Welcome back, football! We were glued to our television sets on Sunday with 13 games, and were treated to a whirlwind of action.
Tyreek Hill and Patrick Mahomes looked all too comfortable in front of a surprisingly Chiefs-heavy crowd against the Chargers in Los Angeles, and newcomers Alex Smith and Adrian Peterson were effective in Washington’s easy victory against the Cardinals.
The Bills were inept and got crushed by the Ravens, and the Cowboys’ offense was throttled by the Panthers. Week 1 gave us a shootout in New Orleans, with the Buccaneers outlasting the Saints, 48-40, and we saw the Browns finally end their winless streak in the most Browns way possible.
Sunday night saw Khalil Mack make an immediate impact with the Bears, but Chicago’s 20-point lead was erased by a stunning Aaron Rodgers comeback for the Packers, on one leg.
Here’s what you should know about what happened Sunday.
Khalil Mack owned one half of the Bears-Packers game. Aaron Rodgers owned the other
After joining the team a week earlier, Mack made his Bears debut — and looked like he was born to play for this defense. In one span that lasted less than three minutes, he forced a fumble, recovered it, and scored on a pick-six, topping it off with a LeBron James-style celebration that caught the attention of the King himself:
@52Mack_ I see you hit em with the “Silencer”. Give me that ball— LeBron James (@KingJames) September 10, 2018
That gave the Bears a 17-0 lead heading into halftime. Then the second half happened. Or should we say, Aaron Rodgers happened.
Rodgers, who left the game with a knee injury, returned to throw for 273 yards and three touchdowns, including the go-ahead score with just over two minutes left.
And to add to his legend, he did it all pretty much all on one leg. It was Packers’ biggest fourth-quarter comeback ever. And yup, LeBron noticed that too:
Woke up this morning saying to myself @AaronRodgers12 You’re INCREDIBLY GOOD at Football my guy! One of the ’s! Thank you— LeBron James (@KingJames) September 10, 2018
The Cowboys looked unwatchable for most of their game
Dallas couldn’t get anything going on offense against the Panthers. Through three quarters, Dak Prescott had thrown for just 100 yards, Ezekiel Elliott rushed for 39 yards on 10 carries, and new kicker Brett Maher missed a 47-yard field goal attempt — and a chance to get the Cowboys on the board.
Wonder who has the last laugh about that?
Last thing DAN BAILEY!!!!!!— Dez Bryant (@DezBryant) September 9, 2018
Elliott ended the shutout with a 4-yard touchdown run midway through the fourth quarter:
Prescott ran in the two-point conversion. That was about their only highlight on offense.
Patrick Mahomes and Tyreek Hill will give defenses nightmares
Tyreek Hill? Still fast. On the first punt of the game, Hill housed it:
Then, Patrick Mahomes hit him in stride for another touchdown.
*sorry for quality. But Mahomes with the quick trigger to the CHEETAH, Tyreke Hill again! 58 yards & he’s gone! 14-3 KC pic.twitter.com/AZgfBa0ITs— uSTADIUM (@uSTADIUM) September 9, 2018
Hill added another touchdown — complete with a backflip! — in the fourth quarter.
Hill joins DeSean Jackson and Tim Dwight as the only players since 1970 to finish a game with more than 150 yards receiving and a punt return touchdown.
Mahomes wasn’t done either, giving us a FULLBACK TOUCHDOWN with this dime:
Patrick Mahomes is an absolute delight pic.twitter.com/BMIxFK8NsH— Melissa Jacobs (@thefootballgirl) September 9, 2018
The Chargers? Still have kicker woes. Still unlucky:
Chiefs have now beaten the Chargers 9 straight, the longest active @NFL winning streak over a divisional opponent.— Andrew Siciliano (@AndrewSiciliano) September 9, 2018
Remember Von Miller?
Not sure how you could forget about him, but the Seahawks might have, judging by his monster game:
Miller has three sacks, two tackles for loss, four quarterback hits, and that fumble recovery.
Michael Dickson is a nice punter
The Seahawks’ offense had some trouble against the Broncos, most notably with protecting Russell Wilson (he was sacked six times) and with turnovers (three). But at least they have new superstar (yes SUPERSTAR) punter Michael Dickson.
The rookie did his part to keep Seattle in the game, like dropping a nice nice nice nice 69-yard punt at Mile High:
Michael Dickson punting in Denver is like using a cheat code. pic.twitter.com/jZdW8Q8l31— Gordon McGuinness (@PFF_Gordon) September 9, 2018
The Seahawks later got a little more from their offense, first with this Wilson pass to Brandon Marshall:
Russell Wilson with an absolute DIME to Brandon Marshall for the TD. pic.twitter.com/0UXdknDR1C— Ollie Connolly (@OllieConnolly) September 9, 2018
And then a 51-yard touchdown to Tyler Lockett. The Seahawks still fell short, 27-24, but for fans of punters, Seattle is the team to watch.
Adrian Peterson hits the century mark (finally)
After scoring his 98th and 99th career rushing touchdowns in Week 6 of 2017, it seemed like only a matter of time before Adrian Peterson would become the ninth NFL running back to score 100 TDs on the ground. Two teams later and now the start of a new season, Peterson finally got there, giving Washington a 14-0 lead over Arizona on Sunday.
Browns vs. Steelers was a sloppy, chippy, entertaining, beautiful tie
Maybe the rainy and windy weather didn’t help things, but the Browns and Steelers game was kinda of a hot mess — in a good way.
Antonio Brown delivered an extremely AB touchdown:
Antonio Brown contested catch for the TD. Makes it look routine. pic.twitter.com/CftYyQ1A9j— Ty Wurth (@WurthDraft) September 9, 2018
Ben Roethlisberger threw three picks in the first half, two of them to first-round pick Denzel Ward:
First three interception 1st half of Ben Roethlisberger's career since 2006. Also against the Cleveland Browns. Steelers won 24-20. #Steelers— Alex Kozora (@Alex_Kozora) September 9, 2018
Roethelisberger and James Conner each lost a fumble late in the game, too.
Then Jarvis Landry and Artie Burns got into it (though neither was ejected).
Landry getting under Burns’ skin pic.twitter.com/qB9gFlIQNR— Matt Waldman (@MattWaldman) September 9, 2018
Late in the game was when things got wild. Josh Gordon helped the Browns tie it back up with two minutes to go:
Hold my beer, Antonio Brown... pic.twitter.com/Vg0d8A0GSY— Matt Waldman (@MattWaldman) September 9, 2018
The Browns had a chance to win in the last minute, but Tyrod Taylor threw a pick and the game went to overtime.
The teams traded possessions like they wanted the game to end in a tie. Browns punter Britton Colquitt shanked it, giving the Steelers pretty good field position. But then Steelers kicker Chris Boswell, and honorary Killer B, missed the field goal.
With less than a minute left, Roethlisberger turned the ball over and the Browns had their own chance for a win at the end of overtime — and yup, they missed.
James Conner scores his first NFL touchdown — soon after Myles Garrett finally sacked Big Ben
After more than a year, Garrett finally accomplished his No. 1 goal: He sacked Ben Roethlisberger (twice). Unfortunately on the same drive, Garrett was hit with an unnecessary roughness penalty for everyone’s least favorite “body weight” rule:
Terrible rule RT @OllieConnolly: Roughing the passer call on Myles Garrett. Landed on Roethlisberger with his body weight. A fourth down stop turned into a touchdown the very next play. pic.twitter.com/XkadnZCdx1— GoPackGo (@DonP757) September 9, 2018
Right after that, James Conner ran in his first NFL touchdown:
He added a second in the second half to give the Steelers some hope for the future at running back.
Saquon Barkley joins the party
The second overall pick in the draft got off to a slow start against the Jaguars’ ferocious defense. Then he finally broke a long one in the fourth quarter, making a few Jags defenders miss:
Saquon FINALLY PUNCHES IT IN!!!— (@Hayes_Hair13) September 9, 2018
GIANTS CUT THE LEAD AND SAQUONS FIRST TD! pic.twitter.com/KwcmuIgK6f
So gorgeous (and eerily similar to his touchdown in the Rose Bowl two years ago). Pretty much the opposite of this Eli Manning pick-six:
Or the way the Giants lost: on a muffed punt.
Welcome to the NFL, Dante Pettis
Jimmy Garoppolo suffered his first loss as a starting quarterback to a sharp-looking Kirk Cousins and the Vikings. But at least Jimmy G did find rookie Dante Pettis for a beauty of a TD:
Dante Pettis, who was open at the 3-yard-line when Garoppolo was sacked on the previous play, catches this one. pic.twitter.com/oBTJzYkzUQ— James Brady (@JamesBradySBN) September 9, 2018
He celebrated by ... cleaning himself like a cat? OK.
Bills, not like this
It took until the third quarter for the Bills to get their first first down against the Ravens. They still ended up having to punt ... and this is what happened:
We knew the Bills were going to be bad this year. We might not have known they’d be THIS bad.
After Nathan Peterman’s second pick of the game — and with the Bills down 40-0, they put rookie quarterback Josh Allen in. He made it out alive, though the Bills got crushed, 47-3.
Saints vs. Bucs was WEIRD AS HELL
It seemed like opening at home against a Jameis Winston-less Bucs team would be an easy win for the Saints in Week 1. Uh about that ...
Alvin Kamara got things started — not a surprise — with a 5-yard rushing touchdown. But the Bucs answered right back with a long TD from Ryan Fitzpatrick to DeSean Jackson.
Fitzmagic wasn’t done there:
And then new Saints running back Mike Gillislee fumbled, which turned into a scoop and score:
The Saints didn’t go away, but neither did Fitzpatrick, who played arguably the best game of his entire career (four touchdowns, 417 passing yards) in the Bucs’ 48-40 win.
A Bengals player was the first player ejected this year
In his first regular season game since January 2017, Andrew Luck ran for a first down ... and took a nasty shot to the head:
Bengals defensive back Shawn Williams was then ejected. It was an obvious penalty, and exactly what the NFL hopes to eliminate.
Later in the game, Luck threw his first touchdown in a very, very long time:
Andrew Luck's 26-yard Pass TD to Eric Ebron is his first touchdown pass since Jan. 1, 2017 (616 days).— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) September 9, 2018
On that day, Luck threw a game-winning 1-yard TD to Jack Doyle to beat the Jaguars.
Luck and the Colts were driving with less than a minute to go and a chance to win — and then Jack Doyle fumbled, which Clayton Fejedelem picked up and ran back for the score, sealing Cincy’s win:
Deshaun Watson fumbles on his first play ... and the Patriots promptly score a touchdown
Well, this is not the way we wanted to welcome Deshaun Watson back from his ACL tear. On the Texans’ first offensive possession against the Patriots, Watson fumbled:
Three plays later, Tom Brady and Rob Gronkowski did their thing:
Brady later returned the favor when he threw a pick to new Texans safety Tyrann Mathieu.
The Patriots led the whole way, though the Texans had a chance to tie it up with a minute left. A Hail Mary attempt was knocked down.
It was a disappointing game for Watson, who gave the Patriots all they could handle last season in a shootout. On Sunday, he only completed half of his passes for 176 yards, one touchdown, and one interception.
But it was a promising start for the New England defense under new coordinator Brian Flores.
Sunday scores in Week 1
Minnesota Vikings 24, San Francisco 49ers 16
New England Patriots 27, Houston Texans 20
Pittsburgh Steelers 21, Cleveland Browns 21
Kansas City Chiefs 38, Los Angeles Chargers 28
Washington 24, Arizona Cardinals 6
Green Bay Packers 24, Chicago Bears 23