NFL 2019 Week 1 Recap

NFL 2019 Week 1 Recap

Green Bay Packers at Chicago Bears was the season opening Thursday night game. The agony is over. The waiting is over. The miserable horrendous 7 month experience known as the offseason is over. By the grace of God & Virginia McCaskey, there is football. The Packers vs the Bears represents everything that is right about football. While a pair of nondescript Matts named LaFleur and Nagy were on the sidelines, you could feel the presence of Curly Lambeau, George Halas, Vince Lombardi, and many other greats of the past. The next round of greats kicked off the NFL’s 100th season as Aaron Rodgers led the Packers offense and Khalil Mack led the Bears defense. 

Early on the defenses reigned. With 4 minutes left in the opening quarter, Eddie Pineiro came in to try a 38 yard field goal for the Bears. Gone is Cody Parkey, who double doinked a missed field goal that knocked the Bears out of the playoffs last year. While this kick was far less pressure, the fans liked that it was down the center for a 3-0 Bears lead. Pineiro followed that up by kicking the ensuing kickoff out of bounds. 

The Packers did nothing on offense in the first quarter, actually losing 12 yards. They began the second quarter in a big way. Aaron Rodgers threw a 47 yard bomb to Marquez Valdez-Scandling. From inside the Chicago 20, Rodgers threw a jump ball into a crowd and was lucky to have Jimmy Graham come down with it in the end zone for the touchdown and the 7-3 Packers lead. 

Both teams missed chances to put points on the board in the third quarter. Green Bay moved close to the red zone. Rodgers scrambled for a first down that was nullified by an offensive holding call. Rodgers then took a sack to knock the Packers out of field goal range. With 4 minutes left in the third quarter, the Bears faced 3rd and 5 at the Green Bay 28. a critical delay of game penalty followed by an incompletion meant 4th and 10 from the Packers 33. Matt Nagy opted against a 51 yard field goal try, deciding to go for it. Mitchell Trubisky scrambled and only gained 5 yards as the Bears turned the ball over on downs.

After three quarters of old-school football, the Packers began their first drive of the fourth quarter at their own 6 yard line. Rodgers completed a pair of 28 yard passes to Davis and Tonyan. The 10 play, 73 yard, 6 1/2 minute drive culminated in a 39 yard field goal by Mason Crosby to put the Packers up by 7 with 5:20 left in regulation.

Now it was up to Trubisky, who led a 13 play drive of his own after a touchback. At the 2 minute warning, on 3rd and 10 from the Green Bay 16, Trubisky went to the end zone. He threw into a double coverage and was intercepted by Amos. Chicago took their timeouts on defense and got the ball back at their own 14 with 90 seconds left. A 2 yard gain was followed by a pair of incompletions. On 4th and 8 at their own 16, Trubisky was sacked. Rodgers went over and excitedly shoved his own defensive coordinator. It will take time for Rodgers to get his new offense going, but he was all smiles after the game. He is all about winning, and he knew who won this game. He kept saying, “We have a defense.” 

Those who know nothing about football will say that this was a boring game, even an ugly game. Not every game is going to be 41-34. Fans love scoring, but as we saw in the Super Bowl to close last season, great defense can be beautiful. This game to open the 2019 season was a chess match between a pair of very good defenses. It was a physical old time slobber-knocker. It was a tribute to Ray Nitschke, Willie Wood, Dick Butkus, Iron Mike Ditka, Buddy Ryan, Mike Singletary and Brian Urlacher. It was a perfect tribute to the 100th season of the National Football League. Bring your defense. 10-3 Packers 

Los Angeles Rams at Carolina Panthers — The defending NFC champion Rams had to show that there was no Super Bowl hangover for the losing team. They had Todd Gurley available, but were determined to lighten his workload with Malcolm Brown getting carries. The Panthers would be playing close games with a new kicker. Graham Gano was placed on injured reserve August 30th and is out for the season. The Panthers fumbled the ball away on their first drive. Late in the second quarter, the Panthers new kicker Joey Slye missed a 53 yard field goal. The good field position allowed Greg “The Leg” Zuerlein to drill a 49 yard field goal early in the second quarter to make it 3-0 Rams. Things got worse for the Panthers on their next drive. After a holding penalty set them up with 1st and 20 at their own 15, Cam Newton was sacked and fumbled. The Rams recovered at the Carolina 10. Malcolm Brown ran for 5 yards and then for the 5 yard touchdown to make it 10-0 Rams. With one minute left in the half Zuerlein leveled a 56 yard field goal to make it 13-0 Rams. Michelin Man Wade Phillips saw his defense let up in the final minute as Slye hit a 46 yard field goal to end the half with the Panthers down 13-3. 

The second half saw both offenses move more often. Zuerlein hit a 27 yard field goal to make it 16-3 Rams. Every time the Panthers tried to close the gap, the Rams answered. Zuerlein kicked the ensuing kickoff out of bounds to set up the Rams at their own 40. On 3rd and 7, Newton hit Samuel, Wright and Moore for a trifecta of 14 yard gains. Christian McCaffrey ran for an 8 yard touchdown to get the Panthers within 16-10. The Rams countered with a 13 play, 75 yard drive that ate up 5 1/2 minutes. On 3rd and 7 from the Carolina 44, Jared Goff threw incomplete but the defense jumped offsides. On 3rd and 2 Goff found Cooper Kupp for 10 yards. On 3rd and 6 from the Carolina 25, Goff went back to Kupp for 8 yards. On 3rd and goal from the one, Brown got in to make it 23-10 Rams.

The Panthers moved from their 30 to a 2nd and 8 at the Rams 34. Newton then threw incomplete twice. Slye nailed the 52 yard field goal to get the Rams within 23-13. The Rams would have to punt on 4th and 12 from their own 23. Rams punter Johnny Hekker is a former quarterback who makes every punt attempt a potential fake. This time he tried to punt and for only the second time in his career, had it blocked. The Panthers took over at the Rams 5 yard line. McCaffrey ran for 3 yards and bulldozed forward for the final two yard touchdown as the Panthers got within 23-20 with 13 minutes left in regulation. Things got worse for the Rams when Jared Goff was intercepted at the Carolina 29. However, the Panthers went 3 and out and punted the ball back.

The Rams took over at their own 43 and Gurley ripped off gains of 17, 7, 2, and on 3rd and 1 from the Carolina 31, 15 more. Goff threw a 5 yard touchdown pass to Tyler Higbee to make it 30-20 Rams with 6 1/2 minutes left. Newton was quickly intercepted, but the Rams could not put the game away when Zuerlein missed a 41 yard field goal try. Newton led a furious rally, and Alex Armah ran it in from now yards out with 1:58 to play. The Panthers were within a field goal, but the onside kick try failed. The Rams took over at midfield. Gurley gained 8 yards and Ron Rivera took his final timeout. Gurley gained 4 more yards and the Panthers were done. Sean McVay avoided the start to a Super Bowl hangover with a tough road win. 30-27 Rams

Tennessee Titans at Cleveland Browns — The Hue Jackson reign of error that saw the Browns go 3–36-1 including 1-15 in 2016 and 0-16 in 2017 seemed forgotten. After Jackson was fired last year, interim coach Gregg Williams took over and had the Browns go 5-2 down the stretch. The defense was for real. Quarterback Baker Mayfield was for real. We all know O’Dell Beckham is for real. For some reason, Gregg Williams was not given the head coaching job this year as Freddie Kitchens got the nod. He had never been m NFL head coach before. Williams left to be the defensive coordinator of the Jets. Yet the Browns were being talked about as a playoff team despite not making the postseason since 2002. Some analysts even declared them a potential Super Bowl team. All the Browns had to do was beat a weak Titans team. Then the game began. From their own 27, the Browns made it look easy. Mayfield hit Higgins for 11 yards. Nick Chubb ran for 10 more. Mayfield hit Beckham for 16 more. On 2nd and 23, Mayfield went deep to Higgins for a 35 yard gain down to the Titans 4 yard line. Dontrell Hilliard ran it in on the next play for the score. The extra point was no good, but the Browns led 6-0. 

Then reality set in. The Titans took over at their own 8 yard line. A short completion saw a roughing the passer penalty give the Titans 15 more yards. Marcus Mariota then went deep to Brown for a 47 yard gain. The Titans settled for a 37 yard Cairo Santos field goal to trail 6-3, but they were just getting warmed up. The second quarter began with the Titans backed up to their own 13 yard line. Another unnecessary roughness penalty gave 15 more free yards to Tennessee. The Titans faced 3rd and 10 at their own 44 and Mariota threw his third straight incompletion. Yet defensive holding meant an automatic first down. On 2nd and 8 from the Cleveland 32, Mariota threw incomplete but yet another roughing the passer penalty kept the drive going. On 3rd and 4 from Cleveland 11, the defense jumped into the neutral zone. Derrick Henry ran for a one yard touchdown to make it 10-6 Titans, as the inept Browns defense lacked the discipline that Gregg Williams brought to it. With less than 2 minutes left in the half, the Browns took over at their own 3 yard line. A false start pushed them back to the 2. Then Mayfield was sacked for a safety as the Titans took a 12-6 lead to the locker rooms. Early in the third quarter Santos tacked on a 53 yard field goal to make it 15-6 Titans.

With 6 minutes left in the third quarter, the Browns finally mounted another offensive drive. They started with a pair of offensive penalties that meant 1st and 25. On 2nd and 23, Mayfield hit Njoku for 7 yards. On 3rd and 16 Mayfield went deep to Jarvis Landry for 23 yards. Mayfield hit Chubb for 7 yards and then went deep again to Landry for a 34 yard gain down to the Tennessee 3 yard line. Mayfield then went to Njoku for the touchdown. With 2 minutes left in the third quarter, the Browns were only down 15-13. With a couple of breaks, they could win.

There would be no breaks. After a touchback, one play and 13 seconds were all that Mariota needed to connect with Henry on a 75 yard touchdown. The Titans led 22-13 after three quarters, but the fourth quarter brought the pain. 40 seconds in the fourth quarter, the Browns faced 2nd and 14 at their own 45. Mayfield was intercepted by Byard, who returned it 28 yards to the Cleveland 35. Mariota hit Delanie Walker for an 11 yard touchdown to make it 29-13 Titans. The Browns then faced 3rd and 4 at their own 31. Mayfield was intercepted by Ryan at the Cleveland 34. Mariota went to Walker again for a 7 yard touchdown to make it 36-13 Titans. With 3 minutes left from their own 30, Mayfield was intercepted by Malcolm Butler, who returned it 38 yards for the touchdown. A close game was now a blowout in front of the Dawg Pound. Delanie Walker channeled the late Dennis Green in a hilarious postgame press conference by saying that the Browns are exactly “who we thought they were.” Nobody was going to “crown their @ss.” Mayfield insisted that the media should not treat the Browns like garbage, but that is how they played. Cleveland’s 18 penalties were the most since 1951. New year, same Browns. 43-13 Titans

Kansas City Chiefs at Jacksonville Jaguars — The Chiefs were an overtime coin toss away from going to the Super Bowl last year. The Jaguars convinced themselves that they were a quarterback away from being elite. Blake Bortles was sent packing and Nick Foles came in. The Chiefs had the reigning NFL MVP in Patrick Mahomes. Those wondering if Mahomes would slow down did not need to wait long for an answer. On the third play from scrimmage, with the Chiefs facing 3rd and 3 at their own 32, Mahomes went bombs away to Sammy Watkins for a 68 yard touchdown to make it 7-0 Chiefs. The Chiefs got it back and moved from their own 21 to a 3rd and 3 at the Jacksonville 9. Mahomes threw incomplete, but Harrison Butker hit the 28 yard field goal make it 10-0 Chiefs. 

The Jaguars soon faced 3rd and 18 from their own 17. Foles went deep to Conley for a 21 yard gain, with 15 more added on for the defense lowering the head to initiate contact. The key play of the game and perhaps the season for Jacksonville came with the Jaguars facing 3rd and 8 at the Chiefs 35. Foles went deep to DJ Chark and got nailed as soon as the ball left his hand. Chark caught it for a touchdown to get the Jaguars within 10-7, but it was the last pass Foles would throw for awhile. The pass rusher landed on Foles with his full body weight, which should have been a defensive penalty. Either way, Foles suffered a broken collarbone and will be out indefinitely. 

Foles’s career has been one of enormous ups and downs. In 2013 he exploded onto the scene with 27 touchdowns and 2 interceptions, including one game where he threw 7 touchdown passes to tie an NFL record. In 2014 he suffered a broken collarbone and missed 8 weeks. The Eagles drafted Carson Wentz and Foles was out of football by 2016. Foles returned in 2017 as a backup to Wentz, and when Wentz went down, Foles led the eagles to their first Super Bowl title. Foles filled in very ably in 2018 when another injury took Wentz down. Yet the Eagles stuck with Wentz, Foles went to Jacksonville, and lasted less than one quarter of one game. 

Football is a brutal game, and there is little time to mourn the fallen. Especially when it’s the other team hurting. Walrus Lite Andy Reid kept his foot on the gas. The Chiefs took over at their own 20. Mahomes went bombs away again to Watkins for a 49 yard touchdown to make it 17-7 Chiefs after the first quarter. The second quarter saw the teams trade field goals twice. Josh Lambo hit from 37 for the Jaguars and Butker answered from 25. Lambo connected again from 23 and Butker answered again from 46 as the Chiefs led 23-13 at the break. 

In the third quarter the Jaguars moved from their 25 to a 3rd and 2 at the Chiefs 26. Backup quarterback Minshew completed a pass to Leonard Fournette for no gain, and Fournette fumbled the ball away. Breeland returned the fumble 14 yards to the Chiefs 40. Mahomes led a 12 play, 60 yard, 6 1/2 minute drive. On 2nd and goal at the 2, Mahomes threw incomplete. Yet a mind-numbing defensive penalty for taunting made it 1st and goal at the one again. Damien Williams ran it in as the Chiefs led 30-13 after three quarters. in the fourth quarter Mahomes hooked up with Watkins for the third time on the day as the 3 yard touchdown capped a 67 yard drive. The Chiefs led 37-13 with 11 minutes left in regulation.

Jacksonville would score a couple of garbage time touchdowns sandwiched around one more field goal for Butker. Captain Grumpy Tom Coughlin has plenty of concerns, which means nobody in Jacksonville will be happy any time soon. Andy Reid is not going to be upgraded to full walrus status alongside Mike Holmgren and others until he wins a Super Bowl. However, this team could be the one that gets him that upgrade. For now, he is a most happy Walrus Lite indeed. 40-26 Chiefs

Baltimore Ravens at Miami Dolphins — The Miami Dolphins were talked about as perhaps the worst team in football. With a rookie head coach and a fire sale of their players, they were expected to be bad. Even they could not have imagined how bad they were. Unless the Ravens are a serious Super Bowl contender, Dolphins fan may demand that owner Stephen Ross convince his friend President Donald Trump to build the border wall with the Dolphins stadium on the Mexico side. 

The Ravens began at their own 11. On the first play from scrimmage, Mark Ingram ran for a 49 yard gain. Ingram finished the 89 yard drive on 3rd and goal with a one yard touchdown to make it 7-0 Ravens. Ryan Fitzpatrick set an NFL record by starting for his 8th NFL franchise. While he was starting his first game with Miami, former Seattle Legion of Boom safety Earl Thomas was making his first game with Baltimore. Thomas intercepted Fitzpatrick, and returned the pick 14 yards to the Miami 47. Lamar Jackson needed one play and 9 seconds to go bombs away to Marquise Brown for the touchdown to make it 14-0 Ravens. Baltimore got it back at their own 10. On 3rd and 3 from their own 17, Jackson went to Brown for an 83 yard touchdown as the Ravens led 21-0 after the first quarter.

In the second quarter the Ravens kept rolling in an 80 yard drive. Jackson went to willie Snead for a 33 yard touchdown to make it 28-0 Ravens. The biggest blowout in NFL history came in the 1940 NFL Championship game when Chicago beat Washington 73-0. This game missed that mark, but not by much. After Miami kicked a field goal to avoid the shutout, the Dolphins defense actually got a stop. Sadly for the Fin faithful, the Dolphins fumbled the punt and the Ravens recovered at the Miami 10. On 3rd and goal at the 5, Jackson hit Miles Boykin for the touchdown to make it 35-3 Ravens. The Dolphins defense even got another stop, as the Ravens had to punt on 4th and 1 from their own 30. Rookie head coach Brian Flores watched helplessly as John Harbaugh called a fake punt. Levine took the direct snap up the middle 60 yards. On 3rd and goal at the 6, Jackson threw incomplete. However, defensive holding meant 1st and goal at the 2. Ingram ran it in to make it 42-3 Ravens with less than 2 minutes in the half.

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell could not stop the slaughter, since NFL rules require that an entire game be played. Miami would get a touchdown before the half, but the second half brought the Dolphins more misery. In the third quarter Jackson threw his 5th touchdown pass. Justin Tucker added a field goal to go along with his 8 extra points. The 8th one came in the fourth quarter when Jackson was on the bench. Robert Griffin III even led a touchdown drive. On 4th and goal at the 3, Harbaugh went for it not to run up the score, but to test RGIII. Griffin threw the touchdown pass. Next week the Dolphins play the Patriots, and forfeiting a game is not allowed. The Dolphins have beaten the Patriots 5 of the last 6 times in Miami, including last season’s 34-33 Miami Miracle of laterals. In 2004, The 12-1 Patriots lost to the 2-11 Dolphins in Miami 29-28. Evil Hoodie bill Belichick will pretend that his team is not expected to win 100-0. He will talk up how the Dolphins keep beating his team. Nobody will believe him. Even his former defensive coordinator Brian Flores will roll his eyes. Welcome to the NFL head coaching ranks, Mr. Flores. The only Fin expecting any success in 2019 is ICE-T’s Fin Tutuola. By the time this season is over, the Dolphins will need the Special Victims Unit to comfort them. 59-10 Ravens

Atlanta Falcons at Minnesota Vikings — The Falcons made Julio Jones the highest paid receiver in NFL history. They are trying to revive their offense. Meanwhile, Mike Zimmer wanted to get back to basics and bring back Minnesota to hard nosed running and hard nosed defense. The game was a blowout from the start. The Falcons punted on 4th and 2 from their own 33. Wilson blocked the punt and recovered it to set up the Vikings at the Atlanta 21. Kirk Cousins threw a 23 yard touchdown pass to Adam Thielen to make it 7-0 Vikings. Matt Ryan was intercepted 4 plays later by Harris and the Vikings took over with another short field at the Atlanta 41. Dalvin Cook ran for a 19 yard touchdown to make it 14-0 Vikings 

In the second quarter the Falcons moved from their 28 to a 1st and 5 at the Atlanta 21. Devonta Freeman fumbled and the Vikings recovered. Minnesota moved 79 yards in 10 plays and 5 1/2 minutes. Cousins snuck for the last yard for a 21-0 Vikings lead at the half. In the third quarter the Falcons moved 82 yards in 13 plays and 7 1/2 minutes. From their 15, they moved to a 1st and goal at the 2. A run lost a yard. Then Ryan was intercepted in the back of the end zone for a touchback. Minnesota quickly moved 80 yards as the 84 million dollar guaranteed man Cousins went to Diggs for 31 yards. Cook ran for a 7 yard touchdown to make it 28-0 Vikings after three quarters. Matty Ice was ice cold all game but padded his stats with a pair of garbage touchdowns in the fourth quarter. Even extra points were not happening. Zimmer said he wanted smash mouth, and he meant it. Minnesota threw only 10 passes all game. 28-12 Vikings

Buffalo Bills at New York Jets — Every year these teams are supposed to finally challenge New England for the AFC East crown only to wilt by October. Gregg Williams is the Jets defensive coordinator, and this game was a brutal defensive struggle. Home field never matters in this series. In the first quarter CJ Mosley intercepted Josh Allen and returned the pick 17 yards for a defensive touchdown. The extra point failed, and the interception would be the only score of the first half as the Jets led 6-0. In the second quarter the Bills fumbled but the Jets failed to capitalize. Then Allen was intercepted again, but the Jets missed a field goal. In the third quarter the Bills were at their own 2 yard line. Then came William’s Gang Green defense and a safety as the Jets led 8-0. The Jets took the free kick at their own 40. On 3rd and goal at the 9, Sam Darnold hit Leveon Bell for the touchdown and again for the 2 point conversion. The defense and the offense each put 8 points on the board as the Jets led 16-0.

Yet these are the Jets. Steve Hauschka hit a 43 yard field goal with 4 minutes left in the third quarter to get the Bills on the board. The Bills got it back at their own 15 for the second straight drive. Frank Gore ran for 7 yards and Singletary added 23 more. Allen hit Brown for 14 yards and Sweeney for 6 more. Singletary ran for 12, caught a pass for 5, and ran for 15 more. Allen ran for the 3 yard touchdown as the Bills got within 16-10 with 10 1/2 minutes left in regulation. The Bill got it back with 6 minutes left at their own 20. On 3rd and 2 from their 28, Allen ran for 8 yards and hit Jones for 20 more. With 3 minutes left, on 3rd and 4 from the Jets 38, Allen went to John Brown for the touchdown to put the Bills up by a point. At the 2 minute warning the Jets had to go for it on 4th and 1 from their own 34. Bell got stopped cold. For those wondering who or what a Kaare Vedvik is, he is the Jets kicker who missed the extra point and a 41 yard field goal. These are the Jets, and why J-E-T-S stands for Just End The Season. 17-16 Bills

Washington Redskins at Philadelphia Eagles — The Eagles were expected to easily dispatch the Redskins. Then the game started. Case Keenum completed 8 yard passes to Sprinkle and Guice and a 7 yarder to Richardson. On 3rd and 2 from the Philly 48, Keenum connected with Vernon Davis for the touchdown and the 7-0 Redskins lead. Davis leapt over 3 players and cried when he got to the end zone, in memory of his beloved grandfather he lost one day earlier. His teammates offered him more comfort than congratulations. The Eagles went nowhere, and the Redskins got it back at their own 20. They moved 57 yards in 11 plays and 6 minutes. Dustin Hopkins hit a 41 yard field goal to make it 10-0 Redskins. The Eagles moved on a 7 minute drive after a touchback to a 4th and 2 at the Washington 29. Doug Pederson decided to go for it and Wentz through incomplete. 2 plays later, Keenum went to Terry McLaurin for a 69 yard touchdown as the Redskins led 17-0 in front of a stunned Philly home crowd. The Eagles finally scored. when Wentz went deep to DeSean Jackson for a 51 yard touchdown. Yet Washington tacked on another field goal to end the half as the Redskins had a 20-7 lead. The second half was a completely different game.

The Eagles began the third quarter with a 12 play, 75 yard, 7 minute drive. On 4th and 1 from their own 34, Doug Pederson gambled big and decided to go for it. Wentz got 2 yards. From the Washington 39, Darren Sproles gained 17 yards and Sanders gained 19 more. On 3rd and goal from the 5, Wentz hit Alshon Jeffery for the touchdown. Midway through the third quarter, the Eagles were within 20-14. The Eagles got it back at their own 47 and needed only 3 plays. On 3rd and 10, Wentz went bombs away again to Jackson for a 53 yard touchdown. With 5 minutes left in the third quarter, the Eagles had their first lead 21-20. only 30 seconds later, the Eagles got it back. On 3rd and 9 from their own 30, Wentz hit Jackson for 19 yards. A 26 yard completion to Zac Ertz had the Eagles starting the fourth quarter with 1st and goal at the 2. Jeffery ran it in. Pederson took another gamble by going for a 2 point conversion to make it a 2 score game. Sproles ran it in and the Eagles led 29-20. Philly got it back and had what may be the drive of the year even after the season is over. A staggering 19 plays took 74 yards and 9 minutes off the clock. A field goal had the Eagles up 32-20. The Redskins did get a garbage touchdown with 6 seconds left, but needed 16 plays of their own to do it. The onside kick failed. 25 straight points showed how a good team can overcome a bad start. 32-27 Eagles

Indianapolis Colts at Los Angeles Chargers — Both of these teams could be good or could be a mess for different reasons. The Chargers were without Melvin Gordon, who announced he would hold out the first 8 weeks in a contract dispute. Rather than sit out the entire season like Leveon Bell did in Pittsburgh, Gordon by playing half a season will become an unrestricted free agent. The Colts are now most likely forever without Andrew Luck. His shocking retirement at the end of the preseason at age 29 stunned the football world. This is now Jacoby Brissett’s team. Now we will see how good a coach Frank Reich really is. In the first quarter the Chargers moved 68 yards in 11 plays and 6 minutes. Gordon was not needed as Jackson ran for a 23 yard gain and Austin Ekeler had gains of 2, 3 and 13 in addition to a 9 yard reception. On 4th and goal from the 4, kicker long hit a 22 yard field goal. However, an unnecessary roughness penalty on the defense caused Anthony Lynn to take the points off the board. Philip Rivers hit Ekeler for a one yard touchdown to make it 7-0 Chargers.

In the second quarter, the Colts moved 75 yards in 14 plays and 8 minutes. On 3rd and 1 from their own 34, Brissett hit Doyle for 20 yards. Several 3rd down conversions later, on 3rd and 3 from the Chargers 4, Brissett hit TY Hilton for the score. Adam Vinatieri may be the most clutch kicker in NFL history, but he for some reasons has had some of his worst games against the Chargers. In a game where Peyton Manning once threw 6 interceptions, a 23-0 deficit became 23-21. Then Vinatieri missed a 29 yard field goal on the final play. In this game, Vinatieri began by missing an extra point as the Colts trailed 7-6.

The Chargers came back 75 yards with big plays. After a touchback, Rivers went to Keenan Allen for a 27 yard gain, to Bennjamin for 10 more, and to Ekeler for another 13. On 3rd and 13 from the Indy 28, Rivers went deep to Allen for the touchdown to make it 14-6 Chargers. A shanked 20 yard punt by the Colts had the Chargers taking over at the Indy 46. Despite 1st and 10 at the Indy 22, Rivers threw 3 straight incompletions. Long hit the 40 yard field goal to make it 17-6 Chargers with one minute left in the half. Brissett quickly moved the Colts in position for a 46 yard field goal try, but Vinatieri missed it to end the half. In the third quarter Vinatieri would hit a 44 yard field goal, but then the Chargers needed only 4 plays after a touchback to score again. On 3rd and 8 from their own 27, Rivers was sacked and fumbled. However, the defense jumped offside. On 3rd and 3, Rivers hit Henry for 13 yards. On the next play a short pass from Rivers to Ekeler went for a 55 yard touchdown as the Chargers led 24-9 with 8 1/2 minutes left in the third quarter.

The Colts needed only 2 plays to strike back after a touchback. Brissett hit Hilton for 12 yards. On the next play Marlin Mack became a monster mack, breaking free for a 63 yard touchdown. Vinatieri made the extra point as the Colts were within 24-16. When the Chargers fumbled a punt, the Colts took over at the Chargers 27. Yet the fourth quarter began with Vinatieri again missing a 29 yard field goal against the Chargers. The Chargers then moved 73 yards in 5 minutes and sought to ice the game. Needing only a field goal to lock up the win, on 2nd and goal at the 7, Rivers went to the end zone and was intercepted for a touchback. Brissett continued to earn his wings with a staggering 16 play, 80 yard drive that consumed 8 minutes. With 3 1/2 minutes left, on 4th and 3 just past midfield, Brissett hit Devon Funchess for an 8 yard gain. From the Chargers 19 with only 38 seconds remaining, a short pass to Hilton was followed by terrible attempts at tackling. Hilton dove for the pylon and made it. Mack ran the 2 point conversion and gutted his way in the end zone to tie the game 24-24. 

The Chargers won the coin toss. After a touchback, Rivers hit Allen for 18 yards and Henry for 17 more. Ekeler had gains of 3 and 19. On 3rd and 1 from the Indy 9, Watt gained 2 yards. On the next play, with 5 minutes left in overtime, Ekeler ran for the 7 yard touchdown. The valiant comeback by the Colts fell short. It was a bitter defeat for Vinatieri, who missed two field goals and an extra point that were the difference in the game. 30-24 Chargers, OT

Cincinnati Bengals at Seattle Seahawks — Seattle was supposed to roll over Cincinnati and their rookie head coach, with Marvin Lewis not on the Bengals sideline for the first time in 17 years. Yet a 13 play, 51 yard, 7 1/2 minute drive led to a 39 yard Randy Bullock field goal and a 3-0 Bengals lead. In the second quarter, the offenses heated up. A field position game had the Seahawks taking over at the Cincy 48. On 3rd and 7 from the Cincy 45, Russell Wilson hit Dissly for 12 yards and DK Metcalf for 16 more. Chris Carson ran for the one yard touchdown to make it 7-3 Seahawks. 3 plays later after a touchback the Bengals were back in front. Red Rifle Andy Dalton went to Boyd for 6 yards, deep to Ozumah for 36 more, and to John Ross for a 33 yard touchdown to make it 10-7 Bengals. With 1:53 left in the half, the Seahawks took over at their own 23. A defensive unnecessary roughness penalty had Seattle at their own 45. Wilson went deep to Metcalf for a 42 yard gain and to Carson for the 3 yard touchdown to make it 14-10 Seahawks. After a touchback, the Bengals only had 52 seconds. With 7 seconds left from their own 45, there was only time for a Hail Mary. Dalton threw the prayer, and Ross answered it for the 55 yard touchdown. The 12th man was shocked as the Bengals led 17-14 at the intermission.

The second half was a slog as the third quarter was scoreless. The Seahawks fumbled on the first play from scrimmage in the third quarter. The Bengals took over at the Seattle 28 but fumbled the ball back. On the next Cincinnati series, Bullock missed a 45 yard field goal. On the next Cincinnati series, the Bengals moved from their own 8 to a 4th and 1 at the Chargers 36. The decision was to go for it. Giovanni Bernard got the carry and got stopped. The Bengals had every chance to win and could not capitalize on opportunities. Seattle soon faced 3rd and 5 at their own 41. Wilson went to Metcalf for 25 yards and to Tyler Lockett for a 44 yard touchdown on the first play of the fourth quarter for a 21-17 Seahawks lead. After a touchback, the Bengals moved 67 yards in 13 plays and 8 minutes. Bullock hit a 27 yard field goal to get the Bengals within one point midway through the fourth quarter. Cincinnati got it back and with 3 1/2 minutes left faced 4th and 7 at their own 44. The rookie coach Zac Taylor opted to punt. By the time the Bengals got the ball back at their 25, only 21 seconds remained. Dalton was sacked and fumbled, although it looked like his arm was going forward. Andy Dalton is not Tom Brady, so there would be no fumble reversal. The call stood and the Bengals lost. Pete Carroll hugged everyone because he does that. 21-20 Seahawks

Detroit Lions at Arizona Cardinals — The Lions have an experienced quarterback in Matthew Stafford and a second year coach in Matt Patricia who inherited a 9-7 team from Jim Caldwell and regressed. The Cardinals jettisoned coach rookie head coach Steve Wilks and rookie quarterback Josh Rosen after only one year. Now they have rookie coach Kliff Kingsbury and rookie quarterback Kyler Murray. For three quarters, the Cardinals offense looked awful. The first quarter was scoreless. One minute into the second quarter, Matt Prater, who holds the NFL record long 64 yard field goal, nailed a 55 yard field goal. to start the scoring. A short 33 yard Cardinals punt set up the Lions just shy of midfield. Two plays later Stafford went deep to Danny Amendola for a 47 yard touchdown to make it 10-0 Lions. Detroit got it back at their own 5 yard line. On 3rd and 1 from their own 14, Stafford went to TJ Hockensen for 10 yards, Jones for 7 more, back to Hockensen for a 39 yard gain, and then ran for 12 more. On 4th and 1 from the Arizona 19 after getting stopped on 3rd and 1, Matt Patricia decided to g for it. The Cardinals jumped in the neutral zone. Stafford threw a 9 yard touchdown to Kenny Golladay to make it 17-0 Lions.

The Lions were totally in control with less than 2 minutes left in the half when they fumbled a punt and the Cardinals recovered at the Detroit 8 yard line. On 2nd and goal at the one, Murray lost a yard and then threw incomplete. On 4th and goal at the 2, the decision was to kick the field goal. Zane Gonzalez hit the 20 yard chip shot to get the Cardinals on the board. Gonzalez hit again from 42 in the third quarter to get the Cardinals within 17-6. The Lions came back with a 10 play, 82 yard, 5 minute drive. Starting at their own 18, Stafford hit Amendola for 15 yards and Hockensen for 24 more. On 3rd and 7 from the Arizona 34, Stafford hit James for 15. The fourth quarter began with the Lions facing 3rd and 14 at the Arizona 23. Stafford went to Hockensen for the touchdown. The Lions had a 24-6 lead. Murray’s first game was a nightmare, as he had only 70 yards passing after three quarters. The Cardinals only had one ray of hope. They were playing the Lions.

A 10 play, 58 yard drive quickly saw the Cardinals with 1st and 10 at the Detroit 17. Yet a run gained only one yard and Murray threw incomplete twice. With 11 minutes left, Kliff Kingsbury opted for the field goal. Gonzalez hit from 34 to get the Cardinals within 24-9. The Lions got it back at their own 30 with 9 minutes left. A flurry of short passes culminated with a 27 yard touchdown pass to Johnson. With 6 minutes left, the Cardinals were within 24-16. From their own 17, Stafford wound the clock down. With 2:47 to play, the Lions faced 3rd and 5 just shy of midfield. A first down would all but put the game away. Stafford fired a completion for the first down, but it was all for naught. Remember the name Darrell Bevell.

For those who have never watched football (God help you), Bevell made the decision in the Super Bowl not to hand the ball to Marshawn Lynch at the one yard line (God help him). The Seahawks were one yard from 2 straight Super Bowl wins. Instead they lost, an Bevell as the Seahawks offensive coordinator was blamed for the worst coaching decision in Super Bowl history. Now the Lions offensive coordinator, Bevell nullified the first down by calling a timeout just before the snap. Officials should not have allowed the timeout since only the head coach can call timeout. Nevertheless, the Cardinals defense was granted a do over. This time Stafford threw incomplete. He yelled on the sideline “Trust me!” Had Bevell done so, the Lions would have kept the ball. Things got worse for the Lions when the punt was partially blocked. The punter was enraged on the sideline as the Cardinals took over at their own 40 with 2 1/2 minutes left. On 3rd and 7 from their own 43, Murray went to Byrd for 19 yards. From the Detroit 38, Murray ran for 9 yards and on 3rd and 10 scrambled for 10 more. From the 9, Murray threw incomplete but a defensive facemask penalty meant 1st and goal at the 4. Murray found the ageless one Larry Fitzgerald for the touchdown with 38 seconds left. Murray then found Kirk for the 2 point conversion. Murray had 154 yards passing in the fourth quarter, as the game was tied 24-24 and headed for overtime. 

The Cardinals got the ball first in overtime and struck quickly. On 2nd and 3 from the Arizona 32, Murray went deep to Fitzgerald for a 45 yard gain. Murray then went to Williams for 15 more to set up 1st and goal at the 8. A touchdown would end the game but a field goal would not. Murray threw incomplete, then lost 2 yards, then threw incomplete again. Gonzalez hit the 28 yard field goal to give the Cardinals the 27-24 lead, but nearly 7 1/2 minutes still remained in overtime. After a touchback, Stafford hit Jones for 21 and again for 23 while Johnson had gains of 9 and 4. Despite 1st and 10 at the Arizona 18, Stafford threw a pair of incompletions sandwiched around a run that gained only 3 yards. Prater hit the 33 yard field goal to tie the game. After a touchback, the Cardinals had 3:48 to work with. With 1:17 left the Cardinals faced 3rd and 7 at the Detroit 46. One first down would mean very long field goal range. Murray threw incomplete and a 64 yard field goal try was not in the cards. A great punt pinned the Lions at their own 5 yard line. Stafford nearly threw an interception that would have meant a short field goal try for Arizona. The defender dropped the ball. Despite 21 straight points, the new Arizona regime had to settle for a tie in their first game. It was the first time in decades that a quarterback taken first overall played his first game without losing. After a few years without a single tie game anywhere in the NFL, the league had an opening week tie game for the second straight year. 27-27 Tie, OT

New York Giants at Dallas Cowboys — Sometimes a really bad team can go on the road and shock a really good team in an upset for the ages. This was not that game. Eli Manning is nearing the end, while Ezekiel Elliott just got paid monster money. Jerry Jones shells out the big bucks, and believes he has a team that can win it all. The Giants actually scored first on a 91 yard drive. Saquon Barkley caught a pass for 8 yards and on the next play ran for a 59 yard gain. Manning hit Evan Engram for 11 yards and again for a one yard touchdown. The Giants led 7-0, but reality then set in before Jerrah could blow up his Jerrahworld Metropolis stadium for the insurance money. 

After a touchback, the Cowboys moved 75 yards in 11 plays and 5 minutes. On 3rd and 4 from their own 31, Dan Prescott hit Randall Cobb for 12 yards. On 3rd and 4 just shy of midfield, Prescott hit Gallup for 12 yards. Prescott threw a 28 yard touchdown pass to Barwin to tie the game 7-7. In the second quarter the Cowboys moved 93 yards. Prescott hit Amari Cooper for 12 yards and Gallup for monster gains of 36 and 23. On 33rd and 10 from the Giants 18, Prescott hit Cobb for 14 yards. Jason Witten took last year off but then unretired. He caught a 4 yard touchdown to put the Cowboys up 14-7. The Cowboys got it back and moved 83 yards in 13 plays and 7 minutes. Prescott hit Gallup for a pair of 6 yard gains sandwiched around an 18 yard completion to Cobb. On 3rd and 9 from the Giants 38, Prescott threw incomplete. However, defensive offsides gave Dallas another chance. On 3rd and 4, Prescott ran for 8 at the 2 minute warning. On 3rd and 6 from the Giants 21, Prescott went to Cooper for the touchdown as the Cowboys led 21-7 at the half. 

The Giants best chance to make a game of it saw them go all the way to a 1st and 10 at the Dallas 11. A run gained one yard and Manning threw incomplete twice. Alex Rosas hit the 28 yard field goal to get the Giants within 21-10, but that was it. After a touchback, Dallas needed only 3 plays. Prescott went deep to Cooper for 45 yards. Elliott gained 5 yards, and Prescott went to Cobb for a 25 yard touchdown to make it 28-10 Cowboys. After a touchback, the Giants moved all the way to a 4th and 1 at the Dallas 7. Rather than play smash mouth, Manning went back to pass and was sacked. On 3rd and 8 from the Dallas 13, a short pass from Prescott to Gallup went for 62 yards. Elliott ran for a 10 yard touchdown to make it 35-10 Cowboys after three quarters. Prescott finished with 25 of 32 with 405 yards passing and 4 touchdowns. Unsurprisingly, Jerrah is now eager to throw money at Prescott. Manning did lead the Giants to a garbage touchdown with less than 3 minutes remaining. With the game out of reach, with 1:46 left, Manning sat out the last drive. This was not a benching. Daniel Jones will be the starting quarterback at some point, and Pat Shurmur wanted to give him a chance to run some offensive plays. Jones completed 3 straight short passes, threw an incompletion, and then fumbled the ball away. 35-17 Cowboys

San Francisco 49ers at Tampa Bay Buccaneers — Bruce Arians returned to coaching after retiring a couple years ago. If he cannot fix Jameis Winston, nobody can. Meanwhile, Kyle Shanahan and Jimmy Garoppolo both have a lot to prove. A partially blocked punt had the 49ers taking over at the Tampa Bay 33. Robbie Gould hit a 29 yard field goal to make it 3-0 49ers. The Buccaneers took over at their own 17 and moved 74 yards in 16 plays, taking over 8 minutes off the clock. With 12 minutes left in the half, on 3rd and goal at the 9, Winston hit Brate for the touchdown. Yet offensive holding nullified the call. On 3rd and goal from the 19, Winston hit Howard for a 10 yard gain. Yet Howard fumbled the ball away. The 49ers soon faced 2nd and 18 at their own 12. Garoppolo was intercepted by Vernon Hargreaves, who returned it for a 25 yard touchdown. Despite doing nothing on offense, the Buccaneers led 7-3. However, this was not Pewter Power or Buc Ball since the Buccaneers ended up failing in every phase. This was orange creamsicle Buccaneers ball. 

Robbie Gould hit a 36 yard field goal as the 49ers trailed 7-6. Before the half ended, Winston was intercepted and the 49ers fumbled the ball back. In the third quarter, the 49ers moved 75 yards. On 3rd and 8 from their own 27, Garoppolo hit greg Kittle for 10 yards. On 3rd and 10 from their own 37, Garoppollo threw incomplete but defensive pass interference meat a 23 yard gain. Garoppolo then went deep to James for a 39 yard touchdown to make it 13-7 49ers. After a touchback, Winston fumbled but recovered for a 3 yard loss. On the next play he was not so lucky. He was intercepted by Richard Sherman, who returned it 31 yards for a touchdown and a 20-7 49ers lead. 

The Buccaneers tried to get back in it. After a touchback, an 11 play 75 yard, 6 minute drive helped matters. On 3rd and 12 from their own 46, Winston hit Godwin for 28 yards and found him again for a 10 yard touchdown to get the Buccaneers within 20-14. Late in the third quarter, Kyle Shanahan gambled on Robbie Gould trying a 57 yard field goal. It was no good. The Buccaneers moved to a 4th and goal at the 4 only 90 seconds into the fourth quarter. The 49ers jumped into the neutral zone to make it 4th and goal at the 2. Bruce Arians pulled his field goal team and decided to go for the lead. Winston threw incomplete. The Buccaneers got it back at the Frisco 41 and moved to a 3rd and 7 at the Frisco 8, again looking for the lead. Winston was sacked for a 5 yard loss. Gay hit the 31 yard field goal to get the Buccaneers within 20-17 with 5 minutes left.

Needing a defensive stop, the Buccaneers could not deliver. Mostert ran for 18 yards, with 15 more tacked on for the defender lowering the head to initiate contact. On 3rd and 8 from the Tampa Bay 29, Garoppolo threw incomplete. Gould hit the 47 yard field goal to make it 23-17 49ers with 2:01 to play. The Buccaneers again were one score away from winning. One play was all Winston needed for that touchdown. Unfortunately for him and the entire organization, it was an interception returned 21 yards for a defensive touchdown. Garoppolo hit Samuel for the 2 point conversion. After a touchback and needing 2 scores, the Bucs moved to a 4th and 6 at the Frisco 37 with one minute left. Winston went deep rather than move the chains and the incompletion ended things. 31-17 49ers

Pittsburgh Steelers at New England Patriots is the Sunday night game. The Steelers are a good team who always lose to the Patriots, especially in New England. Mike Tomlin is a good coach who always loses to Bill Belichick, especially in New England. The prima donna wide receiver who played for Pittsburgh last year, joined and was cut from the Raiders without playing a single game, and joined the Patriots the day before this game, will not be mentioned. He did not play and is not officially a member of the Patriots until Week 2. Even without him, this game was never in doubt. Even with Rob Gronkowski still retired for now, this game was a mismatch from the start. From their own 18, Tom Brady hit Ronnie Burkhead for 17 yards to start things. Bill Belichick went to his bag of tricks. Brady threw across the field backward to Julian Edelman, who threw it back across the field to James White, who raced 32 yards. On the next play Brady went to Josh Gordon for a 20 yard touchdown to make it 7-0 Patriots. 

In the second quarter the Patriots went 55 yards in 12 plays and 5 1/2 minutes. From their own 38, Brady went to Meyers for 22 yards. Despite 2nd and goal at the 7, Brady threw incomplete twice. Stephen Gostkowski hit the 25 yard field goal to make it 10-0 Patriots. Midway through the second quarter, the Patriots faced 3rd and 3 at their own 27. Brady found White for 8 and Edelman for gains fo 16 and 24. Brady then went to Dorsett for a 25 yard touchdown to make it 17-0 Patriots. The Steelers after a touchback moved to a 4th and 1 at the Patriots 47 with 1:57 in the half. Mike Tomlin went for it and Ben Roethlisberger threw incomplete. The short field led to a 41 yard field goal by Gostkowski to make it 20-0 Patriots at halftime.

The second half brought no surprises but one very demoralizing decision for the proud Steelers. A 74 yard drive led to 3rd and goal at the one. Again, Tomlin decided to pass rather than play smash mouth. Big Ben threw incomplete. On 4th and goal at the one, Tomlin opted for the field goal. It was a concession. Chris Boswell hit the 19 yarder, but it was an obvious white flag to avoid a shutout. After a touchback, the Patriots needed only 4 plays to go for the throat. On 3rd and 10 from their own 42, Brady went deep to Dorsett for a 58 yard touchdown to make it 27-3 Patriots. Gostkowski tacked on field goals of 35 in the third quarter and 39 in the fourth quarter to complete the blowout. Players and coaches on both teams had zero patience for imbecilic reporters asking about someone who did not play in the game. Meanwhile, the Patriots sure looked like a 16-0 team on this night. They have a chance for to break the record for biggest blowout win or suffer the most shocking loss since Super Bowl III when they take on Miami next week. The Patriots are the defending Super Bowl champs, and they sure looked like it. 33-3 Patriots

Houston Texans at New Orleans Saints was the early Monday night game. This game was why we watch football. A field position game had the Saints taking over just past midfield midway through the first quarter. On 2nd and 5 from the Houston 11, Drew Brees was intercepted. The Texans took over at their own 6 yard line. Deshaun Watson immediately went bombs away to will Fuller for a 54 yard gain. Early in the second quarter, On 4th and 1 from the Saints 21, Bill O’Brien decided to go for it. Watson faked the handoff, kept it himself, and sprinted down the sideline. He dove for the pylon and made it for the touchdown and the 7-0 Texans lead. The Saints soon faced 3rd and 4 at their own 27. Brees went deep to Jared Cook for 31 yards. On 1st and 10 from the Houston 15, the drive died. A run gained one yard and Brees threw incomplete twice. Wil Lutz hit the 32 yard field goal to get the Saints on the board. 

The Texans came back with a 16 play, 75 yard, 7 1/2 minute drive. On 3rd and 6 from their own 29, Watson hit Deandre Hopkins for 10 yards. On 3rd and 1 from their own 48, Watson hit the newly added Kenny Stills for 4 yards. Stills was lucky enough to be traded away from Miami just before the season started. On 3rd and 8 from the Saints 24, Watson threw incomplete but defensive holding meant an automatic first down. On 3rd and 16 from the Saints 25, a completion only gained 12 yards, but the defense jumped offsides. On 3rd and 11, Watson hit Johnson for 13 yards. On 3rd and goal at the 2, Watson hit Hopkins for the touchdown and a 14-3 Texans lead with 1:47 left in the half. After a touchback, Brees worked the 2 minute drill to perfection. Lutz came in for a 56 yard field goal try to end the half. It was no good. 

The Saints immediately got back into the game at the start of the third quarter. From their own 17, Brees hit Ted Ginn for 11 yards. A completion to Alvin Kamara went for a 41 yard gain. Latavius Murray then ran for a 30 yard touchdown to get the Saints within 14-10. The Texans responded after a touchback. Carlos Hyde ran for a 13 yard gain. On 3rd and 8 from their own 40, Watson hit Will Fuller for 15 yards. On 3rd and 10 from the Saints 45, watson scrambled for 18 yards. On 2nd and 4 from the Saints 21, Watson was intercepted by Lattimore, who returned it 40 yards to the saints 43. However, the defense jumped offsides, nullifying the turnover. On the next play Watson hit Hopkins for the 16 yard touchdown. The Texans led 21-10. 7 months after feeling a trip to the Super Bowl was stolen from them, the Saints were not playing like angry guys on a mission. 

The Saints did respond with an 11 play, 75 yard, 5 1/2 minute drive. After a touchback, Brees hit Kamara for 11 yards and Ginn for gains of 10 and 11 followed by a 7 yard completion to Thomas. Whenever backup quarterback Taysom Hill comes in the game, you know Sean Payton has something planned. On 3rd and 4 from the Houston 9, Hill was a receiver and Brees went to him for the touchdown to get the Saints within 21-17 late in the third quarter. Houston quickly faced 3rd and 8 from their own 18. Watson went for it all and was intercepted. A personal foul penalty on Houston had the Saints taking over just past midfield. Brees went to Thomas for 9 and Kamara got around the end for a 28 yard gain. On the first play of the fourth quarter, Brees went to Tre’Quan Smith for a 14 yard touchdown to give the Saints the 24-21 lead. For most of the fourth quarter, the defenses dug in. After 59 minutes of normalcy, the final 60 seconds brought craziness and a finish for the ages.

The Saints took over at their own 7 yard line with 3 1/2 minutes left in regulation. On 3rd and 2 from their own 15, rather than run the ball, Brees went deep to Ginn for a 41 yard gain at the 2 minute warning. Sean Payton then kept it on the ground. Kamara gained 11 and 4 but then lost 5 yards as the Texans took their final timeout on defense with 1:41 left. On 3rd and 11 from the Houston 34, Sean Payton took no chances. Kamara got the carry again and gained 5 yards. When the opposing team is out of timeouts with less than 2 minutes left, you must run the ball. Every time. Do not even think of throwing the ball. Wil Lutz came in for the 47 yard field goal try. It was good, and the Saints led 27-21 with 50 seconds to play. The Texans had 0 timeouts and had to go 75 yards. The end of this game was ridiculous.

Watson went deep to Hopkins for 38 yards and then went deep again to stills for a 38 yard touchdown. 2 bombs took only 13 seconds. This is how defensive coordinators get fired. All the Texans needed to do was make the extra point for the shocking road upset. Kai Fairbairn missed it. The home crowd went insane as the teams thought overtime was on the horizon. However, a defensive penalty on the extra point for roughing the kicker gave Fairbairn another chance. This time the kick was good, and the Texans had the stunning 28-27 lead. Houston got their miracle. Now it was the Saints who needed one after a touchback. With 37 seconds left and one timeout, Brees went to Ginn for 15 yards and then spiked the ball to stop the clock with 20 seconds left. Then he went to Thomas for 11 yards and spiked the ball to stop the clock with 6 seconds left and the Saints just past midfield. Brees quickly fired to Ginn for 9 yards and the Saints took their final timeout with 2 seconds left. Lutz missed from 56 to end the first half. Now he was being asked to try a career long 58 yards. With everything on the line, Lutz nailed the kick good as the Superdome erupted. Bourbon Street got ready to party as only it can as the Saints began their Super Bowl quest with a heart stopping victory. Brees finished 32 for 43 for 370 yards. The Texans did almost everything right, but Brees is a future first ballot hall of famer for a reason. 30-28 Saints

Denver Broncos at Oakland Raiders was the late Monday night game. Forget Hard Knocks. Forget a prima donna receiver who was released without playing a single game for the Raiders. This was the first game of the Raiders final season in Oakland. They move to Las Vegas next year, and the Oakland faithful desperately wanted a Monday night Football win over their hated rival Denver Broncos. Denver had a rookie coach in Vic Fangio and veteran Joe Flacco starting his very first game for the Broncos. The Raiders had a ton of new talent on both sides of the ball to help Derek Carr. Keelan Doss left to join the Jacksonville practice squad, but a new need at wide receiver had the Raiders bringing him back as a member of the 53 man roster. He was not active for the opener but it was sweet redemption for Doss. The Al Davis torch was lit, the Black Hole was fired up, and the Raiders got the ball first.  From their own 28, rookie running back Josh Jacobs gained 4 and 2. On 3rd and 4 from their own 34, Carr hit Grant for gains of 5 and 9. Jacobs gained another 5 and Carr found Darren Waller for 11 yards and again for 25 more. Jacobs gained 6 and 2 to set up 3rd and 2 from the Denver 8 yard line. The Raiders biggest trouble in years past has been finishing drives. Carr evaded a rusher, pedaled sideways, and fired a laser to Williams for the touchdown and the 7-0 Raiders lead. 

Both defenses dug in after that. Denver did reach a 1st and 10 at the Oakland 31 early in the second quarter, but penalties killed them. Offensive holding pushed them back. On 3rd and 12 from the Oakland 33, Flacco was sacked for a 10 yard loss to push the Broncos out of field goal range. The Raiders took over at their own 5 yard line. A pair of false starts moved the Raiders back to their 2. Jacobs gained 6 and Carr hit Waller for 6 more to set the Raiders up with 3rd and 1 at their own 14. Jacobs gained 5 yards to give the Raiders some breathing room. The Raiders again faced 3rd and 1 from their own 28. This time Carr faked the handoff and went bombs away. The play action pass to Williams went for a 43 yard gain. The Raiders faced yet another 3rd and 1 at the Denver 20. Jacobs gained 3 yards. On 3rd and 5 from the Denver 12, Carr avoid ed the pressure, rolled out, and fired a laser to Hunter Renfrow for a 10 yard gain. On the next play Jacobs did his Marcus Allen impersonation, leaping over the top and stretching the ball over the plane of the goal for the 2 yard touchdown. With 3 1/2 minutes left in the half, the Raiders led 14-0 after the 13 play, 95 yard, 8 1/2 minute drive. 

Denver moved after a touchback to a 1st and 10 at the Oakland 36 with 19 seconds left in the half.  Flacco threw incomplete twice to leave 10 seconds. Flacco hit Freeman for 6 yards, but offensive holding killed the Broncos. With 5 seconds left, Brandon McManus came in for a 64 yard field goal try. It was dead center but just short, no good. The Broncos got the ball to start the third quarter. On 2nd and 8 from their own 27, Flacco went to Sutton for a 24 yard gain. On 3rd and 3 from the Oakland 42, Flacco went to Fant for 20 yards. On 3rd and 1 from the Oakland 13, Lindsay gained 7 yards. On 3rd and goal from the 6, Flacco was sacked and fumbled and the Raiders recovered. Officials ruled Flacco was down, and replay was inconclusive. The Raiders may have also gotten away with a facemask of Flacco, so there was something for both teams to hate about the call. Jon Gruden unsuccessfully challenged the call. McManus hit the 26 yard field goal. With 9 1/2 minute left in the third quarter, the Broncos were on the board down 14-3 after the 12 play, 67 yard, 5 1/2 minute drive. 

Despite the lead, the Raiders had concerns. Their defense was on the field for 22 straight plays to begin the first half and start the second half. Defenses get tired. The Raiders offense needed to do something. On 3rd and 4 from their own 31, Jalen Richard came up inches short of the sticks. The offense had to punt and the defense would not get their rest. Denver took over at their own 24. From their own 47, Freeman broke free for a 26 yard gain that ended horrendously for the Raiders. First, Jonathan Abram was flagged for a helmet to helmet hit on Freeman that drew a penalty and moved Denver to 1st and 10 at the Oakland 13. Even worse, Abram’s leg accidentally hit his own teammate Gareon Conley in the head. Conley had to be taken off the field on a stretcher. The freak accident with 5 minutes left in the third quarter was awful for an already depleted secondary. Denver had only 15 rushing yards in the first half, but were running at will in the third quarter. On 3rd and 5 from the Oakland 8, Flacco fired a perfect pass to the end zone to Deshaun Hamilton. Hamilton dropped it. He was wide open and just dropped it. The Raiders dodged a major bullet. McManus again hit the 28 yard field goal. The 10 play, 68 yard drive had the Broncos within 14-6. More importantly, the Broncos had run 32 plays to only 3 plays for the Raiders since trailing 14-0. Again, the Raiders offense had to get a first down. The defense was spent. 

Rather than run the ball, Carr went for it all on the first play and threw the bomb into double coverage. The ball was overthrown incomplete and Denver may have gotten away with defensive pass interference. On 3rd and 2 from their own 33, Jacobs went straight up the gut for an 11 yard gain and a desperately needed first down as the Oakland defense got a little time to breathe. On 3rd and 3 just past midfield, Carr threw incomplete. A penalty on Denver on a fair catch had the Broncos backed up to their own 4 yard line. On 3rd and 3 from their own 11, the Broncos could have let the third quarter clock expire. Instead, Flacco ran a play and threw a low ball that was almost caught but incomplete. The fourth quarter began with the Broncos punting. Denver took over at their own 40 and Carr quickly fired over the middle to Jacobs, who sloughed through tacklers for a 28 yard gain. On 3rd and 8 from the Denver 28, a 46 yard field goal would be a big deal. The key was to not take a sack. Instead, Carr went deep and fired a perfect pass to Williams for a 24 yard gain. On the next play Jacobs barreled up the middle for a 4 yard touchdown. These Raiders were finishing drives. With 12 minutes left in regulation, the Raiders led 21-6. 

On 2nd and 10 from their own 25, Flacco went bombs away to Emanuel Sanders for a 53 yard gain. On 3rd and 2 from the Oakland 14, with all the time in the world, Flacco was sacked for a 7 yard loss. This was the very definition of a coverage sack. With 8 1/2 minutes left in regulation, the Broncos were within 21-9. One more offensive drive by the Raiders could put the game away. The Raiders were finishing drives. Now they needed to do what their offense has really struggled to do in recent years. They needed to finish a game without having a scare at the end. The defense did all it was asked to do. The offense needed to show it could play power football and grind down clock rather than rely on the defense. 

Instead it was the special teams. Last year Duane Harris electrified the Raiders and burned the Broncos for a 99 yard punt return. This time he returned the ensuing kickoff return 72 yards. It was time for a steady dose of Josh Jacobs. Rodney Hudson is the highest paid center in the NFL, and Jacobs rammed the ball straight up the gut behind Hudson. There was no need for Carr to even raise his arm. Handing the ball off was all he needed to do. From the Denver 30, Jacobs ran for 8, 4, 2, 2, and 4 to set up 3rd and 4 at the Denver 12. Jacobs carried it a 6th straight time but only gained one yard. Critics will call this overly conservative offense, but it was absolutely the right call. By the time Daniel Carlson hit the 29 yard field goal, the Raiders led 24-9 with only 4 1/2 minutes remaining. 

After a touchback, Flacco quickly fired to Cortland Sutton for a 25 yard gain to midfield. A 22 yard completion to Sanders put the ball on the Oakland 20. The defender went for the interception rather than the tackle, and it backfired. With 3 minutes left on 3rd and 7 from the Oakland 17, Flacco fired to Sutton for a 15 yard gain. On 1st and goal at the 2, Flacco tried to run the quick quarterback sneak but was stopped cold. On the next play, Flacco threw a fade to Sanders for the touchdown. With 2:15 to play, the Broncos were within 8 points. The Broncos still had 2 timeouts and the 2 minute warning. Vic Fangio decided to kick it deep rather than go onsides. The Raiders took over after a touchback.

A pair of conservative runs up the middle took the clock to the 2 minute warning. The Raiders faced 3rd and 7. A run would force the Broncos to take their final timeout. A pass would risk and incompletion and preserve that timeout. Either way, one first down would end the game. Plays like this are what is meant by finishing games. Gruden fired a short pass to Williams, who took it for a 10 yard gain as the Oakland Alameda County Coliseum erupted. Jacobs ran for an 11 yard gain for an exclamation point. Carr took a knee.

Carr was magnificent, going 22 of 26 for 259 yards, a pair of touchdowns, and 0 interceptions. The Raiders had no turnovers. The defense did not force a turnover, but they were stout most of the game. They relaxed at the end, but the run defense is much improved. The Raiders have a bruising running back in Jacobs, who gained 85 yards on 23 carries. Most importantly, he banged ahead on 3rd and 1 to extend drives. Except for the brief Marshawn Lynch tenure, Jacobs is the biggest back since the Raiders had Tyrone Wheatley during Gruden’s first run in Oakland in 2000.

Asked who won the final Monday Night Football game in Oakland, ESPN’s Chris Berman would say “The Ray-dahs!” Chucky high-fived the entire Black Hole and hugged the Gorilla-rilla. 24-16 Raiders

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