USA TODAY US Edition
50 things we learned on Sunday,
In honor of Super Bowl 50, we offer 50 observations each week
1. After an offseason of debate about throwing at the goal line in the Super Bowl, the first play of the Seattle Seahawks’ season fittingly was a handoff to Marshawn Lynch. So was the last play … which got blown up on fourth-and-1 as the St. Louis Rams put away an overtime win.
2. Baltimore Ravens LB Terrell Suggs is out for the season after suffering a torn Achilles. Perhaps Ray Lewis can hook him up with some deer antler spray.
3. Johnny Football. You might have heard Johnny Manziel played. And played well at the start. And then he played like he did last season.
4. Jameis Winston will not forget his first NFL pass. He would like to, but it will be tough. It was intercepted and returned for a touchdown.
5. Marcus Mariota, on the other hand, had four touchdown passes in the first half and finished the game with a perfect passer rating.
6. Ravens vs. Denver Broncos. The dramatic ending we expected — Joe Flacco being intercepted at the goal line — and worthy of two teams we expect to see playing in January.
7. James Jones being back with the Green Bay Packers might be a lot more important to the team’s Super Bowl chances than we all figured.
8. The Buffalo Bills were sending seven defenders at Indianapolis Colts QB Andrew Luck on seemingly every passing down, especially early in the game. All-out blitzes. It worked.
9. According to ESPN, New York Giants defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul lost several fingers in that fireworks accident, not just one. He might miss the season.
10. According to Fox, Miami Dolphins teammates LaMichael James and Jarvis Landry had a brief spat last week. Both apologized to each other and the team. Landry had a monster game Sunday.
11. Buddy Ryan attended son Rex’s opener in Buffalo. A proud dad after that performance, we’re sure.
12. Not enough brown in those new uniforms, Cleveland Browns. Just sayin’.
13. Cornerback Marcus Peters, the Kansas City Chiefs’ firstround pick, intercepted Houston Texans quarterback Brian Hoyer on the first snap of his NFL career.
14. Winner: Kam Chancellor. His negotiating position just improved. His replacement as Seattle’s strong safety, Dion Bailey, surrendered the tying touchdown to Rams TE Lance Kendricks at the end of the fourth quarter.
15. Loser: Coach Chuck Pagano. The Colts were chic Super Bowl picks in many quarters but didn’t look ready for the Bills, who shut out Indianapolis in the first half before winning 27-14.
16. Seattle didn’t have a puntor kick-return TD in 2014. Rookie WR Tyler Lockett gave the team its first of this season in the first quarter against St. Louis.
17. Let the record show Texans kicker Randy Bullock was the first to miss the longer extra point.
18. On the other hand, Travis Coons nailed a 48-yard extra point for the Browns.
19. LeSean McCoy had -5 yards in his first five carries with the Bills. He finished with 41 yards on 17 carries.
20. Rams fans who purchased a program were greeted with an ad from a company that called itself “The Official Moving Company of the St. Louis Rams.” Awkward.
21. Fireman Ed was at the New York Jets game. That is all.
22. Winners: AFC East. This could be the new power division after all four of its teams began 1-0.
23. Jay Cutler, even on a good day, is still Jay Cutler. Sorry, Chicago Bears fans. According to ESPN Stats, he has thrown an interception in every start against the Packers since joining the Bears.
24. St. Louis QB Nick Foles got strip-sacked by Seattle CB Cary Williams, who then returned it for a TD. They were teammates last season with the Philadelphia Eagles.
25. Classy move by the San Diego Chargers to invite Junior Seau’s three children onto the field at Qualcomm Stadium before the game to honor their late father, who was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame this summer.
26. Texans coach Bill O’Brien wasn’t lying when he was shown telling his quarterbacks during an episode of “Hard Knocks” that he wouldn’t stick with Hoyer long if it wasn’t working. He yanked Hoyer in the fourth quarter
27. CBS gave viewers constant reaction shots from now thirdstring Washington Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III — following so many of new starter Kirk Cousins’ throws.
28. Winners: Matt Forte’s fantasy owners. The Bears tailback had 29 touches for 166 yards and a touchdown Sunday. Apparently Chicago will put the ball in his hands as much as possible this season.
29. Loser: Cam Newton. His Kelvin Benjamin-less offense produced 263 yards and one touchdown. The supporting cast around Newton likely will put added pressure on the Carolina Panthers defense, especially if MLB Luke Kuechly’s concussion proves severe.
30. Detroit Lions running back Ameer Abdullah took his first carry in the NFL 24 yards for a touchdown.
31. Chiefs quarterback Alex Smith threw three touchdown passes but none to a wide receiver. Smith’s last TD to a receiver came Dec. 8, 2013.
32. On the Bills’ first offensive play, Matt Cassel was at quarterback and Tyrod Taylor at wide receiver. Taylor took over at quarterback on the following play, a 20-yard completion to McCoy.
33. Winner: Taylor. Making his first NFL start, the new Bills quarterback justified Ryan’s faith in him by playing efficient, virtually mistake-free football. Taylor passed for 195 yards and a TD while adding 41 yards with his legs. Ground and pound, baby.
34. Loser: Cousins. It’s his team according to coach Jay Gruden, but the new quarterback continued his pattern of mistakes with two interceptions in Washington’s loss.
35. The Texans had won their five previous season openers.
36. The Browns have lost an NFL-record 11 openers. in a row.
37. The Colts’ struggles to stop the run have carried over to this season. The Bills ran 36 times for 147 yards and two touchdowns.
38. Seattle offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell surely would’ve approved of the Colts’ first touchdown against the Bills. Donte Moncrief was wide open on a virtually identical play to the one that turned into an in- terception and sealed Seattle’s Super Bowl loss.
39. Browns receiver Brian Hartline’s on-his-knees, one-handed, not-the-intended-receiver catch was one of the best random plays you’ll see all season.
40. Cincinnati Bengals CB Adam (nee Pacman) Jones still has behavioral issues, after ripping off the helmet of Oakland Raiders rookie WR Amari Cooper then slamming the back of his head onto the headgear.
41. Brandon Marshall might be the safety net the Jets need to stabilize their uneven passing game. Marshall excelled in the red zone and bailed out Ryan Fitzpatrick by ripping the ball away from Browns safety Tashaun Gipson after an interception.
42. Colts wide receiver T.Y. Hilton left the game against the Bills with a bruised left knee that team owner Jim Irsay said likely will sideline him for a few weeks.
43. The Dolphins are continuing a disturbing trend from Joe Philbin’s tenure with the team: They play down to lesser opponents. The team’s offense came out flat in the first half, rushing for 2 yards, but the most concerning questions from Miami’s victory were mental lapses on defense.
44. Look out for the Arizona Cardinals. Carson Palmer threw three touchdown passes in his first game since last season’s ACL injury and the Cardinals beat the New Orleans Saints. Palmer has a 14-2 record in his last 16 starts.
45. Broncos QB Peyton Manning didn’t throw for a touchdown in 11 preseason possessions, and he didn’t reach the goal line in 10 full possessions Sunday.
46. If the Redskins have any hope to improve, they will need to limit turnovers and run the ball. With Cousins throwing two interceptions in Sunday’s loss, the team couldn’t achieve the first one. But after Washington rushed for 161 yards on 37 attempts for a 4.4 yards-per-carry average against the Dolphins, the franchise might be able to compete with a consistent ground game.
47. Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers can still sling it. His 404 yards set a record for most by a San Diego quarterback in a season opener, according to ESPN Stats.
48. With the Rams and Redskins meeting next week for the third time since their 2012 trade that helped Washington land Griffin, St. Louis has plenty to boast about, netting four starters. Yeah, it’s going to be another long week in Washington.
49. We also noticed that next week the Dallas Cowboys travel to Philadelphia. Get your popcorn ready, NFC East fans.
50. But the one we are already waiting for them to tee up: New England Patriots at Buffalo. We’ll need a beverage with our popcorn for that one.