Standing Tall

Even in the dark clouds of Sunday's losses, some players emerged as silver linings with strong performances.'s Ed Thompson gives them their due praise for standing tall while their teams faltered.

Jacksonville Jaguars: The Jaguars lost a squeaker to the Colts by a count of 14-12, but Maurice Jones-Drew proved that he can carry the load as the featured back. By the end of the day, Jones-Drew had averaged 4.6 yards per carry, rushing for 97 yards and a touchdown. He was also the team's top receiver, catching five of eight passes thrown to him for 26 yards. Rookie Derek Cox intercepted what would have been a touchdown pass from Peyton Manning to kill the Colts' impressive opening drive, and then recovered a Joseph Addai fumble that was forced by Quentin Groves. The turnover resulted in a field goal to give Jacksonville an early 3-0 lead.

Danieal Manning led Chicago in tackles and put points on the board with a sack.
Getty Images/Jonathan Daniel

St. Louis Rams: During the 28-0 loss to the Seahawks, safety O.J. Atogwe grabbed his 14th career interception since 2007, the highest total by any NFL player during that span. Rookie linebacker James Laurinaitis recovered a fumble and led the team with 14 tackles--including one tackle for a loss--in his NFL regular-season debut. Next up: Washington Redskins (0-1)

Washington Redskins: Linebacker London Fletcher was all over the place. He made 26 percent of the team's tackles (18 out of 70) during the team's 23-17 loss to the Giants. Versatile wide receiver Antwaan Randle El pulled in seven of nine passes thrown to him for 98 yards. Next up: St. Louis Rams (0-1)

Chicago Bears: Cornerback Danieal Manning averaged 26.7 yards per kickoff return, led the team with six solo tackles, and sacked Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers for a safety during a 21-15 loss on Sunday night to Green Bay. Defensive end Adewale Ogunleye was relentless with his pass rush, hitting Rodgers five times while registering two sacks. Next up: Pittsburgh Steelers (1-0)

Miami Dolphins: Safety Yeremiah Bell made eight tackles and defensed a pass during the team's 19-7 loss at Atlanta. Wide receiver Davone Bess was Chad Pennington's favorite target of the day, and he caught all seven attempts for 57 yards. Next up: Indianapolis Colts (1-0)

Carolina Panthers: While the team took a 38-10 beating from the Philadelphia Eagles, there were a few bright spots on the defensive side of the ball. Julius Peppers blocked a 51-yard field goal attempt, forced a fumble during a sack and defended two passes. Linebacker Thomas Davis made 16 tackles, one for a loss. Next up: Atlanta Falcons (1-0)

Kansas City Chiefs: It would have been easy for the Chiefs to fall apart after trailing 10-0 after the first 15 minutes. But even with their starting quarterback, Matt Cassel, sidelined with a knee injury, Kansas City didn't quit during their 38-24 loss at Baltimore. Linebacker Derrick Johnson picked off a pass and returned it 70 yards to set up a touchdown. Cornerback Maurice Leggett made eight tackles and defensed three passes. Next up: Oakland Raiders (0-1)

Cadillac Williams was impressive in his comeback from his knee injury.
AP Photo/Steve Nesius

Cincinnati Bengals: During a gut-wrenching 12-7 loss to the Broncos, rookie wide receiver Quan Cosby averaged 9.8 yards on five punt returns. Defensive end Antwan Odom registered a pair of sacks, three tackles for a loss and a pass defensed. Next up: Green Bay (1-0)

Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Cadillac Williams averaged a whopping 7.5 yards per carry, rushing for 97 yards and a score during a 34-21 loss to Dallas. Linebacker Geno Hayes made six tackles, including one for a loss, and posted three quarterback hits. Next up: Buffalo Bills (0-1)

Cleveland Browns: Joshua Cribbs scored his seventh career special teams touchdown on a 67-yard punt return during a 34-20 loss to the Vikings. Veteran running back Jamal Lewis averaged 5.2 yards per carry on his 11 rushing attempts and caught three passes for 47 yards. Next up: Denver Broncos (1-0)

Houston Texans: Safety Dominique Barber's 48-yard fumble recovery prevented the team from suffering a shutout in a 24-7 loss to the Jets. Defensive end Mario Williams made seven tackles, including one for a loss, hit the quarterback twice and defended a pass. Next up: Tennessee Titans (0-1)

Detroit Lions: Louis Delmas ran a fumble back 65 yards for the team's final touchdown of the day in a 45-27 loss to the Saints. Cornerback Anthony Henry intercepted a pass and led the team with 11 tackles, including nine solo efforts. Next up: Minnesota Vikings (1-0)

Arizona Cardinals: During a 20-16 loss against the 49ers, running back Tim Hightower only averaged 1.9 yards per carry on the ground, but was the team's top receiver, catching 12 balls for 121 yards. Linebacker Gerald Hayes made ten tackles, including four of them in the 49ers' backfield. Next up: Jacksonville Jaguars (0-1)

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