1. Philadelphia Eagles—The Eagles got off to a sluggish start in their regular season opener, but went on to easily defeat St. Louis, 31-13. Michael Vick didn’t have a terrific day, statistically, throwing the football—he completed only 44 percent of his passes, but controlled the game with a combination of big plays through the air and ground. Vick also wore out the Rams’ defense in the fourth quarter, which allowed LeSean McCoy to go off for big yards late in the game. On the Eagles’ final scoring drive, McCoy had runs of 11, 17, and 49 yards, taking advantage of a gassed Rams’ defense. The Eagles figure to only get better as the season wears on, but face a much stiffer test this Sunday night in what promises to be a circus-like atmosphere when they travel to Atlanta.
2. Dallas Cowboys—The Cowboys were a 6.5 point underdog in most sports books just prior to kick off, so there’s really no shame in their late 27-24 loss to the Jets on Sunday night. The Jets were running off the adrenaline of an emotional 9/11 ceremony and a fired up crowd. And as the fourth quarter progressed, it was evident something special was occurring at MetLife Stadium. Still, for as well as Dallas played for the first three quarters, consistently moving the football against the vaunted Jets’ defense and keeping Mark Sanchez and the Jets’ offense in check, they couldn’t close the deal. The Cowboys will never win big as long as Tony Romo continues to make back breaking mistakes.
Elite teams find a way to hold onto that game. Romo wasted a solid performance, literally handing the game to Jets. Despite completing 23 of 36 passes for 342 yards and two scores, he fumbled near the goal line as his team was about to take a two score lead. Then, he compounded that mistake with an inexplicable interception thrown to Darrelle Revis.
3. Washington Redskins—In a way, I’m not surprised the Redskins beat the Giants at home Sunday. The Giants have a porous secondary and, well, they have Eli Manning. Their offensive line struggled against a much improved Redskins’ defensive front. The pocket frequently collapsed, which forced Manning to make many off balanced throws. Still, I assumed Perry Fewell’s defense would generate enough pressure to keep a quarterback like Rex Grossman from putting up big numbers. I was wrong.
Grossman is a mediocre quarterback, at best, but completed 21 of 34 passes for 305 yards and two touchdowns. Tight end Fred Davis was able to work the middle of the field, eclipsing the century mark in receiving yards (105), and Tim Hightower churned out a tough 72 yards on the ground. Are the Redskins winning 10 games and making a deep playoff run this season? Hell no. But they aren’t a push over, either.
4.New York Giants—The Giants struggled to convert in critical short yardage situations, which was probably the biggest fault in a game in which they showed several. Eli Manning looked less comfortable as the game wore on. After Michael Boley recovered a Rex Grossman fumble and returned it to the Washington 27, it appeared the Giants were going to seize momentum. That didn’t happen. Instead, the Giants went three and out, highlighted by Ahmad Bradshaw’s two-yard loss on a critical third-and-one carry from the Washington 18-yard line. Lawrence Tynes’ ensuing 38-yard field goal attempt was stuffed by Brian Orakpo, and that was it. Even one of the few bright spots for the Giants, wide receiver Hakeem Nicks, suffered a bone bruise on his knee and is uncertain to play this week. New York catches a bit of a break when a banged up St. Louis team visits on Sunday, but if the Giants lose that one—look out.