Week 1 awards: Chiefs QB Smith rises to challenge
A few kudos and observations from Week 1. Stud of the week: Alex Smith. The Kansas City Chiefs rallied from a 21-point deficit against the San Diego Chargers to produce the largest comeback win in franchise history, and Smith did his part by passing for 363 yards on a careerhigh 34 completions. He also used his legs to provide the finishing touch in overtime with a 2-yard touchdown scamper. Defensive player of the week: NaVorro Bowman. As usual, the San Francisco 49ers linebacker was all over the field Monday night to lead the charge for a unit that pitched a shutout against the Los Angeles Rams. Bowman had a team-high nine tackles (seven solo) that helped keep Todd Gurley in check (2.8 yards per carry) and an interception that added to Case Keenum’s frustration. Rookie of the week: Carson Wentz. If one game can be an indication, it looks like the Cleveland Browns blew it in bypassing the chance to draft Wentz, whose debut for the Philadelphia Eagles — against Cleveland — was pretty much a best-case scenario. He passed for 278 yards and two TDs and avoided major blunders. In Philly, where a rookie quarterback hadn’t started the opener since Davey O’Brien in 1939, that will earn you some love. Comeback player of the
week: Victor Cruz. In his first game since October 2014 — he had been out with a torn patellar tendon and subsequent injuries — the New York Giants slot receiver scored the winning touchdown at the Dallas Cowboys on a 3-yard mission over the middle. Of course, he performed the salsa, like old times. More important, after such a long journey back that was interrupted by setbacks, Cruz was an integral part of the attack (four catches for 34 yards while playing 89% of the offensive snaps) and held up.
This week’s genius: Jack Del Rio. The Oakland Raiders coach, beginning his second season with the club, backed up his declarations about changing the culture by bucking conventional NFL wisdom and going for two points — and the win — in the final stages at the New Orleans Saints. What nerve. If it backfires, the Raiders lose and Del Rio wears a dunce cap. But it worked, allowing Del Rio in his postgame speech to players to invoke the mantra made famous by the late, great Al Davis: “Just win, baby!” Boneheaded blunder: The lack of awareness demonstrated by Cowboys receiver Terrance Williams at the end of the loss to the Giants will go down as one of the worst examples of situational football you’ll ever see. Why not run out of bounds to stop the clock? It would have set up a field goal try in the 58-yard range for Dan Bailey, who already had booted two field goals north of 50. Instead, all 12 seconds on the clock ran out as Williams cut inside to fight for a few extra yards.
How ya like me now? Jim Caldwell was dumped as Indianapolis Colts coach after a 2-14 finish in 2011, when Peyton Manning was sidelined by a neck injury. Well, Caldwell went back to Indy with his Detroit Lions and beat his successor, Chuck Pagano, in springing one of the biggest upsets of Week 1.
Did you notice? New York Jets cornerback Darrelle Revis spent Sunday shadowing Cincinnati Bengals star A.J. Green, and it’s clear that more people needed to be on Revis Island. Green caught 12 passes for 180 yards in Cincinnati’s win. Revis is perhaps still one of the NFL’s best corners, but it’s apparent he’s no longer the guy to match against an elite receiver without worry. Stat’s the fact: Russell Wilson threw a career-high 43 passes against the Miami Dolphins, providing further proof that in the post-Marshawn Lynch era for the Seattle Seahawks, the offense will likely increasingly revolve around the quarterback’s arm.
Giants wide receiver Victor Cruz, playing for the first time since October 2014, is tackled by Brandon Carr on Sunday.
Quarterback Alex Smith rallied the Chiefs from a 21-point deficit and scored the winning touchdown in overtime.