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Recent posts by Mike Wilkening
Rams QB Sam Bradford's first NFL start was action-packed, and though it came in a 17-13 St. Louis loss, it was promising.
Bradford carried a heavy workload in his debut, completing 32-of-55 passes for 253 yards with one touchdown against Arizona. Bradford quickly established a good rapport with newly acquired WR Mark Clayton, targeting him 16 times and connecting with him on 10 completions for 119 yards. However, Bradford threw three interceptions, including one with the Rams just outside the Cardinals' 20-yard line with less than two minutes left in the game. Bradford was also sacked twice.
With Bradford's debut in the books, we explore how every other quarterback selected No. 1 overall in the last 25 years has fared in his first start. Bradford, the seventh rookie quarterback selected No. 1 to start in Week One of his first season since 1985, was the sixth to lose his debut. David Carr is the only No. 1 pick to win in Week One in this period.
Quarterbacks are listed in reverse chronological order by year drafted:
2009 — Lions QB Matthew Stafford
Stafford was intercepted three times in his debut, a 45-27 loss at eventual Super Bowl-champion New Orleans in Week One. Stafford rushed for a TD and completed 16-of-37 passes for 205 yards.
2007 — Raiders QB JaMarcus Russell
Russell got his first start in the season finale vs. San Diego and played one of his better games as a pro, completing 23-of-31 passes for 224 yards with a touchdown and an interception in a 30-17 loss.
2005 — 49ers QB Alex Smith
The Colts limited Smith to 74 yards passing and intercepted him four times in a 28-3 loss at San Francisco in Week Five.
2004 — Giants QB Eli Manning
Manning, who earned his first start in late November, was picked off twice in his debut vs. the Falcons, including once in Atlanta territory. Manning threw for 162 yards and tossed a TD pass to TE Jeremy Shockey, but the host Giants fell 14-10.
2003 — Bengals QB Carson Palmer
Palmer, a backup to Jon Kitna in 2003, made his debut at the Meadowlands vs. the Jets in the opening week of '04 and made an immediately positive impression, throwing for 248 yards and two TDs. However, his lone interception secured a 31-24 win for the Jets.
2002 — Texans QB David Carr
Carr broke a 10-10 tie with a 65-yard TD toss to Corey Bradford as Houston upset Dallas 19-10 in the Texans' first-ever game.
2001 — Falcons QB Michael Vick
Vick, getting his first career start in his eighth pro game with starter Chris Chandler injured, completed just 4-of-12 passes for 32 yards and shared playing time with Doug Johnson, but he did throw a TD pass, and Atlanta beat Dallas 20-13.
1999 — Browns QB Tim Couch
Couch threw a 39-yard TD pass to Kevin Johnson in his first start in Week Two at Tennessee, but he was also sacked seven times, once for a safety, in a 26-9 loss.
1998 — Colts QB Peyton Manning
Manning threw for 302 yards and a TD vs. Miami in Week One, but he was intercepted three times. The last pick, returned for a TD by CB Terrell Buckley, sealed a 24-15 win for Miami.
1993 — Patriots QB Drew Bledsoe
Bledsoe drew the tall task of debuting at defending AFC-champion Buffalo in Week One. He helped New England stay close with two TD passes, but Buffalo pulled away to win 38-14. Bledsoe completed 14-of-30 passes for 148 yards and one pick.
1990 — Colts QB Jeff George
George's debut, which came in Indianapolis' opening game, ended in the fourth quarter when he suffered a concussion. Before the injury, he completed 13-of-24 passes for 160 yards with one TD and no interceptions against host Buffalo, which won 26-10.
1989 — Cowboys QB Troy Aikman
Aikman did not fare well in his debut, throwing two interceptions and completing just 17-of-35 passes for 180 yards in a 28-0 loss at New Orleans in Week One.
1987 — Buccaneers QB Vinny Testaverde
Testaverde, starting in Tampa Bay's 12th game, struggled early against a strong Saints defense, fumbling on each of his two drives, which led to a pair of New Orleans TDs. Later, he settled down and threw for a rookie single-game record of 369 yards with two TDs on 22-of-47 passing. He also rushed for a TD in a 44-34 Buccaneers defeat.