Peyton Manning – How many touchdown passes does it take to solidify a spot on the good list? Well, at least seven ought to do it. Manning was nothing short of masterful in the season opener, as he and the Denver offense just exploded in the second half and ran away from the defending Super Bowl champions, reminding everyone, just in case there were some doubters, why they’re such big favorites to get to the Super Bowl out of the AFC this season.
Russell Wilson – No one’s going to be impressed at the 12 points the Seahawks scored, but the second-year quarterback led Seattle to victory in a bit of a trap game after a long east-coast road trip. Wilson was efficient as a passer, completing 25 of his 33 passes for 320 yards, including a 43-yard touchdown to Jermaine Kearse that ended up being the game winner. As important as that touchdown pass was his ability to ice the game at the end, leading a drive that killed the final five and a half minutes of the game, giving Seattle a key road win to start the season.
Reggie Bush – It didn’t take long for Bush to become a difference maker for the Lions. He touched the ball 25 times for a total of 191 yards, including a 77-yard catch and run for a touchdown. We know Matthew Stafford has the arm to get the ball down field, but now Detroit has a running back that they can utilize in a lot of different ways. It’s already paying off, as the Lions scored 34 points in their opener, and Bush is claiming that Detroit as just scratched the surface.
Anquan Boldin – Somebody remind me why the Ravens traded this guy away. Boldin was the star of one of the marquee games on the week 1 schedule. He had every, and I mean every, big catch in this game, and ended up with 13 catches total for 208 yards in a spectacular performance that helped the 49ers secure a huge week 1 win. There were some questions about San Francisco’s receiving corps heading into the season, but not so many after that performance.
Maurkice Pouncey injury – The only thing that might be worse than suffering an injury in the preseason is getting through the preseason healthy and then suffering a season-ending injury in week 1, but that’s what happened to Pouncey. Pittsburgh’s offense did not play well on Sunday, and things aren’t going to get any easier without the three-time Pro Bowler anchoring their offensive line, as this is a huge loss for the Steelers.
New England’s wide receivers – Tom Brady and company were able to pull out the win on a last second field goal, but things were definitely off between Brady and his receivers. Julian Edelman was Brady’s most reliable receiver, as the two are comfortable with one another, and new acquisition Danny Amendola ended up with 10 catches, but Brady and his receivers, even Amendola, were rarely on the same page. There was definite frustration on the sidelines between drives on the part of Brady, who did not have a lot of familiar faces as receiving options, and it showed.
Safeties – No, not that kind of safety; the defensive backs in the NFL had a decent week, relatively speaking, but there were two-point safeties recorded within the first few minutes of three different games. It’s more of an oddity than anything else, but it definitely didn’t inspire confidence in the teams that gave away two points so early in the game, and in Tampa Bay’s case, two points literally became the difference between winning and losing.
The AFC North – It’s not a stretch to envision three teams from this division making the playoffs, but no one is off to a good start in the AFC North, which is usually one of the best divisions in football. The Ravens were blown away by the Broncos, the Steelers looked awful against the Titans, the Bengals played well but lost a tough road game in Chicago, and the Browns looked like the Browns. It’s not quite business as usual moving forward for this division, as all four teams have plenty to prove in the weeks to come, some more than others.
Offense in the Tennessee/Pittsburgh game – Few games in the NFL all season will be this ugly. Both teams averaged less than three yards per rush, as the Steelers were held under 200 total yards while the Titans didn’t fair much better. The defenses deserve some of the credit, especially the Titans, who sacked Ben Roethlisberger five times, but more than anything this was an anemic offensive effort by both sides in a league that’s supposed to be all about moving the ball up and down the field and scoring points.
Tampa Bay’s closeout defense – Handed a lead with 34 seconds to play and Greg Schiano’s defense allowed a team with a rookie quarterback, who’s only starting because of an injury, to get in field goal position and win the game. One completed pass, one scramble, and one horrible penalty gave the game away to the Jets. The Bucs should have felt lucky to steal a road win despite committing 12 penalties, completing fewer than 50% of their passes, and having no running game, but instead they committed one final penalty that put the Jets in position to steal the game. Schiano and company should be embarrassed after that game, especially the final 34 seconds.
Scuffle between San Francisco and Green Bay – Clay Matthews wasn’t kidding when he said he was going to hit Colin Kaepernick, but he hit him too far out of bounds and way too late in the second quarter, which created quite a scuffle between the two teams on the sidelines with plenty of pushing and shoving, and maybe a punch or two that went unnoticed. Matthews was in the wrong, but the refs threw the flag and the 49ers should have backed off and let it be, but instead they confronted Matthews and the other Packers. The situation began to escalate and quickly got messy before the refs were able to get things under control, and that is not something that needs to happen in the NFL for any reason.
The Cowboys/Giant’s first quarter – Things could not have started any worse for Eli Manning and the Giants, who committed three turnovers in the first quarter, including an interception by Manning on the first play of the game. The only thing worse than those three turnovers was the Cowboys only being able to get three points out of those turnovers. That first quarter was a sign of things to come, especially for the Giants, who continued to turn the ball over throughout the game, and looked as bad as can be for much of the game.