Tuesday, September 10, 2013


The Season Begins-2013 National Football League

Last Monday night, The Philadelphia Eagles dodged a bullet in the fourth quarter as the Washington Redskins gave them all that they could handle. The Eagles received the opening kickoff, and proceeded to run a “firewagon” brand of offence. They passed, they ran, they eluded tackles, and stormed down to the Redskins goal line.


Michael Vick, the Eagles’ quarterback threw an overhand pass into the flat which was deflected by a Skins’ lineman. The ball fell onto the turf, and resembled an incomplete pass; however, it was not a forward pass, and it was scooped up by the Redskins, and easily trotted down the field for six points. Stunned as they were by that turn of events, the Eagles regrouped and scored the next 33 points. At that point, it should have been game, set, and match.


Not as far as the Redskins were concerned. They methodically took charge, and put the next 24 points on the board. With less than a minute remaining, Washington tried a short kickoff into the Eagles’ territory. Had they recovered the ball, they had a chance to score and win the game. No such luck.


But the Redskins had reinforced the notion of playing to the final whistle, and scared the pants off the Eagles’ coaching staff. The Redskins’ coaches, father and son Shanahan had made the better adjustments at half time, and won the second half soundly. They just didn’t put enough points on the board.


Most of the rest of the league started the season on Sunday. Local focus, naturally, was on the Buffalo Bills. They were playing under a new head coach, Doug     Marrone, with a rookie quarterback, E. J. Manuel, at the helm. They faced their traditional rivals, the New England Patriots. Pats quarterback Tom Brady, now 36 years old, rallied his troops on several occasions to lead his team to victory.


Brady was able to find his receivers when it counted the most. Julian Edelman snagged two touchdown passes. Shane Vereen thundered along the ground to complement the passing attack. In the end, the Patriots relied on the foot of Stephen Gostkowski  to seal the deal. He hit a 33 yard field goal with five seconds remaining in the game to give the Patriots a 23-21 victory. They don’t get much closer.


But it was the play of newcomer Danny Amendola that impressed the most. Amendola signed with the Patriots last March, and is expected to try to fill the shoes of Wes Welker, who left the Pats for the Broncos earlier this year. Amendola had ten catches on the day, leading the Patriots with 104 yards. “He really toughed it out, which was impressive,’ Brady said of Amendola after the game. Amendola had aggravated a groin injury in the first half, but continued to play until the final whistle.


Amendola first signed with the Cowboys as a free agent, undrafted by all NFL teams. He went to the Rams a year later, and led the NFL in “all purpose yards in 2009 and 2010.


Brady summed up his team’s victory: “I didn’t have a lot of doubt. We’ve got a team full of fighters. There’s going to be some ugly wins, but we’re always going to fight until the end.”


The Patriots won their tenth straight season opener. That ties the streak of the Portsmouth/Detroit team who opened seasons from 1930 to 1939 without a loss, in case you had forgotten.


The Bills and Patriots hook up again later this season. That will be a game to watch.



James Hurst

September 10, 2013  

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