NFL Week 1: Falcons, 49ers, Panthers Make Statements

Saints March In Early, Falcons Soar Late

New Orleans lost on the road, as I expected. The Saints got off to a hot start, especially rookie receiver Brandin Cooks. The offense looked well-oiled and balance, until Marques Colston surprisingly got stripped in overtime, which led to a game-winning field goal for the Falcons. The defense should take another step in their second season under Rob Ryan’s direction, it definitely didn’t show today against a high-powered offense. Then again, these teams combined for over 1,000 yards of total offense.

My predicted runner-up for MVP is Matt Ryan, the man chucked for nearly 450 yards to everyone of his targets, mainly Julio Jones who topped a hundred yards. Devin Hester’s skills were implemented into the offense, who went for 99 yards in his debut. The Dirty Birds didn’t display the best defense, but linebacker Paul Worrilow led the home team with 15 tackles and safety William Moore made the big play on Colston to beat their rival 37-34. And to think, the A-T-L only put up 10 points in the first half.

49ers Bury Cowboys in Big D

Don’t let the 28-17 score fool you, San Francisco won this game in the first quarter. The defense popped running back DeMarco Murray and took his fumble to the house on the opening drive. The offense followed the lead to play physical, leaning on Frank Gore and Anquan Boldin as body-punchers. They put up 21 points in the 1st and added another touchdown in the first half, with running back Carlos Hyde and tight end Vernon Davis getting the glory in the endzone.

All that talk about Dallas being committed to running the football is already out the window. Murray was working his way up the field with ease, only to see quarterback Tony Romo throw three picks, all bad decisions. The Cowboys neglected him on key short-yardage situations and in the redzone, even after he punched one in from the two. Dez Bryant continued to be a glorified possession receiver. There still is no “D” in Dallas however, but to be somewhat fair the offense kept giving the ball away.

Panthers Claw Buccaneers Without Cam

Even with Cam Newton in the lineup, the Panthers entered the season as underdogs against the rival Buccaneers. With “Superman” expected to play in week 2, it was veteran Derek Anderson was able to get rookie Kelvin Benjamin and tight end Greg Olsen involved as they both scored. It certainly helped that DeAngelo Williams got things going on the ground. The defense stood firm for the majority of the game, making life hectic on Josh McCown. Reigning Defensive Player of the Year, linebacker Luke Kuechly, led an aggressive unit that forced a couple interceptions and three sacks, including the game-deciding fumble he forced on running back Bobby Rainey for the 20-14 road win.

McCown was able to muster up a comeback that fell short, with a pair of 4th quarter touchdowns to receiver Chris Owusu and running back Bobby Rainey. It was a long day for the offense that got nothing from an O-line that lost Logan Mankins, virtually no production from Doug Martin before he left with a knee injury, and Vincent Jackson was held in check. Lovie Smith’s defense adjusted to the backup quarterback to stay in the game, led by standout linebacker Lavonte David, defensive tackle Gerald McCoy, and safety Dashon Goldson.