The first week of pro football had more than its share of surprises and disappointments, ranging from a surprisingly dominant performance by the Chicago Bears to Tom Brady suffering a possible season-ending knee injury.
Within hours of its occurrence, Brady's injury was the talk of the sports world. The league's reigning MVP was hit during the Patriots' second drive of the game by Kansas City Chiefs' safety Bernard Pollard. The team issued a press release Monday afternoon after dancing around the issue all day Sunday.
The release stated that Brady was going to have surgery on his knee and was being placed on the injured reserve, effectively ending his season. This puts the league's most potent offense in the hands of Matt Cassell, who was a backup even in college at USC to Carson Palmer and Matt Leinart.
Such a grievous injury completely upsets the pecking order, not only in the AFC East but also within the entire conference. The AFC East for the past few years has simply been a race for second place between the Bills, Jets and Dolphins. Now, however, it remains to be seen whether the Patriots can continue to dominate that division.
The Chicago Bears easily turned in the most surprising performance of the week as they controlled Indianapolis Colts on both sides of the ball, upsetting the return of Peyton Manning and Marvin Harrison. Manning, who had not played in any pre-season games, looked slow and slightly unconfident in the face of a fierce blitzing attack.
The Bears held the Colts' normally powerful running game to a measly 53 yards, forcing Manning to go to the air. The Colts did suffer the loss of one Manning's favorite targets, tight end Dallas Clark, to an injury halfway through the game, which limited their passing options.
The Bears ran the ball exceptionally well against what was one of the top defenses in the league last year. Rookie running back Matt Forte carried the ball 23 times for 123 yards, including one 50-yard rumble down the field for a touchdown.
Another big surprise was the performance of the Atlanta Falcons' rookie quarterback Matt Ryan. Ryan, the third overall pick in the 2008 draft, came in and took control of a team that has desperately needed a leader to guide them out of the Michael Vick scandal. He certainly started out on the right foot, throwing his first professional pass 62 yards to Michael Jenkins for a touchdown. Ryan was helped to his first career win by a bruising performance by running back Michael Turner who raced to a franchise record 220 yards. Turner, a free agent acquisition, scored two touchdowns on his way to the record.
The biggest disappointment of the week was the play of the Cleveland Browns. As a whole, they simply looked unprepared to handle the Dallas Cowboys. The Cowboys managed to ravage the Browns defense for almost 500 yards of offense.
On offense, the Browns simply looked out of sync with each other and managed only a little over 200 yards of offense. Quarterback Derek Anderson and his receivers could not get on the same page and throughout the game there were dropped balls and miscues by both the receivers and the quarterback.