It has been 216 days since we last saw NFL action, and from everything we have seen so far over the opening weekend of the NFL season, it has been worth the wait.
Tom Brady and the New England Patriots opened the season in Tennessee against the Titans, who were giving Jake Locker his first career NFL start.
New England is coming off a Superbowl loss and looking to take their first steps toward a return to the big game.
The Tennessee Titans begin the season looking to build on their 9-7 finish that saw them finish just outside the playoffs last year.
In the end, New England won handily, 34-13, and here are five things that we learned during the game:
Its not all about the pass in New England
Coming in to 2012, Stevan Ridley took over full-time rushing duties from BenJarvus Green-Ellis, who departed the team via free agency in the offseason.
New England spent both their second and third-round draft picks last season on the running back position, selecting Stevan Ridley and Shane Vereen to bolster what had been a pedestrian rushing game.
Ridley has been the dominant of the pair thus far, as injuries have limited Vereen's contribution to the offense, and out of the lineup entirely against the Titans.
There was some question coming into the season as to whether or not Ridley would be able to carry the load full time in 2012, and if today was any indication, that answer is a resounding YES!
Ridley finished the afternoon with 21 carries for 125 yards and a touchdown, to go along with a pair of catches for 27 yards.
Ridley ran with confidence, finding the openings that New England's patchwork offensive line was able to open up. Ridley's capable running opened up the down field routes for Brandon Lloyd and Aaron Hernandez, while also allowing the Patriots to burn the clock late in the second half.
CJ2K is (for now) a thing of the past
This season was supposed to be one of redemption for Chris Johnson, the embattled Titans' running back. in 2011, Johnson had his worst season in the NFL, totalling a paltry (for him) 1,047 rushing yards, which was a stark contrast to his league leading 2006 rushing yards in 2009.
Johnson came into camp motivated and determined to prove his best days were still ahead of him. The box score of the opener would say otherwise. Johnson finished the day with eleven carries for a total of 4 yards, hardly the results that the former All-Pro was looking for.
Given the fact that the total number of career carries by the rest of the Titan's running backs is a whopping 136, with 118 of those belonging to third-string back Javon Ringer, and the Titans would seem to be tied to Johnson for good or ill for the immediate future.
The Patriots can play defense
In 2011 the New England Patriots fielded one of the worst defenses in the league. Head coach Bill Belichick sought to remedy that in the off-season, investing a number of draft picks to address the issue.
The result was two rookie starters, defensive end Chandler Jones, and linebacker Dont'a Hightower, (who combined for a strip and score in the Patriots victory) as well as a pair of rookie safeties that will see action on special teams and dime defensive packages.
In this day and age of instant offense, the young New England defense held the Titans to under 300 yards total offense, and the caunted Tennessee running game to a grand total of 20 yards. While the Titans are not known as an offensive juggernaut, the defensive performance is one for the Patriots and their fans to take solace in and should provide a solid foundation to build on throughout the season.
Kendall Wright will help Titans fans forget about Kenny Britt
The rookie wide receiver out of Baylor, picked up pretty much where he left off last year at Baylor, where he caught passes from Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III. Wright finished the day with five catches for 37 yards, including a pivotal first down for Tennessee early in the game.
Wright's five catches in six targets were second most on the team, and show that the Titans have an all important weapon in the slot moving forward.
Kenny Britt, who sits atop the Titans' receiver depth chart, did not play against New England while serving a suspension for off-field issues, is expected to return in Week 2, which should only further serve to pen up the underneath that much more for Wright.
Tom Brady is in fact human, and yes, he bleeds
During the second quarter of the game, Brady was chased form the pocket, and sacked by Kamerion Wimbley. As the play concluded, Brady took a hard blow through his face mask, that bloodied his nose and scraped his eyebrow. Brady didn't miss a down, and returned to the field with a bandage across his nose, marring his chiseled visage for the female fans in the Northeast.s
Brady's damage honker was bleeding visibly as he headed off the field following the play, confirming rumors that the record setting quarterback is in fact human, and giving hope to countless men that a supermodel girlfriend/wife could be closer than they ever imagined.