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Knights in the NFL: Week 1 kicks off

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A lot of close games, as Devin McCourty fills the stat sheet.

Atlanta Falcons v Chicago Bears
Falcons survive opening scare.
Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

And so it begins, here is the recap of former Scarlet Knights in NFL action this past weekend in the same format as last season.

Devin McCourty and Duron Harmon were on the wrong end of Thursday Night football as the Patriots fell at home against a non-divisional opponent for the first time in several years. Harmon, despite being one of the team’s captain did not record any stats. McCourty was a mad man, all over the field with 10 tackles (9 solo) including one for a loss. He also defended two passes. There is no reason to worry about the Patriots this year as their division may be the worst it has been since before they began this incredible run of 13 division titles in the last 14 seasons. And the time they didn’t win it (2008), they finished 11-5.

On Sunday, Mohamed Sanu and the Falcons were heavy favorites against Michael Burton, Marcus Cooper, and Andrew DePaola in Chicago. DePaola who was a late signing on September 3, got some press in the Chicago Tribune. The game ended up with the Bears in the red zone but unable to convert a game tying touchdown, (lucky for me who had Atlanta in my survivor pool). Sanu let Atlanta with 9 targets and 6 catches for 47 yards. The Bears were playing to win (unlike some other NFL squads) and threw every trick they had including a surprise Burton run which went for 7 yards. Cooper was third on the team with 4 tackles (all solo) and a pass defended. The Bears could surprise this season. Atlanta avoided disaster since we know how their 2016 season ended.

NFL: Atlanta Falcons at Chicago Bears
Burton’s versatility was key to a Bears offense that kept Atlanta guessing.
Patrick Gorski-USA TODAY Sports

The Bengals Clark Harris and Tyler Kroft participated in one of the worst QB performances of all-time as Andy Dalton struggled. The Bengals were embarrassed at home 20-0 by division rival Baltimore. Kroft caught his one target for 5 yards while adding a tackle. Cinci didn’t attempt any field goals, but their punting unit was sadly the best on the team on this day.

Steve Longa played 2 snaps on defense and 21 on special teams as Detroit started off the season with an impressive W against Arizona. Longa did not record a tackle. As I have well chronicled, Detroit needed a win more than any team other than Atlanta the way their season ended last year and they got it.

Jason McCourty and Kenny Britt hosted rival Pittsburgh where the Browns surprised many by keeping it close against heavily favored Pittsburgh. In the end, Cleveland fell 21-18 partially due to a historic day for Steelers rookie T.J. Watt. McCourty played every defensive snap and had three tackles in a decent defensive effort where they contained everyone not named Antonio Brown. Britt caught one pass for 13 yards, but had a critical drop that he may have been able to take the distance. The Browns may be an interesting team to watch for the first time in quite a while, especially with so many other AFC teams looking weak.

NFL: Oakland Raiders at Tennessee Titans
Will Ryan and Carr meet again in the playoffs?
Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

Logan Ryan and the hyped Titans had a tough matchup against Derek Carr and the still Oakland Raiders. It was as close as you can get on the stat sheet as Oakland recorded only one more first down (22-21) and a mere 9 more total yards (359 to 350). Penalty yardage was even identical as both teams committed 5 for 49 yards on 63 plays each! The scoreboard though told of a 26-16 Raider win in Tennessee. Ryan only made one tackle and the Titans may not face a tougher opponent the rest of the year.

Brandon Coleman filled his usual short yardage role for New Orleans on Monday Night Football. The Vikings played awesome, and Drew Brees was under constant pressure. To combat this Coleman got more looks in bunch sets or almost as an extra tight end to try get Brees quick throws. The Saints offense was held to 4 field goals before a late touchdown. On one of those drives Coleman was targeted and had his hands on the ball in the endzone but it was knocked away. He finished with two catches for 13 yards on three targets.

Other local scores: Bills 21, Jets 12. Eagles 30, Redskins 17. Cowboys 19, Giants 3.

Bye (in this case postponement): Leonte Carroo (Dolphins)

Practice squads: Andre Patton (Chargers), Carlton Agudosi (Cardinals)

Preseason Week 4 recap here.

Knights in the Pros flashback ... 1975.

Middletown High school product Ed Jones, not be confused with Ed “Too Tall” Jones also drafted by Dallas a year prior, made his NFL debut in Week 1 for the Buffalo Bills. Jones made an interception in his very first game, a 42-14 win for the Bills over division and then in-state rival New York Jets. He would go on to start the rest of the season at strong safety for the 8-6 Bills and be named the all-rookie team with 3 INTs and a fumble recovery.

Ed left Rutgers tied for the career record with 14 interceptions, a mark he still holds with former teammate Tony Pawlik as well as John Pollock. He was drafted by the Cowboys in the 1975 draft but it was a struggle to make the team with so many other talented rookies in what was dubbed, the Dallas Dirty Dozen draft. He caught on with Buffalo just in time for the season to begin.

After his lone season in the NFL amid a rumored contract dispute that had him cut days before the 1976 season was to begin, Jones headed north to the Canadian Football League. It ended up working out well as he played on 5 Grey Cup winning Edmonton Eskimos teams, in 4 All-Star games, and 3 seasons the equivalent of All-Pro. He went bonkers in 1980 when he had 11 INTs to lead the league, three of which he returned for TDs, two in a single game!

All told, he played one NFL season and 9 in the CFL, eight with the Eskimos and his final with the BC Lions. After his career he returned to Edmonton and worked in public service. His son is in his 4th year in the CFL, a teammate of Jamal Westerman on the Winnipeg Blue Bombers.