Newton's impressive debut among biggest Week 1 surprises

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Week 1 of the 2011 season featured many things. Big wins for the Ravens, Bears and Redskins -- and, in turn, big losses for the Steelers, Falcons and Giants. Cam Newton's record-breaking passing performance. Ted Ginn's back-to-back returns for touchdowns. And so much more. So, what was the most surprising thing to happen in a season opener?

  • Charles DavisNFL Network
  • Ravens hand out some revenge

    Most surprising thing to me was how the Ravens exorcised some recent demons against the Steelers, in convincing fashion. Remember the offseason debate about Joe Flacco and his ability to lead Baltimore to the Super Bowl? He believes he can.
  • Pat Kirwan
  • Not the way to start a season

    I wasn't surprised by kick returns, blitzing defenses or the state of affairs with the Colts. However, I was surprised by the performance of the Chiefs. The 2010 AFC West champs were at home against the Bills, who were 2-6 on the road last season and ranked 32nd in run defense. The Chiefs were the top rushing offense a year ago and went 7-1 at home. The Bills were impressive with Ryan Fitzpatrick at quarterback and dominated the game. I was happy for Chan Gailey, who was fired by the Chiefs and admitted that it meant something special to get a win over Kansas City.
  • Bucky Brooks
  • First of many great performances

    Cam Newton's impressive debut has to rank as the biggest surprise. No one would expect a rookie to surpass 400 passing yards, especially when considering the obstacles -- one-year wonder out of a spread offense with limited experience with pro concepts -- that were expected to prevent him from being an effective pro. Yet, he completed 24 of 37 passes for 422 yards with two touchdowns and one interception. He added another score on the ground and flashed big-time ability as a dual threat.

    While Newton certainly remains a work in progress as a passer, he gave the football world a glimpse at the immense talent and potential that led the Panthers to make him the No.1 overall pick.
  • Dave Dameshek
  • Three big surprises

    1. The Steelers' rush defense. Ben Roethlisberger, the offensive line and the secondary were all woeful, but the league's perennial best run-stuffing unit getting gashed by Ray Rice for over 100 yards before the third quarter had even ended was a shocker.

    2. All those big kickoff returns: I thought the new rules meant we weren't going to see those anymore.

    3. The Falcons offense: Julio Jones was supposed to make Atlanta's already-strong offense even more explosive. The Falcons didn't score a single offensive touchdown in Chicago. Huh?

    Thank goodness for San Diego's lousy kick coverage and Tony Romo's fourth-quarter choke, both of which provided a sense of normalcy on an otherwise unpredictable opening day.
  • Steve
  • Where's the defense?

    Overall, the most surprising element to opening weekend were the abundance of blowouts -– especially the waxing the Bills put on the Chiefs and Pittsburgh getting mopped up by Baltimore. Six games were decided by at least 16 points and the winners of those games scored at least 30 points. Aren’t defenses supposed to be ahead of offenses early in the season? Individually, Cam Newton’s debut was incredible –- although it came in a loss. I’m not as much taken aback by the overall yardage and how good he was in the passing game. I’m stunned that Carolina threw as frequently as it did and that so many players made so many plays.




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