Week one in the NFL proved to be just what fans wanted, with exciting last-second finishes, surprising blowouts and former college stars making an impact with their new NFL teams.
The NFL season started off with a bang Thursday night with the defending Super Bowl Champion Green Bay Packers outlasting the New Orleans Saints in a 42-34 thriller. The Saints marched down the field to tie the game with seconds left, but rookie running back Mark Ingram was halted at the goal line as time expired.
Packersâ€™ defensive stars Clay Matthews and Morgan Burnett were able to repel the former Heisman Trophy winner, sealing the win for the Packers and capping a wild finish to the best game of the NFL opening week.
Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers picked up where he left off last season, throwing for 312 yards and three touchdowns. Not to be outdone, Saints quarterback Drew Brees threw for an impressive 419 yards and three touchdowns. The Saints defense, however, just had no answer for Rodgers and the high-flying Packers.
Packers Randall Cobb, who was a second-round draft pick out of Kentucky, ran a 108-yard kickoff back for a touchdown, tying an NFL record. Cobb also caught a touchdown pass from Rodgers in the first quarter, helping the Packers gain a much-needed edge over the Saints.
The Houston Texans blew out the Indianapolis Colts, who were without Peyton Manning for the first time since he was drafted in 1998, 34-7. The Texans controlled every aspect of the game and handed the Colts the worst loss they have had since 2008.
Texans running back Ben Tate, who was filling in for an injured Arian Foster, stole the show, dominating the Colts defense for 116 yards and a touchdown. The Colts had no answer on offense as quarterback Kerry Collins was harassed and badgered all day by an aggressive Texans defense. Collins fumbled twice, was sacked three times and could only muster 226 total yards of offense for the once-vaunted Colts offense.
Unfortunately for Colts fans, Manning is not due back anytime soon. Last week the all-pro underwent a second neck surgery, which could force him to miss most of the 2011 season.
First overall pick in the 2011 NFL draft Cam Newton had a record-setting day as his Carolina Panthers lost to the Arizona Cardinals. Newton set a rookie record, passing for 422 yards and two touchdowns as the Cardinals squeezed by the Panthers 28-21.
With his team needing a touchdown to tie the game, Newton led the Panthers down the field to the Cardinal five-yard line only to be turned away a yard short on the fourth down. Newtonâ€™s 400-yard performance broke a 61-year-old NFL record set by Otto Graham of the Cleveland Browns.
Kevin Kolb, who was also making his first career start for the Cardinals, had an impressive day, passing for 309 yards and two touchdowns. But it was another rookie, Patrick Peterson, that put away the game for the Cardinals, returning a punt 89 yards for a touchdown late in the fourth quarter.
Week one in NFL provided many highlights and lowlights for fans. The NFL lockout seemed like a distant memory after the first kickoff. Hopefully this will continue for the rest of the season as fans look forward to an exciting year.