Author’s Note: It’s crazy to think that it has been one year since I wrote my first article. I am grateful for all the articles I have written thus far. Here’s to the future articles I write.
We have waited so long for the return of NFL football. Sixteen games into the young 2021 NFL season, there have been several expectations met, several surprises and several disappointments among many other storylines.
What have we learned and what can we take away from this one entertaining week of football?
Dak is Bak
After a gruesome ankle injury in week five last year, it was hard to tell if Dak Prescott was going to be the same. However, in the first game of the season, he picked up right where he left off. With a new contract to boot, Prescott had a ridiculously good day, throwing 403 passing yards with three touchdown while throwing a whopping 58 passing attempts. In the process, he gave both CeeDee Lamb and Amari Copper over 100 yards of receiving. Especially against the undoubtedly best defense in the league, Prescott has proven that he is back and going to win the Comeback Player of the Year.
The Buccaneers’ Defense was at 50 percent of their power
The Bucs’ defense did not have the best day on Thursday, they allowed 29 points to the Cowboys after surrendering just nine against the Chiefs in the Super Bowl. There were several sloppy plays and bad penalties on both sides of the ball and the defense allowed over 400 yards, but they did have something in their favor in addition to the win as they were able to get an interception and a sack. This possibly might be the worse game they play this season, and if that is the case, then the rest of the league should be shaking in their cleats.
Chandler Jones: DPOY?
Serious question, when has there ever been an opening day defensive performance this outstanding? While Kyler Murray and DeAndre Hopkins were walking all over the Titans’ weak defensive unit, Jones went ahead and, with the assistance of the newly acquired JJ Watt, sacked Ryan Tannehill five times including three in the first quarter. This tied him for the single-game team record with Haasan Reddick, who reached that mark last season (Giants fans, look away). In this game alone, Jones proved that he is hungry for the Defensive Player of the Year Award even though he was not a finalist last year.
The Chargers know how to win close games
The primary reason the Chargers finished 7-9 last season was because they lost several games on the final possession. Even with Herbert having a mediocrely good game (337 yards, one touchdown and one interception), the defense was able to prevent the Washington offense from finding the endzone after the Chargers regained the lead. A Washington punt followed by a time-consuming drive to the red zone from the Chargers was able to seal the deal and prevent the Chargers from feeling any pain. They might not look like contenders yet, but one more good game by the Chargers and they might be.
Don’t EVER count out the Kansas City Chiefs
If I told you the Chiefs were losing 22-10 at the half to the Cleveland Browns, you would be surprised. But, if I told you the Chiefs rallied to win the game, then you would not be surprised. The Chiefs scored on both drives in the third quarter and although Cleveland would score a touchdown in the fourth to get ahead by nine, Patrick Mahomes immediately connected with Tyreek Hill on a 75-yard reception to cut the deficit to two. A fake punt by the Browns would give the ball right back to the Chiefs, who would take the lead back less than two minutes later. The Browns had two more desperate drives, but they ended in a punt and an interception to seal the 33-29 victory for the Chiefs. Just like we said with Brady and the Patriots for so many years, don’t ever count out the Chiefs.
The rookies had a good day
Justin Fields and Trey Lance both got reps on Sunday as well as their first career touchdowns, whether it was in the air (Lance) or by foot (Fields). Trevor Lawrence had the most passing yards among rookies when he threw for 332 yards with three touchdowns and three interceptions in a loss to the Texans. Zach Wilson helped make the game interesting against the Panthers with two passing touchdowns of his own. Mac Jones had 281 yards with a passing touchdown in his debut start after sitting behind Cam all preseason. It may be one game, but the kids are alright.
San Francisco: The City of Near-Heart Attacks
We all had a feeling the San Francisco 49ers were going to be a good team once they were back to full strength, but they still have their weaknesses. The Niners punted with 5:56 left in the game and it became a turning point. The Lions got a touchdown to cut the deficit to 41-25. On the ensuing onside kick, the football ricocheted off George Kittle’s helmet and landed back with the Lions, which turned into a touchdown with a 2-point conversion. Now down 41-33, the Lions tried the onside kick again. San Francisco’s possession would have iced the game if Deebo Samuel didn’t fumble the ball with 58 seconds left. The Lions would take it all the way to the Niners’ 24 before bowing out with a turnover on downs. If this happens every game, there will be serious questions raised about the legitimacy of the Niners’ playoff hopes.
Monday Night Football proved that football is officially back!
The fourth quarter and overtime of this contest was memorable. Here’s how every drive went from Lamar Jacksons’ first fumble onward. Touchdown, touchdown, touchdown, field goal, field goal with 37 seconds to give, interception, fumble, game-winning touchdown. What’s even crazier about that sequence is that the Raiders’ could have won it on the first drive if Bryce Edwards didn’t plant his knee a half yard short of the endzone and Willie Snead actually made the catch. Luckily, the Raiders were saved when Jackson fumbled again, and Derek Carr found a wide open Zay Jones for the game-winning touchdown.
Football is officially back, and if every week ends up being as good as this one, then there is a great chance that the biggest season ever becomes the best season ever. Enjoy the games; they’re going to be a blast.