Here's what we've learned from the first Sunday of the 2018 NFL season:
- A sideline, a stadium and a league held its collective breath for an hour on Sunday night -- and then screamed at the high heavens. When a pile of Bears fell onto Aaron Rodgers' leg early in the second quarter, Green Bay's season looked over before it had really started. The $134 million man was carted to the locker room with his head in his hands, only to emerge, miraculously, on the sidelines in the second half aiming to give it a go. Rodgers' injury, his exit and the eventual 20-point comeback to come were high drama in prime time.
The fact that Rodgers defied the football reaper and returned after that injury would have been heroic enough. But to flick a parabolic 39-yard touchdown on one leg (!) to Geronimo Allison; to lead another touchdown drive and find Davante Adams for a second score; and to bounce back from a near game-ending interception to bide his time in the pocket and find Randall Cobb for a game-winning 75-yard catch-and score is the work of an immortal football legend.
Rodgers' 20-point comeback is the largest of his career and one of the most defining performances in a career full of them. That it came on Sunday Night Football was one thing. That it came against a Bears team ready to seize control of the NFC North is another. That it happened at all is beyond belief.
- The John Fox-era Bears are of a distant memory. In his first game as Bears coach, Matt Nagy unleashed a diverse offensive attack, piloted carefully by second-year quarterback Mitchell Trubisky. Utilizing a bevy of new weapons, Trubisky looked sharp and confident throwing downfield. New Bears targets Allen Robinson, Taylor Gabriel, Trey Burton and Anthony Miller lined up all over the field, creating mismatches in Green Bay's "green" secondary. To boot, running backs Jordan Howard and Tarik Cohen stacked the stat sheet as well.
But the most impressive part of Trubisky's game on Sunday night was his decision making down the stretch and his ability and willingness to escape the pocket. Trubisky was often most productive and effective on the move; he completed a key fourth-quarter, third-down conversion (4Q3DC) after evading the rush and rolling right. The second-year stud also finished with 32 rushing yards and a score on the ground, some of them from designed runs, as with another 4Q3DC, and some from impromptu scampers.
His on-field confidence buoyed by an out-of-the-box coordinator as head coach, Trubisky proved he is just the right amount of risky for this Bears offense to succeed. (Just not with a lead in the fourth quarter!)
- Boy, did Khalil Mack make Jon Gruden look like a fool on Sunday night. Just one week after Chicago acquired Mack in a trade with the Raiders, the newly inked, highly paid Bears defensive end showed why he was worth every shekel of his $141 million extension. Mack entered on the fourth play of the game and dominated it from his snap. He strip-sacked Kizer on a third-and-goal and recovered the fumble, helping quash a scoring opportunity. Then one drive later, Mack pick-sixed Kizer in Green Bay territory. It's not a exaggeration to say that Mack made history in the first half of what is now destined to be a glorious career in Chicago:
-- Jeremy Bergman
- Buccaneers quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick more than proved a capable fill as a starter while Jameis Winston serves a three-game suspension to start the season. And this isn't a big surprise when considering Fitzpatrick went 2-1 as a starter for the Buccaneers in 2017. Against a Saints pass defense that finished the 2017 season ranked 15th against the pass, Fitzpatrick carved up the secondary by completing 21 of 28 passes for 417 yards and four touchdowns. The veteran signal-caller showed mobility, rushing for 37 yards and a touchdown on eight carries. Fitzpatrick certainly didn't shy away from throwing at Saints second-year cornerback Marshon Lattimore, last year's NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year. Lattimore mostly locked up against Buccaneers wide receiver Mike Evans, whom Fitzpatrick connected with seven times for 147 yards and a touchdown on seven targets. Fitzpatrick also gave Saints cornerback Ken Crawley the treatment by connecting with DeSean Jackson five times for 146 yards and two touchdowns on five targets. The Buccaneers play the Philadelphia Eagles and Pittsburgh Steelers in two straight weeks before Winston is eligible to return, but the team is in good hands with Fitzpatrick under center to guide the offense.
- The Saints passing game fired away with quarterback Drew Brees, who completed 37 of 45 passes for 439 yards and three touchdowns. Brees' favorite targets were wide receiver Michael Thomas, who totaled 16 catches for 180 yards and a touchdown, and running back Alvin Kamara, who totaled nine catches for 112 yards and a touchdown. Still, the Saints' hole in the backfield came through Sunday with Mark Ingram serving a four-game suspension. Kamara gained 29 yards and two touchdowns on eight carries, but as a team, the Saints produced 475 yards. Backup Mike Gillislee, who signed last week, gained 9 yards on three carries, but lost a fumble, which the Buccaneers returned for a touchdown. Gillislee barely saw the field after his costly turnover.
- For a team with Super Bowl aspirations, the Saints defense produced a major stinker at home. The pass defense struggled to contain the Buccaneers' primary receiving options and allowed two 100-yard receivers, but arguably the biggest concern surrounded an inability to generate consistent pressure. The Saints recorded no sacks and the Buccaneers offensive line made All-Pro defensive end Cameron Jordan disappear. Jordan didn't have any help with the pass rushing on the other side, as Alex Okafor and rookie Marcus Davenport weren't factors. With no pressure, Fitzpatrick produced a Pro Bowl-like performance and the Buccaneers churned out 529 yards. That said, the Saints started slow last year on defense, so don't push any panic buttons just yet.
-- Herbie Teope
- The Browns spent the majority of this game wasting their five takeaways, getting zero points out of three first-half interceptions. But with a little under eight minutes to play and the game seemingly out of reach, Myles Garrett forced a James Conner fumble, Jabrill Peppers returned it to Pittsburgh's 1 and Cleveland scored on the ensuing play. Another turnover resulted in a three-and-out, though, but the heroics were far from finished. A fifth -- and Garrett's second forced fumble -- gave Cleveland the ball and though they went three and out, the Browns again found paydirt not long after.
The point from this remains: Cleveland wasted its first three takeaways. It ended up costing the Browns when they needed a furious rally (and spent the last of their energy doing so) just to send the game to overtime. It was fitting that a sixth takeaway also didn't produce points, but a tie.
- Denzel Ward was excellent in his first game as a pro. The corner with oily hips and a penchant for residing in an opponent's hip pocket did just that for the majority of Sunday's contest. Ward twice intercepted Ben Roethlisberger, with his first coming via an incredibly athletic play deep in Cleveland territory. His second was a case of right place, right time, but wasn't the last highlight he'd make. Ward was a blanket in coverage, even on the play that resulted in Antonio Brown's first touchdown of the season. The Browns should be very excited about Ward, and emerging star Myles Garrett (two sacks).
- This was a sloppy affair but an encouraging one for Pittsburgh's pass rush, which frequently got to Tyrod Taylor. Cleveland starting an undrafted free agent at left tackle obviously helped a little, but Bud Dupree, Cam Heyward and most importantly, T.J. Watt (four sacks) were all over Taylor and visibly hampered Cleveland's offense all afternoon. The many offensive mistakes aside, Pittsburgh's defense looked promising.
-- Nick Shook
- In his first game back from the knee injury that ended his rookie season, Deshaun Watson played, well, like a rookie. But not the Rookie of the Year he was shaping up to be in 2017. Watson was nervous-looking in the pocket and inefficient in the face of New England's improved front seven, completing less than 50 percent of his passes for 176 yards for a TD and an INT. Watson attempted off-balance prayers that last year would have landed in the arms of DeAndre Hopkins, but on this day fell into the waiting arms of Patriots defensive backs or sideline observers. Part of Watson's struggles can be pinned on his already thin offensive line, which saw starting right tackle Seantrel Henderson exit early with a broken bone in his ankle. A minor regression from the uber-hyped sophomore is to be expected, especially considering his injury history, but Watson won't be able to build upon last year's hot start if injuries, like Henderson's and Will Fuller's, mount early in the season
- With Julian Edelman suspended and only four receivers on its active roster, New England needed to find production from some unusual suspects. Among the wideouts on Sunday, Phillip Dorsett fit the bill, tallying seven receptions for 66 yards and a touchdown, while Rex Burkhead (18 car, 64 yards) carried the load at tailback. James White contributed mostly in the pass game (4 rec, 38 yds, TD), while Jeremy Hill was a weapon in the backfield (4 car, 25 yards) and on special teams (he blocked a punt!) until he left with a nasty knee injury. Bottom line: The Pats are all right.
- The Patriots played a fantastic game in the trenches on both sides of the ball. Right tackle Marcus Cannon stood out especially, in handling J.J. Watt for most of the game; Jadeveon Clowney was on a milk carton. Brady had all the time in the world and more on multiple occasions. The same could not be said for Watson, who was hurried often by the Patriots' front seven. New England hit the second-year QB 12 times. Deatrich Wise and Trey Flowers each tallied 1.5 sacks, and new acquisition Adrian Clayborn was all over the defensive line.
-- Jeremy Bergman
- The biggest mismatch of the week -- outside of Nathan Peterman vs. a regular-season start -- was the Giants offensive line against Jacksonville's front seven. More specifically: Ereck Flowers vs. Calais Campbell and Yannick Ngakoue. New York moved Flowers over from left tackle to right tackle when it acquired Nate Solder, but the embattled offensive lineman continues to struggle against overpowering pass rushers. The result? Eli Manning was under duress all day from the right side of his offensive line, forcing him into quick, rash decisions like his tipped pick-six, which was more than the difference on Sunday. New York has the talent on the outside to contend with any secondary, including Jacksonville's, but its interior play remains poor enough to potentially keep the Giants out of postseason contention.
- Young running back news! Saquon Barkley started slow in his first regular-season game, but pulled New York back into this one, albeit briefly, with a highlight-reel 68-yard touchdown run. Barkley displayed on that run everything that made him worthy of a second-overall pick -- lateral agility, uncanny balance, breakaway speed; the works. But aside from that breakout run, the rookie averaged just 2.24 yards per carry, the result of the aforementioned overwhelmed Giants offensive line.
Jacksonville took a huge hit in the first half when Leonard Fournetteexited with a hamstring injury. Losing Fournette, the Jaguars' lone true weapon on that side of the ball, for any extended period of time would be a big blow. The tailback had nearly half of Jacksonville's offensive touches (12 for 55 yards) at the time of his departure. T.J. Yeldon was a fine fill-in (14 car, 51 yards), but it remains to be seen whether he can be the bellcow back in Duval.
- In the marquee matchup of the week -- Odell Beckham vs. Jalen Ramsey -- the stat sheet would tell you OBJ won. Beckham, in his first regular-season game since that season-ending ankle injury last year, recorded 11 receptions for 111 yards, his most productive day since Week 16 of 2016. But Beckham wasn't always covered by Ramsey and often lined up against A.J. Bouye. Aside from a few pass interference penalties on Ramsey, there were no extracurriculars or Norman-esque fireworks. Move along.
-- Jeremy Bergman
- With Andrew Luck leading a potential winning drive deep into Bengals territory, tight end Jack Doyle coughed up a fumble that was returned by safety Clayton Fejedelem for an 83-yard touchdown to seal the victory. It was apropos for Fejedelem to make the play. The safety was in the game because Bengals starting safety and defensive captain Shawn Williamswas ejected in the first quarter for a helmet-to-helmet hit to Andrew Luck. Coaches constantly talk about how every man on the roster plays a role. Fejedelem's heroics will put a stamp on that point in Week 1.
- Andrew Luck's return after missing an entire season got off to an ominous start. The Colts QB threw an interception on his first pass, a ball forced into coverage. Luck shook off the bad start, masterfully dicing up the Bengals secondary with a bevy of quick strikes. After picking apart Cincy's defense underneath, Luck finally unleashed a deep shot to tight end Eric Ebron for a 26-yard TD. He followed up his interception by completing 10 of his next 12 passes for 99 yards and a touchdown. Luck looked like his pre-injury self, deftly moving in the pocket to avoid several potential sacks versus a good Bengals defensive front. The QB displayed pinpoint accuracy throughout the day, hitting nine different targets. He finished with 39-of-53 passing for 319 yards two touchdowns and the INT. Luck throwing 53 times in his first game in more than a year tells you the Colts have no concerns about the QB's arm. It also speaks to the state of Indy's run game. While he wasn't able to finish off the game-winning drive, Luck's start is promising for the Colts. He's back.
- It took more than two and a half quarters for the Bengals offense to wake up. Then Joe Mixon, A.J. Green and Andy Dalton burst out, scoring on each of their final three possessions to erase a 13-point second-half deficit. Mixon displayed his game-breaking, dual-threat ability, dashing for 95 rushing yards and 54 adding receiving yards. The jitterbug running back is a matchup nightmare for linebackers in space. When the Bengals committed to handing the ball off to Mixon, the offense awoke. Dalton's day started out slow, and he was battered often behind an offensive line still gelling. Dalton looked gun-shy early, hesitant to stretch the field. He finally got over the hump on a beautiful deep strike to Green for a TD late in the third quarter. When Mixon, Green, John Ross and Tyler Eifert are clicking, Dalton's production elevates. Fortunately for Cincy, the sleepy road start didn't cost the Bengals a win.
-- Kevin Patra
- The Vikes like that. Kirk Cousins' debut in a Minnesota Vikings jersey started off swimmingly. The quarterback dropped a series of dimes early, none prettier than his 22-yard touchdown strike to Stefon Diggs in the second quarter. Cousins started out well, completing 20 of his first 28 passes for 244 yards, two TDs and a 121.7 QB rating. The QB cooled off, however, missing his final eight passes of the day as the Vikings clung to the lead. Adam Thielen was by far Cousins' favorite target, earning 12 targets. Thielen finished with 102 yards on six receptions. Playing behind an offensive line still battling issues, Cousins managed a constantly collapsing pocket -- 49ers defensive lineman DeForest Buckner was a game-wrecker with 2.5 sacks. Some of Cousins' best strikes came after he escaped the pocket. It wasn't the prettiest ending for Cousins after the hot start, but it's a promising beginning for the big-money QB. The Vikes offense has the potential to be even better moving forward as connections continue to grow.
- One way Minnesota's offense can improve is getting more from the ground game. Dalvin Cook returned from season-ending injury in 2017. The running back looked better as a pass-catcher Sunday. Cook was the Vikings' second-leading receiver, earning 55 yards on six receptions. He struggled to find space on the ground, generating 40 yards on 16 carries, a 2.5 per carry average. His longest run of the day was a 15-yard burst in which he blasted through several arm tackles. Unfortunately, after breaking free, Cook had the ball popped out from behind for a fumble. The play displayed Cook's game-breaking potential, but underscored he still has steps to make in his return to full-time duty. Latavius Murray handled the late touches as the Vikings salted away the clock. Murray could siphon off more of Cook's snaps if the second-year back struggles with inefficacy on the ground.
- Jimmy Garoppolo finally lost a game as a starter. The Vikings' game-wrecking defense made Garoppolo pay for some mistakes, forcing three interceptions of the highly paid quarterback. Jimmy G completed just 45.5 percent of his passes, 15 of 33 attempts, for 261 yards and one TD. Garoppolo's worst game in a Niners jersey came against one of the best defenses in the NFL and behind a makeshift offensive line that saw two guards lost to injury. Rookie Mike McGlinchey moved from RT to RG, with Garry Gilliam sliding in at RT. Too often, Jimmy G threw off his back foot and into coverage. There were moments of brilliance. Garoppolo's TD toss was otherworldly. The QB spun out of a sack, slid to his left and heaved an all-arm pass to Dante Pettis in the back of the end zone. Garoppolo's targets also struggled with drops. Pierre Garcon and Dante Pettis each dropped would-be touchdowns, and tight end George Kittle flubbed a potentially huge gain. The 49ers offense still faltered in the red zone, extending last season's struggles. Despite the problems, the Niners still had a chance to tie the game late. Garoppolo's third interception, however, thwarted the threat.
-- Kevin Patra
- Joe Flacco certainly doesn't look like he needs an in-house QB competitor to push him to new heights in quarterbacking. The veteran excelled in the tricky, rainy conditions he faced against the Bills, dominating for two-plus quarters before coach John Harbaugh let him watch the rest of the game from the sideline. Flacco completed 25 of 34 passes for 236 yards and three touchdowns before letting Lamar Jackson take his first regular-season snaps as an NFL quarterback. Sure, the Bills defense isn't the toughest test Flacco will likely face, but all the talk of Flacco looking rejuvenated in training camp was certainly backed up by his solid performance. Jackson put in a decent performance with the game already decided.
- Perhaps the Bills should make an offer for Le'Veon Bell the Steelers can't refuse. Kidding aside, the preseason didn't foreshadow the immense struggles Buffalo encountered on offense Sunday. Second-year quarterback Nathan Peterman had a miserable afternoon, finishing the game with 5 of 18 passing for 24 yards and two interceptions before getting pulled in favor of Josh Allen in the third quarter. The line in front of him hardly did him any favors and the running game only complemented the misery of the passing game. Allen performed slightly better than Peterman in his limited playing time against the Ravens' reserves, completing 6 of 15 passes for 74 yards. Bills coach Sean McDermott has the unenviable task of figuring out who should start in Week 2. With Peterman failing to finish a game in three career starts, Allen probably did enough to get that honor.
- Baltimore's defense showed no mercy. The front seven constantly pressured Peterman and Allen and snuffed out the running game. The Ravens recorded six sacks with Terrell Suggs, Za'Darius Smith and Tim Williams doing the bulk of the damage. The Bills really never found any rhythm on offense thanks to their efforts, which earned them an early exit from the game. The AFC North should be wary of what Baltimore can do on defense.
-- Austin Knoblauch
- The Chiefs' offense is a machine, and a fun one. Kansas City utilized its diverse receiving corps to the fullest Sunday, completing passes at every level of the field to Tyreek Hill (deep), Sammy Watkins (short and intermediate), Travis Kelce (in the spaces between -- Dave Matthews Band reference unintended) and most surprisingly, fullback Anthony Sherman, who caught a touchdown on a wheel route out of the backfield. Patrick Mahomes was stellar, dropping dimes on his receivers for much of the afternoon. Three throws really jumped out: the perfectly placed toss to Sherman in single coverage, a bullet to Sammy Watkins on a hard slant in the red zone and an incomplete pass to De'Anthony Thomas fired while rolling right from near midfield. It was an unsuccessful attempt, but another brow-raising rocket from the quarterback.
- The positives for the Chargers: Mike Williams and Keenan Allen are going to cause headaches for opposing defenses. The two combined for 13 receptions, 189 yards and a touchdown (Allen's) in the loss, which can be partially explained by the fact the Chargers were playing from behind for the entire second half. But it's also indicative of the multi-headed attack the Chargers can trot out in its receiving corps, which is a big reason why they landed as a favorite in a lot of preseason picks. Williams' play -- smooth, consistent -- was especially encouraging considering the Chargers didn't get to see much of him in his rookie campaign. Los Angeles couldn't do enough to keep the Chiefs out of the end zone (including fumbling a punt return deep in its own territory), but will have the weapons to score moving forward.
- More on Mahomes: He looked day-and-night different from this point last season, and even from Week 17 of 2017. The second-year passer was calm, collected and most importantly, cool as a veteran with many more years under his belt. Andy Reid schemed an offense that had Los Angeles on its heels all afternoon, peppering downfield shots with misdirection perimeter plays. His red zone playcalling felt like a revelation four days after witnessing Steve Sarkisian's abomination in Philadelphia. The Chiefs' offense has no limitations thanks to the arm, legs, and for the first time, composure of Mahomes, who looks every bit of the budding star he was billed as during the offseason.
-- Nick Shook
- The Panthers' defense looked championship-caliber demolishing the Dallas Cowboys early in the season opener. Carolina did not allow the Cowboys to cross midfield in the first half. With one of the best fronts in the NFL, Carolina controlled the line of scrimmage, obliterating the Cowboys' injured offensive line repeatedly. The Panthers bottled up running back Ezekiel Elliott most of the game and harassed quarterback Dak Prescott. Shaq Thompson, replacing suspended Thomas Davis, flashed in what could be a breakout season. Thompson earned a blasting sack of Prescott and terrorized the QB repeatedly. Thompson's ability to rush the passer, cover in space, and plug holes pairs perfectly with sideline-to-sideline tackling machine Luke Kuechly. Carolina appears to have dodged one injury bullet on defense. Kuechly went down late in the fourth quarter on what looked like a bad knee injury. The linebacker, however, told NFL Network's Tiffany Blackmon after the game that he is alright and just got his leg caught up.
- Cowboys fans entering the season worried about the offense sans Dez Bryant and Jason Witten were likely pulling their hair out in the first half. Elliott was held to 2.5 yards per carry on seven totes through two quarters. Self-inflicted wounds constantly put the Cowboys in negative situations, including several holding calls. Rookie guard Connor Williams was pushed back into Prescott's lap multiple times, and the o-line sorely missed Travis Frederick. Fittingly, the game ended when Mario Addison destroyed his blocker and pulled down Prescott for a sack fumble. With Zeke slowed for all but a few drives (69 yards on 15 attempts, one TD), the lack of playmaking receivers stymied the Cowboys. Prescott had few open targets, when he had time to throw, and missed too many passes when receivers were available. The QB was off-target all game, tossing balls in the dirt, short-arming throws, and never got into a rhythm. Get ready for another week of consternation in Dallas.
- Against a solid Cowboys defense, Cam Newton didn't light up the stat sheet but controlled the contest. Norv Turner's first game as play-caller proved that he wouldn't force Newton to be a pocket passer. The QB led the Panthers in rushing, with 13 attempts for 58 yards and one rushing TD. Newton's read-option in the red zone is the biggest mismatch in football. Sunday's tilt felt like it could have been a blowout early if not for a Christian McCaffrey fumble at the 5-yard-line on Carolina's opening drive. With Greg Olsen going out early due to a foot injury, Newton leaned on McCaffrey and receiver Devin Funchess in the passing game. The latter came on strong in the second half collecting several pivotal completions to move the ball. Sunday's victory, however, came with more issues to the offensive line. Tackle Daryl Williams was carted from the game with another injury. Depending on the severity of the injuries to Olsen and Williams, Sunday's win could have been a pyrrhic victory for Carolina.
-- Kevin Patra
- The Broncos prevailed by the skin of their teeth in a back-and-forth battle with their former Super Bowl opponents from Seattle, thanks to the heroics -- and despite the blunders -- from new quarterback Case Keenum. Denver trusted Keenum early and often to dish it out to his new weapons, of which there are many, but the former Vikings quarterback was careless with the ball and threw three picks against Seattle's stripped-down secondary. That's the trade-off though with Keenum, an underdog with a gunslinger's mentality. The journeyman resembled a franchise fixture connecting with Emmanuel Sanders (10 rec, 135 yds, TD) for big gains and with Demaryius Thomas (6 rec, 63 yds, TD) for a controversial, game-winning score.
Of course, Keenum also benefited from a balanced, all-Pac 12, two-headed, rookie rushing attack in Royce Freeman and Phillip Lindsay. When Keenum lost control of the game, Freeman and Lindsay, both of whom rushed for 71 yards on 15 carries, were stabling presences. Denver's young offense is locked, loaded and primed for production, but only if Keenum stays with in himself and avoids the unforced errors he committed on Sunday.
- Russell Wilson rolled into Denver surrounded by a nearly all-new supporting cast. When Doug Baldwin exited with a knee injury, that case was even more so. But Wilson quickly struck up a rapport with unexpected targets. He connected with rookie tight end Will Dissly for a 66-yard scoring strike and locked in on aging journeyman Brandon Marshall (3 rec, 46 yds, TD) as the game wore on. Seattle's young running backs, Chris Carson and Rashaad Penny, split carries, though Carson (51 yards) was far more effective than the rookie Penny (8 yards). Unfortunately for Wilson, his offensive line played more or less the same as in years past, even without the departed Tom Cable coaching them up. The quarterback was sacked six times Sunday, an all-too-familiar sight for Seattle natives. What is old is new again.
- Denver's secondary sans Aqib Talib might not be the same as it once was, but as long as Von Miller is rushing the passer, it's no matter. The All-Pro linebacker was at his best Sunday, recording three sacks, two forced fumbles and a fumble recovery. Well, less a fumble recovery than a robbery. In the process, he passed Willie McGinest for 50th on the all-time sacks list (86.5). We didn't see much of his new pass-rushing partner, rookie Bradley Chubb, who tallied a half-sack, but his time's coming.
-- Jeremy Bergman
- There's still gas left in Adrian Peterson's tank. Maybe a lot. The future Hall of Famer had a sparkling debut with the Redskins, his third team in 12 months, running for 96 yards on 26 carries and a touchdown. He also had a team-high 70 receiving yards on a pair of receptions. The score gave him 100 rushing TDs for his career, breaking a tie with Barry Sanders and moving him into seventh all-time. He also surpassed Jim Brown and Marshall Faulk in rushing yards and now sits 10th all-time in rushing. Just a Hall of Famer passing up other Hall of Famers.
- The Cardinals have a new coach but the same busted offense. While Steve Wilks' defense performed honorably, his offensive crew had three three-and-outs, two turnovers and didn't convert a third down until its final possession of the game (1 for 8). Arizona had just 213 yards of total offense. Sam Bradford underwhelmed in his Cardinals' debut, completing 20 of 34 passes for 153 yards and an interception. All-purpose extraordinaire David Johnson, in his first action after suffering a broken wrist in last year's season opener, scored the team's lone touchdown but collected a mere 67 total yards and only 37 on the ground. Has the ink even dried on his new three-year extension?
- New team, same Alex Smith. The consummate game manager tossed a couple touchdowns and completed 70 percent of his passes (21 of 30) for 255 yards, guiding the Redskins to 30 first downs and a 16-minute advantage in time of possession. Twelve of his completions went to backs Chris Thompson and Peterson and tight end Jordan Reed. Add it all up and coach Jay Gruden has the first Week 1 victory of his career, and the Redskins' first since 2012 when they won the NFC East. Smith has won four consecutive season openers. Coincidence?
-- Adam Maya
- This was the Halley's Comet of regular season NFL football.
Two weather delays -- including one that took place while a local writer tweeted a photo of sunshine at the stadium -- made this game, which kicked off at 1 p.m. local time, end after 8 p.m. It outlasted the late afternoon games and, to its credit, was entertaining throughout. But there were weird elements: the uncertainty of delays, extended delays and delays with indefinite endings; Halftime was essentially a TV timeout, because the first delay came with 1:11 left in the second quarter; An impatient child ran on the field and was chased off by security because of lightning danger; And finally, the camera personnel didn't have time to get to their stations throughout the stadium after the second delay, so we spent about 10 minutes of real time watching football from odd angles, including an extremely zoomed-out shot of a pass attempt in the end zone. All in all, we won't forget how 2018 started for Miami and Tennessee.
- As these games often go, both teams played even statistically, and a couple of plays made the difference. Jakeem Grant earned a roster spot as a 2016 sixth-round pick because of his big play ability, and his presence again paid off Sunday when he took a kickoff 102 yards for a touchdown. Darius Jennings countered with his own kick return touchdown, which followed a 75-yard touchdown completion from Ryan Tannehill to Kenny Stills. Big plays reigned supreme and were almost matched blow for blow -- Kenny Vaccaro intercepted Tannehill, and then Reshad Jones responded by intercepting Blaine Gabbert -- and eventually turned the tide in favor of the Dolphins.
- Speaking of Stills, a year after being forced to struggle through the Jay Cutler Experience, it must feel like a massive relief for Dolphins fans to see Tannehill back on the field. He and Stills hooked up four times for 106 yards and two touchdowns and look like they haven't missed a step since they last took the field together in 2016.
Related: Another example of how weird of an afternoon it was in Miami is the fact the Dolphins' rushing attack was almost completely lost on me as I wrote this. Miami ran the ball with ease in the first half, with 89 yards on 11 carries between Frank Gore and Kenyan Drake when the first delay arrived. They finished with 109 yards on 23 carries. Math says that's 20 yards on the next 12 carries, so it's understandable why Adam Gase would go away from the run, but here's hoping he doesn't in the long game, because Gore and Drake look like a formidable combination of youth and experience in the backfield.
-- Nick Shook