The NFL got “Back to Football” in grand fashion as Kickoff Weekend featured exciting play and record-breaking performances. Among the highlights of Week 1:
- The 752 points scored tied for the ninth-most in a single week in NFL history and were the second-most ever scored on Kickoff Weekend.
- There were 89 touchdowns scored, tied for the sixth-most in a single week in NFL history and tied for the most ever on Kickoff Weekend (2002).
- NFL teams combined to throw for 7,842 net passing yards, the highest total in any week in NFL history.
- There were five games in which each team had a player throw for at least 300 yards, the most such games in a week in NFL history.
- Fourteen quarterbacks threw for at least 300 yards, the most in a single week in NFL history.
- There were eight combined kick-return touchdowns (five punt, three kickoff), the most combined kick-return touchdowns in a single week in NFL history.
- The three kickoff-return touchdowns are tied for the most in an opening weekend in NFL history (1970, 1998).
- There were three kickoff-return touchdowns of at least 100 yards – Green Bay’s RANDALL COBB (NFL-record-tying 108 yards), Minnesota’s PERCY HARVIN (103) and San Francisco’s TED GINN JR. (102). It marked just the second week in NFL history with three 100+ yard kickoff-return touchdowns (Week 5, 1958).
- San Francisco’s Ginn became the 12th player in NFL history – and the first on Kickoff Weekend – to return a kickoff (102 yards) and a punt (55 yards) for a touchdown in a single game. Ginn accomplished the feat just 59 seconds apart, the fastest of the 12 players to do so.
- Carolina rookie quarterback CAM NEWTON had 422 passing yards, the most ever by a player in his NFL debut. The previous mark was 346 yards by Pro Football Hall of Famer OTTO GRAHAM in 1950. Newton’s 422 yards are tied for the most in a single game by a rookie (MATTHEW STAFFORD, November 22, 2009).
- Cincinnati rookie wide receiver A.J. GREEN caught a game-winning 41-yard touchdown pass in the fourth quarter of the Bengals’ 27-17 win at Cleveland. It was the longest fourth-quarter game-winning TD catch in NFL history by a rookie in his team’s first game (22 yards, COBB ROONEY of the Duluth Kelleys in 1924).
- The Thursday night Kickoff opener between Green Bay (AARON RODGERS: 312 yards, 3 TDs) and New Orleans (DREW BREES: 419 yards, 3 TDs) marked the first time in NFL history that opposing quarterbacks both passed for at least 300 yards and three touchdowns without an interception in their teams’ season opener.
- The Monday night contest between New England (TOM BRADY, 517) and Miami (CHAD HENNE, 416) was the first game in NFL history with a 500-yard passer and 400-yard passer. The 906 net passing yards between the two teams were the most in a game in NFL history.
The defending NFC North champion Chicago Bears seek their second consecutive win over a 2010 playoff team when they travel to New Orleans to face the Saints. In Week 1, the Bears knocked off the Atlanta Falcons 30-12.
Chicago quarterback JAY CUTLER passed for 312 yards in the opener, his second consecutive Kickoff Weekend start with at least 300 passing yards (372 yards in 2010). Cutler is the only Bears quarterback to throw for at least 300 yards on Kickoff Weekend. Chicago running back MATT FORTÉ added 158 scrimmage yards (90 receiving, 68 rushing), including a 56-yard touchdown reception.
Defensively, the Bears were led by linebacker BRIAN URLACHER, who had a 12-yard fumble-return touchdown and an interception.
“We are starting 1-0,” says Urlacher. “We have a ways to go. We just need to keep it going.”
To keep it going, the Chicago defense will try to slow down the New Orleans offense led by quarterback DREW BREES, who passed for 419 yards and three touchdowns on Kickoff Weekend. Running back DARREN SPROLES had a dynamic debut for the Saints as he posted 250 total yards (92 punt return, 76 kick return, 75 receiving, seven rushing), including a 72-yard punt-return touchdown.
“When you walk away from a game with almost 500 yards (477) of total offense against one of the best teams in the league on the road,” says Brees, “you have to feel pretty good about the direction we’re headed.”
New England quarterback TOM BRADY threw for a franchise-record 517 yards – the fifth-best single-game performance in NFL history – and four touchdowns in the Patriots’ 38-24 Week 1 victory at Miami. New England amassed 622 total yards, the highest single-game total in team history.
Among Brady’s four TDs was a 99-yard strike to wide receiver WES WELKER, tied for the longest in league history.
“I only threw it 25 yards,” says Brady. “Wes did all the work.”
The Patriots will face a strong offense this week when the San Diego Chargers visit Gillette Stadium, where New England is a perfect 9-0 in home openers.
San Diego defeated the Minnesota Vikings 24-17 on Kickoff Weekend as running back MIKE TOLBERT scored three touchdowns. Tolbert became just the third Charger to record two receiving touchdowns and one rushing touchdown in the same game (GARY W. ANDERSON, October 19, 1986; KEITH LINCOLN, November 7, 1965).
“I guess I was in the right place at the right time,” says Tolbert. “Some of those plays were called for me but I had a decent game and can always do better.”
Philadelphia quarterback MICHAEL VICK returns to Atlanta as the Eagles face the Falcons on Sunday night. Vick was the No. 1 overall pick by Atlanta in 2001 and played six seasons (2001-06) for the Falcons, earning three Pro Bowl berths during that span.
Last week, Vick (187 passing yards, two touchdowns) led Philadelphia to a 31-13 win at St. Louis. Vick (97 yards, 11 attempts) and running back LE SEAN MC COY (122 yards, 15 attempts) led a rushing attack that totaled 236 yards. Vick (8.8 average) and McCoy (8.1) became the first set of QB-RB teammates in NFL history to each average at least 8.0 yards per carry in the same game (minimum 10 carries each).
“We found ways to make plays,” says Vick about the team’s performance. “The most important thing is that we got out with the win. We jelled really well. There are still some things we need to work on. But we were able to get it done.”
The Falcons will try to bounce back from a Kickoff Weekend loss in Chicago and return home where quarterback MATT RYAN is 20-2 (.909) in his career.
“We’re disappointed with our start,” says Atlanta head coach MIKE SMITH. “This is the start of the NFL season and we didn’t start very well, but we realize that. It’s a long season and we are going to get things corrected.”
Two teams with playoff aspirations will look to bounce back after opening the season with a loss. In the spotlight on Monday night will be two quarterbacks drafted No. 1 overall – the Rams’ SAM BRADFORD (2010) and the Giants’ ELIMANNING (2004).
Bradford, who is expected to play despite a bruise on his right index finger, is coming off an impressive rookie season. The 2010 AP Offensive Rookie of the Year guided St. Louis to seven wins and set NFL rookie records with 590 attempts and 354 completions while ranking second all-time among rookies with 3,512 yards.
Manning has started 104 consecutive games at quarterback – the longest current streak in the NFL at the position – and is the only QB in franchise history with consecutive 4,000-yard seasons (2009-10). He is 2-0 in his career against the Rams with seven touchdowns, no interceptions and a 125.5 passer rating.
“We’ve got to get ready to play a really good New York Giants team,” says Rams head coach STEVE SPAGNUOLO, who spent two years as the Giants’ defensive coordinator (2007-08), including the team’s Super Bowl XLII season.