NFL Nation: 2013 Week 1 Rapid Reaction


 
SAN DIEGO -- A look at another jaw-dropping come-from-ahead loss for the San Diego Chargers -- this time 31-28 to the Houston Texans -- as the Chargers begin a new era:

What it means for San Diego: The Chargers are well, the Chargers. Unreal. And it’s not all Norv Turner’s fault. Turner’s teams were known for blowing games. Last year, on a Monday night, the Chargers turned a 24-0 halftime lead against Denver into a 35-24 loss. Stunningly, the Mike McCoy era has started in similar fashion. The Chargers led the Texans 28-7 in the third quarter. What a disappointing start for McCoy, who by the way was with Denver last year. His team was so impressive for so long Monday night, but the misery continues. Quarterback Philip Rivers was great for most of the night, but he will be remembered for an interception that Houston’s Brian Cushing returned for a score to tie the game at 28.

Letting Houston back in: The Chargers’ defense faltered the second half. It gave up huge plays on third-and-18 and third-and-13 to allow the Texans to cruise back into the game. The special teams also got into the choking act. The Chargers were called for a penalty on a field goal that gave Houston new life. The Texans ended up scoring a touchdown. That was a huge four-point swing.

Stock watch: San Diego receiver Eddie Royal had three catches, two of which were touchdowns. He was targeted often. Rivers seems to trust him. Overall, it was a good night for San Diego's maligned offensive line. King Dunlap and crew held star pass-rusher J.J. Watt in check for the most part. Not a lot was expected from this unit, but it came up big for much of the game.

What’s next: The Chargers go to Philadelphia to face the NFL’s flavor of the moment. Chip Kelly’s Eagles are the big curiosity in the league after beating Washington on Monday night. There is no doubt the Chargers’ defensive players will have to put on their track shoes for this one. The Eagles' offense goes fast.

Rapid Reaction: Texans 31, Chargers 28

September, 10, 2013
9/10/13
1:53
AM ET

 
SAN DIEGO -- Some thoughts from the Houston Texans' 31-28 comeback victory Monday night over the San Diego Chargers:

What it means: The Texans showed a Monday night audience (at least those who stayed awake that late) their flaws and strengths all on one night. A disastrous first half during which Houston struggled to get pressure preceded a transcendent second half (with the exception of the Chargers' opening drive of the third quarter), which featured late-arriving but crucial contributions from defensive end J.J. Watt and inside linebacker Brian Cushing.

Stock Watch: The Texans' turnaround was largely thanks to quarterback Matt Schaub. He completed 11 of 12 passes for 129 yards in the third quarter and was exceptional on rollouts. Houston's first three touchdowns were passes to its tight ends.

Big-time backup: This shouldn't have been a surprise given the way he played in the preseason, but backup running back Ben Tate featured prominently throughout Monday's game. He looked crisper than starter Arian Foster, who missed all of the preseason and saw his carries limited as a result. Tate averaged 6.1 yards on nine carries, while Foster averaged 3.2 on 18.

Here's the kicker: Randy Bullock played in his first regular-season NFL game with mixed results. But at the end, the second-year kicker got to be a hero. His 41-yarder to win the game sent a large, red-clad contingent into a frenzy and sealed the Texans' first victory of the season as time expired. Bullock missed a 51-yarder early in the game, but that isn't what he'll remember.

What's next: The Tennessee Titans aren't scared, and they're waiting. They'll be in Houston on Sunday after a short week for the Texans.

Rapid Reaction: Eagles 33, Redskins 27

September, 9, 2013
9/09/13
10:56
PM ET

LANDOVER, Md. -- Thoughts on the Washington Redskins’ 33-27 loss to the Philadelphia Eagles on Monday night.

What it means for Washington: It’s one thing to lose; it’s another to look the way Washington did much of the night in its loss to Philadelphia. The Redskins opened the season with high hopes, obviously, and now have some questions to answer. It’s only one game, but quarterback Robert Griffin III looked sloppy -- rust or lingering issues? He looked better in the second half, but his play will remain a storyline as the week, and season, unfolds. It was a bad start, even though it was a solid comeback.

Stock report falling: Running back Alfred Morris had a bad game, with 12 carries for 45 yards. But it was more than that: Morris fumbled on his first carry, leading to an Eagles touchdown one play later. And he dropped a pitch in the end zone that he fell on and then was tackled for a safety. Debate calling for a pitch in the end zone all you want, but it’s a basic play he botched. Morris is a better runner than what he showed, though he needs a little more help from his line. But it was a bad opening night for a run game that was terrific in 2012.

Stock report falling, part II: The Redskins couldn’t stop LeSean McCoy, who rushed for 184 yards on 31 carries. His cutback runs were effective against the Redskins' defense. The Redskins had to use their nickel defense all night; the Eagles shredded it on the ground.

Turnover woes: The Redskins turned the ball over only 14 times last season and had a differential of plus-17. But they turned it over three times Monday night, leading to 14 points. Both of those touchdowns were set up deep in their own territory, leading to easy scores. Morris’ fumble occurred after the Redskins’ defense had held Philadelphia to a field goal and led 7-3. One play later it was 10-7. Then with Washington needing a good opening drive in the second half, Griffin threw an interception on an out route. Two plays later it was 33-7.

What’s next: The Redskins play at 0-1 Green Bay in a game that isn’t a must win, but an 0-2 hole is never welcomed. Coming off the loss to Philadelphia, the Redskins have more worries than just the Packers. They now need to worry how long it’ll take Griffin to return to the player he was before his injury.

Rapid Reaction: Eagles 33, Redskins 27

September, 9, 2013
9/09/13
10:54
PM ET

LANDOVER, Md. – Here's what comes to mind after recovering from whiplash during the Philadelphia Eagles' 33-27 victory at the Washington Redskins on Monday night.

What it means for Philadelphia: Chip Kelly's Eagles are going to be entertaining, at the very least. Kelly's offense turned FedEx Field into the Autobahn in the first half: 26 points, 53 plays, 322 yards. The Eagles' pace slowed in the second half, either because they took their foot off the gas or simply ran out of gas. Washington scored 20 unanswered points to tamp down the Chipmania. The rewards and the risks of Kelly's go-go offense were all on display in this game.

Stock Watch: Rising (but not sliding) -- Michael Vick showed how dangerous he can be in Kelly's offense, to defenses as well as to himself. Vick ran the uptempo, read-option system masterfully in the first half. He broke a 36-yard run to help slow Washington's momentum in the fourth quarter. But he absorbed too many hits, including on that run, and was limping around by game's end. He can't stay upright all season playing that way.

Starry, starry night: It is considered a good offensive performance when you have a running back and a wide receiver each hit 100 yards. The Eagles had that by halftime. LeSean McCoy had 115 yards on the ground by intermission, then ran 34 yards for a touchdown on the first series of the second half. DeSean Jackson had 7 catches for 104 yards and a touchdown before intermission. They are poised for incredible seasons.

Those other guys: With so much focus on Kelly and his novel offense, the Eagles defense came into the game as something of an afterthought. After three Washington possessions, the Eagles had two takeaways and a safety. They pressured Robert Griffin III and contained Alfred Morris. In the second half, turnovers and stalled offensive drives put more pressure on the defense. It held up, but just barely. Still, there was a lot to build on here.

What's next: Kelly won't have the element of surprise on his side after his much ballyhooed “Monday Night Football” debut. Defensive coordinators around the NFL, unlike Washington's Jim Haslett, will have some actual Eagles game tape to dig into. First up is San Diego's John Pagano. One suspects, though, that Kelly has a lot more where this came from. In a deeply-flawed NFC East, anything now seems possible.

Rapid Reaction: Cowboys 36, Giants 31

September, 9, 2013
9/09/13
12:03
AM ET


ARLINGTON, Texas -- My thoughts on the Dallas Cowboys36-31 win against the New York Giants at AT&T Stadium:

What it means for Dallas: The Cowboys finally claimed a victory over the Giants in Arlington after losing the first four in the $1.2 billion stadium. Maybe all they needed was a name change to AT&T Stadium.

The Cowboys have now beaten the Giants in seven straight season openers, including the past two.

Sunday was another strange, thrilling game against their NFC East rivals despite six takeaways and two defensive touchdowns by the Cowboys. Dallas was unable to salt it away until linebacker Sean Lee recovered an onside kick with 10 seconds to play.

Safety Barry Church returned a fumble 27 yards for a touchdown in the third quarter, and cornerback Brandon Carr picked off a deflected Eli Manning pass and returned it 49 yards for a touchdown with 1:50 to play to make it 36-24.

Stock watch: Tight end Jason Witten went over 9,000 career receiving yards, and he also caught two touchdown passes in a game for the first time since Dec. 12, 2010, against Philadelphia and only the third time in his career.

Taking it away: Monte Kiffin has preached takeaways since taking over as defensive coordinator, and there was no better way to start the season than how the Cowboys defense did in the first quarter.

On the first play, DeMarcus Ware recorded an interception for the first time since 2006 that set up a field goal. On the second drive, Church ripped the ball free from running back David Wilson at the Dallas 10 for a George Selvie fumble recovery. On the third drive, safety Will Allen had his first interception since 2005.

The Cowboys did not record three takeaways in any game last season and last had three in a quarter on Nov. 13, 2011, against Buffalo (fourth quarter).

About that running game: The Cowboys spent the offseason talking about running the ball more and running the ball better in 2013 after a horrid 2012.

It’s not that the Cowboys ran the ball poorly against the Giants; it’s just that they didn’t run it very much. In the first half, Romo threw the ball 33 times and the Cowboys had 12 rushes. For the game, the Cowboys ran it 23 times for 87 yards and DeMarco Murray had 86 yards on 20 carries, but they couldn’t close out the game on their own. Last season, the Cowboys had seven games in which they ran it more than 22 times.

What’s next: The Cowboys play at Kansas City next Sunday for the first time since 2009.

Rapid Reaction: Cowboys 36, Giants 31

September, 8, 2013
9/08/13
11:52
PM ET
ARLINGTON, Texas -- A few thoughts on the New York Giants' horrific season-opening loss to the Dallas Cowboys on Sunday night.

What it means for New York: The Giants have begun the season with a Week 1 loss to the division-rival Cowboys for the second year in a row, and this one was downright putrid. They turned the ball over six times against a Cowboys team that forced just 16 turnovers in the entire 2012 season. And while it was encouraging that quarterback Eli Manning and electric wideout Victor Cruz brought them back in the second half with a chance to win it, those hopes went out the window when Brandon Carr returned a Manning interception for a touchdown with 1:50 to go.

Stock watch: Falling, David Wilson. The Giants' second-year running back entered this game with the highest of expectations after he had a strong preseason and had his role in the offense increased following the injury to Andre Brown. But Wilson, who famously fumbled against the Cowboys in last season's opener, fumbled twice in this one and ended up getting benched in the third quarter for Da'Rel Scott. He also missed a block on a George Selvie sack in the first quarter. The Giants believe in Wilson, and he'll get more chances, but this was a terrible way for him to start such a promising season.

Bright spots: Obviously, Cruz didn't look as though his bruised heel was bothering him. Fellow receiver Hakeem Nicks also looked to be operating at full-strength.

The man needs help: Yes, Manning threw three interceptions. And yes, he will take responsibility for that. But the problems for the Giants on Sunday were widespread, from an offensive line that couldn't protect him to a basically useless running game to a defense that's softer in the middle than (big) bleu cheese. The Giants are still asking Manning to do it all, and he can't do it all every time.

What's next: The Giants host Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos in their 4:25 p.m. ET home opener Sunday at MetLife Stadium. Peyton Manning tied an NFL record with seven touchdowns Thursday night in Denver's season-opening victory over the Super Bowl champion Ravens. This will be the third time that brothers Peyton and Eli Manning have faced each other in an NFL game. Peyton won the first two, both with the Indianapolis Colts.

SAN FRANCISCO --– A look at the San Francisco 49ers' 34-28 win over the Green Bay Packers, a Week 1 game which featured playoff intensity.

What it means: It was all about Colin Kaepernick the runner in the pregame hype, but Kaepernick showed he is a passer first. With the read-option in the background, Kaepernick, making his 11th NFL start, threw for a career-high 412 yards. He beat the Packers in the playoffs last season with a quarterback record 181 yards rushing. Kaepernick had 22 yards rushing Sunday. He also found a new receiving toy: Anquan Boldin had 13 catches for 208 yards, with nearly every yard seeming to come in the clutch. With Michael Crabtree out, Boldin -- who came over from Super Bowl foe Baltimore for a sixth-round pick -- could be huge for the 49ers. He and Kaepernick had a huge Week 1. It was the 49ers' third straight win over Green Bay.

Stock watch: Kaepernick found tight end Vernon Davis only six times over the final six games of the 2012 regular season. But Davis heated up in the postseason with 12 catches, and he stayed hot Sunday with six catches for 98 yards and two touchdowns. Last week, former 49er-turned-analyst Randy Moss said he didn’t see a good chemistry between Kaepernick and Davis last season. Sunday, that seemed to change. Elsewhere, the arrow is points down on cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha after he was routinely beaten by Green Bay receiver Jordy Nelson. Asomugha was a star in Oakland as recently as 2010. He signed a big deal in Philadelphia two years ago but has fallen off. He was the No. 3 cornerback Sunday, but may not stay in that position long.

Chippy day: Green Bay linebacker Clay Matthews joked he and Kaepernick did not go out to lunch when they crossed paths this offseason. I don’t think that will change. Matthews hit Kaepernick on his way out of bounds before 49ers left tackle Joe Staley came up to defend his quarterback. The two started a spirited bout and yellow flags flew. Matthews later got in Kaepernick’s face after a sack. It was great superstar drama and could be a great rivalry for years to come.

What’s next: Another playoff-like matchup. The 49ers travel up to NFC West rival Seattle next Sunday night. This has become one of the best rivalries in football, on and off the field. This season is starting in a hurry for the 49ers.

Rapid Reaction: 49ers 34, Packers 28

September, 8, 2013
9/08/13
7:58
PM ET

SAN FRANCISCO -- Rapid reaction from the Packers’ 34-28 loss to the San Francisco 49ers on Sunday at Candlestick Park:

What it means: The read-option offense didn’t beat the Green Bay Packers. Anquan Boldin did. In his first game with the 49ers, the former Baltimore Ravens receiver exposed another problem with the Packers’ defense. 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick’s new favorite target caught 13 passes for 208 yards and a touchdown. Kaepernick threw for 412 yards and three touchdowns.

Stock Watch: Considering the 49ers ranked fourth last season in rushing defense, it may not be fair to judge whether the Packers’ running game has improved. But the numbers weren’t pretty. They rushed for just 63 yards on 19 attempts. Combine that with the fact that starting running back Eddie Lacy, in his first NFL start, lost a fumble in the second quarter. Lacy finally got going in the fourth quarter. Lacy capped a go-ahead drive that gave the Packers a 28-24 lead with 8:20 remaining with a 2-yard touchdown leap over the pile. He carried five times for 26 yards on the drive. The problem was Lacy carried nine other times for just 15 yards.

Trouble up the middle: Without safety Morgan Burnett and slot cornerback Casey Hayward, both sidelined with hamstring injuries, the Packers had all kinds of trouble defending the middle of the field. The safeties were responsible for the 49ers’ first two touchdowns, a 20-yard pass from Kaepernick to tight end Vernon Davis against M.D. Jennings in the first quarter and a 10-yard pass from Kaepernick to Boldin in the second quarter.

Sitton struggles: Josh Sitton, in his first game since moving from right guard to left guard, struggled. He was penalized three times -- once for illegal hands to the face and twice for holding -- and didn’t fare well in the running game.

Up-and-down debut: Rookie left tackle David Bakhtiari drew a tough assignment in his first start, facing Aldon Smith, who finished second in the NFL last season with 19.5 sacks. Bakhtiari gave up two sacks to Smith but those may have been his only two bad plays.

What’s next: The home opener is Sunday against the Washington Redskins, who will be coming off a short week after playing the Philadelphia Eagles on Monday night.

Rapid Reaction: Rams 27, Cardinals 24

September, 8, 2013
9/08/13
7:45
PM ET

ST. LOUIS -- Quick thoughts on the St. Louis Rams’ 27-24 season-opening win against the Arizona Cardinals at the Edward Jones Dome:

What it means: Those expecting a big offensive explosion from the Rams didn’t exactly get what they wanted, though the Rams did do most of their offensive damage through the air. Still, quarterback Sam Bradford got the job done with a late scoring drive and started an important season for him by leading his team to a comeback victory. This team is his team without Steven Jackson, and Bradford led it when it needed him most.

Stock Watch: Up -- tight end Jared Cook had a tough start with his early fumble on what looked like it would have been a touchdown, but he bounced back and gave the Cardinals fits all day. He was the one weapon the Rams had been waiting to “unleash” who actually was unveiled Sunday. He finished with seven catches for 141 yards and two touchdowns.

Down -- cornerback Cortland Finnegan is supposed to be the reliable, veteran linchpin of the Rams secondary, but he had a rough day at the office. Larry Fitzgerald makes plenty of corners look bad, and he did it to Finnegan on a third-quarter touchdown. But Finnegan also racked up a pair of costly unnecessary roughness penalties.

Something’s “off”: The Rams spent large chunks of last season playing soft coverage with their outside corners. Many believed it was a product of having young corners like Janoris Jenkins and Trumaine Johnson playing a lot of snaps. Not much changed in Week 1, though. Arizona quarterback Carson Palmer got the ball out quickly and efficiently for most of the day.

Quinn’s big day: Rams defensive end Robert Quinn made life miserable for Arizona left tackle Levi Brown by beating him for three sacks and forcing two fumbles, one of which the Rams recovered late before tying it up. Chris Long is the more established of the two ends but Quinn’s upside is that of an elite pass rusher.

What’s next: The Rams will be off for the next two days to regroup from a dramatic win before beginning a difficult stretch of schedule with back-to-back road trips to Atlanta and Dallas.

Rapid Reaction: Rams 27, Cardinals 24

September, 8, 2013
9/08/13
7:43
PM ET

ST. LOUIS -- A few thoughts from the St. Louis Rams' 27-24 win over the Arizona Cardinals at the Edward Jones Dome.

What it means: There’s a lot of work to be done, especially at left guard, where Levi Brown allowed a late-game sack that turned into a game-tying field goal. Overall, the Cardinals showed a productive passing game, solid running attack and a defense that will carry this team as far as it can in coach Bruce Arians’ debut.

Stock watch, Part I: Sunday wasn’t the type of return to the starting line up Brown envisioned. He was beaten early and often by Rams defensive end Robert Quinn, who sacked Carson Palmer three times, including two strips, the last of which the Rams recovered late in the fourth quarter. Arians called Brown "elite" in February, but there's a good chance Brown will be fighting for his starting spot in practice this week.

Stock watch, Part II: Andre Roberts spent the offseason toiling in the shadows of Larry Fitzgerald, who is poised for a breakout season with Palmer, and Michael Floyd, who was the chic pick for breakout player of the year. But Roberts showed you shouldn't sleep on him Sunday with eight catches for 97 yards.

Fitz is back: It’s got to be nice being Fitzgerald these days. He completed his first multi-touchdown game since Nov. 13, 2011, at Philadelphia. His first score came on a 4-yard fade to the back-left corner and the second on a 25-yard pass as he crossed the goal line.

New coach, old D: It didn’t take long for the Cardinals’ defense to show it doesn't matter who is coaching them. It was still a force, especially when the stakes were high. Take the strip by Tyrann Mathieu to save a TD or the interception and TD by nose tackle Dan Williams, the defense held the Rams at least three times on third down when all St. Louis needed was a few yards for a first down.

What’s next: The Cardinals will have to shore up their offensive line issues when the Detroit Lions bring one of the NFL’s best front fours comes to University of Phoenix Stadium for the home opener at 4:05 ET next Sunday.

Rapid Reaction: Jets 18, Buccaneers 17

September, 8, 2013
9/08/13
4:50
PM ET
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- Quick takeaways on the New York Jets' 18-17 season-opening win over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at MetLife Stadium:

What it means: The Jets lost the game and they won it, all in the final 76 seconds. Capitalizing on a stupid late-hit penalty on Bucs LB Lavonte David in the final seconds, the Jets stole the game with a 48-yard field goal by Nick Folk with two seconds left. David's penalty, hitting Geno Smith out of bounds, put Folk in field goal range. Moments earlier, a missed tackle by Jets S Dawan Landry set up a go-ahead field goal by the Bucs. Yes, the Jets got lucky. But lucky ain't bad in the NFL. Get ready: There will be a lot of close games this season because the Jets' defense will keep them competitive.

Stock watch: Smith was up. And down. And up. You get the picture. It was a typical rookie performance. Smith committed two turnovers in the first half (a fumble and an interception), but he kept his composure and finished 24-of-38 for 256 yards and a touchdown. He gave the Jets a 15-14 lead in the fourth quarter, executing a nice drive that included a few big screen passes, and his late scramble set up Folk's game-winning field goal. The moment wasn't too big for the rookie, who gave the Jets hope and something to build around.

No ground-and-pound: New offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg has instilled a pass-first mentality; that has to change. The Jets won't win many games by rushing for 90 yards on 29 carries, hardly the ideal way to support a rookie quarterback. Chris Ivory was a nonfactor in his Jets debut, and he lived down to his reputation as a poor receiver with a key drop. They tried to mix it up, using Bilal Powell and Jeremy Kerley in the Wildcat, but they couldn't establish much against the Bucs, who owned the league's top-ranked rush defense last season.

Defense owns Freeman, Martin: Rex Ryan predicted a top-five defense this season. If the Jets could face the Bucs every week, he'd probably turn out to be correct. Other than Landry's missed tackle, they confused QB Josh Freeman by changing fronts, showing some 4-3 looks, and they contained RB Doug Martin better than anyone could've imagined. They held Martin to 64 total yards, keeping him off the edges as a runner and receiver. The Bucs' only success came on blitz-beating slants to Mike Williams and Vincent Jackson, who beat Antonio Cromartie for a couple of big plays. Rookie CB Dee Milliner settled down after a shaky start, which included a 17-yard touchdown catch by Williams. The Jets could've used ... uh, Darrelle Revis.

What's next: The Jets have a quick turnaround, as they face the Patriots on Thursday night in Foxborough. The Jets have dropped four straight in the series, including a 49-19 laugher last Thanksgiving -- the night of the Butt Fumble.

Rapid Reaction: Lions 34, Vikings 24

September, 8, 2013
9/08/13
4:43
PM ET

DETROIT -- My thoughts on the Minnesota Vikings' 34-24 loss to the Detroit Lions.

What it means: With a September schedule that included two division road games and a trip to London for a home game, it was important for the Vikings to get off to a good start. But after blowing a 14-6 lead on the road and losing for the ninth time in 10 NFC North road games, they'll have to win in Chicago next week to avoid starting 0-2. The Vikings hope to get defensive tackle Kevin Williams back, and they'll have a week to plug some of the leaks in their run defense that emerged with the six-time Pro Bowler's absence on Sunday. But in what looked like one of the team's more favorable road matchups, the Vikings missed an opportunity.

Stock watch: Falling -- Vikings' defense. They allowed the Lions to post 469 yards, generating little pass rush on Matthew Stafford and getting gashed by Reggie Bush on both the ground and on screen passes. Trailing by three with a chance to get the ball back midway through the fourth quarter, the Vikings committed two penalties on third down -- a roughing-the-passer call on Letroy Guion and a pass interference penalty on Xavier Rhodes -- to extend a Lions drive that would turn into a touchdown.

Simpson emerges: After a disappointing first season in Minnesota, receiver Jerome Simpson caught seven passes for 140 yards on Sunday, hauling in two deep passes from Christian Ponder and posting the third-most yards of his career. His 47-yard reception in the third quarter, where he dove to track down a ball directly over his head, set up a touchdown that got the Vikings within three.

Peterson neutralized: After he galloped 78 yards on the Vikings' first play from scrimmage, Adrian Peterson had a quiet day. He gained just 13 yards on his next 16 carries, scoring two more touchdowns but struggling to take pressure off Ponder, who threw two interceptions and was sacked three times.

What's next: The Vikings (0-1) travel to Chicago next Sunday, looking for their first win in the Windy City since Peterson's rookie year in 2007.

Rapid Reaction: Dolphins 23, Browns 10

September, 8, 2013
9/08/13
4:36
PM ET
CLEVELAND -- Some thoughts on the Miami Dolphins' 23-10 victory against the Cleveland Browns at FirstEnergy Stadium:

What it means: The Dolphins improved to 1-0 and won their regular-season opener for the first time since 2010. This victory was key, because Miami has a brutal four-game stretch upcoming. Sunday's victory wasn't perfect by any means. But Miami left Cleveland with a win and is now tied for first place in the AFC East. The Browns fell to 1-14 in season openers since 1999.

Stock Watch: Former Brown Dimitri Patterson was motivated to play well, and he did. The Dolphins cornerback got two interceptions off Browns quarterback Brandon Weeden in the first half. Patterson injured his groin in the second half and didn’t finish the game. Dolphins defensive end Cameron Wake also had four tackles and 2.5 sacks. Wake got the best of Browns second-year offensive tackle Mitchell Schwartz throughout the game. Schwartz also allowed a sack to Wake’s backup, Derrick Shelby.

The arrow is pointing down for Miami running back Lamar Miller and the offensive line. In his first game as a full-time starter, Miller rushed for just 1 yard on nine carries. Part of the reason was Miami’s offensive line, which struggled. The Dolphins allowed four sacks of quarterback Ryan Tannehill and didn’t provide many rushing lanes.

Turnover battle: Miami’s defense did a solid job of forcing turnovers. The Dolphins got three interceptions in the first half off Weeden. Creating turnovers has been a huge focus for Miami’s defense this offseason, and the work showed in Week 1. Miami won the turnover battle by a 3-to-1 margin.

Tannehill to Hartline: Tannehill and receiver Brian Hartline had solid chemistry dating back to last season. Hartline led Miami in receiving last season and did so again in Week 1 against Cleveland. Hartline recorded nine receptions for 114 yards and a 34-yard touchdown that put Miami ahead for good in the second half.

What's next: The Dolphins will have their second consecutive road game next Sunday against the Indianapolis Colts. Miami has three of its first four games on the road.
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- My thoughts on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ 18-17 loss to the New York Jets on Sunday at MetLife Stadium:

What it means: This was a horrible opening for the Bucs against a rookie quarterback (Geno Smith) and a Jets team that appeared to be heading into the season in disarray. But it was the Buccaneers who were dysfunctional on Sunday. The Bucs were undisciplined on defense and unimaginative on offense. Quarterback Josh Freeman was dismal as well. It all cost them dearly. Tampa Bay desperately needed a fast start to its season because the New Orleans Saints and New England Patriots are the next two teams on the schedule. All of a sudden, the Bucs are staring down the barrel at a potential 0-3 start.

Play of the day: Linebacker Lavonte David was a bright spot most of the day. But he ended up costing the Bucs the game. David was flagged for a late hit on Smith, and that set up the winning field goal by the Jets.

Stock watch falling: The run blocking. Aside from the touchdown run in the second quarter, running back Doug Martin didn’t seem to have any holes to work with. Sure, it’s easy to say guard Carl Nicks was out, but the offensive line needs to be able to open some holes.

Fine time? Tampa Bay safeties Dashon Goldson and Mark Barron probably will be getting letters from the league office. Each of them was called for an unnecessary roughness penalty that more than likely will lead to fines. By the way, the league has made it abundantly clear that officials will be policing that type of play, so the Bucs don’t have any excuses.

What’s next: The Bucs host the Saints at Raymond James Stadium next Sunday.

DETROIT -- Some thoughts following Detroit’s 34-24 win over Minnesota at Ford Field on Sunday.

What it means: For Detroit, this was a big-deal win. It may be only the opener, but the Lions showed a bunch of flashes of what they could potentially do on offense, with Reggie Bush being capable of running out of the backfield and the explosiveness in the short passing game. They also showed that their offensive line could hold up well, limiting Minnesota to just one sack. Considering Detroit’s next two games are on the road -- including a trip to Washington, D.C., in two weeks -- winning the season opener was extremely critical.

Stock watch: Rising -- Detroit’s defensive line. The Lions were always going to have a talented, big defensive line. But against Minnesota, Detroit’s deepest and most talented unit showed up all game long. Nick Fairley recovered a fumble, and Ndamukong Suh had a pressure that forced an interception in the first half. They spent a good portion of the day pressuring Minnesota quarterback Christian Ponder. Also rising -- rookie tight end Joseph Fauria. The undrafted free agent saw a lot of time and caught his first career touchdown pass, a 1-yarder to give Detroit a 34-24 lead in the fourth quarter. In the coming weeks, he could end up taking snaps from Brandon Pettigrew if he can be consistent.

Reggie Bush’s debut: Detroit’s big-time free-agent acquisition paid almost immediate dividends. He scored a 77-yard touchdown off a screen pass from Matthew Stafford and almost had two more touchdowns, but both were reviewed and it was determined he was out at the 1-yard line. He finished with 21 rushes for 90 yards and four receptions for 101 yards and a touchdown.

Containing Peterson: It may not look like it statistically, but Detroit’s defense did a good job limiting Minnesota superstar Adrian Peterson. Other than his 78-yard touchdown on his first carry of the season, Detroit’s defense held Peterson to 13 yards. In all, Peterson had 18 carries for 88 yards. He still did damage, though, scoring three touchdowns (two rushing, one receiving).

What’s next: The Lions head on the road the next two weeks, starting with a trip to Arizona next weekend.

SPONSORED HEADLINES

NFL SCOREBOARD

Thursday, 10/16
Sunday, 10/19
Monday, 10/20
WEEKLY LEADERS