Stokley's 87-yarder stuns the Bengals; Delhomme, Cutler stink, McNabb hurt; the Texans are lame.
By Jim Buzinski
How I saw Week 1 in the NFL:
Typical Bungals: Only the Cincinnati Bengals can lose a game with 11 seconds left when a pass is tipped by a defender into the waiting arms of a receiver, who runs 87 yards for the winning touchdown. That’s what happened when Leon Hall tipped a pass and Denver receiver Brandon Stokley caught the rebound and scored.
I couldn’t remember an NFL game ending on such a long offensive play from a team that was behind, then read that it had never happened before. The Bengals had taken a 7-6 lead with only 38 seconds left and seemed poised to win their opener. But then they remembered that they were the Bengals, and lost in the most improbable way.
Watch the video of the touchdown.
Done: Jake Delhomme has to be finished as starting quarterback for the Carolina after he threw four interceptions and fumbled once in the Panthers’ embarrassing 38-10 home loss to the Philadelphia Eagles. In Delhomme’s last game in 2008, a home playoff loss to Arizona, Delhomme threw five interceptions and fumbled once. This led the Charlotte Observer to post this brilliant headline: "Panthers, Delhomme back in playoff form."
Delhomme was yanked in the second half Sunday to a chorus of boos, then his backup Josh McGown hurt his knee, so the Panthers were down to third-stringer Matt Moore (who also threw a pick). I know one game can be overcome, but it looks grim for the Panthers this season. Delhomme has never been an elite QB and it’s obvious that he has fallen apart; the sooner Coach John Fox benches him the better.
Hurt: Despite the Eagles easy win, they now face quarterback uncertainty of their own after Donovan McNabb cracked a rib and left the game. Guys can play with cracked ribs, but the pain can be unbearable and it obviously restricts their mobility and effectiveness. Early word is that McNabb will miss next week's game against the Saints, leaving Kevin Kolb to be the starter. We might see Michael Vick behind center sooner than anyone thought since he can come back in Week 3.
Flops: I never bought the preseason hype about the Houston Texans and picked them to finish last in the AFC South. After one week, at least, I am looking prophetic. The Texans lost to a rookie quarterback at home as Mark Sanchez led the New York Jets to a 24-7 win.
We all heard about how explosive the Texan’s offense was, with Matt Shaub at QB, Steve Slaton at running back and Andre Johnson at wide receiver. The explosion fizzled as the Texans were outgained, 462 to 183 yards.
Houston started 0-4 last year and rallied to win eight games. But Sunday’s loss makes it six straight September losses for the Texans, and next week they have an already-big divisional game at 0-1 Tennessee.
Bust: Is there something about wearing a Chicago uniform that causes any Bears QB to suck? Jay Cutler, hailed as the team's first true franchise quarterback in 25 years, had a less-than-stellar debut. He threw a career-high four interceptions as the Green Bay Packers rallied for a 21-15 win. It doesn't get any easier for Cutler -- up next is a date against the Super Bowl champion Pittsburgh Steelers.
Back to Earth: Seven months ago, the Arizona Cardinals came within 30 seconds of winning the Super Bowl. After Sunday's 20-16 home loss to San Francisco, the Cardinals are some place they never were in 2008 -- in last place. Kurt Warner was harassed and battered all day and I find it hard to see him lasting the season unless he gets better protection. On the other hand, the 49ers look like a different team under Coach Mike Singletary.
Fantasy goofs: In my 10-team fantasy league, one of our players inexplicably benched New Orleans QB Drew Brees (at home against a Detroit team that allowed the most points in 2008) in favor of Giants QB Eli Manning. All Brees did was throw six touchdown passes, while Manning was efficient in a 23-17 win over the Redskins, but no fantasy standout.
Dangerous: The Baltimore Ravens, which has had a pop-gun, safe offense the past few years, looked explosive in their 38-24 win against the Kansas City Chiefs. The Ravens racked up 501 yards and QB Joe Flacco threw for 307 yards. I know they played the awful Chiefs, but if the Ravens play offense anything like this the rest of the season, they will be a force in the AFC.
Close, as usual: Prior to Sunday’s game, here was the margin of the games between Jacksonville and Indianapolis played in Indy since 2004: 3, 7, 7, 3, and 2. In the season opener, the pattern continued as the Colts held on for a 14-12 win.
The Colts lose budding star wideout Anthony Gonzalez to a knee injury that is expected to keep him out two to six weeks. They also continued their inability to run the ball when it matters, failing on a 3rd-and-1 and 4th-and-1 that would have iced the game late. Their defense rose to the challenge, though, and preserved the win.
The Colts never led the AFC South at any point all last season. After one week, they are alone at the top as Jacksonville (obviously), Houston and Tennessee all lost.