The Patriots Are In Last Place & Other Things We Learned From Week 1 In The NFL
The 2014 NFL season marked its first full Sunday of games with a 400-yard passing performance, two overtime games and three big upsets. Here are the day's most interesting facts:
The Falcons Could Be A Big Problem For NFC Contenders
The Saints were favored over the Falcons in Atlanta on Sunday, but no one told Matt Ryan. The Atlanta quarterback completed 31 of 43 passes for 448 yards and three scores in his team's 37-34 overtime win. Ryan was sacked just once, which allowed him to rally the Falcons from deficits of 20-7, 27-24 and 34-31. If Ryan has returned to his pre-2013 form, Atlanta could make the NFC South the conference's most powerful division.
The Eagles Aren't Half-Bad (But They Were)
Philadelphia began the 2014 season by watching Pro Bowl quarterback Nick Foles commit three turnovers under pressure in the first half as the reigning NFC East champs fell behind lowly Jacksonville, 17-0. In addition to Foles shoddy half, the Eagles' secondary allowed undrafted rookie Allen Hurns to catch two touchdown passes and accumulate 101 receiving yards in the first quarter alone. Oof.
The Eagles found whatever antidote they needed to counteract their sucky-ness during the intermission, as Chip Kelly's team reeled off 34 unanswered points while capturing a 34-17 win. The biggest improvements: shutting down Jags drives, mixing in the running game and giving Foles more time to throw. He finished with 322 yards and two scores, including a 68-yard bomb to Jeremy Maclin that was positively DeSean Jackson-esque.
The Patriots Are Alone In Last Place
Miami's Knowshon Moreno gashed New England for 134 yards rushing and a touchdown, and the Dolphins rallied from a 20-10 halftime deficit to stomp the Patriots, 33-20. The shocking upset placed the Pats in last place in the AFC East for the first time since Tom Brady became the team's starting quarterback in 2001, according to ESPN's Adam Schefter. Brady completed only 29 of 56 passes for 249 yards, and he was sacked four times. New England should rebound quickly at Minnesota and home vs. Oakland — two beatable opponents — the next two weeks. Of course, they were supposed to beat Miami, too.
The Bills, Titans & Vikings Aren't Terrible (Yet)
Buffalo, Tennessee and Minnesota all won on Sunday despite being road underdogs. It may take a few more weeks to find out if these teams are for real in 2014, but they certainly were in Week 1.
The Bills needed overtime to beat the Bears in Chicago, 23-20. Fred Jackson's 38-yard-run to set up the winning field goal could go down as the bellwether of a new era of winning football in Upstate New York. Or not. (Three Bears turnovers helped, too.)
The Titans shocked the Chiefs, 26-10, in Kansas City. Tennessee dominated both sides of the ball, including picking off KC quarterback Alex Smith three times. Tennessee's Jake Locker threw for 266 yards and two touchdowns in leading his team to a big road win. Talk about being kicked when you're down: Titans kicker Ryan Succop made all four of his field-goal attempts against the Chiefs, who released him last weekend.
All-World running back Adrian Peterson wasn't Minnesota's leading rusher on Sunday, but the Vikings were still able to drub the Rams in St. Louis, 34-6. Minnesota wide receiver Cordarrelle Patterson ran for 102 yards on three rushes, including a 67-yard score, while A.P. had 75 yards on 21 carries. The Rams were a mess on offense, with quarterback Shaun Hill leaving the game after a half with a quadriceps injury. An inexperienced Austin Davis took over the sinking St. Louis ship and watched the score balloon from 13-0 to the final tally.
The Texans Won, But Lost Jadeveon Clowney
Houston beat Washington, 17-6, thanks to the usual spectacular defense from defensive lineman J.J. Watt (three tackles, a sack, a fumble recovery and a blocked extra point). The Texans biggest loss came when first-overall pick Jadeveon Clowney left the game after suffering a knee injury in the first half. Early reports indicate that the potential impact rookie defensive lineman could miss several weeks.
Denver Looked Like The Best Team In The AFC
What Super Bowl blowout? What Wes Welker suspension? The Broncos jumped out to a 24-0 lead over the Colts on Sunday night, and then watched Andrew Luck guide Indianapolis into position to possibly tie the game with under three minutes left. To the delight of the home crowd, the Colts' drive stalled at the Denver 39 and the Broncos escaped with a 31-24 win. Broncos' QB Peyton Manning threw for 269 yards and three touchdowns, all to tight end Julius Thomas.
Football fans outside of Denver may not want to see Manning and the Broncos back in the Super Bowl this February, but that's just where this team is headed if it plays the way it did in Week 1.
Other Week 1 Scores
Thursday, Sept. 4
Seattle 36, Green Bay 16
Sunday, Sept. 7
Pittsburgh 30, Cleveland 27
N.Y. Jets 19, Oakland 14
Cincinnati 23, Baltimore 16
Carolina 20, Tampa Bay 14
San Francisco 28, Dallas 17