NFL 2017 Week 1 Recap

NFL 2017 Week 1 Recap

The 2017 NFL season began with fans grieving for the victims of Hurricane Harvey in Texas and bracing for Hurricane Irma in Florida. Football provided a brief respite from those lucky enough not to be in harm’s way.

Kansas City Chiefs at New England Patriots was the Thursday night season kickoff game. The waiting is over. The NFL is back. On the very first play from scrimmage, Tom Brady went deep to a wide open receiver. The ball was slightly overthrown incomplete, and the discouraged Patriots gave up. No, not really. A few plays later Brady went deep again to Brandon Cooks for a long gain. Operating out of the hurry up offense, the Patriots marched through the Chiefs defense. An 18 yard completion to Danny Amendola followed by defensive pass interference meant 1st and goal at the 2. Mike Gillislee ran it straight up the gut as 73 yards took less than 3 minutes for the 7-0 Patriots lead.

On the first play from scrimmage for the Chiefs, pass-happy Walrus Lite Andy Reid actually called a running play. Rookie running back Kareem Hunt promptly fumbled the ball away. His first NFL carry went for a turnover and set the Patriots up at the Chiefs 32. A draw play on 3rd and 7 saw James White gain 8 yards. On 3rd and 11 from the Chiefs 20, with the defense jumping offside, Brady fired over the middle to Rob Gronkowski for the touchdown. The Patriots appeared to lead 14-0 only 5 minutes into the game. On further review the call was reversed to an incompletion. On 3rd and 6 Brady fired to Amendola at the sticks. The Patriots rushed to the line to try and hurry up on 4th and inches but the officials called a timeout for a measurement. Bill Bellichick went for it anyway. Gillislee got the carry and got stopped cold.

The Chiefs started at their own 10 and Alex Smith was expected to throw a bunch of 4 yard dink and dunk West Coast Offense passes. Maybe something in him snapped. Maybe he knows the Chiefs will cut him after the season so Patrick Mahomes can take over. Whatever the reason, Smith let it rip. He threw the ball past the marker several times. This was not game manager check downs, but actual football. 12 plays and 90 yards resulted in Smith hitting Demetrius Harris for the touchdown. Instead of a Patriots blowout, the Chiefs had tied the game 7-7. This was not Len Dawson tying Lombardi’s Packers in Super Bowl I, but it was still impressive. Unfortunately for the Chiefs, that just meant Brady and his offense returned to the field.

The Patriots again marched quickly and easily until the red zone. On 3rd and 1 from the Chiefs 12, White got the carry and came up inches short as the first quarter ended. This time Bellichick decided not to gamble. Stephen Gostkowski began the second quarter by hitting the 25 yard field goal for a 10-7 Patriots lead.

A personal foul facemark penalty had the Chiefs taking over at their own 45. Yet a sack of Smith on 3rd and 6 ended the threat. The Patriots soon faced 3rd and 2 at their own 26. Brady hit Amendola for 22 yards. On 3rd and 10 from the New England 48, Brady found Gronkowski for 16 yards. Gillislee ran for 16 more and after a defensive pass interference call, Gillislee banged up the middle for the final 2 yards to make it 17-7 Patriots midway through the second quarter.

The Chiefs again had good field position but on 3rd and 5 from their own 41, Smith tripped without being touched for a 12 yard loss. A penalty for fair catch interference had the Patriots taking over at their own 40. A 3rd and 6 pass was dropped as the Chiefs held. Holding on the punt return had the Chiefs backed up to their own 8 yard line with under 3 minutes left in the half. Offensive holding pushed the Chiefs back to their 4.

Smith then picked the Patriots apart. He hit Travis Kelce for 14 and Wilson for 13 more. On 3rd and 3 from the New England 46, he found Tyreek Hill for 12 yards. On 3rd and 5 from the Patriots 29, Smith hit Hill for 8. On the next play defensive pass interference put the ball on the one. After a run lost a couple yards, Smith hit Hunt in the flat for a 3 yard touchdown with only 13 seconds left in the half. The Chiefs were only down 17-14.

The Chiefs in the third quarter faced 3rd and 5 at their own 40. Yet Smith reverted to form, threw short of the marker, and the Chiefs punted. The defense held and the Chiefs took over at their own 25. Smith continued his Jekyll and Hyde act. Dink and dunk? No. Smith went bombs away to a wide open Tyreek Hill for a 75 yard touchdown in front of a stunned home crowd. The Chiefs led 21-17 as NFL fans wondered who this Chiefs quarterback was and what did he do with the guy who throws 4 yard passes? At this point Smith was 20 of 23 for 222 yards, 3 touchdowns, and 0 interceptions. Meanwhile, the Patriots tried a flea flicker that was blown up in the backfield. With Brady 11 of 24 for 156 yards, the Patriots punted again midway through the third quarter.

The Chiefs from their own 15 saw Smith try to go for all the marbles again, but this time his passes were well defended. The Chiefs punted and the Patriots took over at their own 46. Defensive holding pushed the Patriots just past midfield. Brady then hit Amendola for 22 yards. On the next play Brady fired to the end zone and defensive pass interference put the ball on the one. Gillislee got in as the Patriots retook the lead 24-21 with 5 minutes left in the half. The Chiefs went backward on their next drive due to a critical taunting penalty on Travis Kelce. At this point the normally disciplined Chiefs had over 10 penalties while the Patriots were only flagged twice.

On 4th and 12, the Patriots ran into the kicker, costing them a short field. On 4th and 7 they ran into the kicker again and somehow did not get flagged for roughing Dustin Colquitt. On 4th and 2, a third punt went without a flag as the Patriots took over at their own 28. Brady went bombs away to Cooks for a 54 yard gain. On 2nd and goal from the 4, a pitchout lost 6 yards. On 3rd and goal Brady threw a low pass that white caught for a touchdown, but Brady was clearly beyond the line of scrimmage. Gostkowski hit the 32 yard field goal as the Patriots led 27-21 after three quarters. Since Brady took over in 2001, the Patriots are 105-2 when holding a fourth quarter lead. One of those two losses was last year.

A poor kickoff return and another offensive penalty had the Chiefs facing 1st and 15 at their own 5. Yet again the Chiefs delivered a stunner. Smith went deep again and connected with Hunt for a 78 yard touchdown. With the home crowd now shellshocked, the Chiefs retook the lead 28-27 less than one minute into the fourth quarter. At this point Smith was 23 of 28 for 313 yards with 4 touchdowns and 0 interceptions. The Chiefs had three drives in this game of over 90 yards. Last year they had only one drive of over 90 yards the entire season.

After a touchback, Brady connected with White for a 27 yard gain to the Kansas City 48. On 3rd and 2, a well defended screen pass left the Patriots inches short. With a full 12 1/2 minutes remaining and his defense playing poorly, Bellichick decided to go for it. Gillislee again hit a brick wall as the Patriots turned it over on downs. The Chiefs took over at their own 40 and Smith kept throwing deep Yet a well thrown ball was dropped after a hard hit. A 3rd and 8 pass left the Chiefs short of the sticks. On 4th and 1 from their own 49, the Chiefs lined up to go for it. The Patriots did not bite and the Chiefs punted. The Patriots took over at their own 12 with 10 1/2 minutes left in regulation.  After one first down on the ground, 3 straight incompletions gave the ball back to the Chiefs at their own 41 yard line with nine minutes left. Smith came into this game with only 6 games in his entire career of more than 300 yards passing. In this game against the defending champions, Smith gashed them. So did Hunt as his 4 yard touchdown had the Chiefs up 35-27 with 5:15 left.

Brady led the Patriots back from down 25 points in the Super Bowl, so 8 points was well within his ability. He had been protected all game, but the first sack of Brady meant 2nd and 17. A pair of bombs were well defended and fell incomplete. With 4:15 left the Chiefs took over at their own 21. The defense desperately needed a stop and could not get one. Hunt ran for a 58 yard gain and West then ran for a 21 yard touchdown. 2 plays and 15 seconds had the Chiefs romping. The Chiefs defense then sacked Brady on consecutive plays, nearly getting a safety. With 3 minutes left and facing 4th and 23 at their own 1, Bellichick threw in the towel and punted. The Chiefs tied the record for the most points ever against a Belichick coached team. They broke the record for the most yards against a Belichick coached team, with 537 yards. The Patriots were supposed to go 19-0 this year. They started 0-1 after being outscored 21-0 in the fourth quarter for their third ever blown fourth quarter lead under Belichick.

The last time in 2014 the Chiefs blasted the Patriots, people said Brady and Belichick were done. The Patriots then one two more Super Bowls. Yet that game was on the road. This was an embarrassing loss at home. Clark Hunt began with a fumble. He finished with 145 rushing yards, 98 receiving yards, and 3 touchdowns. Brady finished 16 of 36 for 267 yards while Smith had the game of his life, going 28 of 35 for 368 yards and 4 touchdowns. Neither quarterback was intercepted. The Chiefs came in 9 point underdogs and won by 15. As for the Chiefs, they thought they found their quarterback in draftee Patrick Mahomes. Maybe they found him in Alex Smith. Belichick is dour when he wins, and even less pleasant when he loses. As for Andy Reid, he was one happy Walrus Lite after the game. 42-27 Chiefs

Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Miami Dolphins — Due to Hurricane Irma, this game was postponed until Week 11 in November. Both teams will play 16 straight games without a bye week.

New York Jets at Buffalo Bills — The Jets have the talent to go 0-16 and early on they showed why. It was not the butt fumble, but it was another bumble. The Bills faced 3rd and goal at the 8. Tyrod Taylor was intercepted by Burris six yards deep in the end zone. Burris decided to run it out. He had a convoy of blockers and was on his way to a 106 yard interception return. Instead, at the Jets 42, he ran into his own man and fell down. To add insult, unnecessary roughness on the Jets moved them back to their own 27. Instead of a touchdown, they went 3 and out and punted. After a scoreless first quarter, Taylor threw a 1 yard touchdown pass to Clay for a 7-0 Bills lead. Chandler Catanzaro kicked field goals of 48 and 52 yards as the Jets only trailed 7-6 at halftime.

In the third quarter from the Buffalo 36, a short pass from Taylor to Matthews went for a 47 yard gain. On 3rd and 8 from the Jets 15, Taylor scrambled for 14 yards and then threw a 1 yard touchdown pass to Holmes for a 14-6 Bills lead. The Jets hung tough. Short passes by Josh McCown and tough running by Matt Forte moved the Jets from their 25 to the Buffalo 9. Mccown hit Stewart for what was first ruled a touchdown, but the call was reversed. It was 2nd and goal at the one. An incompletion was followed by a completion for no gain. With 2 minutes left in the third quarter, on 4th and goal at the one, Todd Bowles decided to go for it. When people say you’re an 0-16 team and about to be fired, why not? McCown got in. McCown’s 2 point conversion try to tie the game was incomplete but the Jets were within 14-12.

Buffalo took over at their own 25 and moved to their 47 as the third quarter ended. On the first play of the fourth quarter, LeSean Shady McCoy ran for a 27 yard gain. Taylor then hit O’Leary for 22 yards down to the 4. Mike Tolbert got in from the one to make it a 9 point Bills lead with 13 minutes left in regulation. McCown would throw two more interceptions as Jets stood for Just End The Season. 21-12 Bills

Philadelphia Eagles and Washington Redskins — Carson Wentz escaped the entire Washington defense’s scrambled around forever, and threw a 58 yard touchdown bomb to Nelson Aguilar to make it 7-0 Eagles. In the second quarter a Redskins fumble gave the Eagles a short field at the Washington 39. Laguerrette Blount took it in from the one. The extra point failed but the Eagles led 13-0. Later Wentz completed a pass to Kerrigan, but Kerrigan plays defense for Washington. The 24 yard interception return had the Redskins within 13-7. The Redskins got it back and moved 69 yards. Kirk Cousins found Thompson for a 29 yard touchdown and a 14-13 Redskins lead. On 3rd and 10 from the Philly 25 after a touchback, Wentz hit Zach Ertz for 12 yards. On 3rd and 6 from the Philly 41, Wentz found Nelson Agholor for 10. Caleb surges hit a 50 yard field goal to put the Eagles up 16-14 at the break.

Early in the third quarter the Eagles faced 3rd and 10 at their own 36. Wentz connected with Smith for a 30 yard gain. Sturgis hit from 42 to make it 19-14 Eagles. The Redskins held the ball for 8 1/2 minutes and moved 66 yards in 16 plays. However, despite 1st and 10 at the 16, the drive died after a pair of Cousins incompletions. Dustin Hopkins hit the 37 yard field goal to get the Redskins within 19-17. The fourth quarter was about who wanted it least in the NFC Least. The Redskins moved from their 36 to a 3rd and 6 at the Philly 14. Cousins was intercepted at the goal line. A field position game so the Eagles take over at their own 47 with under 6 minutes left. Wentz hit Alshon Jeffery for a 24 yard gain. On 3rd and 3 from the washington 22, Blount came up one yard short. On 4th and 1 from the 20, Doug Pederson played it safe. Sturgis hit the 37 yard field goal to make it 22-17 Eagles with 2 minutes left.

With 1:38 to play the Redskins had 2nd and 3 at their own 32. Cousins was sacked by Fletcher Cox, who picked up the fumble and raced 20 yards. Replay showed that Cousins’s arm was clearly moving forward. Replays are now determined by New York headquarters rather than the referees on the field. This way nobody knows who to blame when someone screws up. Roger Goodell will hear from Washington fans. It was a clear incomplete pass, but the fumble call was upheld. The 2 point conversion was just gravy as Week 1 ended in controversial fashion. At least this will distract from other terrible calls made in the Nation’s Capitol. 30-17 Eagles

Oakland Raiders at Tennessee Titans — The Titans decided to start the season with a surprise onside kick. It was a gutsy call by Mike Mularkey but it did not work as the Raiders started with a short field. Marshawn Lynch’s first carry went for 14 yards. A 22 yard completion to Jared Cook set up 1st and goal from the 8. A short pass to Amari Cooper saw him roll over a defender at the 5, somehow stay upright, and with help move the pile all the way to the end zone. After barely 2 minutes, the Raiders led 6-0. With Sebastian Janikowski on injured reserve, backup kicker Georgio Tavecchio made the extra point. Marcus Mariota immediately went after the secondary, considered Oakland’s weak link. After a pair of incompletions, he converted 3rd and 10. On 3rd and 8 from the Oakland 44, Mariota converted again. on 3rd and 7 from the Oakland 33, Mariota converted yet again. On 1st and goal from the 10, Mariota kept it himself and practically walked into the end zone for a 7-7 tie.

The Raiders soon faced 3rd and 6 at their own 29 and Carr hit Cook for 12 yards. On 2nd and 5 from the Oakland 46, a 9 yard completion was nullified by offensive pass interference. A 3rd and 15 deep ball was incomplete but defensive pass interference meant 1st and 10 at the Titans 40. Carr hit Michael crabtree, who evaded tacklers for a 25 yard gain to the 12. On 3rd and 3 from the 5, Lynch came up inches short of the first down. Jack Del Rio went for it. The entire world expected Lynch to get the carry. Lynch appeared stopped in the background but bulled his way for just enough. On 1st and goal at the 2, 3 straight passes to Cooper were dropped. The 1st and goal pass was particularly egregious as the Raiders settled for the chip shot field goal try. Tavecchio hit from 20 to make it 10-7 Raiders. The 15 play, 73 yard, 7 minute drive was an example of not finishing. Those who remember the Seattle-New England Super Bowl will ask why again the ball was not handed to Lynch.

The Titans soon faced 3rd and 5 at their own 30. A completion came up 2 yards short as the Raiders finally held on defense and got it back at their own 14. Carr moved the Raiders to a 1st and 10 at the Titans 43. Yet consecutive sacks of Carr killed the drive. A perfect punt by Marquette King had the Titans backed up to their own one yard line. on 3rd and 5, Mariota torched the pathetic Oakland secondary for a 25  yard gain. On 3rd and 6 from the Oakland 48, Mariota completed an 11 yard pass for another third down conversion followed by a couple more first down passes. The Raiders had no answers. On 2nd and goal from the 6, a high fade to the end zone was defended at the last moment by Karl Joseph. On 3rd and goal Mariota avoided several tacklers but was finally forced out of bounds at the 4 yard line. The Titans moved 95 yards but only got a 23 yard field goal for a 10-10 tie with 44 seconds left in the half. Carr went right to work, hitting Crabtree for 15 and 8, Deandre Washington for 13, and Cook for 9. With 2 seconds left Tavecchio came in for a 52 yard field goal try. he nailed it and the Raiders took a 13 -10 lead to the locker rooms.

In the third quarter the Raiders finally held on defense but the offense was pinned inside their own 10. A 3rd and 3 pass to Crabtree was dropped. The Titans went 3 and out and the Raiders got it back at their own 37. On 3rd and 8 Carr hit cooper for 11 yards and Lynch for 16 more. On 4th and 15 from the Tennessee 39, Jack Del rio decided to punt rather than try a 57 yard field goal. The Titans ran into punter Marquette King. it was still 4th and 10, but now Del Rio went with a 52 yard try. The Tennessee blunder was costly as Tavecchio again connected for a 16-10 Raiders lead. The Titans moved easily after a touchback to a critical 3rd and 2 at the Oakland 7. A pitchout to DeMarco Murray was blown up in the backfield for a one yard loss. Ryan Succop hit the 25 yard field goal as the Titans were within 16-13 after three quarters.

This time the Raiders moved the ball. From the Oakland 30, Carr found Cook for 11. Lynch ran for 12 and 4 more. On 3rd and 6 from the Titans 43, Carr hit Jalen richard for just enough. Carr went to Crabtree for 18 yards and to Seth Roberts for the 19 yard touchdown. With 12 minutes left in regulation the Raiders finally had some breathing room up 23-13. The defense again held and the Raiders had 3rd and 6 at the Titans 48. Carr threw incomplete and the Raiders punted again. With 6:44 left from their own 20, this time the Titans moved quickly. However, despite 1st and 10 at the Oakland 34, Mariota threw incomplete three straight times. He was not sacked all game, but he faced more pressure in the second half. Succop hit the key 52 yard field goal to get the Titans within 23-16.

Cordarelle Patterson was brought in for explosiveness, and he returned the ensuing kickoff 45 yards to the Oakland 41. Marshawn Lynch was brought in to finish games for a Raiders team that has struggled to put teams away. After 2 Lynch carries, on 3rd and 3, Richard gained 7 for a key first down. Richard gained 9 and Lynch added 5 for another first down. At the 2 minute warning, on 3rd and 2 from the Tennessee 23, a first down would end it. This time Lynch lost 2 yards. Tavecchio came in to try and ice the game. After making field goals of 20, 52 and 52 again, he hit the 43 yarder. Injured Seabass pumped his fist, as did Carr. The Raiders led by 10 with 1:10 to play. The Titans reached the Oakland 34 with 12 seconds left and 0 timeouts. Needing 2 scores, succor came in to try from 52. He missed it bad wide. The Raiders won a tough road win to start the season. 26-16 Raiders

Jacksonville Jaguars at Houston Texans — Heavy hearts in the wake of Hurricane Harvey saw Houston fans cheer on their beloved Texans. J.J Watt has raised over 27 million dollars for relief efforts. Meanwhile, the Jaguars were happy to be on the road and away from Hurricane Irma. Now it was time to play football. Jared Myers hit a 42 yard field goal to put the Jaguars up 3-0. Myers hit from 25 early in the second quarter for a 6-0 Jaguars advantage. Things got worse for Houston as the Jaguars moved 53 yards and Fournette got the last yard for a 12-0 Jaguars lead. The Texans problem is offense. They don’t have one. A fumble was picked up by Dante Fowler and returned 53 yards for a touchdown and a 19-0 Jaguars lead. Tom Savage was benched in the third quarter and replaced with rookie Deshaun Watson. Watson did lead a 14 play, 75 yard, 6 minute drive ending in a 4 yard touchdown pass to Hopkins. That was all as Jacksonville’s improved defense turned out the lights. Blake Bortles played mistake free football, leading a 10 play, 75 yard, 5 minute drive. A one yard touchdown pass to Bohanan made it 26-7 Jaguars after three quarters. Myers tacked on a 38 yard fourth quarter field goal to complete the scoring. The vastly improved Jaguars defense had 10 sacks. Captain Grumpy Tom Coughlin was so pleased, he almost smiled. 29-7 Jaguars

Arizona Cardinals at Detroit Lions — Matthew Stafford is the NFL’s highest paid player. His first touchdown pass was an 82 yarder to Bethel. Unfortunately for Lions fans, Bethel plays defense for the Arizona Cardinals as they led 7-0 on the road. The Lions had to punt on 4th and 21 from their own 3. The punter fumbled the snap in the end zone. With no time to kick it, the only thing was pick it up and avoid a defensive touchdown or safety. The Cardinals took over at the Detroit 13. Yet 7 plays netted only 7 yards. On 3rd and goal at the 2, A swing pass by Carson Palmer lost 4 yards. Phil Dawson hit the 24 yard field goal to make it 10-0 Cardinals after the first quarter. In the second quarter an interception of Palmer gave the Lions a short field at the Arizona 42. It took the Lions over 6 minutes to go less than half the field. Yet a 6 yard touchdown pass from Stafford to Jones followed by a failed extra point had the Lions within 10-6. On the last play of the half Matt Prater drilled a 58 yard field goal to get the Lions within 10-9. In the third quarter the Cardinals moved 94 yards in 12 plays and 6 minutes. Williams ran for the 3 yard touchdown as the Cardinals led 17-9. After that the game drastically changed.

With 4 minutes left in the third quarter, the Cardinals took over at their own 21looking to put the game away. They did, but not in the way they intended. David Johnson fumbled and the Lions took over at the Arizona 10. Stafford hit Theo Riddick for a 7 yard touchdown. The 2 point try failed but the Lions were within 17-15. The Lions got it back to start the fourth quarter at their own 33. On 3rd and 10 Stafford hit Jones for 16, Golden Tate for 17, and Jones for 16 more. A 10 yard touchdown pass to Golladay had the Lions up 21-17 with 9 1/2 minutes to play. The Lions got it back at their own 28. From the Arizona 45, Stafford again went deep to Golladay for a touchdown and a 28-17 Lions lead with 4 1/2 minutes to play. After a touchback, Palmer was immediately intercepted by Killebrew, who returned it 35 yards for a touchdown and a 35-17 Lions lead. 26 straight points had Jim Caldwell so pleased that he almost made a facial expression. Arizona got one more garbage touchdown but this game was a tale of two quarterbacks. Palmer was 27 of 48 for 269 yards, one touchdown, and three interceptions. Stafford had the early interception, but finished 29 of 41 for 292 yards and 4 touchdowns. 35-23 Lions

Atlanta Falcons at Chicago Bears — The defending NFC champions had a chance to feast on a supposedly weak Bears team. The Falcons moved from their own 8 to a 3rd and 1 at the Chicago 29. Coleman lost a yard and the Falcons settled for a 48 yard Matt Bryant field and a 3-0 lead. 11 plays, 62 yards and 7 minutes could not close the deal. In the second quarter Connor Barth nailed a 54 yarder for a 3-3 game. The Falcons moved 83 yards in 11 plays and 7 minutes. Devonta Freeman ran it in from yards out to make it 10-3 Falcons. The Bears answered with a 75 yard drive.  Howard ran it in from 4 yards out for a 10-10 deadlock.

In the third quarter the Falcons moved 76 yards in 13 plays and took 6 1/2 minutes. Again they bogged down in the red zone, setting for a 28 yard Bryant field goal and a 13-10 lead. With 12 minutes left in regulation the Falcons faced 3rd and 3 at their own 12. Rather than play it safe, Dan Quinn went for all the marbles. Matt Ryan went deep to Hooper for an 88 yard touchdown and a 20-10 Falcons lead. After a touchback the Bears faced 3rd and 2 at their own 43. Mike Glennon hit Sims for a 22 yard gain. On 3rd and 5 from the Atlanta 25, Glennon hit Bellamy for 6 and Cohen for the 19 yard touchdown. midway through the fourth quarter the Bears were within 20-17.

a 40 yard kickoff return had the Falcons stating at their own 35. On 3rd and 10 a short pass from Ryan to Hooper went for 40 yards. On 3rd and 3 from the Chicago 28, defensive holding kept the drive going. The Falcons settled for a 37 yard Bryant field goal for a 6 point lead with 3 1/2 minutes left in regulation. After nearly fumbling the ensuing kickoff, the Bears took over at their own 18 with a chance to win. On 3rd and 5 Glennon hit Wright for 16 yards. With 46 seconds left the Bears faced 4th and 3 at the Atlanta 42. Glennon hit Bellamy for 14 and zach Miller for gains of 12 and 11. With 21 seconds left, the Bears had 1st and goal at the 5. Three incompletions set up 4th and goal with 8 seconds left. Glennon was sacked. These are the Bears. 23-17 Falcons

Baltimore Ravens at Cincinnati Bengals — Ravens fans were worried. Joe Flacco has a bad backo. Yet Flacco started. tHE ravens took 8 minutes and 13 plays to go only 57 yards. Justin Tucker hit a 25 yard field goal to open the scoring. In the second quarter, Red Rifle Andy Dalton moved the Bengals from their own 9 to a 3rd and 7 at the Baltimore 9. Dalton was then intercepted. The Ravens went 76 yards. Flacco threw a 48 yard touchdown to Jeremy Maclin on 3rd and 7 for a 10-0 Ravens lead. Flacco is backo. On 2nd and 6 from the Cincy 17, Dalton was intercepted again to give the Ravens 1st and goal at the 2 with 90 seconds left in the half. West got in for a 17-0 Ravens lead at intermission. A mind-numbingly boring second half saw Tucker tack on another 25 yarder in the third quarter before both teams took the rest of the game off. 20-0 Ravens

Pittsburgh Steelers at Cleveland Browns — The Browns took a knee during the preseason until legend Jim Brown slapped them into reality. Sadly, Jim Brown cannot fix a 1-15 team by himself. A blocked punt gave the Steelers the early 7-0 lead. The Browns started rookie Deshawn Kizer. His very first NFL game against a potential Super Bowl contender did not rattle him. He led a 12 play, 68 yard, 5 1/2 minute drive. Kizer snuck the last yard himself for a 7-7 game. The Browns hung tough all game. With 4 minutes left in the half the steelers took over at their own 9. Ben Roethlisberger went deep to Antonio Brown for a 50 yard gain. He went back to Brown for gains of 11 and 19. On 3rd and goal at the 4, Brown hit James for the score as the Steelers led 14-7 at halftime.

In the third quarter a field position game had the Browns taking over at their own 41. On 2nd and 8 from the Pittsburgh 9, Kizer was sacked. Yet Gonzalez hit a 24 yard field goal as the Browns were only down 14-10. After a touchback, from the Pittsburgh 41, Big Ben went deep and got a defensive pass interference call for 41 yards. On 3rd and goal from the 2, Roethlisberger hit James for the touchdown and the 21-10 Steelers lead. Kizer led the Browns from their 25 to a 1st and 10 at the Pittsburgh 29. He played well most of the day but his only mistake was a drive killing interception. The Steelers early in the fourth quarter moved to a 3rd and 9 at the Cleveland 29. Big Ben was then intercepted in return.

With 6 1.2 minutes left the Browns had it at their own 27. Kizer went to Isaiah Crowell for 10, then went deep to Louis for 29 yards and to Crowell for 23 more. With 3:40 left, the Browns faced 4th and 2 at the 3. Kizer hit Coleman for the touchdown and Crowell ran in the 2 point conversion. The Browns were within 3 points. With 2:47 to play the Steelers faced 2nd and 12 at their own 18. Big Ben went deep to Brown for a 38 yard gain. Hue Jackson challenged the catch and lost. Leveon Bell ran for 15 yards as the Steelers ran out the clock. It was not pretty, but Mike Tomlin has been winning tough games for over a decade. 21-18 Steelers. Despite the loss, the Browns might finally have a quarterback.


Indianapolis Colts at Los Angeles Rams — Andrew Luck is injured and Aaron Donald ended his holdout, giving the Rams defense the big edge over the Colts offense. Early on Greg “The Leg” Zuerlein hit a 50 yard field goal to make it 3-0 Rams. luck’s backup is Scott Tolzien. On 3rd and 10 from the Indy 25, Tolzien completed a pass to Johnson, who plays defense for the Rams. The 39 yard interception return made it 10-0 Rams. Tolzien stayed unfazed and moved the Rams after a touchback to a 1st and goal at the one. Mack lost a yard and then gained nothing. On 3rd and goal at the 2, Tolzien threw incomplete. Adam Vinatieri hit the 20 yard field goal to get the Colts within 10-3. After that the levee broke.

In the second quarter the Rams moved 69 yards. Todd Gurley ran for a 5 yard touchdown to make it 17-3 Rams. Jared Goff then led the Rams 58 yards and threw an 18 yard touchdown pass to Cupp to make it 24-3 Rams as Chuck Pagano prepared his resume. Zeurlein tacked on a 35 yard field goal to make it 27-3 Rams at halftime. The blowout continued in the third quarter. After Zuerlein added a 30 yard field goal, Tolzien threw a pass to Joyner. Joyner also plays defense for the Rams. The 29 yard interception return made it 37-3 Rams. The Colts would finally crack the end zone but then surrender a safety and another touchdown. Sean McCoy got the Gatorade bath for his first professional win and Michelin Man Wade Phillips enjoyed seeing his defense tee off. 46-9 Rams

Seattle Seahawks at Green Bay Packers — These teams have had some legendary games, from Al Harris intercepting Matt Hasselbeck to the Fail Mary Game to the onside kick in the NFC Title Game in 2014. This time an interception of Aaron Rodgers appeared to be a Seattle touchdown, but an illegal block nullified the score. Defenses dominated the scoreless opening 29 minutes. With 48 seconds left in the half the Seahawks faced 2nd and 11 at their own 10. A short gain left 3rd and 3 at their own 18. The Packers took a timeout on defense, and it came back to bite them. Chris Promise gained 4 yards and Seattle took another timeout with 30 seconds left. Russell Wilson completed a pass to Doug Baldwin for 34 yards. Wilson then scrambled for 29 yards to the Green Bay 15 with 12 seconds left in the half. After a pass to the end zone was nearly intercepted, it was 3rd and 10 with 4 seconds left. Pete Carroll took no chances. Blair Walsh hit the 33 yard field goal for a 3-0 Seahawks lead at the half. Defenses dominated this game. In the third quarter the Seahawks faced 3rd and 18 at their own 13. Dom Capers dialed up the pressure and Wilson was sacked and fumbled. The Packers recovered at the Seattle 6 yard line. On the next play Ty Montgomery ran it in for a 7-3 Packers lead.

Seattle took over and soon faced 3rd and 1 at their own 35. the defense jumped offside and on the next play Carson ran for a 30 yard gain. Seattle made it to 1st and goal at the 3. Carson got stopped for no gain and Wilson threw incomplete twice. Walsh hit the 21 yard field goal but the Seahawks trailed 7-6 with 4 minutes left in the third quarter. The Packers soon faced 1st and 20 at their own 10. Rodgers hit Kendricks for 9 and scrambled for 13 more. A 12 yard completion to Montgomery was followed by a 32 yard touchdown pass to Jordy Nelson for a 14-6 Packers lead. The defense clamped down and Mason Crosby hit a critical4 1 yard field goal to make it 17-6 Packers midway through the fourth quarter. Walsh responded from 40 to get the Seahawks within 8 with 6:20 left in regulation. The vaunted Seattle defense needed a stop. They didn’t get one. On 3rd and 4 from the Seattle 45, Rodgers scrambled for 6 yards and a key first down. Rodgers went deep and was intercepted, but defensive offsides nullified the interception. With 2:45 to play, on 2nd and 6 from midfield, a swing pass from Rodgers to Marcellus Bennett went for 26 yards as the Packers took the final 6:20 off the clock for a big win. 17-9 Packers

Carolina Panthers at San Francisco 49ers — In the first quarter Cam Newton threw a 40 yard touchdown pass to Shepard for a 7-0 Panthers lead. Late in the half Newton overthrew a wide open receiver in the end zone. Graham Gano hit a 39 yard field goal for a 10-0 Panthers lead. Gano hit again from 36 as the Panthers led 13-0 at recess. On the second play of the third quarter, Brian Hoyer was intercepted by Luke Kuechly, setting up the Panthers at the San Francisco 28. Newton hit Jermaine Stewart for a 9 yard touchdown pass to make it 20-0 Panthers. Carolina got it back but got no further than the 2 yard line. Gano hit from 20 to make it 23-0 Panthers. The 49ers did kick a field goal and then drove to a 4th and goal at the 3. The West Coast Offense stopped working 2 decades ago. A sideways pass meant a turnover on downs. Throwing past the marker is a lost art. Dink. Dunk. Death. 23-3 Panthers

New York Giants at Dallas Cowboys is the Sunday night game. The Cowboys got good news before the game when a judge cleared Ezekiel Elliott to play. The NFL is appealing the ruling, but by the time the case is heard the season might be over. Meanwhile, O’Dell Beckham was inactive due to his ankle injury. Dallas went 13-3 last year but the Giants beat them twice, including a brutal 10-7 Big Blue win in Dallas. The first half of this game was another defensive headknocker. Dan Bailey hit a 21 yard first quarter field goal and a 48 yarder in the second quarter for a 6-0 Cowboys lead at the 2 minute warning. From the Giants 36, Das Prescott went deep for Dez Bryant and was gifted a very questionable defensive pass interference call From the Giants 15, Prescott fired to Elliott for the touchdown and the 13-0 Cowboys lead with 1:41 left in the half. The Giants went 3 and out with 3 incompletions that stopped the clock. Dallas got it back at their own 24 with 1:19 in the half. Prescott hit Williams for 14 and scrambled for 17 yards to the Giants 34. Bailey hit from 42 to make it 16-0 Cowboys at the half.

After a touchback to start the third quarter, the Giants embarked on a staggering 16 play, 68 yard drive that consumed 9:45 off the clock. Yet despite 1st and goal at the 5, they could not punch it in. On 2nd and goal at the 4, Eli Manning was sacked for a 9 yard loss. Rosas hit the 25 yard field goal as the Giants trailed 16-3 with 5:15 left in the third quarter. The Cowboys took over at their own 18.

Prescott connected with Bryant for a 35 yard gain but after that the Giants held on defense. However, the offense could not get anything going. With 12 minutes left in regulation the Cowboys faced 3rd and 6 at their own 24. Prescott threw to Cole Beasley, who juggled it and somehow made a one-handed grab behind his neck. The Giants refused to challenge the catch. On 3rd and 3 from the Dallas 38, Prescott hit Elliott for a 30 yard gain. From the Giants 32, offensive holding pushed the Cowboys out of field goal range after 3 Prescott incompletions. The Giants had another chance at their own 10 with 8 1/2 minutes left.

Manning avoided a sack and hit Engram for a 31 yard gain. On the next play Manning fired over the middle. at first the ball was intercepted, but it appeared the receiver ripped it out of the defender’s hands. The referees ruled an interception and the Cowboys took over at their own 48. On 3rd and 4 from the Giants 34, Elliott gained 6. At the 2 minute warning the Cowboys lined up for a 36 yard field goal. It was good, and the Cowboys had the win. Jason Witten broke Michael Irvin’s team record for most total receiving yards ever. 19-3 Cowboys

New Orleans Saints at Minnesota Vikings was the early Monday night game. With the patriotism of 9/11 in the background, the first of two Monday Night Football games got underway to start the season. Drew Brees led the Saints from their 19 to the red zone, but after that the drive bogged down due to an offensive holding call. Will Lutz hit a 43 yard field goal to make it 3-0 Saints. Sam Bradford did likewise from the Minnesota 15, but on 3rd and 6 from the New Orleans 7, Bradford threw incomplete. kai Forbath hit the 24 yarder for a 3-3 game after the first quarter. In the second quarter it was deja vu all over again as the Saints moved from their 24 to a 3rd and goal at the 5. Mark Ingram only gained 3 yards and on 4th and goal at the 2, Sean Payton opted for another field goal. Lutz hit from 21 for a 6-3 Saints lead. Then the game changed.

Minnesota took over at their own 26 and Bradford went deep to Thielen for a 35 yard gain. He then went deep again to wright for 21 more. He then went deep a third time to Diggs for the 18 yard touchdown for a 10-6 Vikings lead. Minnesota got it back at their own 5 with 1:43 left in the half. On 3rd and 1, Cook gained 10 yards. From the Minnesota 26, Bradford went deep again to Thielen for a 44 yard gain and Diggs for 20 more. With 7 seconds left in the half, the Vikings faced 3rd and goal at the 2. Bradford found Diggs for the touchdown. The extra point was no good but the Vikings led 16-6.

On the second play of the third quarter from the Minnesota 40, Bradford went deep again to Diggs for a 30 yard gain. On 3rd and 3 from the Saints 13, Bradford threw incomplete. Forbath hit from 32 to make it 19-6 Vikings.  Late in the third quarter the saints took over at their own 11. From their own 49 Brees went deep to Lewis for a 52 yard gain. Yet despite 1st and goal at the 8, the Saints settled for a third Lutz field goal from 24 to get within 19-9 after three quarters. The Vikings soon faced 3rd and 9 at their own 12. Bradford again went deep to Thielen for 27 yards. On the first play of the fourth quarter from the Saints 48, Cook ran for 32 yards. On 3rd and 9 from the 15, Bradford hit Kyle Rudolph for the touchdown and a 26-9 Vikings lead with 13 minutes left in regulation.

In desperation mode, the Saints moved from their 25 to a 3rd and goal at the 2 midway through the fourth quarter. Brees threw incomplete. Sean Payton made his reputation as a big time gambler in the Bill Parcells mode. On this night he played it safe. Needing three scores, he had Lutz kick his fourth field goal from 20 yards out to get the Saints within 26-12. After a touchback, Minnesota soon faced 2nd and 7 at their own 39. Bradford found McKinnon for 25 yards. On 4th and 1 from the Saints 27, Mike Zimmer went for the field goal to lock up the win. Forbath hit from 45 to make its 29-12 Vikings with 4 minutes left. The Saints did get one more garbage touchdown but no more. Brees finished 27 of 37 for 291 yards and the late touchdown pass, but it was Bradford who was lights out in going 27 of 32 for 346 yards and three touchdowns. Neither quarterback was intercepted, although the Saints again seem to be a team without a defense. 29-19 Vikings

Los Angeles Chargers at Denver Broncos was the late Monday night game. The Broncos ended the opening week of the 2017 NFL season by hosting the los Angeles Chargers of Orange County and San Diego, or whatever they call themselves. The game was played 11 years to the day of 9/11 of 2006 when Rivers started his very first game. That game was also on Monday Night Football against an AFC West opponent, and again he was on the road. Early on it Trevor Siemian who led the Broncos 70 yards and 13 plays and 6 minutes. A 5 yard touchdown pass to Bennie Fowler made it 7-0 Broncos. In the second quarter the Chargers moved 75 yards, and Rivers hit Melvin Ingram from 9 yards out for a 7-7 ballgame. After that it was all Broncos.

A 56 yard drive in the second quarter was capped with simian getting the final yard himself for a 14-7 Broncos halftime lead. On the third play of the third quarter with the Chargers facing 3rd and 6 at their own 29, Rivers was intercepted by rob. The Broncos took over with a short field at the Chargers 43. On 3rd and 6, Siemian went deep to Denarius Thomas for 29 yards. On 3rd and goal at the 6, Siemian hit Fowler again for the touchdown to make it 21-7 Broncos. Denver got it back at their own 20 and held the ball for 7 minutes. They reached 1st and goal at the one. Stephenson lost two yards, and on 3rd and goal at the 2, Siemian threw incomplete. Brandon McManus hit the 20 yard field goal on the last play of the third quarter. With 12 minutes left in regulation, the Chargers went for it on  4th and 1 at the Denver 48. Melvin Gordon lost two yards.

3 plays later the Chargers got a ray of hope when a freaky deflected ball off the feet of two different players was intercepted, giving the Chargers the ball at the Denver 43. Rivers threw a 5 yard touchdown pass to Keenan Allen to get the Chargers within 24-14 with 8:10 to play. After the score, Allen took an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty for taunting. One minute later, with the Broncos just trying to eat up clock, a fumble by Jamal Charles gave the Chargers another short field at the Denver 38. Rivers immediately went for the bomb and hit Benjamin for another touchdown as the Chargers were now within 24-21.

After a touchback, rather than stay conservative, denver got very aggressive with the lead slipping away. Siemian went deep to green for a 44 yard gain. Denver was firmly in command facing 2nd and 7 from the Chargers 13, looking to lock up the game. Siemian was sacked for a 6 yard loss. Then he was sacked again for a 13 yard loss. A 31 yard field goal try was now a 50 yard attempt. McManus has the leg, but he was no good. With 4 minutes left, the Chargers took over at their own 40 very much alive. Rivers hit Williams for a 10 yard gain to midfield. After a pair of deep incompletions, a short pass was blown up in the backfield for a 2 yard loss. A good punt had the Broncos pinned at their own 15 yard line in a game both teams were trying to lose.

Denver faced a critical 3rd and 3, and under heavy pressure Siemian threw incomplete. With 2:09 left, Denver punted. The Chargers took over at their own 38 at the 2 minute warning with one timeout left. On 3rd and 1, Gordon was stopped inches short as the clock ticked down. The Chargers stood around with no sense of urgency as the Chargers finally called their final timeout with 42 seconds left. This time Gordon got the first down. Rivers then threw over the middle and was nearly intercepted. However, defensive pass interference put the ball on the Denver 35 yard line with only 17 seconds remaining. on the next play Von Miller appeared to jump offsides but it was not called as Rivers threw it away with 14 seconds left. Rivers then fired to Allen at the Denver 27 with 8 seconds left. On 3rd and 2, Rivers threw incomplete. In came rookie kicker Younghoe Koo from South Korea. The kick from 44 yards was good, but Denver called timeout before the kick. The second attempt was blocked. New year, new coach, new city, same Chargers. 24-21 Broncos

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