ASN's NFL Top 10: Vote for the best performance from Week 1
Welcome to ASN’s NFL Top 10, where we’ll update you on the most notable happenings and the most relevant news on players from ASN-affiliated schools following every NFL weekend.
You can also vote for ASN's NFL Player of the Week through Friday at 5 p.m. ET.
With Week 1 in the books we’ll kick it off with updates on three well-known NFL quarterbacks from ASN-affiliated schools: Tony Romo, Ryan Fitzpatrick and Josh McCown.
1. Tony Romo, Dallas Cowboys
Romo was the star of the weekend. The Eastern Illinois graduate engineered a thrilling drive that culminated in an 11-yard touchdown pass to Jason Witten to beat the New York Giants, 27-26, with 13 seconds remaining. The six-play drive lasted only 1:16, but was arguably the most exciting march of the weekend. For the game, Romo completed 36 of 45 passes for 356 yards and three touchdowns and two interceptions.
2. Ryan Fitzpatrick, New York Jets
The ultimate winner of the NFL’s most intriguing quarterback saga, Fitzpatrick made his case by throwing for two touchdowns in the Jets 31-10 victory against the Cleveland Browns. Fitzpatrick, a Harvard grad who got the starting nod after Geno Smith’s jaw was broken by a punch from a teammate in August, completed 15 of 24 passes for 179 yards. He did throw an interception that turned the game, oddly enough, in the Jets’ favor. After Fitzpatrick’s pick, Jets receiver Marshall Gibson, the intended recipient, stripped the ball from Cleveland’s Tashaun Gipson, setting the Jets up on the Browns 9. New York scored moments later.
3. Josh McCown, Cleveland Browns
After yet another preseason filled with Johnny Manziel intrigue, McCown found himself in the worst possible situation during a season opener — on the sideline. McCown, a graduate of Sam Houston State, left the game against the Jets near the end of the first quarter with a concussion. McCown took a helmet-to-helmet hit as he was being tackled by Jets Calvin Pryor and Demario Davis. The hit resulted in a turnover and touchback. McCown had completed 5 of 8 passes for 49 yards before exiting the game. Manziel went on to score a touchdown on the Browns' next drive, but turned the ball over three times in the second half, as the Browns lost, 31-10.
4. Josh Norman, Carolina Panthers
The cornerback out of Coastal Carolina snagged the fourth interception of his pro career and scored his first NFL touchdown Sunday when he picked off a Blake Bortles pass and returned it 30 yards with 9:08 remaining in the third quarter against the Jacksonville Jaguars. The pick and touchdown were game changers, giving the Panthers a 17-9 lead on its way to a 20-9 victory. Norman also had four solo tackles and one assist.
5. T.Y. Hilton, Indianapolis Colts
It was a good news, bad news sort of situation for the fourth-year receiver out of Florida International. Hilton was carted off the field after running an out route in the Colts' 27-14 loss at Buffalo. The good news? According to Colts.com, the early word is that Hilton’s left knee is not badly injured. Colts owner Jim Irsay referred to the injury as a “bad bruise,” and as of Sunday, Indy expected Hilton back in a few weeks. Before leaving the game, Hilton caught 7 passes for 88 yards.
6. Tyler Varga, Indianapolis Colts
Talk about your all-around player. A rookie out of Yale, Varga was all over the field in the Colts' loss — he caught one pass for 18 yards, carried the ball once for 2 yards, had two tackles and returned two kicks for a total of 53 yards.
7. Bobby Rainey, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Another jack-of-all-trades, Rainey made his presence known all over the field. The fourth-year pro out of Western Kentucky carried the ball three times for 10 yards, had one reception for four yards and returned three kickoffs (26.7 yard average) and three punts (8.5 yard average).
8. Joe Flacco, Baltimore Ravens
The 2013 Super Bowl MVP didn’t exactly have an opener to write home about. Though the Ravens were in control for much of the game, Flacco threw two interceptions and the second, with 22 seconds remaining in the third quarter allowed Denver to take and, ultimately, keep the lead. Flacco didn’t need to pass much on Sunday, but he completed 18 of 32 passes for 117 yards.
9. Alfred Morris, Washington Redskins
The Redskins’ leading rusher on Sunday, Morris ran 25 times for 121 yards in Washington’s 17-10 loss to the Miami Dolphins. Morris, a fourth-year pro out of Florida Atlantic, ran the ball six times for 35 yards on the Redskins’ opening drive to help set up a 45-yard field goal. In the second quarter, Morris was an integral part of Washington’s 17-yard scoring drive, running the ball six times for 32 yards, including a long run of 14 yards.
10. Josh Scobee, Pittsburgh Steelers
A 12-year pro out of Louisiana Tech, Scobee had an uncharacteristic game — missing two of four field-goal attempts with Eastern Kentucky’s Jordan Berry as the holder. Against the New England Patriots on Thursday night, Scobee was responsible for seven points in the loss — field goals of 44 and 24 yards plus one extra point. But Scobee and Berry struggled at the start of the game, as Scobee missed both a 44-yard attempt in the first quarter and a 46-yard attempt in the second quarter wide right.
Patriots punter Ryan Allen, a third-round pro out of Louisiana Tech, got his season off to a solid start with four punts totaling 191 yards and a net average of 42 yards. Allen’s longest punt was 67 yards vs. the Steelers in the Thursday night season opener for both teams. … Benny Cunningham of the St. Louis Rams showcased his versatility carrying the ball 16 times for 45 yards and snagging four passes for 77 yards as the Rams snuck by the Seahawks, 34-31. Cunningham is a third-year pro out of Middle Tennessee who joined the Rams as an undrafted free agent in 2013. … Giants running back Rashad Jennings scored a touchdown in a last-minute loss to the Cowboys. Jennings, a graduate of Liberty, caught 13 passes for 52 yards. … Another Giant, cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, had six solo tackles against the Cowboys. Rodgers-Cromartie is a graduate of Tennessee State. ... Atlanta Falcons linebacker Paul Worrilow, a third-year pro out of Delaware, had nine solo tackles and four assists in the first of two Monday Night Football games. The Falcons beat the Philadelphia Eagles, 26-24.
Now it's your turn to vote:
Above: Tony Romo of the Dallas Cowboys celebrates with head coach Jason Garrett after scoring the game-winning touchdown in the final second Sunday against the New York Giants at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images)