Finally, the NFL has come back to Sports Center! Week 1 of the 2001-2002 Season saw defenses stealing the show as is normal at the start of the season. The defending SuperBowl Champion Baltimore Ravens again barely had any offense despite new starting QB Elvis Grbac, but had enough to beat the Chicago Bears, 17-6. The Seattle Seahawks and Cleveland Browns scored no TDs, and the sehawks won the game on a 52-yard Rian Lindell field goal, 9-6. The Jacksonville Jaguars got Mark Brunell and Jimmy Smith to connect on two TDs as they whalloped division rivals the Pittsburgh Steelers, 21-3. Corey Dillon of the Cincinnati Bengals was his usual dominant self, now helped by Jon Kitna and Darnay Scott, as the Bengals won over the New England Patriots 23-17. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers didn't get much offense from new QB Brad Johnson, but they still had enough to slap the Dallas Cowboys around with a 10-6 win.
The post-Jerry Rice era began in San Francisco with a 16-13 OT win by the Niners over the Atlanta Falcons. As for Rice's new team, he was thrust head-on into one of the most heated rivalries in the NFL as Rice's Oakland Raiders escaped the Kansas City Chiefs and new coach D!ck Vermeil, 27-24. The newly revamped San Diego Chargers welcomed QB Doug Flutie and added to the miseries of the Washington Redskins with a rousing 30-3 shellacking. The defending NFC West champion New Orleans Saints are aching to prove that last year was no fluke, getting off to a good start behind Aaron Broks 209 passing yards in a 24-6 rout of the Buffalo Bills. The Indianapolis Colts tried out a hurry-up offense and this proved too intense for the New York Jets with stellar games from Peyton Manning and Edgerrin James. Colts win, 45-24.
The match-up of the day saw the high-powered St. Louis Rams offense against Donovan McNabb and the Philadelphia Eagles' defense. Like two heavyweight boxers, both teams were tied 17-all at the end of regulation, and Jeff Wilkins scored on a 26-yard field goal for the 20-17 Ram triumph. The upset of the day could be given to the Carolina Panthers. Behind rookie QB Chris Weinke of Florida State, the Panthers entered the Metrodome and ambushed the Minnesota Vikings for a 24-13 win. The Green Bay Packers may have found themselves a new hope with their running game as Ahman Green helped to take a load off QB Brett Favre in the Pack's 28-6 demolition of the Detroit Lions. On ESPN Sunday Night Football, the Miami Dolphins walked into Tennessee's Adelphia Coliseum and walked out as only the second team (other than the Ravens) to beat the Titans on their homefield.