The NFL season has officially begun, with all 32 teams playing their first games with hopes of winning the championship. Let’s review the exciting games from last week and see what we can look forward to for the rest of the season.
Monday Night Football was a highly anticipated divisional matchup between the New York Jets and the Buffalo Bills. Unfortunately, after just four plays, Aaron Rodgers, whom the Jets traded for during the offseason, tore his Achilles tendon and is most likely out for the rest of the season. It puts a massive question mark over the quarterback position on a roster that is overall pretty complete. Zach Wilson, who looks like he could be the answer, stepped in for the Jets and did enough to sneak out an overtime victory, 22-16.
Jets running back Breece Hall looked incredible in his first game back after tearing his ACL. He rushed for over 100 yards, including a massive 83-yard run late in the first quarter. When the Jets’ offensive under Wilson was stagnant, their defense made up for it. Safety Jordan White made three interceptions, contributing to a total of four turnovers forced by the team.
Despite the heavy turnovers, the Bills were able to drive down the field late in the fourth quarter and make a field goal to force overtime. The Bills won the coin toss but were unable to keep the momentum, having to punt the ball. Xavier Gipson was the Jets’ savior, scoring a walk-off punt return touchdown to win the game.
The opening Thursday Night Football matchup saw the defending NFL Champion Kansas City Chiefs face the Detroit Lions. The Chiefs, missing their star tight end Travis Kelce, struggled to move the ball through the air. Patrick Mahomes, playing without his favorite target, spread the wealth around, completing passes to 11 different receivers.
Despite being down at the half, the Lions outscored the reigning champions 14-6 in the second half, led by quarterback Jared Goff and a couple of electric runs by rookie running back Jahmyr Gibbs. The Chiefs had a chance at a potential game-winning drive late in the 4th, but several crucial drops by Chiefs receivers caused them to lose 21-20.
Tua Tagovailoa and the Miami Dolphins faced Justin Herbert and the Los Angeles Chargers in an offensive slugfest. Tagovailoa led a game-winning drive, ending with Tyreek Hill’s second touchdown of the game, putting the Dolphins up 36-34. The Pro Bowler finished with 11 receptions and 215 receiving yards, the most by any receiver during opening week. Tagovailoa was also elite, throwing three touchdown passes and over 400 yards.
The Chargers defense had a poor performance. Tagovailoa was not sacked, and J.C. Jackson, their big cornerback signing last year, was benched late in the fourth quarter after a poor performance guarding Hill.
One thing to look out for is the Chargers offense under new offensive coordinator Kellen Moore throughout the season. Improvements can already be seen just from one game. Running backs Austin Ekeler and Joshua Kelley combined for 208 yards on the ground against the Dolphins. Last year, they struggled to consistently run the ball, averaging under 90 yards per game last season. It will be interesting to see if they can keep up the offensive production from Week one.
In a rainy day affair, the Cleveland Browns defeated the Cincinnati Bengals 24-3. The new-look Browns’ defensive line got pressure on star quarterback Joe Burrow all day, forcing him to get rid of the ball quickly and disrupting the long passing. The Bengals struggled offensively, only accumulating 142 total yards. Deshaun Watson wasn’t extraordinary through the air either, but the Browns were able to lean on Nick Chubb and the running game. The weather limited both teams’ offenses, so the rematch during the final week of the regular season should be a good one.
The three quarterbacks drafted in the first round of the NFL all made their debuts in losing efforts. Bryce Young and the Panthers lost to the Falcons, and C.J. Stroud and the Texans lost to the Ravens. Anthony Richardson nearly helped the Colts win the inter-divisional clash against the Jaguars, but Trevor Lawrence led a fourth-quarter comeback to lead the Jaguars to a 31-21 win. All three showed the potential to have great NFL careers.