Posts Tagged ‘Week 1’

Russell Wilson has a lot of appreciation for his time in Seattle but recognizes that he’ll have to find a way to treat his Week 1 matchup against the Seahawks like any other game.

“I think it’s going to be an exciting time. Obviously, Seattle’s meant the world to me over the past 10 years,” Wilson said Monday, according to DNVR’s Zac Stevens. “I think for me, it’s not emotional. It’s got to be non-emotional. You got to be able to go into it with the understanding that it’s just ball.”

Wilson’s new club, the Denver Broncos, will open their season on the road in a Monday Night Football bout versus the Seahawks.

The 33-year-old spent 10 seasons in Seattle before being dealt to Denver in a stunning trade earlier this offseason. He left many memories with his former side, including one Super Bowl championship, 104 wins, and nine Pro Bowl invites. Wilson previously said that the split was mutual.

“It will always be a special place in my heart forever,” Wilson said. “For me, it’s about going over there and trying to play the best football for our football team here and trying to go win.”

The Broncos added Wilson and head coach Nathaniel Hackett in hopes of getting their franchise back on track. Denver has missed the postseason in six straight seasons.

The conclusion of Week 1 of the 2022 USFL season was pushed into Monday, as the Sunday matchup between the Pittsburgh Maulers and Tampa Bay Bandits was postponed due to weather. It gave football fans an offseason taste of Monday night football, and the Bandits escaped with a 17-3 victory.

Tampa Bay jumped out to a quick lead and didn’t look back. Sparked by No. 2 overall pick quarterback Jordan Ta’amu, Tampa Bay went 68 yards on eight plays on its first drive, and BJ Emmons punched it in from three yards out for the first score of the game. Ta’amu later found Jordan Lasley for his first USFL touchdown towards the end of the second quarter to push the lead to 17. In all, he completed 18 of 30 passes for 164 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions. 

The Maulers started slow but rebounded in the second half to put some good things on tape. Both quarterbacks in Josh Love and Kyle Lauletta played, but Love got the majority of the reps. He finished Week 1 completing 9 of 16 passes for 121 yards. This offense never got into rhythm, though, and went 0 of 3 in the red zone. 

Below, we will dive more deeply into what went down in the USFL on Monday night. Here are our takeaways from Saturday night’s opener, as well as Sunday’s two games, and also be sure to check out the USFL standings and season schedule.

Saturday
Birmingham Stallions 28, New Jersey Generals 24

Sunday
Houston Gamblers 17, Michigan Panthers 12 
New Orleans Breakers 23, Philadelphia Stars 17 

Monday
Tampa Bay Bandits 17, Pittsburgh Maulers 3

Why the Bandits won

Coming into this new spring league, everyone was wondering about the quarterback play. The best football teams in any league are carried by their signal-callers, so this week was about finding out who the best throwers would be. Ta’amu had a solid game, as he completed 18 of 30 passes for 164 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions. He was mostly accurate throwing the ball and made some plays with his legs — escaping would-be sacks. We didn’t get to see the former Ole Miss star push much in the second half due to the Bandits’ lead, but overall, he had a solid performance. 

Tight end Cheyenne O’Grady looks like he could be a difference maker in this offense. He caught seven of 10 targets for 78 yards.

Another main reason the Bandits found themselves victorious Monday night is that they got great pushes from their offensive and defensive fronts. The Maulers averaged just 2.8 yards per rush, 3.3 yards per play and allowed three sacks. This Pepper Johnson-led Bandits defense looked great. 

Why the Maulers lost

The Maulers got off to an incredibly slow start. They played both of their quarterbacks in the first half, yet didn’t attempt a pass on their first two drives. The offensive line struggled to pave running lanes for Madre London and Garrett Groshek — both of whom are exciting when they get a bit of wiggle room. Groshek rushed 16 times for 55 yards.

Pittsburgh loved to run off of play action, and it gave Love great looks on some plays, but turned disastrous on others. Love didn’t get a chance to reset and turn his eyes downfield on some of those calls before he had defenders in his face.

The defense was solid in the second half as evidenced by their zero points allowed in the final two quarters, but the offense never found a rhythm. 

Turning point

The Maulers were in the game until the fourth quarter. After a field goal got them within 14, they had some life. Still, Pittsburgh was unable to do anything in the red zone. 

On fourth-and-5 from inside Tampa Bay’s 10-yard line halfway through the fourth quarter, the Maulers were unable to move the sticks or score that first touchdown. Credit to the Bandits’ defense for playing motivated all night long.

Play of the game

What’s next

The Bandits will serve as the home team against the 1-0 New Orleans Breakers this Sunday at 3 p.m. ET. As for the Maulers, they’ll serve as the visiting team to the 0-1 Philadelphia Stars on Saturday at noon ET. 

The New Orleans Breakers started off their United States Football League season with a bruising 23-17 victory over the Philadelphia Stars on Sunday.

It was the second contest in an exciting triple-header.

The game was supposed to be followed by the Tampa Bay Bandits facing the Pittsburgh Maulers, but the game was pushed to Monday due to bad weather.

Earlier, the Houston Gamblers and Michigan Panthers squared off in a riveting affair that Houston won 17-12.

Here are the top moments between Philly and NOLA:

New Orleans Breakers 23, Philadelphia Stars 17

Can you dig it?

“It’s a blessing to be here. I’m really trying to show what I’ve got.”

Vontae Diggs¬†isn’t taking his USFL shot for granted, and it showed on his first big play of the season, as he slid in front of¬†Bryan Scott’s¬†pass and took it back to the house to put N.O. up 7-0 in the first quarter.

Buggin’ out 

We don’t know how Bug Howard got this open in the red zone with a minute left, and apparently, the Breakers didn’t either. 

His first TD brought Philly within two, and N.O. took a 9-7 lead into the half. Score one for the Stars, and one for the awesome nicknames department as well.

Ocho for seis!

New Orleans took the lead early in the third, courtesy of this scamper off-tackle from T.J. Logan.

Untouched!

Philadelphia punched its opponent right back, as¬†Darnell Holland¬†made a house call from 42-yards out to knot things at 17. That’s how the third quarter wrapped up.

Make way!

Jordan Ellis put the Breakers back on top 23-17 early in the fourth, punching it in from a couple of yards out.

The Houston Gamblers had a good outcome for their first game in the new USFL, defeating the Michigan Panthers 17-12.

The Gamblers’ defense made the first big play and delivered the first touchdown in team history. With the Panthers driving near the Houston goal line, Reggie Northrup picked up a fumble and ran 90 yards all the way the other way to stake the Gamblers to a 9-0 lead before the team converted their two-point conversion for an 11-0 lead.

Houston would extend their lead to 17-0 with their first-ever offensive touchdown, a 12-yard hook-up from Clayton Thorson to Isaiah Zuber in the back of the end zone.

Former Houston Oilers head coach Jeff Fisher, now the Michigan Panthers’ head coach, must have made adjustments at the half because his team came back strong in the second half. But on 4th-and-26, on the game’s final play, La’Michael Pettway couldn’t keep both feet in bounds in the end zone, enabling the Gamblers to come away with the 17-12 victory.

The historic first game was broadcast on KPRC 2. Houston’s next contest will be next Saturday against the Birmingham Stallions.

The USFL’s first game had just about everything, including a game-winning touchdown in the final minute. The score, courtesy of Stallions quarterback J’Mar Smith, gave the Birmingham Stallions a 28-24, come-from-behind win over the New Jersey Generals.¬†

The two teams combined to score 24 points in the fourth quarter, with Smith’s score coming on a 2-yard touchdown run with 29 seconds left. Smith’s touchdown came moments after the Generals took the lead on Nick Rose’s 47-yard field goal with 1:54 left. Smith then led the Stallions on a game-winning, 59-yard drive while recording the first win of the USFL’s 2022 season. The Generals lost despite gaining a jaw-dropping 222 rushing yards that included 98 yards and a score from quarterback De’Andre Johnson. 

Saturday’s game started with a bang, with Generals quarterback Luis Perez hitting Randy Satterfield for a 48-yard gain on the first play from scrimmage. The drive ended with Satterfield catching a 3-yard touchdown despite taking a nasty lick from a Stallions defender.  

The Stallions responded with a big play of their own, a 35-yard touchdown pass from Alex McGough to Osirus Mitchell less than four minutes into the game. New Jersey re-gained the lead by taking advantage of safety Shalom Luani’s interception at the start of the second quarter. Facing a third-and-7 from the Stallions’ 13-yard-line, Perez rolled to his right before hitting tight end Braedon Bowman in the end zone for the go-ahead score. 

With the score tied through three quarters, both teams scored touchdowns to start the fourth quarter. Johnson gave the Generals the lead on a 10-yard run, only to have the Stallions respond less than four minutes later when Smith found tight end Cary Angeline for a 28-yard score. Rose then gave the Generals a 24-21 lead before Smith executed a game-winning two-minute drill. 

Here’s a full breakdown of what happened Saturday night in Birmingham.¬†

Why the Stallions won 

Birmingham’s offense scored touchdowns on its last three possessions. Most of the damage was done by Smith, who started in the second half in place of McGough, who was sidelined with an injury. After going 0 of 4 in the first half, Smith completed 11 of 17 passes for 156 yards in the second half. The Stallions also received a big game from Mitchell, who finished the game with 96 yards on five receptions.  

Birmingham’s defense also came up with a few timely stops. The Generals were threatening to add to their lead before halftime when linebacker Scooby Wright forced a fumble of Perez that was scooped up by safety Nate Holley. With the game tied late in the fourth quarter, the Stallions’ defense forced the Generals to settle for a field goal after JoJo Tillery tackled Johnson two yards shy of the first down on third-and-10. Birmingham’s defense then forced three incomplete passes on the game’s final three plays.¬† ¬†

Why the Generals lost 

Two missed field goals certainly didn’t help the Generals, who led for most of the game. Rose missed a 47-yard field goal on the final play of the first half. He then missed a 23-yard field goal to start the second half. 

Rose rewarded coach Mike Riley’s faith in him when he made his third attempt with under two minutes left. That being said, Riley may be second-guessing his decision not to go for it in that situation given how much success his offense was having running the football. There was also the surprising disappearing act from Perez, who attempted just three passes in the second half after going 12-of-16 for 142 yards and two touchdowns in the first half.¬†

New Jersey’s defense, which played lights out in the first half, simply had no answer for Smith, who led Birmingham’s offense on scoring drives of 80, 67 and 59 yards in the second half. 

Turning point 

The Generals were in control of the game after forcing a Stallions punt to start the second half. New Jersey then drove 75 yards and were in position to add to their lead before Rose missed his second field goal in as many drives. The Stallions’ offense seemed to wake up after that, as Birmingham put together a nine-play, 80-yard drive that was punctuated by CJ Marable’s 3-yard, game-tying touchdown run. Consecutive completions from Smith to Mitchell for a combined 44 yards set up the score.

Play of the game 

Satterfield’s catch deserves mention, but the play of the game belongs to Smith, who capped off his big second half by scoring the game-winning touchdown.¬†

What’s next  

The Generals will face the Michigan Panthers next Saturday night. The Stallions will take on the Houston Gamblers next Sunday night.  

This Sunday will feature a triple-header of USFL action that starts with the Panthers facing the Gamblers at noon. The New Orleans Breakers will take on the Stars at 4 p.m., while the USFL’s opening weekend will commence with a prime time matchup in between the Tampa Bay Bandits and Pittsburgh Maulers.  

The¬†Las Vegas Raiders‘ thrilling 33-27 overtime victory over the¬†Baltimore Ravens¬†had viewers glued to their screens Monday.

The game drew the largest TV audience for a Week 1 Monday Night Football matchup since 2013 after nearly 15.3 million viewers watched the contest, ESPN announced Tuesday.

It’s also the second most-watched MNF opener in ESPN’s history.

The Raiders rallied to score 17 points in the fourth quarter to send the game to overtime. Derek Carr threw an end-zone interception in the extra session, but Las Vegas got the ball back following a Lamar Jackson fumble. Carr then connected with receiver Zay Jones on a game-winning touchdown that ended the contest.

Las Vegas and Baltimore combined for 60 points and 897 yards of offense in the overtime extravaganza.

Aaron Rodgers warned against overreacting after the New Orleans Saints blew out the Green Bay Packers 38-3 in Week 1.

The veteran quarterback cautioned that adjusting the team’s preparation based on the shocking result would be an unnecessary reaction due to Green Bay’s history of success.

“We won a lot of games around here, we lost a few, but you move on,” Rodgers said Thursday. “Doesn’t matter if you play incredible and put up 50, or you get blown out, you move on to the next opponent.

“There shouldn’t be some big drastic change and alteration to the way we do things, the way we practice, the way we prepare. If it’s good enough to get you to this point, then it’s good enough from this point forward. … Obviously, we got to play better. But if we’re starting to freak out after one week, we’re in big trouble.”

The 2020 MVP failed to get into the end zone in Week 1, throwing for just 133 yards and two interceptions while also finishing with a 36.8 passer rating. The Packers also allowed 171 rushing yards and failed to register a turnover Sunday, while the Saints generated three takeaways of their own.

While not happy with the club’s showing, Rodgers reiterated the need to move on.

“It’s not acceptable, but it’s just one game,” the quarterback noted. “We’re not going to be held prisoner mentally by that poor performance.”

Green Bay will have the chance to get its first win of the season Monday night against the Detroit Lions.

Las Vegas Raiders¬†head coach Jon Gruden can’t explain exactly how he felt after the wild sequence of events that ended with his team beating the¬†Baltimore Ravens¬†33-27 in overtime on Monday Night Football.

“Felt like I died and woke up. And died. And woke up again. I was like a cat, I had multiple lives tonight,” Gruden said postgame, according to ESPN’s Paul Gutierrez. “We did a lot of good things to win that football game.”

Raiders wide receiver Zay Jones scored a 31-yard, walk-off touchdown in overtime that gave the 65,000 fans at Allegiant Stadium the excitement they deserved after being unable to attend the new venue last year due to the pandemic.

Jones’ score came just minutes after Las Vegas blew an opportunity to win the contest with a touchdown in the first possession of overtime. Baltimore cornerback Anthony Averett intercepted quarterback Derek Carr in the end zone on a third-and-goal that started at the Ravens’ 5-yard line.

Minutes after Averrett’s interception, however, Raiders defensive end Carl Nassib forced a fumble off quarterback Lamar Jackson that left Las Vegas just 27 yards away from Baltimore’s end zone and eventually led to Jones’ touchdown reception.

Carr praised his defense after the contest.

“The thing that I love the most: To everyone that talked crap about our defense for 12 months, they stepped up when we needed them most to get us the ball back so we could win it,” the signal-caller said.

Carr finished the night with 435 yards and two touchdowns against one interception on 34-of-56 passing.

The¬†New Orleans Saints¬†scored one of the more shocking outcomes of the NFL’s opening weekend, blowing out the¬†Green Bay Packers¬†38-3 in a home game held in Jacksonville after Hurricane Ida hit Louisiana in late August.

The Saints dedicated their performance to their hometown supporters.

“That was for the city. Shoutout to the city of New Orleans. We did that for them,” Saints quarterback Jameis Winston said postgame. “We knew how much it would mean to get a great victory for that region, they’ve been through so much.”

Hurricane Ida has resulted in 26 deaths as of last week. The storm left more than 1 million people without power, including all of New Orleans, when it made landfall Aug. 29. Many area residents still don’t have water and/or electricity.

Though the Saints couldn’t play their season opener at the Caesars Superdome, they hoped to make those in New Orleans proud with their Week 1 win.

“For us to be able to celebrate this victory with them, it’s just hats off to them for their resilience,” Winston said of the fans. “Because they motivated us, they inspired us to (go) out there and ball.”

The Saints’ next two games will come on the road against the Carolina Panthers and New England Patriots. They’re scheduled to return home to face the New York Giants on Oct. 3.

Tennessee Titans¬†head coach Mike Vrabel bashed new star¬†Julio Jones¬†on Monday after a costly personal foul penalty highlighted the receiver’s lackluster debut.

Jones was flagged 15 yards for unnecessary roughness in the first quarter Sunday after he swung at Arizona Cardinals cornerback Byron Murphy. The Titans threw an incomplete pass on the ensuing third down, forcing them to punt while already trailing 10-0.

“Critical mistake,” Vrabel said. “That’s absolutely nothing that we coach or teach. So, that would fall into the category of doing dumb shit that hurts the team, right there in bold letters. It goes from third-and-1 to third-and-16.”

Tennessee lost 38-13, spoiling Jones’ highly anticipated debut. The 32-year-old wideout managed just three receptions for 29 yards, though the rest of the team’s offense didn’t fare much better.

A seven-time Pro Bowler, Jones landed with the Titans in an offseason trade from the Atlanta Falcons. He and A.J. Brown are expected to form one of the NFL’s top receiver tandems.

Jones had 771 yards and three touchdowns over nine games last year while battling hamstring issues. From 2014-19, he posted at least 1,394 yards each season and twice led the league in receiving.