NFL’s opening Sunday: Rookies most impressive
AP Pro Football Writer
The rookies stole the show in Week 1.
After Kareem Hunt’s record-setting debut in Kansas City’s stunning win at New England on Thursday night, several players had impressive first games Sunday.
Steelers linebacker T.J. Watt, younger brother of J.J. Watt, recorded two sacks and an interception in Pittsburgh’s 21-18 win over Cleveland. Still, he wasn’t satisfied.
“We had a few sacks left on the table, from my point of view,” Watt said.
Lions third-round pick Kenny Golladay caught four passes for 69 yards and two touchdowns in Detroit’s 35-23 victory over Arizona. He fully extended to catch a long TD pass with 4:13 left.
“That’s a receiver’s dream,” Golladay said.
Leonard Fournette, the No. 4 overall pick, ran for 100 yards and a TD in Jacksonville’s rout over Houston. Bears running back Tarik Cohen had 66 yards rushing, 47 receiving and one TD catch in a 23-17 loss to Atlanta.
Even Raiders kicker Giorgio Tavecchio joined in with field goals of 20, 52, 52 and 43 yards in his first game.
Hunt ran for 148 yards and a TD and caught five passes for 98 yards and two more scores against the Patriots. The third-round pick’s 246 yards from scrimmage were the most by a player in his first game in NFL history.
In case you missed it, here are the other top topics after the NFL season’s opening Sunday:
MISSING ODELL: With Odell Beckham Jr. forced to watch from the sideline because of a sprained left ankle, Eli Manning and the rest of the Giants were miserable on offense in a 19-3 loss at Dallas. Manning misfired on some throws, Brandon Marshall didn’t catch a pass until the final minute and New York gained just 233 yards. Dak Prescott got his first win over the Giants after going 0-2 against them last year when the Cowboys were 13-3.
WISCONSIN WOES: Russell Wilson and the Seahawks lost again in Green Bay. That means they might have to go through the Packers at Lambeau Field in January if the two NFC heavyweights meet again in the playoffs. Wilson was 14 of 27 for 158 yards and got sacked three times in the 17-9 loss. Last December, Wilson tossed five picks in a 38-10 loss at Lambeau. The Seahawks also lost 27-17 there in 2015. Aaron Rodgers threw for 311 yards and Green Bay’s defense shined in the slugfest.
GREAT ESCAPE: Carson Wentz had teammates comparing him to Rodgers after pulling off a magic act when he escaped pressure, spun away from tacklers and fired a 58-yard TD pass to Nelson Agholor on Philadelphia’s third play from scrimmage. Wentz actually looked more like former Eagles QBs Randall Cunningham, Donovan McNabb and Michael Vick on that play. Wentz was 26 of 39 for 307 yards with two TDs in the 30-17 victory at Washington, the Eagles’ first road win over a division opponent since 2015. Wentz also threw an interception that was returned for a score. “He’s special. He’s dynamic,” right tackle Lane Johnson said of Wentz. “Sometimes it looks like a sack is coming, and he can get out under it and make plays.”
MAJOR INJURIES: Jaguars receiver Allen Robinson suffered a season-ending torn anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee, according to a person who spoke to The Associated Press on the condition of anonymity because the team had not released details of Robinson’s injury. The Eagles lost cornerback Ronald Darby to what looked like a serious right ankle injury. San Francisco rookie linebacker Reuben Foster had an impressive debut cut short when he was carted off after injuring his right ankle. On Thursday night, Chiefs All-Pro safety Eric Berry ruptured his left Achilles tendon.
ANTHEM PROTESTS: Colin Kaepernick remains unsigned but several players continued his protest movement by sitting, kneeling or raising their fists during the national anthem. Also, about 50 members of the Kappa Alpha Psi alumni chapter in Detroit marched about a mile in a peaceful protest that ended just outside Ford Field, where the Lions hosted Arizona.
PICK 6s: There were five interceptions returned for touchdowns and one more negated by a penalty in the Seahawks-Packers game. Colts quarterback Scott Tolzien threw two pick-6s in a 46-9 loss to the Rams. Carson Palmer and Matthew Stafford each tossed one in the Cardinals-Lions game and Wentz threw one against the Redskins.
BEAST MODE RETURNS: Marshawn Lynch was back on the field after taking a year off, ending his retirement and joining his hometown Raiders. Lynch ran for 76 yards on 18 carries in Oakland’s 26-16 win at Tennessee. He picked up a first down on fourth-and-1 inside the Titans 5 and played a key role running out the clock late.
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