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Sam Farmer ON THE NFL : NFL | WEEK 1

Favre up, Brady out

The two stars go in different directions as several quarterbacks have a strange day of highs and lows

September 08, 2008|Sam Farmer

Brett Favre has two good touchdown passes to build on.

Tom Brady might not have two good legs to stand on -- and could be done for the season.

The two star quarterbacks found themselves on the opposite ends of the emotional spectrum Sunday, as Favre helped the New York Jets to victory at Miami, and New England's Brady had to be helped off the field against Kansas City with what multiple reports say is a torn anterior cruciate ligament.

Midway through the first quarter, Brady dropped into the pocket and was hit low by Chiefs safety Bernard Pollard. The star quarterback, the league's reigning most valuable player, lay on the turf clutching his knee before limping off the field between two trainers.

Brady, who has started 128 consecutive games, disappeared into the locker room and never came back.

It was Matt Cassel who went on to lead the Patriots to a 17-10 victory. So the franchise that nearly pulled off a perfect record last season could be relying on a quarterback with freakishly pristine credentials.

Cassel: zero starts in college, zero starts in the pros.

Once a clipboard-holding understudy to Carson Palmer then Matt Leinart at USC, Cassel probably will be the starter Sunday when the Patriots play at the Jets. But on "Sunday Night Football," NBC's Al Michaels said the Patriots today will work out free agent Chris Simms.

To say Cassel never notched a start for the Trojans isn't exactly accurate; he did start a game in 2001 . . . at H-back.

But with all the weirdness Sunday, especially at the quarterback position, it prompted the question: What in the H-back was going on?

Check out what happened in Baltimore, where Ravens rookie Joe Flacco upstaged Cincinnati's Palmer, who generated just 99 yards passing in a 17-10 defeat. It was the first time Palmer played a complete game and failed to rack up triple-digit passing yards since Dec. 11, 2005, when he threw for 93 in a windstorm against Cleveland.

This time, he could have used a little help from his friends. The Bengals receiver formerly known as Chad Johnson -- who recently legally changed his surname to "Ocho Cinco" to match his jersey number -- did next to nada, catching one pass for 22 yards.

"We got beat and we got outplayed. . . . It's a pretty sick feeling," Palmer said.

No more sick than the Detroit Lions must have felt than when Atlanta rookie Matt Ryan dropped back and threw the very first pass of his career . . . for a 62-yard touchdown play to Michael Jenkins.

If they hadn't already, the Falcons officially slammed the door on the Michael Vick era with a 34-21 pounding of the Lions that included a 220-yard, two-touchdown performance by new Atlanta running back Michael Turner. In all, the Falcons rushed for a team-record 318 yards.

Not only did Ryan and Flacco win their debuts, but they are the first rookie quarterbacks to start openers since Baltimore's Kyle Boller in 2003.

Turner said Ryan, the third overall pick out of Boston College, didn't seem like a rookie at all.

"He took control of the huddle," the running back said. "He made all the right calls. He was a real drill sergeant out there. He was letting everyone know he was in control."

In Philadelphia, meanwhile, Donovan McNabb let everyone know he's not done. Not by a long shot. He threw for 361 yards and three touchdowns in a 38-3 trouncing of St. Louis. The offense rolled up a staggering 522 yards.

McNabb has taken a beating in recent years, with a sports hernia and various injuries to his knee, ankle and thumb. He hasn't played an injury-free season since directing the Eagles to the Super Bowl in 2004.

Then, there's Favre, the most durable quarterback in NFL history.

He threw a 56-yard touchdown pass early in the game. Later, with their kicker hurt, the Jets went for it on fourth and 13 at the Miami 22-yard line. Favre dropped back and threw for another touchdown.

Yes, he's happy he's back.

"I know I made the right decision," he told reporters. "I'm a New York Jet. I don't know about a native New Yorkian, or however you say it. Hey, I'm happy to be a Jet."

His timing is impeccable. The Jets play host to the Patriots on Sunday, and the bad blood between the franchises has never run thicker. It was the Jets, remember, who tipped off the NFL about New England's videotaping of hand signals.

Now, Favre is on a roll, Brady is on crutches, and Cassel -- or maybe Simms -- is on the spot.

The native "New Yorkians" are restless.

--

sam.farmer@latimes.com

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