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Week One Shutout Doesn't Spell Doom

Posted Sep 12, 2017

A Super Bowl champion, led by a future Hall of Fame quarterback, rebounded from a week one shutout.

Let’s play “Name that quarterback.”

“I went 14-for-28 for 123 yards with 0 touchdowns, 4 interceptions, and a passer rating of 22.5 on Opening Day as my team got shutout in a lopsided loss to a division rival.”

The answer? Tom Brady in a 31-0 loss to Buffalo to begin the 2003 season.

That year the Patriots won the Super Bowl.

I am not going to pretend that the Bengals 20-0 loss to Baltimore to begin the season was encouraging, but after doing a little research on Pro-Football-Reference.com, here are a few examples of teams that got shutout in week one before going on to have excellent seasons.

2003 New England Patriots: 14-2 and won Super Bowl.

1991 Detroit Lions: 12-4 and advanced to NFC Championship game.

2003 Philadelphia Eagles: 12-4 and advanced to NFL Championship game.

1985 New York Jets: 11-5 and made playoffs.

1981 New York Jets: 10-5-1 and made playoffs.

Coaches who were on the losing end of an Opening Day shutout include Bill Belichick, Chuck Noll (2X), Andy Reid, Bill Cowher, Mike Holmgren, Jon Gruden, Forrest Gregg, Dan Reeves, and Mike Holmgren.

Quarterbacks to throw four-or-more interceptions in a season opener include Brady, Terry Bradshaw, Brett Favre, Bob Griese, Joe Namath, Ken Stabler, and Ken Tarkenton.

Let’s face it, Andy Dalton and the Bengals laid an egg in Week 1 – “a dinosaur egg” in the words of my broadcasting partner Dave Lapham – but the story of the 2017 Bengals is still to be written.

*****

Here’s an interesting nugget. Two of the Bengals’ single game offensive records were set the week after being shutout.

On October 22, 2000, one week after a 15-0 loss to the Steelers, Corey Dillon set a then NFL-record by rushing for 278 yards in a 31-21 win over the Denver Broncos.

On December 30, 2001, one week after a 16-0 loss to the Ravens, Jon Kitna set a franchise record by attempting 68 passes against Pittsburgh. Kitna threw for 411 yards in a 26-23 overtime win.

*****

One of the Bengals with a unique perspective on the Houston Texans is practice squad defensive lineman DeShawn Williams. Houston’s Pro Bowl wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins is his first cousin, and Williams was teammates at Clemson with rookie quarterback Deshaun Watson who is expected to make his first NFL start on Thursday night.

I asked Williams what he thought of Hopkins being targeted 16 times last week in a 29-7 loss to Jacksonville.

“Shoot, he just got that big check – they’ve got to throw it to him,” Williams said with a laugh. “But he’s important to their offense. He’s got a big body, great hands, and he makes things happen after the catch too. He’s a big play guy.”

As for Watson, he was Clemson’s starting quarterback as a true freshman when Williams was a senior.

“He’s a winner,” said Williams. “He showed that by winning a National Championship and going to the championship game another time when they should have won.

“We all knew what kind of guy he was because he came in in the spring (before his freshman year). Coach Swinney had us hitting him live and I was like, ‘I don’t know Coach – that’s a prized possession.’ But after what he did his freshman year, we knew that Clemson was going to be in great hands. He is a true warrior and a leader.”

Watson entered Houston’s opener in the second half and competed 12-of-23 passes for 102 yards, 1 TD, 1 INT and a passer rating of 60.4

*****

Perhaps the biggest silver lining in last Sunday’s loss to Baltimore was the performance of Giovani Bernard. 294 days after tearing his ACL in Game 10 last season, Gio carried 7 times for 40 yards and added one catch for 39 yards.

“It’s inspiring,” said Jeremy Hill. “To see him come back from a horrific injury like he did and be quiet, come to work every day, and put himself in the best position to help our team win…not too many people are talking about it, but everybody in this locker room appreciates what he’s done and everything he’s going to do.”

“I feel great,” said Bernard. “Being able to be in year five is such a blessing. A lot of people kind of forget how awesome it is to be able to play in the NFL and I think being able to do it for so many years is amazing.”  

I’d love to hear from you at Dan.Hoard@Bengals.nfl.net

If you’re on Twitter, you can follow my tweets at http://twitter.com/Dan_Hoard

And I’m on Facebook at www.facebook.com/dan.hoard.1

 

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