The Tampa Bay Buccaneers provided the most surprising outcome with a 48-40 victory over the New Orleans Saints on Sunday. The Saints were heavy favorites at home as the projected NFC South winners while the Buccaneers entered the season as overwhelming favorites to finish last in the division.
In addition to the Buccaneers big upset of the Saints, there were a couple oddities on Sunday. The Steelers and Browns played to a tie with the kicker on each team missing a game-ending field goal attempt in overtime. The Dolphins defeated the Titans in the longest game in since the NFL-AFL merger in 1970. When all was said and done, the game lasted seven hours and eight minutes.
Here are the best and worst from Week 1.
Offensive Player of the Week
Fitzpatrick was “Fitzmagic” on Sunday. He completed 21-of-28 passes for 417 yards and four touchdowns without an interception in the victory at the Superdome. He also ran for 36 yards and a touchdown and was not sacked. In addition, he converted 17 of his 28 pass attempts into a first down. Fitzpatrick led all quarterbacks in yards per attempt (14.9) and quarterback rating (156.2) as well as tied for the most completions of 20-yards or more (eight) and 40-yards or more (two).
Defensive Player of the Week
Lee was dominant on Monday at Ford Field. He recorded seven tackles, six solo, broke up three passes and intercepted three more. He also returned one of his interceptions for a touchdown. Along with the stats, Lee made his big plays at big moments of the game. He intercepted Matthew Stafford and returned it for a touchdown with the Jets leading by a touchdown. Giving the Jets a two-score lead put the momentum in the Jets favor for good. He broke the will of the Lions two series that set up a field goal. The Jets took an insurmountable 24-point before the end of the end quarter.
Rookie of the Week
Ward recorded six tackles, two solos, three passes defensed and two interceptions. The fourth overall pick in April recorded both of his interceptions in the first half, including one inside his own red zone. Also, both picks ended long and promising drives for the Steelers.
Play of the Week
Tyreek Hill’s 58-yard touchdown catch from Patrick Mahomes
Hill provided plenty of highlights of in the Chiefs’ victory over the Chargers Sunday. His 91-yard punt return was electrifying, but the 58-yard catch and run in the first quarter was impressive on multiple levels. First, Mahomes was under pressure very quickly. He slung the ball from an unconventional arm slot and with plenty of zip on it. Then Hill just blew through a tackle attempt and then no one was ever close to catching him.
The Detroit Lions
The Lions missed the playoffs by one game last season and then changed head coaches in the offseason. There was a lot of hype surrounding new head coach Matt Patricia. There was also a lot of excitement for the team’s home opener for several reasons. They were in the national spotlight on Monday Night Football and were playing a team expected to finish well below .500 in the standings. It started out great with a pick-six on the first play. Then things completely went off the rails. The Lions could not get going on offense or defense, and, despite tying the game early in the third quarter, were never really in control of the game. Once the game got out of hand by the midway point of the third quarter, the Lions didn’t put any fight. The Lions were clearly the worst team in the NFC North in Week 1.
Aaron Rodgers’ return in the second half
Rodgers led the Packers’ miraculous fourth-quarter comeback. It was incredible, but the whole story of the game has been pointed at Rodgers’ injury and then return. Willis Reed has been brought up, but let’s slow down on that. The narrative has been painted that Rodgers was carted off the field in the first half and then returned at halftime. He wasn’t carted off. He rode the cart to the locker room. He walked from the medical tent to the cart with a slight limp, then sat in the seat with his leg bent. Those two things are clues that it wasn’t a serious knee injury. The storyline needs to be the remarkable comeback on the scoreboard, not his return to the field.
Rasul Douglas’ participation and the interception
Douglas played one snap on defense in coverage in Thursday’s opener. Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan picked on the second-year cornerback when starter Ronald Darby left with cramps. However, it was Douglas that got the last laugh. The former third-round draft pick undercut intended receiver Julio Jones and recorded the interception. Douglas was the only defensive back in Week 1 to intercept the only pass thrown his direction while playing just one play in coverage.