Week 1 is officially history. 32 teams had a chance to start the season on the right foot, but only 16 accomplished their goal. In every competitive game, not just football, there is a deciding factor. A moment of clarity, a swing of momentum, where every team knows “we got this game.” It could happen at any time of the game, and it could be an assortment of plays. A tackle, an interception, a catch, a penalty, could win or lose the game for a team. These are the deciding factors from last week.
Baltimore Ravens at Denver Broncos:
If you have been living under a rock the past 14 years here is a newsflash: Peyton Manning is pretty good. In Denver's 49-27 romp of defending Super Bowl champs the Baltimore Ravens, Manning threw for an NFL record-tying seven touchdowns. Surprisingly, the deciding factor of this game was not a Manning touchdown. It was a dropped pass by Wes Welker in the third quarter that was ruled a catch. Raven's coach John Harbaugh failed to throw the challenge flag, resulting in the possession being prolonged and eventually a touchdown for the Broncos. From there, Manning took care of business.
New England Patriots at Buffalo Bills:
EJ Manuel certainly impressed in his first career start, as his Bills almost beat a Patriots team that was on nine straight winning streak on opening day. But it was conservative play that killed the Bills. With a three point lead and the ball with under seven minutes remaining, the Bills tried to run out the clock instead of continuing to attack. Their first play they ran it for a minimum game. Then an incomplete pass, followed by a dump off. This gave Tom Brady and company a little over five minutes to put up at least a field goal. A big no-no in the NFL.
Tennessee Titans at Pittsburgh Steelers:
In possibly the biggest upset this week, the Titans stuck it to the Steelers 16-9. The Steelers appeared to be off to a great start. On the opening kickoff they got a safety. Then, on their first possession, they drove the ball down the field. But a fumble by Issac Redman inside the five-yard line killed the drive, and apparently killed the Steelers offense as they did not score another point until garbage time late in the fourth quarter.
Atlanta Falcons at New Orleans Saints:
Matt Ryan had to of had flashbacks of last years NFC Championship game, as the Falcons saw themselves down six late in the fourth quarter with a 1st & goal and a chance to win the game. Unfortunately for Ryan it ended with the same result. Ryan attempted four passes, one was dropped by Steven Jackson and another was picked off as the Saints clinched the game.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers at New York Jets:
Josh Freeman was about to have yet another come from behind win, but had it ripped away from him the second Lavonte David shoved Geno Smith when he was already out of bounds. The play resulted in a fifteen yard penalty, and it put the Jets into field goal range. Kicker Nick Folk sealed the game with a 48-yard field goal to put the Jets ahead 18-17 with two seconds remaining.
Kansas City Chiefs at Jacksonville Jaguars:
Sometimes the deciding factor of a game is simply your opponent. The Jacksonville Jaguars never had a glimpse of winning this game as they were embarrassed 28-2 by a seemingly revived Chiefs franchise.
Seattle Seahawks at Carolina Panthers:
Prior to the season, the Seahawks were Super Bowl favorites by many. After this week their bandwagon may be slightly less heavy, but not much. The Panthers kept the game close, even with Cam Newton having a sub-par game, and even had a chance to take the lead late. That is until DeAngelo Williams fumbled the ball inside the red zone with 5:25 remaining, allowing the Seahawks to ice the game.
Cincinnati Bengals at Chicago Bears:
In one of the more evenly matched games of the weekend, the Bears defeated the Bengals 24-21. Every team in the AFC North is now 0-1. The deciding factor of this game was a late fumble by Bengals' wide receiver Mohamed Sanu. The fumble occured as the Bengals were close to putting the game out of reach. The Bears took over on their own 19-yard line down by four and capped the drive with a Jay Cutler 19-yard strike to Brandon Marshall for the go-ahead score. One astonishing stat from the game: Jay Cutler was not sacked.
Miami Dolphins at Cleveland Browns:
Cleveland has not won an opening home game since 2004. If they ever had a shot, it was against this Miami Dolphins team and its young offense. But still, the Browns came up short. The game changing moment could have been any of Brandon Weedens three interceptions, but the Dolphins did not capitalize off them. It took until the fourth quarter, when Tannehill threw a 34-yard touchdown to Brian Hartline, to create any separation. After that touchdown, the Dolphins coasted to victory
Minnesota Vikings at Detroit Lions:
It initially appeared that Adrian Peterson was not lying when he said he plans on breaking the rushing record this year. On his first carry he broke off for a 78-yard touchdown. But after that he was contained, yardage wise that is. The game was close the first half, then the Lions offense started clicking in the third. The Lions' moment of clarity was Reggie Bush's absurd 77-yard reception. This put the Lions up 27-17. The Vikings did answer with a touchdown their next possession, but failed to score the rest of the game.
Oakland Raiders at Indianapolis Colts:
First things first, props to Terrelle Pryor. Pryor broke the Raiders' franchise single-game rushing record for a quarterback in just his second career start. However, a costly 16-yard sack inside the red zone with 68 seconds left in the game led to desperate plays by the Raiders. This resulted in an interception by Antoine Bethea, and the Colts eked out a victory against a young Oakland Raiders squad.
Green Bay Packers at San Francisco 49ers:
The second most anticipated game of week 1, behind the Ravens versus the Broncos, was the Packers versus the 49ers, and it did not disappoint. The biggest play of this game may have been yet another squandered call by the referees against the Packers. After the game, referee Bill Leavy even said they had made a mistake. On a third down play in the second quarter there were two dead ball penalties that should have resulted in the down counting and the penalties offsetting. But the refs allowed the 49ers to replay the down and Colin Kaepernick found Anquan Boldin for a 10-yard touchdown. The Packers wound up losing by six.
Arizona Cardinals at St. Louis Rams:
In another close, but certainly overlooked, game, the Rams squeaked out a 27-24 victory over the Cardinals. The key factor of this game happened on the Rams' last drive as Sam Bradford completed a 25-yard pass to newly acquired tight end Jared Cook. This led to a tiebreaking field goal by Greg Zuerlein with 40 seconds remaining in the game
New York Giants at Dallas Cowboys:
Any six of the Giants turnovers could easily be the deciding factor of the game. But there was one in particular turnover that clinched the game for the Cowboys. Late in the fourth quarter the Giants were somehow still hanging in there, only trailing by six with the ball. Some would argue the Giants had the Cowboys right where they wanted them. Since, who some people call the clutchest quarterback in the league, Eli Manning was beginning his two minute drive. But a pass off the hands of running back Da'Rel Scott landed right in the arms of Brandon Carr who then returned it for a touchdown, putting the game away.
Philadelphia Eagles at Washington Redskins:
Coming into this game nobody knew whether or not Chip Kelly's offense could translate into the big leagues. Well Kelly has silenced his ney-sayers for now, as the Eagles offense steam-rolled the Redskins in the first half. The defining moment of this game occurred once the Michael Vick and the Eagles' offense stepped onto the field. Although their first possession resulted in a weird lateral pass returned for a touchdown, the Redskins could not stop the Eagles. After being up by as much as 33-7, it seemed the Eagles took their foot off the gas which allowed the Redskins to almost complete a comeback. But everyone knew the game was solely dominated by the Eagles
Houston Texans at San Diego Chargers:
The Chargers seemed to be coasting past the AFC South favorite Houston Texans. Then the Texans turned on the switch and rallied from 21 down to beat the Chargers with a last second field goal. The deciding factor of this game came from Texans linebacker Brian Cushing. Halfway through the fourth quarter, Cushing made a diving interception and then returned returned it for a touchdown to tie the game. From there on the Texans had all the momentum.