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Monday, September 13, 2010

oh hello NFL regular season

It's probably because the 2010 Boston Red Sox have been out of the race for basically all season but I can never remember being more excited for an NFL season to start.

I have absolutely no idea what to expect from my New England Patriots but therein lies some of the excitement I guess.

Yesterday afternoon was about as good a start as you could ever dream of: New England beat a playoff team (Cincinnati Bengals) 38-24 at Gillette Stadium.

Where to begin the plethora of highlights? Tom Brady, the NFL's highest paid player, looked awesome spreading it around (25 of 35 for 258 yards, 3 touchdowns, 0 interceptions).

Wes Welker played his first real game since the 2009 regular season finale, racking up eight catches for 64 yards and two touchdowns, looking nothing like a guy recovering from ACL surgery. Even Fred Taylor (71 yards rushing) and the ageless Kevin Faulk (70 total yards) had a spring in their old steps.

The Patriots had a defensive touchdown (a 59-yard interception return from Gary Guyton) and a 97-yard kickoff return by Brandon Tate. All this led to a 31-3 lead and a cruise control second half which led to the tighter final score.

With so many young guys and new names, particularly on defense, New England looked very promising. Pat Chung led the way with 16 tackles (12 solo), rookie tight end Aaron Hernandez had a 45-yard catch and rookie tight end Rob Gronkowski capped the scoring with a 1-yard back of the end zone grab.

Carson Palmer's numbers (34 of 50, 345 yards, 2 touchdowns, 1 interception) look nice but he didn't do anything when it mattered and the outcome hung in the balance. Ditto for Chad Ochocinco (12 catches, 159 yards, 1 touchdown) and Terrell Owens (7 catches, 53) who are well on their way to a 8-8 season that nobody will ever remember.

Welker fittingly caught the first pass of the 2010 season and finished the first drive with an easy nine-yard catch and run for a score. Stephen Gostkowski's 31-yard field goal put the Pats up 10-0 after the first quarter.

Welker added a four-yard touchdown catch in the second quarter along with Guyton's awesome individual effort.

Mike Nugent hit a 54-yard field goal to get the Bengals on the board late in the second quarter.

After Tate's kickoff return, Cincy finally scored two touchdowns (a one-yard pass to Jermaine Gresham and 28-yard pass to Ochocinco).

Gronkowski's touchdown sealed this one before Cedric Benson wrapped it up with a one-yard run.

The Dolphins eeked one out on the road over the Bills yesterday afternoon and the Jets begin their season tonight with a game at the Baltimore Ravens.

New England travels to the New Meadowlands on Sunday (4:15 p.m.) for an early AFC East showdown.

Randy Moss had five catches for 59 yards but he made headlines for his bizarre 14-minute post-game press conference. I have already seen too much coverage of it so I don't feel like I have to talk about it like everybody else.

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