Seven more takeaways from NFL’s Week One

The defending AFC champion Pittsburgh Steelers played one of the most forgettable games in their generally successful history Sunday, losing to arch-rival Baltimore by a 35-7 margin. The reason behind their demise was simple: a whopping seven turnovers.

In honor of this abominable performance, I’ve compiled seven things that can be taken away from the NFL’s first week of games.

*1. We can take away that the Bears are who we thought they were*

Good defense, West Coast offense, excellent special teams play; these traits exemplify Chicago Bears football. We saw these characteristics on display Sunday. Putting two and two together, you would think we would have seen the Bears’ Week One performance coming.

Cutler reminded us why Chicago gave away so much to obtain him. Brian Urlacher reminded us that he’s still Brian Urlacher, and that he didn’t become old and weary from a few months’ time off. Matt Forte reminded us that he is the focal point of the Bears’ offense, accounting for nearly half the team’s total yards and scoring after breaking a short pass for 56 yards. Charles Tillman reminded us that he can punch a football better than anyone else in the NFL, forcing the second of the Falcons’ three turnovers.

It wasn’t how the Bears played that surprised us, it was how well it worked, and against such a good team. With the Saints and Packers up in the next two weeks, the Bears will certainly get a chance to prove themselves as, maybe, a top contender in the NFC.

*2. We can take away that it’s too soon to give up on the kickoff rule changes*

Admittedly, it’s pretty awful watching NFL legs crush kickoffs into the stands like it’s a home run contest, but I don’t know if I completely hate the rule change. The first glimpse of hope for this rule happened when Packers’ returner Randall Cobb decided to go for it from eight yards back in his own end zone — and scored.

It encourages the league’s fastest and most dynamic players to take risks, for the simple reason that they hate taking six knees a game just as much as we hate watching it. Kickoff returns are becoming more boom or bust. Defenses are in a worse position, thanks to the running start coverage teams are used to getting has been shortened to a mere five yards, making them slower to get down field. Returners starting from deep in their own end zone, meanwhile, are flying by the time they get to the 20-yard line, making them harder to tackle and more likely to shoot through the wave of defenders and score.

*3. We can take away that the lockout hurt defenses more than offenses*

The NFL is becoming a passing league, but the record-setting amount of passing yards in Week One has to do with the fact that pitch and catch is easier to maintain than staying step for step with the some of the league’s quickest players. The technique required to stick a wide receiver degrades quicker than the ability to catch a ball. Tom Brady and Cutler both gained massive amounts of passing yards despite rarely actually throwing the ball farther than 10 yards downfield.

*4. We can take away very little from Baltimore’s dominating win*

Once you’re on a roll, you can be pretty hard to stop. This mantra worked in the negative sense, too, for the Pittsburgh Steelers. After about the fourth turnover, it was obvious there was no stopping Ben Roethlisberger from finding open Baltimore defenders to throw to. The game became even more chippy than usual, and the Steelers completely lost focus. They were focused on maintaining their dignity and fighting to the end and wound up like a prideful boxer getting repeatedly punched in the head while staggering around the ring with more blood than face visible to a cringing audience. Pittsburgh will regain its composure and take out its frustrations on birds of a different feather, the Seattle Seahawks, in Week Two.

Perhaps this is the beginning of a Super Bowl loss hangover, but more than likely it’s just one game where Pittsburgh spiraled out of control — an isolated incident. Don’t crown the Ravens as AFC North champions just yet.

*5. We can take away that the lockout didn’t condemn the rookie class after all*

Starting with great performances by Mark Ingram and Randall Cobb in the season-opener Thursday, the 2011 draft class held its own in its first week of action. Von Miller looked like a defensive force to be reckoned with against Oakland, Cam Newton surpassed all expectations in his first start against Arizona, A.J. Green hauled in the game-winning touchdown for Cincinnati, and Julio Jones had a decent showing in a blowout loss for Atlanta.

The interior linemen may take some time to develop into the NFL’s fast-paced, heavy-hitting style of play, but as far as skill players go, the rookie class appeared to be right on par with rookie classes of previous years. Perhaps those mini-camps aren’t as vital as they’re made out to be.

*6. We can take away the divisional dominance of the Indianapolis Colts*

Even though we all know the reason behind the Colts’ horrific defeat is the lack of Peyton Manning, we saw our first glimpse of the post-Peyton era in Indianapolis, and it looked pretty gruesome. There was no proof provided Sunday as to whether Indianapolis’s coaches actually do anything. Manning morphs that offense into something entirely different than what it is with his audibles, or as the Madden generation calls it, “playmakering.” Defenses are like a written language that Peyton Manning understands better than any quarterback in the league, and that type of value is irreplaceable.

Oh, and the Colts current quarterbacks coach? Former Bears offensive coordinator and Illinois head coach Ron Turner. Ah, that explains it.

*7. We can take away the notion that the Eagles are unbeatable*

If you didn’t see the game or the box score, you might think Philadelphia handled the young talent of the St. Louis Rams. But what you missed was Michael Vick failing to complete 50 percent of his passes against an average Rams secondary. Or perhaps you missed the Eagles’ poor run defense giving up 6.8 yards per carry, to Rams running backs, a group that saw Steven Jackson get hurt after one carry — a carry that went 47 yards for a score. Jackson returned for one more carry that went nine yards before returning to the sidelines for good. Remember all the high-profile free agents the Eagles signed this offseason? None of them were linebackers. You get what you pay for.

_Eliot Sill is a sophomore in Media. He can be reached at [email protected] Follow him on Twitter @EliotTweet._