Week 2 »

Wilmington Snooze-Terminal, August 8, 2009
Rivers, Evans Dazzle as Cherries Drub New York, 41-17
Tomlinson, Dawkins Get TDs 37 Seconds Apart Early in 2nd Half
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Providence Kernel, August 9, 2009
Cassell, Connecticut Overwhelm Steam Roller, 41-20
1st-Time Starter Throws for 5 TDs; Only 3 of His Receivers Make Catches
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Harrisburg Pay and Rot Ooze, August 9, 2009
Flacco, Moss Vault Hershey Bars Over Philadelphia, 23-10
Rookie QB Connects 14 Times with Newly Acquired WR, 1 for TD
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Albany Sliced Onion, August 9, 2009
Hobbs Sparks Racers to 36-20 Opener Win Over Syracuse
Carney Boots Perfect 5-for-5; 138 Receiving Yards, TD for Holmes
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Baltimore Sunk, August 9, 2009
Bolts Overcome 6 Turnovers to Beat Washington, 26-21
Williams Runs for 162 Yards, Go-Ahead Score With 9:38 Left
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Richmond Timed Distant, August 10, 2009
Lackluster Rebels Slammed, 31-7, by Berrian, Charleston
Rookie Steals Show With 2 TD Catches, 91-Yard Punt Return TD
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Wilmington Snooze-Terminal, August 8, 2009

Rip Snorter

Rivers Launched Deadly Accurate Aerial Assault

Last night in New York the defending EFL champions spent the first 13 minutes of their opener looking like chumps. They played as if they were in a fog — tentatively, passively — and fell into a 10-point hole.

Then the fog cleared.

From his pilot’s seat, Philip Rivers didn’t just admire the view. He launched an aerial assault.

Sure, LaDainian Tomlinson’s 35-yard touchdown burst early in the second half, followed barely a half-minute later by Brian Dawkins’ pick-six, boosted Delaware to a comfortable lead. But make no mistake — this was Rivers’ night.

In the Cherries’ 41‑17 pasting of New York, Rivers was deadly accurate — 30-for-40 for 359 yards — with completions to 9 different receivers. His passing rating was a gaudy 118.6.

Twice in the first half, beginning immediately after Rian Lindell hit a 43-yard field goal to put the Emps up 10‑0, Rivers loaded up and released a bomb targeting Lee Evans. Each of those bombs was picture-perfect.

By the time halftime arrived, the Cherries had reeled off 13 unanswered points and taken the lead for good. Evans finished the half with 6 catches for 142 yards on his way to an 8-catch, 167-yard night, the most productive game of his career.

Rivers remained sharp throughout the second half, leading Delaware on touchdown drives of 80, 59, and 70 yards. Meanwhile his opposite number, Jake Delhomme, kept putting long passes up for grabs, and Dawkins, Donte Whitner, and William Gay were happy to oblige with picks.

After the game Rivers said it felt good getting back on the field in a pressure situation and praised his offensive line. “My protection got better as the game went on, so I was able to zero in on the receivers running their routes. That makes it easy. And I knew L.T. [Tomlinson] would eventually get it going. “ Indeed. Rivers was sacked 3 times in the first quarter but only once the rest of the game and that for a loss of less than a foot. Tomlinson, after a very quiet first half, opened the second with a 26-yard slash off left tackle. Four plays later he laid the other bookend for the drive, busting through a hole opened by Willie Anderson and Heath Miller for the 35-yard score. For the game Tomlinson ran for 102 yards on 22 carries.

I mentioned Heath Miller. Ah yes, … this guy is right up there with the best tight ends in the league. Not only was his blocking superb last night, he was also Rivers’ most frequent target with a not so quiet 9 grabs for 71 yards — 6 of those for first downs, including a touchdown with 3:45 left.

As much as this blowout was about Rivers and the aerial assault, I can’t minimize the contributions of the defense. After the forgettable first quarter, they allowed the Emps to earn points on only one of their last 10 possessions. Although the rush got to Delhomme only once — the sack by Terrell Suggs that eluded him for the entirety of last season — they hurried him on many occasions and knocked him down several times. Delhomme would end up passing for only 150 yards with a poor completion rate of 45.5 percent.

Back to Rivers — here are two last fun facts about his game in the spotlight that is the opening night of the season:

The Cherries hope Rivers will at least double that number in what remains of this very young season.

The Emps, coincidentally, lost by the very same 41‑17 score the last time they placed a nationally televised regular season game. That was last November 8 against the Hershey Bars on the road, handing the 2008 Central Division title to the Cherries. Philadelphia will get the opportunity to duplicate Delaware’s and Hershey’s feat September 13 in New York.