Essentials from Sunday: Thin wins in the NFL

Wins on Kickoff Weekend reached epic nail-biting proportions with a record number of one-point victories in the NFL’s first week of play.

The NFL upped the ante in Week 1. Boasting how close so many of their games are these days, four games took it as close as it comes.

Four games in Week 1 (with two Monday night games remaining) were decided by one point. The Denver Broncos opened the season Thursday night with a 21-20 win over the Carolina Panthers. On Sunday afternoon, the Cincinnati Bengals beat the New York Jets 23-22, the Oakland Raiders beat the New Orleans Saints 35-34, and the New York Giants beat the Dallas Cowboys 20-19. Sunday night would have provided another one-point win but for a missed field goal as time expired.

It marked the first time on Kickoff Weekend that four games were decided by one point.

Other points from Sunday …

  • It may have taken injuries to get it done, but this marked the ninth straight season that a rookie quarterback started a Week 1 game. Carson Wentz started and excelled – throwing for 278 yards, two touchdowns, no interceptions and a 101.0 passer rating – for the Philadelphia Eagles, who traded away the expected starter Sam Bradford to the Minnesota Vikings, who were ailing after losing Teddy Bridgewater for the season. In Dallas, rookie Dak Prescott got the start because of a preseason back injury to Tony Romo. Prescott threw for 227 yards, but the Cowboys were the victim of one of the one-point losses. He and Ezekiel Elliott were the first rookie QB-RB tandem to start a season opener for the Cowboys since Roger Staubach and Calvin Hill in 1969.
  • Wentz also became only the fourth rookie quarterback to throw a touchdown pass on his team’s first offensive drive of the season, according to Elias Sport Bureau, joining David Carr, Matt Ryan and Marcus Mariota.
  • It wasn’t a one-point win, but the Kansas City Chiefs overcame a 21-point deficit in a 33-27 overtime win over the San Diego Chargers to extend their regular-season winning streak to 11 games.
  • Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Jameis Winston was a rookie starter last year, but he became the fourth-youngest quarterback (22 years, 249 days) to throw at least four touchdowns passes on Kickoff Weekend. He did it in a 31-24 win over Atlanta. The only three players to accomplish the feat at a younger age are Pro Football Hall of Famer Fran Tarkenton (21 years, 226 days) in 1961, Marcus Mariota (21 years, 318 days) in 2015 and Drew Bledsoe (22 years, 203 days) in 1994.
  • In Oakland’s one-point win, the Raiders used a two-point conversion pass from Derek Carr to Michael Crabtree with 47 seconds left for the winning points at New Orleans. The Raiders are the fourth team to score the game-winning points on a two-point conversion in the final minute of the fourth quarter and the first to do so in a season opener. The other three teams to accomplish the feat are the 2002 Minnesota Vikings (Dec. 15, 2002), 2005 Tampa Bay Buccaneers (Nov. 13, 2005) and 2008 Denver Broncos (Sept. 14, 2008).
  • Also in that Raiders victory, RB Jalen Richard became only the fourth player in NFL history with a touchdown run of 75 yards or more in his NFL debut, scoring a 75-yard touchdown on his first career carry.
  • In that Saints loss, Drew Brees continued to pile up the 400-yard passing games. He threw for 423 yards, the 14th time in his career he has surpassed 400 yards, tying Peyton Manning for the most in NFL history.
  • He was also the fifth quarterback to throw a touchdown pass of 98 yards or more on opening weekend, joining George Izo (99 yards on Sept. 15, 1963), Sonny Jurgensen (99 yards on Sept. 15, 1968), Tom Brady (99 yards on Sept. 12, 2011) and Earl Morrall (98 yards on Sept. 11, 1966).
  • Indianapolis QB Andrew Luck became the second-fastest quarterback to 15,000 career passing yards. After throwing for 385 yards in a 39-35 loss to the Lions, Luck has 15,223 career passing yards and reached 15,000 passing yards in his 56th career game. Only Matthew Stafford accomplished the feat faster, in 53 games. Marc Bulger, Dan Marino and Kurt Warner also reached 15,000 in 56 games. 


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