Report card grades for every NFL team after Week 1

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By MIKE BATISTA
The Sports Daily

Gauging success and failure in the NFL is actually quite easy. Teams either take the field and win -- or they lose.

On Sunday, Cleveland Browns head coach Mike Pettine said the NFL is a "pass/fail league," and that his team failed.

Well, the Browns failed to get the win. But let's see how the Browns and the other 31 NFL teams would do if the NFL wasn't a pass/fail league by assigning letter grades for their Week 1 performances.

Week 1 NFL report cards are in.

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Report card grades for every NFL team after Week 1

Kansas City Chiefs (L, TEN, 26-10)

Alex Smith, Mr. Efficient, threw three interceptions in the game. Jamaal Charles, third in the NFL last season in rushing with 1,287 yards, gained just 19 yards on seven carries. Charles caught four passes, but only for 15 yards. Those numbers would have been better if the Chiefs possessed the ball for more than 22 minutes and 16 seconds, but when you convert just one of your 12 third downs, your offense will be watching the defense a lot. The Chiefs benefited from a soft schedule last year. It’s a lot tougher this year, but this wasn’t supposed to be one of the tough ones.

Grade: D

(AP Photo/Ed Zurga)

St. Louis Rams (L, MIN, 34-6)

The Rams lost Sam Bradford for the season, but their defense was supposed to compensate for that to some degree and at least make them respectable. St. Louis registered 53 sacks last season, but sacked Matt Cassel just once on Sunday. The Rams were still within striking distance, trailing 13-3 in the third quarter. But wide receiver Cordarrelle Patterson broke the game open with a 67-yard touchdown run. The Rams limited Adrian Peterson to 75 yards, but that didn’t do any good when they let a receiver run for 102 yards on just three carries.

Grade: D

(AP Photo/L.G. Patterson)

Dallas Cowboys (L, SF, 28-17)

Considering the holes in their defense, the Cowboys’ grade should get a boost any time they hold an opponent under 30 points. But this was ugly. Tony Romo threw three interceptions. DeMarco Murray fumbled on the second play of the game, and Chris Culliver picked it up and returned in 35 yards for a touchdown. Good teams don’t fumble the ball away on the second play of the season. It raises questions about the Cowboys’ focus. This game wasn’t as close as it looked. The 49ers needed just four offensive plays to take a 21-3 lead after the first quarter. The score was 28-3 at halftime. Nothing else needs to be said.

Grade: D

(AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez)

New York Giants (L, at DET, 35-14)

The Giants are having a difficult time adjusting to new offensive coordinator Ben McAdoo. Eli Manning completed 18 of his 33 passes for 163 yards with a touchdown and two interceptions. Crunch those numbers and it comes out to a 53.0 passer rating. The Giants couldn’t run the ball, either. They moved it 53 yards on the ground at an average of 2.4 yards per carry. The Giants kept the game close in the first half, trailing only 14-7 at the break, but both of Manning’s interceptions came in the third quarter and led to 10 points for the Lions.

Grade: D

(AP Photo/Paul Sancya)

Oakland Raiders (L, at NYJ, 19-14)

So the Jets’ front seven is going to stop a lot of running backs this year. But 25 rushing yards on 15 carries? That’s … just … putrid. The Raiders were 3-for-12 on third-down conversions and had to punt nine times. The defense wasn’t much better. It was trampled for 402 yards, including 212 on the ground. Rookie quarterback Derek Carr was the only one keeping the Raiders from getting a failing grade. He wasn’t spectacular, completing 20 of 32 passes for 151 yards (4.7 yards per attempt) with two touchdowns and no interceptions. The Raiders couldn’t expect much more from the rookie against such a strong defense.

Grade: C-

(AP Photo/Bill Kostroun)

Chicago Bears (L, BUF, 23-20, OT)

This was an unbelievable loss for the Bears on multiple levels.They lost to one of the league’s projected bottom feeders. They had 29 first downs compared to 15 for the Bills. They committed four penalties. The Bills committed nine. But Jay Cutler threw two interceptions, including one in the fourth quarter with the Bears on the fringes of field-goal range and the score tied 17-17. Fred Jackson’s 38-yard run in OT brought the ball to the Bears’ 1-yard line and set up the game-winning field goal.

Grade: C-

(AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)

Baltimore Ravens (L, CIN, 23-16)

The Ravens get an “A” off the field for releasing Ray Rice now that just about everyone has seen what happened inside the infamous Atlantic City elevator. On the field? That’s a different story. The Ravens fell behind 15-0 in the first half after generating only 97 yards of total offense. Flacco capped off the first half by making what he called “probably the stupidest play I ever made in football,” according to NFL.com. He took a sack to end the half instead of throwing the ball away with the Ravens in field-goal range. Flacco threw the ball 62 times with only 35 completions. So far it looks like a rough adjustment under new offensive coordinator Gary Kubiak.

Grade: C

(AP Photo/Nick Wass)

Tampa Bay Buccaneers (L, 20-14, CAR)

You just can’t lose at home to a backup quarterback. The Bucs didn’t have to worry about Cam Newton, but they did have to worry about Derek Anderson, who threw for two touchdown passes and led the Panthers to a 17-0 fourth-quarter lead. Josh McCown threw two interceptions and fumbled twice. He recovered both fumbles, but on the second one he picked the ball back up and threw an interception. The play looked like a lowlight from the Buccaneers’ inaugural 1976 season. Bucco Bruce would have been proud. McCown did throw two touchdown passes in the fourth quarter to pull Tampa Bay to within 17-14.

Grade: C

(AP Photo/Brian Blanco)

New England Patriots (L, 33-20, at MIA)

Tom Brady’s accuracy is slowly abandoning him as he ages. The 37-year-old completed only 51.7 percent of his passes Sunday (29 of 56). This is the first time the Patriots have lost two straight games to the Dolphins since 2000 and 2001. The 2001 loss was Brady’s second career start. This was the Patriots’ first loss in a season opener since they lost 31-0 at Buffalo in 2003. Of course, anyone who’s watched a down of football knows not to count out the Patriots. They won the Super Bowl after losing that opener at Buffalo in ’03. But then again, times are changing, and Brady is 37. Can he muster one more good season?

Grade: C

(AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)

Cleveland Browns (L, at PIT, 30-27)

Brian Hoyer would have been almost as famous in Cleveland as LeBron James  – or even Johnny Manziel – if he could have led the Browns to a victory after trailing 27-3 at halftime. Hoyer and the Browns  – without Ben Tate and Jordan Cameron – battled back to a 27-27 tie, but that was all they had. This downtrodden franchise didn’t give up despite trailing by 24 in a place where they haven’t won since before James played his first NBA game. Ben Roethlisberger did burn them for 278 yards in the first half, however.

Grade: C

(AP Photo/Gene Puskar)

Washington Redskins (L, at HOU, 17-6)

The Redskins succumbed to Houston’s ravaging defense. Some of their offensive numbers looked good. Robert Griffin III completed 29 of 37 passes for 267 yards. Washington ran for 131 yards as a team at a pace of 5.7 yards per carry. However, newly-acquired deep threat DeSean Jackson wasn’t used properly. He caught eight passes for 62 yards, a meager 7.8 ypc average. According to ESPN, Griffin’s passes to Jackson averaged just 2.4 yards through the air. Griffin ran just three times for two yards. The Subway spokesman’s career has run off track since his dazzling rookie season. Could Kirk Cousins be given a chance to start in the coming weeks?

Grade: C

(AP Photo/Patric Schneider)

San Diego Chargers (L, at ARI, 18-17)

The Chargers couldn’t close the deal with an 11-point lead in the fourth quarter. They also couldn’t run the ball. They ran it 24 times for 52 yards and an anemic 2.2 yards-per-carry average. Rookie linebacker Jeremiah Attaochu seems like a good pick early on. He blocked a punt in the second quarter to set up the field goal that put the Chargers on the board. He also strip-sacked Carson Palmer in the third quarter. Three plays later, Ryan Mathews ran 20 yards for a touchdown to increase the Chargers’ lead to 17-6. The Chargers could have had three more points in the fourth quarter, but Rivers fumbled a snap in the shotgun, knocking the Chargers out of field-goal range.

Grade: C+

(AP Photo/Rick Scuteri)

New Orleans Saints (L, at ATL, 37-34, OT)

It’s difficult to grade either side too harshly in an instant classic like this, but the Saints defense must be held accountable for Matt Ryan’s 448 passing yards and the Falcons’ staggering 568 yards of offense. They didn’t even allow that many yards in a game during their pathetic, post-Bountygate 2012 season, when they were the worst defensive team in the league. The Saints’ offense put up some big numbers, too. They racked up 472 yards and 30 first downs. But Marques Colston, who caught five passes for 110 yards, fumbled in Saints territory in overtime. That’s a big no-no, and it was the difference in the game.

Grade: C+

(AP Photo/John Bazemore)

Jacksonville Jaguars (L, at PHI, 34-17)

There was something to be said right off the bat for the Jaguars’ scouting department in this game. Or maybe it’s just the quickness of someone’s dialing fingers in the frenzy to sign undrafted free agents. Allen Hurns, an undrafted rookie, caught touchdowns on the first two passes thrown to him as the Jaguars built a 17-0 halftime lead. The Jaguars couldn’t hold that lead, partly because they converted just two of their 14 third-down opportunities. However, they gave the overwhelming NFC East favorites a scare. That’s not a bad first step on the road to relevance.

Grade: C+

(AP Photo/Matt Rourke)

Philadelphia Eagles (W, JAX, 34-17)

A win is a win, but the Eagles fell behind the traditionally lowly Jaguars 17-0 in the first half. After throwing just two interceptions last season, Nick Foles threw one in the first half and lost two fumbles. The Eagles sandwiched two touchdowns around a defensive three-and-out to start the second half, and Foles threw a 68-yard touchdown pass to Jeremy Maclin to give the Eagles the lead in the fourth quarter. The comeback was all well and good, but falling behind a rebuilding team like the Jaguars suggests inconsistency for a team that’s expected to run away with the NFC East title this season.

Grade: C+

(AP Photo/Michael Perez)

Pittsburgh Steelers (W, CLE, 30-27)

The Steelers beat the Browns at home for the 11th straight time, but blew a 24-point lead in the second half. This Brian Hoyer-led comeback came without Ben Tate and Jordan Cameron. When the Browns come to Heinz Field, it’s as close to a guaranteed “W” for the Steelers as there is in the NFL. If after leading 27-3 at halftime the Steelers needed Shaun Suisham to bail them out with a 41-yard field goal in the final seconds, it doesn’t bode well for their season.

Grade: C+

(AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)

Indianapolis Colts (L, at DEN, 31-24)

The Colts weathered the early storm and made a game of it in the second half. They couldn’t complete the comeback, but they performed admirably in prime time on the road against the defending conference champions. Andrew Luck threw for 370 yards, even if it took 53 passes (with 35 completions) to get there. Luck endured three sacks but threw two touchdown passes in the fourth quarter after the Colts fell behind 31-10. The Colts didn’t have many opportunities to run the ball after falling so far behind, but Trent Richardson could only gain 20 yards on his six carries.
 

Grade: B-

(AP Photo/Jack Dempsey)

New York Jets (W, OAK, 19-14)

It was Chris Ivory, not Chris Johnson, breaking the 100-yard mark for the Jets. He ran the rock 10 times for 102 yards while Johnson added 68 yards on 13 carries as the Jets amassed 212 rushing yards as a team. Ivory chalked up 71 of his yards on a touchdown run in the fourth quarter, increasing the Jets’ lead to 19-7 with eight minutes left. Raiders’ rookie quarterback Derek Carr completed 20 of 32 passes with two touchdowns and no interceptions. The Jets’ suspect secondary has to be ready to face better quarterbacks (like Aaron Rodgers in Week 2).

Grade: B-

(AP Photo/Bill Kostroun)

Green Bay Packers (L, at SEA, 36-16)

The Packers will be graded on a curve because they went up against the defending Super Bowl champions in the Thursday night season opener. The tradition of Super Bowl champions starting the following season’s opener on Thursday night began in 2004. The defending champ has lost that game only twice. One of those times was last season when the Ravens had to play the game at Denver. It’s difficult enough facing the NFL’s reigning champs in the league’s toughest stadium for road teams, but add a healthy Percy Harvin (team-high seven catches for 59 yards), and it’s a task that is much more difficult. The Packers will be fine when they face mere mortals.

Grade: B- 

(AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)

Denver Broncos (W, IND, 31-24)

The Broncos dominated the first half with their offense, and in the second half their re-tooled defense stopped the Colts when it had to. Peyton Manning threw three touchdown passes to tight end Julius Thomas in the second quarter to give the Broncos a 24-0 lead. Denver still led 31-10 in the fourth quarter, but its offense generally stalled in the second half. That allowed the Colts to get back into the game, but Rahim Moore made one of his two interceptions in the fourth quarter. Then, with just under two minutes left, rookie cornerback Bradley Roby broke up a pass to seal the victory for the Broncos. DeMarcus Ware had 1.5 sacks in his Broncos debut.

Grade: B

(AP Photo/Joe Mahoney)

Detroit Lions (W, NYG, 35-14)

When the Lions do what they did Monday against a more imposing opponent, they’ll get strong consideration for an “A.” But a solid “B” is fine for now. The secondary, which had been the biggest trouble spot on the Lions defense, came through Monday night. Safety Glover Quin had an interception and second-year cornerback Darius Slay broke up three passes as the Lions held the Giants to 197 yards of offense. Detroit’s offense didn’t disappoint. Matthew Stafford threw for 346 yards and a pair of touchdowns and the Lions moved the chains on 10 of their 15 third downs.

Grade: B

(AP Photo/Paul Sancya)

Atlanta Falcons (W, NO, 37-34, OT)

The Falcons picked a thrilling way to make their fans forget about last year’s 4-12 season. They came back from deficits of 13-0 and 20-7 in the first half. Then they fell behind 34-31 with 1:20 left, but forced overtime on Matt Bryant’s 51-yard field goal. Bryant won it with a 52-yarder in overtime. Matt Ryan threw for a franchise-record 448 yards and the Falcons generated 568 yards of total offense. Their defense left something to be desired, allowing 472 yards and eight of 13 third-down conversions. But they get a pass on that considering the opponent.

Grade: B

(AP Photo/John Bazemore)

Tennessee Titans (W, at KC, 26-10)

This was another game that wasn’t as close as the final score indicated. The Titans led 23-3 in the fourth quarter. Ryan Succop made all four of his field-goal attempts after being cut by the Chiefs. Jake Locker completed 22 of his 33 passes for 266 yards and a touchdown. If Ken Whisenhunt can work his offensive wizardry on Locker, it would be his biggest coaching masterpiece. The Titans intercepted Alex Smith three times and sacked him four times, but they also allowed four sacks and overcame 12 penalties. It’s too early to get excited about the Titans, though. They looked like they were on the way up after winning at Pittsburgh in last year’s opener.

Grade: B+

(AP Photo/Ed Zurga)

Carolina Panthers (W, at TB, 20-14)

On the road against a team that spent a lot of money on its defense in free agency, the Panthers had more question marks at wide receiver than there are on The Riddler’s costume. Not only that, but journeyman backup quarterback Derek Anderson was replacing an injured Cam Newton. Rookie Kelvin Benjamin (eight catches, 92 yards, touchdown) and veteran Jerricho Cotchery (four catches, 32 yards) went a long way toward answering the questions at receiver, and Anderson completed 24 of 34 passes for 230 yards and no interceptions. Even if a quarterback controversy is brewing, it’s a good problem for the Panthers to have.

Grade: B+

(AP Photo/Phelan M. Ebenhack)

Arizona Cardinals (W, SD, 18-17)

Coming back from fourth-quarter deficits is something the Cardinals will have to do from time to time to keep up with Seattle and San Francisco in the NFC West. The Cardinals mustered just six points in the first three quarters, but 34-year-old Carson Palmer rose to the occasion in the final stanza for his 17th career fourth-quarter comeback. He threw a five-yard touchdown pass to Stepfan Taylor to pull the Cards to within 17-12 with 12:30 to go and found rookie John Brown on a screen pass with 2:25 left. The third-round draft pick did the rest and dodged defenders all the way into the end zone. Palmer threw for 304 yards on the evening.

Grade: B+

(AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)

Houston Texans (W, WAS, 17-6)

The Texans had contributions from their offense, defense and special teams in winning their first game in almost a year. DeAndre Hopkins caught a 76-yard touchdown pass from Ryan Fitzpatrick to give Houston a 7-6 lead in the second quarter. After the ensuing three-and-out, rookie Alfred Blue blocked a punt and returned it for a touchdown. J.J. Watt, the Texans’ $100 million man, had a sack, made two tackles for losses, batted down a pass, blocked an extra point and hit Robert Griffin III five times. Other than that, Watt didn’t do much (!).

Grade: A-

(AP Photo/David J. Phillip)

Cincinnati Bengals (W, at BAL, 23-16)

The Bengals showed some grit after blowing a 15-0 lead and falling behind 16-15 with six minutes left in the fourth quarter. It took less than a minute for them to regain the lead on Andy Dalton’s 77-yard touchdown pass to A.J. Green. They stopped the Ravens on their last possession to seal their first victory at Baltimore since 2009. Dalton threw for 301 yards and wasn’t sacked. By the way, had anyone heard of Emmanuel Lamur heading into the season? Well, he led the Bengals with 11 tackles and had an interception in the third quarter.

Grade: A-

(AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)

Buffalo Bills (W, at CHI, 23-20, OT)

This was the upset of the week. The Bills were supposed to finish with one of the worst records in the NFL. The Bears, on the other hand, were supposed to become an offensive juggernaut with Jay Cutler playing his second year in Marc Trestman’s system. What actually happened was the Bills gobbled up 193 rushing yards at an average of 5.8 yards per carry. The wealth was spread among Fred Jackson (61 yards), Anthony Dixon (60 yards) and C.J. Spiller (53 yards). E.J. Manuel wasn’t spectacular. But he was an efficient 16-of-22.

Grade: A-

(AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)

San Francisco 49ers (W, at DAL, 28-17)

No NaVorro Bowman. No Aldon Smith. No problem for the 49ers. Cornerback Chris Culliver returned a DeMarco Murray fumble 35 yards for a touchdown on the second play of the game. After the 49ers increased their lead to 14-3 in the first quarter, safety Eric Reid intercepted Tony Romo and returned it 48 yards to the Cowboys’ 2-yard line. Colin Kaepernick threw his second touchdown pass to Vernon Davis on the next play, and the game was pretty much over at that point. Perrish Cox added an interception and Justin Smith had two sacks. The 49ers will face sterner defenses, but for now they look OK.

Grade: A-

(AP Photo/LM Otero)

Miami Dolphins (W, NE, 33-20)

Knowshon Moreno must love playing against the Patriots. He’s run for 358 yards combined in his last two regular-season games against them, including 134 yards and a fourth-quarter touchdown Sunday that gave the Dolphins a 30-20 lead. The offensive line, without Mike Pouncey, allowed Ryan Tannehill to be sacked just once. Mike Wallace earned his money with seven catches for 81 yards and the game-tying touchdown in the third quarter. The Dolphins out-scored the Patriots 23-0 in the second half of this milestone win for the franchise.

Grade: A-

(AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee)

Minnesota Vikings (W, at STL, 34-6)

Cordarrelle Patterson didn’t disappoint all the fantasy football pundits expecting a breakout season from him. He needed just three carries to run for 102 yards, 27 more than Adrian Peterson. The Minnesota Vikings weren’t nearly as touted in real football as Patterson was in fantasy, but they provided a pleasant surprise for their fans in Mike Zimmer’s head coaching debut. The Rams might have been third in the NFL with 53 sacks last season, but it was actually the Vikings harassing Rams quarterbacks with five sacks. The Vikings also intercepted two passes and forced four fumbles.

Grade: A

(AP Photo/L.G. Patterson)

Seattle Seahawks (W, GB, 36-16)

It’s almost unfair that after winning the Super Bowl last season, the Seahawks get a weapon on offense that they didn’t have for 15 games in 2013. Percy Harvin accounted for 120 all-purpose yards, catching seven passes for 59 yards, running for 41 yards and returning kickoffs for 20 yards. Seattle held Green Bay to 255 yards of offense, including 80 on the ground.  If Aaron Rodgers is afraid to throw the ball anywhere near Richard Sherman, who will throw at him? And Pete Carroll’s not at USC anymore. He’s not exactly feasting on the Hawaii of the NFL for an easy early-season win. The Packers could be back at CenturyLink Field in January for a rematch.

Grade: A

(AP Photo/Scott Eklund)
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