The first week of the NFL season is in the books after last night, but The Stack would be remissed if we didn't take a moment to start out the blog by remembering the events that took place eleven years ago in New York, D.C. and Pennsylvania. We lost too many people on this day, but in it we found heroes from everyday Americans. America has grown stronger together as a nation and we should all take a moment to remember those who lost their lives on this day. Now let's see what made "the stack" for today, Tuesday, September 11:
Ravens open up a can of worms on the Bengals
The Baltimore Ravens wanted to show the football world that their offense is something to be feared this year. Mission accomplished. Joe Flacco threw for 299 yards (fantasy owners are really upset with him right now, get one more yard!) and two touchdowns as the Ravens crushed the Bengals 44-13. The Ravens were clicking early, scoring on their first three possessions. Ray Rice had a decent day, scoring two touchdowns and surprise, surprise, safety Ed Reed picked off a pass and ran it back for a touchdown. He always has a nose for the ball. For the Bengals, this has to be a disappointing start to the season. Their defense looked really bad constantly leaving Ravens wide receivers wide open. Andy Dalton looked a little rattled though I think he has a good new weapon in Andrew Hawkins. That dude is speedy. But the Bengals have to get better on both sides of the ball and they need to do it fast. They have a very difficult schedule. It's seems odd to say that the Ravens offense is going to lead the way for this team, but I think it's going to this year and I don't think the Ravens or their fans have a problem with that.
Chargers get by sloppy Raiders
It wasn't necessarily pretty, but it got the job done. The San Diego Chargers used five Nate Kaeding field goals to help get by the Raiders 22-14. Good for Kaeding too to have a good bounce back game after missing all of last year with a torn ACL suffered on the opening kickoff of the season. The defense also played really well. The Raiders were plagued by some boneheaded plays and penalties, but most notably, they were hurt by their long snapper getting knocked out of the game with a concussion. Backup snappers, from what I was told by ESPN's Trent Dilfer and Chris Bemran, dont get a lot of long snap practice during the week at all and it showed. Travis Goethel had a game he would rather like to forget. Three times he snapped for punts. Two went in the dirt leading to no punt from Shane Lechler. The other one was blocked. This set up the Chargers with great field position and they took advantage. There will be better days for the Raiders, but if their starting long snapper is out for next week's game against Miami, the Raiders would be well-advised to give Goethel some more practice snapping the ball...that is if he is still on the team.
By the way, picks for the week finished out to 10-6. Not bad, not great. We will do better next week.
Andy Murray, Serena Williams win U.S. Open
Rain may have pushed the title matches back, but tennis fans were treated to some great final matches. Serena Williams snatched victory from the jaws of defeat, beating Victoria Azarenka in three sets, 6-2, 2-6, 7-5. Williams is a constant in women's tennis. Not only was this her fourthopen title, but it's her 15th grand slam title overall. And she's had a very good summer winning gold at the Olympics. She continues to play at a high level and while she may lose every once in a while, more often than not, you can expect her to be in the mix to win a final.
On the men's side, it may have taken almost five hours to complete the match, but Great Britain is all smiles after Andy Murray won their first grand slam in nearly three quarters of a century with a thrilling five set win over Novak Djokovic 7-6, 7-5, 3-6, 2-6, 6-2. Murray had been on the doorstep of a major title for a while now. But it was just so difficult to break through with Nadal, Federer and Djokovic constantly in his way and preventing him from doing so. Finally, Murray got through and just like Williams, capped off an incredible summer witha U.S. Open title to go along with Olympic gold. This was a thrilling match with dazzling athleticism. The Open brings out the best in athletes. We certainly saw that yesterday.
Arkansas upset thoughts
It has been a few days since the college footbal world was stunned in seeing Louisiana-Monroe knock off at the time #8 Arkansas in Little Rock 34-31. Truly amazing. The tide seemed to turn after Razorbacks quarterback Tyler Wilson was knocked out of the game. He may not be able to play against Alabama next week. Adn perhaps Arkansas was looking ahead in the schedule to that potential showdown with the Crimson Tide. A costly mistake. Arkansas was considered a dark horse by some, including myself of winning the SEC and possibly making it to the BCS championship game. After all, they get Alabama and LSU at home. That can all be forgotten now. Sure Arkansas still could be Alabama, but it is going to be a tall task, especially if Wilson can't play. Don't you think the players will still be a little shell-shocked from this past week's loss? I have to think so. Arkansas thought Louisiana-Monroe was going to be fair game. Monroe didn't think so, capping off a huge upset with a 16-yard TD run by quarterback Kolton Browning on 4th and 1. What guts! And with the loss Arkansas is now unranked. Oh how the might have fallen.
There were other upsets throughout the day, particularly in the Pac-12 where Oregon State shocked #13 Wisconsin 10-7 and UCLA knocked off #16 Nebraska 36-30. Quite impressive. Arizona also partook in the Pac-12's success by knocking off #18 Oklahoma State 59-38.
And a quick shoutout to my alma mater South Dakota State and running back Zach Zenner. Just a sophomore, Zenner rusehd for 278 yards in the Jackrabbits 31-14 win over Southeastern Louisiana. He also had 183 yards against Kansas including a 99-yard touchdown run. Good running back, good kid.
Coming up Wednesday: Recap of biggest sports stories from Tuesday