Weinke, Tomlinson at head of rookie class

Otherwise, highly touted endured shaky beginning to '01 season, NFL career

NFL Week 1 in review

Pro Football

September 11, 2001|By Ken Murray | Ken Murray,SUN STAFF

Chris Weinke pulled off the big upset and LaDainian Tomlinson delivered the biggest rout, but opening day was no overnight success story for the rest of the Class of 2001.

Quarterback Michael Vick, the top pick in this year's draft, went 0-for-4 in two series for the Atlanta Falcons in an overtime loss to San Francisco.

David Terrell, the first receiver taken and eighth player overall, had just two catches worth 9 yards in the Chicago Bears' punchless loss to the Ravens.

And Deuce McAllister, the second running back taken behind Tomlinson, generated just 25 all-purpose yards in the New Orleans Saints' demolition of Buffalo.

It was left to Weinke and Tomlinson to carry the banner for this year's rookies. Weinke, a fourth-round pick, authored Carolina's 24-13 victory over his hometown Minnesota Vikings, throwing for 223 yards and one touchdown. Despite missing most of training camp in a contract dispute, Tomlinson rumbled for 113 yards and two touchdowns in San Diego's 30-3 rout of Washington.

Perhaps no high-profile draft pick had a rougher debut, though, than Dallas Cowboys quarterback Quincy Carter. A second-round pick, Carter threw for just 34 yards in a 10-6 loss to Tampa Bay. The amazing thing is the Cowboys were still in the game until the final 77 seconds, when Carter threw his second interception.

The Cowboys were so anemic that only 19 of 44 offensive plays resulted in positive yardage, and they had a paltry 127 total yards. Carter had his moments, though, including a 17-yard scramble off a rollout to the Bucs' 3.

Like Carter, Vick was more effective with his feet than his arm. His best play was a 25-yard scramble out of the shotgun when he shook off Dana Stubblefield and eluded two more 49ers.

Atlanta coach Dan Reeves said he will continue to use Vick behind Chris Chandler (11-for-18 for 121 yards) in premeditated situations. Sunday, Vick played the second series of each half.

One of the better opening-day performances was delivered by undrafted rookie Nick Goings of Carolina. He replaced Tshimanga Biakabutuka after the latter fumbled inside the Minnesota 10, and punched out 86 yards on 25 carries.

Comebacks du jour

There was no better feel-good story than that of 49ers running back Garrison Hearst, who played in a regular-season game for the first time in 32 months after breaking an ankle in the 1998 playoffs.

Hearst, a 1,500-yard rusher in 1998, lacked his old acceleration but rushed for a workmanlike 48 yards on 14 carries in the win over Atlanta.

His best run came when it counted most. After a 52-yard catch-and-run by Tai Streets carried to the Atlanta 23, Hearst had gains of 2 and 11 yards to the 10. The 11-yarder set up a winning 24-yard field goal by Jose Cortez.

Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver Darnay Scott staged a comeback of his own, too. Scott missed the 2000 season with a broken leg, but Sunday returned with five catches for 104 yards in a 23-17 win over New England.

Risky business

Give St. Louis coach Mike Martz credit for being aggressive in a 20-17 overtime win in Philadelphia. Maybe a little too aggressive.

With a 7-0 lead, the Rams went for a razzle-dazzle play on special teams. Az-Zahir Hakim fielded Sean Landeta's punt on his own 15 near the sideline, then whirled and threw across field - a lateral - to rookie Jerametrius Butler. Butler bobbled the ball momentarily, then was snuffed by Mike Bartrum for a loss of 1 yard.

Faulty first steps

New coaches went a bleak 0-for-6 on Sunday. Four of them lost big, and two (Kansas City's Dick Vermeil and Cleveland's Butch Davis) lost by a field goal.

The two worst losses belonged to Redskins coach Marty Schottenheimer (27 points) and Detroit's Marty Mornhinweg (22 points). At least their losses were on the road. Bills coach Gregg Williams lost by 18 at home to New Orleans, and the Jets' Herman Edwards lost by 21 in the Meadowlands to the Colts.

Two-minute drill

Landeta, of Loch Raven High and Towson University, became the second punter to kick in 17 NFL seasons Sunday, shortly after New England's Lee Johnson became the first earlier in the day. ... The Colts' 45 points tied a franchise high for the season opener. ... The Tim Brown-Jerry Rice receiving duo got off to a strong start. Brown had eight catches for 133 yards and one touchdown against the Chiefs, and Rice had eight for 87. ... The six points the Seahawks surrendered in a 9-6 win over Cleveland were their fewest in 64 games. Seattle allowed an average of 25 points a game a year ago. ... The Eagles' Duce Staley managed just 9 rushing yards on nine carries against St. Louis, but led all receivers in the game with 11 catches worth 81 yards. ... Green Bay quarterback Brett Favre is 11-0 against Detroit in Wisconsin. ... The Jets opened at home for only the 11th time in their 42-year history.

Good, bad and ugly

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