TORONTO - Admit it. You shook your head and chuckled when you heard the Washington Redskins were deciding between Rex Grossman and John Beck to start at quarterback.
Grossman won the battle in training camp and still you chuckled. What would he do?
Turns out more than just about anybody expected.
Grossman, facing an injury plagued Giants defence, outplayed Eli Manning and got his team in important first win in a 28-14 victory.
Grossman, who has a penchant for giving the ball away, managed to limit his mistakes on this day to a single fumble. He threw a pair of touchdown passes and managed not to throw any into the arms of the New York defence.
It was by no means an impressive win, but it was impressive in that Grossman patiently picked away at the New York defence.
He threw over 300 yards for just the fourth time in his career and was particularly impressive inside the red zone where he completed 3-of-4 passes.
He’s still Rex Grossman and he’ll have to prove himself against a healthy defence eventually but for now he’s 1-0 as a starter for the Washington Redskins and who would have guessed that when most of us were expected Beck would be under centre when the season began.
RUN, GINN, RUN
The Harbaugh family was in full celebration mode, but if the newest member of the Harbaugh clan is as smart as his Stanford roots suggest, he might want to hold off on overdoing his own little party too much.
Facing the less-than-intimidating Seattle Seahawks, Jim Harbaugh and the Niners needed a pair of special teams touchdowns via the crazy-fast Ted Ginn Jr. to put away their opponent.
Harbaugh apparently wants to bring back Bill Walsh’s west-coast offence but instead of Joe Montana or Steve Young he has Alex Smith and Smith still has plenty of distance to travel to even be in the same area code as those two San Francisco legends. It’s not a stretch to suggest the 49ers won on Sunday despite their quarterback.
The San Fran game plan was truly conservative, which based on Smith’s spotty career since the Niners made him the first overall selection back in 2005 probably wasn’t a bad thing.
Smith put the ball in the air just 20 times completing 15 of them for 124 yards. He also ran one in from a yard out for the only offensive touchdown of the afternoon.
Fortunately for Smith he and the Niners drew the Seahawks in Week 1 and for the first half that unit was even more offensively inept than the 49ers. Seattle gained just 37 yards in the first half.
That’s all well and good, but the bottom line is the Niners are going to have to be much better offensively and much better in particular converting on third down (1-for-12 Sunday) or this member of the Harbaugh family won’t be celebrating that often this season.
CAM'S THE MAN
Cam Newton lost the game, but he won over a legion of naysayers.
Rarely has there ever been a rookie who came into the NFL with as many people around the game seemingly hoping he would fall flat on his face.
Newton looked ordinary to awful in the pre-season but once the lights came on for real, he was stellar.
Newton tied an NFL record for rookie quarterbacks in their debut throwing for 422 yards against the Arizona Cardinals. He tossed two touchdown passes to Steve Smith and dove over the top of the pile for another.
Newton even had a chance to make this memorable outing a winning one. Needing five yards on a fourth-down gamble from the Arizona six-yard line and with time running out, Newton completed his 24th pass in 37 attempts only to see receiver Mike Goodson be hauled down a yard short and turn the ball over on downs.
Newton did throw an interception on the afternoon but got high marks from everything from his poise in the pocket to his poise in the huddle.
Full credit to the Arizona Cardinals and its new quarterback Kevin Kolb for coming back from deficits twice in the second half to get the win, but Newton being the attention-grabber that he is, all anyone is going to remember about this game is how polished Newton looked. His naysayers aren’t talking quite as much today.
TOLBERT RUNS WILD
A slow start to last season cost the San Diego Chargers a year with some of their best players at their prime in 2010.
A 2-5 start resulted in a 9-7 season and a spot on the couch for the playoffs.
The Chargers weren’t going to start slow again.
Not even a 17-7 deficit at halftime against the Minnesota Vikings was going to get these Chargers down.
Normally it’s the Antonio Gates’, or Phillip Rivers’ of the Chargers roster that come up big in these situations, but Sunday it was primarily the Chargers defence and fullback Mike Tolbert who got them back in it.
First the defence. Minnesota had their way with the Chargers in the first half but found things much different in the second when the Chargers turned things up defensively a notch or ten.
They didn’t have to look far for motivation. The entire defence was made aware of Adrian Peterson’s pledge to rush for 200 yards and get a win. He made that prediction on the Dan Patrick radio show on Friday.
“We really felt disrespected,” linebacker Takeo Spikes said.
The audio clip was played for the San Diego defence on Saturday. In Sunday’s second half, the Vikings offence managed just 26 yards in total. Peterson didn’t even make it to 100 yards rushing after rolling up 76 in the first half.
Tolbert, who normally takes a backseat to Ryan Matthews when it comes to touchdowns, scored three in the game including the game winner.