If the 2019 kickoff game between the Packers and Bears taught us anything, it’s that sometimes Week 1 can still feel like the preseason. That’s the case now more than ever, when most starters spend the month of August standing on the sideline in their comfiest athleisure wear.
While that means some teams take a little longer to find their rhythm once September rolls around, it also produces the kind of cringe entertainment that we’re only used to seeing in the preseason or when we decide to fire up an episode of The Office.
The first week this season was chock full of moments that had us looking away in secondhand embarrassment. But that wasn’t all it delivered. There were also several ejections that suggested some players weren’t ready to end their summer vacation just yet.
Somehow, we narrowed this list down to 12, and that doesn’t even include the Jets blowing a game to the Bills, and the Patriots stomping all over the Steelers right after hooking up with their ex. Here are the dumbest mistakes from the first Sunday of the season:
12. Kirk Cousins celebrated a 1-yard TD dive by dancing like your grandma
Cousins didn’t have to do much to beat the Falcons Sunday; he only threw 10 passes for 98 yards. Rather, the Vikings did their damage on the ground in a 28-12 home victory. The veteran QB even got in on the action with a 1-yard dip into the end zone in the second quarter.
Then Cousins, so delighted to have scored, gave the world his best Andrews Sisters impression.
You’ve been told, Adam Thielen. Don’t wait under the apple tree for anyone else but Kirk.
11. Patrick Mahomes no-looks a pass right outta the end zone
Patrick Mahomes has an innate ability to shock the NFL with streetball-style plays that seem impossible in real life but lead to major gains on the gridiron. This was not one of them.
Mahomes already getting tricky with it pic.twitter.com/8A7WmEPDy3— The Checkdown (@thecheckdown) September 8, 2019
Mahomes’ latest no-look pass was also a no-catch pass, soaring over Travis Kelce’s head and out of the end zone on third down. Just because you can do it doesn’t mean you always should.
10. Pittsburgh’s backup center forgot to snap the ball
B.J. Finney made his first appearance of the season when he entered a Steelers-Patriots blowout in relief of Maurkice Pouncey. He blanked the count on his very first snap, leading to a rare, four-man false start penalty that left Finney standing like an untouched bowling pin.
"false start, all the linemen but the center" pic.twitter.com/tl84yoHmoQ— Christian D'Andrea (@TrainIsland) September 9, 2019
Ben Roethlisberger threw an interception a few plays later. The two probably aren’t related, but it’s important measuring point for just how awful things were for Pittsburgh Sunday night.
9. A Cardinals OL tried to leap over Kyler Murray and sacked him instead
This honestly might be our favorite GIF of the season, and we say that being fully aware this is only Week 1:
Kyler Murray just got sacked by his own lineman lmao pic.twitter.com/ZatJyFp5mq— Pete Blackburn (@PeteBlackburn) September 8, 2019
We’ve all had this kind of moment when you know you’re going to bump into someone and there’s no way of avoiding it, and this is dialed up to 11.
Guard J.R. Sweezy is 6’5, 310 pounds. Something in his brain told this exceedingly large man that his reaction should be “leapfrog my quarterback.” Spoiler: He couldn’t.
Honestly, it’s a miracle this just looked like a WWE move and he didn’t crush poor Kyler Murray.
8. Eli Manning needs to know who Eli Manning is
Mistake No. 1 for the Giants was rolling Manning out of the pocket inside the red zone. Even when he was 24 that would’ve been a brave play call for a quarterback who’s very much a pocket passer. It’s even worse now that he’s 38. He has 37 rushing yards in the last three years combined.
Mistake No. 2 was when Manning decided not to throw the ball, but to try to juke Cowboys linebacker Leighton Vander Esch on fourth-and-1. It went exactly as you imagine.
Eli Manning looking like Michael Vick out there! What a move pic.twitter.com/3AakWbjn79— Eric Rosenthal (@ericsports) September 8, 2019
Let Saquon Barkley do the running, Eli.
7. Kwon Alexander was ejected for lowering his helmet straight into Jameis Winston
One of San Francisco’s bigger additions this offseason was former Bucs linebacker Kwon Alexander. He was having a great first half against his former team before he made a very, very stupid play that got him ejected.
Regarded as a rangy linebacker who occasionally has issues with his tackling form, Alexander elected to hit Jameis Winston, who slid head-first on a scramble, with a blatant helmet-to-helmet shot. He was immediately ejected, with three quarters left and the 49ers only up by three points.
6. The Jaguars are still fighting everyone
The Jaguars’ hopes of returning to the top of the AFC South took a huge hit when Nick Foles broke his clavicle after throwing a touchdown. That was completely out of their control, though. It’s simply the hand fate deals what is a habitually hard-luck team (and any resident of north Florida).
Although Jaguars players fighting has been a fairly common occurrence in recent years, that it happened in Week 1 was a sign that this team might not be ready to contend again. Instead, they just found ways to embarrass themselves — like the once-proud Jacksonville defense surrendering 40 points and almost 500 yards.
5. Greg Robinson’s ejection summed up the Browns’ Week 1 experience
The Browns reign as AFC North favorites may be over after just one week, and some of their offensive struggles can be chalked up to the left tackle who took his reputation as the club’s weak link to a new level Sunday. Greg Robinson only played 1.5 quarters in Week 1, earning an early trip to the locker room for kicking Kenny Vaccaro in the face.
welp, the Browns will have to play the second half without their starting left tackle. Greg Robinson ejected for kicking Kenny Vaccaro right in the face pic.twitter.com/y324hpluQ7— Christian D'Andrea (@TrainIsland) September 8, 2019
This was awful timing. With Kendall Lamm hurt and both Austin Corbett and Wyatt Teller inactive, Cleveland was reduced to fielding a rotation of misplaced blockers and backups. Justin McCray, an interior lineman acquired from the Packers eight days earlier, moved to right tackle. Right tackle Chris Hubbard moved to the blindside. Neither was especially helpful in pass protection; the Browns gave up five sacks, including one in the end zone that resulted in 2019’s first safety.
Even worse, Robinson’s 15-yard unsportsmanlike penalty was one of 18 times the Browns were flagged. They gifted the Titans 182 yards on those penalties.
4. Jameis Winston is still making rookie mistakes in year 5
Once upon a time, Winston showed everything the Buccaneers could’ve asked for out of a No. 1 overall pick. He was mistake prone, but made enough big plays to inspire promise. Fast forward to his fifth NFL season and Winston’s inability to avoid turnovers is going to get him run out of Tampa Bay.
The Buccaneers hired Bruce Arians hoping the quarterback guru could finally get Winston to pull it together. Unfortunately for Tampa Bay, Winston still makes plays like this:
The Buccaneers had a chance win, but Winston’s off-balance lob into traffic sealed the win for the 49ers. That was his third pick of the game. What else is new?
3. Just everything about the Dolphins
Yo. We knew the Dolphins were going to be bad this year, but what the hell was that?
Miami got trounced by the Ravens 59-10 and it was 42-to-freakin’-3 at halftime. It legitimately looked like the Ravens were playing one of those faceless “FCS Southwest” teams that were in Dynasty mode on NCAA Football 14.
Ryan Fitzpatrick threw an interception to start off his day. The Dolphins had two receivers in the general area — bad spacing leads to interceptions! And just like that, Earl Thomas had an easy read for his first pick as a Raven.
The Dolphins’ defense was even worse somehow. They let the first catch of Marquise Brown’s career go 47 yards for a touchdown. There was somehow not a single Dolphins player in front of Brown as he raced to the end zone.
first catch of his career pic.twitter.com/RtYwDnLtvT— charles mcdonald (@FourVerts) September 8, 2019
His second touchdown catch was somehow even more embarrassing for the Dolphins. Miami only rushed three defenders on third down and, amazingly, let Brown beat them deep for an 83-yard touchdown.
Eight defenders in coverage!
second catch of his career pic.twitter.com/zsE9vMpKHL— charles mcdonald (@FourVerts) September 8, 2019
Miami gave up 643 yards and gained just 200. 643 yards.
And now some members of the team want to get off this sinking ship and are reportedly begging to be traded. We’re so, so sorry Dolphins fans.
2. Does Kliff Kingsbury think the NFL has college football OT rules?
Then they surged back, tying the game on a touchdown and two-point conversion with less than a minute left in regulation. They had all the momentum heading into overtime.
After both teams traded field goals, the Cardinals got the ball back. At this point, any score would win the game; if neither team scored, it would end in a tie. Murray got the Cardinals to midfield, but when a third-down pass fell incomplete, Kingsbury had a decision to make with a minute left: go for it on fourth-and-7, or punt and almost assuredly settle for a tie.
Unless Kingsbury forgot about the NFL’s OT rules, he decided a tie was better than nothing in his first game. Arizona surrendered:
ARI decided to punt to DET from the DET 46 on 4th & 7 with 1:10 remaining in the OT while tied 27 to 27.— Surrender Index 90 (@surrender_idx90) September 9, 2019
With a Surrender Index of 58.73, this punt ranks at the 100th percentile of cowardly punts of the 2019 season, and the 99.6th percentile of all punts since 2009.
And yes, the game ended 27-all.
In fairness to Kingsbury, Tramaine Brock Sr. almost validated the decision to punt when Matthew Stafford’s ill-advised pass went straight into his arms ... and the veteran cornerback dropped it.
Murray’s reaction says it all:
The Cardinals dropped a potential game-winning pick with 5 seconds left in OT.— FOX Sports: NFL (@NFLonFOX) September 9, 2019
Kyler Murray and Christian Kirk had the exact same reaction as you did pic.twitter.com/HHW1jm6vP0
Yet, that wasn’t even the worst mistake in the Lions-Cardinals game.
1. Why did you call that timeout, Darrell Bevell?
The Lions needed just five yards to pick up a likely game-clinching first down in the fourth quarter. The Cardinals were out of timeouts and the Lions were near midfield. At the very least, the Lions would’ve been able to milk the majority of the remaining clock and give the Cardinals just a few seconds to spare.
So you can understand Matthew Stafford’s frustration when a first down pass to J.D. McKissic was nullified by a timeout. Especially when offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell was the one who called it.
The play clock was running dangerously close to zero, but Stafford’s in his 11th NFL season — let him handle it.
Instead, the Lions followed that timeout with an incomplete pass. The punt that followed was blocked and Kyler Murray led the Cardinals 60 yards for a game-tying touchdown. The game finished as a tie, but it almost certainly would’ve finished as a Lions win if Bevell just put his hands in his pockets.