- Tory Barron is a Bristol-based writer and editor for ESPN.com. After retiring from playing lacrosse at UConn, the DC native decided to try her hand at writing about people playing sports.
So how ’bout that NFL Sunday? If you woke up cursing your fantasy football roster decisions while simultaneously longing for it to be 1 p.m. ET next Sunday so you can slip back into a blissful existence of buffalo wings and first downs, you’re not alone.
You’re also not alone if you find yourself longing to relive the action, or realizing you were so consumed with Patrick Mahomes’ wizardry and Aaron Rodgers scoring zero points that you missed what went down after Mac Jones’ first touchdown, when a pipe broke above Washington Football Team fans, when Jameis Winston balled out or when the Carolina Panthers made all other graphics look tame.
If it’s not obvious by now, we really just want an excuse to talk about football some more — so enough with the niceties, here’s everything you might have missed:
The Panthers aren’t playing …
While it would be understandable to assume we’re referring to the Panthers’ performance in Sam Darnold’s revenge game — er, Darnold’s debut against his former team — we’re instead talking about the quality of their new pregame graphics. Carolina debuted a “mixed-reality panther” ahead of the team’s 19-14 win over New York and it was, well, terrifying.
Who dat quarterback?
If you had told us a QB was going to throw five touchdowns in the Green Bay Packers-New Orleans Saints game, we would have believed you. We just would have thought it would be reigning MVP Aaron Rodgers. But Sunday was all about Jameis Winston.
The Saints’ newly minted QB1 made light work of the Packers, completing 14 of 20 passes for five TDs and 148 yards, running for 39 yards — and, most importantly, committing zero turnovers. After watching his successor launch one deep, Drew Brees couldn’t help but engage in a little lighthearted self-deprecation.
Curse of the QB …
While we’re on the subject of unanticipated QB play (if you started Aaron Rodgers on your fantasy team — we’re sorry), Trevor Lawrence threw three interceptions in the Jacksonville Jaguars’ 37-21 loss to the Houston Texans. Sunday’s game marked the former Clemson standout’s first regular-season loss ever, including high school and college. It also signified the continuation of an unfavorable trend dating to 2002. Dare we say, Sundays are different than Saturdays (and getting drafted to a struggling franchise is tough).
LeBron is every Browns fan …
Browns gonna Browns. In the context of this article, that means they’re going to find a way to lose their season opener. On Sunday, the Cleveland Browns continued their winless season-opener streak dating to 2004. The Browns took it to the defending AFC champion Kansas City Chiefs for three quarters. Then in the fourth, they had a meltdown. Cleveland, Ohio, native LeBron James live-tweeted throughout the 33-29 loss to the Chiefs, and his journey from excitement and anticipation to pain was all too relatable for the Dawg Pound.
Mac Jones plays keep-away …
It was a big day for former Alabama QB Mac Jones. Not only did the New England Patriots rookie make his first official NFL start, but he threw his first NFL touchdown. You might assume he would want to commemorate the occasion by keeping the ball, but you would be wrong. Jones’ teammates tried — without success — to give their QB the ball, but he wasn’t having it. After the Patriots’ 17-16 loss to Tua Tagovailoa (Jones’ Bama teammate) and the Miami Dolphins, New England’s new QB elaborated on his refusal to accept the ball.
Kinda, sorta seems like he’s going to fit in OK with The Patriot Way.
Bears fans want more Fields …
Chicago Bears fans have a problem, and the only solution is more Justin Fields. The Bears faithful — who booed Andy Dalton when he took the field in Chicago’s 34-14 loss to the Los Angeles Rams — were visibly (and audibly) elated when the rookie QB took his first snap. But that was nothing compared to their excitement when Fields scored his first touchdown. While it would be unfair to think one player could change the fate of a team whose defense looked almost as bleak as its offense, the heart wants what it wants.
Southern hospitality for the win …
The hurricane-displaced Saints played their Week 1 game against the Packers in northeast Florida. The game, originally scheduled for the Superdome, was moved while the New Orleans area continues to clean up wreckage left by Hurricane Ida, which struck southeast Louisiana as a Category 4 storm on Aug. 29, 16 years to the day after Hurricane Katrina devastated the same region. The relocation led to this Twitter exchange with the Jags that we’ll file under “feel good moments” of the day:
Cali swag Stafford …
Shield your eyes, Detroit Lions fans. Matthew Stafford balled out in his Rams debut. He started with a bang when he let a 67-yard touchdown pass fly to receiver Van Jefferson on the opening drive, then flexed with a 56-yard touchdown dime to Cooper Kupp on the opening drive of the second half. Former Lions WR Golden Tate, who knows a thing or two about playing with the Rams new QB, had this to say:
The rest of the internet pretty much echoed the sentiment.
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