Welcome back NFL.
Sunday’s games left many fans breathless with heart-pounding plays, head-scratching results and the kind of day that makes NFL fans wonder how exactly did we survive the off season? But good news: This is our Sunday routine now until February.
So kick back and enjoy, Sunday was a wild ride.
According to my preseason predictions, the Oakland Raiders will shed the previous decade-plus of futility and make the playoffs. And they kicked off this year’s campaign with what might go down as one of the wildest games of the season.
Any NFL fan or coach knows: when taking on Drew Brees in New Orleans, you’ll need to score. A lot. Early in the game, the Saints showcased their prolific offense with a Brandon Cooks 98-yard touchdown. The Saints were looked to be rolling.
But the Raiders overcame a 14-point second half deficit, and had that been it, well, that certainly would have been enough to give Raider fans hope of a fruitful season.
But they say "Fate favors the bold," And Jack Del Rio, Raiders head coach, you could say he made a very bold move.
After Derek Carr hit Seth Roberts to pull within a point of the Saints with less than a minute remaining, Del Rio made that move.
Of course, the safe play in that situation is kick the point after, tie the game and play for overtime.
But Del Rio showing some massive moxy, decided to go for two.
Well, Carr found Michael Crabtree on a fade, converting on the risky call and took a 35-34 lead that would be the final.
It’s the kind of play that, if it fails, would receive endless scorn, but when it works, can ignite an entire franchise with pride and confidence. And this time, it worked. You can expect a fun season from the Oakland-Soon-To-Be-Los Angeles Raiders.
As it happens, 52% of teams that win on opening day do go on to the playoffs, while only 24% of teams that lose their first game make the post season. That Raiders game was a stunner.
Now, we still have 2 more games on Monday, but so far, 11 games have been decided by one possession, 10 on Sunday alone.
And another such game, the Chargers in Kansas City.
The Chiefs have won the past 4 against San Diego. But this is a new season and a new Chargers team, right?
Looked that way for 3 quarters. San Diego built a 3-touchdown lead, but the more things change, the more they stay the same.
The Chiefs running game picked up in the 4th frame, overcoming a 17-point deficit and Alex Smith took it into the end zone himself in overtime for the win. 33 -27 the final.
In other nail-biters: The Giants-Cowboys game was decided by the slimmest of margins. But this one will sting for a while for Cowboys fans.
Eli manning hit Victor Cruz for the go-ahead score, yet the Cowboys had a chance at a field goal and the win, but Terrance Williams darted further in field rather than out of bounds to stop the clock. The Cowboys couldn’t get another playoff and the Giants win 20-19.
The Jacksonville Jaguars, a trendy pick for an improved team, gave the Packers all they could handle. But the Jags are still young, made mistakes and the Packers defense made stops when they needed. 27-23 the final. Packers win.
Last year, Andrew Luck missed 9 games for the Colts. They missed the playoffs for the first time since 2011. He’s healthy this year and showcased that, making throws we’ve become accustomed to seeing him throw and brought the Colts back from an 18-point deficit to take the lead over the Lions with less than 40 seconds to go.
But the colts defense couldn’t get a stop and the Lions took advantage, nailed the field goal for the win. 39-35 the final.
The Seahawks earned a close win behind final minute magic from Russell Wilson, beating the Dolphins 12-10 in Seattle.
The Cincinnati Bengals edged out the Jets on a last-second field goal, 23-22 the final in New York.
Still to come: Monday Night Football. Steelers in Washington DC and the Rams at 49ers.