It seems the National Football League (NFL) thought that people were worried after Thursday, Sept. 5’s season opener finished with a final score of 10-3, and it wanted to assure fans that football is still very much alive, at least for the time being. Its seemingly inevitable fall is currently pending with the sharp decline in youth football due to the chronic traumatic encephalopathy epidemic. And so, the NFL graced us with about as exciting of a first Sunday of the season as there can be.
There were dominations, comebacks and collapses (as a Detroit Lions fan, this one feels particularly relevant) galore.
Let’s start with our Hopkins hometown Baltimore Ravens. Though the game was initially unavailable due to technical difficulties down in Miami (because apparently nothing this season will work out for the Dolphins), Baltimore got off to a strong start before playing dominantly in the middle of the game and ending off with a solid finish, eventually winning the game by a score of 59-10. It was the most points scored in a game by the Ravens in their history, helped by the fact that pretty much every offensive player for Baltimore thrived against the effectively nonexistent Miami defense.
Perennially underrated star Lamar Jackson went 17/20 with 324 passing yards and five touchdowns, a performance that, as he himself put it, was “pretty good for a running back.”
The Kansas City Chiefs definitely got the message from the NFL that they had to remind people of how fun football can be, and Patrick Mahomes responded appropriately, throwing for over 300 yards in the first half of a 40-26 victory over the Jacksonville Jaguars. He reminded us all that the 23-year-old reigning MVP is still insanely good at football. Oh, and he did it on a sprained ankle too, because why not?
The hopeful Cleveland Browns had their dreams of finally starting off a season crushed by the Tennessee Titans, who defeated them 43-13, forcing Baker Mayfield into three consecutive interceptions. It was a humbling experience for Cleveland, who, against all logic and history, actually thought that this could be their year.
The New York Jets and Buffalo Bills played about as boring a game as imaginable for the first half, scoring a combined zero offensive points before the Jets remembered who they were, going on to score courtesy of Le’Veon Bell before promptly blowing their 16-0 lead and losing 17-16.
This was a matchup between the two teams competing to see who will come in second place in American Football Conference East and who will come in third, because no matter how hard they try, neither will ever be nearly as good as the New England Patriots or as bad as the Dolphins.
The Philadelphia Eagles got off to a rough start against Case Keenum and the Washington Redskins, falling behind 20-0 in the second quarter before DeSean Jackson decided to use his personal time machine to turn back into the best deep threat in football. He then scored twice on bombs from Carson Wentz, who in the second half seemed to remember that he’s actually quite good at his job sometimes.
Washington scored a late consolation touchdown to make it seem close, but Philadelphia’s comeback victory was already complete, winning by a final score of 32-27.
The defending National Football Conference (NFC) champion the Los Angeles Rams took on the relatively recent NFC champion the Carolina Panthers and reminded everyone that while Jared Goff may not be great, Cam Newton doesn’t seem to be that great anymore either. The Rams used two touchdowns from their star running back Malcolm Brown (no-name running back Todd Gurley had 97 yards) to propel them to a 30-27 victory.
This was another score that seems closer than it was because of a late consolation touchdown. Even in defeat, constantly underappreciated Christian McCaffrey had over 200 total yards and two touchdowns.
As for the Lions, they lead Arizona Cardinals and number-one draft pick Kyler Murray 24-6 in the second half. Yes, they blew it and somehow ended up with a 27-27 tie. Yes, I’m still wearing my Lions jersey proudly as I cry myself to sleep. Don’t worry about us Lions fans; we’re used to this. We’ll be fine.
The Minnesota Vikings’ defense, a bit underwhelming last year, returned with a vengeance, holding Julio Jones and his new contract to no points for the first three quarters, only allowing the Atlanta Falcons a couple of scores at the end. This included a touchdown from Jones, presumably because the Vikings felt bad for all the fantasy owners who drafted him so high in the first round. Minnesota led 28-0 in the fourth quarter and eventually won 28-12.
The Indianapolis Colts showed that they can still lose close games even without Andrew Luck, and fell to the Los Angeles Chargers in overtime, 30-24. The Chargers, meanwhile, showed that they can still do well early in the season before collapsing late, even without “star” running back Melvin Gordon.
The Dallas Cowboys showed the New York Giants what an NFL offense looks like, with Dak Prescott, Amari Cooper and Ezekiel Elliott all playing very well in a 35-17 route of the Giants. The Giants’ offense, a combination of Saquon Barkley and praying, did not play very well.
Jimmy Garoppolo proved he can still beat bad teams and outperform bad quarterbacks as the San Francisco 49ers stomped out the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the inexplicably employed Jameis Winston, who threw a late pick-six to confirm the Buccaneers’ inevitable defeat by a score of 31-17.
The Cincinnati Bengals and Seattle Seahawks are both pretty irrelevant in the grand scheme of the NFL right now, but they played a genuinely interesting game. Russell Wilson and Andy Dalton, once two of the most promising quarterbacks in football, were actually quite decent, and Seattle ground out a genuinely tight 21-20 victory.
And finally, the Patriots. Oh my, the Patriots. The Pittsburgh Steelers may not be very good, but New England made them look like a minor league baseball team. New star receiver Antonio Brown didn’t even play, and they still won 33-3. That’s about as terrifying as anything I can think of in football.
See you in the Super Bowl again, Patriots. Matthew Stafford will be waiting for you.