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Crossing the Line - Week 2
By Fritz Schlottman
September 11, 2003
 
Buffalo vs. Jacksonville  
Buffalo Offense
Sacked/G= 2.0
Rush TDs/G= 2
Rush Avg.=3.2
Jacksonville Defense
Sacks/G=4.0
Rush TDs Against/G=0.0
Rush Avg. Against=4.5
Buffalo Defense
Sacks/G=2.0
Rush TDs Against/G=0.0
Rush Avg. Against=5.0
Jacksonville Offense
Sacked/G=4.0
Rush TDs/G=1.0
Rush Avg.=2.7

When the Bills have the ball - Overall, a strong performance, but the Bills' big guys still have some kinks to work out. They didn't run well against the Patriots, averaging just 3.2 yards per carry, but they won the battle in the trenches when it counts most.on the goal line. They threw back the New England defenders on the way to two rushing touchdowns and seven rushing first downs. Four holding calls were not good, but on the other hand they only gave up two sacks on QB Bledsoe, who has been described as "about as mobile as a refrigerator."

The Jaguars defensive unit had their own hot and cold day. Okay, the only things that are hot are the head coach, the owner, and the fans when you blow a 17-point lead against 2002s second worst defense. The pass rush was on last week, racking up four sacks on the Panther's quarterbacks. The rush defense needs a lot of work, however. The unit can't give up 4.5 yards per carry and expect to win many games. DE Tony Brackens was yanked in the third quarter after having been repeatedly victimized by Panthers sweeps to his side of the formation.

When the Jaguars have the ball - Jacksonville's offensive line struggled against Carolina's 2nd ranked (2002) defense. They neither protected the quarterback very well nor did they open holes for the running game. Their often-injured leader, QB Mark Brunell, can't take four sacks a game without breaking down in a hurry. Four rushing first downs and a 2.7 yards per carry average isn't exactly a dominating performance. They will have to do better against a much-improved Bills defense this week. C Brad Meester struggled in his first game at center in three seasons.

The biggest improvement on the Buffalo defensive unit was the line. DT Sam Adams not only scored a touchdown, but had a sack on the next series. LB Takeo Spikes played huge, racking up six tackles, two interceptions, and two big third down stops. LB London Fletcher also had a huge game with 13 tackles. The Buffalo secondary confused Patriots QB Tom Brady all day leaving him with a 20.4 quarterback rating.

Detroit vs. Green Bay

 

Detroit Offense
Sacked/G=0.0
Rush TDs/G= 0.0
Rush Avg.=2.9
Green Bay Defense
Sacks/G=2.0
Rush TDs Against/G=0.0
Rush Avg. Against=4.3
Detroit Defense
Sacks/G=2.0
Rush TDs Against/G=0.0
Rush Avg. Against=4.8
Green Bay Offense
Sacked/G=1.0
Rush TDs/G=2.0
Rush Avg.=3.3

When the Lions have the ball - Yes, you can score 42 points without being able to run the ball. Detroit did just that, having only 30 yards on 15 carries through three quarters with 12 of those yards belonging to WR Charles Rodgers. The Lions padded their stats in the 4th quarter when the game was out of reach and Detroit was just running out the clock. RB Orlandis Gary finished with a respectable 3.7 yards/carry and was by far their most effective back. On the bright side, the Lions were able to punch-out six rushing first downs against the Arizona rush defense.

Pass protection was perfect against the anemic Cardinals pass rush. Detroit gave up the fewest number of sacks in 2002 and shutout the Arizona defense last week. Without pressure on their quarterback, Detroit committed no turnovers and only six team penalties.

The Packers had a dreadful afternoon against the Vikings. Green Bay doesn't get beat often at home, but they were whipped convincingly on Sunday. In their own words, they were terrible.

The run defense was the good part. The 155 yards against looks pretty bad, but better when you consider 50 yards belonged to QB Daunte Culpepper. However, the Vikings runningbacks rushed for just 3.3 yards against. Giving up seven rushing first downs and allowing Minnesota to convert 57 percent of their third down attempts means there's much more work to do, particulary on pass defense. The Pack needs to do better than two sacks if they're going to cover for injured S Sharper while he mends.

When the Packers have the ball - The Green Bay offensive line shouldn't take the heat for this stinker. They only gave up two sacks and punched in two touchdowns and six rushing first downs while playing with an injured Pro Bowl guard Marco Rivera (torn MCL). Rivera was limited to part of the first two quarters and a little of the fourth. Bad communication between QB Brett Favre and his wide receivers resulted in two first half interceptions. Communication didn't get any better when both starting receivers Driver (neck strain) and Ferguson (ankle and MCL) went out with serious injuries in the fourth quarter. Green Bay will have to trust their reserve wide receivers and pound the ball at defenses until one or the other can return to the starting lineup.

Detroit was horrible on defense. Giving up 4.8 yards per rush, letting a rookie wide receiver light up your secondary for over 200 yards and two touchdowns and demonstrating to the league that your secondary can't either cover or tackle is not a good thing. If the Lions hadn't scored 21 points on turnovers and special teams Detroit probably would have lost their opener.

Miami vs. New York Jets

 

Miami Offense
Sacked/G=2.0
Rush TDs/G=0.0
Rush Avg.=3.9
New York Jets Defense
Sacks/G=4.0
Rush TDs Against/G=0.0
Rush Avg. Against=4.7
Miami Defense
Sacks/G=0.0
Rush TDs Against/G=0.0
Rush Avg. Against=3.7
New York Jets Offense
Sacked/G=1.0
Rush TDs/G=1.0
Rush Avg.=2.6

When the Dolphins have the ball - Inexplicably, Miami only ran fantasy-stud RB Ricky Williams 17 times on Sunday. Leading in a close game, why wouldn't you put the ball in hands of one of the league's best running backs and ride him until they stop him? Of course, when you only manage four rushing first downs, grinding out the clock may be a bit more than the Dolphins could deliver.

Eleven penalties and three turnovers destroyed any rhythm the offense tried to develop. The Dolphins only managed to cross the 50 yard line three times. This team looked old and tired after a grueling preseason at camp Wannstedt. They have a lot to work on before Sunday.

The Jets defense, on the other hand, should be well rested. Playing a Thursday night game will give the New Yorkers time to heal and prepare. Unfortunately, the Dolphins offense didn't give them much to look at on film. However, as the Jets gave up 4.7 yards per carry against a Redskins team that isn't know for pounding the ball, so rush defense should be a high priority this week in practice.

When the Jets have the ball - If you're not going to even try throwing deep, don't be surprised if the opposing defense puts eight in the box. What's even more surprising is that it was only a few days ago that the Jets themselves were praising their quarterback's long ball.

Jets Offensive Coordinator didn't even have the long pass in his arsenal on Thursday, and New York reaped the expected result.a loss. Washington sat on Jets runningback Curtis Martin after the first quarter, taking away much of the New York offense. Martin finished with just 55 yards on 22 carries. A paltry 105 passing yards isn't exactly stretching the field and giving your runningback a chance.

Miami's defense must be asking themselves, "What in the world happened out there?" They seem unable to regroup after the Texans went to three and five step drops to avoid taking sacks. And it worked. The Dolphins couldn't catch Texans QB David Carr and didn't turn the visiting Texans over once. Miami gave up five field goals and one touchdown on a bad play where the safety jumped a slant and missed, and lost the game in the closing seconds. They'll face another conservative game plan this week, when they go north for a must win game in their division.

San Francisco vs. St. Louis

 

San Francisco Offense
Sacked/G=0.0
Rush TDs/G=2.0
Rush Avg.=3.9
St. Louis Defense
Sacks/G=2.0
Rush TDs Against/G=1.0
Rush Avg. Against=5.5
San Francisco Defense
Sacks/G=5.0
Rush TDs Against/G=0.0
Rush Avg. Against=2.8
St. Louis Offense
Sacked/G=6.0
Rush TDs/G=0.0
Rush Avg.=3.1

When the 49ers have the ball - Scoring 49 points and not giving up a sack has to qualify as a good day in anyone's book. Well, it was probably better than just a good day. Anytime you convert 50% of your third downs your team should be dominating the game, and that's exactly what happened. The 49ers runningbacks finished with 118 yards on 36 carries, a respectable amount against a much bigger Chicago defensive front.

It's hard to take much away from the Rams defensive performance in such an incredibly sloppy game, but the rush defense needs to get a lot better in a hurry. Giants runningback Tiki Barber leads the league in rushing after racking up 146 yards on 24 carries on Sunday. You're not going to beat a lot of teams when you're giving up 5.5 yards per carry. On the bright side, forcing five New York fumbles is encouraging if St. Louis gets its own ball protection problems worked out. Look for the 49ers to pound away at the Rams questionable front seven and play keep away from the St. Louis offense with Bulger in the line-up.

When the Rams have the ball - Hard to imagine it can get any more ugly then last Sunday. The pattern for beating the Rams is clear; play physical with their wide receivers and blitz their quarterback, and it worked again on Sunday. Six sacks, half a dozen fumbles and some idiotic play calling (like calling only 9 running plays for RB Marshall Faulk) later, St. Louis was right back to stumbling through another loss. The Rams will run the ball more this week, and not because it's the smart thing to do but because the home fans will string Martz up if he throws on every down and the Rams lose another game.

The 49ers had a near perfect game on defense against the Bears. When you give up just 55 rushing yards on 20 carries and three rushing first downs, your defensive line is doing a job. Sacking Chicago QB Kordell Stewart five times was just icing on the cake. Stewart left the game with a 21.9 passer rating after being harassed all afternoon. If it were not for the 49ers first half turnover deep in their own territory, Chicago would have been shut out. The 'Niners defense was too tough for the Bears to dive 80 yards down the field.

Washington vs. Atlanta

 

Washington Offense
Sacked/G=4.0
Rush TDs/G=0.0
Rush Avg.=4.7
Atlanta Defense
Sacks/G=3.0
Rush TDs Against/G=1.0
Rush Avg. Against=6.2
Washington Defense
Sacks/G=1.0
Rush TDs Against/G=1.0
Rush Avg. Against=2.6
Atlanta Offense
Sacked/G=2.0
Rush TDs/G=1.0
Rush Avg.=3.3

When the Redskins have the ball - Washington Head Coach Steve Spurrier threw the Jets a curve by running the ball. In fact, he called more runs (34) to passes (23) on opening night.

That was welcome news to the Washington offensive line. They got the chance to wear out New York's defensive front and to slow down the Jets pass rush. The Redskins coaching staff will take 4.7 yards per carry anytime they can get it.

Pass protection was a different matter. The 'Skins offensive linemen struggled to keep the Jets defensive front out of the pocket. New York had difficulty generating a pass rush last year, but managed four sacks on Thursday night. You can be sure Washington will be using its long week to revisit their protection schemes.

Other than the big 53 yard scoring romp by Cowboys RB Aveion Cason, the Falcons defensive front seven did a better than average job. Unfortunately, they're going to have to do more. Atlanta's secondary was horrible, giving up 17.9 yards per completion. With a rash of injuries in the secondary, the front seven is going to have to get more of a pass rush or the Falcons secondary will get burned again this week.

When the Falcons have the ball - The Falcons offensive line was adequate against the Cowboys defense. They only gave up two sacks, but averaging 3.3 yards per carry isn't going to cut it in the NFL. RB Warrick Dunn finished the game with just 41 yards on 13 carries and T.J. Duckett had five carries for 31 yards. Atlanta ran more misdirection and cutback runs in the second half after struggling to generate any kind of rushing attack against the swarming Dallas defense in the first 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, the Redskins linebackers had a great night against the Jets. Even if the defensive front wasn't generating any pressure on New York's aging quarterback, the linebackers figured out the Jets' conservative game plan in no time and were waiting for RB Curtis Martin. That swarming defense limited the Jets running back to just 48 yards on 15 carries.

Seattle vs. Arizona  
Seattle Offense
Sacked/G=3.0
Rush TDs/G=1.0
Rush Avg.=4.6
Arizona Defense
Sacks/G=0.0
Rush TDs Against/G=0.0
Rush Avg. Against=2.9
Seattle Defense
Sacks/G=3.0
Rush TDs Against/G=0.0
Rush Avg. Against=4.1
Arizona Offense
Sacked/G=2.0
Rush TDs/G=0.0
Rush Avg.=4.8

When the Seahawks have the ball - Despite starting Floyd Womack at right tackle for the suspended Chris Terry and the newly signed Walter Jones at the other end of the line, the Seahawks offense didn't seem to suffer that much. Three sacks against (including one by Womack) isn't horrible, but it's going to take some time before this offensive line starts playing together as a unit. LG Steve Hutchinson led a very physical rushing attack that averaged over four and a half yards per carry on the day.

The Cardinals were simply horrible on defense. Yet again, they didn't put any pressure on the quarterback. At this rate, they are looking like they finish last in the league in sacks for the third year running. If you fault the Seahawks defensive front for the lack of a pass rush, then you have to fault the linebackers for surrendering more than four yards per carry to the Lions second string rushers. Finally, you have to blame their inexperienced secondary for making Detroit's rookie receiver Charles Rogers (two TDs) look like Randy Moss. In short, it takes a team effort to make the Lions look so good.

When the Cardinals have the ball - The Cardinals looked better than you would expect from a team that is $12 million below the salary cap. Yes, there were mistakes, like the four false starts by T Anthony Clement, the Lions punt return for a touchdown, a muffed punt, and three delay of game penalties, etc. But there's hope that if they can continue to run the ball effectively (4.8 average) and continue to go down field with the passing game. With any luck, this team may win more than four games this season.

RG Leonard Davis, who is just coming off a hand injury, picked up a sprained ankle that may keep him out of this week's game. Reserve OL Chris Dishman will take Davis' starting spot if the big man can't go. That is a huge downgrade on the offensive line.

Seattle had its own struggles on defense. Like Arizona, there wasn't much of a pass rush and the defense gave up too many yards, but this was against the Saints high-powered offense, not the Lions. This could be another high-scoring game if these two defenses don't get it sorted out by Sunday.

Denver vs. San Diego

 

Denver Offense
Sacked/G=1.0
Rush TDs/G=2.0
Rush Avg.=4.6
San Diego Defense
Sacks/G=3.0
Rush TDs Against/G=2.0
Rush Avg. Against=4.1
Denver Defense
Sacks/G=4.0
Rush TDs Against/G= 0.0
Rush Avg. Against=2.3
San Diego Offense
Sacked/G=3.0
Rush TDs/G=0.0
Rush Avg.=3.6

When the Broncos have the ball - The only statistic you need to know is 14 rushing first downs. The Denver offensive line just blew the Cincinnati Bengals defensive front off the football all game on the way to a lopsided victory. If it wasn't for the three interceptions QB Jake Plummer threw, the Broncos would have scored 50.

LT Ephraim Salaam held up for the entire game despite seeing only limited action in preseason because of knee surgery. That's a good sign for an offense that rolled up 184 yards on the ground, and gave up just one sack, that on backup Steve Beuerlein. Clinton Portis averaged 6.9 yards per carry in the first half, on the road.

That's not a good sign for the Chargers rush defense. A week after getting lit up by Chiefs RB Priest Holmes they have to find a way of stopping Clinton Portis.

The Chargers got down 24-0 early due in large measure to the Kansas City rushing game. Terrible tackling led to two early Holmes touchdowns and the Chiefs never looked back. The only bright spot up front was the play of reserve DE Adrian Dingle. The reserve lineman was a surprise start for an injured Raylee Johnson. Dingle had two sacks on Sunday.

San Diego is going to need a lot more pass rush if they're going to cover for a very weak secondary. The Chargers corners and safeties were burned for over 200 yards in the first half.

When the Chargers have the ball - RB LaDainian Tomlinson, a consensus preseason top three fantasy pick, was a huge disappointment against the Chiefs. Fantasy owners were salivating at what he might score against a Kansas City defense that finished last in a number of categories in 2002, but the Chargers feature back only got 34 yards on 13 carries. Bummer.

Mistakes on offense and playing from behind early took the wind out of the Chargers rushing game. Six dropped passes, three sacks, and two interceptions killed San Diego drives. Obviously, fantasy owners will be on suicide watch until the Chargers offense comes around. Let's hope that's sooner, rather than later.

Cracking the Broncos defense isn't going to be easy. In their victory against the hapless Bengals, Denver's defense gave up just one rushing first down and 51 rushing yards. Oh, and the Broncos sacked Cincinnati QB Jon Kitna four times, picked off two passes, and surrendered just 86 yards in passing through the first three quarters. Good luck, Chargers.

Chicago vs. Minnesota

 

Chicago Offense
Sacked/G=5.0
Rush TDs/G=0.0
Rush Avg.=2.8
Minnesota Defense
Sacks/G=1.0
Rush TDs Against/G=2.0
Rush Avg. Against=3.3
Chicago Defense
Sacks/G=0.0
Rush TDs Against/G=2.0
Rush Avg. Against=3.9
Minnesota Offense
Sacked/G=2.0
Rush TDs/G=0.0
Rush Avg.=4.3

When the Bears have the ball - Dead on arrival is the only fair way to describe the Bears first game, and it's only going to get worse.

The Bears offensive line has already been creamed by a rash of injuries and the news just keeps getting worse. First, Marc Colombo went on the PUP list just before the start of the season. Then, Rex Tucker suffered a season-ending torn ankle tendon in the preseason finale. Now, right guard Chris Villarrial is out 4-6 weeks with a sprained MCL in his left knee. So the Bears will be lining up two players, Steve Edwards at left guard and Jose Warner at right guard, on the road in the impossibly loud baggy dome, who have never started a game as a professional. Back-up guard Terrence Metcalf has at least played on special teams before last weekend, but he will be unavailable until week 3 at the earliest because of a fractured middle finger. OG Josh Warner, who subbed for Chris Villarrial after he was hurt on Sunday, may play again this week. And you thought last week's 49 point ass-kicking was bad, you may not have seen anything yet.

When the Vikings have he ball - I was surprised with how physical the Vikings offensive line played on Sunday. They literally beat up Green Bay's defensive front seven. The 4.3 rushing average is a bit deceiving because it includes QB Culpepper's totals, but any time you can run effectively with your second string runningback, you're doing the job up front. Actually, 154 rushing yards is more than doing a job.

The Bears, on the other had, had a very forgettable game on defense. The 49ers rocked them for 162 yards on the ground, 391 total yards, and 49 points. Yikes! Only the Lions, Falcons, and Dolphins gave up more yards on the day.

Cleveland vs. Baltimore  
Cleveland Offense
Sacked/G=0.0
Rush TDs/G=0.0
Rush Avg.=3.8
Baltimore Defense
Sacks/G=3.0
Rush TDs Against/G=1.0
Rush Avg. Against=3.0
Cleveland Defense
Sacks/G=1.0
Rush TDs Against/G=0.0
Rush Avg. Against=4.5
Baltimore Offense
Sacked/G=2.0
Rush TDs/G=1.0
Rush Avg.=3.8

When the Browns have the ball - For a game that was supposed to be high scoring, the final tally in last Sunday's contest between the Colts and Browns was 15 points. combined. Neither team could run the ball and both teams put themselves in long yardage situations by taking penalties and making early season mistakes. The result was 98 yards on the ground and 182 through the air for Cleveland. Not exactly what fantasy owners or Browns fans were expecting. After two second period interceptions, the Browns stopped going down the field and never threw a pass for more than 10 yards the rest of the game.

The offensive line stuggled when it counted most, down on the goal line. They had two first and goals (one at the one-yard line and the other at the three yard line) and failed to punch it home. RB William Green got four shot down there, but managed just one net yard.

When the Ravens have the ball - Starting a rookie quarterback playing in his first NFL regular season game, it was perhaps a bit unrealistic to expect the Ravens offense to dominate a solid Pittsburgh defense; and they didn't have one of their best offensive games. That said, it wasn't a disaster, either.

The offensive numbers were respectable for an opening game on the road with a new QB: 88 on the ground, 143 in the air. Obviously, less than 150 yards in the air is below average, but like I said for an opening game, it wasn't bad. There is room for optimism however. RB Jamal Lewis' 4.5 per rush average does indicate that the rushing game should be there this week against the Browns.

The Browns defense was much better than advertised. Against the Colts, they gave up only three rushing first downs and 67 total rushing yards. Of course, Indianapolis did themselves in with numerous screw-ups inside both 20 yard lines, but the Browns defenders played exceptionally well regardless. RB Edgerrin James did average 4.5 per carry, which should be a warning that the Browns still have more to do on defense.

Houston vs. New Orleans  
Houston Offense
Sacked/G=0.0
Rush TDs/G=0.0
Rush Avg.=3.7
New Orleans Defense
Sacks/G=3.0
Rush TDs Against/G=1.0
Rush Avg. Against=4.6
Houston Defense
Sacks/G=2.0
Rush TDs Against/G=0.0
Rush Avg. Against=3.9
New Orleans Offense
Sacked/G=3.0
Rush TDs/G=0.0
Rush Avg.=4.1

When the Texans have the ball - Forgive me for saying last week that this Texans team wouldn't move the ball on the Dolphins, I was wrong. I wasn't alone in being wrong, as most of Las Vegas and the betting public was as misguided as myself, but I made the call and I take responsibility.

How off the mark was I? Not only didn't the Texans offensive line give up a half a dozen sacks, but they shut out the Miami defensive line. No sacks, no turnovers, nada. Over three hundred yards later, the Texans left the sunshine state with the upset of Week 1.

The numbers were respectable: 127 yards on the ground and 266 through the air. What was more remarkable was the way they were able to eat up the clock with long drives. The Texans longest was a 16-play series that ate up seven minutes on the clock. The offensive line gets credit for keeping the ball that long.

The Saints defense did a great job against the Seahawks explosive passing game, but struggled against the run. New Orleans game up only 119 through the air (and two touchdowns) but gave up 151 on the ground.

New Orleans lost more than the game. DE Darren Howard will be lost for up to twelve games with a dislocated wrist. DE/DT Willie Whitehead moved to right end when Howard left the game in the first quarter and will start Sunday against the Houston Texans. WR Joe Horn is questionable this weekend with a knee injury.

When the Saints have the ball - New Orleans marched up and down the field on the Seahawks on Sunday, but couldn't come up with points when they needed them. The Saints would have done better than 10 points had they not committed numerous drive-killing mistakes. Their offensive stats were respectable (103 rush, 256 pass) but more was expected against a questionable Seattle defense. QB Aaron Brooks put the ball in the air 47 times and completed 29 of those passes. He was sacked three times. The Saints abandoned the running game after they got behind early.

The offensive line had a reasonable game. They game up only three sacks despite playing from behind for most of the game and throwing on every down. The Saints may elect to run the ball more this game.

The Texans defense played an exceptional game on the road in South Florida last week, other than those long scoring plays. They held Ricky Williams to only 86 rushing yards and a fumble, and collected two interceptions as well. The Dolphins only crossed the 50 yard line three times in a close game. Texans Linebackers Jay Foreman and Jamie Sharper combined for 16 tackles.

Pittsburgh vs. Kansas City  
Pittsburgh Offense
Sacked/G=3.0
Rush TDs/G=1.0
Rush Avg.=3.3
Kansas City Defense
Sacks/G=3.0
Rush TDs Against/G=0.0
Rush Avg. Against=3.6
Pittsburgh Defense
Sacks/G= 2.0
Rush TDs Against/G=1.0
Rush Avg. Against=3.8
Kansas City Offense
Sacked/G=3.0
Rush TDs/G=2.0
Rush Avg.=4.1

When the Steelers have the ball - Getting 34 points on 339 total yards means that a team is making the most of their opportunities. It's hard to tell if this offense was that good or the Baltimore defenders were that bad. Regardless, the Steelers finished with nearly 100 yards on the ground and 250 in the air. The 3.3 yards per carry isn't great, but against a good rush defense, being able to pick up five rushing first downs proves Pittsburgh can run when they have to.

The Chiefs defense were surprisingly tough in their first game. Working all off-season on that side of the ball seems to have paid dividends as the Kansas City defenders held the Chargers rushing game to just 64 total yards and limited the San Diego passing game to just 168 net yards. Chargers QB Drew Brees was running for his life all afternoon, a nice change if you're a Chiefs fan. He was sacked three times on the afternoon and threw two interceptions. San Diego's running game didn't do any better. LaDainian Tomlinson finished with a 2.3 yards per carry average and 34 total rushing yards.

When the Chiefs have the ball - When they write the Cliff Notes version of the Chiefs Week 1 perfoprmance it should read: "I have RB Priest Holmes and you don't." The Kansas City runner was sensational early in this game, getting into the end zone twice before the Chargers defense knew what hit them. By half time, this game was over. The Chiefs racked up 131 yards on the ground and 259 in the air, most of that before the half and scored on four of its first five possessions before pulling back on the throttle. Holmes finished with 183 yards from scrimmage and two touchdowns.

Pittsburgh's defense had the luxury of playing against a rookie quarterback making his first NFL start. It's not a coincidence that they posted a very good defensive stat-line, giving up just 88 yards rushing and another 143 yards passing and 15 total points. But you have to be a little concerned that all the pressure they could generate on the rookie was two sacks, considering the Ravens were playing from behind all game. LB James Farrior stayed on the field in all defenses, something he did not do last season. He led the Steelers with 13 tackles and had one pass defense.

Tennessee vs. Indianapolis  
Tennessee Offense
Sacked/G=1.0
Rush TDs/G=0.0
Rush Avg.=2.7
Indianapolis Defense
Sacks/G=0.0
Rush TDs Against/G=0.0
Rush Avg. Against=3.8
Tennessee Defense
Sacks/G=4.0
Rush TDs Against/G=0.0
Rush Avg. Against=3.4

Indianapolis Offense
Sacked/G=1.0
Rush TDs/G=0.0
Rush Avg.=4.5

When the Titans have the ball - Tennessee and their noisy home crowd played keep away from the powerful Oakland offense Sunday night. Unfortuantely, the writing seems to be on the wall for the Titans running game. Tennessee managed 76 yards on the ground, but only 3.4 yards per carry and one rushing first down. Eddie George may be coming to the end. He had just 2.1 yards per carry. If QB Steve McNair continues to be the team's best rusher, this offense will struggle on the road. Then again, with a sprained MCL, he may stay in the pocket more this weekend. McNair won't practice this week but should play.

LG Zach Piller suffered a chest injury and is questionable. Tom Ackerman will take his place if his own knee injury has healed sufficently. TE Frank Wycheck's career may be done after suffering his 11th concussion and his second this season.

Indianapolis' defense showed that all the effort during the off-season was not wasted. On the road, they limited the powerful Cleveland offense to just 280 total yards and six points. The rush defense was average, yielding nearly 100 yards, but the pass defense was exceptional, forcing turnovers and limiting Cleveland to under 200 net yards through the air.

DE Dwight Freeney suffered a bruised shin in the second quarter of Sunday's game in Cleveland. Freeney returned to the game and should be okay to play this week against Tennessee. DE Brad Scioli incurred a shoulder burner against the Browns but the injury was not serious.

When the Colts have the ball - The Indianapolis running game was horrible against a very green Cleveland Browns defense. You would have thought that the Colts running game would have dominated a contest featuring a team starting three new linebackers this season, but all the visitors could manage was 67 yards on the ground and slightly more than 200 in the air. Stupid mistakes killed this team when they were within either 20 yard line. OG Steve Sciullo sprained his foot in the Cleveland game, but he's practicing this week.

The Titans defense, aided by an exceptionally loud crowd, baffled the AFC's best offense. The team used the Rams approach, playing physical with the receivers and putting pressure on the quarterback, to perfection. Not only couldn't the Raiders offense run the ball (34 net rushing yards), but the tackles (Ryan Sims in particular) collected motion penalties because they were under pressure from the Titans ends and couldn't hear the snap count. DE Jevon Kearse had his best game in quite a while and showed no ill-effects from a minor foot injury.

Carolina vs. Tampa Bay  
Carolina Offense
Sacked/G=4.0
Rush TDs/G=0.0
Rush Avg.=4.5
Tampa Bay Defense
Sacks/G=3.0
Rush TDs Against/G=0.0
Rush Avg. Against=7.6
Carolina Defense
Sacks/G=4.0
Rush TDs Against/G=1.0
Rush Avg. Against=2.7
Tampa Bay Offense
Sacked/G=0.0
Rush TDs/G=0.0
Rush Avg.=2.9

When the Panthers have the ball - A tale of two halves. In the first period, the Panthers could do nothing right against the Jaguars defense. But after lifting QB Rodney Peete at half time in favor of Jake Delhomme, Carolina stormed back from 17 points behind to win the game in the last seconds. Delhomme threw for 122 yards and three touchdowns in the second half, but had two bad passes that were intercepted. Peete was horrible, completing just 4 of 10 passes for 19 yards.

RB Stephen Davis went off in the second half. The big former Redskin put on a show plowing through Jacksonville defenders on his way to 122 yards rushing, 111 in the second 30 minutes. The Panther's offensive line also seemed to settle down after a shaky first half.

What can you say about Tampa's defense on Monday Night Football? Unbelievable comes to mind. They not only win a road game against their nearest conference competitor and tormentor these past few seasons, but they shut them out as well. All the Eagles could manage was 121 yards on the ground and 124 through the air. QB McNabb was sacked three times and threw an interception.

When the Buc's have the ball - They may bore you to death but the constant pounding they inflict takes it's toll over sixty minutes. Tampa's conservative offense just continued to grind up the Eagles defenders. The Buc's finished with 90 yards rushing and 238 passing, good enough for a 17 point road win, although they averaged just under three yards per carry in the process.

Carolina's defense may not be as good as last year's version through week one of the 2003 season, but they did enough against the Jaguars to win the game. The Jaguars passing game did most of the damage in the first half, but the Panthers shut them down in the second period. Panthers CB Terry Cousin was the victim on several occasions, including giving up a 33 yard touchdown on the last play of the first half. He backed that up by giving up a 65 yard bomb in the fourth quarter. Tackles Kris Jenkins and Brentson Buckner were very effective in stuffing the Jaguars inside running game.

Cincinnati vs. Oakland  
Cincinnati Offense
Sacked/G=4.0
Rush TDs/G=0.0
Rush Avg.=2.3
Oakland Defense
Sacks/G=1.0
Rush TDs Against/G=0.0
Rush Avg. Against=2.7
Cincinnati Defense
Sacks/G=1.0
Rush TDs Against/G=2.0
Rush Avg. Against=4.6
Oakland Offense
Sacked/G=4.0
Rush TDs/G=0.0
Rush Avg.=3.4

When the Bengals have the ball - Cincinnati was just brutal on offense week 1. RB Corey Dillon, one of the few backs with a history of running the football effectively against the Broncos defense (like a 278-yard performance), nearly got shut out. All the Bengals running game could manage was just 51 net rushing yards (a 2.3 yard average) and one lousy rushing first down. QB Jon Kitna did his part in a 20 point loss by throwing two interceptions and fumbling the ball away once. He was under pressure all day and sacked four times.

ROT Willie Anderson picked up a hamstring injury, but should play on Sunday. G Victor Leyva will be out with a pulled chest muscle.

Oakland couldn't catch Titans QB Steve McNair. The mobile Tennessee quarterback always had a way out of the pocket. When Oakland did get pressure on th Titans quarterback, McNair escaped the rushers and made the Raiders covermen pay time and time again. He seemed to go right after CB Terrance Shaw who had a miserable opening night. DE Rod Coleman had the Raiders only sack.

When the Raiders have the ball - Oakland's offensive line really struggled with the crowd noise and the Titans defense on Sunday night. Of course, 176 yards in penalties didn't help either. They had eight flags for 76 yards in the first 15 minutes alone. Seven false starts, four by T Barry Sims alone, are enough to kill a football team. Unable to hear the snap count, the Raiders were at the mercy of the Titans blitz. QB Rich Gannon went down four times in the game and suffered some sort of a knee injury.

Running the ball wasn't in the game plan. The Oakland offensive coordinator called just nine running plays. RB Charlie Garner had seven carries for 22 yards.

The Bengals defensive front seven still can't put pressure on the opposing quarterback. They were held to one sack last Sunday. Thankfully, Bronco QB Jake Plummer gave aid and comfort to the enemy by donating three interceptions or this game would have been really ugly.

The butt ugly part of the defense was their inability to stop Denver RB Clinton Portis,. The Broncos ball-carrier had 120 rushing yards and 14 rushing first downs! The Broncos finished with a total of 184 net rushing yards, two rushing touchdowns, and a 4.6 rushing average. The defensive line was supposed to be better after signing three free agents in the off-season.

New England vs. Philadelphia  
New England Offense
Sacked/G=2.0
Rush TDs/G=0.0
Rush Avg.=5.0
Philadelphia Defense
Sacks/G=0.0
Rush TDs Against/G=0.0
Rush Avg. Against=2.9
New England Defense
Sacks/G=2.0
Rush TDs Against/G=2.0
Rush Avg. Against=3.2
Philadelphia Offense
Sacked/G=3.0
Rush TDs/G=0.0
Rush Avg.=7.6

When the Patriots have the ball - Ugly! That's the only way to describe the Patriots opening game. The passing game was dreadful as the Bills took away their bread-and-butter underneath patterns and forced the Patriot receivers down the field. New England persisted in throwing into coverage and ended up behind 31-0 quickly.

There was some good news. New England did manage over 100 yards in rushing. Unfortunately, most of those came after the game had already been decided. The Patriots offensive line did nothing against the Bills defensive front.

Philadelphia's defense was on the field way too long on Monday night and once their best defensive players were on the bench injured, the Buc's toyed with the rest. The Eagles gave up just 30 rushing yards in the first have, but wore down and gave up another 60 yards in the final 30 minutes. The Eagles will likely be without starters CB Bobby Taylor (foot), FS Brian Dawkins (foot), and DE Brandon Whiting (hamstring) this week.

When the Eagles have the ball - The Philadelphia offensive line struggles against Tampa's faster, smaller defense and last Sunday was no different. The Eagles runningbacks combined for just 19 rushing yards on 10 carries. Without an effective running game, QB Donovan McNabb was at Tampa's mercy. He was under pressure all evening and completed just 12 of 27 passes for 70 yards.

It's hard to say the Patriots did anything well against the Bills, but they played better, although not exactly inspired defensive football against the run. Given how poorly the Eagles ran the ball, uninspired should do just fine if they play better in the secondary.

Dallas vs. New York Giants  
Dallas Offense
Sacked/G=3.0
Rush TDs/G=1.0
Rush Avg.=6.2
New York Giants Defense
Sacks/G=6.0
Rush TDs Against/G=0.0
Rush Avg. Against=3.1
Dallas Defense
Sacks/G=2.0
Rush TDs Against/G=1.0
Rush Avg. Against=3.3

New York Giants Offense
Sacked/G=2.0
Rush TDs/G=1.0
Rush Avg.=5.5

When the Cowboys have the ball - A beat-up Dallas offensive line played better than the score-line indicated. The Cowboys made too many mistakes on offense, but they weren't the fault of the line.

Looking at the statistics, the Dallas running game was better than expected. Aveion

Cason and Troy Hambrick combined for 16 carries and 130 yards rushing including a 63 yard dash by Cason. Take away that one big play and the rushing game was still better than expected against a pretty good Falcons defense.

The Giants defense gave the Rams offense fits, as usual. Six sacks and six fumbles were the direct result of 1) St. Louis not having enough sense to run the ball and 2) New York pinning their ears back and overpowering the Rams offensive line. Whether QB Kurt Warner had a concussion or not, he played as if he was in a daze. He held the ball too long and didn't seem to know where to go with the ball.

When the Giants have the ball - So far, so good. The Giants patched-up offensive line passed their first test of the season by dominating the Rams defensive front seven. RB Tiki Barber rolled up 146 rushing yards on 24 carries behind the big people and QB Kerry Collins was sacked only twice, and those were coverage sacks.

LT Luke Petitgout left the game with back spasms. He will be receiving treatment all week, but should be available by Monday Night.