Unlike in recent years – think Andrew Luck or Robert Griffin III, Cam Newton or Matthew Stafford – quarterbacks taken in the first round of the NFL draft sat instead of starting in Week 1.
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And the veterans who played in place of that trio did well enough Sunday, at least at times, that Manziel, Bortles and Bridgewater might be on the sidelines a while longer.
There was buzz that the Browns might try to get Manziel on the field in some way. Nope. Johnny Football remained on the sideline, while Brian Hoyer recovered from a terrible first half to finish 19 for 31 for 230 yards in Cleveland’s 30-27 loss at Pittsburgh.
Jacksonville’s Bortles watched Chad Henne throw a pair of first-quarter touchdown passes to Allen Hurns, an undrafted rookie, while going 24 for 43 for 266 yards as the Jaguars blew a 17-0 lead and were beaten 34-17 at Philadelphia. And Bridgewater got to relax as Matt Cassel helped Minnesota win 34-6 at St. Louis by going 17 for 25 for 170 yards and two TDs.
Hoyer, Henne and Cassel combined to throw zero interceptions, one way to keep a job as a QB in the NFL. One rookie quarterback who did start Sunday was Oakland’s Derek Carr, a second-round pick; he was 20 for 32 for 151 yards with two touchdown passes and no pickoffs.
Browns coach Mike Pettine said he never thought about switching to Heisman Trophy winner Manziel at halftime, when his team trailed 27-3.
”The way the game went,” Pettine said, ”we just never felt the need for him.”
In case you missed it, here are other top topics after the NFL season’s first Sunday:
PASSING-GAME PENALTIES: Flags were flying thanks to the competition committee’s rewording of – and ”emphasis” on – rules governing downfield coverage. Through Sunday, there were 34 penalties called for defensive holding or illegal contact in the season’s first 14 games, according to league figures. That’s more than three times as many as the 11 such calls in all 16 of the Week 1 games a year ago, according to STATS.
There also was a jump in offensive pass interference, from five calls to 12.
OH, NO, ROMO: The thinking was that Dallas’ defense would be its downfall this season. That might be, but Tony Romo’s first game since back surgery featured three first-half interceptions in a home loss to San Francisco.
LAST-PLACE PATS: New England is 0-1 for the first time in 11 years after getting outscored by 23 points in the second half of a 33-20 loss at Miami. What will Bill Belichick change before playing Minnesota?
WORTH EVERY PENNY: J.J. Watt’s first game since signing a deal that reportedly guarantees him more than $50 million showed that, if anything, he’s underpaid. All Watt did in a win against Washington was block an extra point, recover a fumble, bat down a pass, and sack Robert Griffin III. Oakland’s Carr needs to watch out for Watt in Week 2.
OMAHA!: Peyton Manning still yells that city’s name at the line of scrimmage, defenses still don’t know what it means – and he’s still operating an efficient offense, even without the suspended Wes Welker. Manning connected with Julius Thomas, who is headed for a hefty new contract, for three first-half scores in a 31-24 victory over Indianapolis. If Kansas City couldn’t stop Tennessee’s Jake Locker this Sunday, what will it do against Manning next Sunday?
INJURY UPDATES: The health of two of the past four No. 1 overall draft picks is in question. Houston’s Jadeveon Clowney left Sunday with a knee injury; Carolina’s Cam Newton sat out with a rib injury. And St. Louis, already without 2010 top pick Sam Bradford, lost fill-in QB Shaun Hill to a strained leg muscle and turned to Austin Davis. (It’s OK to ask, ”Who?” The answer: a second-year player out of Southern Mississippi.)
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