KAZ’S KORNER

Week One is in the books to the dismay of Orange Area National Football League fans as the Dallas Cowboys, Houston Texans, New Orleans Saints and Seattle Seahawks each eliminated themselves from the pressure of having an undefeated 2018 season.

Perhaps all four franchises had a common element that got them started on the wrong foot Sunday—costly mistakes that led to easy opponents’ points.

The Cowboys couldn’t overcome Carolina’s goal to “sack Dak” and were successful six times. It was quite apparent that the departures of Jason Witten, Dez Bryant and kicker Dan Bailey weakened the offense considerably as the 16-8 final score indicated.

The Panthers’ defense kept the Cowboy’s one-two punch of quarterback Dak Prescott and featured running back Ezekiel Elliott in check. Prescott was limited to 170 yards passing while Elliott was able to manage 69 yards on only 15 carries, which was a two-year low for him.

Neither Dallas nor the Houston Texans came to life offensively until they were at least two touchdowns down on the scoreboard.

The Cowboys found themselves behind 16-0 in the fourth quarter until Elliott scored from four yards out and a two-point conversion cut the lead in half.

Prescott got stripped from the football to halt an attempt for the tying touchdown. This was the first time Dallas failed to score in the first half since 2002.

Houston also waited until late in the third period for its offense to wake up after finding themselves on the short end of a 24-6 score. Poor clock management by Head Coach Bill O’Brien perhaps gave New England a touchdown just before halftime.

Rob Gronkowski attempted to make a great 28-yard catch over the middle but replays clearly revealed the ball hit the ground when Gronk did. O’Brien, who had all three timeouts, should have called one or thrown a red flag to let the replay officials rule on the play.

But the 41-year old Tom Brady hurriedly got his team to the line of scrimmage and ran a play before anyone could review the play. The Patriots scored near the end of the second period, which could very well have made the difference in New England’s seven-point victory, 27-20.

Houston’s second-year quarterback Deshaun Watson played his worse game as a starter last season before suffering a season-ending injury. Monday’s edition of the Houston Chronicle graded his performance with an “F”. O’Brien did a smidgen better with an “F+”.

The New Orleans Saints showed the 73,000 fans in the Superdome that offensive football in the NFL is not dead as 88 points and over 1,000 yards were rolled up by the Saints and Tampa Bay.

However, anyone who visited the ‘Dome to see if New Orleans’ defense has improved from last season went home disappointed after watching a 48-40 Saints loss.

Orange native Earl Thomas pleased the Seattle Seahawks’ fan base by ending his holdout last week and started at free safety Sunday against the Broncos at Denver.

According to the Associated Press, Earl posted an Instagram Wednesday announcing his return saying he “never let his teammates, city or fans down as long as I have lived and don’t plan to start this weekend.”

And Earl didn’t disappoint as he intercepted a pass in the first period that led to the first score of the game.

Unfortunately, Denver’s one-man wrecking crew–Von Miller–did a number on the Seahawks’ offense, sacking quarterback Russell Wilson three times, forcing two fumbles and recovering one as the Broncos squeezed out a 27-24 victory.

However, the NFL’s other news-making holdout, Pittsburgh’s All-Pro running back Le’Veon Bell, doesn’t feel the same way about his teammates or fans and held out of Sunday’s game which ended up in a 21-21 tie with the hapless Cleveland Browns. This marked the NFL’s first opening-day tie since 1971.

Bell’s 100-plus rushing yard average per game certainly would have made a difference in the game in which Pittsburgh quarterback Ben Roethlisberger was picked off three times by the Browns, who apparently didn’t respect the running game without Bell.

KWICKIES…Former NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick called the only two NFL players who knelt down during the National Anthem Sunday “his brothers.” Miami Dolphins teammates Kenny Still and Albert Wilson were the only players to kneel. Kaepernick, who is no longer welcome on an NFL sideline, made sure to offer his thanks to them via social media.

Sunday’s 27-20 win by the New England Patriots over the Houston Texans marked the 78th straight time the Pats have won when leading by 10 or more points at halftime.

It’s amazing the way Carolina Panthers’ quarterback Cam Newton loves to run with the football and hasn’t suffered any major injury. He has only missed three games in his seven-year career.

Khalil Mack got off on the right foot with his new team—the Chicago Bears– Sunday night as he became the only player since 1982 to register a sack, an interception, fumble recovery, forced fumble and a touchdown. The traded initiated by Oakland Raiders’ new head coach Jon Gruden could very well put him in the hot seat before the season gets too far along.

JUST BETWEEN US…And while the Houston Texans were getting a football lesson Sunday afternoon, just a few miles down the road at Fenway Park, the Houston Astros were playing the major league’s winningest team, the Boston Red Sox in the final game of a three-game series. It was the Red Sox who were behind the 8-ball in this series as they hoped to prevent our Astros from sweeping the series. It looked like it wouldn’t be a problem as they jumped out to a 5-1 lead off left-hander Dallas Keuchel. But the Astros came roaring back and tied the game in the sixth inning and it remained tied until the Bosox scored the winning run with two outs in the bottom of the ninth inning on a broken bat bloop single to the opposite field. All three games were fun to watch.