By James Turnage
The first Sunday of the 2012 NFL season is over. There are two more games on Monday night. Already there have been some surprises, none of which were predicted by the analysts who are mostly former players or former coaches.
An interesting byline of Sunday’s games had five rookie quarterbacks starting their first games. Four of them played like rookies. They had more bad moments than good. Robert Griffin III, the Heisman trophy winner, started for the Washington Redskins. He is known as “RG III”. He passed for 320 yards, 2 for touchdowns, and was not intercepted. He also ran for 42 yards. He was the dominant player in the game. What makes his first day in the pros more amazing was that he was playing against the New Orleans Saints in their dome. Players will tell you that the fans are louder there than anywhere else in football. RG III was not rattled. He acted as if he were a seasoned veteran, and lead his team to a 40 to 32 victory. The Redskins scored 10 points in each quarter.
There were several surprises. It’s too early to call them upsets. The highly praised Green Bay Packers lost at home to the San Francisco 49ers 30 to 22. The “experts” who have all but crowned Aaron Rodgers as the greatest quarterback of all time saw him play an average game. He completed 30 of 44 passes for 303 yards, 2 touchdowns and 1 interception. He wasn’t helped by the fact that they only gained 45 yards on the ground, 27 by Rodgers. Their defense was equally as bad or worse than they were last year.
There were other games that were interesting, and somewhat humbling. Cam Newton looked ordinary in a loss to the Buccaneers 16 to 10. The Panthers never seemed to get untracked thanks to a very quick Buccaneer defense. The Minnesota Vikings defeated the Jacksonville Jaguars at home 26 to 23. Adrian Peterson proved he had recovered from knee surgery and scored two touchdowns. He had the surgery only 8 months ago. He rushed for 84 yards on 17 carries. Peyton Manning is back in a Denver Bronco uniform. They beat the Pittsburgh Steelers 31 to 19. It was hard to tell if he was back to his former greatness or if the vaunted Steeler defense missed the plane. They appeared to be going through the motions, lacking intensity usually witnessed by their fans. And the Steeler running game was virtually none existent.
So, what will we see in February? Who will suffer the fewest injuries and perform well enough to be in the Superbowl? It’s a long season. I’m just glad it’s here. Like all fanatics, 7 months is too long to wait for a return of the one team game left in professional sports.