By Danny Cox
Week 1 of the NFL season brought about some divisional match-ups that many fans don’t usually see until halfway through the year. Not only that, but the other games brought about big-time competition as well, and showed everyone that all teams are coming to play this season.
Here are the top three games for the first Sunday of the 2013 NFL season.
New Orleans Saints 23 – Atlanta Falcons 17
Two NFC South teams that are bound to battle it out for the divisional crown this year, and here they were facing each other in the first week of the season. Drew Brees showed that he is never off of his game as he passed for 357 yards and two touchdowns, but it was the defense of the Saints that downed the Falcons.
The game was back and forth all day, and no team could ever really separate themselves from the other. New Orleans was up 20-17 before hitting another field goal to take a six-point lead with a little over three minutes left. Matt Ryan and the Falcons went to work, and it appeared as if a last-minute score could take it for Atlanta.
After taking the ball inside the Saints 10, New Orleans was able to contain the Falcons and force a fourth down. Ryan tried throwing a pass to Tony Gonzalez in the end zone, but four Saints were there to help tip it and allow Roman Harper to intercept it and seal the win.
San Francisco 49ers 34 – Green Bay Packers 28
This game was scrappy from the beginning, and it only got rougher as the action went on. The key play came in the second quarter when Colin Kaepernick was running for a first down and stepped out of bounds, but was taken down by a lunging Clay Matthews who wrapped his arms around the quarterback’s neck.
49ers tackle Joe Staley came over to protect his quarterback and made contact with Matthews, which drew him an unsportsmanlike conduct play. Matthews had received a late hit penalty as well, and both penalties offset. The referees mistakenly called for the down to be replayed even though it should have counted since the penalties came after it was already done.
San Francisco scored a touchdown on the next play when they most likely would have gone for a field goal if it had been fourth down. Momentum swung and the 49ers eventually ended up winning by six.
New York Jets 18 – Tampa Bay Buccaneers 17
The game itself wasn’t much to write home about, but the final minute was. Buccaneers kicker Rian Lindell kicked a field goal with 34 seconds left to give Tampa Bay the lead. With no time outs and rookie Geno Smith at the helm, the Jets appeared well on their way to their first loss of the season.
Smith took over found Kellen Winslow for a 25-yard gain. On the next play, Smith was pressured and ran forward and toward the sideline. As he stepped out of bounds, Tampa’s Lavonte David pushed him hard from behind and drew a flag for a late hit.
That penalty gave the Jets an extra 15 yards and put them into field goal position. Nick Folk came out and calmly hit a 48-yard field goal with two seconds left to seal the victory for the Jets in shocking fashion.
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Danny Cox knows a little something about the NFL, whether it means letting you know what penalty will come from the flag just thrown on the field or quickly spouting off who the Chicago Bears drafted in the first round of the 1987 draft (Jim Harbaugh). He plans on bringing you the best news, previews, recaps, and anything else that may come along with the exciting world of the National Football League. Danny is a freelance writer covering all things NFL. His work can be found on Examiner.com.