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Sunday, September 9, 2007
Updated: September 11, 2:11 AM ET
Scouts Buzz: Week 1

By Scouts Inc.

Scouts Inc. is watching every NFL game and will let you know what had us buzzing after each game. It might be an individual player or particular play, a theme that played out over the course of the game, or an important sequence that affected the outcome of the game.

Check in with the Scouts Buzz every week to get the inside info on why each game was won or lost and who or what impressed the scouts.

49ers 20, Cardinals 17
Arizona's running game finally started to assert itself in the fourth quarter and that was key to giving the Cardinals a chance to win. Unfortunately for the Cardinals, they were unable to hold on to the lead thanks to last-minute heroics by Alex Smith and the 49ers' passing game. With the Cards running game finally starting to click, San Francisco linebackers had to honor the possibility of the run when Arizona QB Matt Leinart executed the play-action fake on a pass to Anquan Boldin in the back of the end zone on a crossing pattern. Linebackers Patrick Willis and Derek Smith bit on the fake handoff to Edgerrin James, which pulled them up toward the line of scrimmage and left Boldin in single coverage to put the Cards ahead.
-- Doug Kretz

Bengals 27, Ravens 20
The Bengals won this game because they were more aggressive from the start. They played with more energy in the first half. They took more chances with their play calling and trusted their players to execute against a very good opponent. Cincinnati's defense flew to the ball, gang tackled and played very soundly. They blitzed heavily and relentlessly, consistently bringing six rushers. Cincinnati's physical play took its toll on Baltimore's star players.
-- Matt Williamson

Cowboys 45, Giants 35
Dallas held a one-point lead at halftime. Hardly enough to feel comfortable, but the Cowboys came back to score 28 points in the second half to pull away from the Giants. What did they do? They started throwing the ball to Terrell Owens, who had no balls thrown to him in the first half. Owens responded with touchdowns of 22 and 47 yards. He ran crossing routes that forced the two Giants safeties into coverage underneath when they wanted to play deep and help out on the receivers running go patterns down the sidelines. Corners inevitably have to trade off receivers running crossing patterns, which results in a soft area when the QB can hit him with the pass. Owens has made a career of those kinds of passes.
-- Doug Kretz

Chargers 14, Bears 3
Life without former RB Thomas Jones, who was traded to the Jets, was not very rosy for the Bears. Former first-round pick Cedric Benson finished the game with 19 carries for 42 yards (2.2 ypc) and one fumble. It was not just that Benson was unproductive but how he ran. There were a few occasions when Benson missed open holes. He spent too much time in this game dancing instead of exploding through the hole. Benson did not finish his runs off, ran tentative, looked soft at times and seemed intimidated by a physical San Diego run defense. If Chicago is going to get to where it ultimately wants to go, Benson is going to have to learn to run with authority. In this loss, Benson gave a textbook example of how you don't want to attack the San Diego defense.
-- Jeremy Green

Seahawks 20, Buccaneers 6
Sometimes a coach can get too cute. A bad play call by the Seahawks was costly in momentum and looked as if it might play a factor in the game. It was second-and-7 at the Tampa Bay 35, and Seattle lined up in an I-left formation. QB Matt Hasselbeck handed the ball to RB Shaun Alexander, who flipped the ball back to Hasselbeck on a flea flicker. Tampa Bay safety Jermaine Phillips made an excellent read when he saw Pro Bowl left tackle Walter Jones turn in and not block anyone. That left an open lane for Phillips to sack Hasselbeck and turn second-and-7 into third-and-18. A flea flicker for the field position the Seahawks were in is a bad call considering a few more conventional plays could have led to points. The Seahawks recovered nicely and still won, but it's something that jumped out early in this game.
-- Marwan Maalouf

Lions 36, Raiders 21
Mike Martz's offense recovered nicely after an early interception that could have taken the wind out of Detroit's sails. The Lions drove from their own 1-yard line to the Oakland 5-yard line late in the first quarter and lined up in a condensed formation. Raiders LB Kirk Morrison showed possible inside pressure, leading QB Jon Kitna to assume Morrison was blitzing and the tight end would be open on an in route. Morrison dropped into the middle of the end zone before the snap, though, and stepped in front of the TE for the drive-killing interception. That kind of play shows why the Raiders led the league in pass defense last season, and the Lions deserve credit for bouncing back and getting a big win.
-- Marwan Maalouf

Packers 16, Eagles 13
Although it was turnovers -- namely two fumbled punt returns that led to a first-quarter TD and set up the game-winning field goal -- that cost the Eagles against the Packers in Green Bay, the Packers' defensive line stole the show. Green Bay's D-line players did a great job of maintaining gap responsibility and keeping their legs free from low blocks, which allowed them to stay active and harass QB Donovan McNabb all game. This contributed to McNabb's posting a QB rating of 60.7. The Packers also made their presence felt by limiting the Eagles' running game, holding Philly to just 103 yards on the ground.
-- Doug Kretz

Titans 13, Jaguars 10
Going into the season, everyone questioned Tennessee's decision to let Travis Henry go after a 1,000-yard season, but the Titans answered those questions with 282 rushing yards against the Jaguars. Chris Brown, who has had a mediocre career to this point, shredded Jacksonville for 175 of those yards, making big gains on cutbacks. Tennessee found a lot of success with the stretch draw, starting Brown off-tackle and allowing him to cut back against the strong pursuit of the Jaguars. The Titans' offensive line did a great job of sustaining its blocks and making the Jacksonville defensive front work so hard to get across blocks that it was opened up to the cuts against the grain.
-- Doug Kretz

Texans 20, Chiefs 3
The Chiefs came out of the blocks slow with average performances by their marquee players. Larry Johnson had only 10 carries and 43 yards. Tony Gonzalez caught just five balls for 28 yards. And Damon Huard posted an unimpressive 53.6 quarterback rating. The glaring problem for Kansas City appeared to be that its main playmakers were knocking off the rust from a preseason in which they saw little live action. With all three taking limited snaps in the exhibition season -- Huard was dinged-up; Johnson's holdout lasted until late in the preseason; and Gonzalez's play was limited -- they never seemed to get in the flow of the game. An average performance from the defense was not surprising, but the once explosive offense generating only 219 yards of total offense and scoring three points was shocking.
-- Ken Moll

Panthers 27, Rams 13
The Panthers held the explosive Rams offense to just 238 yards in total offense, but that wasn't the most surprising thing in Carolina's win over St. Louis. And the Panthers pushed around the undersized St. Louis defense and rolled up 186 yards rushing and 4.9 yards per carry. Still, even that wasn't the most surprising thing of the day. Now, Jake Delhomme? That was surprising. The performance by often inconsistent Delhomme was shocking. He completed nearly 67 percent of his passes, threw three TDs with no INTs and posted a quarterback rating of 125.7. Delhomme showed great poise in the pocket and timing with his receivers and stepped into his throws well. He was effective at all three levels of the Carolina air attack.
-- Ken Moll

Vikings 24, Falcons 3
No play was bigger for the Vikings than Kevin Williams' interception return for a touchdown in the first quarter. Williams picked off a low release from Joey Harrington and gave the Vikings a 7-0 lead, helping to take some pressure off young quarterback Tarvaris Jackson. Antoine Winfield also returned an interception for a score, and the defense as a whole played well versus the run, leading to the kind of unconventional score sheet we should expect to see more of this season as second-year head coach Brad Childress employs a conservative approach with Jackson. And rookie running back Adrian Peterson helped out, as well, showing why he was a first-round draft pick by taking a swing pass from Jackson 60 yards for a touchdown.
-- Ken Moll

Broncos 15, Bills 14
The Broncos put the game on QB Jay Cutler, and he led them to a tough win on the road. Coach Mike Shanahan relied on his cornerstone stretch play with RB Travis Henry to attack an undersized Bills front seven between the tackles and set up the play-action pass. Cutler showcased his ability to spread the ball around in the Broncos' three-receiver sets to Javon Walker, Brandon Stokley and Brandon Marshall. Cutler was also impressive in his game management and decision-making, especially late in the game. He was very effective in his ability to slide around in the pocket to create passing windows along with his mobility outside the pocket.
-- Keith Kidd

Patriots 38, Jets 14
The Moss-Brady combination has finally arrived. The Patriots did a great job of moving Randy Moss around in the formation to create individual mismatches they could exploit on the back end against a Jets secondary that still lacks a shutdown corner. QB Tom Brady continues to play at an extremely high level, and his ability to make all throws in the passing game placed a lot of pressure on the Jets defense. Moss displayed great hands, receiving skills and deep speed while adjusting downfield. He's still one of the best deep receivers in the NFL. He created mismatches all day that turned into explosive plays in the passing game and was productive on all three levels (short, intermediate and deep) in the passing game. The Patriots were extremely impressive in the opening week of the 2007 season.
-- Keith Kidd

Steelers 34, Browns 7
It was imperative for the Browns to play mistake-free football against Pittsburgh, and they couldn't have been further off that script. Cleveland QBs Charlie Frye and Derek Anderson were overwhelmed and confused against the Steelers' blitz package. Pittsburgh used overload, cornerback and zone blitzes to consistently harass the Browns' signal-caller. It didn't matter who was taking the snaps, Pittsburgh found a way to get to him, ending up with six sacks. Anderson and Frye couldn't sense the pressure and insisted on holding the football far too long. Even when Cleveland begun to create a little momentum, it would squelch that momentum by taking a costly sack or committing a penalty.
-- Matt Williamson

Redskins 16, Dolphins 13 (OT)
Jason Campbell showed late in the first quarter why the Redskins will have a chance to be competitive every Sunday. Campbell took a five-step drop and looked for Antwaan Randle El on a go route. The receiver beat the corner inside and created separation with his speed, gradually working the route to the sideline. Campbell placed the ball exactly where he needed to over Randle El's left shoulder and away from the corner, dropping it in for a 35-yard completion that got Washington out of its own end of the field and helped set up the Redskins' first score of the game. Campbell showed impressive accuracy and arm strength, and if he can make reads and throws like that all season, Washington will have a chance.
-- Marwan Maalouf

Colts 41, Saints 10 (Thursday)
Colts TE Dallas Clark is such an integral part of this offense. The Saints played a ton of Cover 2, but could not account for Clark in the passing game. Indianapolis used very few three-receiver sets on first and second down, but created the same effect by splitting Clark out wide. The Colts also added a new wrinkle by putting Clark on one side and Marvin Harrison and Reggie Wayne on the other, and it helped produce Harrison's first-quarter TD catch. In the third quarter, Clark drew the safety playing quarters coverage up while Wayne filled the void on his deep post for a huge touchdown that all but sealed the Colts' victory. Clark isn't known as a top blocker, but he was effective in sealing the edge for the stretch play. This play abused New Orleans, which -- out of fear -- was reluctant to bring an extra defender into the box. Clark did a little of everything, even getting a first down carrying the ball on an end around, and was instrumental in this win.
-- Matt Williamson

Scouts Inc. watches games, breaks down film and studies football from all angles for ESPN.com.