Week 1 losses hurt

ROB LONGLEY -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 8:30 AM ET

It's never too early to panic in the NFL.

Coaches of Week 1 losers, especially those of teams thought to be solid contenders, will tell you that it's only one game in a long season.

In the NFL, it's anything but, of course.

With just 16 games and limited playoff positions available to the 32 teams, no other professional sport puts such a premium on each contest.

Still, in some cities, the threshold for uproar is far worse than others. Start with the Dallas Cowboys where coach Bill Parcells could implode at any moment.

Some of the Cowpoke faithful already have started calling for the ousting of quarterback Drew Bledsoe, he of the slow feet and errant arm.

Yesterday, at a news conference back in Big D, Parcells did little to douse suggestions that the Tony Romo era is nigh. The closest the coach would get to endorsing Bledsoe following Sunday's loss to the Jacksonville Jaguars was to say he was the starter, "for now."

The Cowboys know the value of one loss, all right, after a 2005 season in which they were 9-7 and missed the playoffs by one game after several narrow losses.

The last place one might expect major worry after a season-opening loss would be in Denver. The Broncos lost 18-10 to St. Louis on Sunday but put on an even worse show a year ago when they were stunned 34-10 by the Miami Dolphins.

So how did the Broncs react a year ago? They proceeded to win 13 of the next 15 games for the second-best record in the AFC.

Denver has a pretty rough stretch ahead, however, hosting division rival Kansas City before a Sunday nighter against the New England Patriots and a Monday night home date against the Baltimore Ravens.

It won't take too many more three-interception days by Jake Plummer to put the remainder of the season in peril.

Even in victory, there can be concern. Just ask the sleepy Seattle Seahawks, who barely escaped Detroit.

And despite winning the "Manning Bowl" on Sunday night, the Indianapolis Colts didn't look like a team threatening to go unbeaten. Allowing 186 rushing yards to the New York Giants was one thing. Only averaging 2.4 yards per carry themselves made it clear that the Colts might miss running back Edgerrin James more than expected.

But it's only one game, right? That, apparently applies to teams that win as well.

"I'm not a golfer," Baltimore Ravens coach Brian Billick told reporters yesterday in the aftermath of his team's 27-0 road win over the Tampa Bay Bucs. "But if you birdie the first hole, you've pretty much got 17 more to go.

"Right now, we've got the next hole."

QUICK HITS

Wonder what Montreal Alouettes coach Don Matthews thinks of his new quarterback? We're guessing the Don didn't watch Jesse Palmer on The Bachelor. Palmer clearly has exhausted his options in the NFL and would appear to becoming north as a last resort ... Parcells is going to wish he never had seen a Canadian kicker. First he either didn't have enough confidence in or didn't believe Mike Vanderjagt was healthy enough to play in Jacksonville. Then his replacement, Wallaceburg's Sean Suisham, clunks a 36-yard attempt off the right upright ... Things went much better for Windsor native O.J. Atogwe, who has earned the starting safety job with the St. Louis Rams in this his second NFL season. Atogwe recovered a fumble in the Rams' 18-10 win over the Broncos.


Videos

Photos