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Team Notes week 2 2022
NEWS, NOTES, RUMORS AND OTHER GOOD STUFF
Directly from the desk of FlashUpdate Editor Bob Harris. The good; the bad; and yes. ... Even the Bears. There is no better way to jump start your weekend than browsing these always educational -- often irreverent -- team-by-team, Fantasy-specific offerings. ...
Access specific teams by clicking on a team name in the schedule appearing directly to your left or by clicking on a helmet below; return to the helmets by hitting the link labeled "Menu" following each teams notes. ...
Arizona CardinalsCompiled by FootballDiehards Editor Bob Harris | Updated 13 September 2022
According to ESPN.com's Josh Weinfuss, "The Cardinals picked up where they left off last season -- and that's not a good thing."
Weinfuss went on to note that Arizona on Sunday lacked discipline, offensive ingenuity, solid tackling and consistent protection of Kyler Murray. For all the talk this offseason of getting over last year's late meltdown and winning at home, none of it came to fruition in a 44-21 blowout loss to the Chiefs.
Murray used one sentence at the start of his press conference to sum up his team's performance: "They kicked our ass."
It was the worst season-opening loss for the Cardinals since they went to New York in 2005 and lost by 23 to the Giants in Kurt Warner's first game with the team.
Kansas City held a 37-7 lead late in the third quarter. Arizona scored a pair of cosmetic touchdowns in the fourth quarter, but the team was never really in it.
"I think key moments in that game, we hurt ourselves. I know we hurt ourselves, shot ourselves in the foot in a lot of those moments," Murray said in his postgame press conference. "Credit to them, like I said. There's no shying away from what happened. But as far as us, you look in the mirror -- attention to detail. The little things, the little things, the little things, we did not execute in the moments where we needed to. And that's what happens when you play a good team."
Murray added he thought it was a good thing to have such a poor performance early in the season.
"You can't feel yourself in this league. You get embarrassed. And that's kind of what happened today," Murray said. "Good team over there. They executed. You could tell, there was a complete difference -- energy was higher. And they didn't shoot themselves in the foot. That's what's going to happen when you do those things."
There were positives.
They had no turnovers against the Chiefs, which didn't matter Sunday, but would be a nice trend to continue as they go through their schedule. Some of the team's key playmakers -- including Marquise Brown, James Conner and Zach Ertz -- scored touchdowns, even if a few of those were well after the game was decided.
The Cardinals will have a chance to get in the win column next Sunday against the Raiders.
For what it's worth, Murray said he felt like the Cardinals had a good week of practice, but none of it matters if they don't execute during the game.
"Everybody says what they want to say about the week, mentality, and all that shit -- it doesn't matter," Murray said. "You come out there on Sunday and get your ass beat, that's what happens. You can come into the game, you can wake up [with] the best feeling ever, and you'll still get your ass beat on Sunday if you don't execute. You've got to execute -- that's all it comes down to."
Kliff Kingsbury, however, didn't agree with Murray's assessment of the team's preparations. The coach said after the game that practicing better needs to be addressed before this week's game.
"Just practice habits, having a sense of urgency," Kingsbury told Weinfuss. "We got to practice better. There's no doubt. You can't say you're gonna do it on game day and not do it in practice."
But, as Profootballtalk.com's Michael David Smith points out, when Kingsbury describes what the Cardinals need to improve upon, he's describing one of his own responsibilities. The head coach is in charge of organizing the practice and ensuring that all of the assistant coaches and players are practicing productively.
If the Cardinals' practices aren't going well, that's on Kingsbury to fix.
And it needs to get fixed in a hurry: The Cardinals did not look on either side of the ball. They need to look a lot better next Sunday, after a good week of practice.
The first thing Arizona needs to address is the lack of offensive production. Not enough plays were run for A.J. Green, Brown and Ertz early on, causing the offense to look stuck, which led to Arizona scoring just seven points in the first three quarters.
Getting healthier would help. ... Kingsbury said defensive end J.J. Watt (calf) and Pugh (neck) are day-to-day this week. Wide receiver Rondale Moore (hamstring) will test himself this week, but Kingsbury noted that with how much running Moore must do in games, they will be careful with his recovery.
With Moore out, Greg Dortch had easily the best game of his career with seven catches for 63 yards. Dortch has bounced around the league for four seasons, but appears to have found a home in Arizona. He was good during training camp and should have a fairly extensive roll for the next few weeks until Hopkins and Antoine Wesley return.
Andy Isabella wasn't used much and Darren Urban of the team's official website expects Ertz will be more involved earlier in the game this week.
Isabella (back) did not practice Wednesday. Ertz (calf) is expected to return to practice fully on Thursday, per Kingsbury. The coach added that Ertz was on a pitch count in the Week 1 loss to Kansas City.
I'll have more on all the injured Cardinals via Late-Breaking Update in coming days.
Also according to Urban, there's no real reason to worry about RB2 at this point. It was Eno Benjamin, but in reality, it was Conner or bust. Conner garnered 72 percent of snaps, while Benjamin had 34 percent. Darrel Williams didn't have a single snap against the Chiefs.
Second-round tight end Trey McBride was a healthy scratch. Kingsbury said he is still thinking too much, and with three vets -- Ertz, Maxx Williams and Stephen Anderson –- the Cardinals can use on offense and special teams, it was the move the coach wanted to make.
You can access complete stats for the Cardinals Week 1 game via our exclusive Fantasy BoxScore.
QBs: Kyler Murray, Clayton Tune
RBs: James Conner, Michael Carter, Emari Demercado
WRs: Marquise Brown, Michael Wilson, Rondale Moore, Greg Dortch, Zach Pascal
TEs: Trey McBride, Geoff Swaim, Zach Ertz
Atlanta FalconsCompiled by FootballDiehards Editor Bob Harris | Updated 13 September 2022
The Falcons, who have seemingly never recovered from squandering a 28-3 lead in the 2017 Super Bowl, added another meltdown to their resume in their first game of the post-Matt Ryan era.
Cordarrelle Patterson rushed for a career-high 120 yards, including a 5-yard scoring burst, and Marcus Mariota made his first start since 2019 as Ryan's replacement.
Mariota threw for 215 yards and added 72 on the ground, highlight by a 2-yard touchdown run.
But in the end, the Falcons let what seemed like a sure victory get away.
Still, as ESPN.com's Michael Rothstein suggested, even in a loss, there were clear changes and obvious promise.
In terms of formations and personnel, the Falcons varied looks and used motion often -- including on two plays where rookie receiver Drake London came across the back of the formation as the was ball snapped, an intriguing Smith wrinkle. Formations ranged from a full-house backfield with Mariota in the pistol to the typical empty shotgun formation many teams will run.
There were designed rollouts to move the pocket and designed quarterback runs for Mariota, who had 12 carries.
Those were plays that would not have been as successful last season with Ryan, who isn't a dual-threat option like Mariota and the rookie Desmond Ridder, running the offense.
With a multitude of Falcons who can play different spots -- tight ends Kyle Pitts and Parker Hesse can line up all over the formation, as can Patterson and Avery Williams, along with London -- it allowed for their diverse skill sets to keep defenses guessing.
It led to passing attempts to nine different receivers, eight of whom caught at least one, led by five receptions for 74 yards for London in his first career game.
It was, "for the most part," what head coach Arthur Smith wanted to see, and the diversity of personnel and packages was how Smith envisioned it. Atlanta ran the ball 38 times and threw it 32 times.
"I do think we're so versatile in a lot of things that we do that it kind of just depends week-to-week," Mariota said. "I guess today was one of those days where I thought we were doing a great job and were able to run the football.
"So yes, I think we're on the right track, but we just have to be better in the red zone and some of these third-down situations."
If there was an offensive failing Sunday, it was those situations.
Rothstein notes that Atlanta converted 5 of 13 third downs, and only 2 of 6 in the first half. It converted 2 of 4 red zone chances, including a costly Mariota fumble in the third quarter that could have given the Falcons more of a cushion before the collapse -- a play where Mariota "lost track of where I was" while he was trying to run for the first down.
But the run game was also where Atlanta thrived. One first half drive -- when the Falcons ran the ball on of nine plays, ending in a Patterson touchdown -- felt like a potential ideal Smith drive come to life.
"I love it, man," Patterson said. "We go as Arthur go. Whatever Arthur want, we're going to go and give it to him."
The Falcons ran for 201 yards, the highest total for the Falcons since a 215-yard game against Arizona in 2018. They accomplished that despite having to alter the offensive game plan after Patterson's running mate, Damien Williams, missed the majority of the game with an ankle injury.
Patterson joked with Williams, who eventually returned in the fourth quarter after suffering a rib injury on the second drive, he was cramping so Williams had to get back out there.
But it also created a career day for Patterson, with highs in carries (22) as well as rushing yards, even though after the game he was shocked he had that many carries.
Patterson didn't expect to play as much as he did, because he and Williams had discussed being a tandem backfield for months.
When Williams got hurt, Patterson had no choice. The Falcons chose not to play rookie Tyler Allgeier, who was a healthy scratch.
The offense continued operating with the efficiency the Falcons had hoped for anyway.
Rothstein summed up: "It's an offense with many options, one with a lot of diverse players and one that if the Falcons are going to compete in 2022, has to look at least as it did Sunday: Efficient, productive and balanced. ..."
Next up, the Falcons take on the Rams in Los Angeles this Sunday. ...
On the health front. ... Even after missing almost three weeks of practice, London still went out there against the Saints and averaged nearly 15 yards per catch. Not too shabby for someone who -- up until this week -- was not 100 percent. London was asked if the knee injury he sustained in Detroit last month would have happened in the regular season instead of the preseason could he have played sooner?
He said: "To be honest, I don't think so."
Later he was asked what the last three weeks of working back looked like. He said: "Trying to be able to run. That's pretty much it. ..."
Asked about his rib injury, Williams said an opposing defender fell on him. "All 300 pounds on that little baby rib, man," the veteran back said. "That's all that was, man."
The ball got him a little bit, too. He told reporters he was a bit sore Monday but no ribs were broken.
I'll follow up as needed; watch the Late-Breaking Updates section for more. ...
We'll see if Williams' injury is enough to get Allgeier on the active roster this week.
For those interested: Snap counts went a follows: Pitts was on the field for 84 percent of the team's plays; London 72 percent; Patterson 65 percent; Hesse 64 percent; Olamide Zaccheaus 60 percent and Bryan Edwards 47 percent.
And finally. ... Tight end Anthony Firkser played in the Falcons opener as a practice squad elevation and they’ve decided to keep him on the active roster on a permanent basis.
The team announced that they have signed Firkser off the practice squad on Tuesday. He played three snaps and caught one pass against the Saints.
You can access complete stats for the Falcons Week 1 game via our exclusive Fantasy BoxScore.
QBs: Desmond Ridder, Taylor Heinicke, Logan Woodside
RBs: Bijan Robinson, Tyler Allgeier, Cordarrelle Patterson
WRs: Drake London, Mack Hollins, KhaDarel Hodge, Van Jefferson, Scott Miller, Jared Bernhardt, Josh Ali
TEs: Kyle Pitts, Jonnu Smith, MyCole Pruitt, John FitzPatrick
Baltimore RavensCompiled by FootballDiehards Editor Bob Harris | Updated 13 September 2022
As ESPN.com’s Jamison Hensley recounted, before Lamar Jackson took his first snap of the season, the football world was talking about whether the quarterback should have taken his team's last contract offer and whether the lack of a new deal would become a distraction.
Jackson then went out and showed everyone what he's always focused on this time of year -- winning.
In Sunday's season-opening 24-9 victory at the New York Jets, Jackson delivered three big touchdown passes and, more importantly, delivered the Ravens' first win since Nov. 28.
It didn't matter that Baltimore began the season without two Pro Bowl players (offensive tackle Ronnie Stanley and cornerback Marcus Peters) as well as its top two running backs (J.K. Dobbins and Gus Edwards). The Ravens had Jackson back, and the former NFL MVP wasn't thinking about contract talks that got tabled a few days earlier.
"He's focused on us. He's focused on the team," wide receiver Rashod Bateman said. "We never talk about it. It doesn't come up for us. We all know it's there. But we also know we got to play football, and that's what we focus on."
Jackson was on point with his downfield passing. He became the first Ravens quarterback in eight years to throw three touchdown passes that traveled at least 15 yards in the air.
His first touchdown pass was a 25-yard strike to Devin Duvernay. This was the smallest passing window -- there was 0.11 yards of separation -- for any NFL touchdown pass over the past four seasons, according to NFL Next Gen Stats.
Jackson's last touchdown was a 55-yard toss to Bateman. That was the first time Jackson had completed a throw that went 50-plus yards in the air, according to ESPN Stats and Information.
Head coach John Harbaugh was just as impressed with how Jackson handled the offense. He managed the clock. He put teammates in the right spots. He showed poise in the pocket.
"He played a patient, veteran quarterback game," Harbaugh said. "He was in control of everything. He played a really veteran, winning-quarterback type of a game."
It was only eight months ago when the Ravens ended a disappointing season on a six-game losing streak.
In 2021, the Ravens couldn't overcome the loss of Jackson, who missed the final four games with a left ankle injury.
By getting Baltimore on the winning track again Sunday, Jackson became the fifth quarterback in the Super Bowl era to win at least 38 of his first 50 starts. Jackson trails only Patrick Mahomes and Ken Stabler, both of whom won 40 of their first 50 starts.
Next up, Baltimore hosts Miami on Sunday. The Dolphins beat New England 20-7 in their opener.
The Ravens lost 22-10 at Miami last November in an early sign of trouble before Baltimore faded down the stretch. That game was also the second of seven consecutive wins for the Dolphins -- a run that nearly landed them in the playoffs. ...
Back to that contract. ... On Sunday morning, sources told ESPN's Chris Mortensen and Adam Schefter that Jackson turned down the Ravens' five-year extension offer worth over $250 million with $133 million guaranteed at signing. Sources told Hensley that team officials balked at Jackson's desire to have a fully guaranteed deal, similar to the one given to Deshaun Watson, which led to the Ravens announcing Friday that talks had been suspended until the end of the season.
After Sunday's game, Jackson told ESPN's Dianna Russini that he turned down an offer that included guaranteed money between $160 million and $180 million.
Asked if he's "going to ride it out all year," Jackson told Russini with a smile, "We'll see."
Other notes of interest. ... After trading Marquise Brown in the offseason, Baltimore will likely lean more on Bateman in the passing game, but Duvernay's emergence may be an even more encouraging sign.
To that point, Bateman paced the wide receivers with 37 (66 percent) snaps, as expected. While Duvernay scored two touchdowns, the snaps were spread almost evenly between he and Demarcus Robinson (29 to 25). Tylan Wallace (six snaps) and James Proche II (five snaps) did not see much offensive action.
Jackson finished as PFF's eighth-highest graded passer on Sunday, at 72.0. He tied Jalen Hurts with the sixth-highest QB grade overall when factoring in his running (six carries for 17 yards).
Tight end Mark Andrews also saw a heavy workload with 84 percent of the offensive snaps. That's higher than all but two games from last season. Rookie tight end Isaiah Likely was used on 45 percent of the snaps but finished without a catch on four targets.
Despite signing with the Ravens less than two weeks before the season-opener, running back Kenyan Drake got the start and the lion's share of the backfield snaps with 33 (59 percent). Drake had 11 carries for 31 yards. Mike Davis had seven snaps (12 percent), which was less than Justice Hill's 11 (20 percent).
Drake led Baltimore in rushing, but had just 31 yards on 11 carries Sunday.
"He's still learning the offense," Harbaugh said. "There's carryover, but it's not the same from team to team."
Davis ran twice for 11 yards and Hill had two runs for four yards. Offensive coordinator Greg Roman said last week that the rotation might look different every week and Baltimore would likely ride the hot hand.
Also. ... Dobbins took a big step forward as a full participant in Wedneday's practice. "Dobbins looked really good in early portion of practice," tweeted Jeff Zrebiec of The Athletic. "Was moving around and cutting well."
I'll have more on that via Late-Breaking Update as the week progresses. ...
Elsewhere on the injury front. ... The Ravens lost tackle Ja'Wuan James to a torn Achilles tendon -- the same injury that kept him out all last season. Harbaugh also announced Monday that cornerback Kyle Fuller is out for the season after injuring his left knee.
James started at LT because the Ravens are still waiting for Ronnie Stanley to return from lingering ankle problems. Harbaugh was asked if the team might look for external help at that position now.
"There's a lot of moving parts that go with that -- where we're at with our team, what's out there, those kind of things," Harbaugh said. "We'll continue to talk about those things. ..."
You can access complete stats for the Ravens Week 1 game via our exclusive Fantasy BoxScore.
QBs: Lamar Jackson, Tyler Huntley, Josh Johnson
RBs: Gus Edwards, Keaton Mitchell, Justice Hill, J.K. Dobbins
WRs: Zay Flowers, Odell Beckham, Rashod Bateman, Nelson Agholor, Tylan Wallace
TEs: Isaiah Likely, Charlie Kolar, Mark Andrews
Buffalo BillsCompiled by FootballDiehards Editor Bob Harris | Updated 13 September 2022
As ESPN.com's Alaina Getzenberg noted, all of the expectations in the world were on the Bills' shoulders heading into the season-opening game against the defending Super Bowl champion Los Angeles Rams last Thursday night. The Bills delivered in a big way, making a statement to the rest of the league and coming away with a 31-10 win at SoFi Stadium despite first-half mistakes.
"We knew how big of a deal it was for us," wide receiver Gabe Davis said. "We knew the stage that we were on. We knew that everybody would be watching and just know to play our game."
After going into halftime tied at 10, the Bills -- this season's Super Bowl favorites, according to Caesars Sportsbook -- went full steam ahead in the second half, scoring touchdowns on three straight possessions, while forcing two punts and intercepting quarterback Matthew Stafford twice in the second half alone.
The Bills went into the half tied despite two first-half interceptions by Allen, one of which bounced off wide receiver Isaiah McKenzie, and a fumble by rookie running back James Cook on his first career NFL snap.
Allen said after the game, however, he was happy to end the second quarter tied even with the mistakes. Offensive coordinator Ken Dorsey, in his first regular-season game in the role, rallied the team to start the second half on a strong note.
"[Dorsey] came in at halftime and he understood that we couldn't ride the roller coaster," wide receiver Stefon Diggs said. "There was gonna be ebbs and flows of the game. And as players and as a coach, he did some great things when he came in the locker room, calmed us down and said, 'Stop shooting ourself in the foot.'"
Allen led the way in the second half, including opening up the field in the fourth quarter, completing a pass of 47 yards to Davis and throwing a 53-yard touchdown pass to Diggs.
He finished 26-of-33 (83.9 percent) for 297 yards and three touchdowns. Allen's completion percentage broke the Bills' record for a regular-season game, previously set by Trent Edwards in 2008. He found success by getting rid of the ball quickly, averaging 2.47 seconds per drop-back on his passes, the second-fastest of his career, according to NFL Next Gen Stats.
Allen also was the team's leading rusher with nine carries for 57 yards and a score, despite questions on the team limiting his scrambling this season to keep him healthy.
"Limiting the hits, obviously slide and getting out of bounds, it's the utmost importance there," Allen said. "The best ability is availability, but again, when I'm called upon to do something for my team, I'm willing to do it."
The Bills' offense had success maintaining drives on third down, finishing 9-for-10 (90 percent), becoming the fourth team in the past 50 seasons to convert 90 percent of its third downs in a game. Three of their four touchdowns were scored on third down.
The defense gave Stafford fits, sacking him seven times, the most Stafford has been sacked as a Ram. All seven of the sacks came while sending four or fewer pass rushers, the Bills' second-most sacks when sending four or fewer rushers since ESPN began tracking pass rushers in 2006 (they had eight against Washington in 2011).
The Bills will now get a long break before hosting the Tennessee Titans on Monday Night Football in Week 2.
"I wouldn't really say it was a signature win. I would say it was the first game," Diggs said. "Because people win their first game and can lose every last one of them after that. So, try not to ride that wave. We did some good things, we had four turnovers. Four turnovers can cost you the game. Luckily our defense, they stepped up, they played a hell of a game. We got to continue to get better on offense. We did some good things but got to get back in the lab. ..."
Other notes of interest. ... Will the Bills continue to use Allen as a rusher at this high of a level throughout the season?
As Getzenberg suggested, while his stiff-arm near the sideline was impressive and caught attention, the amount of hits the quarterback is taking through the course of the season is something that the team has talked about trying to minimize, especially early in the year.
"Limiting the hits, obviously slide and getting outta bounds -- it's the utmost importance there," Allen said. "The best ability is availability, but again, when I'm called upon to do something for my team, I'm willing to do it."
Should Allen be rushing with a two-touchdown lead even if he is effective? Dorsey will have to continue to work on the right balance throughout the season.
By the way. ... It was Allen's seventh career game with three passing TDs and a rushing TD, third-most in NFL history, per ESPN Stats and Info. That trails only Tom Brady (8) and Drew Brees (9).
In the second half, Allen had a perfect passer rating (158.3).
Allen was moving at 13.6 mph before throwing his 53-yard TD to Diggs. Per Next Gen Stats, that's the fastest a QB has been running on a completion of at least 50 air yards since 2016.
While Allen led the offensive charge in passing and rushing, Diggs put on a receiving show with eight receptions for 122 yards and a touchdown.'
McKenzie's debut as Buffalo's slot receiver was spotty. Though he scored the go-ahead touchdown on a 7-yard catch, McKenzie's inability to get his hands on Allen's pass led to an interception on Buffalo's second possession at the Rams 24.
As for the backfield, the Bills have Cook as their No. 3 running back behind Devin Singletary and Zack Moss.
While some fans may be concerned about Cook's spot on the depth chart, Syracuse.com's Ryan Talbot advised not reading too much into it.
Singletary has earned the role as Buffalo's back based on his play down the stretch last year. Behind him, however, Buffalo likely has specialized roles for both backs.
Moss has looked more explosive this summer after showing he has fully recovered from an ankle injury that hampered him in 2021. The veteran could spell Singletary early in the season, but his specific role could be picking up the tough yards in short down and distance situations or being the team's primary goal line back.
Talbot went on to suggest Cook will likely get early opportunities as a pass catcher in Buffalo's offense, but he has an extra gear that both Singletary and Moss lack. If the Bills are looking for a home run out of the backfield, Cook could get his number called in Week 1 and throughout the season.
All three should factor into Buffalo's offense. ...
You can access complete stats for the 2 Week 1 game via our exclusive Fantasy BoxScore.
QBs: Josh Allen
RBs: James Cook, Latavius Murray, Ty Johnson
WRs: Stefon Diggs, Gabe Davis, Khalil Shakir, Trent Sherfield, Deonte Harty
TEs: Dalton Kincaid, Quintin Morris, Dawson Knox
Carolina PanthersCompiled by FootballDiehards Editor Bob Harris | Updated 13 September 2022
Baker Mayfield didn't get his revenge against the Cleveland Browns thanks in part to what Carolina Panthers running back Christian McCaffrey referred to as "horrid" roughing the passer penalty on defensive end Brian Burns, but he came close.
After looking dreadful for almost three quarters, Mayfield led the Panthers to 17 fourth-quarter points and the lead before the Browns spoiled his revenge party with a 58-yard field goal by rookie kicker Cade York with eight seconds left.
The game-winning drive was aided by a roughing the passer penalty on the first play that gave Cleveland a first down at its own 40. Head referee Brad Rogers said the call was made because there was "forcible contact to the head and neck area."
McCaffrey saw it differently.
"It was a horrid call," he said.
The 26-24 loss left Mayfield 0-4 in NFL openers, including 0-3 with the Browns.
"Everybody made this game out to be the Super Bowl," Mayfield said. "But despite what everybody is going to make of this, there's 16 more games. The Super Bowl is not until February."
Mayfield shouldered much of the responsibility for this loss because of a slow start by him and the offense. He was 10-for-19 for 101 yards with four balls tipped at the line of scrimmage, an interception and two sacks in the first half. He also muffed a snap in the shotgun.
He finished with five tipped passes at the line, a trend that began in Cleveland where his 44 passes batted down at the line from 2018-2021 were the most in the NFL.
"I have to do a better job of finding angles and windows to throw it, and we've got to get their hands down," Mayfield said. "But this team fought. That's why this is so disappointing."
Mayfield's only big play in the half was a 50-yard completion to tight end Ian Thomas, who was wide open down the middle of the field.
It got so bad that he was booed for the first time after being forced to throw the ball away under pressure to end the fifth of his seven possessions.
There also were boos as the Panthers left for the locker room at halftime down 17-7. It was so bad that Quincy Avery, the personal passing coach for suspended Browns quarterback Deshaun Watson, tweeted: "That's the Baker we know and love."
Mayfield finally showed some of the energy the Panthers were looking for out of him late in the third quarter and early into the fourth quarter with a touchdown drive he capped with a 7-yard scramble up the middle.
He then showed some of the emotion he has throughout his career, slamming the ball into the padded stadium wall after cutting the lead to 20-14.
"He's the ultimate fighter," offensive guard Brady Christensen said of Mayfield.
After a Cleveland field goal, Mayfield threw a 75-yard touchdown pass to Robbie Anderson to trim the lead to 23-21 with 6:02 remaining.
Mayfield finished 16-for-27 for 235 yards.
"I thought Baker stood in there and took all the bullets and gave the plays that gave us a chance to win," head coach Matt Rhule said.
Indeed, as ESPN.com's David Newton suggests, the Panthers still don't know whether Mayfield can be a long-term solution at quarterback, but they know they have a quarterback capable of bringing them back in the fourth quarter -- something they haven't had the past few years.
The bigger question is why McCaffrey and D.J. Moore weren't bigger factors in the game plan?
As Associated Press sports writer Steve Reed put it, "The NFL is a star-driven league. And when you have big-time weapons on offense, you need to get them the football.
"See Justin Jefferson in Minnesota, Jonathan Taylor in Indianapolis or Cooper Kupp in Los Angeles."
When healthy, McCaffrey is one of the most productive players in the league. But he only touched the ball five times on the team's first 27 offensive plays. The 2019 All-Pro finished with just 10 carries for 33 yards and four receptions for 24 yards -- one of his worst games as a pro.
If Carolina's plan is to keep McCaffrey fresh for the fourth quarter, they may want to think again -- it's hard to play from behind in this league.
Moore is coming off three straight 1,150-yard seasons and is clearly Carolina's most talented receiver. Yet he was only targeted six times, finishing with three catches for 43 yards. He got one carry for 7 yards.
"They have to touch the football, there's no doubt," head coach Matt Rhule said Monday.
Rhule said the Panthers played about as badly as they could on offense in the first half, netting 13 yards on their first five possessions.
Carolina only ran 50 offensive plays and the opportunities were limited early.
Moving forward, McCaffrey and Moore are the players new offensive coordinator Ben McAdoo needs to focus the offense around if the Panthers are to bounce back from back-to-back five-win seasons.
"The first half was just poor," Rhule said. "In the second half, once we started executing, you see Christian put two or three plays together and you see D.J. make an explosive play. We will have to pick up this week in terms of how we played in the fourth quarter."
McCaffrey wasn't thinking about the workload, only the result.
"I don't think anything about it. I'm just on to the next play all the time," McCaffrey said. "Like I said, I have no idea. I know that it's hard to get anybody touches when you're going three-and-out and staying behind the chains with penalties and all that stuff. I haven't watched the tape yet. All I know is I don't really care about any of that. I just care about winning and doing my job on every play, whether I get the ball or I don't."
For the record, McCaffrey played 81 percent of the snaps with D'Onta Foreman playing seven snaps and Chuba Hubbard playing three snaps.
Moore and Anderson both played 100 percent of the offensive snaps, marking just the second time in their Panthers careers that either has played every snap. However, it's the first time that both played every snap in the same game.
Anderson, who is coming off a highly disappointing season a year ago, turned in a big outing against the Browns with five catches for 102 yards -- most of that coming on the above-mentioned 75-yard touchdown in which he used his speed to get behind the defense.
Shi Smith was the only other wide receiver to play on offense, tallying 77 percent of the snaps. Both Rashard Higgins and Terrace Marshall Jr. were active but did not play.
On the injury front. ... Returner Andre Roberts injured his knee against the Browns and was placed on injured reserve. He will have to miss at least four games before he’ll become eligible to return.
Smith is likely to take over punt return duties while Chuba Hubbard and Laviska Shenault Jr. are options for kickoff duty. ...
Next up, the Panthers travel to face the Giants (1-0) on Sunday before returning home for three straight games. Carolina has now lost eight straight dating to last season -- the longest streak in the NFL. ...
A few final notes. ... There were four fumbled shotgun snaps between center Pat Elflein and Mayfield against the Browns. "Poor execution by me," Elflein said. "Baker and I talked about it. We addressed it and we got it fixed. We're going to work on it in practice and move on." While Elflein took responsibility, at least two of those snaps hit Mayfield directly in the hands.
New kicker Eddy Pineiro had a mixed bag of a day.
He kicked what could have been a game-winning field goal with 1:13 left in the game, hitting a 34-yarder.
"It definitely helps the confidence, but I'm just bummed out right now," Pineiro said. "But it does help the confidence, and we've got to keep working."
He also kicked off out of bounds in the second quarter, giving the Browns the ball at the 40-yard line. They'd go on to tack on a field goal just before the half.
"I've got to work on my kickoffs; I didn't kick off good today," he said. "Hit one out of bounds; I've got to work on that.
"I just tried to hit it too hard. Came across it. Just have to be smooth. I was not smooth on that one. ..."
You can access complete stats for the Panthers Week 1 game via our exclusive Fantasy BoxScore.
QBs: Bryce Young, Andy Dalton
RBs: Chuba Hubbard, Miles Sanders, Raheem Blackshear
WRs: Adam Thielen, Jonathan Mingo, D.J. Chark, Terrace Marshall Jr., Laviska Shenault, Ihmir Smith-Marsette, Mike Strachan
TEs: Hayden Hurst, Tommy Tremble, Ian Thomas, Giovanni Ricci
Chicago BearsCompiled by FootballDiehards Editor Bob Harris | Updated 13 September 2022
As ESPN.com's Courtney Cronin notes, the Bears showed in Sunday's 19-10 win over the 49ers they're capable of fighting back despite a sloppy and ineffective start.
In the first half, quarterback Justin Fields went 3-for-9 for 19 yards and an interception. Chicago's pass protection was a mess and the Bears got past their own 35-yard line only once. It was a totally different story in the second half.
Fields had a window to get the Bears back in this game by utilizing his incredible playmaking ability to extend a play for Chicago's first score of the game.
Fields ended up going 5-for-8 for 102 yards and two touchdown passes in the second half, and the Bears' offense scored touchdowns on three straight possessions to solidify their first win of the season.
But make no mistake, head coach Matt Eberflus earned his first NFL win because his team won the turnover and penalty differentials.
The Bears totaled two takeaways -- cornerback Jaylon Johnson and safety Jaquan Brisker combined for a forced fumble and recovery -- and just three penalties for 24 yards. Fifteen of those penalty yards came when holder Trenton Gill was flagged for trying to soak up water on the field with a towel.
"We've said from the onset that we're going to play smart, aggressive football," Eberflus said. "You can still hit, and do the things, and play aggressive, and finish plays, and do it the right way. But you do it the smart, aggressive way."
Yes, Chicago proved its ability to bounce back from a slow start when Fields and the offense ripped off touchdowns on three straight possessions after going scoreless in the first half.
But it was the Bears' defense that provided consistency. The Bears did not blitz Trey Lance on any of his 34 dropbacks and still got pressure on him 12 times, limiting the second-year quarterback to 1-of-7 for minus-2 yards passing on those dropbacks, plus two sacks and three scrambles.
What the Bears learned was they could set the tone with their defense and eventually everything else would fall into place.
As the offense got better in the second half, Chicago's defense continued to hum. The Bears cut down on the 49ers' running game (6.4 yards per rush allowed in the first half, 3.2 yards per rush in the second) as a way to stifle an offense known for coming at opponents from all angles.
"It puts a bigger belief in the locker room," defensive end Robert Quinn said. "Guys with the ups and down and all the 'ifs.'
"Regardless of what the outside says, we can control the message in this locker room."
But how can the Bears get their skill position players involved sooner?
Per Cronin, the Bears tried to commit to the run in the first half (19 rushing attempts), and it made sense due to the miserable weather and soggy field conditions, but it took too long for Chicago to open things up against a 49ers secondary that got stuck in cement.
Fields didn't connect with a wide receiver until he turned a broken play on third-and-long into a 51-yard touchdown pass to Dante Pettis in the third quarter.
He then found wideout Equanimeous St. Brown for an 18-yard touchdown that gave the Bears the lead, and Chicago put the Niners away by capitalizing off a turnover to punch in a 3-yard touchdown run by Khalil Herbert.
This offense is a work in progress, but it has to get its best players involved and support Fields far sooner in Week 2 at Green Bay. The Packers are 23-5 against Chicago in games Aaron Rodgers has started, including one last season at Soldier Field, where he yelled "I still own you!" to the crowd. ...
Other notes of interest. ... As noted above, Herbert recorded the lone rushing touchdown against the 49ers to give the Bears a 19-10 lead midway through the fourth quarter. The score was Herbert's third career TD.
While the second-year man entered Sunday's game as a reserve, he led the Bears' rushing attack with 45 yards on nine carries and a touchdown.
Herbert gained plenty of NFL experience as a rookie in 2021, stepping in when running backs David Montgomery and Damien Williams were out with injuries. Herbert played in all 17 games with two starts last year, recording 433 rushing yards on 103 carries and two TDs.
"I would say that he had a really good year last year," Eberflus said. "He's got experience. He's a talented runner. Some of the holes were pretty big. The line did a really good on those particular runs. The one in the red zone was really good. The one at midfield was nice. And he's got a good pad level to him. He's got a good style. The touchdown run was pretty good vision and a really good cut by him. So, he's a talented back."
For the record, Montgomery, who was held to just 26 yards on 17 carries, was on the field for 66 percent of the offensive snaps. Herbert was on the field for 29 percent (17 plays). ...
The starting offensive line on Sunday was the same unit that played with the first-team offense in the final two preseason games. That lineup included Teven Jenkins at right guard, making his third career start in the season opener.
But after center/guard Lucas Patrick returned to practice last week following a hand injury, the Bears found a way to work the veteran into the game. Patrick joined the offensive line at right guard on the third drive of the game, then rotated with Jenkins the rest of the way.
Jenkins played 31 snaps on Sunday while Patrick was in for 27 plays. Coach Matt Eberflus was pleased with the outcome of the rotation.
Offensive lineman Alex Leatherwood is on the non-football injury list due to mononucleosis, NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport reported, per a source. Leatherwood will be out the next four games. ...
Elsewhere on the injury front. ... Velus Jones Jr., who sat out last week due to the hamstring injury that's hobbled him since last month, was limited in Wednesday's practice; more on his progress via Late-Breaking Update in coming days. ...
And finally. ... Kicker Cairo Santos had a difficult game. Not only did he miss extra points following Chicago's two fourth-quarter touchdowns, he was involved in an unusual penalty involving a the use of a towel near the end of the first half that pushed the Bears out of field goal range with San Francisco leading 7-0.
Rookie holder Trenton Gill got flagged for a 15-yard unsportsmanlike conduct penalty when he used a towel to pat down the area where the kick would be attempted. Santos also stepped on the towel and used it to dry a different spot before Gill cast it aside.
Last season, Santos made all but one of his 28 extra-point attempts. He was 26 of 30 on field goals, though he did not attempt one Sunday. ...
You can access complete stats for the Bears Week 1 game via our exclusive Fantasy BoxScore.
QBs: Justin Fields, Tyson Bagent, Nathan Peterman
RBs: Khalil Herbert, D'Onta Foreman, Roschon Johnson, Travis Homer, Khari Blasingame
WRs: D.J. Moore, Darnell Mooney, Tyler Scott, Velus Jones Jr., Trent Taylor, Equanimeous St. Brown
TEs: Cole Kmet, Robert Tonyan, Marcedes Lewis, Jake Tonges
Cincinnati BengalsCompiled by FootballDiehards Editor Bob Harris | Updated 13 September 2022
As ESPN.com's Ben Baby framed it, "The Bengals endured a day that featured several turnovers, an upended kicking game and a rocky outing in a 23-20 overtime loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers. ..."
In Cincinnati's first game since Super Bowl LVI, Joe Burrow committed five turnovers, the Bengals missed two chances to win the game and were left with a sour result.
Associated Press sports writer Mitch Stacy dove deeper, noting that Clark Harris, Cincinnati's veteran long snapper, might have cost the Bengals the game against the Steelers just by getting hurt.
Or the blame could go on emergency backup long snapper, tight end Mitchell Wilcox, whose slightly high snaps might have contributed to Evan McPherson missing two potential winning kicks.
Or blame McPherson, who missed so few last season he got the nickname "Money Mac."
Or blame Burrow, who had the worst game of his pro career. He threw four interceptions and fumbled the ball away on one of his seven sacks.
Burrow, who got a late start in training camp while recovering from an appendectomy and didn't play in any of the preseason games, looked out of sorts. He got sacked by Cam Heyward on the Bengals' first offensive play, then on the next one threw a pick-6 to Steelers safety Minkah Fitzpatrick.
"We had our chances," head coach Zac Taylor said. "To lose the turnover battle five to nothing, to have kick operations ruined on two kicks that both would have won the game is disheartening in that way, because I thought we would have handled those situations better."
According to Stacy, the weird stuff overshadowed the fact Cincinnati's defense played an excellent game. The unit kept Pittsburgh quarterback Mitchell Trubisky on the run, and kept him from finding anything downfield and limited big plays. Trubisky was limited to 194 yards passing yards and a short touchdown pass, and Pittsburgh's running game was held to 75 yards.
But the Bengals spent big money in the offseason on three offensive linemen and have four new starters on the line. Unfortunately, because regulars were held out of the three preseason games, the unit doesn't have a lot of experience playing together yet. Burrow, the most sacked quarterback in the NFL last year, was brought down seven times by the Steelers and took another four hits.
The whole operation did seem to synch up better later in the game, but the line and Burrow need to figure out how to coalesce.
Beyond all that, Baby believes Burrow's history, strengths and the resolve he showed to lead the Bengals down the field at the end of the game show that there should be zero long-term concerns for the third-year player who sat out almost the entire month of August.
That said, the offensive line will need to keep Burrow off the ground and limit the pass rush as the Bengals travel to Dallas to face the Cowboys in Week 2. The Cowboys learned Sunday night that quarterback Dak Prescott needs surgery on his right hand and will miss several weeks. ...
Meanwhile, McPherson refused to blame Wilcox, the backup snapper, or holder Kevin Huber for his improbable misses with the game on the line.
"(Harris' injury) impacted the operation as a whole," McPherson said. "We were working on good timing and just hitting the ball. Mitch was looking good warming up. He did a pretty good job. I can't put any blame on him. I've just got to make it."
The second-year kicker was disgusted with himself.
"Twenty-nine yards is 29 yards," he said of the missed field-goal attempt in OT. "I can hit that with my left foot, so there's really no excuse for me to not make that one."
For the record, the 38-year-old Harris was put on injured reserve Monday with a right biceps injury, and long snapper Cal Adomitis was elevated from the practice squad.
Also on the injury front, wide receiver Tee Higgins suffered a concussion on a hard hit in the second quarter. His status for Sunday's game is still to be determined. Taylor confirmed Higgins entered protocol on Monday and suggested he was day-to-day.
Higgins was able to work on a limited basis Wednesday. I'll have more on his status as he works through the process in coming days; watch the Late-Breaking Updates for more. ...
Also of interest. ... Joe Mixon rushed 27 times for 82 yards, adding seven receptions for 63 yards on nine targets. As NBCSportsEdge.com noted, Mixon's passing game involvement was partly due to game script.
The Bengals never led in the game, but they weren't ever in desperation mode, keeping Mixon heavily involved as a rusher while benefitting from early down check-downs.
Still, Mixon out-targeted Samaje Perine 9-to-5, which is a good sign for his receiving upside this season. Mixon was also heavily involved at the goal line, including converting a 4th-and-1 by running to the four-yard line. He was stuffed at the line on the next play. He never got in the end zone, but there should be better days ahead, starting this week going up against the Cowboys. ...
One last note here. ... The Bengals were able to tie the Steelers on a Ja'Marr Chase touchdown catch at the end of regulation on Sunday, but they may not have needed those last second heroics to draw even if they had thrown a challenge flag after another Chase catch in the fourth quarter.
Chase was ruled out of bounds on the 1-yard-line after a catch with just under three minutes left to play, but it looked on replays like Chase got the ball over the goal line before hitting the sideline. Multiple sources told Profootballtalk.com on Sunday that the call would have been changed to a touchdown if the Bengals had challenged.
The Bengals did not challenge the ruling and rushed to the line for a Mixon run that wound up losing a couple of yards. They would not score on the next three plays either.
The handling of the play led to questions for Taylor after the game. In addition to not challenging, the rush to run the next play also eliminated the possibility of replay officials stepping in. Under the replay assistant rule adopted in 2021, replay officials can assist on-field officials in a variety of circumstances including "location of the football or a player in relation to a boundary line, line of scrimmage, line to gain, or goal line."
"Part of it was that that's the hardest place for us to see in the entire field is that spot," Taylor said in his postgame press conference. "I didn't think there was a chance there was a touchdown there initially. So, we got on the ball to run it in quickly. It's hard with all the craziness in that moment, all the communication to get that 'Stop, stop. Let's evaluate this.' We just couldn't get it done fast enough by the time we'd seen a replay and realized 'Oh shoot, he might have gotten in there.' We've just got to learn from those. It's a fine line -- when you get the ball on the inch, you just want to punch it in real quick. In hindsight, maybe he was in and we could have given ourselves a chance."
Taylor was also questioned about his clock management after the overtime loss and those issues joined the turnovers and a messy kicking operation as reasons why the team was 0-1 on Monday morning.
You can access complete stats for the Bengals Week 1 game via our exclusive Fantasy BoxScore.
QBs: Jake Browning, Joe Burrow
RBs: Joe Mixon, Trayveon Williams, Chris Evans, Chase Brown
WRs: Ja'Marr Chase, Tee Higgins, Tyler Boyd, Trenton Irwin, Andrei Iosivas, Charlie Jones
TEs: Irv Smith Jr., Tanner Hudson, Drew Sample, Mitchell Wilcox
Cleveland BrownsCompiled by FootballDiehards Editor Bob Harris | Updated 13 September 2022
As Associated Press sports writer Tom Withers put it: "First down, 10 to go for the Browns. ..."
With Deshaun Watson sidelined while serving his 11-game NFL suspension, Cleveland figured to lean on its strong running game, trust the defense and count on improved special teams, led by a rookie kicker with an other-worldly right leg.
They followed that plan almost to a tee Sunday.
The Browns won their first opener since 2004, getting a 58-yard field goal from ultra-confident Cade York with 8 seconds left -- and after two late calls went their way -- for an emotional, exhausting 26-24 victory over Carolina and Panthers quarterback Baker Mayfield, who nearly got revenge against his former team.
It wasn't easy. It rarely is for the Browns, who have a habit of getting in their own way.
They overcame late defensive breakdowns and are not only 1-0 for the first time in 18 years, but a week closer to getting back Watson, who can start practicing again next month with an eye on playing in Week 13.
Until then, it's about staying in the hunt. Survival.
A collective exhale could be felt back in Ohio when York's kick sailed through the uprights, allowing the Browns to escape national embarrassment that would have come losing to Mayfield, who was traded by Cleveland in July.
Owner Jimmy Haslam celebrated by emphatically punching the air on the sideline while guard Wyatt Teller dropped to his knees on the field as if in prayer. York, who was 3 the last time the Browns won an opener, seemed unfazed despite making the longest kick by a rookie in Week 1 in NFL history.
Afterward, quarterback Jacoby Brissett choked back tears while expressing gratitude for his chance to start in Watson's absence. The 29-year-old did his part, making a couple tough throws to set up York's winner.
Following a long offseason dominated by Watson's alleged sexual misconduct, the Browns felt relieved.
"Obviously, our defense played really well," Teller said Monday on a Zoom call. "There were a handful of plays that changed it or that brought them close. For the most part, the three phases of football working together, complementary football, that's how you win games."
And, sometimes, with luck.
The officiating crew twice ruled in Cleveland's favor on the Browns' final drive, calling roughing the passer on Carolina and then waving off a grounding penalty against Brissett, who was trying to stop the clock.
The Panthers felt cheated. Head coach Kevin Stefanski felt differently. "The spike, whatever they ruled," he said. "I will go with the officials on that one."
For the record, end-zone angle shows Brissett executing a fake spike before the actual clock-killing spike. The Browns should have been penalized for intentional grounding.
Beyond all that?
Cleveland's two-headed running back was scary.
Nick Chubb rushed for 141 yards, Kareem Hunt scored a pair of touchdowns and Cleveland's talented backs were finally in the backfield together after Stefanski resisted using that formation the past two seasons.
Chubb was sensational, breaking tackles and darting to daylight as the Browns rolled up 217 yards on the ground.
"He had two runs late in the game consecutive that are as good as there are in the NFL," Stefanski said. "Making guys miss, jumping over people and playing physical. It was a site to behold."
In addition, receiver Donovan Peoples-Jones led the Browns with six catches for 60 yards. Several of the receptions came in tight coverage, and he made a key grab on a perfectly placed throw by Brissett to help set up York's late kick.
After releasing Jarvis Landry, the Browns are counting on Peoples-Jones to step up in his third pro season. This was a promising start.
The Browns will play their home opener Sunday against the New York Jets, who started 37-year-old quarterback QB Joe Flacco while losing their opener and have dropped 13 straight games in September.
On Monday, Stefanski praised Brissett for how he got the Browns in a position to win.
"I really do believe he can continue to get better," Stefanski said, via Mary Kay Cabot of Cleveland.com. "I think he'll continue to get better. Having said that, I know there were some misses, but the throw to Donovan the second-to-last completion there -- I know we completed it to Amari to get to the 40 -- to Donovan with a player bearing down on him who was unblocked, standing in the pocket making that throw, that is big time football right there. He can be better, but really, really proud of how he finished that game."
Brissett finished the contest 18-of-34 passing for 147 yards with one touchdown. ...
Other notes of interest. ... The Browns drafted York, who on Wednesday was named AFC special teams player of the week, in the fourth round for days like Sunday. Cleveland will have plenty of issues to address coming out of this game. But after years of struggling on special teams, the Browns finally have a kicker with the confidence to deliver big-time field goals.
Demetric Felton looked shaky handing punts. He muffed one kick and picked up 29 yards on five returns.
The Browns lost Pro Bowler Jakeem Grant Sr. to a season-ending knee injury in training camp, forcing them to try other options. After Felton's performance, it wouldn't be surprising to see some auditions this week in practice.
On the injury front. ... Stefanski said the Browns emerged healthy except for the usual bumps and bruises. ... Starting right tackle Jack Conklin was not active Sunday, but Stefanski said the former All-Pro didn't not suffer any setbacks in his return from major knee surgery in December. "He's really close," Stefanski said. ...
You can access complete stats for the Browns Week 1 game via our exclusive Fantasy BoxScore.
QBs: Joe Flacco, Dorian Thompson-Robinson, P.J. Walker, Deshaun Watson
RBs: Jerome Ford, Kareem Hunt, Pierre Strong Jr., Nick Chubb
WRs: Amari Cooper, Elijah Moore, Cedric Tillman, Marquise Goodwin, David Bell
TEs: David Njoku, Jordan Akins, Harrison Bryant
Dallas CowboysCompiled by FootballDiehards Editor Bob Harris | Updated 13 September 2022
Dak Prescott underwent successful surgery to stabilize his fractured thumb on Monday. After the game, Prescott said, "I was told it was much cleaner than it could have been."
He visited with the team's hand specialist, Dr. Thomas Diliberti, on Monday and had the surgery soon thereafter.
"You know Dak's personality, I mean, he would've had the surgery last night if they would have allowed it," head coach Mike McCarthy said. "That's the way he's wired."
But the Cowboys think Prescott can beat that timetable.
Owner and General Manager Jerry Jones said Tuesday that the team is not going to put Prescott on injured reserve because there's a chance that he could miss fewer than four games.
"We want him to be in consideration for playing within the next four games," Jones said on 105.3 The Fan on Tuesday morning.
Initial reports on Sunday night had Prescott missing six to eight weeks, but after Prescott's successful surgery on Monday, the reports came in at four to six weeks, and Jones hinted Tuesday that there's a good chance it's going to be closer to four than six.
"We feel better about it than we did Sunday night," Jones said.
Cooper Rush will be the Cowboys' starting quarterback until Prescott returns.
The Cowboys have the Bengals on Sunday, followed by a Monday night game against the Giants and then the Commanders in Week 4. If Jones is right, Prescott may be back as soon as Week 5 against the Rams.
Prescott's injury occurred when he hit his throwing hand on Shaquil Barrett's helmet late in the game. He quickly left the field for examination and did not return. Prior to his exit, he was 14 of 29 for 134 yards with an interception.
Prescott, 29, just began his seventh NFL season, all with the Cowboys.
Prescott suffered the injury in the fourth quarter of the Cowboys' 19-3 loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers after his hand twice hit the hand of linebacker Shaq Barrett. After a screen pass to Ezekiel Elliott, Prescott went to the sideline because he could no longer grip the ball.
On the opening drive, Prescott completed passes to four different receivers as the Cowboys moved 54 yards on 14 plays to take a 3-0 lead after a 51-yard field goal by Brett Maher. They went three-plus series before they would gain another first down -- on a 12-yard run by Prescott.
CeeDee Lamb caught one pass after the first drive but just one more from Prescott the rest of the way.
Prescott's 134 yards were the second fewest he has had in a game that he has started and finished in his career. He had 102 yards on 11-of-22 passing on Nov. 30, 2017, against Washington.
After starting 69 straight games from 2016 to 2020, Prescott has missed 12 games the past two seasons.
The Cowboys are 5-7 in those 12 games Prescott has missed, although Rush won his first career start last year against the Minnesota Vikings, throwing for 325 yards and two touchdowns.
He completed 7 of 13 passes for 64 yards after replacing Prescott against the Buccaneers.
"I think the biggest thing is especially at the quarterback position because obviously the importance of it, is don't overreact to it," McCarthy said. "Because at the end of the day, we've got to make sure we're giving the players the tools to win the game on Sunday. The nice thing about Cooper is Cooper's been in our system, knows our system inside and out. We won't be in that position of trying not to do too much or vice versa. Cooper gives us the ability to keep playing."
McCarthy acknowledged there is an emotional challenge the Cowboys will have to deal with in losing their leader. In 2020, Prescott suffered a compound fracture and dislocation of his right ankle that knocked him out for the season, and the Cowboys lost their first four games without him.
"Definitely going to be tough, but being in the NFL, that's all a part of this game," running back Tony Pollard said. "It's a 100 percent injury rate so guys get injured, so we just have to make up for it. Everybody has to lock in, continue doing what they've been doing and just focus on doing their job the best that they can."
McCarthy said the Cowboys are looking to add a third quarterback to the roster with Will Grier on the practice squad and ready to assume the No. 2 role in Prescott's absence. He has started two games in his career, both with the Carolina Panthers in 2019.
Given the latest timeline, it seems increasingly unlikely the team will look for outside help at the position -- either via free agency or in a trade (though I'll be watching for signs that's changing in coming days). ...
Meanwhile, Rush said after the loss to the Buccaneers that he believes the job of a backup quarterback is to be available when called upon, and he'll keep the Cowboys' offense going.
"Just go do your job," Rush said. "Just execute. It's the same plays, it's the same other guys, we've still got everyone else. I trust in those guys, they trust in me, just all come together as a group and make plays and execute."
Still, Rush said everyone on the team will feel the loss of Prescott.
"He's the heart and soul of the team. He's our leader. He'll grind through this like he always does and he'll be back," Rush said.
With the Cowboys at 0-1 and the other three NFC East teams at 1-0, it's easy to picture the Cowboys falling out of playoff contention quickly -- unless Rush can do his job and replace the Cowboys' heart and soul.
Other notes of interest. ... The Cowboys traded Amari Cooper to the Browns for a fifth-round draft pick because they were ready to make Lamb their No. 1 receiver and didn't want to pay Cooper $20 million as a No. 2 receiver.
It's a small sample size, but after one game with Cooper in Cleveland and Lamb as the Cowboys' lead receiver, it was a bad decision.
The Cowboys were missing wideouts Michael Gallup, who is working his way back from an ACL tear on Jan. 2, and James Washington, whose foot injury Aug. 1 is expected to keep him out 6-10 weeks.
But Lamb looked nothing like a No. 1 receiver on opening night.
The third-year receiver saw 11 targets and finished with two catches for 29 yards.
"I think we've certainly got to step up and do better," Cowboys executive vice president Stephen Jones said on 105.3 The Fan on Monday, via Mark Lane of WFAA. "The passing game goes hand-in-hand, the quarterback and the receivers. Certainly, we've got to be better there. CeeDee has got to improve and work his way into being the No. 1 receiver we think he can [be]."
Indeed, the Cowboys kept saying the offense would be fine without Cooper, Gallup or Cedrick Wilson Jr. and guard Connor Williams (signed with Miami).
They continued to say the after the loss of eight-time Pro Bowl left tackle Tyron Smith, who is out until at least December with a torn hamstring.
Sunday's loss to the Buccaneers proved all of that to be untrue.
For the first time since the 2001 season opener, the Cowboys failed to score a touchdown. Their opponent that day? Tampa Bay in former Cowboys quarterback Quincy Carter's first career start.
In Sunday night's loss, however, the offensive line most showed the frayed edges brought by injuries and personnel decisions.
The Cowboys allowed four sacks and committed five penalties. Undrafted third-year right tackle Terence Steele had four of them, with three false starts and a holding call. Steele was the replacement for La'el Collins, released in a cost-cutting move.
First-round pick Tyler Smith was the first rookie to start at left tackle in franchise history. Connor McGovern, who took over at left guard for Connor Williams after Williams went to Miami in free agency, sprained his right ankle on the first series and could miss a couple of games. Matt Farniok, a second-year player drafted in the seventh round, replaced McGovern.
It's possible the Cowboys will see veteran offensive lineman Jason Peters suit up for them fairly soon, but there's more evaluation to be done this week as the nine-time Pro Bowler continues to ramp up for his debut in Dallas.
Meanwhile, Associated Press sports writer Schuyler Dixon noted it was puzzling that Elliott didn't get more carries since he averaged 5.2 yards on 10 rushes. The running game appeared much more effective than in the 31-29 loss at Tampa Bay in the opener last season.
The Cowboys just haven't shown they can stick with it with Kellen Moore calling plays.
For the record, Elliott finished Sunday's game with a 58 percent snap share. Tony Pollard wasn't far behind at 55 percent.
For context, NBCSSportsEdge.com notes that Elliott saw 66 percent of Dallas' snaps in 2021 with Pollard at 35 percent.
Of course, the Cowboys were trailing for most of Week 1, which could have impacted Elliott's role to an extent. Now, with Prescott sidelined, playing from behind might become the norm. ...
Finally. ... McCarthy said at a Wednesday press conference that the Cowboys plan to get Gallup more involved with “group stuff” during this week’s practices. Gallup was a limited participant in practice all of last week, but only did individual drills.
McCarthy didn’t make any prediction about whether Gallup will have a chance to play against the Bengals. I'll have more on that via Late-Breaking Update in coming days. ...
You can access complete stats for the Cowboys Week 1 game via our exclusive Fantasy BoxScore.
QBs: Dak Prescott, Cooper Rush, Trey Lance
RBs: Tony Pollard, Rico Dowdle, Deuce Vaughn, Hunter Luepke
WRs: CeeDee Lamb, Brandin Cooks, Michael Gallup, Jalen Tolbert, KaVontae Turpin, Jalen Brooks
TEs: Jake Ferguson, Luke Schoonmaker, Peyton Hendershot
Denver BroncosCompiled by FootballDiehards Editor Bob Harris | Updated 13 September 2022
After an offseason filled with the hopes and dreams that came with quarterback Russell Wilson's arrival in Denver, it was the Broncos' defense that had some opening-night jitters.
Under new defensive coordinator Ejiro Evero, the Broncos tried to be aggressive in the pass rush, trying to keep the ball away from Seahawks wide receivers DK Metcalf and Tyler Lockett, but it wasn't until outside linebacker Randy Gregory ripped the ball out of Metcalf's hands deep into the third quarter that the Broncos' defense could settle in.
As a result, Wilson's 340 yards passing and one touchdown were almost a nondescript footnote in a 17-16 Seattle win that ended with a missed Brandon McManus field goal attempt from 64 yards.
In general, Nathaniel Hackett's head coaching debut was a mess.
Blame it on the crowd noise filling a stadium designed to be loud, or pin it on inexperience and a lack of familiarity.
Whatever the cause, the result was clear: Denver was disorganized all night.
The Broncos' offense struggled to get set at the line throughout the game, and one hurried snap caused chaos that produced a goal line fumble. Oh, and about those fumbles: Denver found itself in goal-to-go situations on three possessions in the second half. The results: two fumbles lost and a field goal.
Missed opportunities cost the Broncos at least six points, if not 14.
That's not the worst of it, though.
In the final minute, Denver had yet another opportunity to drive down the field and take the lead. Facing fourth-and-5, the Broncos came to the line of scrimmage and let the clock tick down from one minute to 20 seconds before burning a timeout and setting up for the above-mentioned 64-yard field goal.
A practice kick was wide left by five yards, yet Hackett decided to give it another go.
As NFL.com's Nick Shook put it: "To summarize, Hackett froze, and decided his team had a better chance of victory with a kick that once stood as the NFL record for longest made, than it did by putting the ball in the hands of a future Hall of Famer."
Predictably, McManus missed the kick. Making matters worse, Hackett inexplicably spent his final two timeouts to stop the clock after consecutive kneel-downs, punctuating a flabbergasting mental meltdown that's seemingly only possible to happen to a rookie coach.
Think about it. Since 1960, NFL kickers are 2 for 42 on attempts of 64 yards or more for a conversion rate of 4.8 percent. The only two to make them are Matt Prater (64) in Denver's thin air in 2013 and Justin Tucker (66) inside Detroit's dome last year.
Moreover, as Associated Press sports writer Arnie Stapleton pointed out, Seattle is one of the toughest places to kick. The longest field goal ever made at Lumen Field was a 56-yarder by Dan Bailey in 2014.
Asked if he was aware of that, Hackett said, "When we looked at it, it's about listening to the players, finding out where they are at and what they can do. That was something we all agreed on. The fact that it was fourth down and that was our one chance to decide that, that's why we did that."
Hackett added, "I wanted to give him that opportunity. I wanted to give him a chance to be able to win the game right there. He had the distance; it just went a little bit left. It's just one of those things that's unfortunate, but that was our plan going into it. '
"Obviously looking back at it, if you missed the field goal, you're always going to wish you would have gone for it. If you would have gone for it and not gotten it, you wish you would have given him a chance. So that's the crazy thing about this game."
Asked if Wilson campaigned to go for it on fourth down, Hackett said, "No, we all had the plan."
After sleeping on it, Hackett realized he screwed up at the end of Monday night's loss to the Seahawks.
Hackett acknowledged Tuesday that his decision to attempt the field goal instead of going for the first down was wrong, but he said at the time he was thinking that if the Broncos' offense got to the 46-yard line they would be in field goal range, and that is where the Broncos' offense ended up.
"Looking back at it, we definitely should have gone for it. Just one of those things, you look back at it and you say, 'Of course we should go for it. We missed the field goal.' But in that situation we had a plan. We knew the 46 was the mark," Hackett said.
But even that admission seems to miss the mark, as Hackett seems to be suggesting that it was the wrong decision only in hindsight. As Profootballtalk.com suggested, the reality is that virtually everyone watching the game and commenting in real time on social media was saying that Hackett was wrong to send McManus on the field -- even before McManus missed.
So the Broncos need to clean things up -- and hand the keys to Javonte Williams.
Denver committed 12 penalties on Monday night and wasted multiple scoring opportunities in the second half, falling well short of the explosive offense most envisioned when the Broncos acquired Wilson in the offseason. The penalties and clock management issues aside, Hackett deserves criticism for his usage of Williams, too, avoiding giving the ball to the hard-running back on almost every down inside the 10, save for one.
And because Hackett's offense couldn't get set in a reasonable amount of time, Williams ran into a wall of bodies as soon as he took the handoff from Wilson, leaving him vulnerable to Uchenna Nwosu, who punched the ball out of his grasp. Overall, Denver fed Williams, completing 11 passes to the running back for 65 yards, but he received just seven carries.
"That's not enough for the back of the future," Shook added. "The Broncos should take notes on how the Colts shifted to Jonathan Taylor in 2021 -- and do it sooner rather than later. You can't afford to lose these types of games in the rugged AFC West. .."
Generally speaking, Wilson did not put the ball in harm's way, and that was a good thing, but as much as Hackett has hoped to be aggressive on offense, the Broncos were not the aggressor, especially early in the game. And when the Seahawks got the pace of the game where they wanted it, it became a struggle for the Broncos.
Denver's wide receivers didn't really get involved until late in the third and into the fourth quarters.
Third-year wideout Jerry Jeudy caught four passes for 102 yards and his 67-yard touchdown was the former first-rounder's first score since the season finale his rookie year.
The Broncos have a short week to correct their sloppy play and coaching blunders to prepare for the Houston Texans, who tied the Indianapolis Colts 20-20 Sunday.
Worth noting. ... Saftey Justin Simmons (thigh) will "miss some time" for an injury he sustained late in Monday night's loss to the Seahawks, Hackett told reporters Wednesday. ...
You can access complete stats for the Broncos Week 1 game via our exclusive Fantasy BoxScore.
QBs: Russell Wilson, Jarrett Stidham
RBs: Javonte Williams, Jaleel McLaughlin, Samaje Perine
WRs: Courtland Sutton, Jerry Jeudy, Marvin Mims Jr., Lil'Jordan Humphrey, Brandon Johnson
TEs: Adam Trautman, Chris Manhertz, Greg Dulcich
Detroit LionsCompiled by FootballDiehards Editor Bob Harris | Updated 13 September 2022
As ESPN.com's Eric Woodyard noted, an all-too-familiar narrative played itself out in the Lions' season opener Sunday.
Yes, the Lions played hard against the Eagles. They even made it competitive late, pulling within three points of Philly with just under four minutes to play. But they fell short. ... Yet again.
Woodyard went on to note that for those who follow the franchise closely, close losses have become an ongoing theme in the Motor City.
Including Sunday's 38-35 defeat to the Eagles, the Lions have seven losses in one-score games since the start of 2021, tied with the Carolina Panthers for second most in the league, per ESPN Stats and Information research. The Vikings, their NFC North division rivals, lead the league with eight. The Lions' .250 winning percentage (2-7-1 record) in such games ranks fifth worst in the NFL in that span.
Despite the ugly numbers, the team is working hard at flipping the all-to-familiar script.
"Coach [Dan Campbell] always says you can't become numb to it (losing). I hate losing with a passion. ... Gotta go back to work, watch the film, see what you can get better at. It's always little stuff," said running back D'Andre Swift, who rushed for a career-high 144 yards against his hometown Eagles. "One or two plays that can change the momentum of the game. Gotta be better."
Detroit began the game with a strong opening drive -- including a 50-yard gain from Swift -- before his backfield mate Jamaal Williams punched it in from close. Swift racked up 97 of those 144 yards in the first half. He became the first player since Barry Sanders in 1996 with 100 rushing yards in a season opener.
But the defense couldn't contain the Eagles' ground attack -- Philadelphia became the first team to have four different players with a rushing touchdown in a season opener since the 1967 Raiders -- or quarterback Jalen Hurts and wideout A.J. Brown. Hurts rushed for 90 yards on 17 carries and passed for 243 more. Brown, making his Eagles debut after being traded from the Tennessee Titans, finished with 10 catches and 155 receiving yards.
The Lions added self-inflicted wounds as well. A miscommunication on offense resulted in a second-quarter pick-six of Jared Goff. And halfway through the game, Lions safety and captain Tracy Walker III was ejected after receiving two personal foul penalties on the same play after a late hit on Hurts, who was already sliding.
"We ran the ball well. I thought our line played really well," Goff said. "I thought Swift did what we expected him to do, and we just left too much stuff out there. We had so many big plays to be made out there and left them on the field."
Said wideout D.J. Chark: "We've got to clean up everything, each phase of the game, and not trying to come out and be OK with losing by one or two."
Campbell's message to the team in the locker room following their latest close loss was simple: keep pushing.
"They understand. I mean, it hurts more for them than it does anybody. And we were this close and so, it's really like, 'Look, man, this is Game 1 and we've got a long season here.' And I said the good news is that we didn't play very well and we lost by three," Campbell said. "That's what you can take away from this. Now, if we just take this whole approach where every week it's like, 'We lost by three, we lost by three, we lost by three.' Then, what are we doing? So, we've got to clean this up and we've got to be better. We've got to be a lot better in all the areas."
Going forward, the Lions must do a better job of getting off the field and giving the ball back to the offense with good field position. They allowed the Eagles to convert 10 of 17 third-down situations and two of three fourth-down attempts.
During the team's first two games last season, they allowed a combined 76 points to San Francisco and Green Bay. The good news for Detroit is that its next opponent, Washington, hasn't scored 30 points since Oct. 3 of last season. The bad news is that Carson Wentz threw four touchdown passes in his Commanders debut. ...
Other notes of interest. ... According to MLive.com's Benjamin Raven, it wasn't the cleanest day from Goff. The quarterback fell victim to some misfires and drops, not to mention an ugly interception under pressure that the Eagles returned for a touchdown. Goff completed 21 of 37 passes for 215 yards with two touchdowns and one interception. He averaged 4.5 completed air yards per throw, the fifth-lowest in the league, despite averaging 8.2 intended air yards per attempt, which was the 10th most, per NFL Next Gen Stats.
Detroit's offense scored touchdowns on three of its final four possessions. That was quite the finish from a group that strung three consecutive three-and-outs and the Pick 6 after the strong opening series. Goff had an inconsistent day. His accuracy wasn't crisp. But he pulled it together in the second half, including a picture-perfect tight-window touchdown to Chark.
Indeed, Chark and Amon-Ra St. Brown eventually made the most of their looks.
Chark showed impressive control while catching the above-mentioned tight-window touchdown pass heavily covered by cornerback Darius Slay. In his team debut, he added four catches on eight targets for 52 yards. St. Brown caught eight of 12 targets for 64 yards and one touchdown. Some big-play opportunities came late, but Goff and the receivers couldn't connect, with a couple of misfires from the quarterback.
Chark, St. Brown and Josh Reynolds also each had drops, highlighting the offense's up-and-down day.
T.J. Hockenson didn't light the box score up, catching four balls for 38 yards. But the tight end showed up in clutch moments throughout the game. He had a late third-down catch to keep the drive alive and also drew a pass interference call over the middle on Chauncey Gardner-Johnson. Hockenson even got in on the dirty work, helping clear a path for Swift on his 50-yard scamper.
Swift set a goal of 1,000 yards rushing and receiving this season. The third-year back is well on his way in the former category. He has some catching up to do in the receiving category to reach his goal, as he had 31 yards on three receptions. But he opened the game with a bang, breaking a 50-yard run on the second snap. His running mate, Williams, didn't have the most efficient day. He dropped an easy pass. But he got the job done in short-yardage situations, with two scores from 1-yard out.
Worth noting. ... The offensive line impressively opened the game. And the group stayed at a high level. And despite two early penalties, Logan Stenberg appeared to settle into his spot at right guard. Center Frank Ragnow and Eagles rookie Jordan Davis went at it in some popcorn-worthy reps.
The run-blocking was clicking. Goff got sacked the one time, facing early pressure on his interception. It wasn't perfect. But it definitely wasn't bad.
Ragnow (groin) was not practicing Wednesday, Campbell told reporters. In addition, OT Halapoulivaati Vaitai, who was placed on injured reserve last week, underwent back surgery this week. ...
And finally. ... The Lions signed RB Justin Jackson to the active roster on Wednesday.
Jackson had been on the team's practice squad. The former Charger played well in the team's final preseason game against the Steelers, totaling 83 yards on ten touches. He'll add depth behind Swift and Williams, which might be important.
Swift (ankle) did not practice Wednesday; I'll have more on his status via Late-Breaking Update in coming days.
You can access complete stats for the Lions Week 1 game via our exclusive Fantasy BoxScore.
QBs: Jared Goff, Teddy Bridgewater
RBs: David Montgomery, Jahmyr Gibbs, Craig Reynolds, Zonovan Knight
WRs: Amon-Ra St. Brown, Josh Reynolds, Kalif Raymond, Jameson Williams, Donovan Peoples-Jones, Antoine Green
TEs: Sam LaPorta, Brock Wright, James Mitchell
Green Bay PackersCompiled by FootballDiehards Editor Bob Harris | Updated 13 September 2022
As ESPN.com's Rob Demovsky reported, the would-be 75-yard touchdown pass that rookie receiver Christian Watson dropped on the Green Bay Packers' first offensive play of the season wasn't at the top of the list of things that bothered Aaron Rodgers after another season-opening dud.
All the mental mistakes, missed assignments and poor decisions -- including some by Rodgers himself -- in Sunday's 23-7 loss to the Minnesota Vikings at U.S. Bank Stadium disturbed him much more.
"Obviously, it'd be great to have a 75-yard touchdown to start the game," Rodgers said. "But drops are going to happen. It's part of the game. It's the mental stuff that we just can't have because we're hurting ourselves. Whether we're going the wrong way on a block or missing a protection something or missing a hot [route] or not running the right route [at] the right depth, there was just too many mental mistakes."
Such was life in the first game without Davante Adams.
While Rodgers' former favorite target caught 10 passes for 141 yards and a touchdown in his debut with the Las Vegas Raiders, his new-look receiver group (which was missing presumed No. 1 target Allen Lazard because of an ankle injury) combined for only 12 catches for 120 yards and no touchdowns.
It would have looked different if Watson, the Packers' second-round draft pick, had not let a ball slip through his hands after he had more than 3 yards of separation against Vikings cornerback Patrick Peterson.
"That's just a play I know I gotta make," said Watson, who finished with two catches for 34 yards. "Most of the time, it's a play I know I'm capable of making. Just gotta put that in the past and move on."
But, as Demovsky pointed out, there were other issues: Fellow rookie receiver Romeo Doubs (four catches for 37 yards) got his signals crossed with Rodgers at least once. After Watson's drop, he wasn't targeted again until late in the fourth quarter. After Rodgers and Doubs appeared to miscommunicate on a third down midway through the first quarter, he wasn't targeted again until the third quarter.
"Look, we've got to have patience with those guys," said Rodgers, who finished 22-for-34 passing for 195 yards and no touchdowns to offset the interception. "They're young. They haven't been in the fire. The patience will be thinner as the season goes on, but the expectation will be high. We'll keep them accountable, but it's going to happen. There's going to be drops. Hate to see it on the first play, but it's part of it -- there's going to be drops throughout the season."
Rodgers second-guessed himself, too. He said he should have pulled a quarterback keeper on the failed fourth-and-goal from the 1 run by AJ Dillon in the second quarter. He called his interception in the final minute of the first half a "dumb decision." That throw, which Harrison Smith picked off, ended Rodgers' streak of touchdowns without an interception against an NFC North foe at 38 -- the most consecutive touchdown passes without a pick in divisional games in NFL history.
A year ago, after the Packers were drilled 38-3 in the season opener against the New Orleans Saints, Rodgers drew criticism for playing it off as no big deal. And, of course, the Packers went on to finish 13-4 and earn the NFC's No. 1 seed.
He still had his sense of humor after this one.
"We scored four more points than we did that day," Rodgers said with a smile. "There's a lot to build on when you compare the two. Look, it's tough to win in this league, and it's definitely tough when you get in your own way too many times. So, I felt like we did some good things. Maybe we've got to get some more touches for Jonesy [Aaron Jones] and [AJ] Dillon. Made a lot of mistakes in the perimeter, missed some throws, so there's a lot to clean up all the way around."
Perhaps the offensive performance should have been expected given the loss of Adams combined with the absence of Lazard and starting tackles David Bakhtiari and Elgton Jenkins, who have not been cleared to return from knee surgeries. But the struggles by the defense, one that Rodgers praised repeatedly in training camp, were unexpected. It couldn't stop Vikings receiver Justin Jefferson (nine catches for 184 yards and two touchdowns).
"This is two years in a row where we've come out Week 1 and have not looked prepared," said head coach Matt LaFleur, who fell to 2-2 in season openers but is 37-9 in all other games.
Heading into their Week 2 game against the Bears, it's fair to wonder which is the bigger concern, the Packers' offense or defense?
At this point, Demovsky contends, it's the defense.
Coordinator Joe Barry had all 11 of his preferred starters available (12 if you count slot cornerback Rasul Douglas). On paper, this was supposed to be the best defense the Packers had in years. On the field, it looked like a paper tiger. At least Rodgers and Co. had excuses with Lazard, Bakhtiari and Jenkins continue all sidelined
I will, of course, have more on Lazard, who was on the practice field Wednesday, and the tackles via Late-Breaking Update in coming days. ...
The good news? The Packers have beaten the Bears six straight times.
Beyond all that, it's safe to assume the coaching staff will be looking to do a lot of things differently after the loss to Minnesota and that list includes the way they utilize Jones.
The Packers averaged over 6 yards per carry, with Jones running for 49 yards on five attempts and A.J. Dillon running 10 times for 45 yards.
The problem was, Jones ran the ball five times and caught three passes for 27 yards, which added up to eight touches on a day when Dillon got the ball 15 times. After the loss was in the books, LaFleur noted Jones' light workload as something that he'd like to change in the weeks to come.
"Any time Aaron Jones comes out of a game with eight touches, that's not good enough," LaFleur said, via Zach Kruse of USAToday.com.
Jones has gotten fewer than 10 touches three other times since LaFleur joined the Packers, including their season-opening loss to the Saints in 2021. The Packers were able to turn things around after that game and the hope in Green Bay is that they'll do the same after another disappointing Week 1 outing. ...
With Lazard out, Sammy Watkins led all Packers wide receivers in terms of playing time.
As NBCSportsEdge.com noted, while Watkins led the receiver group in snaps, he did so with a paltry 67 percent share, well below a full-time rate. Watson (66 percent), Randall Cobb (61 percent), and Doubs (57 percent) also saw considerable playing time. With a four-man rotation at wide receiver and four tight ends seeing at least 25 percent of snaps, the Packers receiving corps looks like a stay away until someone—most likely Watson or Doubs—can secure a full slate of routes.
The fact that Dillon's 46 yards receiving led the team underscored the need for more production from the wideouts.
You can access complete stats for the Packers Week 1 game via our exclusive Fantasy BoxScore.
QBs: Jordan Love, Sean Clifford
RBs: Aaron Jones, A.J. Dillon, Patrick Taylor
WRs: Jayden Reed, Romeo Doubs, Christian Watson, Dontayvion Wicks, Samori Toure, Malik Heath
TEs: Tucker Kraft, Ben Sims, Josiah Deguara, Luke Musgrave
Houston TexansCompiled by FootballDiehards Editor Bob Harris | Updated 13 September 2022
As Profootballtalk.com's Charean Williams noted, Lovie Smith didn't lose his first game as head coach of the Texans, but he didn't win it either.
The Texans faced a fourth-and-three at the Indianapolis 49 with 26 seconds left in overtime. Smith opted to punt, settling for the 20-20 tie, rather than attempting to get a first down and into position for a potential game-winning field goal.
"There's a lot of football left to go in the season. It's kind of as simple as that," Smith said of his decision, via the Houston Chronicle. "I felt like a tie was better than a potential loss. Defensively, we weren't really stopping them an awful lot at the end."
Smith said he briefly considered going for it, but the Texans lost 2 yards on third-and-one at the Indianapolis 47 on the previous play. CBS analyst Tiki Barber questioned the third-down play call.
Smith received criticism postgame from fans and media for not playing to win with his fourth-down decision.
"At the time, it's not like we were playing our best defense," Smith said. "We were drained. We were gassed a little bit."
The Texans hadn't scored since 7:16 remained in the third quarter when they took a 20-3 lead. They allowed Matt Ryan to lead the Colts to 17 points in the fourth quarter, tying the game with 1:54 left in regulation.
With the Jaguars and Titans losing, the Texans and Colts sit atop the AFC South standings after Week 1.
Still, as USA Today's John Hunter Crumpler suggested, it's a game that might leave them confused regarding exactly how to feel about the final outcome. The team's highest highs included a 20-3 lead where everything was clicking on both offense and defense. The lowest lows featured a fourth quarter where Indianapolis eviscerated that lead and nearly won the game in overtime if not for a missed kick.
To no surprise, second-year quarterback Davis Mills also brought a similar degree of volatility to his performance. The Stanford product finished 23 of 37 with 240 yards and two touchdowns. His only turnover of the day was a costly fumble in the fourth quarter that helped to fuel a late comeback from Ryan and the Colts.
Mills started slow as the offense went three-and-out during their first two drives. This included a third down pass to Chris Conley that was dropped but certainly could have used better ball placement from Mills to hit his receiver in stride.
The offense picked up after that and much of the second and third quarter featured Mills perfectly operating the innovative offense that offensive coordinator Pep Hamilton had preached all off-season. The team ran the ball out of multiple formations and frustrated Indianapolis linebackers with almost all of their passing sets coming out of play action.
The two touchdown passes from Mills both went to recently signed tight end O.J. Howard. The first was a beautiful ball up the seam that featured some of the best placement of Mills young career while the second saw Mills exploit a broken coverage from the Colts following an excellent fake from play-action.
Mills, like the rest of his teammates, unfortunately stuttered during the fourth quarter. The team struggled to gain even first downs and Hamilton seemingly abandoned the play action once running back Rex Burkhead was unable to gain traction on the ground.
The fourth quarter and overtime both featured untimely sacks from Mills that reflected his relative youth at the position and might have severely hurt the team's chances to win the game outright. When faced with a fourth-and-3 on the team's final drive, Smith simply opted to punt and take the tie.
It was the kind of performance from Mills that left fans wanting to see more with no further conviction on No. 10's status as their future franchise signal caller.
This week Mills will face a loaded Denver defense, which will be a better barometer for where the second-year quarterback is at. As Associated Press sports writer Kristie Rieken suggested, the Texans will need to learn how to finish and get their running game going if they hope to beat Russell Wilson and Broncos on Sunday in Denver. ...
About that running game. ... It couldn't do much despite the addition of rookie Dameon Pierce. They managed a paltry 77 yards rushing after ranking last in the NFL in 2021 by averaging 83.6 yards a game.
Pierce had a lot of hype entering the opener after the fourth-round pick used a great camp to earn the starting job. But he managed just 33 yards on 11 carries Sunday and Smith admitted Tuesday that the team had planned to get fourth-round pick more plays than they did on Sunday according to Aaron Wilson of Pro Football Network.
"Sometimes though when you look back, you can't defend the amount of reps our starting tailback got in some of those situations. I wish [Pierce] had gotten more and we're going to work to get him more of those opportunities," Smith said.
According to Pro Football Network's Aaron Wilson, it does seem like the Texans want him to get more carries. But the smaller things the Texans trust Burkhead to do -- blocking, routes, and so on -- they don't quite trust Pierce to do just yet.
Until they do, Burkhead will likely continue to dominate the backfield.
The veteran played on 71 percent of snaps against the Colts and was a critical piece of the Texans' offense. He played 30 more snaps than Pierce (29 percent) and three more snaps than Nico Collins (67 percent). Brandin Cooks (91 percent) was the only skill player with a higher snaps share.
As NBCSportsEdge.com suggested, Burkhead, who turned 32 in July, is unlikely to maintain a workhorse role for much of the season, but he's certainly capable of keeping Pierce from fantasy relevance on a low-scoring offense. ...
As noted above, Howard, who was a late addition to the team after signing on Sept. 2, only caught two passes but both were touchdowns. Just realize Howard was only on the field for 12 snaps (17 percent). Pharaoh Brown was on the field for 46 snaps (66 percent) and Brevin Jordan 42 snaps (60 percent).
It'll be interesting to see if those percentages change as Howard gets up to speed in the offense. ...
And finally. ... No injuries were reported this week.
You can access complete stats for the Texans Week 1 game via our exclusive Fantasy BoxScore.
QBs: C.J. Stroud, Davis Mills, Case Keenum
RBs: Devin Singletary, Dameon Pierce, Mike Boone, Dare Ogunbowale
WRs: Nico Collins, Noah Brown, Robert Woods, John Metchie III, Xavier Hutchinson, Tank Dell
TEs: Dalton Schultz, Brevin Jordan
Indianapolis ColtsCompiled by FootballDiehards Editor Bob Harris | Updated 13 September 2022
As ESPN.com's Stephen Holder reported, during the third quarter of Sunday's season opener, quarterback Matt Ryan was pacing the sideline, urgently grabbing the attention of his teammates to reinforce the critical nature of their situation.
He believed they could overcome the daunting 17-point deficit they faced with just more than a quarter left against the Houston Texans. But Ryan needed to be sure his teammates felt similarly.
"The most impressive thing was on the sideline, his presence," All-Pro guard Quenton Nelson said. "He never lost hope. Down 20-3, he just kept going back and forth bringing guys up and saying, 'Let's go. We still have a chance. We just need a first down.' That's a guy you want as a quarterback."
But Holder went on to contend therein lies the problem: Ryan did his part on and off the field in Sunday's 20-20 tie. But his teammates could stand to do a little more if the Super Bowl-minded Colts want to avoid this season veering toward disappointment.
Ryan completed 32 of 50 passes for 352 yards, fearlessly stood in the teeth of an intense Texans pass rush and kept his team composed in his Colts debut. But too many members of his supporting cast didn't also rise to the occasion. For quite a few of them, their day was marked by dropped passes, whiffed blocks, untimely penalties and -- worst of all -- a very wide-right field goal attempt that would have won the game.
"That's a guy I'll go to war with any day," tight end Mo Alie-Cox said of Ryan. "Did you see the way he put his body on the line a couple times? When we needed him to come up big, he made the throws he needed to make and led us down the field."
"Ryan might very well be an upgrade for the Colts at their most important position," Holder wrote. "But this cannot be a solo effort."
Jonathan Taylor picked up where he left off last season, when he led the league in rushing. Taylor had 161 yards and a touchdown on 31 carries.
There's little Ryan can do about the many missed opportunities by others. Among the most egregious on Sunday was a pair of dropped passes in the end zone by second-round pick Alec Pierce and Ashton Dulin. The performance of the receivers calls into question the team's entire approach to the position, the Colts opting for an inexperienced group with upside rather than one with proven options.
No. 1 receiver Michael Pittman was brilliant, catching 9 passes on 13 targets for 121 yards and a touchdown. Ryan had a 124.2 rating when targeting Pittman. But when throwing to the remaining receivers and tight ends, Ryan completed just 13 of 23 attempts for 167 yards and a 79.4 rating.
Are the Colts' young wideouts up to the task?
"As receivers, we definitely have to help him out and finish some of those plays," Alie-Cox said.
Said Ryan: "If we're going to have the kind of team we want to be, we need them to grow. And I think they will."
The problems extended to the offensive line as well, where the Colts also have questions. The Colts used a rotation at left tackle, using both Matt Pryor and rookie Bernhard Raimann. It suggests neither is seen as an ideal situation, continuing questions about the position that have lingered since the offseason. Right tackle wasn't much better early, with the usually-stout Braden Smith performing shaky before steadying himself later on.
Ryan absorbed seven quarterback hits, perhaps making him wonder whether he was back in Atlanta. The Falcons, Ryan's former team, were 26th in pass block win rate last season.
Meanwhile, the kicking situation continues to devolve and demands a reevaluation. Rodrigo Blankenship, who was a healthy scratch multiple times last season after returning from a hip injury, missed a potential game-winning field goal from 42 yards and sent two kickoffs out of bounds, moving the ball to the Texans' 40-yard line each time.
The Colts had questions about Blankenship, prompting them to sign kicker Jake Verity during the offseason. Blankenship won the ensuing position battle, but the team waived him on Tuesday.
The Colts are signing kickers Chase McLaughlin and Lucas Havrisik to the practice squad to continue battling for the gig in Week 2 versus the Jacksonville Jaguars, Pelissero added.
Whatever the case, asking Ryan to overcome it all doesn't seem fair.
What's worse: According to Holder, much of this was predictable. The youthful pass-catchers, the left tackle situation and the kicker were among the most frequent offseason critiques of the Colts. General manager Chris Ballard elected to proceed with the team as is. Now the question needs to be asked: Did he depend too heavily on Ryan to spur the team's needed improvement?
We will get more clarity beginning Sunday in Jacksonville, when the Colts take on the Jaguars in a venue where they haven't won since 2014. The schedule doesn't get easier from there, with games against the Kansas City Chiefs, Tennessee Titans and Denver Broncos in Weeks 3, 4 and 5.
"If we can clean things up, tighten things up a little bit, we're going to be just fine," Ryan said. "But we need to tighten them up. There has to be a sense of urgency.
"We've got to be sharp from the start."
One encouraging note?
Taylor's 161 yards and a touchdown were fantastic. But as Associated Press sports writer Michael Marot suggests, this was about more than numbers. Despite facing a three-score deficit, head coach Frank Reich repeatedly rode his workhorse back in the fourth quarter and overtime and Taylor responded with clutch, physical runs.
While the Colts produced 521 total yards, they scored just 20 points. Reich knows his team can't have that many yards and so few points if it intends to win many games -- or earn more ties -- this season.
On the injury front. ... Pierce developed concussion symptoms following Sunday's game and he's in the concussion protocol, Reich told reporters on Wednesday; I'll have more on the rookie wideout via Late-Breaking Update in coming days.
You can access complete stats for the Colts Week 1 game via our exclusive Fantasy BoxScore.
QBs: Gardner Minshew, Sam Ehlinger, Kellen Mond, Anthony Richardson
RBs: Zack Moss, Trey Sermon, Jonathan Taylor, Evan Hull
WRs: Michael Pittman Jr., Josh Downs, Alec Pierce, Isaiah McKenzie
TEs: Mo Alie-Cox, Kylen Granson, Will Mallory, Andrew Ogletree, Jelani Woods
Jacksonville JaguarsCompiled by FootballDiehards Editor Bob Harris | Updated 13 September 2022
As Associated Press sports writer Mark Long framed it: "Trevor Lawrence was supposed to be better than this by now."
Long went on to explain that Lawrence was, after all, widely considered a generational quarterback when the Jaguars selected him with the No. 1 pick in the 2021 NFL draft.
But the second-year pro looked a lot like he did as a rookie in a 28-22 loss at Washington to open the season Sunday. Errant throws. Head-scratching decisions. And not enough help around him to make a difference.
"I don't have all the answers right now," Lawrence said. "We shot ourselves in the foot a lot. There's a lot of things that we control that we didn't do a great job of controlling. We have to play smarter all the way around, every position. There is a lot of stuff we have to work on."
Making progress should top the list.
Lawrence completed 24 of 42 passes for 275 yards, with a touchdown and an interception. He inexplicably missed two throws in the red zone, one to Travis Etienne and another to Zay Jones, and watched helplessly as Etienne dropped a sure TD pass on a fourth-down play.
The former Clemson star also was sacked twice, flagged twice for intentional grounding and threw a third-down pass up for grabs late in a one-score game.
"I don't necessarily think it was a bad decision, just think it was a really bad throw," Lawrence said.
The expectation is Lawrence will grow from his mistakes. He did at times last season. But the Jaguars need him to take a huge leap, the kind of positional jump that could make one of the league's worst franchises an annual contender in the AFC South.
That starts with getting some early-season wins.
As ESPN.com's Mike DiRocco notes, no team has had fewer victories (10) in September since the 2012 season began than the Jaguars -- and after Sunday's loss there doesn't appear to be a favorable path for them to add to that total.
Not with matchups against the Indianapolis Colts (0-0-1) and the Los Angeles Chargers (1-0) to round out the month. Especially if the Jaguars continue to hurt themselves the way they did against the Commanders with the dropped touchdown pass, the overthrown would-be TD pass, 13 penalties, 3-for-12 on third down and just one touchdown on three red zone trips.
But if this franchise is going to ever drag itself out of the NFL's cellar, the team is going to have to start playing better in September.
"I don't focus on the end result," head coach Doug Pederson said when asked about the importance of starting the season strong. "I focus on the process and the journey, and if you take care of the small things, those big things will take care of themselves, and that's the final score.
"... I don't focus on necessarily wins and losses. You just hope at the end of the day you have more points than they do. But it's a process to get there."
The good news?
The Jaguars haven't lost to the Colts at home since Nov. 11, 2014. It's the longest winning streak by either team in a series that began when they formed the AFC South in 2002.
Other notes of interest. ... James Robinson ran 11 times for 66 yards and a touchdown in his first game since tearing his left Achilles tendon last December. The third-year pro also had a 3-yard TD reception. It had to feel good for Robinson to prove he's fully back after sitting out most of training camp and the entire preseason.
According to MyFantasyLife’s Dwain McFarland, Etienne and Robinson split snaps 51 percent to 49 percent, with Robinson leading the way on the ground 60 percent to 30 percent.
Etienne played 75 percent of the long-down and distance and 100 percent of the two-minute offense. He also saw 100 percent of the short-yardage work. ...
Christian Kirk in his first regular-season game with the Jaguars caught a team-high six passes for 117 yards. "There are definitely some things I can improve on, but for the most part, I took advantage of the opportunities," he said. "I want to keep progressing."
As NBCSportsEdge.com noted, Kirk's 12 targets led all Jaguars on the day, as did his 117 yards. Kirk caught two passes of 25-plus yards on the day, with his longest coming on a 49-yard pass from Lawrence. Kirk got behind Washington's secondary and extended himself to make the diving catch, but may have found pay dirt on a more accurate throw.
Nevertheless, the Jags' big free agent signing showed up big in this one and looks like the No. 1 target in the offense.
You can access complete stats for the Jaguars Week 1 game via our exclusive Fantasy BoxScore.
QBs: Trevor Lawrence, C.J. Beathard, Nathan Rourke
RBs: Travis Etienne Jr., Tank Bigsby, D'Ernest Johnson
WRs: Calvin Ridley, Zay Jones, Parker Washington, Tim Jones, Jamal Agnew, Christian Kirk
TEs: Evan Engram, Brenton Strange, Luke Farrell, Elijah Cooks
Kansas City ChiefsCompiled by FootballDiehards Editor Bob Harris | Updated 13 September 2022
As Profootballtalk.com's Michael Davis Smith put it, "Patrick Mahomes looked as good as ever on Sunday in Arizona.
"Mahomes was nearly flawless against the Cardinals, completing 30 of 39 passes for 360 yards, with five touchdowns, no interceptions and no sacks, as the Chiefs dominated the Cardinals 44-21."
Smith went on to remind readers that some questioned whether the Chiefs' offense would miss Tyreek Hill this season, and perhaps it will. But it sure didn't in Arizona: Mahomes could do whatever he wanted, spreading the ball among Travis Kelce, JuJu Smith-Schuster, Marquez Valdes-Scantling and Clyde Edwards-Helaire.
"Guys were just ready to go," Mahomes said. "They were excited to get out there and show what we had. Everybody's asked us the questions of what this offense, what this team's going to look like. We've always believed that we were going to go out there and put on a show and I thought guys did that.
"So to go out there and win a game against a really good football team and get the win decisively, it's a good start."
Mahomes spread the ball to nine different players, with Kelce leading the Chiefs with 121 yards on eight catches. Kelce's 9-yard catch in the first quarter went for the Chiefs' first touchdown. Four players had a touchdown reception, including two by Edwards-Helaire.
Mahomes said he expected to get many receivers involved this season as the Chiefs cover for the loss of Hill, who was traded to the Miami Dolphins.
"With the amount of tight ends, running backs and receivers that we have, it's going to be everyone," Mahomes said. "It's going to be a lot of guys catching passes. It's going to be running the football, it's going to be throwing the football. It's going to be the short game. It's going to be the deep passes.
"I think that makes this a hard offense to stop."
According to ESPN.com's Adam Teicher, Kelce said he initially wondered after the Chiefs traded Hill how well the offense might operate. He said what he has seen from the Chiefs in training camp and the preseason led him to believe they would have a lot of days like this one.
"Once I saw how hard guys were working, their attention to details, how Pat keeps progressing as a quarterback, right now we're in a good kind of routine where we just keep getting better," Kelce said. "You can feel that from the day we started."
Mahomes took over as the Chiefs' starting quarterback in 2018 and has had big games to begin the season ever since. In each of his five openers he has thrown at least three touchdown passes. Head coach Andy Reid said he couldn't give explain why Mahomes plays well to begin a season.
"I think he does pretty good all the time," Reid said.
Added Mahomes: "It's Coach Reid getting more weeks to game-plan. I mean, that's always a good thing for me because he's getting guys kind of running wide open. But then I think it's (also) how we do training camp.
"It prepares you to be ready Week 1. Coach has a great game plan in, you have guys flying around that are ready to go, ready to play a game and not be at practice against each other. We've done a great job of just executing in Week 1."
For the record, Mahomes, who on Wednesday was named AFC Offensive Player of the Week, now has thrown 46 touchdown passes and three interceptions in 14 career September NFL games. Mahomes has won 12 of those 14 games.
In a related note. ... Mahomes injured his left wrist on his first of five touchdown passes Sunday. The Chiefs quarterback played through the injury, though it was heavily wrapped.
Mahomes said X-rays on Sunday were negative and "you have to be able to play through" injuries like this as an NFL quarterback.
Expect him to do just that Thursday night against the Chargers. Mahomes practiced fully both Monday and Tuesday despite the issue.
Meanwhile, Reid criticized the field inside State Farm Stadium on Tuesday after two players slipped on the turf and sustained injuries.
First-round pick Trent McDuffie hurt his hamstring when the young cornerback slipped during an otherwise impressive NFL debut. He was placed on injured reserve Tuesday, meaning he will miss at least the next four games.
Harrison Butker's plant foot also slipped awkwardly during a kickoff early in the game, forcing the Chiefs to use safety Justin Reid for most of their kickoffs and extra points. Butker was diagnosed with a sprained ankle.
Butker was officially ruled out for Thursday night's game on Wednesday..
The Chiefs signed former Jets kicker Matt Ammendola to the practice squad and will elevate him for the game.
Also on the injury report, offensive tackle Orlando Brown (knee), receiver Justin Watson (chest), and Smith-Schuster (shoulder) were upgraded from limited to full participants. Guard Trey Smith (ankle) remained limited.
As previously noted, Mahomes (left wrist) and Reid (hand) remained full participants. And linebacker Willie Gay (knee) was added to the report as a full participant. ...
As for other issues?
Associated Press sports writer Dave Skretta noted, if you want to nitpick, the Chiefs put the ball on the ground five times, including twice by Smith-Schuster, who also lost their only fumble. But two of those fumbles came from backup quarterback Chad Henne and third-string running back Isaih Pacheco, the rookie who atoned for the gaffe by leading the Chiefs with 62 yards rushing and a touchdown.
You can access complete stats for the Chiefs Week 1 game via our exclusive Fantasy BoxScore.
QBs: Patrick Mahomes, Blaine Gabbert
RBs: Isiah Pacheco, Jerick McKinnon, Clyde Edwards-Helaire
WRs: Rashee Rice, Marquez Valdes-Scantling, Justin Watson, Skyy Moore, Kadarius Toney, Richie James, Justyn Ross, Mecole Hardman
TEs: Travis Kelce, Noah Gray, Blake Bell, Jody Fortson
Las Vegas RaidersCompiled by FootballDiehards Editor Bob Harris | Updated 13 September 2022
As Levi Edwards of the team's official website noted, Davante Adams turned in a masterful Raiders debut performance -- but with a less than desired result.
Indeed, the addition of Adams was as good as advertised for the Las Vegas Raiders.
The issues on the offensive line and in the secondary also were what was expected and helped contribute to a season-opening 24-19 loss to the Los Angeles Chargers.
After making the playoffs last season thanks to a season-ending, nail-biting win over the Chargers, the Raiders went into this season hoping for even more success thanks in part to the addition of Adams, the No. 1 receiver that had been lacking.
Adams had 10 catches for 141 yards and a touchdown in his Raiders debut, getting targeted a league-high 17 times by his old college teammate Derek Carr.
But, as Associated Press sports writer Josh Dubow noted, it wasn't enough thanks to a mistake-filled performance by Carr, suspect pass blocking and a secondary that couldn't slow down Justin Herbert and the Chargers.
"Learning how to win is not something you get to carry over from one year to the next, not as a coach or a team," head coach Josh McDaniels said Monday. "That's something you acquire through work, preparation and habits. I really believe that."
The Raiders allowed six sacks and threw three interceptions -- the first time that has ever happened to a team coached or coordinated by McDaniels -- as the offense was held under 20 points.
The defense struggled slowing down the Chargers' passing attack, allowing 8.2 yards per dropback for the third worst mark in the league headed into Monday night as the pass rush and coverage both struggled.
Despite all that, the Raiders still had a chance to win late before Carr was sacked on back-to-back plays to end a potential go-ahead drive.
"This game is not a game of what-ifs," McDaniels said. "It's a game of what happened."
What happened was poor offensive line play.
The Raiders made little investment in the offensive line and it showed in the opener. Las Vegas allowed six sacks -- including one of Adams on a trick play -- as McDaniels tried to find a combination that worked. The Raiders rotated players on the right side with Jermaine Eluemunor and rookie Thayer Munford splitting the work at right tackle and Lester Cotton and Dylan Parham sharing the work at right guard.
"We're not searching for anything," McDaniels said. "We're playing the guys who deserve to play."
In addition, Carr was off most of the game, missing a potential TD throw to Darren Waller on the first drive and underthrowing Adams on a deep pass to the end zone for one of his three interceptions. Carr also fumbled twice following two of his five sacks and often held onto the ball too long waiting for a play to develop.
He finished 22 for 37 for 295 yards.
"There's nothing more important than us taking care of the ball," McDaniels said.
They'll try to do a better job of that this week. The Raiders host Arizona in their home opener on Sunday, looking to avoid their first 0-2 start since 2018. ...
Worth noting. ... Per MyFantasyLife's Dwain McFarland, Josh Jacobs played 60 percent of the Raiders' snaps and handled 77 percent of the rushing attempts against the Chargers.
Brandon Bolden took the long-down-distance work (80 percent). Ameer Abdullah was surprisingly quiet, with only 10 percent of snaps (20 percent of long-down-distance). ...
On the injury front. ... McDaniels had no update on several players who left the game with injuries: CB Anthony Averett (thumb), S Tre'von Moehrig (hip), LB Denzel Perryman (ankle), RB Brandon Bolden (hamstring), WR DJ Turner (ankle) and DT Andre Billings (undisclosed). ... C Andre James, who went to the hospital after having a concussion on the Raiders' final play, was back at the team facility Monday.
You can access complete stats for the Raiders Week 1 game via our exclusive Fantasy BoxScore.
QBs: Aidan O'Connell, Jimmy Garoppolo, Brian Hoyer
RBs: Josh Jacobs, Zamir White, Ameer Abdullah, Brandon Bolden
WRs: Davante Adams, Jakobi Meyers, Tre Tucker, Hunter Renfrow, DeAndre Carter, Kristian Wilkerson
TEs: Michael Mayer, Austin Hooper, Jesper Horsted
Los Angeles ChargersCompiled by FootballDiehards Editor Bob Harris | Updated 13 September 2022
According to Associated Press sports writer Joe Reedy, most teams would have their offensive game plan cut in half if their top receiver was injured in the second quarter.
The Los Angeles Chargers showed they have players who can pick up the slack.
Even though Keenan Allen went out with a hamstring strain during the second quarter of Sunday's 24-19 victory over the Las Vegas Raiders, Justin Herbert was able to remain productive. The third-year quarterback completed passes to nine players, with six having at least three receptions.
"I think it's huge to have all of those guys and they're interchangeable," said Herbert, who threw three touchdowns. "You never want to lose a player like that, but when you get guys around them that are able to step up like that, I think it's huge for the team."
The fact that the rest of the receiving group was able to step up is more impressive considering Mike Williams, who had nine receptions against the Raiders in last season's finale, struggled in this one.
In fact, Williams didn't get his first catch until five minutes into the fourth quarter. Williams was only targeted once through the first three quarters and finished with two receptions for 10 yards. It is the sixth time in Williams' six-year career he has been held to two or fewer catches when being on the field for at least 30 pass plays.
Allen is questionable going into Thursday night's key early season matchup against the Kansas City Chiefs. If Allen cannot go, DeAndre Carter and Joshua Palmer would get most of the snaps in his absence.
Both had three receptions, but Carter provided the biggest highlights with a pair of second-quarter catches in tight coverage. His 23-yard TD late in the second quarter came between Raiders defensive backs Trevon Moehrig and Divine Deablo.
Most figured Carter was going to have an impact as a kick and punt returner, but head coach Brandon Staley said Herbert developed quick chemistry with Carter.
"I think that we knew in the springtime that he was going to be a lot more than just a return specialist," Staley said. "I think you can deploy him in a lot of different ways, as I think you saw it yesterday. He's just a really tough football player, tough football player, instinctive football player. I think our quarterbacks really trust him."
Herbert also got plenty of help from tight end Gerald Everett, who had three receptions for 54 yards and a third-quarter touchdown.
Williams led all wide receivers with 62 snaps, while Palmer played 50. Carter (25 snaps) had three catches for 64 yards and score. Jalen Guyton played five snaps on offense. Everett played 44 snaps as he found the end zone in his first game with the Bolts. He had three receptions for 54 yards in the win. Tre McKitty played 40 snaps, and Richard Rodgers saw the field twice on offense.
Also worth noting: The Raiders elite pass-rushing tandem of Maxx Crosby and Chandler Jones were shut out in the sack department.
That duo combined for three hits on Herbert, but the Bolts offensive line prevented them from bringing down the Chargers quarterback with the ball.
"It was a hard-fought game in the trenches," said Chargers right tackle Trey Pipkins III. "This game is going to be a good indicator of how tough and rugged this division is.
"Anytime you don't give up any sacks, you feel good," Pipkins added. "But there are some pressures and stuff we can avoid. You have to look at it honestly with yourself and make sure you can improve on it."
Center Corey Linsley said he was proud of how the Chargers bookends -- Pipkins and Rashawn Slater -- held up in pass protection.
"I felt like Rashawn gets a lot of publicity deservingly, he's a dude out there," Linsley said. "Trey, for him to step up like he did, show out. Those are elite edge rushers.
"I'm sure if you watch the film, I'm sure we had some help on certain plays but there's going to be a time where you have to step up, and they did," Linsley added. "It's awesome."
Staley credited the entire offensive unit for helping mitigate Jones and Crosby, a duo with 130-plus combined sacks.
"Well, the reason why Maxx and Chandler have a lot of chatter is because they've earned it. They're two of the top players in the league. Certainly, at the front of our minds," Staley said. "They both played really good games for them. They're just really tough play to against. It takes all 11 to be able to take on those two guys.
"I thought that our offense really competed," Staley added. "I thought that our O-line, [guard] Zion [Johnson] in his first start, just going out there against a group like that and being able to perform. Those five guys playing together, our protection plan, that was outstanding."
Herbert played a role in the zero sacks, too, using his athleticism to scramble around and evade pressure.
The quarterback was on point to kick off Year 3, throwing for 279 yards with the three scores and no interceptions. His passer rating was 129.4, the fourth-best mark of his young career.
"Justin using his legs and the receivers and backs doing a good job of getting open. It was a tough game," Staley said. "It was just one of those tough NFL football games today. A well-played game by both teams."
Herbert added: "No sacks, we moved the ball well, we ran the ball well. We needed to be more consistent in the second half, but I thought the offensive line played really well today."
Meanwhile, the running game averaged only 2.6 yards per carry and was held to no gain or a loss on 10 of 31 carries. The 10 run stuffs were the most in the league on Sunday. Austin Ekeler was stuffed on four of his 13 carries.
Ekeler led all running back with 33 snaps.
He had 72 total yards, 36 both on the ground and in the air. Joshua Kelley (18 snaps) and Sony Michel (16 snaps) split reps at the second running back spot in place of Ekeler. Fullback Zander Horvath played 15 snaps and made an impact in his NFL debut, catching the Chargers first touchdown of the season. ...
With the first two games of the season against division rivals, the Chargers needed to win at least one to feel good about their chances of winning the AFC West for the first time since 2009. They haven't started 2-0 in 10 years, but Herbert is only the third AFC West quarterback to win his first two starts at Arrowhead Stadium. ...
As for Allen. ... After he was hurt Sunday, the veteran wideout said there was a "small" possibility he could play in Thursday's game against the Chiefs. That's not the case.
The Chargers ruled out Allen (hamstring) and Donald Parham (hamstring) on Wednesday.
Stayle noted, via Hayley Elwood of the team's website, that Allen's hamstring "is gonna take some time" to heal.
Cornerback J.C. Jackson, who didn't play Sunday, was listed is listed as questionable after missing the opener with his ongoing ankle issue.
Jackson signed a five-year, $82.5 million deal with the Chargers in March. He underwent ankle surgery on Aug. 23 with a reported two-to-four week recovery time. There's a possibility Jackson will make his Chargers debut in a few days.
You can access complete stats for the Chargers Week 1 game via our exclusive Fantasy BoxScore.
QBs: Justin Herbert, Easton Stick
RBs: Austin Ekeler, Joshua Kelley, Isaiah Spiller, Elijah Dotson
WRs: Keenan Allen, Quentin Johnston, Jalen Guyton, Derius Davis, Josh Palmer, Mike Williams
TEs: Gerald Everett, Donald Parham, Stone Smartt
Los Angeles RamsCompiled by FootballDiehards Editor Bob Harris | Updated 13 September 2022
As The Athletic's Jourdan Rodrigue reported it, "There's a first time for everything. For head coach Sean McVay and the Rams, there were a lot of 'firsts' on Thursday night, in a brutal 31-10 loss to a bright-and-shiny Buffalo Bills team. Most of them weren't good."
It was the first time McVay has lost a season opener, for example. The seven sacks quarterback Matthew Stafford took marked the first time a McVay-led team allowed that high a number in a single game -- and the Bills had six of them by the start of the fourth quarter.
"When you look at the lot of the ways this game unfolded, I feel a huge sense of responsibility to this team," said McVay. "We weren't ready to go. I take a lot of pride in that, that's on me. I gotta do better. ... This was a humbling experience, but we're gonna stay connected."
Cornerback Jalen Ramsey put it succinctly: "We got our ass beat, straight-up."
While Los Angeles still possesses elite talent, it couldn't keep up with Buffalo, widely considered to be a top contender for the crown. The Rams' best opponents will all be hungry for what the champs have, and perhaps even hungrier.
"That's an easy excuse to make, but I wouldn't say that," McVay said. "Our guys were ready to go. I just think there were a lot of instances where we didn't execute to our full capacity."
Motivation and hunger aside, the opener also revealed the Rams have plenty of problems to solve if they hope to be considered among the NFL's elite again this season. McVay attempted to blame himself, as usual, but almost every aspect of his team showed vast room for improvement.
This loss even threw open the possibility that the Rams don't even have the personnel to be among the NFL's best teams. Los Angeles general manager Les Snead has been able to build a competent roster core below his superstars during several years spent largely without high draft picks, but those big loans against the future could be coming due.
The Rams' offensive line frequently looked overmatched against Buffalo's defensive front while Stafford struggled to get the ball to Los Angeles' array of playmakers, with only Super Bowl MVP Cooper Kupp making a difference. The Rams got even worse news about that line Friday with injuries to center Brian Allen and left tackle Joseph Noteboom.
Allen will be out for at least two weeks after undergoing a "procedure to remove loose bodies from his knee" on Friday, while Noteboom strained his knee ligaments, McVay said. Noteboom isn't expected to miss Week 2.
The defense forced three turnovers, but couldn't force a punt and otherwise failed to stop Josh Allen, although that's hardly a unique predicament. More dismaying was the lack of pressure on Allen from a defensive front that lost Von Miller to the Bills, along with an apparently cautious secondary that didn't make enough big plays.
The Rams have a ton of work to do -- and it's fortunate that after a loss on opening night, they've got plenty of time to do it.
Kupp is was on point, however.
He followed one of the greatest seasons by a receiver in NFL history with 13 catches for 128 yards and a touchdown. The AP's Offensive Player of the Year remains uncoverable by most defenses, and Stafford's connection with him remains strong.
But where were Cam Akers and Allen Robinson.
Robinson, the Rams' big-name receiver who seriously impressed in training camp after joining the team in March, didn't see much action. Allen finished the game with just two targets and the one catch.
It wasn't completely clear, aside from the frequent duress Stafford faced and the coverages he saw, why Robinson wasn't more involved.
"I think they played, (estimating), maybe two snaps of man? It's a lot of zone," Stafford said, "they clouded to the boundary quite a bit, Allen saw a lot of Cover 2 over there. I can still do a better job of getting him the ball in some instances."
According to ESPN.com's Sarah Barshop, Robinson was targeted just twice on 45 routes run, according to NFL Next Gen Stats. The 4.4 percent target rate was the lowest of his career.
It was, however, interesting to see the Rams work the expected committee of receivers into the rotation in absence of No. 3 receiver Van Jefferson, who was inactive as he continues to rehab from knee surgery.
According to Rodrigue, second-year receiver Ben Skowronek got the start and had four catches for 25 yards. The Rams also tested out second-year receiver Tutu Atwell on a couple of sweeps as a decoy player, but when Stafford hit him in the flat, Atwell dropped the pass after taking heavy contact from a defender.
Return specialist Brandon Powell actually took a handoff and had a 10-yard catch, and even tight end Brycen Hopkins, who had a phenomenal training camp, seemed to struggle at times.
Running back Darrell Henderson Jr. (five catches for 26 yards) could have gotten a first down on a catch-and-run but was stuffed by a player Hopkins likely should have blocked.
With Kupp, Higbee and Skowronek in the stack as blockers, the Rams in theory should have been able to run the ball better than they did. Henderson, who started and got the lead share of reps, had a couple of really nice runs (including a physical 18-yard long that set up Kupp's touchdown). But he finished the game with just 47 yards on 13 carries. Meanwhile, Akers had just three carries and didn't come in until the second quarter.
Akers played 12 snaps on Thursday to Henderson's 54.
McVay said that the team not rotating in Akers was because they "didn't get in much of a rhythm tonight", and added that he'd have liked to get Robinson more involved.
On Friday, McVay said Akers needs to play with "an increased level of urgency."
McVay and his staff have an extra-long week to address the flaws exposed by Buffalo, and McVay's competitive fire is decidedly stoked. The Rams host the Atlanta Falcons on Sunday, and McVay said the opener can be nothing more than "a little blip on the radar" if Los Angeles responds properly. ...
Also of interest. ... No. 3 running back Kyren Williams injured his ankle and was listed as "questionable" to return, and his updated status wasn't announced in the press box (presumably the injury happened on special teams, because Williams didn't get a shot at playing running back).
On Tuesday, the Rams Williams on injured reserve and signed veteran long snapper Matt Overton.
A small positive: Kicker Matt Gay hit a 57-yard field goal with enough room behind it to be a 68-yarder, according to NBC's kick measurement analysis. On the other hand, it wasn't totally clear why Powell took out kickoffs nearly every time, including one that was stuffed at about the 10-yard line and set up poor field position.
You can access complete stats for the Rams Week 1 game via our exclusive Fantasy BoxScore.
QBs: Matthew Stafford, Carson Wentz, Stetson Bennett
RBs: Kyren Williams, Royce Freeman, Zach Evans, Ronnie Rivers
WRs: Cooper Kupp, Puka Nacua, Tutu Atwell, Ben Skowronek, Demarcus Robinson
TEs: Tyler Higbee, Brycen Hopkins, Hunter Long, Davis Allen
Miami DolphinsCompiled by FootballDiehards Editor Bob Harris | Updated 13 September 2022
Mike McDaniel faced his first big decision as the new Miami Dolphins on Sunday against the New England Patriots.
Miami led 10-0 with 24 seconds remaining in the first half, facing a fourth-and-7 from the New England 42-yard line. Instead of opting for a likely half-ending punt, McDaniel decided to go for it.
Tua Tagovailoa hit Jaylen Waddle over the middle, and the speedster dashed for a 42-yard score to put the Fins up 17-0 before coasting to a 20-7 victory.
"He's going to need a wheelbarrow for his nuts to carry around, because he's got a lot of cojones," receiver Tyreek Hill colorfully commented of the call, via the Miami Herald.
An incompletion could have given the Patriots a last-second chance at a long field goal to pull within a score. McDaniel's decision to stay aggressive played well in the locker room.
"That's gusty, man. That's tough," offensive tackle Terron Armstead said. "We love it, we take that as a challenge, we take that as confidence. He has the confidence in us to execute and we went out and it was a huge play in the game to get points before [halftime], come back out with the ball, so that's a gutsy call in your first game as a head coach."
In 2021, Miami tied for the fewest fourth-down attempts with 22. Off the bat, McDaniel showed he's willing to take more risks.
"I love it," Tagovailoa said. "He has the utmost confidence in the entire offense. That's why."
McDaniel earned his first career win in Week 1 against Bill Belichick, who entered the game with 321 career wins (including playoffs) -- the most opposing head coach wins in NFL history in a game won by a head coach making his debut, per NFL Research.
Of course, McDaniel's move was fully exploiting Hill's talents.
As Associated Press sports writer Alanis Thames noted, Hill's success with Kansas City made it easy to imagine the impact he'd make on this new team.
Hill made his Dolphins debut against the Patriots, and his 94 receiving yards was the most by a Miami newcomer in Week 1 since running back Jim Kiick in 1970.
The Dolphins traded a package of draft picks to Kansas City for Hill and gave him a $120 million, four-year contract extension that made him one of the highest-paid NFL receivers ever.
It's already paying off.
"It feels awesome having someone like Tyreek," Tagovailoa said. "I'll keep saying this, the dude is a cheat code. It's not easy covering this guy when he's motioning, running routes off of motions and doing his thing."
In five career games against New England, Hill has 32 receptions for 495 yards and five touchdowns.
McDaniel said the team always plans to involve Hill. He added that there were a couple plays against the Patriots that frustrated Hill because he wasn't in the right place on the field when Tagovailoa threw the ball.
"I think each and every game we'll do our best to feature him unless the defense has to fully commit to take him away," McDaniel said, "which is good news for the Miami Dolphins because we have some other playmakers."
Hill and Waddle make up one of the fastest receiving duos in the league. Waddle showed his speed on a 42-yard touchdown catch against the Patriots, but more important, he showed he's healthy. He missed the preseason with a quad injury.
One area that could use some work?
The run game.
One of the NFL's worst rushing teams a season ago, the Dolphins had 65 yards on 21 carries against the Patriots -- who were the league's 22nd-best run defense in 2021. Miami also struggled to run the ball during training camp and the preseason.
Against the Patriots, Miami's leading rusher was Chase Edmonds, who had 25 yards on 12 carries.
McDaniel brought in Edmonds and Raheem Mostert in the offseason to make a difference in a run game that has struggled in recent years.
As ESPN.com's Marcel Louis-Jacques notes, the difference Sunday for Miami compared to last season is there is now a competent passing game to carry the offense when things aren't working on the ground. As teams come to respect that passing game, the run game should open up; it's not quite time to panic yet.
That said, a stronger rushing attack will coming in handy as Miami has a tough stretch over the next two weeks. The Dolphins play at Baltimore next week, then host Buffalo.
"Today, throughout the whole building guys were focused on getting better and improving before this Baltimore game," McDaniel said, "because I can promise you Baltimore could care less about our happy feelings on Sunday."
Worth noting. ... Mike Gesicki caught his lone target for one yard against the Patriots. He was out-targeted by both fellow TE Durham Smythe and FB Alec Ingold in this one. As NBCSportsEdge.com suggests, despite being franchise-tagged in the offseason, Gesicki is clearly not a fit in new coach Mike McDaniel's offense where he needs his tight ends to block. ...
On the injury front. ... Offensive lineman Austin Jackson suffered an ankle injury in the second quarter. McDaniel said the injury was serious enough for the team to "get more eyes on it." Tight end Cethan Carter left the game in the second quarter with a head injury and is in the concussion protocol.
Cedrick Wilson Jr. (toe) did not practice Wednesday; I'll follow up as need via Late-Breaking Update.
You can access complete stats for the Dolphins Week 1 game via our exclusive Fantasy BoxScore.
QBs: Tua Tagovailoa, Mike White, Skylar Thompson
RBs: Raheem Mostert, De'Von Achane, Jeff Wilson, Salvon Ahmed, Christopher Brooks
WRs: Tyreek Hill, Jaylen Waddle, Braxton Berrios, Cedrick Wilson, Chase Claypool, River Cracraft
TEs: Durham Smythe, Julian Hill, Tyler Kroft
Minnesota VikingsCompiled by FootballDiehards Editor Bob Harris | Updated 13 September 2022
According to ESPN.com's Kevin Seifert, it was a scene the Minnesota Vikings could only dream of. Superstar receiver Justin Jefferson ran wild Sunday through the Green Bay Packers secondary, hauling in a slew of wide-open passes on the way to the best game of his career.
Jefferson had nine receptions for a career-best 184 yards and two touchdowns as the Vikings pounded their NFC North rival, 23-7, at U.S. Bank Stadium.
But it was the nature of Jefferson's catches that were so stunning.
Jefferson averaged 4.0 yards of separation on his 11 targets, according to ESPN Stats and Information research, and gained 138 of his receiving yards on plays when he had at least 3.0 yards of separation. And on a 64-yard haul that set up a field goal in the second quarter, there was not a defender within 10 yards of him.
"I was thinking somebody was about to come from behind and tackle me," Jefferson said. "I thought [Packers cornerback Jaire Alexander] had run with me. But he wasn't there. It kind of shook me up a little bit, but I'm glad I got into the end zone."
The Vikings were playing their first game in new coach Kevin O'Connell's scheme, and Jefferson said he expected to see the usual double teams and cloud coverages he has grown accustomed to during his first two seasons in the league. He was surprised, however, to see the Packers did not consistently ask Alexander to follow him in coverage.
Alexander was surprised, as well. Asked about the potential matchup, Alexander first made the zipping-the-lips motion and then said: "All week, [he was] asking for that matchup. But it ain't about me. It's about the team. It ain't about me. If it was my way, you know what I would be doing."
O'Connell's scheme was partly responsible. Jefferson lined up all over the field, making it difficult to track him. Jefferson took 41 snaps on the outside, 12 in the slot, two in the backfield and one as a tight end. Nearly half of his yardage total (91) came on those plays from the slot with the other 93 from the outside, making him only the second player in the past seven seasons to accumulate at least 90 yards from both the slot and the outside.
Jefferson also went into pre-snap motion on seven snaps and was targeted on four of those plays, including a 5-yard touchdown reception in the first quarter.
"I definitely like the motioning," Jefferson said, "and just seeing the whole field. I'm pretty sure I'm going to do it a lot more."
That'd be great. In fact, it's already pretty great.
Before halftime, Jefferson had racked up his fifth game with at least 150 receiving yards in his career. That's one short of the all-time record for a player with three or fewer seasons. And he still has 16 games left in his third season.
Hall of Famer Lance Alworth holds the record with six. Jefferson is tied with Randy Moss and Victor Cruz.
Jefferson also cracked the 200-catch barrier on Sunday. He got there in 34 games. That's the fourth fastest in league history, behind Odell Beckham Jr. (30 games), Michael Thomas (32), and Jarvis Landry (33). Jefferson is tied with Anquan Boldin and Reggie Bush.
Jefferson could keep racking up bigger and bigger numbers in O'Connell's offense. Jefferson could end up having the best season that any Vikings receiver has ever had, Moss included.
Consider this: Cousins said he was a "little surprised" with the amount of times Jefferson was completely open throughout the game.
"Whenever he has a game at that magnitude, not because of him, but you expect him to get taken away a little bit, and he will at times. Our coaches are trying to find ways to still keep him involved, and we were able to do that today," Cousins said. "So it's going to be kind of a conversation we had a lot last season, and we'll have this season each week of how does he get defended."
Meanwhile, in the run game, the duo of Dalvin Cook and Alexander Mattison were interchangeable and efficient. Minnesota outgained Green Bay 126-111 in total rushing yards.
Cook rushed 20 times for 90 yards, and Mattison added 36 yards on eight carries.
Aside from Jefferson's outing, Thielen, Cook, tight end Johnny Mundt and wide receiver K.J. Osborn each added three catches for 36, 18, 17 and 14 yards, respectively.
Thielen said the offense was effective in keeping Green Bay's defenders guessing, but he knows other teams will soon pick up on that.
"Yeah, I think the coaches obviously did a good job in the game plan of just moving guys around. Not allowing the defense to really settle in," Thielen said. "We're going to have to continue to do that. Because teams know what they're getting now. It was a little bit of a mystery out there, what they were going to get, but teams are gonna know now. So we've got to go back to work and find ways to continue to have success."
Thielen added they need to play with an "attacking mindset" as an offense.
That seems like a foregone conclusion based on what we saw Sunday.
As the Vikings move forward, O'Connell said while playing with a lot of pace on offense is fun, it has to be on their own terms.
"We're going to attack on our terms, and you do that because of your efficiency. Because you don't have penalties. You play a clean game. Our terms can mean a lot of things and that was a really, really good defense and we're going to see them again," O'Connell said. "What I give our guys credit doing, especially offensively in this game, was just on to the next, on to the next. How many times can all 11 line up and do their job, whether it was huddle call, tempo, situational?
"We've got a lot to correct, but I'm really, really proud of our group."
New defensive coordinator Ed Donatell by all accounts called an effective game to beat Rodgers and the Packers, and his players have raved about his creativity and relatability. This week will bring a different set of challenges, with a trip to Philadelphia to face a dynamic, slippery quarterback in Jalen Hurts on a Monday night in front of a raucous crowd.
Hurts and the Eagles had 455 total yards in their opening win at Detroit with four rushing touchdowns and an average of 5.5 yards per rush. The Eagles were fourth in the NFL last year with 4.9 yards per attempt. The Vikings allowed an average of 6.2 yards per rush to the Packers, and only four teams yielded a higher total this week. ...
Other notes of interest. ... Mundt played 40 snaps to Irv Smith Jr.'s 19. O'Connell offered the following when asked about it: "Irv is going to have a major role for us."
Asled after the game on how he felt health wise. Smith said: "I felt great. A lot of emotions built up to this, it's been a long time coming and I couldn't have asked for a better W"
"We had a gameplan [for reps], I missed a lot of camp so they didn't want to rush me into things."
But it appears the snap count was based on game plan, not health.
"Those guys all know how we operate," O'Connell said. "We're a game-to-game, week-to-week operation. ..."
Greg Joseph kept up the momentum from a strong preseason by making all of his kicks, including a career-best 56-yarder among his three field goals. The 28-year-old from South Africa has missed only one field goal (a 53-yard try last Dec. 9 in a win over Pittsburgh) over his last 12 games.
On the injury front. ... Rookie CB Andrew Booth Jr. hurt his quadriceps on special teams in the first half and did not return, but so far the Vikings with new executive director of player health and performance Tyler Williams have enjoyed a remarkably minimal injury report since the start of training camp. Booth will be questionable to play this week, O'Connell said, but won't be out long term.
You can access complete stats for the Vikings Week 1 game via our exclusive Fantasy BoxScore.
QBs: Josh Dobbs, Nick Mullens, Jaren Hall, Kirk Cousins
RBs: Alexander Mattison, Ty Chandler, C.J. Ham, Kene Nwangwu, Cam Akers
WRs: Justin Jefferson, Jordan Addison, K.J. Osborn, Brandon Powell, Jalen Nailor
TEs: T.J. Hockenson, Josh Oliver, Johnny Mundt, Nick Muse
New England PatriotsCompiled by FootballDiehards Editor Bob Harris | Updated 13 September 2022
As Associated Press sports writer Kyle Hightower noted, intrigue surrounded the Patriots throughout the preseason as they looked to remake their offense following the departure of coordinator Josh McDaniels.
The initial reviews are in, and most of them aren't good.
It was bad enough New England turned the ball over three times and badly missed assignments in key situations during its 20-7 season-opening loss at Miami.
Now the Patriots will have to try to course correct heading into this week's matchup at Pittsburgh with quarterback Mac Jones nursing a back injury.
"I definitely feel better and I want to be ready to play (this week) against Pittsburgh," Jones said Monday. "Wasn't doing too hot after the game, but definitely feel a lot better. ... They did all the tests and everything was fine."
The second-year quarterback played the entire game and completed 21 of 30 passes for 213 yards with a touchdown and an interception. But he was sacked twice, one of which resulted in a scoop-and-score by the Dolphins' defense. He also was hit hard the fourth quarter by safety Jevon Holland, who was called for roughing the passer on the play. Jones believes that's when he got hurt.
Though he said he "tried work through it" after the hit, Jones felt pain in his back coming off the field. That prompted him to get postgame X-rays and follow-up scans on Monday.
"It's football, you're going to get hit," Jones said. "I've been hit harder before and will probably get hit harder in the future."
NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport reported Monday that Jones is believed to have been suffering from back spasms, per sources informed of the situation.
For now, Jones plans to stick to his usual routine, which included rehab before the team resumed practice on Wednesday. Jones then took the field for Wednesday's practice and was listed as a full participant.
As far as correcting the Patriots' issues on the field, Jones said they found some things to build on after watching the game tape.
"We did a lot of good things. We just have to eliminate the really bad things," he said. "In terms of actually executing the plays, it was a lot better than we thought. ... But we've got to score more points and take care of the football."
The Patriots stay on the road this week when they head to Pittsburgh for a matchup with a Steelers team that won't have Defensive Player of the Year T.J. Watt.
Other notes of interest. ... Despite the turnovers, the Patriots showed some ability to move the ball, getting into Miami territory on three of their first five drives and picking up 17 first downs in the game.
But it wasn't the most fruitful debut for receiver DeVante Parker. On the Patriots' opening drive, he lost a jump ball in the end zone to ex-teammate Xavien Howard that was picked off by Holland.
It was one of two passes thrown Parker's way. The other he hauled in for a 9-yard gain.
According to ESPN.com's Mike Reiss, it was notable that Kendrick Bourne, who was the team's second-leading receiver last year with 55 receptions for 800 yards and five touchdowns, didn't play until deep into the fourth quarter. He promptly caught a 41-yard pass down the left sideline. For an offense that is in need of explosiveness, why isn't Bourne playing more?
The Athletic's Jeff Howe reports that Bourne apparently was late to a pregame squad meeting before New England's preseason game against Carolina and fell into Matt Patricia's doghouse because of it.
Howe added, however, Bourne's playing time is expected to increase. ...
According to MyFantasyLife’s Dwain McFarland, the Patriots backfield was a three-man committee in Miami with Damien Harris getting 39 percent of the snaps, Ty Montgomery getting 36 percent and Rhamondre Stevenson limited to just 25 percent.
Montgomery was on the field for 91 percent of the long-down-distance plays while Harris and Stevenson had 43 percent and 38 percent short-down distance, respectively.
That's going to change this week, however. .
Montgomery will miss at least the next four games after he was placed on injured reserve Tuesday.
Montgomery caught three passes for 15 yards and a touchdown and had two rushes for minus-2 yards.
The Patriots signed receiver Lil'Jordan Humphrey to the 53-player roster in a corresponding move. Humphrey signed with the team as a free agent in June.
New England cut Humphrey out of the preseason but re-signed him to the practice squad the following day. He played three offensive snaps and one on special teams against the Dolphins after the Patriots activated him off the practice squad for the game.
The Patriots also made the signing of offensive tackle Marcus Cannon to the practice squad official Tuesday. ...
Beyond that, it's worth remembering the offensive line's communication issues were in the spotlight throughout training camp following a shakeup that left center David Andrews as the only starter filling the same position he occupied last season.
Those issues showed up again Sunday and it resulted in two woefully blown assignments that gave the Dolphins free runs on Jones. The costliest was in the second quarter, with Brandon Jones getting to the Patriots quarterback for the strip-sack that was recovered by Melvin Ingram and returned for a touchdown.
"We didn't block him. We had enough people to block him and we just didn't get it handled right, obviously," head coach Bill Belichick said. "It's execution."
Both plays occurred on the left side of the line, where Trent Brown is back at left tackle after switching sides with Isaiah Wynn. Rookie Cole Strange is also the new left guard following Ted Karras' departure. ...
You can access complete stats for the Patriots Week 1 game via our exclusive Fantasy BoxScore.
QBs: Bailey Zappe, Mac Jones
RBs: Rhamondre Stevenson, Ezekiel Elliott, JaMycal Hasty
WRs: DeVante Parker, Demario Douglas, JuJu Smith-Schuster, Tyquan Thornton, Kayshon Boutte, Matt Slater, Kendrick Bourne
TEs: Hunter Henry, Mike Gesicki, Pharaoh Brown
New Orleans SaintsCompiled by FootballDiehards Editor Bob Harris | Updated 13 September 2022
As ESPN.com's Katherine Terrell reported, wide receiver Michael Thomas wasn't ready to declare himself 100 percent back after his first game on Sunday in almost two years.
Thomas had five catches for 57 yards and two touchdowns in the 27-26 win against the Atlanta Falcons at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. It was the first time he had played in a game since a 30-20 loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the NFC divisional round of the 2021 playoffs on Jan. 17, 2021, and it marked his first NFL reception since he had five catches in the Saints' 21-9 win against Bears in the NFC wild-card round of the playoffs on Jan. 10, 2021.
Thomas, whose first catch did not come until the 11:58 mark in the third quarter, felt he had more to give and wished he could have contributed even more.
"I still have a lot more," he said. "When I come into games and the ball's thrown to me, I'm trying to make every play, make every catch. That's definitely not my standard. Little rusty to me. But the biggest thing is being able to add value, put points on the board and help my team win games and come back. But from an individual standpoint, I still have more work to do."
Almost all of Thomas' catches came exclusively in the fourth quarter, helping the Saints (1-0) erase a 16-point fourth-quarter deficit to beat the Falcons (0-1).
"Big-time players make big plays," said wide receiver Jarvis Landry.
The Saints would come back to win for their first victory under new coach Dennis Allen. Saints linebacker Demario Davis gave several of his teammates shoutouts for the win, singling out Thomas as one of them.
"Not to take away from the rest of that receiver room, because they all played phenomenal, but Mike T, after what he's been through the past two years, to come out and put together an electrifying performance like that, it's just great to celebrate my brothers when they go out and perform like that," Davis said.
Thomas said he was at a loss for words to describe how it felt to return to the end zone after such a long absence. Thomas' first touchdown came on a 3-yard pass from quarterback Jameis Winston with 11:16 left in the third quarter. Thomas said he had thought about how he might celebrate, but overcome with emotion and not wanting to get a penalty, he threw the ball into the stands and chest bumped with various teammates.
Thomas said the fan who caught the ball actually threw it back later, so he was able to keep it for himself.
"I didn't want to do anything to hurt this team, so I kept it simple," he said.
Landry, a new addition this offseason, led the Saints with seven catches for 114 yards, and rookie first-round pick Chris Olave had three catches for 41 yards.
"I feel like that was just a little taste," Thomas said. "If you ask me and the guys in the receiver group, we would probably say we didn't get started until the second half. So I mean, that was a lot of football we let get away in the first half. We're trying to play a complete game. ... We're all capable of getting open and making the play but ... you guys haven't seen anything yet."
According to MyFantasyLife’s Dwain McFarland, Thomas participated in 83 percent of Saints' passing plays. He drew a 27 percent target share.
Winston, in explaining to Profootballtalk.com's Mike Florio the dramatic shift in the team's offensive output in the fourth quarter, summed things up perfectly.
Let playmakers make plays.
"The spark was. ... Dialing up plays by playmakers," Winston said regarding the reversal. "We spent so much time game planning and spent so much time trying to figure out how this team was gonna play us. It got to a point we were playing behind it and we just had to let -- drop them and let it go. Let our playmakers make the plays."
Winston made plenty of plays in the fourth quarter, completing 13 of 16 passes for 213 yards and two touchdowns. In three full quarters before that, Winston was only 10 for 18 for 56 yards.
"It was amazing," Winston said regarding the return of Thomas, who set the single-season reception record in 2019. "I missed him on a third-down slant and he looked at me and gave me one of them eyes and I said, 'Man, I ain't gonna miss you again,' and he was like, 'Let's go,' and I was like, 'I got you.' Then we turned it around and we started connecting. We was on the same page from there."
Winston explained that the connections with Thomas caused the Falcons to rotate coverage toward him. Which opened things up for other players -- including Landry, who caught a 40-yard pass that set up the game-winning field goal.
"Another great play by [offensive coordinator] Pete Carmichael, knowing that they were going to be in some type of two-high coverage," Winston said. "We tried to put our speed guy in the middle to get him matched up on the Tampa [Two] Mike [middle linebacker]. We thought we were going to get Tampa Two. They really clouded over the top of [Thomas], and Jarvis had enough space that he was one-on-one outside and he made an incredible play, like he's been making his whole career."
Winston made some incredible plays, too. It allowed the Saints to win a game after being behind by 16 points in the fourth quarter in franchise history.
One playmaker who wasn't as involved as we'd like was Alvin Kamara.
The star running back was dealing with a "rib issue" on Sunday, according to Allen.
Asked what this injury means going forward, Allen said, "I think he's going to be fine."
Kamara had nine carries for 39 yards and three catches for seven yards. He had two touches in the fourth quarter -- a reception for 15 yards and a catch that resulted in a 10-yard loss.
Winston also was briefly checked on the sideline between possessions early in the fourth quarter -- right before he returned for the first of New Orleans' final three scoring drives.
The Saints say Winston was limited Wednesday with a back injury, which is why he went into the injury tent on Sunday.
Kamara was on the practice field Wednesday while fellow running back Mark Ingram was limited with an ankle injury.
So now it's time to watch the injury report in advance of a Week 2 showdown against the Buccaneers. The Saints are 4-0 in the regular season against Tampa Bay in the Tom Brady era.
I'll have more on Kamara, Ingram and Winston -- and Thomas if his hamstring is still an issue -- via Late-Breaking Update in coming days. ...
Worth noting. ... The Saints signed RB Latavius Murray to their practice squad. ...
Also of interest. ... Quarterback runs designed for utility player Taysom Hill were effective. Now listed as a tight end on the roster, Hill still takes snaps at quarterback periodically and usually keeps the ball when he does. At Atlanta, Hill gained 57 yards on one such run, setting up his 11-yard touchdown on a similar play. ...
NewOrleans.football's Nick Underhill advised his readers that tight end Juwan Johnson is "pulling ahead" of the team's other tight ends.
And by tight ends, Underhill did not include Hill. Aagainst Atlanta ran a route on 80 percent of the team's drop backs, turning five targets into two catches for 43 yards. He played critical late-game snaps over Nick Vannett and blocking tight end Adam Trautman. ...
As Associated Press sports writer Brett Martel noted, the offensive line is expected to be a strength this season, but struggled for most of the first three quarters. The Saints allowed four sacks of Winston, who also released a number of rushed and inaccurate throws under pressure. That played a part in New Orleans converting just four of 13 third downs.
"We had a couple of miscues," Allen said. "I don't think we were as clean as we needed to be early in the game, particularly in the first half."
You can access complete stats for the Saints Week 1 game via our exclusive Fantasy BoxScore.
QBs: Derek Carr, Jameis Winston, Jake Haener
RBs: Alvin Kamara, Jamaal Williams, Kendre Miller
WRs: Chris Olave, Rashid Shaheed, A.T. Perry, Keith Kirkwood, Lynn Bowden, Michael Thomas
TEs: Juwan Johnson, Taysom Hill, Foster Moreau, Jimmy Graham
New York GiantsCompiled by FootballDiehards Editor Bob Harris | Updated 13 September 2022
According to ESPN.com's Jordan Raanan, Brian Daboll didn't think twice about whether his New York Giants should go for the 2-point conversion or kick the tying extra point with 1 minute, 6 seconds remaining in his first game ever as a head coach. He was always going with the aggressive approach.
Daboll indeed went for two, which the Giants converted on a shovel pass to running back Saquon Barkley, to upset the Tennessee Titans 21-20 at Nissan Stadium. It was New York's first Week 1 win since 2016, which also happens to be the last time it made the playoffs.
Why didn't Daboll flinch when faced with the vital decision late in Sunday's season opener?
"Go for the win," he said. "We're going to be aggressive. That is what we want to do. That is the mindset I want the players to have. If it didn't work, I can live with it. I thought that was the right decision."
Daboll even went up to some of the defensive players on the bench during the game-winning drive and asked their opinion.
"I said, 'Hey. ... If we score, I'm going for two. You good with that?' They said, 'Heck yeah!'"
The Giants players were completely on board, even though there was still a minute remaining and the Titans had time to drive down the field and win the game. They did, but Tennessee kicker Randy Bullock missed a 47-yard field goal as time expired.
"When we scored, I was on the field and I saw him put up the 'two' sign and we kind of made eye contact," Barkley said. "He gave me that look, and I knew what the play was going to be. He gave me that look and I kind of looked back at him and said, 'F--- yeah.'
"We called it up and we were able to execute the play and get in. He's a man of his word. He told us he's going to be aggressive. He told us he's going to lean on the players to make plays. In that situation, he did exactly that. When you have a coach like that, it's definitely going to make you go out there and fight for him and execute in those situations."
The 2-point conversion turned out to be the difference in a game the Giants never led until the final minutes.
"He was like, 'You all cool with [going for two]?'" safety Xavier McKinney said. "We were like, 'Hell yeah!' We weren't going to say no. We wanted to win the game. We were glad we called it."
As a result, the Giants (1-0) now have a winning record for the first time since 2016.
As Raanan suggested, it wasn't a surprise that Daboll showed that type of aggressiveness late in the game. He also called a naked bootleg for quarterback Daniel Jones to run on a fourth-down play with two minutes remaining.
Daboll has been saying this would be the way he's going to coach since he was hired in January. He reiterated it to his players Saturday night.
"I knew that before the game even started," wide receiver Sterling Shepard said of the decision to go for two. "He told us he wasn't going to coach scared. That is exactly what he did. We all knew it. We all knew we were going for it because he told us [Saturday] night.
"He told us, 'I'm not going to coach scared.' I believe everything the man says."
Shepard later added: "He has trust in us. That just shows it. We appreciate that. We want to be put in those pressure situations. We have guys that really want to be in those positions to make that play. Everyone in that huddle, I asked them who is going to make that play. So we were all ready to make it."
In the locker room after the win, the players presented Daboll and new general manager Joe Schoen with game balls.
Next on the agenda, the Giants have to avoid a letdown in the home opener against the Carolina Panthers. The schedule suddenly favors the Giants with games against the young Bears and the banged-up Cowboys, who will be without injured QB Dak Prescott, in the upcoming weeks. ...
Other notes of interest. ... As Associated Press sports writer Tom Canavan suggested, the old Barkley showed up for the 2022 season and he looked very much like the running back who won the NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year award in 2018.
Remember, Barkley said more than once in August that he's tired of hearing criticism of his last two seasons and was looking forward to shutting up those who have been sending it his way.
Barkley's performance against the Titans was the kind of outing that will help him realize that goal.
He ran 18 times for 164 yards and a touchdown and caught six passes for 30 yards before scoring the go-ahead two-point conversion late in the fourth quarter. According to MyFantasyLife’s Dwain McFarland, 22 percent of Barkley's carries went for 10-yards or more. Of his 9.1 yard per carry average, 6.8 yards per attempt came after contact.
According to Raanan, "The performance was vintage Barkley. Explosive and dynamic, and he even ran harder for tough yards than during his eye-popping rookie year."
On Wednesday, Barkley was named NFC Offensive Player of the Week.
Blasting those who doubted him was not on Barkley's to-do list when he took the podium for his postgame press conference, however.
"It's just one game, to be honest," Barkley said. "That's how I look at it. Obviously, at the end of the day, I'm excited to get the win. Personally, just got to keep coming in. Something that just keeps tickling me that coach says, 'Just enjoy the process.' And that's something I've been battling in the last few years with rehabbing and injuries. That's been my mindset. No matter what, win, loss, tie, I just want to come here with the same mindset and just keep enjoying the process and come to work every single day. ..."
A Panthers defense that gave up 217 rushing yards to the Browns on Sunday is next up for Barkley and a repeat of what he did against Tennessee will lead a lot of people to say Barkley's back after a couple of lost seasons. ...
What are the Giants doing with Kadarius Toney?
Toney didn't start. He also barely played. When he did touch the ball early in the fourth quarter on a jet sweep, it went for a 19-yard rush. Toney, the Giants' first-round pick last year, was on the field for just seven offensive snaps in the contest, even with rookie slot receiver Wan'Dale Robinson leaving in the first half because of a knee injury.
It didn't matter. Richie James played ahead of him.
The Giants didn't want to play Toney, who needs to earn the trust of the new regime. He finished with two rushes for 23 yards, which left you wondering whether he is really a major part of their plans this season and moving forward.
"We had personnel groups for all our receivers," Daboll said in a press conference. "We'll do that for every game. Maybe it's more, maybe it's less. It just depends on what we're calling and what Mike [Kafka]'s calling and what we see. And he's in plenty of them. Some of them, obviously we didn't get to some of them. I thought the plays that he was in on, he did his job. Made a good decision on the one play down there at the end of the drive there, I think was -- to take care of the football and get four, five, six yards, or whatever it was."
Daboll was asked a bit later if he wants to find more ways to utilize Toney in future weeks. Daboll said the team will do "whatever we think we've got to do for that week," so Toney may not be looking at a major jump in playing time in the near future. ...
One last item here. ... It's difficult to criticize the offensive line after New York ran for 238 yards. However, the revamped unit struggled with pass protection. Jones was sacked five times and hit eight times. One of the sacks resulted in a fumble that gave Tennessee the ball at the Giants 42, setting up a field goal.
On the injury front. ... Daboll said Robinson, who didn't practice Wednesday is day to day. I'll have more on his status via Late-Breaking Update in coming days.
You can access complete stats for the Giants Week 1 game via our exclusive Fantasy BoxScore.
QBs: Tommy DeVito, Tyrod Taylor, Daniel Jones
RBs: Saquon Barkley, Matt Breida, Gary Brightwell, Eric Gray
WRs: Darius Slayton, Wan'Dale Robinson, Jalin Hyatt, Parris Campbell, Isaiah Hodgins, Sterling Shepard
TEs: Daniel Bellinger, Lawrence Cager, Chris Myarick, Darren Waller
New York JetsCompiled by FootballDiehards Editor Bob Harris | Updated 13 September 2022
According to ESPN.com's Rich Cimini, the Jets like to flaunt their youth, all those high draft picks that populate their roster. That's what rebuilding teams do: Sell the future.
Head coach Robert Saleh wants the future to be now.
"We're young at the skill spots, we're young at critical positions, and we have to grow up quick," he said Sunday after a dispiriting 24-9 loss to the Baltimore Ravens at MetLife Stadium.
There was a hint of urgency in Saleh's voice, which is noteworthy. In Year 2 of what Cimini calls "The Great Rebuild," the coach knows there will be less patience from the fan base, which wants to see tangible progress after a 4-13 2021 season. Saleh, too, expects more of his team now that he's had a year to mold it and create a culture.
That made the loss particularly frustrating. Whenever they needed a big play, they made a mistake -- and Saleh immediately mentioned two of his rookies, running back Breece Hall and wide receiver Garrett Wilson.
Hall, who lost only three fumbles in 800 career touches at Iowa State, lost a fumble and dropped a pass. Wilson turned a nothing pass into a 9-yard gain, but came up inches short on a third down -- and Saleh felt he should've converted if he had simply lowered his shoulder instead of trying to slither past a defender.
Perhaps. They weren't the only offenders in the loss -- oh, no, they had plenty of company from much older players -- but they're part of the youthful foundation. Ideally, the Jets should've been able to overcome those mistakes, but there were too many ill-timed breakdowns (mostly on offense) that doomed them in their 13th consecutive September loss.
"I know everybody is like, 'Oh, it's the same old s---,'" tight end Tyler Conklin said. "It's not the same old s---. We have a good team. The defense played really well today. The offense, we've got to be better."
Conklin is new in these parts, having spent the past four years with the Minnesota Vikings, so he's not familiar with the frustration that surrounds the franchise. The Jets haven't made the playoffs in 11 years, the league's longest active streak, and they have a habit of killing the preseason optimism before the end of the first month.
On Sunday, players in every corner of the locker room stressed the positives that came out of the loss -- how the offense moved the ball (378 yards) and how the defense held Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson in check for two-plus quarters. Linebacker C.J. Mosley, a captain, insisted the Jets are moving in the right direction.
"I believe that every day I walk in the building and every day I wake up a Jet," he said. "I never have any doubt about the men in here and what we can do. ... It's up to us to make that real life."
The good thing about young players -- the resilient ones -- is they learn from their mistakes, move on and get better. Hall and Wilson are too talented not to improve. Hall, for one, seemed to embrace the circumstances.
"It's very frustrating. I'm not used to it," he said of his fumble. "I don't usually do it, I don't accept it. It's going to hurt, but I have to move on and have amnesia."
The rookie paused for a moment.
"It won't happen again," he said matter-of-factly. ...
Meanwhile, fans were chanting for backup quarterback Mike White on Sunday while Joe Flacco turned in a sub-par performance. But Saleh doesn't anticipate making a change.
Asked about the fans calling for White, Saleh said he expects Flacco to start on Sunday in Cleveland, although he didn't completely rule out the possibility of a change.
White showed promise last year, throwing for 405 yards and three touchdowns in a 34-31 win over the Bengals in the first start of his NFL career.
Jets fans would like to see if White can do that again, but Saleh still believes Flacco is the best man for the job until Wilson returns.
In fact, Cimini reported Wednesday that the Jets will stick with the veteran as they continue to wait for Zach Wilson to be cleared to return from his knee injury.
All that said, Wilson is closer to a return to the lineup.
The second-year man will begin throwing this week.
"The plan is to get him on the practice field in a routes on air capacity," Saleh said, via video from the team. "No practice with the team, but he will practice with the receivers in just individual and all that stuff."
Wilson tore his meniscus and was diagnosed with a bone bruise during the preseason game against the Eagles. He underwent surgery to trim the meniscus on Aug. 16, and his timetable for a return was 2-4 weeks.
The Jets did not place Wilson on injured reserve, so he could resume practicing with the team as soon as possible.
Can Flacco keep the season alive until Wilson returns?
According to Cimini, that's a big ask, considering the upcoming opponents -- the Cleveland Browns and Cincinnati Bengals, both good defensive teams. ...
Other notes of interest. ... The offensive line has gone through some shuffling since the summer because of injuries, but Associated Press sports writer Dennis Waszak Jr. reports it looked porous at times while consistently being unable to protect Flacco or give him enough time to make plays.
The offensive line allowed 11 pressures and Flacco was sacked three times. ...
On the injury front. ... Receiver Braxton Berrios (heel) was limited at Wednesday's practice. Per NBCSortsEdge.com, Berrios ran the fourth most pass routes among New York receivers and saw six targets, catching five for 37 yards -- mostly in second half catchup mode.
I'll have more on his status via Late-Breaking Update as developments warrant. ...
Greg Zuerlein won a training camp competition to be the Jets' kicker, but he didn't do anything to help the Jets win on Sunday. Zuerlein went 1-for-2 on field goals and 0-for-1 on extra points in Sunday's loss to the Ravens, and Saleh made clear afterward that he wasn't happy about it.
"We're missing kicks, we're missing extra points. We're not going to win a football game [like that]," Saleh said, via the New York Post. "It's impossible to win against a veteran team when you move the ball the way we [did] and you come up empty-handed, time and time again like we did today."
Questions are already being raised about whether the Jets erred by picking Zuerlein over the incumbent starter, Eddy Pineiro. After the Jets cut Pineiro he signed with the Panthers, and he made all of his kicks for Carolina on Sunday. But Saleh said the Jets chose the better kicker from their competition.
"We opened it up for competition [in the summer] and 'Z' beat him fair and square," Saleh said.
Still, if Zuerlein doesn't improve in a hurry, the Jets may be bringing in someone else to compete for the job soon.
For what it's worth, Saleh is a bit salty in general.
"It's going to happen," Saleh said, via Andy Vasquez of NJ.com. "And we're all taking receipts on all the people who continually mock and say that we ain't going to do anything. I'm taking receipts and I'm gonna be more than happy to share them with all y'all."
During an appearance on The Michael Kay Show later in the day, Saleh reiterated that he's taking receipts and that he can't wait "to shove it down everyone's throat when it comes around."
As Profootballtalk.com noted, Sunday's loss dropped Saleh to 4-14 as the Jets coach and ran their record to 63-115 since they last made the playoffs in 2010, so there's been plenty of waiting for the Jets to do more than talk about things coming around.
People will continue to use the Jets as a punchline unless and until that changes, which makes Saleh's charge an easy one to figure out and a difficult one to achieve.
You can access complete stats for the Jets Week 1 game via our exclusive Fantasy BoxScore.
QBs: Zach Wilson, Trevor Siemian, Aaron Rodgers
RBs: Breece Hall, Dalvin Cook, Israel Abanikanda
WRs: Garrett Wilson, Xavier Gipson, Jason Brownlee, Allen Lazard, Randall Cobb, Charles Irvin
TEs: Tyler Conklin, Jeremy Ruckert, C.J. Uzomah, Kenny Yeboah
Philadelphia EaglesCompiled by FootballDiehards Editor Bob Harris | Updated 13 September 2022
According to Associated Press sports writer Rob Maaddi, A.J. Brown hung an "Always Open" sign -- such as the kind you'd find at a diner -- last week in his locker.
He can't be knocked for false advertising.
Brown had a Philadelphia Eagles debut to remember, and certainly one for the record book, in a 38-35 win over the Detroit Lions on Sunday.
Brown racked up 155 yards on 10 catches, the most receiving yards for an Eagles player in his first game, according to the Elias Sports Bureau, eclipsing a mark set by Donte' Stallworth (141 yards) in 2006. Only Anquan Boldin (208 yards, 49ers) and Randy Moss (183 yards, Patriots) had better debuts after being traded in the past 30 years, according to ESPN Stats and Information research.
"I give my credit to God," Brown said. "I know there were some greats that played here before me. It's kind of overwhelming that I get to scratch my name in that book. I'm blessed."
The Jalen Hurts-to-Brown connection started to heat up on the second series, with the quarterback completing passes to his good friend four times for 62 yards.
"It got me going. I like to try and touch it as early as I can," Brown said. "There's just something about it."
Hurts followed with arguably his prettiest pass in an Eagles uniform late in the second quarter, dropping one over cornerback Will Harris deep down the right sideline into the arms of Brown, who dragged the defender an additional 10 yards for a 54-yard completion, setting up a Jake Elliott field goal that extended the lead to 24-14.
Brown ended the half with six catches for 128 yards.
"He made big-time plays today," Hurts said. "A.J. made a lot of plays that gave us a lot of momentum."
The Eagles acquired Brown, 25, from the Tennessee Titans on the first night of the draft in April for a first-round pick and a third-round pick, then promptly signed him to a four-year, $100 million extension.
Hurts favored Brown in a big way Sunday, targeting him 13 times -- nine more than the next-closest receiver option. Hurts went 18-of-32 for 243 yards and added 90 rushing yards on 17 carries.
Maaddi went on to suggest that Brown just might turn out as the best Eagles wide receiver since Terrell Owens led them to the Super Bowl with one of the great single seasons in franchise history in 2004.
Yes, the wideout bar has been low since Owens left, but Brown surpassed the hype that followed him once he was traded to the Eagles.
Perhaps not as well known as he should have been playing for the Titans, Brown can rise into superstardom in Philadelphia.
But the offense was good in general.
Hurts combined for 256 offensive yards alone (189 passing, 67 rushing) in the first half and four Eagles had rushing touchdowns.
For an opener, not bad.
Head coach Nick Sirianni said Hurts was in "complete control" on noticing what the Lions were doing on defense.
"He saw the field perfectly, he really did," Sirianni said. "And I'm really talking more about, 'You're doing this, we'll do that.' You know what I mean? And he's going to have plays that he wants back, and we're going to have calls that we want back, but I thought he played a really outstanding game."
Indeed, Hurts had what might be his signature performance with the Eagles.
He found instant success with Brown and threw for 243 yards overall. Hurts ran 17 times, one short of his career high, for 90 yards and a 1-yard touchdown. Philadelphia sealed the win on Hurts' sneak that converted a fourth-and-1 from the Detroit 40 with 50 seconds left.
He had 50 yards rushing in the first quarter, the highest total by a Philadelphia quarterback since Michael Vick ran for 2 more yards in the opening quarter of a 2013 game against the New York Giants.
Hurts did suffer a few too many punishing hits as he tried to make plays with his legs. But making plays on the run is one of the things he does best.
"It's a great feeling knowing you didn't meet the standard, but you still were resilient enough, had enough dog in you to find a way to win," he said.
Next up is the team's home opener. ... The Eagles play Minnesota, coming off a 23-7 win against the Green Bay Packers, on Monday night at the Linc. The Vikings won the most recent matchup in 2019. Kirk Cousins had 333 yards passing in the win. He completed 23 of 32 passes for 277 yards without a turnover in Sunday's win against the Packers. ...
Also of interest. ... Miles Sanders rushed 13 times for 96 yards and a touchdown against the Lions.
As NBCSportsEdge.com notes, Sanders found the end zone for the first time since Week 16 of the 2020 season.
However, Boston Scott and Kenneth Gainwell both got a turn at the goal line. Both backs scored, as did Hurts. Sanders showed his breakaway ability on an impressive, 24-yard scamper, but the lack of a clear red zone role is going to hurt his fantasy output.
You can access complete stats for the Eagles Week 1 game via our exclusive Fantasy BoxScore.
QBs: Jalen Hurts, Marcus Mariota, Tanner McKee
RBs: D'Andre Swift, Kenneth Gainwell, Boston Scott, Rashaad Penny
WRs: A.J. Brown, DeVonta Smith, Julio Jones, Olamide Zaccheaus, Quez Watkins
TEs: Dallas Goedert, Jack Stoll, Grant Calcaterra, Albert Okwuegbunam
Pittsburgh SteelersCompiled by FootballDiehards Editor Bob Harris | Updated 13 September 2022
Running back Najee Harris confirmed Tuesday that a foot injury that kept him from finishing Sunday's game won't keep him out this week against the New England Patriots.
Harris told SiriusXM's Mad Dog Sports Radio that "I'm good" when asked about his foot injury and said the plan was for him to play in the Steelers' home opener Sunday at Acrisure Stadium in Week 2.
A source had told ESPN's Adam Schefter on Monday that tests on Harris' foot came back negative.
Harris suffered his foot injury in the fourth quarter against the Cincinnati Bengals as the Steelers attempted to run out the clock. He limped off the field and didn't return for the overtime period, in which the Steelers eventually emerged with a 23-20 victory. Harris rushed for 23 yards on 10 carries before his injury on Sunday, after earning a Pro Bowl selection in his rookie year last season when he rushed for 1,200 yards, had 74 receptions and scored 10 total touchdowns.
Harris was dealing with a Lisfranc sprain during training camp, but he said last week he was healthy. Steelers coach Mike Tomlin said Tuesday that Harris' foot injury isn't related to the Lisfranc sprain.
"The plan is I should be ready to play. I should be back practicing. Today's our off day, so it's good that we got today off just to let it heal for another day and just be ready to go this weekend," Harris said in the radio interview.
He added: "I'll be back at practice this week. And then I will be playing this weekend."
Tomlin said that Harris' availability for Sunday will be dependent on his participation on practice.
"He's optimistic. It's really good to be young. He appears to be in position (to play this week)," Tomlin said.
Pittsburgh's top backup is Jaylen Warren, an undrafted rookie free agent who ran three times for 7 yards against the Bengals and proved to be an adept and enthusiastic blocker in the passing game.
Asked about Warren's performance, Tomlin smiled.
"He didn't urinate down his leg and that's a great place to begin, you know," Tomlin said with a laugh.
It's worth noting Chase Claypool was second in rushing attempts with six against the Bengals. ...
Meanwhile, star outside linebacker T.J. Watt will miss Sunday's game against New England with a left pectoral injury, though Tomlin is optimistic Watt's prognosis isn't as bad as initially feared.
Tomlin said Tuesday the reigning NFL Defensive Player of the Year won't be available for Pittsburgh's home opener, but refused to offer a potential timetable on how long Watt might be unavailable and hinted the worst-case situation -- that Watt would be lost for the season -- is no longer on the table.
"We're encouraged and we'll just continue to look at the situation and gain opinions and do what's appropriate," Tomlin said.
NFL Network Insiders Ian Rapoport and Tom Pelissero reported Monday that Watt's injury is not believed to require surgery, which clears a path toward Watt rehabilitating himself toward a potential return this season. Rapoport and Pelissero added that Watt is expected to return in six weeks.
Watt all but confirmed an impending return this season on Twitter.
The Steelers will turn to newcomers Malik Reed and Jamir Jones to fill in. Reed arrived in a trade with Denver on Aug. 31. The Steelers claimed Jones -- who played with them briefly in 2021 before being cut -- off waivers on Sept. 1.
Tomlin made it a point to take some of the pressure off Reed and Jones, who will fill in for Watt.
"Those guys are not going to be T.J. (and) it's not realistic to think that they're going to be T.J.," Tomlin said. "But we expect them to be varsity. ..."
Back to the other side of the ball. ... Is this truly Mitchell Trubisky's team?
As ESPN.com's Brooke Pryor suggests, this will be the biggest question throughout the season -- especially if Trubisky's performance contributes to the offensive stagnation.
The Steelers managed only 231 yards of total offense. Trubisky completed 21 of 38 attempts for 194 yards and a touchdown, but many of his passes missed the mark, including a handful that sailed too high. On a crucial third down in the fourth quarter, Trubisky's pass bounced in between two receivers, and the Steelers came away from another forced turnover without any points.
A lowlight of the preseason, the Steelers' offensive line held up pretty well, and Trubisky was sacked only once and hit four times. But the offense couldn't maintain possession and the Bengals held a 43:43-26:17 edge in time of possession.
That said, there were things to like here.
As MyFantasyLife’s Dwain McFarland notes, Pat Freiermuth registered a 77 percent route participation and was second on the team behind Diontae Johnson with a 27 percent target share.
McFarland believes 80 percent route participation for tight ends is the point where elite production occurs.
Meanwhile, McFarland notes that Johnson did normal Johnson things with a 30 percent target share. ...
Also per McFarland, George Pickens was on the field for 91 percent of the Steelers' passing plays. He only had a 9 percent target share, but still a positive sign for the second-round rookie that he was out there.
You can access complete stats for the Steelers Week 1 game via our exclusive Fantasy BoxScore.
QBs: Mitchell Trubisky, Mason Rudolph, Kenny Pickett
RBs: Najee Harris, Jaylen Warren, Anthony McFarland Jr.
WRs: George Pickens, Diontae Johnson, Allen Robinson, Calvin Austin III, Miles Boykin
TEs: Pat Freiermuth, Darnell Washington
San Francisco 49ersCompiled by FootballDiehards Editor Bob Harris | Updated 13 September 2022
The San Francisco 49ers lost more than a game in a sloppy season-opener at Chicago.
The Niners lost starting running back Elijah Mitchell to a knee injury in the 19-10 loss to the Bears on Sunday. Mitchell is expected to be sidelined for about two months.
"He was pretty down," head coach Kyle Shanahan said Monday. "For obvious reasons were down for him. Elijah went through a lot last year. It's well documented, the injuries he had. He really worked hard this offseason. He was feeling really good going into that game. I thought he looked really good before he got hurt."
This marks the second straight season when the 49ers lost their top running back to a knee injury in the season opener. Raheem Mostert went down with a season-ending injury in Week 1 last year, leading to Mitchell becoming the main back as a rookie when he became the fifth different player to lead San Francisco in rushing in five years under Shanahan.
Mitchell had 963 yards rushing at an average of 4.7 yards per carry last year, despite dealing with a series of injuries. He was excited to be healthy going into this season but lasted only one game.
Jeff Wilson Jr., the 2020 rushing leader, figures to get a heavy load with Mitchell out. Rookie Tyrion Davis-Price, a healthy scratch on Sunday, also should be in the mix, along with undrafted rookie Jordan Mason.
"We're always been comfortable with Jeff just because of his experience and what he's done here," Shanahan said. "We know what we're going to get. The other two guys, they made our team for a reason. They're two talented players that we think can help us a lot running the ball. But they got to grow up fast."
But Shanahan has always been able to find capable running backs.
With that though in mind, it's worth noting the team placed Mitchell on injured reserve Tuesday and worked out running backs Devonta Freeman, Tevin Coleman, Nate McCrary, Abram Smith, LaMical Perine and Godwin Igwebuike.
They also hosted Marlon Mack on a visit before signing him to their practice squad.
The other issues on Sunday are more pressing, from a shaky performance by Trey Lance in his first game since being named the starting quarterback, to 12 penalties to breakdowns on defense that led to big plays.
"It's tough to win when we commit those penalties and it starts with me and we got to make sure to clean those up because I felt we had every opportunity to win that game and our defense had every opportunity to completely dominate that game," Shanahan said. "That's what allowed them to get three touchdowns in a row."
Of course, Deebo Samuel will help the rushing attack.
There was a lot of talk this offseason about whether the Niners would continue to rely heavily on using Samuel as a running back. Shanahan didn't shy away from it in the opener. Samuel had eight carries for 52 yards, including a 6-yard run for San Francisco's only TD.
But Lance completed only 13 of 28 passes in wet conditions for 164 yards.
He missed an open Tyler Kroft on a potential TD throw in the first half, took a sack to knock the Niners out of field position and then threw a late interception that helped seal the loss. Lance did show a few bright signs with a couple of big throws and 54 yards rushing but did nothing to quiet skeptics who wonder if Jimmy Garoppolo should regain his starting job this season.
"I made too many mistakes," Lance said, via 49ersWebzone.com. "The defense kept us in the game. Had a big miss to Kroft in the end zone. Tried to throw a perfect ball, should have just put it right on him and he was wide open. Turned the ball over, took a sack that knocked us out of field goal range that I shouldn't have. Missed Deebo on a third down. Missed another third down to Jauan. Just too many mistakes. A lot of stuff to clean up for sure for me."
Shanahan said Lance "did some good things coming out" before "everything kind of fell apart" for the 49ers in the final minutes of the game.
They'll try for a more complete performance against the Seahawks in the Niners home opener on Sunday. ...
In a related note. ... Jay Glazer of Fox reported on Sunday that, on the same day the 49ers decided to keep Garoppolo as the understudy to Lance, Shanahan and GM John Lynch gathered 15 team leaders and made an urgent plea.
"Guys, we need your support here," they said, per Glazer. "We've got to make sure that you get Trey's back. Because there's gonna be some bumpy roads ahead. We've got to make sure with every incompletion, every interception, that people aren't clamoring to move on to Jimmy. We've got to make sure we have your support. Do we have it?"
Per Glazer, none of the 15 team leaders hesitated. But what other choice did they have? Were they going to say, "No, we reserve the right to support Jimmy"?
As Profootballtalk.com's Mike Florio suggests, the mere fact that Shanahan and Lynch needed to make the request shows that they fear things could get shaky for Lance, especially with Garoppolo back on the team.
"Despite his bizarre habit of not returning texts or calls," Florio wrote, "the players still love Garoppolo.
"If Lynch struggles, they may love him even more. ..."
Shanahan told reporters on Wednesday that George Kittle (groin) would not take part in the initial practice of the week. I'll have more on his status via Late-Breaking Update in coming days. ...
You can access complete stats for the 49ers Week 1 game via our exclusive Fantasy BoxScore.
QBs: Brock Purdy, Sam Darnold, Brandon Allen
RBs: Christian McCaffrey, Elijah Mitchell, Jordan Mason, Kyle Juszczyk
WRs: Brandon Aiyuk, Deebo Samuel, Jauan Jennings, Ray-Ray McCloud, Ronnie Bell, Danny Gray
TEs: George Kittle, Charlie Woerner, Brayden Willis, Ross Dwelley, Cameron Latu
Seattle SeahawksCompiled by FootballDiehards Editor Bob Harris | Updated 13 September 2022
As ESPN.com's Brady Henderson reported, several minutes after the final whistle of the Seattle Seahawks' season-opening victory Monday night, Geno Smith walked off the field with his arms raised to the sky and what remained of the home crowd chanting his name.
So much for Russell Wilson getting the hero's welcome in his return to Lumen Field six months after his trade to the Denver Broncos.
It was Smith who got the loudest ovation and the upset victory over the quarterback he used to back up.
Making his first opening day start since 2014 with the New York Jets, Smith threw a pair of first-half touchdown passes and avoided costly mistakes. Add to that a stellar defensive effort and a missed Denver field goal in the closing seconds and it proved to be enough for the Seahawks in their 17-16 win over the Broncos, who were 6.5-point favorites.
"They wrote me off," Smith told ESPN's Lisa Salters postgame. "I ain't write back, though."
Smith's eight seasons was the longest stretch between Week 1 starts by an NFL quarterback since 1971, according to the Elias Sports Bureau. In between, he has suffered a broken jaw via a locker room sucker punch that cost him his starting job with the Jets and a torn ACL before backing up three of the most durable quarterbacks in NFL history in Eli Manning, Philip Rivers and Wilson.
After an up-and-down summer in which he held off Drew Lock to win Seattle's quarterback battle, Smith looked the part of an NFL starter Monday night -- particularly during his nearly flawless start. He completed his first 13 attempts and finished the first half 17-of-18 for 164 yards and two touchdowns.
According to ESPN Stats and Information research, Smith's 94 percent completion rate tied Matt Hasselbeck (Week 11 of 2010) for the best by a Seahawks quarterback in any half since 2000 (minimum of 15 attempts).
"How about Geno?" head coach Pete Carroll said postgame. "I mean. ... 17-for-18 in the first half. Who does that? Guys just don't do that. ... Geno played tonight like he has been playing the whole time we've been practicing. That's what he has been looking like. He didn't look any different than what he has looked like in practice.
"That's why we had the belief in him, and that's why he was able to win the job and go out there on Monday Night Football and win the football game."
Smith finished 23-of-28 passing for 195 yards and no turnovers. He lost the ball on one of his two sacks, but left tackle Charles Cross recovered it. Smith also added 14 yards on six carries.
"He made more plays with his legs than I expected him to tonight," Carroll said. "He took off, and I was so mad at him the time he was running up the sidelines and got smoked on their sidelines. What's he doing? Get down. I got over it. ... Just finding [Will Dissley} on the first touchdown pass, escaping the rush, slipping up underneath and dumping the ball for an easy touchdown. Gorgeous play by him. He had some other ones, as well. You can see.
"I don't know if you guys were doubting or everybody thinks that we were making stuff up. We weren't. This is what he looks like. Obviously, he just did it again. Anyway, you can think whatever you want."
It wasn't all great. As Associated Press sports writer Tim Booth put it, "Seattle's second-half offense was putrid."
The Seahawks managed 34 total yards and had just five first downs, two of which came via penalty. Smith was 17 of 18 for 164 yards in the first half, but faced too many long-yardage situations in the second half and couldn't sustain drives.
Still, the Seahawks, widely projected to finish last in the NFC West, were the only team in the division to win in Week 1.
Next up, Seattle will try and start 2-0 for the third time in the past four seasons if it can win at San Francisco on Sunday. The Seahawks are 7-1 against San Francisco since the 49ers moved into their new stadium in 2014. ...
Other notes of interest. ... Rashaad Penny played 38 of the Seahawks' 55 offensive snaps Monday night and got 14 of their 15 backfield touches. Interestingly, Travis Homer out-snapped DeeJay Dallas 19-3 as the RB2 behind Penny. The Seahawks had 76 rushing yards on Monday night, with Penny responsible for 60 of them on 12 attempts.
That distribution is likely to change Sunday at San Francisco with Carroll saying rookie Kenneth Walker III is expected to be in the mix.
Seattle made Walker a second-round pick in the 2022 draft, after rushing for 1,636 yards last year at Michigan State. His presence could give the offense a lift, as they prepare to face their arch-rivals from the NFC West.
I'll have more on Walker via Late-Breaking Update as the week progresses. ...
Also of note: Marquise Goodwin out-snapped D'Wayne Eskridge 28-5. That leaves little doubt that Goodwin, back from his hamstring injury, is Seattle's No 3 receiver.
Finally. ... Seattle lost starting safety Jamal Adams likely for the season after he suffered a serious knee injury in the first quarter. Carroll didn't have specifics on his radio show on Tuesday, but said Adams would "need to get some work done," referencing surgery to repair the injury.
Adams missed four games in his first season with Seattle in 2020 because of injuries and missed the final five games of last season after undergoing shoulder surgery. He also injured his finger on the first day of training camp this year and was going to have to play the season with extra protection on his hand.
"I don't know the extent of it yet, but I know it's serious," Carroll said. "It just breaks your heart. He loves the game so much. We're going to miss him so much."
You can access complete stats for the Seahawks Week 1 game via our exclusive Fantasy BoxScore.
QBs: Geno Smith, Drew Lock
RBs: Kenneth Walker III, Zach Charbonnet, DeeJay Dallas, Kenny McIntosh
WRs: DK Metcalf, Tyler Lockett, Jaxon Smith-Njigba, Jake Bobo, Cody Thompson, Dareke Young
TEs: Noah Fant, Will Dissly, Colby Parkinson
Tampa Bay BuccaneersCompiled by FootballDiehards Editor Bob Harris | Updated 13 September 2022
One day after becoming the first quarterback in NFL history to start and win a game at the age of 45, Tom Brady said he's "feeling more" emotions than he has in the past and he suspects that it's because he's nearing the end of his football career, having already retired this offseason -- albeit briefly -- before returning for a 23rd season.
"I'm feeling more than things in the past for some reason," Brady said on his "Let's Go!" podcast. "You know, I'm just really feeling intensely my emotions. And I feel like I always have that, but I think when you get close to the end -- and I don't know exactly where I'm at with that and there's no decision to be made, it's not like I have 10 years left. I definitely don't have that. So all these, I just am never gonna take for granted, you know?
"... So, yeah, it's a love that Kobe had for basketball, that Michael Jordan had for it, that Tiger Woods had for golf, that so many athletes have for the sport. And the question is how long are you willing to commit with discipline, to doing the right things, to allow those things to take place over a period of time? And that's what guys' careers are judged on."
As ESPN.com's Jenna Laine notes, what has separated Brady from other all-time greats in their respective sports is that neither declining play nor injuries have pushed him out. He put together one of his best statistical seasons ever at 44 last year, leading the NFL in completions, passing yards and touchdowns. His 5,316 passing yards and 485 completions last season were a career high, although 2021 was the NFL's first 17-game season. His 43 touchdowns were second only to the 50 he threw in 2007 at age 30.
Instead, what will likely lead Brady to ultimately call it a career is the need to spend more time with family and the desire to experience certain aspects of life that a constant devotion to football won't allow.
"I haven't had a Christmas in 23 years and I haven't had a Thanksgiving in 23 years," Brady said. "I haven't celebrated birthdays with people that I care about that are, you know, born from August to late January. And you know, I'm not able to be at funerals and I'm not able to be at weddings. And I think there comes a point in your life where you say, you know what? I had my fill and it's enough and time to go on, to move into other parts of life, which, you know, I push myself to the max and I, I got everything I could outta my ability and I hope that everybody gets everything they can out of their doing."
He also spoke of how much more challenging it is to prepare and recover for games than it was for him 20 years ago.
"So what am I dealing with now? I woke up today going, 'Holy s---!'" Brady said. "There was a few hits and you look at your arm and you got bruises, you got cuts and you got, the way it is and you're like, 'How much longer do I wanna make this commitment?' And I honestly made the commitment for this year and everything's gonna be, you know, like always -- continue to evaluate all these different aspects of play."
As for when that time will come, he's not sure, but he'll continue to take it day by day.
"I think, for me, the ability to play and love what I'm doing in year 23 with a new group of teammates and a really committed team -- it's really fun for me," Brady said. "And I still enjoy [it], I feel it out there, I feel the joy, I feel the happiness, I feel the camaraderie."
Of course, Brady is often the center of attention on the football field, but he took a back seat for much of Sunday night's game against the Cowboys.
Leonard Fournette ran for 127 yards and Devin White had two sacks while leading a defense that didn't give up a touchdown in the 19-3 Bucs victory. Brady threw a touchdown to Mike Evans in the second half, but also got picked off and piloted five first half drives that ended with field goal attempts after failing to convert on third downs.
After the game, Brady said a good run game and strong defense "will win you a lot of games" before pivoting to say that the overall offensive effort has to improve.
"I think the defense played awesome," Brady said, via Greg Auman of TheAthletic.com. "Offensively, I think we can do a lot better than that tonight. We're going to have to. We're going to have to score in the red area. We're going to have to stay healthy. We're going to have to get back to work and find a little bit of regular-season flow and just put these days together and see if we can make some improvements."
The Bucs will be home to face the Saints next weekend and that would be a good time for the offense to click because Brady hasn't beaten New Orleans in the regular season since coming to Tampa.
On the injury front. ... Head coach Todd Bowles said Monday that left tackle Donovan Smith has a hyperextended right elbow and his availability will be dictated by his pain tolerance level.
Bowles also said he does not believe Pro Bowl wide receiver Chris Godwin's hamstring injury -- which he suffered in the second quarter -- is "as serious as we thought it was."
It was Godwin's first game back since recovering from a torn ACL and MCL, which he suffered Dec. 19 last season, and undergoing surgery Jan. 3.
"It all depends on how his treatment goes and how he heals," Bowles said of Godwin, who didn't practice Wednesday. "But hopefully we'll have him back sooner rather than later."
Beyond that, Fournette, who tweaked a hamstring late in Sunday night's game, was limited in Wednesday's practice. In addition, Laine reports Evans has a calf injury that "sounds relatively minor."
Julio Jones(knee), Breshad Perriman (knee) and Russell Gage (hamstring) were all held out Wednesday.
I'll have more on all the walking wounded via Late-Breaking Update in coming days.
Meanwhile, slowed by injuries that limited his production with Atlanta and Tennessee the past two seasons, Julio Jones looked good in his Bucs debut with three receptions for 69 yards, including a 48-yard catch that was the biggest pass play of the game.
You can access complete stats for the Buccaneers Week 1 game via our exclusive Fantasy BoxScore.
QBs: Baker Mayfield, Kyle Trask
RBs: Rachaad White, Chase Edmonds, Sean Tucker, Ke'Shawn Vaughn
WRs: Mike Evans, Chris Godwin, Trey Palmer, Kaylon Geiger, Deven Thompkins, Rakim Jarrett, Russell Gage
TEs: Cade Otton, Ko Kieft, Payne Durham
Tennessee TitansCompiled by FootballDiehards Editor Bob Harris | Updated 13 September 2022
As Associated Press sports writer Teresa M. Walker noted, Tennessee's opening schedule looked daunting from the moment the NFL released a slate sending the Titans on the road for five of their first eight games.
Dropping their season opener at home?
That makes the Monday night game in Buffalo up next even more daunting and the possibility of an 0-2 hole quite real for the AFC's No. 1 seed last season. Head coach Mike Vrabel said the challenge remains the same whether coming off a win or loss.
"You have to regroup, figure out what you did good, what you did bad and try to eliminate the things that get you beat," Vrabel said Monday. "And that's what we're going to do."
The Titans had their chance to win as time expired only to see Randy Bullock's 47-yard field-goal attempt miss wide left in a 21-20 loss to the New York Giants. They had 1:06 left and took the final timeout after rookie Kyle Philips' 21-yard catch got them to the Giants 27.
Tennessee was in this same situation a year ago only worse. The Titans were routed 38-13 by Arizona, then hit the road for three of their next four games. They went 3-1 in that span on their way to a 12-5 record and the AFC's No. 1 seed.
The Titans do get a bit of a break from the road-heavy start to their season. Their bye is Oct. 16.
Two-time NFL rushing champ Derrick Henry said games like this happen in a long season.
"You've got to have a short memory on what happened, but make the corrections, be better and improve," Henry said.
One thing that appears to be improved for Tennessee this season is their pass protection.
Ryan Tannehill was the NFL's second-most sacked quarterback in 2021, taken down 47 times. The Titans unveiled a new offensive line featuring two new starters with Aaron Brewer at left guard and rookie Nicholas Petit-Frere at right tackle.
Tannehill was sacked only once, and he threw for 266 yards with two touchdowns and a 106.4 passer rating.
Still, the Titans couldn't move the ball consistently enough to win. The Giants held Henry to 82 rushing yards, so Tennessee relied mostly on a balanced pass attack.
As ESPN.com's Turron Davenport noted, because the Titans don't have a clear-cut No. 1 receiver, they'll have to rely on a committee approach until someone emerges. This week it was Philips, who led the way with six receptions for 66 yards. Dontrell Hilliard had three receptions for 61 yards and two touchdowns, both of which came in mismatches against Giants linebackers.
Treylon Burks caught three passes for 55 yards. Offseason acquisitions Robert Woods (one catch) and Austin Hooper (one catch) came out on the short end of the stick this week.
The Titans have made a couple of moves to solidify their roster.
Safety A.J. Moore, a key special teams player, left the game in the first half with an injured ankle and was placed on injured reserve. Tennessee announced the club has signed running back/returner Trenton Cannon and linebacker Joe Jones to the active roster.
Cannon and Jones were elevated from the practice squad for Week 1. Cannon returned a pair of kicks on Sunday, averaging 16.5 yards. He also had a pair of special teams tackles.
Jones was on the field for 82 percent of special teams snaps and made one tackle. He was a heavy special teams contributor in nine of Tennessee's games last season, too.
With spots available, Tennessee signed linebacker Jack Gibbens to the club's practice squad.
You can access complete stats for the Titans Week 1 game via our exclusive Fantasy BoxScore.
QBs: Will Levis, Ryan Tannehill, Malik Willis
RBs: Derrick Henry, Tyjae Spears, Julius Chestnut
WRs: DeAndre Hopkins, Treylon Burks, Nick Westbrook_Ikhine, Kyle Philips, Colton Dowell, Chris Moore
TEs: Chigoziem Okonkwo, Josh Whyle, Trevon Wesco
Washington CommandersCompiled by FootballDiehards Editor Bob Harris | Updated 13 September 2022
Carson Wentz defeated his former coach, won his first game with his new team and showed his new one what it's like to have him as a quarterback -- all the bad and the good.
In Wentz's first game with Washington, he threw for 313 yards and four touchdowns, including two in the final quarter, to lead a 28-22 comeback win over the Jacksonville Jaguars. Wentz played five seasons with Jaguars coach Doug Pederson when both were in Philadelphia.
"It felt great," Wentz said of the win. "To kind of rally together and get it done when it mattered at the end, that was cool. Cool way to start."
But as ESPN.com's John Keim noted, the reason Wentz had to rally the Commanders was because he threw interceptions on consecutive plays, leading to 10 Jaguars points. Wentz called it an ugly stretch, made possible by being late on one pick and forcing the second.
It was the sort of roller coaster ride that has come to define Wentz's career -- and it's OK with his new coach, Ron Rivera, who knows exactly how he'll deal with it during the season.
"I'll take antacids," he said. "We're going to ride with him, we'll go with the good, we'll go with the bad. We did a lot of research on him and we felt comfortable and confident that this is a guy we need around here, a guy that has some courage."
After the second interception, Wentz pounded the ground on the sideline and then looked at Rivera, who told him he'd now have to go win the game. Wentz replied, "I will," and then calmly walked away -- and won the game.
"That's just the reality," Wentz said. "You make a couple bad plays, it's time to go fix it. But at the same time not try to fix it all at once. Just go do the next right thing, go make the next play."
And then he did. After Jacksonville took a 22-14 lead with 11 minutes, 52 seconds remaining, Wentz showed the big-play ability that led Washington to trade for him in March, hoping he solves their decades-long quest for quarterback stability. Wentz was the 33rd quarterback to start for Washington since it last won the Super Bowl after the 1991 season.
Wentz showed why they hope there's better days ahead when he capped a four-play drive with a 49-yard pass to receiver Terry McLaurin, hitting him in stride.
Wentz then led a 13-play drive for the go-ahead points. He completed 5 of 8 passes for 59 yards and connected with rookie receiver Jahan Dotson for a 24-yard touchdown pass with 1:52 remaining.
"I've played a lot of football, I've seen the ups and the downs," said Wentz, who threw two first-half touchdown passes, "and just knowing from the past trying to do too much in those situations can come back to haunt you. I believed in them and guys made plays when it mattered."
Wentz's season last year ended with a 15-point loss to Jacksonville, costing the Indianapolis Colts a playoff berth and all but sealing his fate after one year. The Colts agreed to a trade less than two months later -- and only a year after acquiring him from Philadelphia.
But this is a different Jaguars team, one now coached by Pederson. Wentz caught up with him before the game.
"Two years ago, we were here in Week 1 together [with Philadelphia]," Wentz said. "You realize how crazy things change, but he's a guy I have nothing but respect for and wish him the best. It was fun to see him, catch up again and compete against him."
After the game, Wentz spoke to his new teammates, hammering home the resiliency of the Commanders and telling them how he has to play better.
"But the key point," McLaurin said, "was how he responded and stayed poised under pressure.
"He doesn't get too high, he doesn't get too low. To come back after the tough turnovers and respond the way he did, that's a true test of his character. We'll have a lot of opportunities to win some games."
Next up, the Commanders will try to slow down the Lions, who scored 35 points in their loss to the Eagles. Detroit opened as a 1 1/2-point favorite on FanDuel Sportsbook. ...
Also of interest. ... As Profootballtalk.com's Josh Alper reminded readers, the Commanders had one sure thing at receiver heading into the season, but there were questions about how much support McLaurin would get from the rest of the group.
Wide receivers coach Drew Terrell admitted as much in August. He said there was a lot of potential in the room, but that you "can be humbled" once you start playing games. Sunday's opener wasn't a humbling one, however.
McLaurin caught a touchdown, first-round pick Jahan Dotson had a pair of them and oft-injured veteran Curtis Samuel added one more to the ledger. Dotson and Samuel had 11 catches for 95 yards and running back Antonio Gibson pitched in with seven catches for 72 yards to leave less weight on McLaurin's shoulders in the win over the Jaguars.
"We [have] a lot of talent in that room, especially between us three," Dotson said, via Sam Fortier of the Washington Post. "You guys kind of saw a glimpse of that today. There's just so much more that we can do."
According to MyFantasyLife’s Dwain McFarland, Samuel dominated with a 26 percent target share on his way to 21 fantasy points. He moved all over the field and got involved on the ground with a 16 percent rush share.
With the Commanders looking like a pass-heavy attack this season, the arrow is pointing up for the explosive receiver.
Gibson, a college receiver who almost lost his starting job, is back as a versatile threat; he ran for 58 yards and catching seven passes for 72 more. The offense can be even deeper when rookie Brian Robinson Jr. returns after recovering from gunshot wounds, but for now Gibson is the guy and showed he can still handle that load.
Worth noting: Robinson has taken another step toward returning to the playing field after being shot late last month.
Reporters at the team’s facility sent word that Robinson is working on a side field during the Wednesday's practice session. Those reports said that Robinson showed no obvious signs of discomfort while he was doing agility work and riding on a stationary bike.
Elsewhere on the injury front. ... Rivera said rookie tight end Cole Turner, who missed the opener with a hamstring injury, could play against Detroit. Safety Kam Curl, who missed the opener with a right thumb injury, was still wearing a cast on his hand Monday.
You can access complete stats for the Commanders Week 1 game via our exclusive Fantasy BoxScore.
QBs: Sam Howell, Jacoby Brissett
RBs: Brian Robinson Jr., Antonio Gibson, Chris Rodriguez
WRs: Terry McLaurin, Jahan Dotson, Curtis Samuel, Dyami Brown, Jamison Crowder, Byron Pringle, Mitchell Tinsley
TEs: Logan Thomas, Cole Turner, John Bates