Welcome to the Fifth Quarter, the only NFL recap column you’ll ever need. It’s the only one to provide a full day’s supply of Vitamin C, after all. Here’s what was going on around the rest of the league while you were selfishly focused on your home team and your fantasy players.
They are the NFL’s version of the walking dead, players whose names you recognize but whose games you loathe. Maybe they never achieved the promise they’d shown in college; maybe you drafted them thinking that one three-touchdown performance was trend, not fluke. Whatever, they infect NFL rosters all across the league … but for one day, at least, three of the Walking Dead rose up and played some darn impressive football.
• Reggie Bush of Detroit remains one of the few men to encounter a Kardashian in the wild and live to tell the tale. Compared to that, Detroit must have seemed like a Bermuda beach. Bush put up 191 yards of total offense, including a 77-yard touchdown sprint in the third quarter. It’s not often you can outshine Adrian Peterson on the same field, but Reggie Bush did, and yes, we’re as scared of this strange new world as you are.
• Terrelle Pryor was only named the Raiders’ starter when the team realized it actually did need to field a quarterback. Amazingly, he played well, and not in the usual “at least he didn’t set himself on fire in the huddle” standard that we have for most Oakland players. He threw for 217 yards and a touchdown and ran for a team-record 112, and the Raiders darn near shocked the Colts. Pryor’s two interceptions were a real problem, but at least he’s got some good to go with the bad. Baby steps.
• Tyrann Mathieu didn’t even get the chance to play in the NFL before he was labeled a washout thanks to his, uh, recreational habits while at LSU. But Mathieu promised to turn himself around, and in his NFL debut for Arizona on Sunday, he turned in a fine effort, including a touchdown-saving fumble force on Jared Cook pictured above. Let’s hope Tyrann celebrated wisely.
Granted, all three of these cats may regress to the team-killing mean next week. Lord knows they’ve done it before, time and time and time again. But at least guys like Shonn Greene and Rashard Mendenhall have reason to hope again.
Running down the biggest stories of Week 1. We'll try not to catch you offsides.
• Welcome back, Sean Payton. The New Orleans coach returned to the sidelines after a year's suspension related to the payment-for-causing-injury Bountygate scandal, and helped his team engineer an ugly-but-it-still-counts 23-17 win over hated rival Atlanta. Drew Brees was predictably spectacular, throwing for 13 miles or so, but the Saints' defense got a gift from above when Atlanta couldn't convert a last-second charge. We are thrilled that Payton is back on the sidelines and wish him nothing but happiness and good tidings, a sentiment not at all related to Bountygate.
• Tom Brady, luckiest man alive. As long as Tom Brady and Bill Belichick are together in New England, they're a lock to be a playoff threat. They seem like the kind of duo that could take any collection of clowns off the street and win an NFL game, and they proceeded to do exactly that on Sunday with a closer-than-it-should-have-been last-second 23-21 win over Buffalo. Play your cards right, Pats fans, and you too could be a New England receiver at some point this season.
• The Packers hate the West. A year after getting (possibly) screwed by replacement refs in a classic game against Seattle, the Packers got legitimately screwed by the real refs in Sunday's epic 49ers battle. A referee mistakenly gave San Francisco an extra down after offsetting penalties, and Colin Kaepernick used it to throw a touchdown pass to Anquan Boldin. Margin of victory for San Francisco? Six points. Yeah.
• Stupidity works in the Jets' favor? What world is this? If we'd said that a game would be decided on a moronic roughing-the-passer penalty, you'd have bet the mortgage on it being the Jets game, and you'd have won a second mortgage. But then you'd have lost your new winnings by betting on it being the Jets actually committing the penalty. No, believe it or not, somebody else did something dumber than Gang Green this week: Tampa Bay's Lavonte David, who shoved Jets QB Geno Smith out of bounds, giving New York a shot at a game-winning field goal. Amazingly, the Jets didn't kick the ball straight into the turf, escaping with an 18-17 win.
• Eli Manning vs. Tony Romo: The Battle To Suck Less. If you skipped the end of Sunday night's Dallas Cowboys/New York Giants game, either to watch "Breaking Bad" or because you couldn't stand the horror of New York's six-turnover performance, we can't say we blame you. But you missed an important chapter in the ongoing "Does he suck or not?" debate between Eli Manning and Tony Romo. Manning has two Super Bowl rings, but every time he drops back to pass it's like watching a kid running with scissors. Romo has a well-deserved reputation for playoff chokery, but on this night he was demonstrably better than Eli ... and Romo won the game, which counts for something. The battle continues.
In which we recap every game in seven words. Ready ... go!
Denver 49, Baltimore 27: Peyton Manning will crush your team’s soul.
New England 23, Buffalo 21: Last-minute field goals: a dynasty tradition.
Seattle 12, Carolina 7: Seahawks still firing on all preseason cylinders.
Chicago 24, Cincinnati 21: Cutler engineers fourth-quarter win. Wait, what?
Miami 23, Cleveland 10: Browns 1-14 in last 15 Week 1s.
Detroit 34, Minnesota 24: Can’t run Peterson every single play, Vikes.
Indianapolis 21, Oakland 17: Oakland actually not embarrassing in this loss.
Kansas City 28, Jacksonville 2: Now waiting for a 4-point game.
New Orleans 23, Atlanta 17: The field’s 100 yards, not 97, Atlanta.
New York Jets 18, Tampa Bay 17: The Geno Smith Dynasty is upon us.
Tennessee 16, Pittsburgh 9: Roethlisberger’s got this, y’all. Chill out.
San Francisco 34, Green Bay 28: The Battle of Who Could Score Last.
St. Louis 27, Arizona 24: Sam Bradford, worldbeater. We can’t believe it either.
Dallas 36. New York Giants 31: Eli Manning will crush his team’s soul.
Philadelphia at Washington: How long before RG3’s knees just detonate?
Houston at San Diego: JJ Watt will bail early, hit beach.
In case reading’s too much work, here’s Yahoo! Sports’ own Kevin Kaduk giving you the biggest moments of Week 1 in our new video series “NFL in :90.” (Reminder: you can catch Kaduk, me and our pal Frank Schwab every Tuesday and Friday on the Shutdown Corner Podcast.)
Champ, non-Peyton Manning category: Anquan Boldin, San Francisco. One of many Ravens who left Charm City after the Super Bowl, Boldin appeared destined for that “versatile but unspectacular veteran receiver” role for the length of one more big contract. Thanks to Colin Kaepernick and Jim Harbaugh, though, the newest 49er caught 13 passes for 208 yards. Sure, everybody’s going to start him on their fantasy roster and he’ll catch three balls for 28 against Seattle, but that’s next week. Let’s enjoy the moment.
Chump: Steven Jackson, Atlanta. When you’re part of the Atlanta Falcons offense, you don’t have to carry much of the load yourself. But you do have to carry something. New Falcon Steven Jackson pulled that trick your one jerk buddy does while moving of pretending to lift his corner of the sofa, leaving you with most of the weight. Jackson dropped three critical passes, including a potential game-winner. Thankfully for the Falcons, most Atlanta fans were still riding the delirium from the Bulldogs beating South Carolina the night before.
Definition of optimism: a Lions fan who pastes an “Is this the year?” article on the inside of his van windows. How old is that article? How old is that van? Who’s going to read it there, anyway? He doesn’t really live in there, does he? But fortunately for this fellow and his Motor City ilk, Detroit now has the league’s best record at 1-0. That makes the bullhorn just marginally less annoying.
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Each week, we’ll make a random Super Bowl pick based on trends, stats or general nonquantifiable gut feelings. One of these weeks, we’ll be right. Probably right after both conference championships.
49ers vs. Broncos. Going way out on a limb here with this one, I know. The Broncos were, without a doubt, the most complete team of the week on both sides of the ball. For the 49ers, the challenge will be defense. Anybody Aaron Rodgers’ level and above—which, granted, is a class of three, maybe four—will find the holes. But for the next seven days, we’re going San Francisco vs. Denver as our Super Bowl picks.
And that's a wrap for this week's edition of Fifth Quarter. Got a question? Comment? Concern? Rant? Hit me up at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter at @jaybusbee. We’ll run your words here or in Thursday’s weekly letters column. For now, enjoy the week. It's not long 'til more football!