New England Patriots 14, Kansas City Chiefs 10
Alright, to avoid the obvious, let’s do this: second biggest story from this game? How about New England’s defense stifling the Chiefs inside the 10-yard line to end the game. Imagine how demoralizing a last-minute collapse would have been, given the first biggest story. ******* Speaking of….Tom Brady’s ACL is the most significant injury to strike the NFL in my lifetime. Thank goodness it didn’t come during the preseason––I’ve about had it with the “shorten the preseason?” debate. ******* The talk now is How will New England move forward? Brady’s injury is like alcohol poisoning to the Super Bowl hangover they’re already fighting. ******* Matt Cassel had a sturdy performance off the bench, but the tape on him is out there now. For backup quarterbacks, it’s like they’re escaped convicts who get 24 hours to run before the tracking device they’re unknowingly carrying is activated. Once the tracking device––i.e. the tape––surfaces, things change. ******* And don’t get too excited about Cassel’s Week 1 performance. Keep in mind, this was the record-setting Patriots offense, playing in perfect weather at home against a callow Kansas City secondary. Fourteen points? ******* Then again, as the Patriots will come to show this season, a win’s a win. Like old times, the style points no longer matter for Bill Belichick’s team. ******* Deltha O’Neal was big for the Pats in this game. He seems like the type of player who could flourish after a change of scenery. ******* Jerod Mayo had his hands full with all the presnap communication, but he held up just fine. ******* For some reason, Pats fans have been excited about LaMont Jordan in recent weeks. Sunday showed that the veteran runner they should really be excited about is Sammy Morris. He tore it up last year before going down with an injury in October. Morris’s versatility will be a huge plus offensively, especially now that the running backs have become ten times more important. ******* The key guy is obviously Laurence Maroney. He ran with great burst and vision Sunday.
Atlanta Falcons 34, Detroit Lions 21
Perhaps it’s unfair to start with a downer, but Falcons fans, don’t get too carried away with the results here. This game was more of a case of one team simply being more prepared than the other. The Falcons are still the fourth best team in the NFC South. And the Lions are, apparently, still the Lions. ******* Matt Ryan was poised in his debut. Facing Detroit’s mundane Cover 2 defense helped. ******* Having a rushing attack that bludgeoned the Lions for 318 yards didn’t hurt either. ******* When I saw Ryan’s first touchdown strike, my initial thought was not “Wow, what a throw-catch-and-run,” but rather, “Wow, Michael Jenkins is starting! How often does a team value downfield blocking ahead of actual receiving skills? ******* It was in a losing effort, but Calvin Johnson looked fantastic posting 107 yards on seven receptions. I don’t think people completely realize how great he can be. ******* There’s a reason Rudi Johnson was available for Detroit to sign. Kevin Smith will undoubtedly be the featured ballcarrier for this team before Halloween (his 14 rushing attempts to Johnson’s three show he maybe already is). Smith is a pure runner. He is great at nothing but good at everything. That’s not a bad thing––in fact, it once worked out quite well for another running back named Smith.
Baltimore Ravens 17, Cincinnati Bengals 10
If you haven’t read the NFLTouchdown.com preview on the Bengals yet, Cincy fit right into the theme laid out for them in that report. What the hell has happened to Marvin Lewis’s club? ******* Carson Palmer looked really frustrated all afternoon. ******* If you’re thinking that the NFL needs to pull the stick out of its butt on the whole Chad Ocho Cinco thing, realize that the league is likely dragging its feet on the name change because of the enormous ramifications it has with apparel and merchandise. Every 85 Bengals jersey that Reebok made that has the name C. Johnson on the back essentially becomes worthless once the NFL allows the Ocho Cinco nameplate to be unveiled. That’s why they’re being overly cautious. ******* Of course, no one will care what name is on jersey 85 if the guy wearing it only catches one pass. ******* As bad as Cincy’s offense looked, the 11 starting defenders should be arrested for stealing game checks. Did you see the effort they put forth on Mark Clayton’s double reverse touchdown run? Or Joe Flacco’s 38-yard TD scamper? ******* And how does fullback Le’Ron McClain rush for 86 yards against you? ******* Flacco showed that he has the ability to buy second and third chances with his legs. That’s always a valuable tool for any young quarterback.