GLENDALE, AZ - SEPTEMBER 11: Wide reciver Early Doucet #85 of the Arizona Cardinals looks back (at the rest of the NFC West) as he runs the football on a 70 yard touchdown reception against the Carolina Panthers during the fourth quarter of the NFL season opening game at the University of Phoenix Stadium on September 11, 2011 in Glendale, Arizona. The Carindals defeated the Panthers 28-21. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
Wow does it feel good to win again, or what?!
With other news around the league, it looks possible that Arizona could become the front runner of the NFC West after just one week.
If any of you watched our conference rivals duke it out today, you can see where some of my confidence comes from. Both the Hawks and 9ers host solid defenses, good run games, big question marks at QB and not much outside of that.
The game at first glance appears lopsided, but that is due to an extraordinary and spectacular effort by Ted Ginn Jr. on special teams. Out side of his two returns, the Seahawks and 49ers combined for 30 first downs, 20 penalties and 428 yards of offense. Both teams struggled running the ball and both QB's struggled in their own ways.
Alex Smith won the Cpt. Checkdown award of the week going 15-20 for 124 yards with no TD's but no INT's either. Travaris Jackson fared little better going 21-38 (56.8%) for 197 yards, but with 2TD's and 1 INT. The difference ended up being that the Niners had a better run game and a stiffer defense.
The St. Louis Rams may have had the worse day of all. Not only did they lose, badly but they also lost several key players to injury. The first domino to fall was Steven Jackson, the next was tackle Jason Smith to an ankle, than WR Danny Amendola to a dislocation, than CB Ron Bartell to a stinger and finally and worst of all Sam Bradford on an injury to his finger, on his throwing hand.
The extent of several of the injuries are unknown and several players are expected back soon, but if any combination of Bradford, Jackson and Smith go down for even a short period, their playoff goals could be become insurmountably tougher to achieve against a tough opening schedule.
While it is tough to initially judge these teams after just one game, the week does give rise to hope that we are the best team in the NFC West. Hopefully this belief is vindicated with a solid win over the Washington Redskins and most importantly in my eyes, the defense performing on par with expectations.