NFL fans all over the world can rejoice now that football is finally back. There were upsets, highlights, injuries, and even a few breakout performances; Week 1 had it all. From the Chiefs resounding victory to kick off the season to the Broncos Titans game that culminated the week, there was plenty of entertaining football on TV. Let’s rewind the week and take a look back on five of the biggest storylines, in chronological order of each game.
- Washington, Jaguars Pull of Shocking Upsets
On an Instagram poll, less than 15% of @thesportswaveofficial followers picked Washington and Jacksonville in their respective matchups. Nearly everybody in the sports media world was counting both teams out, especially the Jaguars, who many pegged as most likely to go 0-16. There’s a reason we play the games though, as both teams pulled off improbable victories. WFT racked up 8 sacks and ended the game on a 27-0 run, but check out Deonta’s article for a more in-depth analysis of the game.
As for the Jaguars, they played very well as a team and hung with the Colts for the entire game, never being down more than one possession. The “ragtag” defense picked off Philip Rivers twice and while they gave up nearly 450 yards of total offense, the unit bent but didn’t break, only allowing 20 points. Gardner Minshew was precise, with just one incompletion and 3 TDs. He led the game winning drive, topping it off with a 22-yard dime to a wide open Keelan Cole. The win may be one of the few high points for the Jags this season, but for now head coach Doug Marrone gets to celebrate keeping his job past Week 1.
- Bears, Trubisky Complete 4th Quarter Comeback
The Chicago Bears announced a week ago that Mitchell Trubisky would be the starter to open the season against the Detroit Lions, much to the chagrin of frustrated Bears fans, including yours truly. Trubisky played the first 3 quarters like the draft bust many say he is as the Bears fell into a 23-6 hole. That all changed in the 4th quarter, when he led 3 scoring drives, all ending in passing TDs. On the final drive, Mitchell threw a beautifully placed pass to Anthony Miller to give the Bears their first lead of the day with 1:54 to go.
The Lions were down, but certainly not out yet. Matthew Stafford, known for his 28 career 4th quarter comebacks, marched the Lions offense down the field. Detroit was set up at the Chicago 16-yard line with 11 seconds to go, essentially giving them two shots at the end zone. On the first shot Stafford dropped back and threw a dot to D’Andre Swift out of the backfield. Swift caught the ball right at the goal line and turned his body around after breaking the plane. However, he forgot to hold on to the ball, and the Lions would go on to lose in heartbreaking fashion.
- Cardinals Defense Steps Up in Upset Win
The Arizona Cardinals, a sleeper pick of mine to make the playoffs, traveled to Levi’s Stadium where the only thing worse than the air quality was the 49ers’ wide receivers. The Niners were without Deebo Samuel, Jalen Hurd, and rookie Brandon Aiyuk, leaving Kendrick Bourne and Trent Taylor as the only two wideouts to catch a pass in the game. The Cardinals defense took advantage of this; they neutralized nearly all receiving threats the Niners had and held them to just 2 first downs on 11 3rd down attempts. If you take away a fluke 76-yard receiving TD by Raheem Mostert, no Niners player had more than 4 receptions or 45 yards through the air, and Jimmy Garoppolo was held to just a 35.2 total QBR.
Kliff Kingsbury’s Air Raid Offense was in full effect, with Deandre Hopkins fantasy owners being a direct beneficiary. Kyler Murray’s new favorite target hauled in 14 catches for 151 yards, accounting for half of K1’s completions. Murray was the leading rusher for the game, with 91 yards mostly off scrambles. He broke the 100-yard mark, but lost 9 yards after taking two knees to close out the game. The Cardinals have a tough schedule, but if Isaiah Simmons develops and the offense continues to gel, they could be a scary well-rounded team by the end of the season.
- Stagnant Cowboys Endure Familiar Struggles in Frustrating Loss
There seems to be a recurring theme with the Cowboys: Lots of talent, little results. The team is lined with superstars on both sides, but they have failed to reach an NFC Championship game this century. They struggled on Sunday Night against an average Rams team, and nearly every Dallas player had a subpar individual performance. The defensive line struggled to generate any leverage against a weak Rams O-Line and the Cowboys LB unit wasn’t any better.
The offense also struggled to control time of possession, and at times the scheme seemed a little simple for such a talented team. The Cowboys were very close to winning the game too, but an iffy offensive PI call on Michael Gallup cost them the game. Trevon Diggs played well for a rookie, and Aldon Smith looked like the best Cowboys player on the field, despite not having played since 2015. There is plenty of time to turn the season around, but familiar frustrations are fattening by Fort Worth.
- Gostkowski Plays Villian, Then Hero in Slim Titans Victory
In the latest game of the year, one that ended past 1 AM EST, we witnessed sloppy play from both the Denver Broncos and Tennessee Titans on several sides of the ball. Denver had its fair share of drops, fumbles, and missed blocking assignments, and while their run defense was stout, the secondary allowed 2017 draft bust Corey Davis to find holes and rack up 100 yards. Tennessee was torched by the passing attack of Drew Lock in the first half, and they failed to register a single sack in the entire game.
Considering the offensive potential of both teams, it was surprising that neither was able to score more than two possessions worth of points. That can be partly attributed to Stephen Gostkowski, who missed three field goals (one was blocked) and an extra point. Gostkowski looked uncomfortable throughout the whole game, his first as a Titan, but he came through when it mattered most, pinning a 25-yard FG to win the game. However, his future with the Titans is still in question, a team that went 8 for 18 on field goals in 2019.