Grading the NFC West: Week 1
CARDINALS REPORT CARD: ARIZONA 28, CAROLINA 21
PASSING OFFENSE: A -- Kevin Kolb was efficient, and his two touchdown passes came on blitz reads. He was sacked twice in the first quarter, both allowed by left tackle Levi Brown.
RUSHING OFFENSE: B -- Beanie Wells gained 90 yards on 18 carries, but only 19 yards came in the second half. The Cardinals needed to run late to put the game away and couldn't do it.
PASS DEFENSE: F -- Cam Newton set a record for rookies in their first start by passing for 422 yards. The Cardinals sacked him four times but overall had trouble getting to Newton. A blown coverage led to a 77-yard touchdown pass to Steve Smith.
RUSH DEFENSE: A -- The Panthers traditionally have been a good running team, but they had just 74 yards on 27 carries on Sunday. Their longest run was 18 yards.
SPECIAL TEAMS: A -- Jay Feely missed a 36-yard attempt, but Patrick Peterson more than made up for that with an 89-yard punt return for a touchdown. With Peterson and kick returner LaRod Stephens-Howling, the Cardinals should have a potent return duo.
COACHING: B -- The offensive game plan was solid, or at least it was executed. The Cardinals were ready for the Panthers' blitzes and made them pay. Defensively, the game plan might have been solid but there were breakdowns. Coordinator Ray Horton has had his group together for only six weeks, and it showed.
RAMS REPORT CARD: PHILADELPHIA 31, ST. LOUIS 13
PASSING OFFENSE: D -- Receivers had a hard time getting open, but the biggest problem was drops, of which there were six. The biggest was by rookie tight end Lance Kendricks, on a play that would have likely been a touchdown. QB Sam Bradford's 17 completions were good for just 188 yards.
RUSHING OFFENSE: B-plus -- The team's running backs gained 169 yards, and were able to move the ball consistently on the ground. RB Steven Jackson scored on a 47-yard run on the first play of the game, and after leaving with a quadriceps injury, Cadillac Williams rushed for 91 yards on 19 attempts.
PASS DEFENSE: C-plus -- Where should Michael Vick's rushing yards be assigned? The Rams had good pressure at times, and got to Vick for three sacks, and pressured him into less than 50-percent accuracy on passing (14 of 32). But he was able to run for 98 yards and hit several big plays when he was escaping pressure.
RUSH DEFENSE: B-minus -- For three quarters, the Rams bottled up the Eagles' ground game. LeSean McCoy had just 11 attempts for 27 yards entering the final quarter. But, with a lead, McCoy gashed the run defense, including a 49-yard touchdown run. McCoy had 95 yards rushing in the fourth quarter on just four runs.
SPECIAL TEAMS: B -- Coverage was good. Jerious Norwood had a 29-yard kickoff return. K Josh Brown made a 49-yard field goal, but missed from 47.
COACHING: B -- The plan was good, and had Jackson not been injured, he might have run for huge yardage. Dropped passes and a brutal false start at the 1-yard line prevented any chance of an upset, but that's execution.
SEAHAWKS REPORT CARD: SAN FRANCISCO 33, SEATTLE 17
PASSING OFFENSE: C -- After a poor performance in the first half with Seattle's offense crossing midfield just once, quarterback Tarvaris Jackson got on track in the second half, leading the offense to 17 points. Jackson finished 21 of 37 for 197 yards, two touchdowns and an interception. He had a 78.3 passer rating. However, Jackson also fumbled three times, losing two of them.
RUSHING OFFENSE: D -- Marshawn Lynch did not get into "Beast Mode" on Sunday against San Francisco. Lynch was limited to just 33 yards on 13 carries, as Seattle finished with just 64 yards on 22 carries for a 2.9 per carry average.
PASS DEFENSE: B -- The Seahawks held Alex Smith to just 124 passing yards on the day, although Brandon Browner had a pass interference penalty in the end zone against San Francisco receiver Braylon Edwards that set the Niners up first and goal at the 1-yard line, leading to a touchdown.
RUSH DEFENSE: B-plus -- San Francisco only managed 85 yards on the ground against Seattle, not bad considering that running back Frank Gore came in averaging 148 yards a contest against the Seahawks in San Francisco.
SPECIAL TEAMS: F -- This unit basically cost Seattle the game. Down 19-17 with about four minutes left, Tedd Ginn bounced outside and returned a kickoff 102 yards for a score. After the Seahawks offense sputtered and had to punt, Ginn returned a punt 55 yards to put the nail in the coffin for Seattle.
COACHING: C-minus -- Seattle's constant roster churn may have finally caught up to the Seahawks. The team's emphasis on revamping the roster and finding younger talent may have come at the expense of retaining quality, veteran special teams players, perhaps costing them a winnable game at San Francisco.
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