David Borne | Staff Writer
This past weekend, football fans enjoyed exciting finishes, a flurry of marquee rookie performances and a few surprising upsets in the first week of NFL action. It’s way too early in the year to make any sort of judgments based on how teams performed, but we do know that we’re surely in for another wild ride of an NFL season.
One surprising result from Week 1 came in the first game of the season on Sept. 7, when the Patriots were stifled by the Kansas City Chiefs at home. While the Chiefs are projected to be one of the stronger teams in the AFC once again, not many forecasted the dominant showing Andy Reid’s team put on against the defending champions. In a game the Patriots led 17-14 at the half, the Chiefs were able to shut New England’s offense down after the break, and an offensive explosion of their own pushed them past the defending champions, 42-27.
Chiefs rookie running back Kareem Hunt, who fumbled his first rushing attempt, was able to rebound and finish his first game with 246 total yards and three touchdowns. The casual fan may not have known who Hunt was prior to Thursday’s game, but it’s more than fair to say that people are definitely aware now.
Another AFC favorite, the Pittsburgh Steelers, won 21-18 over the Cleveland Browns on Sunday — but in much less convincing fashion than many Pittsburgh fans were hoping to see. While Cleveland closely competed with the Super Bowl-favorite Steelers, Ben Roethlisberger continued his dominance over the Browns, throwing for 263 yards and two touchdowns against a Myles Garrett-less defense. Though the Browns begin yet another season in the loss column, the future of the team is as bright as it’s been for years.
With plenty of young guns like defensive end Garrett, wide receiver Corey Coleman, quarterback DeShone Kizer and star safety Jabrill Peppers, Cleveland is loaded with the pieces that are the groundwork for future success. The Browns’ miserable football state isn’t about to end overnight, but Cleveland’s days as the laughing stock of the league are coming to an end soon.
In California, the Los Angeles Rams abused an Indianapolis team led by Scott Tolzien, who may man the quarterback position until Andrew Luck returns from shoulder surgery later this season. Tolzien threw a pick-six to begin the game, and the Rams never looked back, defeating a hapless Indianapolis team, 46-9.
Just up I-5 North, the Carolina Panthers cruised by the San Francisco 49ers at Levi’s Stadium, 23-3. Rookie tailback Christian McCaffrey finished with 47 yards on the ground for the Panthers in a win less than half of an hour away from Stanford, where he starred collegiately. It looks as if the 2017-18 season is going to be a dreadful one for San Francisco in its first campaign without the mercurial Colin Kaepernick since 2011. The 49ers are going to need an offense, led by journeyman Brian Hoyer, to come up with ways to find some sort of production in order to get a few wins on the board this season.
The consensus’ most exciting game of the week came on Monday night between the newly-relocated Los Angeles Chargers and the Denver Broncos. It came down to the wire, and the Chargers appeared to be in position to tie the game with no time remaining on the 44-yard line, but Broncos head coach Vance Joseph called time out just before the play was snapped in an attempt to ice Los Angeles’ kicker. Chargers rookie Younghoe Koo’s next attempt was blocked, and the Broncos closed out the week with a win in dramatic fashion.
In a potential preview of the NFC playoffs, league-favorite Green Bay grabbed a win over Seattle, and the Cowboys took down their NFC East rival New York Giants. Stunted offensive play was on display in both of these matchups, as both Seattle and the New York Giants were held without a touchdown.
It’s only been one week, but the NFL season is off to a great start. Plenty of excitement lies ahead, and this season is sure to provide many fun and eventful Sundays for months to come.