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Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning throws against the Pittsburgh Steelersduring the first quarter of an NFL football game, Sunday, Sept. 9, 2012 in Denver. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)
Monson: NFL season gets off to a rousing start
First Published Sep 09 2012 10:48 pm • Last Updated Sep 15 2012 04:40 pm

The opening weekend of NFL play brought pro football back to its fans, like an old friend returning home from a long journey. Welcome back. The games never looked better. Observations from Week 1. …

That Peyton Manning fellow is a fairly decent quarterback … still. In his first game with the Broncos, Manning registered a 129 QB rating, throwing for 243 yards and two touchdowns in a 31-19 win over the Pittsburgh Steelers. Just as significantly, the four-time MVP, who missed all of last season with neck injuries, looked completely comfortable on the field. Good news, all around, whether or not you’re a Broncos fan. …

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On the other end of the experience scale, Robert Griffin III was sharp in his first pro start for Washington, beating the Saints at the Superdome. RG3 did things for the Redskins that haven’t been done much in recent years, namely making a huge difference in gaining victory over a quality opponent on the road. His numbers: 320 yards and two touchdowns. The most important numbers: Washington 40, New Orleans 32. …

Anyone watching the Niners-Packers game at Lambeau was tipped off at the end of the first half that Sunday was going to be San Francisco’s day. David Akers’ 63-yard field goal hit the crossbar and then ricocheted over it, tying the NFL record for longest field goal ever and giving the 49ers a 16-7 lead. …

I still remember watching Tom Dempsey, who was born without toes on his right foot, nail his 63-yarder in 1970, with a modified square shoe. It was one of those unforgettable moments in NFL history, a kick that beat the former record by seven yards. Before Sunday, two other kickers equaled Dempsey’s distance in more recent seasons: Denver’s Jason Elam in 1998 and the Raiders’ Sebastian Janikowski in 2011. …

Alex Smith went on to complete 20 of 26 passes for 211 yards and two touchdowns in San Francisco’s 30-22 win. The Niners defense was all over the explosive Packers attack, and San Francisco tipped its hand to the rest of the NFC that it has even better cards to play than it had a year ago, when it made it to the conference title game. …

Overall, the replacement refs did a decent job, but they absolutely blew a call in the final minute of the Arizona-Seattle game. With the Seahawks on the Cardinals 4-yard line, down by four points, with a half-minute remaining, Seattle called and was awarded an extra timeout. Later, ref Bruce Hermansen said he messed up: "It was my error." Oops. Fortunately, Arizona won, anyway. …

The Jets found both their mojo and their offense in a 48-28 win over Buffalo, setting a club record for most points scored in an opener. Afterward, Jets players were talking it up, saying they were putting the rest of the league on notice, blah, blah-blah, blah-blah. As Jets fans are painfully aware, it’s a long, long season. …

Teams at the top of the league that looked rock steady in Week 1: San Francisco, New England, Houston, Dallas, Denver, Chicago and Atlanta. …

Maybe it’s the optimism that comes with the promise of a new season, but it sure seems as though it’s going to be a good year in the NFL.

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GORDON MONSON hosts "The Big Show" weekdays from 3-7 p.m. on 1280 and 960 AM and 97.5 FM The Zone. Twitter: @GordonMonson.

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