Yesterday the Baltimore Ravens took the field as heavy favorites against a Matt Cassel-less Kansas City Chiefs team and after four quarters of surprisingly pass heavy offense the Ravens walked away 38-24 winners. While the end result was what was to be expected (a 14 point victory) the game did not go quite according to “plan”. The supposed “easy” win was nearly in jeopardy as the Ravens were forced to rely on their young quarterback prodigy to lead this team on a fourth quarter comeback and the eventual victory. In the end the Ravens beat one of the easier opponents on their 2009 schedule, but more importantly than the win, the Ravens walked away without much of a limp.
Each and every opening weekend of the NFL season teams, players, and fans all pray that they will be able to avoid the dreaded week 1 injury bug. Who will ever forget Tom Brady getting injured in week 1 last season? The New England Patriots were coming off a season in which they went 16-0 and Brady had set the NFL single season TD passing record. Yesterday was no exception as several key players went down with serious injuries in their first game of the new season.
This year with high expectations for their season the Philadelphia Eagles learned that QB Donavan McNabb suffered a broken rib as he rushed for a touchdown in a game that was already heavily in the Eagles favor against the Panthers. Now the Eagles must decide on who will become their starting quarterback this week against the New Orleans Saints, a team that is expected to be competing with them for one of the six playoff spots in the NFC. The Eagles however weren’t the only ones praying for optimistic results from team doctors this weekend as several other teams learned their disappointing injury news.
In the opening game of the NFL season the Pittsburgh Steelers watched their prized young safety make incredible play after incredible play, yet before the first half was over, Steelers fans were already worried about their season. The panic in the air came crashing down on all of those whom wave those yellow wash clothes as they learned that Troy Polamalu sprained his knee and is expected to miss several weeks. Now the Steelers are left to fill in the pieces of their defensive secondary and now find a way to replace their All-World safety. I don’t think quarterback’s will be quite as concerned with where Tyrone Carter is on the field as they were when Polamalu was healthy.
Another team with Super Bowl expectations in 2009 was the Indianapolis Colts. The Colts are always considered a contender with Peyton Manning under center, however this was the first year that Peyton would be without his favorite target Marvin Harrison. In Harrison’s absences, Reggie Wayne had officially become Peyton’s “go-to”, but we’ve all seen enough of the Colts to know that Peyton needs a #2 receiver on the opposite side. This year the player to take over that role was 3rd year receiver Anthony Gonzalez. In his first two years in the league Gonzalez had proven to Peyton that he could be just as reliable as Harrison and Wayne if given the opportunity. That opportunity came this season, but Gonzalez and the Colts quickly found out that they will need to find someone else to fill the big shoes vacated by Marvin Harrison, as Anthony Gonzalez collapsed on the field yesterday with a knee injury and is expected to miss a chunk on the season.
The biggest blow however was still yet to come. The Chicago Bears took the field last night with a legitimate NFL quarterback, possibly the best one of the twenty-three other quarterbacks that have started for the Bears since Jim McMahon. The Bears traded for up and coming quarterback stud Jay Cutler and now Chicago finally had an offense to go with their dominant defense. No Chicago Bear player was more excited for Cutler’s arrival than Brian Urlacher. For years Urlacher had lead the Bears defense to being one of the best in the league year after year, all while the team’s offense could barely manage to score a touchdown. This year all that was supposed to change for Urlacher and the Bears with Cutler in town. Now if that’s going to happen in will be without Urlacher on the field as he suffered the most serious of all the week 1 injuries. The six time Pro Bowl player and four time All Pro injured his wrist and due to surgery, he will be forced to miss the entire 2009 season.
With that said, I think that we can over look the missed field goal, the blocked punt, and a few bad penalties. Clearly the Ravens have things to improve on this week before they take on a much more challenging opponent on the road in the San Diego Chargers. However with only Tavares Gooden and Tom Zibikowsi getting dinged against the Chiefs, the Ravens will at least have all of their pieces in place as they continue to make their push to become the AFC North divisional Champions. The most important things for the Ravens to walk away with from their game against the Chiefs was a win and a healthy team. Mission Accomplished.