Excitement in NFL Week 1

Week 1 of the NFL season had a little bit of everything — shocking upsets, thrilling comebacks and last second game-winners. Here are a couple of takeaways from this week’s games: 

Philadelphia Eagles 38, Detroit Lions 35

Four different Eagles found the end zone to push them past the Lions. Amid lackluster passing offenses, rushing was the name of the game in this contest. For the Eagles, quarterback Jalen Hurts rushed 17 times for 90 yards, while running back Miles Sanders added 96 yards on 13 carries. Detroit was just as efficient, with Lions’ running back D’Andre Swift torching the Eagles for 144 yards (he blasted off for a 50-yard dash on his first carry of the game). Eagles’ wide receiver A.J. Brown also lived up to the $100 million extension he signed this off-season. Brown was unguardable, racking up ten catches for 155 yards. Whenever Jalen Hurts needed a big play, he looked to Brown, who consistently tortured the Lions’ defensive backs. The biggest story here is the malleability of Philadelphia’s defense. Despite holding multiple two-score leads, the Eagles allowed the Lions to keep the game close late in the fourth quarter. While credit is due to the scrappy Lions, they lack the talent on paper to compete with a team of Philly’s caliber. In order to assert themselves as a Super Bowl contender, the Eagles need to shore up the holes in their defense, namely their secondary. 

Pittsburgh Steelers 23, Cincinnati Bengals 20 (OT) 

For the first time in NFL history, the Cincinnati Bengals and Pittsburgh Steelers met on the gridiron to kick off the season. The Bengals, who are the reigning AFC champions, struggled mightily, with quarterback Joe Burrow turning the ball over five times and taking seven sacks. The offensive line failed to limit the Steelers’ dynamic pass rushing duo of Cameron Heyward and T.J. Watt, the latter finishing with a sack, three tackles for loss and a leaping interception. Watt left the contest with a torn pectoral muscle during the fourth quarter, leaving questions about the future prospects of the Pittsburgh defense. Another unit with lingering question marks is the aforementioned Bengals’ new offensive line. Offensive tackle Jonah Williams and off-season addition Alex Cappa were given trouble early and often throughout the game. The Bengals’ defense bailed out their offensive counterparts on several drives, helping send the game to overtime but it was Cincinnati’s special teams that ultimately cost them the game. A blocked extra-point attempt sent the game to overtime, and a bad snap resulted in a missed field goal in the extra period, giving the Steelers new life. Pittsburgh capitalized in the final seconds of the game, sending their division rival to an 0-1 start. 

Kansas City Chiefs 44, Arizona Cardinals 21

No Tyreek Hill, no problem, as The Kansas City Chiefs cruised to a 44 to 21 win over the Arizona Cardinals. After superstar wide receiver Hill departed for the sunny shores of Miami during the offseason, many wondered if the Chiefs’ offense would continue their dominance over the rest of the league. Consider the critics silenced. Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes was unstoppable, completing 76.9% of his passes for 360 yards and five TDs. Unsurprisingly, superstar tight end Travis Kelce was the go-to option for Mahomes, netting nine receptions for 121 yards. Kansas City’s new wide receiver duo of JuJu Smith-Schuster (six receptions for 79 yards) and Marquez Valdes-Scantling (4 receptions for 44 yards) consistently won over the middle on crossing routes. On the other hand, the Cardinals’ offense was completely anemic. Looking similar to the team that produced last year’s late-season collapse, head coach Kliff Kingsbury’s offense failed to move the chains and keep their defense off the field. Cardinals’ quarterback Kyler Murray was constantly under siege, rarely being able to unleash his devastating rushing ability. The Chiefs defense was in midseason form, pestering Murray across all 60 minutes. Rookie pass rusher George Karlaftis generated four pressures and two QB hits in his NFL debut. The secondary was stout as well, holding Murray to under 200 yards passing. It was a resounding win by the Chiefs in every facet of the season opener.