Week 1 NFL recap: takeaways and what to watch for

DAVID WARRINGTON

After much anticipation, the opening week of the NFL season has come and gone. An exciting week that saw plenty of close games as well as countless storylines play out in different ways, here are some of the key moments and takeaways from the opening week of the NFL season.

As per usual, the season opener was a Thursday night game where the reigning Super Bowl champions (in this case the Tampa Bay Buccaneers) hosted another well-regarded team (in this case the Dallas Cowboys). Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady, fresh off of winning his seventh Super Bowl and now 44 years-old, showed no signs of slowing down. He threw for 379 yards and four touchdowns in a 31-29 win. Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott, after missing most of last season with a broken ankle, impressed in his return, throwing for 403 yards and three touchdown passes while coming just short in the upset bid.

Perhaps the most surprising game took place late on Sunday afternoon when the New Orleans Saints hosted the Green Bay Packers. The game, taking place in Jacksonville due to Hurricane Ida, was expected to be fairly competitive. The Packers came in fresh off of an appearance in the NFC Championship game last season, losing to the eventual Super Bowl Champion Buccaneers. They also returned reigning MVP quarterback Aaron Rodgers in what is in all likelihood his final season in Green Bay. In a surprising turn of events, the Saints, led by Jameis Winston after the retirement of longtime starter Drew Brees, walloped the Packers by a score of 38-3. After throwing just five interceptions all season in 2020, Rodgers threw two in the opener to go along with only 133 yards. Winston, who has been known to be turnover prone, was fantastic, throwing for five touchdowns without an interception. It’ll be interesting to see how the Packers recover and how the Saints look to use this momentum for further success.

The week concluded with a Monday Night Football matchup in Las Vegas, pitting the Baltimore Ravens against the Las Vegas Raiders. In what was a back and forth game all night, it looked like the Ravens were set to pull off the win when Justin Tucker knocked in a 47-yard field goal with just 42 seconds remaining. However, two pass plays later, Daniel Carlson knocked in a career-long 55 yard field goal to tie the game at 27-27 and force overtime.

It looked like the Raiders had won when Derek Carr’s pass to Bryan Edwards was ruled a touchdown. However, a replay review found that Edwards’ knee had been down at the one-yard-line, and Carr threw an interception two plays later. Needing to step up and force a turnover, the Raiders did just that with Carl Nassib forcing a fumble from Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson. 

A play later, Carr connected Zay Jones for a 31-yard touchdown pass, giving the Raiders a 33-27 victory.

Week one of the NFL season was very exciting. There are countless other storylines to follow, such as the quarterback controversy in Chicago between Andy Dalton and Justin Fields as well as the early success from rookie quarterbacks such as Trevor Lawrence and Mac Jones, and we’ll have more chances than ever to see these storylines play out given the NFL’s move to a 17-game schedule as opposed to the former standard of 16. Week two of the season kicks off at 7:20 p.m. on Thursday when the Washington Football Team hosts the New York Giants.