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2013 NFL Season — 5 Things We Learned From Week 1

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The 2013 NFL season got off to an incredible start in Week 1 with some amazing individual performances, a few upsets and several fantastic finishes. Here’s what we learned from Sunday’s games:

The Packers-49ers Rivalry Is Back

The San Francisco 49ers beat the Green Bay Packers, 34-28, in Sunday’s most-anticipated game. The rematch of last season’s playoff clash resulted in plenty of pushing, shoving and ill will, not the least of which was the pro wrestling-style take-down that Packers’ linebacker Clay Matthews executed on 49ers’ quarterback Colin Kaepernick in the first half that incited a near-brawl. Kaepernick still finished with a career-high 412 passing yards. No one would be surprised if these two teams met again in January — or if Matthews signed a WWE deal after his playing days are over.

The Cowboys Can Beat the Giants at Home

After losing four times to the Giants since Cowboys/AT&T Stadium opened in 2009, Dallas forced six turnovers — including Brandon Carr’s game-clinching 49-yard interception return for a touchdown — to finally get a win over their NFC East nemesis on Sunday night. Cowboys’ owner Jerry Jones seemed pleased with the 36-31 win, but since he hasn’t been able to move his face since Dallas’ last Super Bowl victory in 1996, it’s hard to know for sure.

Sean Payton Didn’t Forget How To Coach

New Orleans Saints’ head coach Sean Payton returned from his year-long bounty-related suspension and helped guide his team to a 23-17 win over NFC South rival Atlanta. Payton put his defense — and perhaps a wheelbarrow full of beignets — in the hands of well-fed coordinator Rob Ryan in the off-season, and the Saints’ ‘D’ rose to the occasion against Matt Ryan and the potent Falcons’ attack. Payton’s contributions — and Ryan’s waistline — are each expected to become more prominent as the season progresses.

The Pittsburgh Steelers Are in Trouble

The Pittsburgh Steelers lost Pro Bowl center Maurkice Pouncey and inside linebacker Larry Foote to injuries, and they lost their 2013 opener at home to Tennessee, 16-9. Pittsburgh managed just 195 total yards, and running back Isaac Redman fumbled twice. The good news: MLB’s Pittsburgh Pirates lost their fourth in a row as they try to capture their first winning season since 1992… so maybe no one in the Steel City will notice how bad things are for the Steelers.

Kickers Matter

The New York Jets, New England Patriots and St. Louis Rams each started off 1-0 thanks to clutch kicks in the waning seconds, as Nick Folk, Stephen Gostkowski and Greg Zuerlein came up big for their respective teams. Folk’s kick was set up by a terrible personal foul committed by Tampa Bay linebacker LaVonte David on scrambling Jets’ rookie quarterback Geno Smith with just seconds to play. Despite all the pundits who were ready to roll out the ‘when will Rex Ryan be fired?’ storyline, the Jets’ head coach was able to lead his team to a Week 1 victory. Heck, Ryan is probably worshipping the foot of Folk — or someone else — right now.

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