Here are five things to love about the NFL from the first weekend of the regular season:
One. Brian Urlacher. Yes, he’s 33 and in his 12th season. The Bears’ middle linebacker just didn’t look either on Sunday, when he collected10 tackles, returned a fumble for a TD and also intercepted a pass in a 30-12 win over the Falcons.
Two. Ray Lewis. The Ravens’ middle man is even older (36) and has been in the league even longer (16th season). But he also had a turn-back-the-clock performance with seven tackles, an interception and a forced fumble in a 35-7 win over the Steelers.
Three. Cam Newton. He’s too young (22), too inexperienced (rookie), too raw. Just not ready to play in the league yet. Yeah, right. All the Panthers’ QB did on Sunday was tie the Lions’ Matthew Stafford for the most yards (422) passing by any player in the 92-year history of the league in his debut. And did you see him drop in that TD pass to Steve Smith?
Four. Kickoff returners. The new rule moving the kickoffs up to the 35-yard line will take away one of the most exciting plays in the game. Or maybe not. Three players returned kickoffs for TDs in the openers – the 49ers’ Ted Ginn Jr. (102 yards against the Seahawks), the Packers’ Randall Cobb (108 yards against the Saints) and the Vikings’ Percy Harvin (103 yards against the Chargers). That tied the opening-weekend record from 1970 and 1998, and there are still two games left tonight.
Five. Jack Harbaugh. A former coach himself, he’s got two sons coaching in the league and both won on Sunday – by a combined score of 68-24. John’s Ravens beat the Steelers 35-7, while Jim’s 49ers beat the Seahawks 33-17. Jack was at Candlestick Park for Jim’s first NFL game.