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NFL Kickoff Week 1 Manning Broncos embarrass Ravens 49-26.
By Steve Anderson
Peyton Manning threw for a NFL record-tying seven touchdowns and 467 yards in a 49-27 dismantling of the Baltimore Ravens Thursday night at Mile High Stadium. The Broncos offensive juggernaut rolled up 510 yards and embarrassed the Ravens. Manning tied Joe Kapp’s 1969 NFL record with seven touchdown passes in a game. The rest of the NFL should be on notice; nothing less than a Super Bowl will suffice for the Denver Broncos. The 2013 NFL season was delayed 33 minutes because of local lightning storms. Those who watched the game probably noticed the Ravens, the defending Super Bowl champs, taking their time getting to the field once start time was set. Perhaps the Ravens should also take their time in film review this week after Manning carved them up, handing them the worst season-opening loss for a defending Super Bowl champion ever.
The Ravens appeared to have the intensity to match the Broncos who were seeking revenge from last year’s epic 38-35 loss in the divisional playoffs. The Ravens scored on their second possession in the first quarter and did a good job neutralizing the Broncos defense without Champ Bailey and Von Miller.
If this first game is any indication, the Broncos may not need to rely on their defense much in 2013. Newest Bronco Wes Welker proved he’s a threat in any offense, as he continually got open for key third downs, catching nine passes for 67 yards and two touchdowns. Welker is looking exactly the same as he did in New England, running routes to precision. Manning’s favorite target last year, big wide receiver Demaryius Thomas also caught five passes and two scores, but the biggest receiving breakout for Denver was tight end Julius Thomas. The former basketball player from Portland State caught 5 passes for 110 yards and two scores. His size and speed created mismatched for the new look Ravens secondary all night. Another weapon for Manning, Thomas reminded viewers of All-Pro tight ends Jimmy Graham and Antonio Gates.
The new-look Ravens inability to account for all the Broncos aerial weapons shouldn’t be a surprise. Any defense losing two Hall of Famers in Ray Lewis and Ed Reed is bound to have some transitional struggles. The Ravens offense looked sharp early on, but once Jacoby Jones, (their presumptive number two receiver behind Torrey Smith) was injured, the Ravens struggled to match the Broncos aerial juggernaut. Flacco said the Ravens were now more of an offensive team, but losing receiver Anquan Boldin to the 49ers and tight end Dennis Pitta doesn’t strengthen the offense at all. Suddenly the cocky Ravens don’t look so formidable and Broncos look like they have the division wrapped up, if not the entire AFC.
The Broncos actually didn’t play that well; they couldn’t run the ball (2.8 yards per carry) and they still surrendered 362 yards passing to Flacco. But the Broncos made a statement with their record setting victory over the confident defending champs.
The Ups and Downs of Robert Griffin III’s Return
By Marc Jenkins
Nine months had passed since Washington Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III had taken a meaningful, in-game snap following his horrific knee injury during the team’s disappointing 24-14 postseason loss at the hands of the Seattle Seahawks.
On January 6 following two impressive first quarter touchdown drives, RG3 suffered tears of the ACL and PCL inside of his right knee. The injuries not only ended his season but also left questions whether or not he’d be ready to take the field for the start of the 2013 campaign.
Fast forward nine months to September 9 where the entire nation’s eyes gazed on Griffin to see what he could accomplish versus the Philadelphia Eagles on Monday Night Football. In some ways the signal caller looked as if he hadn’t played in a game in nearly a calendar year and in others he seemed as if he hadn’t taken a single day off during this process. Griffin finished the game completing 30 of his 49 pass attempts for 329 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions which included a few highlights as well as a couple of lowlights too.
Before the game began RG3 ran out onto to FedEx Field toting the Redskins flag, sprinting to the 50-yard yard line where he then kneeled and planted it at midfield. This brought the crowd of nearly 83,000 to their feet producing a boisterous roar. Although the anticipation of the crowd to see RG3 take his first snap behind center was through the roof, the crowd in attendance and around the world would have to wait nearly 5:45 of game-time to get their first glimpse of the superstar quarterback in action. During this time Redskins cornerback De’Angelo Hall recovered a backward pass and scored the first points of the game while Philadelphia kicker Alex Henery successfully attempted a 48-yard field goal.
During the Redskins first drive the fans endured an unsettling experience as running back Alfred Morris fumbled on the team’s first offensive play of the game from scrimmage thus delaying even further Griffin’s first true test of action. To add insult to injury the Eagles scored on the very next play via a 25-yard touchdown strike from Michael Vick to DeShawn Jackson which provided Philly with a 10-7 lead.
On the Skins ensuing possession Griffin completed his first pass on a screen to Morris for 9 yards only to have his next pass attempt intercepted by Brandon Boykins. This miscue clearly pointed out the rust factor in not only RG3’s physical ability but also his decision making as he attempted to connect with wideout Santana Moss despite the receiver being covered by a trio of Eagles defenders. The duration of the first half displayed plenty more shaky looking plays by Griffin and the offense as he himself seemed to lack the speed burst which he displayed from a season ago along with the ability to get under his deep ball; however after getting hit a few times and a good pep talk from his coaching staff things took a turn for the better during the second half.
Washington entered the second half down 26-7 and on their initial drive Griffin tossed his second pick of the game which led to a LeSean McCoy touchdown run which then put Philadelphia up 33-7 with a seemingly insurmountable lead. Last season, that’s when RG3 seemed to be at his best when the chips were stacked up against him and during this contest that proved to be the case as well. Griffin led the Skins offense on three touchdown drives including two of which he passed for scores to wideout Leonard Hankerson and ultimately cut the Philadelphia lead to 33-27; however it was too late as the Eagles killed the clock on their final drive of the game.
Griffin and the Redskins have a lot to work on throughout the next week of practice as well as the duration of the season but one thing is for certain; RG3 is back.
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