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NFC Preseason Week 1 Recap
by ASA - 08/16/2006
The 2006 edition of the Cardinal offense looked very similar to the 2005 version in Arizonaâ€™s 21-13 win over Pittsburgh in the preseason opener. The Cardinals moved the ball well through the air, completing 20-of-28 passes for 178 yards, but the ground game was as stagnant as ever. Arizona picked up only 57 yards on 32 carries with this offseasonâ€™s big acquisition Edgerrin James losing two yards on his only two carries of the game.
The Falcon running game, which was tops in the league a year ago, was as strong as ever, averaging nearly six yards a carry en route to 196 yards on the ground. As good as the Atlanta run offense was, the Atlanta run defense was equally bad, surrendering 162 yards on the ground on only 31 carries to a New England running attack that finished 24th in the NFL last year.
Keyshawn Johnson may be just what the doctor ordered for an ailing Carolina receiving corps. Johnson caught two passes for 27 yards on the Panthersâ€™ game-opening touchdown drive, providing quarterback Jake Delhomme with a much needed second option in the passing game. Pro Bowler Steve Smith caught 103 passes last season, but no other Carolina wideout caught more than 25. The addition of Johnson should provide a balance that could lead the Panthers to the Super Bowl.
The Bears, who are expected to contend for the NFC crown this season, put forth a poor defensive effort in losing 28-14 to the 49ers. Chicago, which allowed the fewest points in the NFL last year, surrendered 28 points to a San Francisco offense that scored the third fewest points in the league a year ago. The Bears could also be staring at a potential quarterback controversy between incumbent Rex Grossman and free agent signee Brian Griese. Grossman struggled in the preseason opener, completing only 3 of 11 passes for 47 yards while Griese, who is widely considered one of the best backups in football, connected on 6-of-7 pass attempts for 134 yards and two touchdowns.
The Cowboys sat Drew Bledsoe and Terrell Owens in the preseason opener but backups Tony Romo and Patrick Crayton proved to be potential contributors in Dallasâ€™ 13-3 win over Seattle. With Bill Parcells sitting Bledsoe for the game, Romo took every snap and completed 19 of 25 passes for 235 yards and a touchdown. Crayton, a third-year wide receiver, may have solidified a spot as the Cowboysâ€™ third wideout behind starters Owens and Terry Glenn with four catches for 61 yards and a touchdown.
Mike Martzâ€™s Detroit version of the Greatest Show on Turf was merely mediocre in the preseason opener. The Lionsâ€™ offense had mixed results and still has a long way to go to match those prolific St. Louis offenses of past years. The Lions won 20-13 and averaged nearly five yards a carry on the ground but the offense totaled only 246 yards and trailed in time of possession by nearly 12 minutes.
Green Bay Packers
The first game of the Mike McCarthy era was an inauspicious one as the Packers struggled on both sides of the ball in falling 17-3 to San Diego. The Green Bay offense could muster next to nothing with Brett Favre under center and the Packer defense let a LaDainian Tomlinson-less Charger offense march down the field for two scores. Second-round pick Greg Jennings dropped a fourth-down pass but had a strong effort otherwise with four catches for 68 yards as the Packers look for much-needed compliment to Donald Driver.
New Orleans Saints
Reggie Bushâ€™s NFL debut was a good one as Bush outshined Vince Young and former USC teammate Lendale White in leading the Saints to a 19-16 win over the Titans. Bush led a Saint offense that totaled 401 yards with 59 yards on six carries including an electrifying, reverse-of-field scamper that covered 44 yards. The Saint defense also played well, holding the Titans to only 95 yards passing and 219 total yards.
New York Giants
The Giant defense, which finished ninth in the NFL with 41 sacks last year, showed it may provide even more of a pass rush this season. New York tallied five sacks against the Ravens, including 1 Â½ from first-round pick Mathias Kiwanuka. The Giant offense was less than stellar, putting only 10 points on the board, but was without Pro Bowlers Tiki Barber and Jeremy Shockey, who both sat out due to minor injuries.
Philly received an unexpected boost from its usually barren wide receiver position in the form of sixth-year wideout Darnerian McCants and undrafted free agent Hank Baskett. McCants and Baskett combined for four grabs, totaling 83 yards and a touchdown. While the receiver position showed some improvement, the running backs resemble a MASH unit. Brian Westbrook, Correll Buckhalter, Ryan Moats, Bruce Perry and Reno Mahe are all on the injured list recovering from various injuries.
St. Louis Rams
The Rams hired former Saints head coach Jim Haslett to run the defense in St Louis this year and if one preseason game is any indication of things to come, watch out NFC West! The Rams held the number one ranked Colts offense of a year ago to just 38 yards
rushing, had five QB sacks and allowed just 249 total yards of offense in last Thursday's pre-season opener.
San Francisco 49ers
49er fans everywhere had to be pleased with Alex Smith, 2005â€™s first overall draft pick, in the preseason opener. Smith struggled mightily throughout the 2005 season but showed a great control of the offense in leading San Francisco to a 28-14 victory over the Bears. Smith shredded the Chicago defense, considered one of the best in the league, to the tune of 137 yards on a 76.1 completion percentage in only four series.
The defending NFC Champions sure didnâ€™t look like it deserved that title in its 13-3 loss to Dallas in the preseason opener. Seattle surrendered 336 yards to a Dallas offense that was without Drew Bledsoe and Terrell Owens. The absence of Pro Bowl guard Steve Hutchinson, who left for the Vikings in free agency, showed in the Seahawk running game as Seattle managed only 63 yards on 23 carries.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Tampa Bayâ€™s vaunted defense was in midseason form in holding the Jets to only 185 total yards in the Bucsâ€™ 16-3 win. The Buccaneer running game also showed promise despite Cadillac Williams sitting out the opener. Backups Earnest Graham and Carey Davis rushed for a combined 136 yards on 31 carries.
The â€˜Skins looked horrible in their 19-3 preseason loss to Cincinnati with their biggest concern coming in the form of star running back Clinton Portisâ€™ dislocated shoulder. Portis suffered the injury making a tackle on a Bengal interception return and his timetable to return remains uncertain. He is expected to sit out the remainder of the preseason and, potentially, the first few weeks of the regular season.
Check back for our AFC recap on Tuesday!