Week 1 awards: Chiefs QB Smith rises to chal­lenge

USA TODAY US Edition - - SPORTS - Jar­rett Bell @Jar­ret­tBell USA TO­DAY Sports

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.

ERICH SCHLEGEL, USA TO­DAY SPORTS

Gi­ants wide re­ceiver Vic­tor Cruz, play­ing for the first time since Oc­to­ber 2014, is tack­led by Bran­don Carr on Sun­day.

DENNY MED­LEY, USA TO­DAY SPORTS

Quar­ter­back Alex Smith ral­lied the Chiefs from a 21-point deficit and scored the win­ning touch­down in over­time.

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