NFL Week 1 Recap: Biggest Winners, Biggest Losers and Standouts
The teams, players and coaches that had notable results in Week 1 of the 2021-22 NFL season.
By Stone Lexington
Updated: Sept. 14, 2021 • 10:30 AM ET
Jalen Hurts - Wikimedia Commons
Week 1 of the NFL season has concluded, and several teams shined over the weekend. Others didn’t fare so well. Below are the biggest winners, biggest losers and standouts from Week 1 of the 2021-22 NFL season.
What Tom Brady is doing at 44 years old is beyond comprehension. When most NFL quarterbacks are reminiscing about their former playing days following retirement, Brady is winning Super Bowls. Brady, who led the Tampa Bay Buccaneers into field-goal range for the game-winning score in Thursday night’s opener, kept his winning ways going with a 31-29 victory over the Dallas Cowboys.
When the Cleveland Browns led the Kansas City Chiefs 22-10 at the end of the first half on Sunday, it looked like they could be on their way to an upset of the favored Chiefs. Instead, Patrick Mahomes led four scoring drives and threw three touchdown passes in the second half to defeat the Browns 33-29, leaving Cleveland fans heartbroken. There’s a reason he could be the most talented quarterback to ever step on a football field.
Jalen Hurts is not only attempting to prove his doubters wrong, it seems like he still has to convince his own franchise that he’s the quarterback of the future. A few weeks before the season started, there were rumors that the Eagles were in talks with the Houston Texans to execute a trade for star quarterback Deshaun Watson. Philadelphia head coach Nick Sirianni didn’t even name Hurts the starting quarterback until two weeks before Week 1 began this season. Nevertheless, Hurts was magnificent against a porous Atlanta defense on Sunday, throwing three touchdowns in a 32-6 blowout of the Falcons.
There are those who wrote off the Pittsburgh Steelers before the season ever began, and there are those who remembered that Mike Tomlin has never had a losing season at the helm of the black and yellow. The Steelers dominated the second half en route to a 23-16 win over the Buffalo Bills, a team some have winning the Super Bowl this season. Pittsburgh will look for its second straight twin on Sunday against the Las Vegas Raiders.
Raise your hand if you thought the Houston Texans would dominate any of their opponents this season. From Texas or not, your hand probably isn’t in the air. The Texans manhandled the Jacksonville Jaguars on their way to a 37-21 victory in NRG Stadium on Sunday. Texans quarterback Tyrod Taylor played very well, and Houston’s skill players made plays. It will be interesting to see if the Texans can pull off another win on Sunday when they face the 0-1 Cleveland Browns.
The last time Jameis Winston started a game, he put the finishing touches on a 30-interception season. He also threw for more than 5,000 yards in 2019, but the Tampa Bay Buccaneers no longer required his services. In his first start this season, now in New Orleans, Winston threw five touchdown passes in the Saints’ 38-3 spanking of the Green Bay Packers on Sunday. If more performances like the one Winston displayed against the Packers come, he will certainly be on the right track to reviving his career.
Injuries are the worst part about sports, but they can also be the catalyst of an immaculate resurgence. Before Joe Burrow suffered a torn ACL last season, he looked like he was on pace to proving he’s one of the best young quarterbacks in the NFL. In his first game back on Sunday after rehabbing the injury, Burrow and the Bengals used a last-second field goal to defeat the Minnesota Vikings 27-24 at home. Burrow played nearly mistake-free and looks to be on his way to being fully back from the injury.
With his performance in the 49ers’ 41-33 victory over the Detroit Lions on Sunday, Jimmy Garoppolo told the world to halt its chants for Trey Lance to start in San Francisco. Garoppolo threw for more than 300 yards with a touchdown and no interceptions in the Niners win; he also lost a fumble, but he kept his grip on the starting job in the Bay Area.
Las Vegas Raiders
Whether it be for questionable draft picks or substandard coaching, the Las Vegas Raiders were one of the most scrutinized teams heading into the 2021-22 season. And although the Ravens’ skill position groups were decimated before they ever suited up for a regular season game, the Raiders showed the guts needed in Week 1 to defeat a Baltimore team that has reached the playoffs in each of the last three seasons. A matchup in Pittsburgh against the 1-0 Steelers awaits the Raiders in Week 2.
Kyler Murray and the Arizona Cardinals beat up a Tennessee Titans team that has high expectations this season. Murray threw four touchdown passes and ran for another in a 38-13 destruction of the Titans. Beginning his third season in the league, Murray could be vaulting to superstardom before our eyes.
Los Angeles Chargers
A season ago, eight of the Los Angeles Chargers’ nine losses came by 10 points or fewer. They were in another close game on Sunday, but crept away with a 20-16 victory over Washington. If they can win more close games than they lose this season, the Chargers could find themselves back in the playoffs for the first time since 2018.
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The Cowboys had a big test in front of them when they faced the Buccaneers on Thursday, and Jerry Jones’ bunch came up just short. Dallas has missed the past two postseasons, and starting the season off with a loss isn’t a good way to turn around that mini-drought.
Putting the Cleveland Browns in the biggest losers bracket could be considered a bit harsh, but the Browns have altered expectations this season. Considering the talent on their roster, the Browns are expected to compete for a Super Bowl this season. They can’t make it to SoFi Stadium next February if they can’t get through the Kansas City Chiefs. The Browns had an opportunity to win on Sunday against Kansas City, but key mistakes were their ultimate downfall.
Sure, the Patriots were starting a rookie quarterback. Sure, their defense looked good, and they had an opportunity to go 1-0 on Sunday against the Miami Dolphins. But they didn’t, losing to the Dolphins by a lonely digit, 17-16. Without Tom Brady last season, the Patriots produced their first sub-.500 season (7-9) since 2000 and missed the playoffs for the first time since 2008 (Brady was hurt that season). Meanwhile, Brady is a defending Super Bowl champion. Back-to-back losing seasons without Brady wouldn’t look good on Belichick’s resume.
New York Giants
Nobody wants to see good bands breaking up. One Directioners were devastated when Zayn Malik opted to pursue his solo career. Displeasingly, Daft Punk announced their breakup earlier this year after 28 years together. Some bands, however, need to be disassembled as soon as possible — Think Nickelback in their heyday. The Dave Gettleman and Daniel Jones show may need to find a new city to play in. The Giants have won 10 of their last 33 games with Jones at the helm, and Gettleman is the one who fell ‘In full bloom love’ with the third-year quarterback before the 2019 NFL Draft.
Matt Nagy/Chicago Bears
What are we doing? Those are the words echoed daily throughout Chicago as Justin Fields watches Andy Dalton’s quarterbacking from the sideline. With Dalton on the field, the lack of hope is actually palpable. And when Justin Fields trotted onto the field for one of the few plays he saw in the Bears’ 34-14 loss to the Rams on Sunday night, hope flooded every Bears fan’s heart. Matt Nagy may not only be losing credibility with his fan base for some of the decisions he has made, he may also be losing faith in the locker room.
(note: These are players or units from teams that won over the weekend.)
Tom Brady - 379 passing yards, 4 passing touchdowns, 2 interceptions in Tampa Bay’s 31-29 victory over the Dallas Cowboys
Antonio Brown - 5 receptions, 121 receiving yards, 1 touchdown in Tampa Bay’s 31-29 victory over the Dallas Cowboys
Chris Godwin - 9 receptions, 105 receiving yards, 1 touchdown in Tampa Bay’s 31-29 victory over the Dallas Cowboys
Rob Gronkowski - 8 receptions, 90 receiving yards, 2 touchdowns in Tampa Bay’s 31-29 victory over the Dallas Cowboys
Jalen Hurts - 264 passing yards, 3 touchdowns, 0 interceptions; 7 carries, 62 rushing yards in the Philadelphia Eagles’ 32-6 victory over the Atlanta Falcons
Pittsburgh Steelers defense/special teams - 81 total tackles, 3 sacks, 5 tackles for loss, 7 pass deflections, 1 touchdown in their 23-16 victory over the Buffalo Bills
Joe Burrow - 261 passing yards, 2 touchdowns, 0 interceptions in the Cincinnati Bengals’ 27-24 victory over the Minnesota Vikings
Joe Mixon - 29 carries, 127 rushing yards, 1 touchdown; 4 receptions, 23 receiving yards in the Cincinnati Bengals’ 27-24 victory over the Minnesota Vikings
Ja’Marr Chase - 5 receptions, 101 receiving yards, 1 touchdown in the Cincinnati Bengals’ 27-24 victory over the Minnesota Vikings
Jimmy Garoppolo - 314 passing yards, 1 touchdown, 0 interception in the San Francisco 49ers’ 41-33 victory over the Detroit Lions
Elijah Mitchell - 104 rushing yards, 1 touchdown in the San Francisco 49ers’ 41-33 victory over the Detroit Lions
Deebo Samuel - 9 receptions, 189 receiving yards, 1 touchdown in the San Francisco 49ers’ 41-33 victory over the Detroit Lions
Kyler Murray - 289 passing yards, 4 passing touchdowns, 1 interception; 5 carries, 20 rushing yards, 1 touchdown in the Arizona Cardinals’ 38-13 victory over the Tennessee Titans
DeAndre Hopkins - 6 receptions, 83 receiving yards, 2 touchdowns in the Arizona Cardinals’ 38-13 victory over the Tennessee Titans
Christian Kirk - 5 receptions, 70 receiving yards, 2 touchdowns in the Arizona Cardinals’ 38-13 victory over the Tennessee Titans
Chandler Jones - 6 solo tackles, 5 sacks in the Arizona Cardinals’ 38-13 victory over the Tennessee Titans
Russell Wilson - 254 passing yards, 4 passing touchdowns, 0 interceptions in the Seattle Seahawks’ 28-16 victory over the Indianapolis Colts
Tyler Lockett - 4 receptions, 100 receiving yards, 2 touchdowns in the Seattle Seahawks’ 28-16 victory over the Indianapolis Colts
Justin Herbert - 337 passing yards, 1 touchdown, 1 interception in the Los Angeles Chargers’ 20-16 victory over Washington
Keenan Allen - 9 receptions, 100 receiving yards in the Los Angeles Chargers’ 20-16 victory over Washington
Sam Darnold - 279 passing yards, 1 passing touchdown, 0 interceptions; 1 rushing touchdown in the Carolina Panthers’ 19-14 victory over the New York Jets
Christian McCaffrey - 21 carries, 98 rushing yards; 9 receptions, 89 receiving yards in the Carolina Panthers’ 19-14 victory over the New York Jets
Tyrod Taylor - 291 passing yards, 2 touchdowns, 0 interceptions; 4 carries, 40 rushing yards in the Houston Texans’ 37-21 victory over the Jacksonville Jaguars
Mark Ingram - 26 carries, 85 rushing yards, 1 touchdown in the Houston Texans’ 37-21 victory over the Jacksonville Jaguars
Brandin Cooks - 5 receptions, 132 receiving yards in the Houston Texans’ 37-21 victory over the Jacksonville Jaguars
Patrick Mahomes - 337 passing yards, 3 touchdown passes, 0 interceptions; 5 carries, 18 rushing yards, 1 rushing touchdown in Kansas City’s 33-29 victory over the Cleveland Browns
Tyreek Hill - 11 receptions, 197 receiving yards, 1 touchdown in Kansas City’s 33-29 victory over the Cleveland Browns
Travis Kelce - 6 receptions, 76 receiving yards, 2 touchdowns in Kansas City’s 33-29 victory over the Cleveland Browns
Jamies Winston - 148 passing yards, 5 touchdowns, 0 interceptions; 6 carries, 37 rushing yards in the New Orleans Saints’ 38-3 victory over the Green Bay Packers
New Orleans Saints defense - 2 sacks, 2 interceptions, 3 points allowed in the New Orleans Saints’ 38-3 victory over the Green Bay Packers
Teddy Bridgewater - 264 passing yards, 2 touchdowns, 0 interceptions in the Denver Broncos’ 27-13 victory over the New York Giants
Melvin Gordon III - 11 carries, 101 rushing yards, 1 touchdown in the Denver Broncos’ 27-13 victory over the New York Giants
Matthew Stafford - 321 passing yards, 3 touchdowns, 0 interceptions in the Los Angeles Rams’ 34-14 victory over the Chicago Bears
Cooper Kupp - 7 receptions, 108 receiving yards, 1 touchdown in the Los Angeles Rams’ 34-14 victory over the Chicago Bears