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Upon Further Review

by Photo of Andrew Lontos

CHARGED brings you observations from Week 1 of the NFL season.

Upon Further Review


Each week, CHARGED will bring you our observations from around the NFL. Here's what we found interesting in Week 1:

Quarterbacks

Week 1 provided historic passing numbers from numerous quarterbacks around the league, showing that the biggest loser of the lockout may have been pass defenses.

Via Elias Sports Bureau:

There were five games in the NFL this week in which each team had a player throw for 300 or more yards: Packers (Aaron Rodgers) vs. Saints (Drew Brees); Bears (Jay Cutler) vs. Falcons (Matt Ryan); Cardinals (Kevin Kolb) vs. Panthers (Cam Newton); Jets (Mark Sanchez) vs. Cowboys (Tony Romo) and Patriots (Tom Brady) vs. Dolphins (Chad Henne). That's the most games with multiple 300-yard passers in one week in NFL history. There had been only two previous weeks with four such games (one in 1984, the other in 2010).

But the Patriots-Dolphins game on Monday was the first in NFL history in which one team had a player throw for 500 or more yards and the other team had a player throw for at least 400.

In Monday's late game, Kyle Orton became the 14th player to throw for 300 yards this season, the highest one-week total in NFL history.

NFL teams combined for 7842 (net) passing yards this week, the highest total in any week in NFL history.

"Elite" Running Backs

Many elite running backs struggled in their 2011 debuts. Jamaal Charles, Chris Johnson, and Rashard Mendenhall finished in the top 10 in rushing last year, while Peyton Hillis finished 11th. DeAngelo Williams had an injury-plagued season in 2010, but finished in the top 10 each of the two previous seasons. None of them broke 60 yards on the ground.

Jamaal Charles: 10 rushes, 56 yards

Chris Johnson: 9 rushes, 24 yards

Rashard Mendenhall: 12 rushes, 45 yards

DeAngelo Williams: 12 rushes, 30 yards

Peyton Hillis: 17 rushes, 57 yards

Kickoffs

The new kickoff rule drew harsh criticism from fans, players, and coaches. Many believed that the change would result in significantly less special teams importance and excitement. However, results from Week 1 do not support this argument.

Via Elias Sports Bureau:

Eric Decker's 90-yard punt return on Monday was the eighth touchdown on either a punt or kickoff return this week. That's the highest total in any week in NFL history.

Turnovers and Penalties

Common logic suggested that play might be sloppy in Week 1, due to the lack of an offseason. Let's take a look at the turnover and penalty statistics compared to the opening weekend of 2010.

2011 Turnovers: 50   2010 Turnovers: 53

2011 Penalties: 219  2010 Penalties:  201

2011 Penalty Yards: 1,757  2010 Penalty Yards: 1,665

The numbers are surprisingly similar. This even with the Broncos-Raiders game on Monday night, in which there were a record 25 penalties for 222 yards.

Falcons Lay An Egg

The #1 seed in the NFC last year, Atlanta got off to a horrible start in 2011 by losing to Chicago 30-12. In the offseason, Roddy White declared that the Falcons would remind people of "The Greatest Show on Turf" and "out-score everybody". They failed to score an offensive touchdown against the Bears.

Texans Slaughter Colts 34-7

Houston looked great in Week 1 against the division-rival Colts, but we've seen this before. The Texans scored 34 points in the season-opener against Indianapolis last year and started the season 4-2. After the Bye Week, however, they went 2-8 and finished the season 6-10. If Gary Kubiak's squad is ever going to win the division, it's this year with the Manning-less Colts-but so far we haven't seen anything new from the Texans.

Chiefs Proving Doubters Right

Many believed that Kansas City's success last year was due to their easy schedule and that they would struggle this season. A 41-7 loss at home to the Buffalo Bills, who were 4-12 in 2010 certainly goes along with this sentiment. It was the worst opening loss in franchise history, as well as their worst home loss in 35 years. The Chiefs also lost second-year safety Eric Berry for the season, who made the Pro Bowl as a rookie.

Michael Vick and the Eagles' Offense

Vick didn't have a great game, completing less than half of his passes and throwing for less than 200 yards. He rushed for almost 100 yards, but only accounted for two total touchdowns. The Eagles still cruised to an easy 31-13 victory over the Rams and Desean Jackson and LeSean McCoy both looked great. Despite the shaky pass protection at times, Vick and the rest of the offense showed that they'll be very scary for the rest of the NFC East when they play to their potential.

Steelers-Ravens Rivalry Continues

People love when the Steelers and Ravens play each other, and rightfully so. The divisional battle often results in close, hard-hitting affairs with stars all over the field. While Sunday's 35-7 Baltimore victory wasn't close, the rivalry certainly didn't lose any steam. The game was chippy, and Ray Rice and Troy Polamalu got into a fight that led to a rugby-like scrum. That seems to be the norm in this matchup, but the Ravens later added insult to injury. After scoring a touchdown to go up 27-7 in the third quarter, Baltimore faked the extra point and holder Sam Koch ran the ball in for the two-point conversion. While Koch denies they meant any disrespect, the Steelers see it differently. It looks like this heated rivalry just got kicked up a notch.

Donovan McNabb

McNabb had a lousy year in a bad situation with the Washington Redskins in 2010. Would a fresh start in Minnesota rejuvenate his career? So far, no. The long-time Eagle was brutal in the Vikings' opening loss to the Chargers, going 7/15 for 39 yards, with 1 TD and 1 INT. Yes, 39 yards. Hey, it was only 478 yards less than Tom Brady's Monday night performance. In fairness, Minnesota rushed the ball 26 times for 159 yards, but McNabb's numbers have to be alarming and can't be a good sign for the Vikings moving forward. With Cam Newton and Andy Dalton having solid debuts, should Leslie Frazier consider starting rookie Christian Ponder?

Rex Grossman Leads Redskins Over Giants

The often-criticized Grossman played extraordinarily well against New York, completing 21 of 34 passes, for 305 yards, 2 TD, and 0 INT. This after starting the game with four straight incompletions. He ended the position battle with John Beck and made himself sound much more sane for predicting that Washington would win the NFC East this year. The Redskins outplayed the Giants and deserved to win the game. However, a terrible penalty was called on Antrel Rolle in the fourth quarter that really cost New York. Tight End Fred Davis was on the ground after he caught a third-down pass short of the first-down marker. Untouched and therefore not down, Rolle came in and hit Davis, getting credited with the tackle. The Giants should have gotten the ball back down a touchdown, but unnecessary roughness was called and the drive was extended. The Redskins ended up scoring a touchdown on the drive and going up 28-14. That would be the last score of the game, as the Giants were forced to go no huddle during their last two drives down 14 with little time left. It was an inexcusable call to make in the fourth quarter of a one possession, divisional game.

Be sure to check back next week for the Week 2 version of "Upon Further Review", and don't forget to get your NFL tickets at Charged.fm.


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