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For delightful surprises, stunning examples of athleticism, and oodles of opportunities to allow fans the chance to second-guess the decision makers, it is difficult to beat the opening weekend of play in the National Football League.
The NFL regular season began in earnest on Sunday with games at 13 venues with the San Francisco 49ers serving early notice that pre-season talk about being favored to capture the Super Bowl in February is more than just hyperbole.
The 49ers offence, led by supposedly run-first quarterback Colin Kaepernick, was on the mark as San Francisco bowled over the Green Bay Packers 34-28 at Candlestick Park.
And it was certainly an impressive showing for veteran 49ers receiver Anquan Boldin, a castoff from the defending Super Bowl champion Baltimore Ravens, who showed there is still plenty of life left in his 32-year-old legs.
Boldin, deemed too slow by some to maintain his status as an elite NFL pass catcher, certainly appeared frisky enough against a forgiving Packers’ secondary, hauling in 13 catches for 208 yards and a touchdown in his debut with his new club.
Not too shabby for a player who was obtained in an off-season trade from the cost-cutting Ravens for just a sixth-round draft pick.
The performance spurred many to joke that Ravens coach John Harbaugh was just doing his little brother John, the head coach for the 49ers, a favor for shipping Boldin to the Bay-area.
Baltimore defeated San Francisco in last year’s Super Bowl prompting Bill Williamson of ESPN.com to write that Boldin was a get-well-soon gift.
Picking up on the same theme, Ann Killon writes in the San Fransicso Chronicle that the trade represents “one of the nicest things one brother has ever done for the other since Wilbur Wright let Orville take the controls of the plane.”
However, as Aaron Wilson writes in the Baltimore Sun, the Ravens had little choice but to part ways with Boldin in order to clear salary cap space.
And speaking of Baltimore, former Ravens' linebacker-turned-football-analyst Ray Lewis made his television debut on ESPN’s Sunday NFL Countdown.
The comments are thought provoking considering that Lewis himself was indicted for murder of two men in Atlanta the night after the 2000 Super Bowl.
Lewis ended up pleading guilty to obstruction of justice and testifying against two other defendants who were with him that night. He played 12 more seasons and retired with much fanfare after the Ravens won last February’s Super Bowl.
Reggie Bush enjoyed a dynamic beginning with Detroit, springing loose for 191 yards of offence as the Lions upended the Minnesota Vikings 34-24.
Writing in the Detroit News, Bob Wojnowski said while the former Heisman Trophy winner once dated Kim Kardashian and has won a Super Bowl with the Saints, he still has something to prove.
As far as inauspicious starts are concerned, it would be hard to top the gaffe by Darius Reynaud of the Tennessee Titans on the opening kickoff of their game against the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Reynaud fielded the kick at the goal line and then took a step back into the end zone for what he thought would be a touchback.
In what Jim Wyatt of The Tennessan described as a “C’mon Man” moment, officials eventually ruled Reynaud fielded the ball in play before taking a knee in the end zone for a safety that provided Pittsburgh a quick 2-0 lead.
The Titans would bail out their embarrassed kick returner by coming back to register a 16-9 win over the Steelers.
Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton, who has been known to impersonate Superman after his team scores a touchdown, has added to the act when he unveiled Man of Steel cleats while warming up on the field prior to Carolina’s game against the Seattle Seahawks.
Knowing full well that the NFL frowns upon such overt advertising acts, Newton donned a more conventional pair of foot apparel for the game.
It was the Seahawks, however, that would put the boots to the Panthers, grinding out a 12-7 victory.
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