We already have the first round of finals in the books. The Houston Texans made life difficult for No. 1 overall draft pick Trevor Lawrence as they routed the Jacksonville Jaguars 37-21 in Lawrence’s NFL debut. Meanwhile, several other rookies had a bit more success in their first games.
In the late afternoon games, the Kansas City Chiefs host the Cleveland Browns in arguably the best matchup of the week. In Jacksonville, the New Orleans Saints “host” the Green Bay Packers as Jameis Winston takes over at quarterback for Sean Payton’s team.
Follow along here as USA TODAY Sports provides updates of the moments from NFL Week 1.
KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Cleveland Browns safety Ronnie Harrison Jr. was ejected after shoving a Kansas City Chiefs assistant coach after a dust-up along the Chiefs sideline early in the season opener between the two teams.
With 5:08 left in the first quarter and Cleveland up 8-0, Chiefs running back Clyde Edwards-Helaire was tackled at the end of an 11-yard catch and run.
It appeared that Edwards-Helaire was stepped on by Browns defenders after the play ended, and members of the Chiefs bench rushed to his aid. Chiefs running backs coach Greg Lewis then pushed Harrison out of the way.
After regaining his balance, Harrison jabbed his hand at Lewis’ throat.
Initially, officials called an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty on the Chiefs bench. Chiefs coach Andy Reid vehemently argued the call, and a short time later, officials huddled and changed the call, assessing the penalty to Harrison. He was subsequently ejected for the blow to Lewis.
— Mike Jones, USA TODAY
INDIANAPOLIS — For the eighth straight season, the Indianapolis Colts began their season with a loss. Their latest failure came Sunday, a 28-16 drubbing at the hands of the Seattle Seahawks.
The loss was a total team effort. On offense, it started with an abysmal effort by the offensive line, which failed to adequately protect Carson Wentz. The team also came up short in just about every clutch situation, failing to convert two critical fourth downs in the second half.
On defense, the Colts weren’t much better. They came out of the gates agonizingly slow, allowing Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson to shred them for 166 yards and three touchdowns, including two to Tyler Lockett.
— Jim Ayello, Indianapolis Star
ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. – Well, this might be a really good time for BillsMafia to pump the brakes on making those Super Bowl reservations.
The Buffalo Bills, a trendy pick by many to not only win the AFC but also win Super Bowl 56, are 0-1 after a lackluster offensive performance which led to a 23-16 defeat at the hands of the Pittsburgh Steelers.
This Bills outfit was a discombobulated mess on offense, one that looked nothing like the 2020 version that scored a franchise record 501 points. Josh Allen was off all day, never able to get comfortable behind an offensive line that was annihilated by a very good Steelers defense.
— Sal Maiorana, Rochester Democrat and Chronicle
ATLANTA – For months, new Eagles head coach Nick Sirianni has kept his offensive schemes under wraps, determined to take what he called “a competitive advantage” into his first game as a head coach.
Then he unleashed it.
Quarterback Jalen Hurts, in his second season but first as the full-time starter, mixed in some timely runs with pinpoint passing. Rookie DeVonta Smith’s first reception went for a touchdown. And the Eagles offense was too much for the Atlanta Falcons to handle in a 32-6 win on Sunday in a game that matched Sirianni against another rookie head coach, Arthur Smith of the Falcons.
— Martin Frank, Delaware News Journal
The lack of preseason games may have limited the amount of on-field time for quarterbacks and their receivers to work together, but some wide receivers already appear to be in midseason form.
Who made the best catch of Week 1?
Here’s Pittsburgh’s Diontae Johnson hauling in a touchdown pass in the corner of the end zone vs. Buffalo.
Washington’s Terry McLaurin hardly had any opportunity to work with backup quarterback Taylor Heineke, but they sure worked some magic in the first half vs. the Chargers.
The inactives for Sunday’s late games are in, headlined by Browns wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. The three-time Pro Bowler was coming back from November knee surgery and looked to be on track to play, despite being officially listed as questionable on the injury report.
Another star coming back from season-ending surgery has been deemed healthy enough to start. Giants running back Saquon Barkley is officially active for their opener against Denver. He’ll be seeing his first game action since tearing the ACL and MCL in his right knee in Week 2 last season.
Fitzpatrick injured, Heineke in at QB for Washington
The Washington Football Team made a firm commitment to veteran Ryan Fitzpatrick at quarterback this season. However, he didn’t make it through the first half of his first game before leaving with an injury.
Fitzpatrick was hit hard by Chargers edge rusher Uchenna Nwosu in the second quarter and was replaced by Taylor Heineke. The team announced Fitzpatrick suffered a hip injury and will not return to the game.
Rookies Smith, Lance, Chase make instant impact
Who says rookies need time to adjust to the speed of the NFL game? Two highly regarded first-round draft picks registered touchdowns almost immediately.
Heisman Trophy winner DeVonta Smith’s first NFL catch for the Philadelphia Eagles went for an 18-yard touchdown. It could be the first of many Crimson Tide connections with quarterback Jalen Hurts.
And after San Francisco 49ers quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo fumbled on his first snap of the game in Detroit, rookie Trey Lance came in for a couple snaps on the next drive. Lance rushed for a yard on his first snap, then came in for a first-and-goal play at the Lions’ 5-yard-line. Result: A touchdown on his first NFL pass.
Not to be outdone, Bengals rookie wideout Ja’Marr Chase hauled in his first NFL touchdown reception on a beautiful bomb from QB Joe Burrow, his college teammate at LSU. At the end of the first half, Chase had three catches for 80 yards and a touchdown — after registering only one reception (and three drops) in the preseason.
So much intrigue as NFL season kicks off
Will Urban Meyer become another Jimmy Johnson? Or another in a lineup of hype-heavy coaches who brought immense credentials from the college level — Chip Kelly, Bobby Petrino and Steve Spurrier, among them — only to fall flat on their playbooks in the NFL?
Meanwhile, Baker Mayfield and Myles Garrett weren’t even born the last time the Cleveland Browns put together back-to-back winning seasons in 1988 and 1989, but two of the most prominent players on the team that opens Sunday with a playoff rematch at Kansas City have heard all about the history.
Those are just two of the fascinating story lines in the NFL’s season-opening Sunday. USA TODAY Sports’ Jarrett Bell examines those topics, as well as rookie Najee Harris’ potential impact in Pittsburgh in his NFL notebook.
Fantasy football advice for Week 1
Of course you want to start the new season off with a win. We’re here to help. Our fantasy football experts have valuable advice to get the most out of your lineup.
Steve Gardner has answers to your Start/Sit questions at our Facebook group, The Ruling Off The Field. Submit questions now and he’ll give you up-to-the-minute lineup advice, starting at noon ET.
For your convenience, we’ve updated our position-by-position rankings for this week’s games. Adjust your lineups accordingly.
NFL Week 1 picks
There are 32 teams hoping to use the opening weekend of the season as a springboard to Super Bowl 56 at SoFi Stadium in Inglewood, California.
Bills RB Zack Moss among Week 1 inactives
Running back Zack Moss, was an unexpected addition to the Bills inactive list on Sunday morning. There was no reason listed for his absence on the Bills’ game-day roster against Pittsburgh. Devin Singletary will likely get the start.
In addition, rookie running back Trey Sermon is inactive for the San Francisco 49ers at Detroit. Raheem Mostert is the starter, but the third-round pick was expected to have a significant role. Also, Falcons running back Wayne Gallman is inactive against the Eagles and Washington wide receiver Curtis Samuel is inactive for today’s game against the Chargers.
On Chargers side, running back Austin Ekeler is active after missing practice time during the week with a hamstring injury.
Tom Brady did his thing in NFL kickoff game
For the 49th time a regular-season game, Tom Brady led a winning drive.
Brady put the Tampa Bay Buccaneers into position for Ryan Succop’s go-ahead field goal with two seconds left to give the defending Super Bowl champions a 31-29 win over the Dallas Cowboys in the NFL’s kickoff game on Thursday night.
NFL 2021 season predictions
There are numerous storylines to monitor throughout the league. In that spirit, USA TODAY Sports‘ panel of NFL experts weighed in with their predictions for team and individual success in 2021. Which teams will make the playoffs? Of those teams, which will advance to square off in Super Bowl 56? Who will be the MVP? Offensive and defensive rookies of the year?
If you enjoy talking football, we have the perfect spot for you. Join our Facebook Group, The Ruling Off the Field, to engage in friendly debate and conversation with fellow football fans and our NFL insiders. Do the right thing, sign up now!
Colts’ Week 1 losing streak continues