NFL Week 1 Grades: Steelers get 'D' for ugly tie while Ravens earn top marks for blowout win
Here are the Week 1 grades for every team that played on Sunday
In what might go down as the most Browns thing ever, the Browns finally ended their 17-game losing streak on Sunday ... without actually winning.
The Browns' 21-21 tie with the Steelers had all the ugliness you would expect from a game being played in monsoon-like weather. There were four punts, a turnover and two missed field goals in the game, and that was just in overtime.
The tie wasn't sealed until the Steelers blocked a 43-yard field goal attempt by Zane Gonzalez with just seconds left to play in overtime.
Although the tie won't go into the loss column for either team, it sure sounds like it was a loss for the Steelers, who went into Cleveland favored to beat the Browns.
Steelers coach Mike Tomlin wasn't willing to go that far with his comments, but he definitely seemed a little bit confused about his feelings after the game.
"You don't know what to feel, say or think," Tomlin said.
Tomlin might have been confused because he watched one of his star players almost give the game away, and that player was Roethlisberger, who threw three interceptions and lost two fumbles in a performance that was even uglier than it sounds. At times, Big Ben was basically chucking the ball up to no one.
One of the reasons the Steelers were able to overcome Roethlisberger's struggles is due to the play of James Conner. Going into the game, the biggest question in Pittsburgh was whether or not Conner would be able to adequately replace Le'Veon Bell. Well, if Sunday was any indication, Bell might have just lost any leverage he had in negotiations, because Conner ran all over the Browns.
With Bell sitting at home, Conner ran for 135 yards and two touchdowns on 31 carries. It was the kind of performance that might make the front office in Pittsburgh start thinking that they don't need to pay Bell $14.5 million when they have Conner, who is making just $578,000 this season. (And yes, Bell was definitely watching the game.)
Of course, the biggest issue for the Steelers right now might not be Bell, but Roethlisberger.
The man who has threatened to retire in the past played like a guy who wished he was in retirement against the Browns. The only thing that saved Roethlisberger and the Steelers was the fact that the Browns' offense still looks inept. If there's one team in the NFL that can't take advantage of winning the turnover battle by five, it's definitely the Browns.
In rainy conditions, the Browns asked Tyrod Taylor to throw the ball 40 times, and that turned out to be a disaster. Taylor finished just 15 of 40 and got sacked seven times. Despite that, the Browns still had a chance to win, until Hue Jackson made a questionable decision in overtime. After the Browns recovered a fumble at the Steelers' 26-yard line with 36 seconds left in OT, the Browns could have tried to gain a few yards, but instead they ran up the middle for a loss of yard and made a difficult field goal even more difficult for kicker Zane Gonzalez.
It's almost like Hue Jackson was playing for the tie. Of course, if you're the Browns, a tie is almost as good as a win, so maybe a tie is exactly what Jackson wanted.
Pittsburgh 21-21 tie with Cleveland
Although all eyes were on Le'Veon Bell's replacement, it was the Steelers defense that kept this game from turning into a total disaster. The Steelers totaled seven sacks in the game, led by T.J. Watt who racked up four sacks of Tyrod Taylor. This game marks the first time since 1990 that the Steelers didn't win in a game where they tallied seven or more sacks.
The fact that the Browns forced six turnovers in a home game and didn't win is almost impressive. The last team to pull that feat off came in 2007. Since 1988, NFL teams are 97-2-1 when forcing six or more turnovers in a home game, and yes, that tie is the Browns.
Baltimore 47-3 over Buffalo
If any Bills fan managed to watch this game past halftime, the team should send them some sort award. In what might go down as the ugliest first half in NFL history, the Bills got zero first downs and totaled just 33 yards in the opening half against Baltimore. The only thing uglier than those numbers was Nathan Peterman's passer rating (0.0). Peterman's career resume now includes a five-interception performance in 2017 and a game with a 0.0 passer rating in 2018. If I'm Bills coach Sean McDermott, I'm either running the Wildcat for the rest of the season or I'm starting Josh Allen, but whatever I'm doing, I'm not letting Peterman back on the field.
If you would have told most Ravens fans before the season started that Joe Flacco was going to be benched in the opener for Lamar Jackson, most of them probably would have assumed that the move came after a Flacco meltdown. Instead, we got the opposite. Flacco lit up the Bills to the tune of 236 yards and three touchdowns and ended the debate about whether or not Jackson should start in his place. The only thing better than Flacco's performance was the play of Baltimore's defense. The Ravens limited Buffalo to just 153 yards, marking just the second time since 2012 that the Ravens have held a team under 155 yards.
Cincinnati 34-23 over Indianapolis
If we learned one thing about the Bengals on Sunday, it's that A.J. Green and Andy Dalton might not have to carry the offense anymore. The Bengals have a new secret weapon in Joe Mixon and that weapon exploded on the Colts. In his first year as the undisputed No. 1 back in Cincinnati, Mixon touched the ball 22 times for 149 yards and a touchdown. He might have even single-handedly won you your fantasy game. The Bengals defense also came up big with two huge turnovers. One came on a first quarter interception after the Colts had driven down to Cincy's 4-yard line. The other came in the fourth quarter, when Clayton Fejedelem returned a fumble 83 yards for a touchdown and iced the game.
If Andrew Luck was rusty after going 616 days between games, he didn't show it against the Bengals. Luck threw for 319 yards and two touchdowns and was the one bright spots for the Colts in this loss. Another bright spot was the fact that Luck's formerly injured shoulder didn't fall off. The Colts quarterback threw 53 passes, which was tied for the third most of any game in his career. Now the bad news: The Colts blew another second-half lead. The Colts blew nine second-half leads in 2017 before blowing a 23-10 second-half lead on Sunday. Unfortunately for Indy, they're not going to have Chuck Pagano to blame for this one.
New England 27-20 over Houston
Although some quarterbacks were able to fight off the rust of a long injury layoff this week (see: Andrew Luck), Deshaun Watson wasn't one of them. Watson hasn't played since last October and it showed as the Texans struggled through a first half that included three punts, two turnovers and no touchdowns. The Texans dug themselves into a 24-6 hole, and when you're playing in New England, there's no way to dig yourself out of something like that.
In this episode of "Tom vs. Time," Tom once against destroys Father Time. Brady might be 41, but he definitely doesn't play like it. The Patriots quarterback has gone full Benjamin Button on us because he appears to get younger as he gets older. The Texans defense had no answers for Brady, who threw for 277 yards and three touchdowns. They also had no answers for Rob Gronkowski, who caught seven passes for 123 yards and a touchdown. Those are two guys you want to have answers for when you're playing the Patriots.
Jacksonville 20-15 over New York Giants
After watching the Jaguars play on Sunday, it appears their defense might be even better than it was last season, which doesn't even seem possible. The Jags defense came through in the clutch against the Giants in the form of a fourth quarter pick-six by Myles Jack that ended up producing the game-winning touchdown.
Although Tom Coughlin was probably thrilled to get revenge on the team that fired him, the win did come with a price; Leonard Fournette left the game early with a hamstring injury and didn't return.
The Giants might have loss to the Jaguars, but there is some good news for them: It looks like they have the offensive talent to light up the scoreboard this season. The bad news for the Giants is that lighting up the scoreboard isn't really possible against the Jags' defense. Despite the fact that the Giants' offensive line got mauled by Jacksonville, Saquon Barkley was still able to rush for 106 yards and a touchdown, including a 68-yard TD run that added some drama to the fourth quarter. If the Giants offensive line gets any better this season, which isn't guaranteed, this offense could be fun to watch.
Minnesota 24-16 over San Francisco
If Jimmy Garoppolo learned one thing on Sunday, it's that the Vikings defense might be the closest thing the NFL has to an actual buzzsaw. Although the 49ers did have some success against Minnesota, they couldn't get anything done in the red zone. The 49ers scored just one touchdown on four trips to the red zone, and one of their biggest mistakes of the day came when Alfred Morris fumbled at the Vikings 1-yard line in the second quarter.
The spotlight in Minnesota was on Kirk Cousins when this game started, but then the Vikings defense stole it away. The Vikings abused the 49ers, sacking Garoppolo three times, forcing four turnovers and even helping out on the scoreboard when Mike Hughes returned an interception for a touchdown in the second half. As for Cousins, he already seems to have some chemistry with Adam Thielen (six catches, 102 yards), which is good news for the Vikings going forward. Also good news is the fact that Dalvin Cook looked unstoppable (22 touches, 95 yards) after missing most of last season due to an ACL injury.
Tampa Bay 48-40 over New Orleans
Maybe the Buccaneers don't need Jameis Winston after all. With their starting quarterback suspended, the Bucs turned to Ryan Fitzpatrick on Sunday and all he did was throw for 417 yards and four TD passes to lead them to 48 points, which tied the franchise record for most points in a game. Fitzpatrick completed two passes of 50 or more yards in the game, which is a crazy fact when you consider the Bucs only had two plays of 50 or more yards all of last season. Mike Evans and DeSean Jackson combined to make a mockery of the Saints' secondary. Evans tallied seven catches for 147 yards and a touchdown, while Jackson totaled five catches for 146 yards and two touchdowns.
The Saints had zero defense and zero ground game against Tampa, which is almost always a recipe for disaster in the NFL, and in this case, it was. The 48 points the Bucs scored represented the most points that anyone has scored in a road win over the Saints since 2003. The Saints' 43 rushing yards was their lowest total since Week 2 of 2016. Despite the fact that they have Drew Brees, the Saints almost never win when they can't get their ground game going. The Saints are 2-8 in their past 10 games where they're held to 45 yards rushing or less.
Miami 27-20 over Tennessee
This game was a total disaster for the Titans, and not just because they lost. Not only did they have to sit through a pair of weather delays that totaled more than four hours, but they also lost Marcus Mariota, Delanie Walker and Taylor Lewan to injury. The weather must have bothered Mariota, because he had an ugly game before leaving with an injury. The Titans quarterback was just 9 of 16 for 103 yards with two interceptions. The only upside for the Titans in this game was the play of Dion Lewis. The free agent acquisition totaled 75 yards and a touchdown on just 16 carries.
Apparently, Adam Gase knew exactly what he was doing when he traded away Jarvis Landry. With Landry now in Cleveland, Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill turned to Kenny Stills, who caught four passes for 106 yards and two touchdowns. That's about as perfect of a game that you can play if you're a wide receiver. As for Tannehill, if he was rusty after 616 days off, he didn't show it too much. Although he threw two interceptions -- again, he hadn't played in a game since 2016 -- the Dolphins quarterback also threw for 230 yards and two touchdowns. The biggest shocker of this game might have been the fact that 35-year-old Frank Gore was the Dolphins leading' rusher after going for 61 yards on nine carries.
Kansas City 38-28 over L.A. Chargers
It appears that Andy Reid's decision to dump Alex Smith has officially paid off. Let no one question Reid about any decision every again. In his first meaningful start as Smith's replacement, Patrick Mahomes absolutely torched the Chargers secondary, and he did most of it with the help of Tyreek Hill, who caught seven passes for 169 yards and two touchdowns. Hill also had a 91-yard punt return for a TD in the game. Basically, the Chargers might want to figure out how to tackle Hill before the teams meet again in Week 15.
No team in the NFL knows how to shoot themselves in the foot quite like the Chargers. Despite the fact that they racked up 541 yards of offense in this game, the Chargers still found a way to lose, which isn't easy; over the past five years, NFL teams had been 25-3-1 when racking up more than 540 yards. With the Chargers, there's always something crazy: In this game, they gave up a punt return for a touchdown, they missed a field goal and Philip Rivers threw an interception deep in Chiefs territory. Some day, things will go right for the Chargers, but that day probably won't be anytime soon.
Carolina 16-8 over Dallas
Maybe the Cowboys should have held on to Dez Bryant, because they couldn't have possibly been any worse than they were on Sunday against the Panthers. The Cowboys offense was so bad in this game that they didn't even reach Panthers' territory for the first time until the second half. When the star of the game is your punter, that usually means you didn't play a great game.
Dak Prescott is probably going to have nightmares about the Panthers defense this week and that's because they sacked him six times. The Panthers are nearly unbeatable when they're pressuring the quarterback like that. Since 2013, Carolina is now 10-0 when they tally six or more sacks in a game.
Denver 27-24 over Seahawks
One of the biggest problems the Seahawks needed to fix this offseason was their offensive line, and if Week 1 is any indication, that definitely didn't happen. Russell Wilson got sacked six times, and that number might have actually doubled if Wilson wasn't so athletic. The Seahawks also might be regretting dumping Steven Hauschka after watching Sebastian Janikowski missed a 46-yarder against the Broncos.
If this grade was for Von Miller alone, it would be an 'A,' and that's because Miller terrorized the Seahawks. The Broncos star racked up three of Denver's six sacks. The Broncos defense proved that it's still one of the best in the NFL. Besides the six sacks, the Broncos also held the Seahawks to just 64 rushing yards and a 2-of-12 showing on third down. It's a good thing the Broncos' defense brought their 'A' game, because Case Keenum didn't. In his debut with Denver, Keenum had some ups (329 yards, three touchdowns) and some downs (three interceptions).
Washington 24-6 over Arizona
Apparently, Adrian Peterson isn't washed up, and we know that because he trampled the Cardinals defense for 96 yards and a touchdown on Sunday, which is pretty impressive for a 33-year-old running back who was a free agent until late August. Of course, Peterson wasn't the only one carrying the Redskins' offense, Chris Thompson also got in on the steamrolling with 65 yards on five carries. The Redskins totaled 182 yards on the ground and are now 6-0 since 2015 when they rush for 180 or more yards in a game. Alex Smith also had a solid Redskins debut, passing for 255 yards and two touchdowns. Basically the Redskins are winning with a bunch of old castoffs that no one wanted in Smith and Peterson.
One day after signing David Johnson to a monstrous three-year, $39 million contract extension, the Cardinals were probably hoping he would celebrate by having a big game, but that's not what happened against the Redskins. Johnson rushed for just 37 yards as the Cardinals offense got absolutely shut down. Instead of paying Johnson, maybe the Cardinals should have signed Adrian Peterson, who will be making just $1.015 million this year.
Green Bay 24-23 over Chicago
Let's start with the positives for Chicago: With the addition of Khalil Mack, their defense might be one of the best units in the NFL by the end of the season. In his first game with the Bears, Mack had a sack, an interception, a forced fumble, a fumble recovery, and defensive touchdown. We can probably all agree that the trade was worth it, even if the Bears did give up two first-round picks. The Bears also have to be impressed with how Mitchell Trubisky looked. Now the bad: The Bears had their hearts ripped out by Aaron Rodgers, and he's probably never going to give it back.
We've seen Aaron Rodgers lead a lot of comebacks before, but this might be the first time we've seen him do it on one leg. After being carted off the field in the first half, Rodgers came back in the second half to lead the Packers out of a 20-0 hole to stun the Bears 24-23. Rodgers threw for 273 yards and three touchdowns in the second half. Of course, the reason the Packers aren't getting an 'A' here is because if you fall behind 20-0, you obviously didn't play a perfect game.
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