We should have seen it coming the moment word came from Al Michaels that the start of Thursday's prime-time NFL regular-season opener would be delayed due to severe thunderstorms that didn't seem to be present in the Denver area. It was the second 30-plus-minute delay in as many major NFL games. The first one, also involving Baltimore at Super Bowl XLVII, lasted 34 minutes.
This one? Yup, 34 more minutes.
History repeating itself. And that was again the case when it came to the opening performance from both teams. Here's a rundown…
- An undrafted rookie injured a veteran hero on his own team after colliding with him in the first half of his first career game.
- Super Bowl MVP and newly-minted trillionaire Joe Flacco got away with what should have been a demoralizing pick six and an intentional grounding from the end zone (which results in a safety) during the first half. In that half, by the way, Flacco made just over $628,000.
- In his Denver debut, Wes Welker inexplicably decided to field a punt inside his own 10-yard line. And then he muffed it.
- Thanks to a pick and a blocked punt, Baltimore twice gave the ball to Peyton Manning inside its own 25-yard line.
- Baltimore failed to challenge an obvious incomplete pass on a Denver third down. Three plays later, the Broncos were in the Baltimore end zone.
- Oh, and Danny Trevathan pulled a Leon Lett. Or for the younger crowd, a DeSean Jackson.
Denver won, by the way, but not before nearly choking on a 25-point fourth-quarter lead.
The point is that it was a mess. But that shouldn't surprise anyone because these openers are always sloppy as hell.
In 2010, the high-powered Saints offense beat the high-powered Vikings offense 14-9. Enough said there. Three years ago the Steelers and Titans combined for five turnovers and 23 points. The Giants and Redskins could do no better than that one year prior. The Saints were crushed in an embarrassing performance in 2007.
Why do high-quality teams seem a little (or a lot) off in these annual centerpiece-style openers? It could be nerves, but when you consider that one of the two teams was playing in the Super Bowl just seven months prior and that the other is usually pretty damn good, that makes little sense.
Maybe it's the opposite. Maybe, it's hard to come down from such big things and feel like Week 1 has that much importance.
Either way, these opening games continue to baffle.