National Football League (NFL) stadiums were again packed all across the country as the league kicked off its 102nd season. The packed stadiums are a welcome sight to many fans as it occurs after last season’s near-ban on fans in stadiums due to COVID-19.
Week 1 kicked off on Thursday Sep. 9 with a matchup between the reigning Super Bowl Champions, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and the Dallas Cowboys. The game was nothing short of amazing with both teams battling it out back and forth for the entirety of the game. In the end though, it was the Buccaneers who prevailed with a 31-29 win.
“It was a very intense game to watch, but I am happy with the ending results,” said Abby Potocki (‘23), “Back-to-back Super Bowl wins for Tampa [are] coming up this season.”
Sunday Sep. 12 brought plenty more action as well. The games kicked off following a tribute to those who lost their lives on 9/11 as the country commemorated the 20th anniversary of the attacks all weekend. Some of the early games featured the San Francisco 49ers taking on the Detroit Lions and the Minnesota Vikings taking on the Cincinnati Bengals.
Both of those matchups were very close, with the Lions putting up 16 points in the 4th Quarter to make it a one possession game against the 49ers and the Bengals putting up a 33-yard field goal to break the 24-24 tie, putting them up by three with under two minutes remaining in the game.
The afternoon games saw the Green Bay Packers taking on the New Orleans Saints and the Miami Dolphins taking on the New England Patriots. The Saints hosted the Packers as the home team, but due to ongoing cleanup efforts following Hurricane Ida in New Orleans, they were forced to play at TIAA Bank Field in Jacksonville, Florida which is usually home to the Jacksonville Jaguars.
In the Packers-Saints matchup, the reigning league MVP Aaron Rodgers had an unusually poor performance, completing only 15 of 28 passes with zero touchdowns and two interceptions, ending with a career low passer rating of 36.8. On the other side of the ball, the Saints’ starting quarterback Jameis Winston completed 14 of 20 passes with five touchdowns and zero turnovers, ending the game with a passer rating of 130.8. The game ended with a resounding win by the Saints, 38-3.
“It was pretty evident that the Packers team as a whole was underprepared for their matchup and [unprepared] to play football at the highest level,” said Eddie Metz (‘23), a Packers fan.
“The Packers star players, such as Aaron Rodgers and Davante Adams and Aaron Jones, came out flat and seemed uninterested in playing throughout the entire game,” said Metz.
The Dolphins and Patriots matchup garnered a lot of media attention as it was the first regular season game for the Patriots’ starting quarterback Mac Jones. He finished the game throwing for 29 completions on 39 attempts with one touchdown and zero turnovers. Despite their best efforts, however, the Patriots’ running back Damien Harris fumbled the ball with just three and a half minutes remaining. The Dolphins won 17-16.
Sunday night saw a matchup between the Chicago Bears and Los Angeles Rams. The game was dominated by the Rams explosive offense, which aided in leading the Bears from beginning to end. The final score of the matchup was 34-14 in favor of the Rams.
“The Bears had a promising start on offense, but struggled to finish as the game progressed,” said Byron Weber (‘23), a lifelong Bears fan.
Week 1 of the NFL closed out with the Baltimore Ravens taking on the Las Vegas Raiders. The Ravens led the game until the 4th Quarter, where they gave up 17 points resulting in a 27-27 tie at the end of regulation.
Overtime started with the Raiders receiving the kickoff before their quarterback Derek Carr threw an interception to the Ravens. Five plays later, the Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson fumbled the ball while being sacked, resulting in the Raiders recovering. Just two plays later, Carr threw a 34 yard touchdown sealing the 33-27 win for the Raiders.
Overall, it was an exciting first week of football, leaving many fans even more excited for the 2021 season.