Late game wrap-up

A few general observations before we get into the late games. Anyone who wasn’t taking the NFL serious regarding the new point of emphasis about striking a defenseless receiver in the head, should be doing so now. New Orleans’ Darren Sharper and Arizona’s Adrian Wilson both picked up penalties for doing so, and I expect plenty more to come. Also, I have long been a firm believer in the importance of special teams. I think it’s one of the least appreciated elements of the game.

Today was another example of why. We saw on Thursday night how the two missed field goal attempts by the Titans ended up coming back to haunt them. Sunday afternoon, the Bengals might have had a different outcome had they not botched an exchange on a first-half field goal. The Redskins helped make something of a game of their contest with the Giants by scoring one fake field goal when they otherwise had little offensive thrust. The Chiefs, likewise, stayed in a game against the Ravens due in large part to a touchdown off a blocked punt. The Rams had a game get away from them when a blocked field goal for a touchdown was overturned by having too many men on the field; that gave Seattle a first down, after which they drove in for a touchdown and blew out the Rams from there.

N.Y. Giants vs. Washington: The score was deceiving. New York dominated this game territorially, indicative of most recent encounters between these two teams. Washington’s offense was inept for the most part and it was beat up at the line of scrimmage. The Redskins only scored an offensive TD when the Giants went up by two scores late. Even when gifted a short field in the red zone, they suffered. It was a mirror image of the season-opening game with the Giants from 2008. New York controlled the game.

Albert Haynesworth had a tepid debut at best and the Redskins’ trio of second-round pass catchers from the 2008 draft — Devin Thomas, Malcolm Kelly and Fred Davis — were as invisible as they were all of last season. Jason Campbell‘s long windup played a part in Osi Umenyiora‘s strip sack and 37-yard touchdown recovery¬† (Umenyiora had a heck of a game after missing all of last season) and New York had its way on offense. Very nice opening week win for the Giants.

Seattle vs. St. Louis:¬† I like the Seahawks to win the division, but you can’t judge much against the rebuilding Rams. I expected a lopsided game and that’s what we got. Too many turnovers for Seattle in the first half, but overall their superior roster shined through. Matt Hasselbeck made things look easy after getting the ball back following the overturned blocked field goal TD, and he brings a certain calmness and purpose to the offense that was missing in his absence much of last season. The Rams looked every bit the part of a rebuilding franchise. Guard Richie Incognito was up to his old tricks — he got pulled from the game after a second personal foul — and Steve Spagnuolo had the worst result of all the rookie head coaches today.

Arizona vs. San Francisco: I like the 49ers to push for a playoff spot, hard. I think the Cards will suffer a Super Bowl hangover. Through one game, I’m looking good. San Francisco has its limitations, but I like how hard they play for coach Mike Singletary. Arizona’s defense made some big plays, including Darnell Dockett‘s sack late in the first half, which took the 49ers out of field goal range. I remain seriously concerned about Kurt Warner getting through the season, though, and he was knocked around pretty good at times. Given his history of fumbling and hand issues, seeing him grimace and grip his right hand was noteworthy to me. Ultimately, Arizona’s predilection for penalties — particularly early — may have been the difference.

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