The Final Drive: Week 1, 2014

Judging an NFL team is like online dating. Training camp is checking out their profile. The preseason is when you’re writing messages and getting to know each other before that first meeting/game. Then the game happens and you have this initial impression of that person. It could have been a FANTASTIC date, but that doesn’t mean the same thing will happen on dates two, three, or so on. It could take several weeks to confidently get in bed with one of these teams, but that doesn’t mean there can’t be fireworks on date one. Are we done with this analogy?

Making Me Uncomfortable

I get it. Moving on.

(1-0) Seattle Seahawks 36
(0-1) Green Bay Packers 16

The season opener was a welcome home party for the Super Bowl Champs, who trounced their NFC opponents. It took a little while for them to get going, but when they did… look out everyone else. The Seahawks scored twelve unanswered points to start the second half, two of which came from a safety. These guys are good. Marshawn Lynch ran for 110 yards, pounding Green Bay’s soft defense. (Where was Julius Peppers?) The only thing I can say is that maybe Pete Carroll should go with someone else as his punt returner besides Earl Thomas. Just a thought.

(1-0) Atlanta Falcons 37
(0-1) New Orleans Saints 34

A fumble by Marques Colston in overtime stopped the Saints from re-taking the lead in this back-and-forth affair, which saw Matt Ryan pass for 448 yards and three touchdowns. That was the second turnover for New Orleans, but the game was fairly even throughout despite their mistakes. When they meet again at the Superdome, the Saints will be ready. Atlanta rookie tackle Jake Matthews underwent an MRI on his injured ankle, which took him out of the game yesterday. Luckily x-rays were negative, keeping Matthews off a crowded NFL injury list.

(1-0) Minnesota Vikings 34
(0-1) St. Louis Rams 6

Rams quarterback Shaun Hill, in for the already injured Sam Bradford, exited this game with a left calf injury, giving way to second year pro Austin Davis. Davis was then sacked four times, in true Rams fashion. The Vikes took them to task behind 185 yards on 31 rushing attempts, one of which was a 67-yarder by Cordarelle Patterson. Matt Cassel threw for only 170 yards, but more importantly he didn’t turn the ball over and was only sacked once. That’s exactly how the Vikings are going to win games.

(1-0) Pittsburgh Steelers 30
(0-1) Cleveland Browns 27

The Steelers actually had a 27-3 lead in this game, so you can imagine our collective surprise when in the second half the Browns came out and lit up that Steeler defense for 24 unanswered points, tying the game with 11 minutes left in the fourth quarter. It took all of those 11 minutes for the Steelers to eventually set-up for the game-winning field goal with no time on the clock. Brian Hoyer wasn’t anything special, but rookie running back Terrance West helped the Browns back into the game with 100 yards on only 16 carries. He saw action because Ben Tate left the field with a knee injury. Oh Cleveland. Already? At least they resisted the urge to put Johnny Manziel in at all. And their punter got Street Fighter’d in the face by Antonio Brown.

Antonio Brown

(1-0) Cincinnati Bengals 23
(0-1) Baltimore Ravens 16

The Ravens made news Monday by releasing Ray Rice, after TMZ leaked the footage of him decking his then-fiance. If you didn’t see the footage, I won’t show it here. (I will totally link it, however.) It’s awful. I’m upset that it took this long and the release of the video to finally bring about Rice’s deserved punishment, but I’m glad his now-indefinite suspension happened nonetheless. Still, fuck the NFL for taking this long and probably lying about having never seen the video. YOU’RE THE NFL. TMZ shouldn’t scoop you.

Now for the actual game.

As with the other AFC North match-up, the Bengals jumped out to an early lead in this game, to the tune of 15-0. Baltimore then stormed all the way back when Steve Smith decided to stop dropping balls. It was 16-15 in the fourth quarter when Andy Dalton threw a magical ball to A.J. Green, which was juggled and hauled in for a 77 yard score. The Red Rifle fired true on this day… but maybe next time establish a running game?

Also, fuck the Ravens. This is KARMA you asses. NO FUNNY GIF FOR YOU.

(1-0) Philadelphia Eagles 34
(0-1) Jacksonville Jaguars 17

The football world was shocked and dismayed when the Jaguars took a 17-point lead on the NFC East favorite Eagles. Nick Foles had three turnovers in the first half, a problem he didn’t have in 2013. But a 34-point second half behind 145 yards rushing from LeSean McCoy and Darren Sproles locked down the win for Chip Kelly’s squad. The Jaguars had trouble running the ball, with only 64 yards on 25 carries. They won’t win a game this year that Chad Henne in which has to throw 43 times. Believe that.

(1-0) New York Jets 19
(0-1) Oakland Raiders 14

We have to talk about this game… don’t we. Ugh. Chris Ivory broke out a 71-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter, the only play on that Jet scoring drive. New York ran for 212 yards on the Raiders, who only managed 25 yards of their own on the ground. Geno Smith only threw five incompletions on his 28 passes, a fantastic showing aside from the one interception. Oakland was a hot mess, but rookie Derek Carr did what he could to de-funk his team. Dude didn’t throw a pick and had no running game behind him. Can’t blame him for this loss.

(1-0) Houston Texans 17
(0-1) Washington Offensive Names 6

Just as we were starting to see the intensity that was a Watt/Clowney d-line, we were been robbed! Jadeveon Clowney will miss 4-6 weeks with a meniscus tear. Houston forced two fumbles, one from RG3, who had a rough outing to start the season. There are correctable errors for Washington (like their surname), mostly on the offensive side of the ball. Their red zone gameplan needs work. For Houston, they discovered the way to win with Ryan Fitzpatrick: don’t let him throw a lot.

(1-0) Tennessee Titans 26
(0-1) Kansas City Chiefs 10

The Chiefs simply found no consistent offensive production on Sunday. They only had the ball for 22 minutes and didn’t even break 250 total yards. Jamaal Charles had seven carries. Seven. That’s inexcusable for a team with Alex Smith as their quarterback. Yeah, the Alex Smith that tossed three interceptions in this game. If Smith isn’t going to be their “efficient game-manager,” Andy Reid’s team is in trouble.

(1-0) Miami Dolphins 33
(0-1) New England Patriots 20

I have to say, I’m totally stunned that the Patriots would be this sluggish to start the season, but maybe we should have seen it coming given the recent change-up to their offensive line. Without Logan Mankins, Tom Brady was under pressure all afternoon, taking four sacks. He also dropped back 56 other times. THAT’S A LOT BILL. Knock it off man, you’re going to get him killed. For Miami, Dannell Ellerbee is on IR now, which really screws with their revamped linebacking corps. Ellerbee had switched to outside linebacker after a weak first season in Miami. This makes his first two years as a Dolphin a near waste after signing a big contract. Know what’s not a waste? Signing Knowshon Moreno, who tallied 134 yards for Miami. Congratulations Miami, I know who your running back is!

(1-0) Carolina Panthers 20
(0-1) Tampa Bay Buccaneers 14

One of only two afternoon games, this contest featured two journeyman back-up QB’s that were tabbed for the start. Only Derek Anderson was in because of an injury to Cam Newton. The Bucs actually wanted to start Josh McCown, for some reason. McCown whipped two interceptions on the day, that when added to Bobby Rainey’s fumble, means the Bucs coughed up three turnovers to Carolina’s none. Kelvin Benjamin had an awfully impressive first game as a Panther receiver, giving Anderson a viable target aside from Greg Olsen.

(1-0) San Francisco 49ers 28
(0-1) Dallas Cowboys 17

The Cowboys made me so happy. After my Bears lost in the first game, I was looking for some comfort Sunday afternoon. I found it in the flailing arms of the Cowboys, who did not let me down. A fumble in the first minute of the game was recovered by the Niners and ran back 35 yards for a score, a lead San Fran would not relinquish. They pounded Dallas for the rest of the game and picked off Tony Romo three times, all of which were terrible decisions by Romo. I loved everything about this game.

Hugged You In My Mind

You always know how to make me feel better, Dallas.

(1-0) Denver Broncos 31
(0-1) Indianapolis Colts 24

The Broncos jumped out to a 24-point lead, thanks to three Julius Thomas touchdown grabs in the second quarter. And then in typical Denver fashion, they let the Colts creep back into it. Andrew Luck started “wiiling” his team to victory, mostly because the Broncos couldn’t rely on their ground game to move the chains late. The Broncos are going to score their points this season, but if they go through long stretches where their offense is unable to stay on the field, their defense is going to exhaust itself.

Oh, and if the loss wasn’t bad enough, the Colts lost defensive end Robert Mathis for the season with an Achilles tear… while he was working out away from the team serving his suspension. Wah Wah.

(1-0) Detroit Lions 35
(0-1) New York Giants 14

The Giants’ offense is just dreadful. Like, awful. Their fourteen points gives them the illusion of competence here, but don’t be confused. They forgot about Victor Cruz. They ran for 53 yards all game. Eli Manning completed only 18 of his 33 passes, which doesn’t include the two completions he threw to the Lions. If you’re a fan of the G-Men…


But you should start now.

(1-0) Arizona Cardinals 18
(0-1) San Diego Chargers 17

I’ll freely admit: I passed out around halftime of this game, but hey, I was awake long enough to see a Philip Rivers interception, which always cheers me up. The Cardinals took a committee approach to their running attack, which complemented a 304 yard passing night from Carson Palmer. Strangely enough, of those 304 yards? Only 22 were from Larry Fitzgerald, who took until the fourth quarter to reel in his first catch. Yikes. As of right now he’s on pace for 16 catches and 352 yards this season. MATH.


The Final Drive of week one is complete. We can now return to our regularly scheduled football… which means a Thursday night game on CBS? Bullocks. We’ll be back later in the week with a preview! Hopefully there will be time for those non-football posts as well. No promises.