A tidy attain within the Superdome, and a assured hang within the Coliseum. The season-opening “Monday Night Soccer” doubleheader had all of it.
Let’s commence in New Orleans, the put a abet-and-forth fourth quarter that featured three lead adjustments and three scores within the game’s closing minute executed on the leg of Saints kicker Wil Lutz, who knocked in a sport-a success fifty eight-yard field design with zeroes on the clock.
1. Result apart, this change into Deshaun Watson‘s sport. The Texans quarterback change into battered and bruised by a ferocious Saints defensive entrance (extra on that later), entering the scientific tent twice within the indispensable half of with an obvious abet damage and receiving treatment from a Texans staffer at some stage within the 2d half of. Despite the hits he took, Watson grew extra poised because the game wore on. His reference to DeAndre Hopkins change into in midseason fabricate (eight rec, 111 yards, 2 TDs), most notably on Houston’s final-ditch pressure.
“We knew we weren’t out of the game,” Hopkins mentioned later of Houston’s gradual six-point deficit. “We knew it change into profitable about a performs, especially with a quarterback love Deshaun.”
The QB with 5 fourth-quarter comebacks to his establish final season, Watson “drove” the Texans seventy five yards in only two performs and thirteen seconds to pick the lead with below a minute to head. Houston had no longer scored since early within the 1/three quarter, but with time working out, Watson uncorked his two most productive balls of the night time to pull the Texans ahead — a 38-yard strike to Hopkins on the sideline and a image-profitable deep procure to Kenny Stills, whom Houston obtained in a exchange profitable days ago. All this with an unsettled abet and an unsettled line. If no longer for the comeback king on the opposite sideline, Watson would had been hailed as Monday night time’s hero. Hell, he calm is.
2. The Saints hang marching on, doing the identical issues that took them within a no-call of the Trim Bowl. Alvin Kamara, playing his first sport without Brand Ingram in New Orleans, change into as slippery as ever, racking up 169 total yards on 20 touches. His original backfield mate, Latavius Murray, change into frail sparingly. Despite the presence of tight stay Jared Cook, Michael Thomas change into Drew Brees‘ top design once extra (10 rec, 123 yards). Brees, Forty years young, posted the 116th 300-yard passing sport of his profession, launching profitable six of his forty three makes an try greater than 15 yards by the air. The Saints signal-caller saved his most productive for final, marching New Orleans into field-design vary in three pass performs with 37 seconds on the clock and most piquant one timeout at his disposal. None of the performs went out of bounds, but because of the 2 spikes and a timeout with two seconds left, Wil Lutz change into afforded the exchange to knock in his profession-lengthy sport-winner. It change into the game-sealing pressure below stress that one expects from a future first-ballotHall of Famer in Brees, and a attach that this year in New Orleans would possibly per chance well well moreover assorted than the final. This time, Brees and the Saints executed.
three. Houston invested heavily in conserving Watson when it sent first-spherical picks (plural) to Miami for a franchise left variety out in Laremy Tunsil (and Stills). Did the investment repay in his first week on the job? Is dependent. Tunsil change into as marketed on Watson’s blind facet, but he couldn’t patch wounds alongside an offensive line without its starting left guard and playing for the very first time in a sport, preseason or regular season. Watson change into below wrathful stress all night time, in general from up the center, and took six sacks and Eleven QB hits, escaping noteworthy extra because of the his preternatural elusiveness. Houston led the league in sacks allowed final season with sixty two. One sport into 2019, the Texans are successfully on the particular map to exceeding that quantity. With time and practice will come higher conversation alongside the refurbished entrance, but that change into no longer the case on Monday evening.
Four. Maintain you guys considered J.J. Watt? I would possibly per chance well well moreover’ve sworn Jadeveon Clowney change into the one who change into no longer on the Texans. In his first sport without Clowney across from him on Houston’s line of defense, Watt did no longer visual show unit up on the stat sheet. No tackles, no sacks, no QB hits, no nothing — the indispensable time in his one zero five-sport profession Watt has loved an oh-fer, per NFL Examine. He compelled one keeping call on correct variety out Ryan Ramczyk, but other than that, Ramczyk and the Saints‘ top-5 offensive line handled Watt and Houston’s pass drag. Brees change into sacked profitable once, which when in contrast to his quarterbacking compatriot across the sideline change into tidy living. Without Clowney within the Texans‘ entrance seven, Houston will desire to stumble on to other names to place stress on opposing quarterbacks, assuming Watt is playing love the three-time Defensive Player of the 300 and sixty five days that he’s. When he’s no longer, love on Monday night time, Clowney’s absence can be magnified.
— Jeremy Bergman
1. For the indispensable time in what felt love the longest time, the Raiders stumbled on themselves in a station to invent the storyline about with out a doubt playing football. Following a hang of the coin toss, Jon Gruden wanted the ball to commence Monday’s sport. And his offense — yes, his Antonio Brown-less offense — responded marvelously with Derek Carr performing as phenomenally as he ever has. Carr change into profitable in Oakland’s opening salvo, going 5-for-5 for 50 eight yards, at the side of an eight-yard procure to Tyrell Williams — the group’s No. 1 receiver for three days working now. It change into the commence the Raiders wanted — and perchance predominant. And that held appropriate from the indispensable emphatic pressure to the final seconds that ticked away with a grinning Gruden embracing the entrance row of the Dim Hole within the glow of a 24-16 hang. As noteworthy as somebody, the onus change into on Carr and he responded to the swear and sparkled (22-of-26 for 259 yards, one TD, 121.zero rating). Williams (six catches, one zero five yards, TD) likewise proved he on the general is a top design. And for the Gruden-helmed franchise, it change into a voice of reduction and a fist pump for an exhilarating hang. They triumphed no matter the distractions, scrutiny and fallout from the Brown roller coaster going off the rails and likely extra spectacular, though it received’t garner the identical consideration, they carried on no matter cornerback Gareon Conley being immobilized and a ways flung from the game. This change into exactly what the Raiders predominant.
2. Two debuts. One underwhelming loss. Vic Fangio’s first sport as a head coach and Joe Flacco‘s initial day shuttle because the Broncos‘ starting quarterback had been equally flat and unfulfilling. Flacco change into immobile and erratic on the side of his throws, in general increasing short as he tried to navigate a Broncos offense that change into shut out within the indispensable half of and held out of the stay zone until Flacco stumbled on Emmanuel Sanders within the fourth quarter to invent the game feel closer than it in fact had for nearly all of the night time. At the stay of the night time, Flacco’s stat line appears to be like comely — 21-of-31 for 268 yards, the TD and no picks. But that didn’t repeat the parable. There change into runt fire until it change into too gradual. Fangio’s debut change into as puzzling because it change into disappointing. The overall excitement and anticipation to behold how fearsome a Fangio-coached defense with Von Miller and Bradley Chubb change into for naught in a boring premiere. There had been no sacks. There had been no QB hits. Chubb looked out of intention shedding abet in coverage. The Broncos tallied no takeaways. The ask change into whether Flacco would possibly per chance well well moreover present a resolution for a lengthy lackluster offense. As yet another, either side of the ball are now location off for downside in Denver.
three. At the forefront of the Raiders‘ first-spherical rookie trio, from the outset, change into working abet Josh Jacobs. Oakland established the flee and balance on offense, feeding the ball to Jacobs even though it wasn’t racking up yards. Not lower than it change into conserving the Broncos guessing. On the night time, Jacobs scored twice and proved to be a workhorse (he had 23 carries for 85 yards with most productive three carries going to other backs). Following the game, Jacobs told NFL Network’s MJ Acosta he change into disenchanted in himself on story of he left a mode of astronomical runs on the table. After his debut, it be no longer regularly complex to prognosticate a mode of astronomical runs are left ahead. Jacobs’ first-spherical brethren — defensive stay Clelin Ferrell and security Johnathan Abram — likewise made their presence felt. Ferrell helped quell suggestions of a Broncos rally with a fourth-quarter sack that led to a questionable Fangio resolution to kick a field design and hang a two-procure deficit at two scores. His debut incorporated three tackles, a variety out for a loss and a batted pass, while Abram (5 tackles) established himself because the bad presence in centerfield most believed he would be. Of their first probability, the inexperienced persons responded, equipped additional glimpses of hope for an illuminated Silver and Dim future and, above all else, contributed to a a success debut.
Four. A pass drag has arrived in Oakland. In the aftermath of a turbulent offseason the Raiders are mindful of transferring on from, it practically appears to be like love an afterthought that one among the existing issues for Oakland has been offering its defense with a pass drag. Though the Broncos themselves deserve some credit for his or her offensive woes on Monday night time, the Raiders defense change into stingy and bold in allowing most productive one landing (which didn’t come until the fourth quarter). Vontaze Burfict burst by for a sack early within the 2d quarter, most productive to appreciate it negated by an unlawful contact call. Four performs later, Benson Mayowa notched the Raiders‘ first sack of 2019 after a depraved 2018 in which they mustered thirteen — dreary final by a mile within the NFL. Naturally, Mayowa added one other sack to turn into the indispensable Raider to appreciate extra than one sacks in a sport since Khalil Mack gradual within the 2017 season. Ferrell added one other and the Raiders‘ three sacks had been every bit as noteworthy a location off for peep because the Broncos finishing with none change into a location off for downside. Closing season got here and went without the Raiders tallying greater than two sacks in a sport, and so they started with three to commence 2019. The days of a punchless Raiders pass drag are steadily dwindling.
— Grant Gordon