Big 12 QBs make their big debuts

September, 10, 2012
9/10/12
11:00
AM ET
There were an eye-popping five rookie quarterbacks starting in Week 1 across the NFL yesterday, setting a new league record.

Three were from the Big 12, joining former NC State and Wisconsin star Russell Wilson and Stanford's Andrew Luck, the No. 1 pick in April's draft.

Former Baylor standout and Heisman winner Robert Griffin III had the biggest debut of anyone, and arguably the best debut of any rookie quarterback in history. RG3 threw for 320 yards and two touchdowns on 19-of-26 passing, leading the Washington Redskins to an upset win against the New Orleans Saints in the Superdome.

RG3 became the first QB in NFL history to throw for at least 300 yards and two scores without an interception in his first NFL start.
"I've won a high school state championship and a bowl game in college, but to play in the NFL, the pinnacle of it all, and win your first game against a Hall of Famer in Drew Brees, it's at the top," Griffin said while cradling the game ball he had just been given. "After the game, (Brees) told me he was proud of me. That's big for him to say after he just lost the game."

Quite the entrance for the No. 2 pick in last year's draft, who also completed his first eight passes, including an 88-yard touchdown to Pierre Garcon. Griffin also ran for 42 yards on 10 carries.

The other Big 12 quarterbacks didn't have such fond debuts, combining to throw zero touchdown passes and seven interceptions.

Texas A&M's Ryan Tannehill completed 20-of-36 passes for 219 yards and three interceptions in a 30-10 loss at Houston, but he didn't sound too discouraged after the loss.
"I felt like we hurt ourselves more than they really just stopped us," Tannehill said. "That's a good defense. So being able to move the ball on a good defense like that gives us some confidence. Obviously, we have to fix a lot of things and eliminate those turnovers. But I think it gives us a look at what we could be if we played to our full potential."

Former Oklahoma State star and current Cleveland Brown Brandon Weeden had the worst debut of the three, but nearly came away with a win over Michael Vick and the Eagles.

Vick, who threw four interceptions of his own, threw a game-winning touchdown pass with 1:18 to play in the win over the Browns. Weeden completed just 12-of-35 passes for 118 yards and four interceptions. His quarterback rating of 5.1 was the sixth-lowest in a season opener by any quarterback with at least 15 attempts since 1970, according to STATS, LLC.

His day even started poorly, when he got caught underneath an American flag in pregame warmups.
"I was expecting to get a little warning," Weeden said. "I was playing catch. I always stand on the 35- or 40-yard line. Next thing I know there's about a 100-yard flag over the top of me. I sat on my hands and knees and kind of waited -- me and one of the equipment managers. I looked at him and said, `this (stinks).' "

It's never easy being a rookie starter at any position in the NFL, but it's particularly hard at quarterback. It'll be interesting to see how the rest of the season plays out for these three.

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