I like most football fans woke up today an hour before my alarm was scheduled to go off. I couldn’t sleep. Sleep suddenly wasn’t important anymore and that’s coming from someone who loves to squeeze out as much sleep as possible. I had to get up and put on one of the 23502375 different pregame shows to get a pulse on what was to come on the most glorious Sunday of the season. I divulged as much as I could before my girlfriend took over the main TV in my apartment (it’s a good thing she has to work on Sundays). Seriously who watches Married to Jonas period.
Watching it for 30 seconds did make me wonder: couldn’t Kevin Jonas find someone better than that girl? It also made me wonder: could E! make it any more obvious that every single reality television show on their network is just a bunch of scripted situations?
In sports there are no scripted situations (besides in the NBA) and football is the most exciting American sport. It’s like Christmas morning, but with grown men wearing jerseys, wings, cheerleaders, Goose, more wings, sadly more Goose, Faith Hill (even though the new version of the SNF song sucks), beer (if you haven’t drank on Saturday because of college football), shots(for when your team takes an unexpected dive in the opening week. All of Detroit and Philadelphia featured a lot of drunk people today.), gambling, and most importantly fantasy football.
Game of the week
Just when you thought the replacement officials were going to be forgotten about, they struck with a storm of mediocrity in the best game of the first Sunday in the 2012 season. Throughout the Packers-49ers game people at the bar I watched at bitched and complained for good reason. The refs did the worst thing that they can possibly do.
Make themselves part of the game.
Even with the noticeable third team on the field, the two favorites to come out of the NFC played one hell of a game. I mean the game had everything you could want:
Randy Moss was relevant, at least for the first quarter.
David Akers tied the record for the longest field goal in NFL history with a 63 yard boot, which got an assist from the crossbar and then the same crossbar swated Vernon Davis’ dunk attempt away in Dikembe Mutombo like fashion.
Alex Smith and Aaron Rodgers were locked in a classic quarterback duel, which had a very unexpected outcome. That’s right Smith the former number one overall pick in 2005 played perhaps the best game of his career. The stat line might be unimpressive by today’s standards (20/26, 211 yds, 2 TDs), but the key is the 0 next to INTs. It finally looks like he is comfortable being under center.
Smith only needs to be a game manager type of quarterback because the defense is too damn good to give up a lot of points. Think about it, the best offense in the entire league STRUGGLED to put up 22 points, AT HOME. This is the best defense the league has seen since maybe the Ravens back when they made their Super Bowl run in the 2000 season. It is impossible for a defense to shut teams down like that Baltimore team, because of you know the fact that you can’t lay a hand on the quarterback or send a message to a receiver. Good luck trying to figure out how to sustain offense against this Niners defense, it could prove to be an impossible task.
Quick note on the Packers: What are the chances that the Pack start off the season 0-2? I think they could be pretty good because the Bears have played the Packers well for the past two seasons and you know Chicago wants to make a huge statement. Great matchup for the first Thursday night game of the year.
No one can ever, ever doubt that Adrian Peterson is anything but physical freak. Just eight months after suffering a torn ACL and MCL All-Day not only returned to the Vikings sideline, he started the game, carried the ball 17 times for 84 yards and two touchdowns, and made every single person who passed on him in their fantasy draft say, “Fuck, I made a huge mistake.” He also made every person who drafted him in fantasy say today “Fuck, I made a huge mistake not starting him.” I was one of those people, needless to say I got whooped.
Now we didn’t see any of the trademark cuts from AP, but he was running straight ahead at full speed like a bull that’s been stuck inside the box kicking at the door waiting to get let out. This is a true miracle of modern science. Twenty to thirty years ago his career could have been over and now he has a chance to show everyone that he didn’t miss a beat. Unfathomable.
Blane Gabbert #Againstthegrain. Sticking with the Vikings-Jaguars game let’s talk about Blane Gabbert who actually showed some signs of life today. With 20 seconds left on the clock Gabbert fired a 39-yard pass right into the hands of Cecil Shorts who found the front right corner of the end zone to give the Jags a 21-20 lead at the time. It’s a shame that Jacksonville couldn’t hold onto the lead especially after Gabbert gave them this line:
23/39, 260 yds, 2 TDs, QB rating of 96.1
Maybe Andrew “Mclovin” Perloff from the Dan Patrick Show was sipping the right flavor of kool-aid this offseason.
The Madden curse plants its seeds. During the first half of the early games there was one common discussion point surrounding the Lions-Rams game. What the hell was Matt Stafford doing? The flamethrowing quarterback turned a seemingly simple easy win into the classic “we’re going to lose week one to a bad team because I’m trying to live up to expectations” (don’t worry we’ll get to Michael soon enough).
Stafford threw three bad interceptions (the third one was especially bad) and he tried to throw a fourth in the second half, but then some Detroit magic happened (ssshhh keep this a secret, it wasn’t magic, the Rams just aren’t a very good team right now. Though major props to my boy Sam Bradford on that 23 yard pass late in the fourth quarter to Brandon Gibson. A couple more of them and I might reconsider my thoughts on the Rams).
With two minutes left Stafford realized that hey I’m playing against a swiss cheese secondary let’s not force anymore throws. He guided the Lions on an eight play, eighty yard drive that culminated with a Kevin Smith four yard catch for a game winning touchdown. A loss would have haunted the Lions for the rest of the season.
Oh Michael. Haunting is a word that is typically use when discussing a nightmare, which is what today almost was for the Philadelphia Eagles. Instead Andy Reid gets to escape Cleveland without having to go into Joe Girardi mode on any Philadelphia reporters. Say Vick and McCoy don’t lead the Eagles on a 91 yard game winning drive; these would have probably been some of the questions that Big Red would have faced:
Andy: “The time is yours.”
Q: “Andy can you explain the 58-30 run-pass ratio even though the Browns were the third worst team against the run last year and second against the pass?”
A: “You know, I have to do a better job. I thought we could expose their pass D.”
Q: “Shady only had seven carries in the first half, why so few touches?”
A: “We wanted to test them through the air and I don’t want to wear Shady out. He played a hell of a second half and we couldn’t have won without him. I would say the game plan worked.”
Q: “Any thoughts of putting in Foles after the fourth interception?”
A: “Come on Howard (in reference to Howard Eskin), No.”
As I walked to the bar with my friend to catch the late games I said to him it doesn’t even feel like the Eagles won today. The game felt like a bonus feature from the 2011 Eagles DVD. The offense amassed 456 yards. Vick was a once again a reckless turnover machine. Shady once again showed why he is a top three back in the league. Jeremy Maclin got hurt. Twice. On the same drive. Desean Jackson had to be pulled off of the field because he was yelling at an official. Seriously did this team learn anything from last year?
The only positive was the defense. Demeco Ryans played a good game. Rodgers-Cromarte contributed in a big way today (2 INTs). Kurt Coleman also had two picks; he also got steamrolled by Trent Richardson. Yet it’s hard to take anything away from this game because after all Brandon Weeden was throwing the ball to Greg Little in his first NFL game. If the Eagles play like this next week against the Ravens there could be a riot at Lincoln Financial Field.
Welcome to Chicago. If you thought Brandon Marshall was going to do anything else besides break back out this season you need to reevaluate how you watch football, so we won’t even talk about his big first day in Chi town (9/119/1). Michael Bush assumed the goal line duties, but is more than just a touchdown vulture. Matt Forte is in this for the long haul so there is no reason to burn him out with an overload of carries. Enter Bush who, as I’ve said before, is a perfect complement back for this team.
Another welcome to Chicago for Alshon Jeffery, you’re going to have a very good season rookie.
Welcome to the NFL. Five rookie quarterbacks started today. Two gave us the typical rookie performance (Weeden & Tannehill). One gave us a better than average performance (Russell Wilson). One gave us the performance that we thought he would (Andrew Luck, who amazingly threw the ball 45 times), but there was one that wowed us in a way that we haven’t been wowed before. Sure he didn’t set a record for passing yards in a game like Cam Newton did last year, but he won his first start in one of the most hostile environments in the league.
Sure the Saints gave Robert Griffin some help (Brees was intercepted twice and the Saints fumbled once on top of that. The defense was sloppy throughout the game and the offense never got into that Saints rhythm), but RG was nothing short of sensational. He showed the type of game making ability that really makes you believe he’s the best “rushing” quarterback to ever come along in this league. Seriously, he’s got the scrambling ability of Vick, with a 90 rating on QB vision (remember that experiment in Madden 06?), and the decision making of a veteran quarterback. AND he has the type of personality that makes you want to root for him even if you’re a fan of a team in his division.
It will be hard for Dan Snyder to control his boner in the near future. Come to think of it I think the entire Washington D.C. area has a raging boner right now. Should I stop talking about boners now?
Ok one more boner joke, how hard of a boner will Tony Kornheiser have when talking about Robert Griffin on PTI?
Fun stat that will only exist after week 1.
The Packers (0-1) are currently in last place of the NFC North.
Let’s go No Huddle
- Isn’t it amazing that Michael Vick and Kevin Kolb both had their first game winning drives since the Kolb to Arizona trade, on the same day?
- How many times did Sean Payton DO YOUR JOB at the television today?
- How many times did Jim Harbaugh yell DO YOUR JOB at the replacement officials today?
- How many times did Mike McCarthy do the same?
- Does Bob Griffin get to upgrade his name to Robert Griffin now?
- Will I ever be relevant in fantasy football again?
- I need to get Matthew Berry on speed dial.
- Arian Foster would be disappointed to know how much I talk about fantasy football.
- How many times did Arian want Ben Tate to carry the football?
- Apparently five is the correct answer.
- Scam 1 Cam 0
- Doug Martin is for real.
- Does Peyton Manning age?
- What if Randy Moss had mooned the Lambeu faithful again?
- Would Joe Buck have left the announcing booth?
- The ESPN executives have to be furious when they look at the MNF schedule compared to TNF’s schedule.
- Bengals-Ravens is nice, but it’s got nothing on Bears-Packers.
Another fun stat that will only exist after week 1.
Tom Brady is 16th in the league in passing yards. Players ahead of him include: Matt Cassel, Blane Gabbert, Christian Ponder, and Mark Sanchez. Week 1 everybody!
Monday Night Predictions
Baltimore 28 Cincinatti 14
Oakland 24 San Diego 17
I want to end the column by congratulating Greg Schiano on winning his first game of his NFL career. Game one of your career is hard enough, but image doing it against a divisional opponent. Josh Freeman looked like ’10 Josh Freeman, but most importantly the defense gave Cam Newton fits all day. After seeing 50,000 people show up to Rutgers stadium on Saturday and a W on Sunday, it’s hard for me to not pull for the Bucs this season.
Follow me on twitter @scottdargis.