and lead come-from-behind victories. I swear his record as a reliever is 44-0.

– Don’t be fooled by his overall stat line: Michael Vick was incredible this afternoon in St. Louis. The Eagles’ offensive line has little to no cohesion but Vick still managed to dazzle. How pumped do you think he’s going to be next Sunday night to play on his old carpet in Atlanta? And he’ll deserve to play well there, too. It’s not like he screwed that franchise out of millions of dollars and precise time by making them watch Joey Harrington play quarterback for a full season. No, yeah Mike, you deserve this moment…

– Hey, there’s Beanie Wells!

– Granted, it came against a shaky Carolina defense but the Cardinals couldn’t have asked for a better debut out of Kevin Kolb (18-of-27, 309 yards, 2 TDs, 0 INTs).

– The most underrated defense in the league? Jacksonville. The additions that team made in the offseason have already paid dividends.

– Wade Phillips is going to face bigger challenges than Kerry Collins in the upcoming months, but he’s already made a difference for Houston’s defense.

– Dating back to last season, for the first time in 17 weeks C.J. Spiller actually showed glimpses of the special player he was at Clemson.

– Congrats on your first win, Jim Harbaugh. They don’t get much easier than that.

– Rex Grossman: 21-of-34 passing for 305 yards and two touchdowns against the Giants. Maybe wily ‘ol Mike Shanahan does know what he’s doing. Nah, he’s still bat-sh*t crazy…

Follow the Scores Report editors on Twitter @clevelandteams and @bullzeyedotcom.

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