Maybe I wasn’t ready for some football: A recap of Week 1 action

Like all football fans, the thought of the first week of the NFL season taking place had me looking forward to the action. I wasn’t salivating — I’m not that rabid. But for a couple of reasons I was ready — or so I thought — for some football.

I am, without apology, a Cleveland sports fan. I rooted for the Indians growing up, and they were pitiful. In the 1960s, the Browns were pretty good. Then after getting a new franchise after the Baltimore defect, the new Browns were more like the old Indians.

Now the Tribe is in a pennant race again, and after such dramatic improvement last season everyone expected the Browns to contend for the AFC North title. Then the games began. Was any Browns fan ready for what we saw?

Let’s recap Week 1 of the 2019 NFL season, looking at local teams and the top game.

Cleveland Browns. That was pitiful. The Indians of the 1960s may not have been as bad as the Browns were on opening day. I have two suggestions for Browns fans: First, do not make your Super Bowl hotel reservations just yet. Second, keep in mind that no team is as good as it looks when blowing out an opponent, nor is a team as bad as it looks when it’s on the other side of the whipping.

The Browns, playing at home, had more penalties than anyone thought possible. It’s not like they were playing the defending Super Bowl champions. The Tennessee Titans will not be the best opponent the Browns will take on this season.

The best way to look at this game is to acknowledge that it is only ONE game. The Browns have 15 more opportunities to turn things around before playoff time gets here. I believe they will be better this week. At least I hope so, because the whole nation will be watching on Monday night.

The Jets are banged up. New franchise running back Le’Veon Bell is nursing a sore shoulder and may be limited. Quarterback Sam Darnold is out for several weeks with mono. Had the Browns won their opener, this game would be considered a trap game. Not anymore.

Is it a must-win for the Browns? Of course not! They must clean up the penalties, though. Will they bounce back? I guess you’ll have to tune in to see.

Detroit Lions. The Lions looked good early against the Cardinals in Arizona. Unfortunately, you have to play the whole game. Much has been made about the timeout Detroit called just before the play clock ran out. The play was completed because no one knew about the timeout. The Lions apparently converted a key first down only to have to try it again.

Of course they didn’t make it on the second try. That’s almost a given. But I would suggest the call was not the reason the Lions ended up not winning the game. Too much else took place.

Then again, Detroit did not lose the game either. A tie to start the season — a rarity these days — is better than a loss. I think the Lions will be OK. Take heart, Detroit fans. If nothing else, the Tigers season is almost over!

Cincinnati Bengals. No team in the NFL wants to play in Seattle. One of the toughest crowds, together with an able opponent, makes it tough to get a win there.

The Bengals had to open in the Pacific Northwest and as expected they did not win. They played well, however and help is on the way. A.J. Green is out of the walking boot.

If you are a Bengals fan, there is reason for optimism. Then again, it’s only Week 1 and many strange things can, and likely will, happen.

As for the AFC North, the Steelers got blown out by the Pats and the Ravens whipped up on the Dolphins. What does that mean? I’m not sure, but remember no team is as bad…

Game of the Week. Monday Night Football had a classic that may end up being the best game of the season. The Saints took a conservative route near the end of the game and settled for a field goal that gave them a six-point lead with 50 seconds left. If you are a football fan, you are aware that 10 more points would be scored in less than a minute! It will be hard to top this game.

With 50 seconds to go and 75 yards to cover for a game winning touchdown, the Houston Texans used all of 13 seconds to score that TD. Seriously, two plays in 13 seconds and Saints fans were wondering what hit them.

The extra point certainly would give Houston an incredible come-from-behind victory. Except the extra point missed! But wait. There was a penalty for roughing the kicker. He couldn’t miss again, could he? No, the kick was good, but there were 37 seconds left!

The Saints managed to get down the field far enough for a 58-yard field-goal try. Will Lutz makes it – a career long effort – and the greatest game, perhaps for the season, was in the books.

For a fan not particularly interested in the outcome of the game, it was exciting. I can’t imagine what it was like for Texans and Saints fans.

As for my fantasy league… Well, let’s just say it may be a long season!

Al Stephenson is a columnist for The Advertiser-Tribune.

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