SAN FRANCISCO (CBS/AP) — Surprises were the order of the NFL’s opening weekend, and they present some intriguing possibilities for Week 2.
— The Quack Attack does work in Philadelphia.
— Colin Kaepernick doesn’t need to beat you with his legs to, well, beat you.
— The Steelers can’t run the ball, the Raiders can — but only when Terrelle Pryor is toting it.
The question is can the Philly Ducks, er, Eagles keep up the frenetic pace they set early in their 33-27 win at Washington — a game that really was decided in the first half. Coach Chip Kelly’s offense at Oregon left college fans exhausted. Transferring it to Philly didn’t slow it down.
Kelly even thinks the Eagles need to play faster.
“I felt like it was slow, to be honest with you,” Kelly said. “I’m not joking. We’ve got to do a better job. We left the ball on the ground too much. We didn’t get the ball to the officials. We could have sped things up from a process between plays. That’s something we need to continue to work on.”
The Eagles ran 53 plays in the first half, then slowed considerably when they built a 33-7 lead. That they made a decent Washington defense look sluggish and inept at times was one of the big surprises in the opener.
Kaepernick throwing for 412 yards wasn’t a shock at all. But the way San Francisco ran its offense with the fast, strong and agile third-year quarterback was unusual. Rarely did the 49ers bother with the read-option against Green Bay, which was packed in (pun intended) to prevent Kaepernick from running it into submission the way he did in last January’s playoff game.
That’s worrisome for opponents, beginning with division rival Seattle this weekend. The more effective Kaepernick is as a pocket passer, the tougher he will be to stop in all facets of the offense. And the more dangerous Frank Gore and Kendall Hunter become in the backfield.
“When you’re playing a quarterback that has those kinds of talents and can move around and has a strong arm, you’ve got to be able to do both,” Packers defensive coordinator Dom Capers said. “We played one phase well, we didn’t play the other phase well enough.”
The way the Steelers played the run and ran the ball themselves probably made Franco Harris and Joe Greene shudder. Pittsburgh gained 32 yards on the ground on 15 carries; Harris used to tote the ball that much in one quarter. It allowed 112 yards, not awful, but the Titans controlled the clock and the pace all day.
Just as stunning was how bad Pittsburgh looked at home, where it had won 10 straight openers. Some teams are schizophrenic as hosts, but the Steelers? Almost never.
“The good thing about the NFL is redemption Sunday, or Monday in this instance, is only a short number of days away,” coach Mike Tomlin said, looking ahead to an AFC North trip to Cincinnati.
While Pittsburgh was hapless on the ground, Oakland was more efficient than anyone would imagine considering its No. 1 halfback, Darren McFadden, rushed for only 48 yards. Making up for that — and then some — was Pryor, an afterthought heading into the summer who has become the Raiders’ starting QB.
Pryor looked poised enough in the passing game, although he was picked off twice in the red zone. He was sensational as a runner, gaining 112 yards on 13 carries and keeping off-balance what should be an improved Indianapolis defense.
That the Raiders lost at Indy was no surprise. That they were so competitive, leading 17-14 after coming back from a 14-point deficit, certainly was.
“That’s the element that he brings to the game,” coach Dennis Allen said. “So, that’s always going to be there, his ability to create, his ability to make things happen with his feet. The thing that we judge on the practice field is his ability to make good decisions, his ability to throw the ball on time, with accuracy. Those are things that we want to see that he continues to improve because that’s what’s going to make him a really good quarterback.”
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