It got ugly early for the Tennessee Titans this past Sunday. Jevon Kearse went down with a broken foot on the second play of the game and the Philadelphia Eagles took a 24-10 lead into the halftime locker room on the strength of three Donovan McNabb touchdown passes.
Fans might have expected the Titans to fade away as they did in their 7-9 season of 2001. Instead, they witnessed the Titans dominate McNabb and the Eagles in the second half, en route to a 27-24 victory.
Most encouraging to the Titans faithful, however, may have been the play of Kearse's replacement. Rookie Carlos Hall sacked the mobile McNabb three times and forced a fumble that clinched victory for the Titans.
The Titans entered the game facing a lot of questions. Was this the team that posted back to back 13-3 seasons in 1999 and 2000, or was it the team that fizzled to a 7-9 mark a year ago? Former Titans, now Eagles safety Blaine Bishop says he saw signs of the former.
"They had a never-say-die attitude, and they still have it," Bishop said. "They are going to fight you all the way to the end."
One major question remains: the return to form of star running back Eddie George, who carried the ball 18 times for just 42 yards.
Kearse is expected to be out 6-8 weeks. The Titans will try to win without him in Dallas this Sunday.
Cinderella is alive and living in Houston; at least for this week.
The Texans began their playing history with an improbable upset of in-state rival Dallas, becoming the first expansion franchise to win its first game since the Minnesota Vikings did it in 1961.
Houston began in style, as rookie quarterback David Carr threw a 19-yard touchdown pass to Billy Miller on the team's first-ever possession. Miller was promptly mauled in the end zone by Texans teammates, as if he had caught the game-winning pass in a playoff game. Who could blame them?
Carr later hit Corey Bradford with a 65-yard touchdown pass in the fourth quarter to put the Texans ahead for good, and former Jaguars defensive tackle Seth Payne added a late safety to seal the historic victory.
"Now they can go back to Dallas and have a hard-knock life," said former Jaguars defensive end Gary Walker. "We ruined their season."
The Texans will try to prove they're more than one-game wonders when they travel to San Diego this weekend to take on the Chargers.
The effects of Tony Dungy's presence in Indianapolis may have already produced results. During training camp, Dungy preached speed, hustle and pursuit as the ingredients to success on defense, in his attempt to reverse the fortunes of a team that was minus-13 in turnover differential a year ago. This past Sunday, the Colts used turnovers to their advantage against the Jaguars.
Marcus Washington intercepted a Mark Brunell pass just prior to halftime and returned it 40 yards for a touchdown to give the Colts a 14-7 lead.
After the Jaguars gained the lead at 17-14, Clifton Crosby fell on punt-returner Damon Gibson's "muff" at the Jaguars 19-yard line, and three plays later Peyton Manning threw a 12-yard touchdown pass to Qadry Ismail and the Colts were ahead to stay.
"It's real easy to analyze and understand how the game was lost," Jaguars coach Tom Coughlin said.
Edgerrin James saw his first action since a knee injury wiped out most of his 2001 season. He carried the ball 26 times for 99 yards, though James clearly wasn't his old self.
The Colts had two starters suffer injuries, but neither should be out for an extended period of time. Tight end Marcus Pollard sustained cartilage damage to his ribs and may miss just one game. Defensive tackle James Cannida sprained the medial collateral ligament in his left knee. With a bye in week four, he may only miss two games.
The biggest blow to Colts faithful this week, however, was a report by ESPN's Chris Mortensen that the Colts may be moving to Los Angeles next year. Indianapolis city officials claim the report is false and that the team could not possibly move until 2006.
"They are a sports channel first (and a) news organization fifth," Indianapolis Chief Deputy Mayor Michael O'Connor told the Indianapolis Star.
The Colts kick off at least one more season in Indianapolis with their home-opener Sunday against the Dolphins.