Snap Judgments (cont.)
Can't decide if the most spectacular play of Week 1 was that diving, airborne interception by Giants safety Deon Grant near the goal line early in Carolina's road loss to the Giants, or Bucs rookie Mike Williams' tip-drill-turned-touchdown-catch near the back edge of the end zone against Cleveland. Both were things of beauty.
I don't think Bears fans need worry any more about whether Forte, whose explosiveness has returned to 2008 levels. Forte took that little swing pass from Jay Cutler late in the first half and simply ran away from the Lions defenders en route to a breath-taking 89-yard touchdown catch. The Forte wheels are just fine, folks.
If I told you Friday that Andre Johnson would catch just three passes for 33 yards against the Colts, would you have predicted a 10-point Texans' win? Me neither. (See Foster, Arian).
Not all 0-1 clubs are created equal, and no team will be dealing with a more crushing Week 1 disappointment than Detroit. Not only did the Lions lose at Chicago under dubious circumstances, but also they lost promising second-year quarterback Matthew Stafford with a throwing shoulder injury. Backup Shaun Hill played well in relief, but if he has to play much for Detroit this season, any chance for a steppingstone six-win season is gone for the Lions.
I suppose the Julius Peppers signing has already paid off to some degree for the Bears. It was a Peppers sack that knocked Stafford out of the game. I would say significantly weakening the prospects of one of your division opponents in Week 1 qualifies as a meaningful contribution.
That ought to tamp down the case of playoff fever that had been building in Oakland all preseason. What an ugly showing on both sides of the ball in the Raiders' 38-13 egg-laying at Tennessee. That looked like the same old Raiders -- not the upgraded roster that I predicted would contend for an AFC wild card spot.
It's no great embarrassment to lose at Tennessee, but Oakland was a paltry 3 of 16 on third or fourth down, with 151 net yards passing; and new Raiders quarterback Jason Campbell wowed no one with one interception and a fumble lost.
I saw both calls numerous times, live and via replay, and I still didn't see the ball break the plane of the goal on Wes Welker's second touchdown catch in New England and that Jahvid Best touchdown carry for the Lions. Both plays were reviewed and upheld as touchdowns, but can we please fast-track the notion of putting a microchip into the game ball, NFL? It's time, and the technology exists.
So when the Texans and Colts did their little pre-game show of NFLPA solidarity on Sunday, lifting one index finger in unison, the fans on hand in Houston reportedly booed. No surprise there. If the players believe the fans will side with either party in the league's looming labor standoff, they're not too swift on the uptake.
The fans just want their football without interruption, and I think any reminders of the potential trouble to come is going to elicit a building sense of wrath.
And for the record, I'll believe in the players' unity once they don't crack by August or so next year, once the owners have locked them out for five months. Until then, pregame displays such as holding up an index finger, en masse, deserve the heading of 'empty gesture.'
They say every year is different in the NFL, and you don't have to convince anyone of that in Indianapolis, Denver or Minnesota. Last year, the Colts started 14-0, the Broncos got off to a 6-0 getaway, and the Vikings were also 6-0 before suffering their first defeat. But all three lost their openers and won't be doing the undefeated thing.
Watching Bob Sanders get hurt and leave the game at Houston with an elbow injury in the first quarter, all you could think was: Well that didn't take long. After missing almost all of last season, the injury-plagued Colts safety was finally healthy again and expected to wreak particular havoc on behalf of the Indy secondary this year.
But maybe not, and that will be a blow to the Colts' plans, even though reserve safety Melvin Bullitt is a more-than-capable replacement.
Weird, weird day for my Offensive Rookie of the Year pick, Buffalo running back C.J. Spiller. He had seven rushes for six yards, with a long gain of six yards. He caught four passes for eight yards, with a long gain of nine. I didn't see that much of the Dolphins-Bills, but I'm guessing Spiller spent a good bit of his first day in the NFL in reverse.
It was not terribly considerate of the Falcons to make future Hall of Fame tight end Tony Gonzalez wait well into the third quarter to make his first catch of the season, which doubled as the 1,000th of his stellar career. Gonzalez already went the entire offseason stuck on 999 catches, and adding to his anticipation, an earlier reception was wiped out because he stepped out of bounds during his route, before coming back in to make the grab.
Really, Logan Mankins? You walked away from a fat, new contract extension in New England because you couldn't bring yourself to issue a public apology to the Krafts, after questioning their integrity earlier this year in the course of your contract standoff?
And maybe the Krafts aren't exactly blameless in this either. Mankins reportedly issued a private apology to Robert and Jonathan Kraft before the deal was completed, but the Krafts wanted more. Sounds like both sides cut off their nose to spite their face.
And as for you, Darrelle Revis, are you tone deaf? You talk about your next potential holdout less than a week after ending your first holdout after 35-plus days? Way to put the focus back on the field and return to the task at hand of helping the Jets win a Super Bowl. No snack for you this week in New York.
Absolutely loved those Kelly-green throwback jerseys and helmets worn by the Eagles on Sunday against Green Bay. No wonder the 1960 Eagles -- who were honored Sunday at Lincoln Financial Field -- won the last NFL title in Philadelphia franchise history. They looked too good to lose.
The Patriots' young secondary gave Bill Belichick reason for concern in the preseason, but it really wasn't hurt against Cincinnati until New England led 24-0 and was in back-pedal mode. Let's see how Week 2 at the Jets goes, but if the defensive backs survive that game, you have to like New England's chances of winning the AFC East title.
I think Wes Welker is going to be fine, so let's all stop talking about the knee at this point. Tom Brady looked locked and loaded and ready to play this year, too. I suppose a lucrative contract extension does a quarterback's mindset considerable good.
Pretty efficient day for a quarterback who hasn't always been so accurate, Jacksonville's David Garrard. The Jags' somewhat embattled starter was a cool 16 of 21 for 170 yards and three touchdown passes in the 21-17 home-opening win over Denver.
So, who needs Tim Tebow in Jacksonville?
That Steelers offense remains a work in progress with novice Dennis Dixon at quarterback. But that Pittsburgh defense might be as disruptive as ever. Holding Matt Ryan and the Falcons to just three field goals is no easy feat. The Steelers did what they had to do, though, logging a 15-9 overtime win, and now they're just one win away from at least handing the reins back to Ben Roethlisberger at .500 after four games.
The offensive issues that plagued Carolina all preseason haven't exactly evaporated with the arrival of the regular season. The Panthers still can't challenge a defense with their Matt Moore-led passing game, and even the vaunted Carolina running game was hardly against a factor in its 31-18 loss at the Giants. And now Moore has a concussion to deal with, meaning rookie second-round pick Jimmy Clausen might get the starting nod in Week 2.