NFL Europe Summary - Week One

While no Bears starred in the opening week of NFL Europe, several players made solid contributions.

NFL quarterbacks were among the top performers this past weekend as the NFL Europe League kicked off its 13th season in exciting fashion.

Buffalo Bills quarterback Kevin Thompson helped the Cologne Centurions to a thrilling 24-23 win over the Hamburg Sea Devils on Saturday in Cologne, spoiling the debut of NFL Europe's newest franchise.

With 4:55 remaining, Thompson connected with Atlanta Falcons wide receiver Romby Bryant on a 56-yard touchdown pass, giving the home team a 24-23 advantage. The Centurions held on for the victory when time expired before Hamburg kicker Todd France of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers could attempt the potential game-winning field goal. France finished the day with a league record-tying five field goals while Thompson completed 16 of 25 attempts for 197 yards, two touchdowns and no interceptions, posting a stellar 114.9 passer rating.

"It was good to see us react in a game situation," Thompson said. "We have to continue to progress and improve and do the little things right that it takes to win."

Bear Impact on the Game
Greg White started at right end for the Centurions and made one tackle. Jamin Elliott contributed with one reception for 19 yards and returned two kickoffs for an average of 28.0 yards per attempt.

Ryan Dinwiddie remains the No. 2 quarterback behind Hamburg starter Casey Bramlet, who was allocated by the Bengals. He completed 24 of 38 passes 238 yards and a touchdown in the defeat at the hands of Cologne.

Zack Abron is seeing more playing time with the Sea Devils as their starting running back. He averaged 8.0 yards on his 7 carries with a long run of 23 yards. He also made an 8.0-yard reception.

On Saturday in Amsterdam, the Admirals started the season on a positive note, earning a 24-14 win against the Rhein Fire. Leading 10-6 entering the fourth quarter, Seattle Seahawks quarterback Gibran Hamdan threw a 49-yard scoring strike to fellow Seahawk Tony Donald for a 17-6 lead. The victory was sealed when another Seahawk rose to the occasion on the ensuing possession. Cornerback B.J. Tucker returned an interception 43 yards for a touchdown, giving Amsterdam an insurmountable 24-6 advantage.

"One of the keys to this league is your start, and you have to come out of the gates quickly," said Hamdan, who completed 12 of 19 attempts for 187 yards and two touchdowns. "It's of monumental importance to get that first win and I think it was a big step for us."

Bear Impact on the Game
Kurt Kittner made his NFL Europe debut in the third quarter for the Admirals. He completed 4-of-8 for 46 yards in a little more than a quarter's worth of work. Chances are Kittner will not get a start anytime soon Hamdan's success.

Derrick Ballard started at weak side linebacker for Amsterdam and made four tackles. He also had a special teams take down and one pass defensed.

Nicholas Setta converted both of his field goal attempts of 38 and 48 yards respectively for the Fire. A.J. Ricker started at center, as the Rhein offense surrendered just one sack and rushed for 94 yards.

Meanwhile in Berlin, the defending-champion Thunder started the season in fine fashion, earning a convincing 30-7 win against the Frankfurt Galaxy in a rematch of World Bowl XII in front of 16,199 at the Olympic Stadium.

Quarterback Dave Ragone of the Houston Texans guided the efficient Thunder offense, completing 16 of 23 attempts for 179 yards, one touchdown and no interceptions, posting a 107.0 passer rating.

New York Jets running back Little John Flowers rushed for 73 yards and two touchdowns for the victorious Thunder, who finished with a Week 1-high 226 yards rushing.

"You have to play well at home if you want to have a chance to advance to the World Bowl, and we did that today," Ragone said. "We're glad we came out of this game victorious and we know we have to do even better next week."

Bear Impact on the Game
Cliff Washburn continues to make the conversion from attacking quarterbacks to protecting their blindside. He started at left tackle for the Galaxy and did not allow a sack.


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