You gotta hand it to the NFL. No matter how much they screw up all week or all month or all year, come Sundays in the fall they deliver.
Upsets, comebacks, last season finishes, overtime, week 1 had it all.
And I have to say, I was right there with Fox’s announcer when, as the Falcons kicked a last season field goal to send their game with the Saints into overtime, he exclaimed, “This game’s giving me goose bumps!”
This Week’s Sucked And Won: LeGarrette Blount, RB (PIT). 4 carries for 6 yards and zero receptions. This guy’s supposed to be part of a one-two punch.
Nice game, rook. Highly touted rookie WR Brandin Cooks delivered for the Saints with 7 catches for 77 yards and a touchdown. Highly anticipated rookie QB Derek Carr did a fine job for the Raiders, going 20-32 for 151 yards and 2 TDs with no picks.
But the best debut was by highly unknown (and undrafted) rookie WR Allen Hurns, who had 4 catches for 110 yards and 2 TDs for the Jaguars.
Shocking realization of the week: When the Jaguars jumped out to a 14-0 1st quarter lead, it was their biggest lead in a game since 2012.
Way to channel your inner Mike Alstott! Tampa Bay RB Jorvorskie Lane had 13 career carries for 13 yards coming into this season, but he promptly took a handoff out of the upback position in the first quarter against Carolina and ran 54 yards. Nice run for a 5’11” guy who weighs in at 258.
This Week’s Great But Lost: Steve Smith, WR (BAL). 7 catches for 118 yards and a touchdown. Reports of his washed-up ‘ness are greatly exaggerated.
Fans of balls had to love Jaguars’ coach Gus Bradley’s call to go for it on fourth and short with about 7:00 to go in the game and his team down 7. Maybe this is a call most teams wouldn’t make, but I thought it was guts and, yeah, ballsy.
Thursday Pick: Pittsburgh (+2.5) @Baltimore (MGM Mirage)
The Steelers narrowly escaped with a win against Cleveland, while the Ravens fell short in a comeback attempt vs. Cincinnati. A staggering ten of the last eleven regular season games between these teams have been decided by three points or less. The twelfth game in that stretch was decided by four. With the Ravens needing the game more, I’ll take that side. By three, of course.
Baltimore Ravens 27 Pittsburgh Steelers 24
“It’s about my only move. The cat’s out now. They all know. They’re going to be playing the cutback.” – Lions QB Matt Stafford, on his 3rd quarter 5 yard touchdown run vs. the Giants.
“I know for a fact that being with him since the incident and working with him, knowing him for a lot of years, he’s definitely growing and maturing, I’m not going to abandon him now. I’m going to be a friend and help him in his growth and development. But I’m definitely ashamed watching that.” – Ravens RB Justin Forsett, on Ray Rice.
“It was like a home game for us. It was awesome. We travel well.” – 49ers OT Joe Staley, on the number of 49er fans at Texas Stadium on Sunday.
“We have issues dealing with an up-tempo pace from a communication standpoint. The big thing is, whatever is called we have to communicate. Communication is integral to execution. I thought we could have communicated better.” – Steelers coach Mike Tomlin. I think he could have communicated that better.
“What should we do now that the Bears season is over?” – Chicago Tribune reporter Steve Rosenbloom’s tongue-in-cheek headline, aimed at “sky is falling” Bears fans.
“Bottom line. I’m going to be honest with you. I gave him a lot of things. He’s not the caliber of player I made him look like today. It wasn’t all him. Trust me. Trust me. It wasn’t all him.” – Eagles CB Cary Williams, explaining that Allen Hurns, who burnt him like toast, isn’t actually that good. Umm, what does that say about you, Cary?
“He’s so shifty, it’s like somebody controls him with a joy stick.” – Cardinals QB Carson Palmer, on rookie WR John Brown.
“We can’t get ahead of ourselves. It’s just one win. Remember what happened after the Patriots game last year, we lost two in a row and missed the playoffs. We don’t want to get too high or too low on this win. We’ve got a long way to go.” Miami WR Mike Wallace, advocating caution following Miami’s big win.