Finally…football is back!
The 2011 NFL season kicked off last Thursday night with the past two Super Bowl Champs (2009: Saints, 2010: Packers) facing off against each other. This game really set the tone for the 2011 season. It was a fast-paced, high-scoring and high-energy football game.
Aaron Rodgers came out and struck quickly in the first quarter with thee TD passes. After trailing 28-17 at halftime, New Orleans got off to a slow start but battled back to bring the score to 34-42 in the fourth quarter. Brees led the Saints down the field with one last drive to try and tie the game. With only seconds remaining the Saints tried to pound the ball across goal line with rookie RB Mark Ingram, only for him to be denied as the final seconds came off the clock. Green Bay won, 42-34, in what may be a playoff preview.
The first Sunday in 2011 turned out to be a great one. There were so many great match-ups and new players with new teams to watch. There were a few games and a few players that stood out this week:
Carolina Panthers @ Arizona Cardinals
This game featured two teams with new quarterbacks and some questions to answer. It was the debut of the number one overall pick in the 2011 NFL Draft, Cam Newton. Newton squared off against Kevin Kolb who was traded to the Arizona Cardinals once the lockout was lifted. This game was a back and forth battle that was ultimately decided by an 89 yard punt return by Cardinals CB (fifth overall pick) Patrick Peterson.
Newton finished the day completing 24 of 27 passes for 422 yards and threw 2 TD and 1 INT. His favorite target was none other than long time Panther Steve Smith, who reeled in 8 catches for 178 yards and caught both of Newton’s TD passes.
Arizona won the game, 28-21, but Newton showed that he can play QB in the NFL and should be exciting to watch for the remainder of the 2011 season. Not to mention it gave the Panthers faithful some hope for the future.
Dallas Cowboys @ New York Jets
The Sunday night game featured the New York Jets hosting the Dallas Cowboys. With the game under the national spotlight, the J-E-T-S Jets Jets Jets showed their resolve and came from behind to win late, 27-24.
The Cowboys came out with something to prove as second year WR Dez Bryant nabbed 3 balls for 71 yards a TD. Dallas was on top 7-0 after the first quarter until Sanchez got things working and found TE Dustin Keller in the end zone for a TD.
At the half the Cowboys still lead 10-7, but there was a whole half of football left.
When the second half started, Dallas was driving down the field and Romo threw up a 36 yard pass to WR Miles Austin who was being covered by CB Antonio Cromartie. Both players were jockeying for possession of the ball in the end zone and then an official signaled a TD rather than a touchback, even though it appeared that both players possessed the ball (NFL rule states alternate possession goes to the offensive player).
The Jets responded with a field goal and sent the game into the fourth quarter with the Cowboys up 17-10. Dallas drove down the field once again, capping off the drive with a Felix Jones 1 yard rushing TD, pushing their lead to 24-10.
Being that it was the tenth anniversary of 9/11/01, the New York Jets would not go down without a fight.
Sanchez led the Jets down the field and delivered a 26 yard TD pass to newly added WR Plaxico Burress (who has not played an NFL game in 3 years). The Jets retained some hope as the score stood at 24-17, and they forced the Cowboys to punt.
Jets special teams coach Mike Westhoff drew up a phenomenal play as third string RB Joe McKnight came untouched down the middle of the line and blocked the Cowboys punt which was scooped up by Isaiah Trufant and returned 18 yards for a TD. MetLife Stadium erupted with energy as the Jets tied the game in the fourth quarter.
After Dez Bryant had an outstanding first quarter, the Jets decided to send him to Revis Island for the rest of the game where Bryant had his feet up and a cold drink in his hand, just relaxing. Revis held Bryant to no catches for the rest of the game. Revis said that he sometimes gets bored because no one throws his way (which is mostly why he had zero interceptions last year).
On 1st and 10 at the Dallas 41 yard line, Romo was trying to drive his team down the field for a fourth quarter victory until he forced a pass to Bryant which was intercepted by the one and only Darrelle Revis. This set up a game winning 50 yard field goal by former Cowboys kicker Nick Folk (how’s that for revenge?).
In the end it was a great game to watch as the first NFL Sunday came to a close on such a significant and meaningful Sunday in American history.
Pittsburgh Steelers @ Baltimore Ravens
Sunday, bloody Sunday. This is the biggest, baddest, nastiest rivalry in the NFL. These teams flat out do not like each other and have built up a huge dislike for one another over the years. Since 2008, the Ravens and Steelers average difference in score has been four points (now that’s what I call close). The Ravens have often been on the losing end of those games, and struggle to put the Steelers away when Roethlisberger is at the helm.
Well…not this Sunday.
The Ravens came out and absolutely dominated. There really is no other word for what Baltimore displayed at home vs. Pittsburgh on Sunday. The Ravens set a new franchise record, forcing seven turnovers. They also recorded four forced fumbles (two by Terrell Suggs alone to go with his three sacks) and three interceptions (two by Ed Reed and one by Ray Lewis).
Not only was the Ravens defense on fire but the offense was electric was well. Joe Flacco was 17 of 29 for 224 yards and threw 3 TDs while Ray Rice rushed 19 times for 107 yards and 1 TD (he also had 4 catches for 42 yards and a receiving TD).
M&T Bank was rumbling all day with energy as Baltimore put a good old fashioned whooping on the Steelers. The 35-7 final score was the Ravens’ biggest margin of victory over Pittsburgh in franchise history (+28). If all that wasn’t enough, punter/place holder Sam Koch jogged into the end zone untouched on a designed fake PAT two point conversion scramble in the third quarter.
We talked about this game all pre-season and it lived up to the hype (at least for Ravens fans). This was an all-around great game by the Ravens, which has set the tone for their 2011 campaign.
Offensive Player of the Week: Tom Brady, QB, New England Patriots
- 32/48, 517 yards, 4 TDs, 1 INT, QB Rating 121.6
- 1 rush, 3 yards
- Tied NFL record for longest pass TD (99 yards)
Defensive Player of the Week: Brian Urlacher, MLB, Chicago Bears
- 10 tackles (6 solo), 1 TFL, 1 INT, fumbled recovered for 12 yard TD
- 33 years old and still a dominating MLB in the NFL
Quote of the Week: Ron Jaworski, MNF Football on Chad Henne’s pass
Ron Jaworski “SH*T, you have to get rid of this ball. Just a split second quicker.” This was in reference to QB Chad Henne throwing a delayed and overthrown pass to WR Brandon Marshall in the end zone. I personally don’t have a problem with Ron’s comment on the play. He wasrelaxed and commentating on the game and happened to slip up. Of course he apologized for his comment as some were outraged (over the “S” word…come on, really?). Keep doing your thing JAWS! We love it!
New Section: This year I have a new weekly section called “Ouch” just read along:
- Donovan McNabb is on pace to pass Tom Brady’s week 1 passing yardage total in week 15…OUCH
- San Diego Chargers kicker Nate Kaeding tears his ACL and is out for the season in the opening kick-off vs. the Vikings…OUCH
- The Houston Texans whoop the Indianapolis Colts 34-7 (Colts held scoreless until 9 minutes remaining in the the 4th quarter)…OUCH
As Week 1 of the NFL (which spanned from Thursday night until early Tuesday morning) is now officially in the books, we love the season we have thus far. We cannot wait to see what week 2 has in store. Thanks for reading and check back soon!