Monday, 12 September 2016
N.F.L.: Here’s What We Learned in Week 1
■ The Oakland Raiders defense may need some tightening up, but their offense can keep up with Drew Brees in the Superdome and their coach’s Twitter game is decidedly elite.
■ Jameis Winston of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers completed touchdowns to four different receivers in a come-from-behind win on the road, and no one is asking if Marcus Mariota should have been drafted ahead of him anymore.
■ Life without Marshawn Lynch may be an odd experience for the Seattle Seahawks, who asked Russell Wilson to throw a career-high 43 times, struggled to run the ball, and barely beat the uninspiring Miami Dolphins at home.
■ Ezekiel Elliott should likely have exercised a bit more caution before discussing breaking Eric Dickerson’s rookie rushing record, as the Dallas Cowboys running back had just 51 yards in his debut, averaging 2.5 yards a carry.
■ The New England Patriots, playing on the road, beat one of the best teams in the N.F.L. without Tom Brady or Rob Gronkowski, andJimmy Garoppolo completed a pass to himself, so the other teams in the N.F.L. may want to consider giving up.
Go here for the complete Week 1 schedule and scores
No Brady? No Gronk? Patriots Win With Garoppolo
The New England Patriots and Arizona Cardinals are two of the top teams in the N.F.L., so a tight matchup between them on Sunday night made sense until you realized the Patriots were playing without the team’s two best players, Tom Brady and Rob Gronkowski, and their most dominant defender from last season, Chandler Jones, was suited up for the other team.
Proving that no individuals are too important when it comes to one of Coach Bill Belichick’s teams, the Patriots outlasted the Cardinals 23-21, with Jimmy Garoppolo not missing a beat in Brady’s place and the team’s defense working together to limit one of the N.F.L.’s most potent offensive units.
Garoppolo, who threw just four passes last season, completed 24 of 33 against the Cardinals for 264 yards and 1 touchdown, showing a great deal of mobility in the pocket and getting some style points for pulling a trick out of Steve Young’s old play book, catching his own deflected pass and running it for a 3-yard gain. Down by one point with just under 10 minutes remaining in the game, he led a 13-play 61-yard drive that resulted in Stephen Gostkowski’s 32-yard field goal that put New England on top for good.
Garoppolo was positively Belichickian in his post-game assessment of the win.
“There’s plenty of room for improvement,” Garoppolo said. “We’ll look at the film and get it corrected for next week.”
The Cardinals, who never seemed to get into an offensive rhythm despite Larry Fitzgerald scoring the 99th and 100th receiving touchdowns of his career, had a chance to take the lead when Chandler Catanzaro came out for a 47-yard field goal attempt with 41 seconds remaining, but after a low snap, Catanzaro’s kick sailed wide left, ensuring New England’s victory.
Russell Wilson hobbled through much of the second half, but when the Seattle Seahawks needed him most he stepped back into the pocket and found Doug Baldwin in the corner of the end zone to put his team ahead to stay in a 12-10 win over the Miami Dolphins.
It was the first game of the post-Marshawn Lynch era, and the Seahawks leaned heavily on Wilson, who threw a career-high 43 passes, many of which came after he had his ankle crushed under the weight of Ndamukong Suh following a sack in the third quarter. Playing with a taped ankle that severely limited his mobility, Wilson did not miss a snap and was able to float the ball over a defensive back into Baldwin’s arms from 2 yards away. He finished the day with 258 yards passing, 1 touchdown and 1 interception.
It was a quiet 6-3 game in favor of the Seahawks after three quarters, but the teams made it interesting from that point forward, with Cassius Marsh, a standout special teams player for Seattle, blocking a field goal, and Ryan Tannehill of the Dolphins engineering an efficient 7-play 86-yard drive that appeared to secure a huge upset win for Miami prior to Wilson finding Baldwin for the game-winner.
Marcus Peters, a cornerback for the Kansas City Chiefs, held his right fist in the air throughout the playing of the national anthem before his team’s game against the San Diego Chargers on Sunday. Peters, who stood with his arms linked with his teammates, was channeling the Black Power salutes of Tommie Smith and John Carlos at the 1968 Olympics while simultaneously supporting the protest that Colin Kaepernick of the San Francisco 49ers started during the preseason to raise issues of the treatment of minorities.
“I salute Colin for what he’s doing for a great cause,” Peters told reporters on Friday. “I’m 100 percent behind him. What’s going on in law enforcement, it does need to change and it does need to change for everybody, not just us as black Americans.”
The Chiefs as a team issued a statement, saying in part “after having a number of thoughtful discussions as a group regarding our representation during the National Anthem, we decided collectively to lock arms as a sign of solidarity. It was our goal to be unified as a team and to be respectful of everyone’s opinions, and the remembrance of 9/11.”
The protest of the national anthem has been a hot topic, with many players in Week 1 choosing to help hold the oversize flags to show their patriotism, while several others have voiced support of the issue.
In the season-opening game on Thursday between the Carolina Panthers and Denver Broncos, Brandon Marshall, a linebacker for the Broncos, kneeled during the anthem in solidarity with Kaepernick, his teammate in college at Nevada. In the Sunday afternoon game between the Seattle Seahawks and Miami Dolphins, the Seahawks linked arms together in a sign of unity while as he had promised, Arian Foster, a Dolphins running back, kneeled. He was joined by his teammates Kenny Stills, Michael Thomas and Jelani Jenkins.Continue reading the main story
Brian Cushing, Keenan Allen Suffer Serious Injuries
The Houston Texans had to temper some of the enthusiasm for the team’s come-from-behind win over the Chicago Bears because of what appeared to be a significant knee injury to Brian Cushing, a linebacker who is among the team’s leaders on defense. Cushing, who has dealt with several knee injuries in the past, went down in the first quarter and did not return.
— Keenan Allen, a wide receiver for the San Diego Chargers, suffered a non-contact injury to his right knee early in the second quarter. The Sporting News is reporting that Allen tore his ACL, which would be a big blow to the Chargers, who had started the game well but ended up losing to the Kansas City Chiefs in overtime. Allen, who is the team’s best receiver when healthy, already had 6 catches for 63 yards at the time of his injury.
Raiders’ Gamble Pays Off
Following a touchdown late in the fourth quarter, Coach Jack Del Rio of the Oakland Raiders decided he had no interest in going to overtime against the New Orleans Saints, and instead went for a 2-point conversion with just 47 seconds remaining. The upstart Raiders made Del Rio look like a genius, with Derek Carr finding Michael Crabtree for the conversion, and then the Oakland defense held on to secure a 35-34 victory in New Orleans.
“I was thinking ‘we’re here to win, let’s win it right now,’” Del Rio said at a news conference following the game. “That’s why we took some clock there at the end, so they wouldn’t have as much, that’s why we went for two after the score. Everything about our strategy at the end was to win.”
The Raiders, trying to make the playoffs for the first time since the 2002 season, survived a 423-yard, 4-touchdown passing game by Drew Brees and a 98-yard touchdown by Brandin Cooks that was the longest reception in the N.F.L. since 2011.
Victor Cruz is back! Facing a crucial goal-line situation yards from the Dallas end zone, the Giants turned to a star who was injured and out of the lineup last season. Giants wide receiver Victor Cruz, playing his first game in nearly two years, craftily zig-zagged around and between two Dallas defenders to get open for a 3-yard touchdown pass that gave the Giants a spirited 20-19 victory. Here’s how they won.
Carson Wentz Makes Browns Pay: The Cleveland Browns felt strongly enough that Carson Wentz was not the answer for the team at quarterback that they traded away the No. 2 pick in this year’s draft rather that select him. After getting a good look at the 23-year-old quarterback in his role as the starter for the Philadelphia Eagles, they may be regretting that decision. Wentz hit the ground running in his N.F.L. career, throwing a touchdown on his first drive and eventually beating the Browns 29-10.
“This is who he is,” Eagles coach Doug Pederson said after the game. “This is his DNA. He prepared like a veteran and he played that way. His maturity level was outstanding.”
The Browns, who have seemed cursed at the quarterback position since Bernie Kosar was released in 1991, knew that keeping the No. 2 pick in the draft would guarantee them either Jared Goff (who ended up going No. 1 to the Los Angeles Rams) or Wentz, but according to Paul DePodesta, the team’s chief strategy officer, neither player was enticing enough, so the team instead traded the pick to the Eagles for five draft picks.
Time will tell if Wentz is an elite quarterback, but in the first game of his career he completed 22 of 37 passes for 278 yards and threw two touchdowns and no interceptions.
Late field goal dooms Jets: The scheduling doyens at N.F.L. headquarters did not do the Jets any early-season favors. Five of their first six opponents this season advanced to the playoffs last season, a hazy maze of danger that began Sunday afternoon when theCincinnati Bengals visited MetLife Stadium.
Sure enough, the first game of the season ended in disappointment for the Jets, whose defensive backfield had more seams than a three-piece business suit. The Bengals held on for a 23-22 win as Mike Nugent kicked a 45-yard field goal with 54 seconds left.
Here’s our Jets game story.
Packers survive in Jacksonville: The Jaguars and their young quarterback, Blake Bortles, made it difficult, but Aaron Rodgers was too much for them, leading the Packers to a 27-23 victory. Rodgers threw two touchdown passes and ran for another score. He looked every bit like, well, a two-time league MVP. He extended plays with his feet, escaped sacks and had precision accuracy all over the field.
Bortles gave Rodgers a challenge, completing 24 of 39 passes for 320 yards and a touchdown, but he came up short on the Jaguars’ final drive.
Osweiler Solid in Texans Debut: Brock Osweiler threw for 231 yards and two touchdowns in his debut with Houston to lead the Texans and their revamped offense to a 23-14 win over the Chicago Bears on Sunday.
Osweiler, who signed to a $72 million contract from Denver in the offseason, was helped by an offense filled with playmakers.
He completed passes to eight different receivers, led by rookie first-round pick Will Fuller, who became the first player in franchise history to have 100 yards receiving in a debut with 107 and a touchdown. DeAndre Hopkins added 54 yards and a score and running back Lamar Miller had 106 yards rushing in his first game with the Texans. — Associated Press
N.F.L. Week 1 Schedule and Scores
All times Eastern
Tampa Bay 31, Atlanta 24
Baltimore 13, Buffalo 7
Houston 23, Chicago 14
Green Bay 27, Jacksonville 23
Kansas City 33, San Diego 27, OT
Oakland 35, New Orleans 34
Cincinnati 23, Jets 22
Philadelphia 29, Cleveland 10
Minnesota 25, Tennessee 16
Seattle 12, Miami 10
N.Y. Giants 20, Dallas 19
Detroit 39, Indianapolis 35
New England 23, Arizona 21