Photo Credit: http://www.thescore.org
Everyone, week 1 of the new NFL season is now officially in the books. There were plenty of close contests despite a lot of teams not playing a real game since December or January. Along with those hard-fought battles were some extremely impressive performances by players and teams alike, but there were also some that were just simply hard to watch. Here are your week 1 winners and losers:
Winner-Minnesota Vikings defense: Boy oh boy did they have a game to remember. After heading into the locker room down 0-10 to the Tennessee Titans, Vikings defensive-minded head coach Mike Zimmer let his defense know that they would be the key to winning in the second half, and they did just that. Linebacker Eric Kendricks picked off Titans quarterback Marcus Mariota and took it all the way to the house, and they did not let Tennessee score a single point the rest of the game.
Looser-Entire Los Angeles Rams team: Entering the late Monday-night matchup vs the San Francisco 49ers in Levi’s Stadium, the Rams as a whole were favored to win the game because of their stout defense led by defensive tackle Aaron Donald and the astonishing ground game with running back Todd Gurley in the backfield. Well, they were in for a big surprise as the 49ers defense played the most physical football since the 2014 season. Los Angeles had high expectations in this game, but they ended up getting shut out in an ugly 0-28 defeat.
Winner-The Quarterbacks in Lucas Oil Stadium: Going into the afternoon game between the Detroit Lions and Indianapolis Colts, 95% of us expected a high-scoring shootout between quarterbacks Matthew Stafford of Detroit and Andrew Luck of Indianapolis, and it sure was. In the end, Detroit defeated Indianapolis in the final seconds thanks to a clutch drive led by Stafford that resulted in a game-winning field goal that ended the game 39-35, but all-in-all, both quarterbacks deserve recognition for their stellar play despite Andrew Luck’s team walking out of the building with the loss. Stafford threw for 340 yds and 3 TDs while Luck put up 385 yds and 4 TDs in the game.
Looser-Washington Redskins: By the end of the first quarter of the early Monday-night duel between the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Washington Redskins, Washington was up 6-0, with defense forcing an interception and getting stops while the offense took advantage and kicked two field goals. However, the joy of being up vs one of the NFL’s best teams was fairly short-lived. Ever since the tipped and picked pass by the Redskins, Pittsburgh quarterback Ben Roethlisberger and the offense would simply not let up on the Washington defense. The end result was a 38-16 victory in favor of the Steelers, also due to quarterback Kirk Cousins missing key passes and the running game overall was dead silent besides the rushing TD in the 4th quarter. It was all Washington in the first quarter, but they couldn’t execute on either sides of the ball the rest of the night.
Winner-Jack Del Rio: with just under 0:50 seconds to go vs the New Orleans Saints in the Super Dome, the Oakland Raiders scored a touchdown but we’re still down 34-35 after the 6-point score. Instead of choosing to kick the would-be game tying PAT, Oakland head coach Jack Del Rio had something else in mind. Del Rio keeps his offense out on the field to go for two-points and the win, he calls a quick-fade route to receiver Michael Crabtree who was matched up one-on-one on the outside, and quarterback Derek Carr lets the ball fly in the air for Crabtree to snatch it and he successfully comes down with it to give his team a 36-35 lead under the final minute. The Raiders would go on to win the game 36-35, thanks to Jack Del Rio’s “balls of steel.”