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Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

NFL Week 1 recap: From NE to NO

Published: September 16, 2005
Section: Sports

Finally the four thousand plus New Orleans residents who had been living in the Houston Astrodome had something to cheer about as they watched their New Orleans Saints win their first regular season game. Days earlier, Saints players such as Joe Horn visited the Astrodome, where fans made homeless by the hurricane asked for one thing, a victory in week one. While none of the Saints promised anything, they certainly came through with an emotional last second victory with a 47-yard field goal to beat the Carolina Panthers 23-20. Unfortunately, the Saints are still without a home stadium after Hurricane Katrina damaged the Superdome, and they will be splitting their seven home games between LSUs Stadium and the Alamodome in San Antonio, Texas.

After an off-season filled with Terrell Owenss drama, the retirement of NFL great Jerry Rice and many major other deals across the League, the 2005 NFL regular season kicked off last Thursday night when the defending Super Bowl Champion New England Patriots hosting the Oakland Raiders. The Patriots hoped to keep their long run of success alive, and the Raiders tried to take advantage of a damaged New England defense with their newly acquired weapons in wide receiver Randy Moss and running back LaMont Jordan. However, the Patriots managed to keep the Raiders rebuffed offense in check, winning 30-20, even without star cornerback Ty Law and linebackers Tedy Bruschi and Ted Johnson who had helped lead the team to 3 Super Bowl Victories in the last four years.

The Patriots success was a relative rarity this week, as only three other teams that made the playoffs last year managed to pull off a win in week one: the Indianapolis Colts, the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Atlanta Falcons. However, it was business as usual for the Colts as they took on the Baltimore Ravens Sunday night, beating them 24-7, with Peyton Manning throwing for two touchdowns, including his 83rd touchdown pass to receiver Marvin Harrison, moving them to two touchdowns behind the NFL record held by 49ers legends Steve Young and Jerry Rice.

Meanwhile, other expected powerhouses such as the New York Jets, and Green Bay Packers both suffered extremely painful losses, with Jets quarterback Chad Pennington fumbling the ball a close to record six times, in their 27-7 loss to the Kansas City Chiefs. Future Hall of Famer Brett Favre uncharacteristically did not get his team into the end zone a single time in their hard to watch 17-3 loss to the Detroit Lions, which was capped off by a season ending injury to Packers receiver Javon Walker.

Not only were their surprisingly bad performances, but there were also surprisingly good ones, such as the work of the Dallas Cowboys, where quarterback Drew Bledsoe was reunited with his former coach, Bill Parcels, and managed to throw three touchdown passes, two of which were to veteran wide out Keyshawn Johnson. Their fourth quarter road win against the San Diego Chargers, surprised many experts who picked San Diego to win thanks to quarterback Drew Brees impressive performance last season.

Another shocking event was the success of the Miami Dolphins with new NFL Coach Nick Saban going up against the Denver Broncos. The success was attributed both to the offense who, led by quarterback Guss Frerotte managed three second half scoring drives. The defense was impressive, where veteran stars Zach Thomas and Jason Taylor stepped up. Thomas held back Denver running back Tatum Bell on an impressive goal-line stand and Jason Taylor recovered a fumble from Jake Plummer and returned it 85 yards for a touchdown, that put a cap on four quarters of impressive play from a team that had only four regular season wins last season.

Another surprise was the New York Giants who, with two touchdowns on special teams, two rushing touchdowns and two passing touchdowns from Eli Manning, ran over the Arizona Cardinals by a score of 42-19. The Cardinals had been hoping for a fresh start with former Super Bowl Champion and two-time League MVP quarterback Kurt Warner at the helm, but alas managed only one offensive touchdown. It was not nearly enough to compete with the performance of Warners former understudy Eli Manning.
Finally, Monday Night Football started off with a bang as Eagles Linebacker Jeremiah Trotter, as well as Falcons Cornerback Kevin Mathis, were ejected before the start of the game for a fight that broke out during pre-game warm-ups. Things got even uglier for the Eagles who were unable to produce much on offense and were never able to catch up to the two touchdowns that the Falcons scored in the first quarter in their 14-10 loss to Atlanta.

With week one over, NFL fans turn to week two with several exciting match-ups including New England at Carolina (a rematch of Super Bowl XXXVIII), a game with the better than expected Miami Dolphins visiting division rivals the New York Jets (who have a lot to prove after this weeks performance), and a Monday Night doubleheader with the Giants against the Saints, two teams that played impressively in their first week, and Bill Parcels Cowboys hosting the Washington Redskins.