The 2009 season has officially kicked off with the reigning Super Bowl champion Pittsburgh Steelers nipping the Tennessee Titans in overtime. What a way to start the season, with an nailbiter in OT. A game that was almost won at the end of the fourth quarter by Hines Ward, who failed to take a knee to set up a short field goal, and instead got stripped of the ball at the four yard line. Ouch. Fortunately his team saved the game, and he can sleep tonight. Since every site and his brother will be discussing the game's outcome, and since I'm sure most of you watched it, I'll just take a few moments to discuss the fantasy implications after one tightly defended contest. Which by the way I called correctly in my defense, Start 'em and Sit 'em column yesterday. I'm 1 for 1...
--Pittsburgh Steelers - Week 1 Fantasy Implications--
Santonio Holmes looks to have a breakout campaign in 2009. many have doubted, but he ended 2008 with the winning touchdown, and scored the first points of 2009, on the way to 9 catches for 131 yards and 1 TD.
Willie Parker and Rashard Mendenhall both looked terrible, but the entire Steelers running game was shut down. Not a good fantasy sign.
The Pittsburgh Defense was typically dominating, even after Troy Polamalu left the game before the first half with a leg injury after blocking a field goal attempt. For you IDP guys, keep a watch on his health this week.
Once Ben Roethlisberger shook off the rust, he was lights out with the passing game. He'll always take a lot of sacks because of how he plays, but he tossed for 363 yards tonight and 1 TD. The boxscore says two interceptions, but I only recall one.
--Tennessee Titans - Week 1 Fantasy Implications--
The Titans nearly stole this game as the Tennessee Defense kept the Steelers locked down for most of the first half, and stymied Parker, Mendenhall and Mewelde Moore and limited them to a paltry 33 yards rushing and about a 1.5 YPC.
Rookie wide receiver Kenny Britt looked raw, but performed well against a murderous defense, with 4 catches for 85 yards, including a 57 yarder. Nate Washington did play, but he was a non-factor. Britt may be fantasy worthy in deeper leagues already.
The tight end situation in Tennessee bears watching. Bo Scaife was a big target tonight before being hurt, and Alge Crumpler has gone from pass catcher to blocker. Look for rookie tight end Jared Cook to be an impact fantasy tight end when he returns from injury.
I was surprised by Kerry Collins performance tonight. He was poised and efficient against a stout defense, and nearly led his team to victory. Don't rush out to grab him by any means, but he could turn into a worthwhile bye week filler, or a QB2 in two QB leagues. Keep tabs on how he does the next few weeks.
Kicker Rob Bironas, who is normally rock solid, missed a chip shot field goal, and had a second one blocked.
For you IDP fiends, DB Cortland Finnegan looked great tonight with 10 tackles and an interception, and even surprised return yard leagues by returning punts.
It's just one game, and now we have to wait three days to feed our habit, but hopefully this will settle a craving or two.
One final note on tonight's game; the officiating was terrible. Too many bad a calls, and some big missed calls. I guess the officials were rusty too. Just Sayin'.