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Sunday, September 11, 2011
Week 1: Multiple Ravens stand out

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STUDS

Flacco
Flacco

Joe Flacco

Quarterback, Baltimore Ravens

So much for Flacco not being able to beat the Steelers. Flacco's first pass of the game was a 27-yard touchdown strike to Anquan Boldin. The fourth-year QB followed with two more TD passes, leading Baltimore to a 35-7 victory. It was Flacco's first head-to-head victory over Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger (see below).


Rice
Rice

Ray Rice

Running back, Baltimore Ravens

Rice also had a big hand in the Ravens' victory. Rice, who exploded for a 36-yard run on the first play from scrimmage, scored a pair of TDs (one rushing, one receiving). He rushed for 107 yards on 19 carries and caught four passes for 42 yards.


Ravens

The Ravens' defense

Of course, we'd be remiss if we didn't mention the Ravens' D, which forced a team-record seven turnovers. Three of those came in the third quarter, allowing Baltimore to pull away. Nose tackle Haloti Ngata was a driving force, causing a fumble and deflecting a pass that produced an interception.


Urlacher
Urlacher

Brian Urlacher

Linebacker, Chicago Bears

Jay Cutler had a big game for the Bears (312 passing yards, 2 TDs), but he got plenty of help from Chicago's defense, specifically Urlacher. The veteran linebacker intercepted a Matt Ryan pass in the first quarter and returned a fumble 12 yards for a TD in the third as Chicago routed the Falcons 30-12. Urlacher also led Chicago with 10 tackles.


Fitzpatrick
Fitzpatrick

Ryan Fitzpatrick

Quarterback, Buffalo Bills

Fitzpatrick's crisp passing allowed Buffalo to pull off an impressive upset at Arrowhead Stadium. Fitzpatrick threw four TD passes for the third time in his career, leading Buffalo to a 41-7 victory over the Chiefs. Fitzpatrick completed 17 of 25 passes for 208 yards.


Stafford
Stafford

Matthew Stafford

Quarterback, Detroit Lions

Stafford shook off an early pick-six and guided the Lions to a 27-20 victory at Tampa Bay. Stafford completed 24 of 33 passes, including TD throws of 36 yards and 1 yard to Calvin Johnson and 11 yards to Tony Scheffler. The only interception he threw glanced off the hands of intended receiver Will Heller and was returned 28 yards by Aqib Talib for a score. Stafford became the first Lions quarterback since Bobby Layne in 1953 to have a 300-yard game in a season opener.


Newton
Newton

Cam Newton

Quarterback, Carolina Panthers

His comeback bid fell short, but the rookie deserves a nod regardless. Newton passed for a whopping 422 yards, becoming the first rookie to throw for more than 400 yards in his regular-season debut, and two TDs in Carolina's 28-21 loss to the Cardinals. He completed 24 of 37 passes and also ran for 18 yards and a score.


Benson
Benson

Cedric Benson

Running back, Cincinnati Bengals

The Bengals have some instability at QB. Good thing for them they have a workhorse back. Benson rushed for 128 yards on 25 carries in Cincinnati's 27-17 victory over the Browns. His 39-yard TD run with 1:49 left put the game out of reach.


Ginn
Ginn

Ted Ginn Jr.

Kick returner, San Francisco 49ers

Ginn broke open a close game with two spectacular kick returns for TDs in the fourth quarter. Ginn returned a kickoff 102 yards for a score, then returned a punt 55 yards to pay dirt, sealing the 49ers' 33-17 victory over Seattle. The performance marked a phenomenal turnabout for Ginn, who left the 2010 opener with an injury that sidelined him for weeks.




DUDS

Roethlisberger
Roethlisberger

Ben Roethlisberger

Quarterback, Pittsburgh Steelers

Roethlisberger suffered through what was probably his worst career outing against the Ravens' D. Roethlisberger threw three INTs and lost a pair of fumbles in the Steelers' loss. A good chunk of his 280 passing yards came after Baltimore built a commanding lead.


Johnson
Johnson

Chris Johnson

Running back, Tennessee Titans

Recently rewarded with a new contract, Johnson failed to pay dividends in Week 1. Johnson was held to 24 yards on nine carries (2.7 yard average) in the Titans' 16-14 loss to the Jaguars.


McNabb
McNabb

Donovan McNabb

Quarterback, Minnesota Vikings

McNabb's Vikings debut wasn't pretty. The veteran QB passed for only 39 yards (7-for-15) with one TD and one pick. His longest completion was 12 yards.


Browns

The Browns' defense

The Browns' D kept the Bengals under 300 total yards, but it was done in by a late and costly gaffe. With just less than five minutes left, Bengals rookie WR A.J. Green was left uncovered by the Browns, who were late coming out of the huddle. Green subsequently caught a 41-yard TD pass from Bruce Gradkowski, giving Cincinnati the lead for good in a 27-17 victory.