Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Peyton Manning Sharp; Eli Manning Too - Colts Win 26 to 21

Peyton has to do better at his throwing decisions on short passes. Several times he almost threw interceptions because of poor judgement.

Manning guides Colts to win over Giants wire reports

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (Sept. 10, 2006) -- After beating little brother Eli, all Peyton Manning felt was relief and pride.

Relief that the much-hyped battle of the brothers was over, and pride in the way they handled it. No gloating, no giddy postgame interviews, no big scene as the two met when it was over.

"I told him I loved him," Peyton said after the Indianapolis Colts outlasted Eli and the New York Giants 26-21.

"I enjoyed watching him play in person," the elder Manning added. "He's every bit as good as he looked on TV. He's going to be a great player in this league for a long time. I'm proud to be related to the guy. I'm proud to be his brother."

As for the game itself, the "Manning Bowl" actually lived up to the hype. The brothers played well and so did their teams, though the Giants made far too many mistakes to win the first NFL game to feature two brothers starting at quarterback.

Peyton finished 25-of-41 for 276 yards, a touchdown and an interception. The two-time MVP also led the Colts to scores on five of their first seven possessions.

Eli was 20-of-34 for 247 yards and touchdowns passes to Plaxico Burress and Jeremy Shockey. He also had two costly second-half mistakes -- a fumble and an interception, both of which came with New York down two points. Both led to Indianapolis scores.

After it was over, the siblings came to midfield, surrounded by photographers, big brother patting little brother on the back of his head.

"It kind of hit me in the pregame when I was out there talking to someone and I see this guy walk by and it was my brother," Peyton said. "I found myself watching him during warmups. I was peeking at him during the national anthem. It was kind of neat to be on the same field as him, knowing that's my little brother out there."

Peyton threw a 2-yard touchdown pass to Dallas Clark and Dominic Rhodes scored on a 1-yard run for the Colts' touchdowns.

Adam Vinatieri, the hero of two Super Bowl wins by the New England Patriots, kicked four field goals in his first game for the defending AFC South champions, including a 32-yarder with 1:12 to play to push the lead to five points.

Trailing 23-21, Eli Manning tried to drive the Giants for a late go-ahead score. A play after a questionable offensive pass interference call against Tim Carter denied New York a first down at its own 37, Manning was intercepted by Nick Harper and Peyton moved the Colts 19 yards for an insurance field goal.

Week 1's top games

Watch some of the best games from Week 1 all over again with NFL Replay on NFL Network. Airing on Tuesdays and Wednesdays at 8 p.m. and 10:30 p.m. ET, the broadcasts will feature a 90-minute fast-paced format complete with original television announcers and cameras. Week 1's games to be replayed are:
· DAL at JAC, Sept. 12, 8 ET
· NO at CLE, Sept. 12, 10:30 ET
· BUF at NE Sept. 13, 8 ET
· IND at NYG, Sept. 13, 10:30 ET

Click here to find out more about NFL Replay.

"It was very difficult for me to think that play was a foul," Giants coach Tom Coughlin said, adding that his team also hurt itself with way too many mistakes.

While Eli had a big fumble and interception, he wasn't the only one to make errors.

Giants defenders dropped two potential first-half interceptions that could have stopped scoring drives. Jay Feely missed a 40-yard field goal and the Giants had a plethora of penalties that slowed or ended drives, including an illegal snap by center Shaun O'Hara with 17 seconds to play that forced officials to take 10 seconds off the clock.

That allowed Eli Manning to throw one more pass -- and it fell incomplete.

The Giants, who also got a 110-yard rushing effort from Tiki Barber, had closed to within 23-21 on a 1-yard touchdown run by Brandon Jacobs with 8:01 to play. It marked the second time that the Giants, who had trailed 13-0 late in the first half, had rallied to close the gap to two points.

The 15-yard touchdown pass to Shockey cut the lead to 16-14, but Manning fumbled a snap near midfield and Indianapolis recovered, setting up Rhodes' touchdown.

Peyton Manning was nearly unstoppable in the first half. The Colts had the ball four times, scoring on each possession. Big brother hit 17-of-27 passes for 196 yards, converted 9-of-11 third-down chances and helped Indianapolis control the ball for 17:37 in taking a 16-7 halftime edge.

Vinatieri capped the first two drives -- which included a 17-play, nearly nine minute march to open the game -- with field goals of 26 and 32 yards for a 6-0 lead early in the second quarter.

Seconds before the first field goal, Giants backup safety James Butler had a chance to end the first drive. But he dropped what should have been an interception of a Peyton Manning pass that was right in his hands.

Another mistake kept New York off the scoreboard following Vinatieri's second field goal.

Burress, who got called for two illegal blocks in the first half, made a one-handed catch for a 37-yard gain to the Colts 26. However, Feely missed a 40-yard field goal four plays later.

Peyton Manning kept his cool in leading his Colts to victory over the Giants.
Peyton Manning made the Giants pay on the next possession, moving the Colts 70 yards in 10 plays and finishing it with a 2-yard strike to tight end Dallas Clark. Peyton outran blitzing safety Gibril Wilson on a rollout to the right and put a deft touch on a pass over the outstretched hands of Pro Bowl defensive end Michael Strahan, who was in zone coverage.

The touchdown gave Indianapolis a 13-0 lead, and for a moment the so-called Manning Bowl looked like it would be lopsided.

But Eli countered with a beautiful drive, moving the Giants 86-yards in eight plays. Barber got it going with 17 reception and two 11-yard runs, and Manning capped it with a 34-yard touchdown pass to Burress, who won a jump ball with Harper near the goal line.

The score got New York within 13-7 with 32 seconds left in the half, but that was enough time for Peyton to do some more damage.

Taking over at his own 38 with 25 seconds to go, Manning hit Marvin Harrison on three straight passes for 30 yards, setting up a 48-yard field goal by Vinatieri, who was signed in the offseason as a free agent to replace Mike Vanderjagt.

Baltimore Ravens Defense Hold Bucs To 26 Yards Rushing; Win 27 - 0

The Ravens are playing defense with a fire that could take them back to the Super Bowl.

Ravens steamroll Buccaneers 27-0 wire reports

TAMPA, Fla. (Sept. 10, 2006) -- It didn't take Steve McNair long to show what he can mean to the Baltimore Ravens.

Playing with the confidence and poise that figures to relieve pressure from a perennially stout but overworked defense, the 2003 NFL co-MVP led a long touchdown drive after the opening kickoff and spent the rest of the gamae enjoying Ray Lewis & Co. at their best in a 27-0 rout of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

"This team knows what I can do. It's the people that's outside looking in that don't know," said McNair, obtained from Tennessee in a trade after the Titans decided he no longer fit their plans. "I'm still able to play this game to a high level."

Chris McAlister returned one of the Ravens' three interceptions 61 yards for a touchdown and 340-pound rookie Haloti Ngata lumbered 60 yards with a tipped pass to set up a field goal to help build a 17-0 halftime lead.

Baltimore (1-0) won on the road for the first time since beating the New York Jets 20-17 in overtime on Nov. 14, 2004, ending an 11-game skid that was the longest in the NFL. The Bucs (0-1) were shut out at home for the first time since 1996 after going 77 games without being blanked.

"We had a mind-set just to come play our type of football and we did," Lewis said. "Our offense, you have to tip your hats to them. They came out first drive, and they made life easy for us."

McNair completed 17 of 27 passes for 181 yards, one touchdown and no interceptions against the league's No. 1 defense from last season. The only time he was sacked, the three-time Pro Bowl selection lost the grip on the ball attempting to pass and fell on the fumble.

The Ravens sacked Chris Simms twice, limited Carnell "Cadillac" Williams to 22 yards rushing on eight carries and held Simms' favorite target, speedy receiver Joey Galloway, without a catch. The Bucs managed just 142 yards total offense.

"We fell behind," Williams said, "and things just fell apart."

Jamal Lewis scored on a 4-yard run in the first quarter and McAlister returned his interception for a 14-0 lead on the first play of the second. Ngata's first career pick led to Matt Stover 's field goal, and Ed Reed finished the raid on Simms' errant passes with a fourth-quarter interception that led to McNair's 4-yard TD pass to Daniel Wilcox.

Simms was 17 of 29 for 133 yards and was benched by coach Jon Gruden midway through the fourth quarter. Rookie Bruce Gradkowski replaced him to cheers from what was left of a crowd of 65,087. The sixth-round draft pick was no match for the Ravens either.

The Ravens took a page from their history, relying on Jamal Lewis to win.
The Bucs could have avoided a shutout by kicking a field goal late in the third quarter, but elected to try for a touchdown when Simms threw an incompletion on fourth-and-4 from the Baltimore 6.

"A loss is a loss," Simms said, shrugging off the final score. "We could have kicked a field goal just to say we weren't shut out. ... We'll be back. We're not going to let one game ruin our season."

Baltimore struggled to move the ball after McNair directed a 14-play, 80-yard drive that lasted more than nine minutes. But with the Ravens' defense re-energized with Ray Lewis back in the lineup after missing most of 2005 with an injury, the outcome was never in doubt.

McAlister picked off an underthrown ball intended for Anthony Becht and returned the interception up the sideline, racing into the end zone with help from a convoy of blockers that prevented Williams -- the last player with a chance to stop him -- from making the tackle.

Ngata, the Ravens' first-round draft pick, intercepted a pass tipped by linebacker Bart Scott. He took off for the sideline, turned the corner and rumbled up field before running out of gas and being forced out of bounds at the Bucs 9.

"I never ran that far. I think that explains why I ran out of bounds," Ngata said. "I was looking for somebody to pitch it to, but I didn't feel like I could. I saw blockers in front of me, so I just kept running."

Ray Lewis sat out the last 10 games of 2005 with a hamstring injury that required surgery, and Baltimore stumbled to a 6-10 record, missing the playoffs. His return, coupled with McNair's arrival, are the main reasons the Ravens think they have a chance to contend for a championship.

"It's one step," the two-time NFL Defensive Player of the Year said. "We're not claiming nothing else. We'll go back and watch film Monday and then we restart again."

Chad Pennington Sharp And Gets Win Over Titans 23-16

Titans Rookie QB Vince Young played and completed 75 percent of his passes.

Pennington, Jets fine in 23-16 win wire reports

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (Sept. 10, 2006) -- Chad Pennington not only has returned strong after a second shoulder surgery in as many years, he might be even better than 2002.

All Pennington did that year was lead the NFL in passer rating.

Pennington threw for 319 yards and two touchdowns to lead the New York Jets to a 23-16 victory over the Tennessee Titans after having to beat out three quarterbacks in preseason to reclaim his starting job.

"Chad has done a great job in preparing himself and getting himself back to the point of being our starting quarterback," Jets receiver Laveranues Coles said. "I'm just happy that he now has a game under his belt and showed he's back."

The Titans had trailed 16-0 until Travis Henry tied the game, rushing for two fourth-quarter touchdowns within five minutes of each other. His 1-yarder with 5:58 left came one play after Pennington was sacked and fumbled.

Pennington needed seven plays to take back the lead after Justin Miller's 41-yard kickoff return, going ahead on a 12-yard touchdown pass to Chris Baker with 2:10 left in helping make coach Eric Mangini a winner in his head coaching debut.

"The mechanics were excellent, the tempo was excellent, and I'm proud that he was poised," Mangini said.

Tennessee had one last chance and drove to the Jets 8. But Kerry Collins missed tight end Bo Scaife while trying to reach David Givens in the end zone on fourth-and-6 with 35 seconds to go.

"I'm proud of the way our guys fought, but I also believe the bottom line is about wins and losses and we didn't get that done today," Collins said.

This opener matched teams that went 4-12 in 2005 and came into this season with questions at quarterback.

Chad Pennington looked good, throwing for 319 yards with two touchdowns.
Pennington played only three games last season before hurting his right shoulder. He couldn't have looked much better in posting a 123.2 passer rating and said he was happy to be playing again with lots of friends and family in the stands from his hometown of Knoxville, Tenn.

"It's just truly a blessing to be able to come out here and play this game. It's an honor to play this game, and that's the way I look at it," he said.

His father, who has been ailing recently, stayed at home and watched his son on television.

"I hope he enjoyed it," Pennington said.

The Titans didn't announce their starter until 90 minutes before kickoff, and gave the job to Collins, who opened his 12th NFL season with his fifth team. Rookie Vince Young also played a series.

Andre Dyson, who started his career in Tennessee, intercepted each of them. The Jets ended three of four Tennessee drives with interceptions and had two sacks.

The Jets could have avoided all the late drama if only kicker Mike Nugent had been better. He missed an extra point and a 34-yard field goal, then bounced a 30-yarder off the right post. Mangini said he would talk to Nugent, among others, about mistakes. Without Pennington, the Jets had the next-to-last ranked offense in the NFL in 2005. He picked apart the Titans and helped the Jets pile up 393 yards of offense.

Kevan Barlow scored for New York on 1-yard run two plays after a Titans' interception was overturned by a defensive pass interference call in the second quarter.

A sellout crowd didn't waste any time sharing its anger early, booing Collins when he replaced Young and alternately chanting for Young and Billy Volek, the quarterback who lost his starting job when the team signed Collins on Aug. 29.

Collins, starting 13 days after being signed to a one-year contract, looked out of sync early and often with several balls sailing out of bounds and at least three batted down. His receivers didn't help with a couple drops. He finally clicked in the fourth quarter when he went 4 of 6 for 56 yards in setting up Henry's first TD run.

He finished 17 of 38 for 223 yards.

"This team is not happy right now and does not have a right to be," coach Jeff Fisher said.

Young made his NFL debut in the second quarter, entering with 8:55 left to a round of cheers. The No. 3 pick overall out of Texas looked like an immediate improvement over Collins as he completed his first three passes and moved the Titans to the Jets 29.

Then he came up short on a pass to Givens, which Dyson picked off.

Atlanta Falcons Solid Performance Beats Carolina Panthers 20 to 6

And QB Michael Vick has mastered the Bill Walsh Offense

Upset-minded Falcons stun Panthers 20-6 wire reports

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (Sept. 11, 2006) -- Warrick Dunn figured Atlanta's dominating performance over Super Bowl favorite Carolina would come as a surprise.

"Most people didn't think we could that," said Dunn after he rushed for 132 yards in the Falcons' 20-6 win over the Panthers. "We've added some guys who have been to the Pro Bowl. There's an emphasis to get to the next level."

One of those newcomers, John Abraham, had two sacks and two forced fumbles, while Michael Vick threw two touchdown passes as the Falcons erased memories of their 44-11 loss to the Panthers.

The Falcons were accused of not giving a complete effort -- a theory Vick affirmed when he said in the offseason he didn't try his hardest in Atlanta's final regular-season game.

"You've barely heard about Atlanta all offseason and I think that's good for us," Abraham said. "We were 8-8 last year and a lot of guys had us in a slump."

In the offseason, the Falcons acquired Abraham from the New York Jets and signed Grady Jackson away from Green Bay. The revamped line dominated the Panthers, who were held to 215 yards as they played without all-Pro receiver Steve Smith, inactive with a right hamstring injury.

"We've got three Pro Bowl pass rushers on this team. If we didn't come here and hit the quarterback a lot, I would have been surprised," said Abraham, who limped off the field late in the game with a groin injury. He said the injury wasn't serious.

Atlanta also rolled on offense, finishing with 252 yards rushing.

Warrick Dunn had a game-high 132 yards rushing on 29 carries to pace the Falcons.
Carolina, which had the third-rated defense a year ago, fell flat to begin a season with high expectations after last season's loss in the NFC championship game.

"What did we give up in the running game? That was ridiculous," said defensive tackle Kris Jenkins, playing in his first game after knee surgery. "It wasn't the Super Bowl, but it was a division game and a conference game. They kicked our tails. I'm not proud of it, but I'm being honest."

Vick, trying to silence critics after throwing 13 interceptions last season, threw a 1-yard touchdown pass to Alge Crumpler late in the third quarter for a 20-6 lead. Crumpler out-muscled Panthers linebacker Chris Draft, who in training camp called Vick just an average passer who gets hit a lot.

Atlanta took a 13-3 halftime lead, getting the only touchdown of the half late when Vick did what he does best: improvise.

Vick rolled toward the left sideline, drawing the defense to him before dumping a short pass to Michael Jenkins. He broke Ken Lucas' tackle along the sideline and raced 34 yards for a touchdown with 28 seconds left.

"I'm just comfortable with everything that we are doing with our scheme," Vick said. "I spent a lot of time this offseason working with our offense and just trying to put myself in a position where I can be effective with every snap."

The Panthers generated 89 yards offense in the first half -- fitting because they were missing No. 89, quarterback Jake Delhomme 's primary target last season. Smith, inactive with a right hamstring injury, was the league's top receiver last season with 103 catches for 1,563 yards and 12 touchdowns.

After missing most of training camp with a strained left hamstring and an ingrown toenail, the 2005 co-Comeback Player of the Year pulled up lame in practice with a right hamstring injury.

"He's a big part of our offense, but still, that's not an excuse for this performance," Delhomme said.

The Panthers went to their newest option, veteran Keyshawn Johnson, for an 8-yard pass on the first play from scrimmage. But Johnson had only four catches for 40 yards and Delhomme was 21 of 36 for 186 yards and an interception. The Panthers didn't convert a third down chance until early the fourth quarter.

The Panthers were further hampered when left tackle Travelle Wharton left in the second quarter with a left knee strain. It forced the Panthers to make several moves to the right combination to contain Abraham.

The Panthers also lost middle linebacker Dan Morgan with a concussion early in the second quarter. Adam Seward replaced Morgan, who has a history of concussions.

"We had a similar game plan as we had in the past, but we had some new people out there when Dan Morgan went down and we just didn't execute as well," coach John Fox said.

Reggie Bush Gets 141 All-Purpose Yards In Win

But I would not have him return punts. It's going to get him injured either directly or indirectly.

Bush, Carney help Saints beat the Browns wire reports

CLEVELAND (Sept. 10, 2006) -- Reggie Bush strolled down the hallway toward the team bus wearing a backpack, blue L.A. Dodgers baseball cap and smile. He looked like a college kid headed home from class.

School may be over for Bush. His pro education has just begun.

In Week 1, he passed his first test.

"I would probably give myself a 'B,'" he said. "I didn't get in the end zone."

Bush didn't dazzle but he certainly didn't disappoint in his pro debut. He and Drew Brees led the rebuilt New Orleans Saints to a season-opening 19-14 win over the Cleveland Browns.

Bush, whose arrival in New Orleans has given the city's football fans renewed optimism in the wake of Hurricane Katrina's devastation, finished with 141 total yards. The Heisman Trophy winner had 61 yards rushing on 14 attempts, caught eight passes for 58 yards and returned three punts for 22.

He never got loose on one of the trademark breakaways he made commonplace at Southern California, and a few times he would have been better off falling down than trying to escape tacklers.

Although he didn't score, Bush helped get the Saints off to a winning start in this season of rebirth.

"I just wanted us to get a win," Bush said. "I wasn't focused on anything else. This was a perfect first step."

John Carney kicked four field goals, the last one with 5:42 remaining, and Brees, who signed a six-year, $60 million free-agent contract in March, threw a 12-yard TD pass to rookie Marques Colston in the third quarter.

The Saints also got 90 yards on 22 carries from Deuce McAllister, making his return after missing the final 11 games last season following knee surgery.

New Orleans didn't clinch rookie coach Sean Payton's first win until the final two minutes, when safety Josh Bullocks intercepted a pass that deflected off the hands of receiver Braylon Edwards in New Orleans territory.

Receiver Marques Colston dives in for the go-ahead touchdown in the third-quarter.
It was a painful and somewhat fitting ending for the Browns, celebrating their 60th anniversary. On their first offensive play, Edwards got behind the Saints defense for a 74-yard TD reception that got called back by a penalty.

"The first play described the whole game," Browns tight end Kellen Winslow said.

The Browns fell to 1-7 in season openers since returning to the league in 1999, and coach Romeo Crennel was short with the media during his postgame news conference.

"The other team played better than we did," snapped Crennel.

"Are you angry?" he was asked.

"I'm just peachy," he said.

Cleveland was held to 56 total yards and blanked in the first 30 minutes. But the Browns came back as Charlie Frye threw an 18-yard TD pass to Winslow, and the second-year quarterback scored on a 1-yard sneak to bring Cleveland within 16-14 with 11:20 to go.

Week 1's top games

Watch some of the best games from Week 1 all over again with NFL Replay on NFL Network. Airing on Tuesdays and Wednesdays at 8 p.m. and 10:30 p.m. ET, the broadcasts will feature a 90-minute fast-paced format complete with original television announcers and cameras. Week 1's games to be replayed are:
· DAL at JAC, Sept. 12, 8 ET
· NO at CLE, Sept. 12, 10:30 ET
· BUF at NE Sept. 13, 8 ET
· IND at NYG, Sept. 13, 10:30 ET

Click here to find out more about NFL Replay.

The Saints, though, marched down for Carney's fourth kick and then held off Cleveland's rally.

Brees finished 17 of 31 for 176 yards with one interception. Frye, making his sixth career start, was 16 of 27 for 132 yards with the TD and two picks.

Winslow looked fully recovered after missing 30 games the past two seasons and had eight catches for 63 yards.

Bush made some rookie mistakes early. He misjudged Cleveland's first punt, retreating when it sailed over his head. Late in the first quarter, he slithered through traffic on an 18-yard run and several other carries where he nearly got free.

Bush also dropped a third-down pass near the 5 that he might have scored on, and the 21-year-old had other moments where he tried to do too much.

"I was close a couple of times," Bush said. "On some of those plays I should have gone North instead of cutting sideways."

As he has done since the moment the Saints drafted him second overall, Bush made another strong impression.

"He has something to prove to everybody in this league and he wants to be the best," wide receiver Joe Horn said. "I think he did very well for just starting out. A lot of people wanted to see No. 25 in a real fight, and they were able to see it."

The Browns scored on their first series in the third quarter as Frye connected with Winslow. Playing in just his third game after missing most of two seasons with serious leg injuries, Winslow stiff-armed rookie Roman Harper on his way to the end zone.

Winslow immediately ran to the Browns bench, spiked his helmet and hugged head trainer Marty Lauzon, who spent countless hours in rehab with the tight end.

"It's been hard for me, he's been there every step of the way," Winslow said.