The NFL preseason kicked off on Thursday night with four games featuring some of the league’s top teams and players. Here are some of the key takeaways and analysis from the opening night of Week 1.
The Houston Texans pulled off a stunning comeback against the New England Patriots, scoring 17 points in the final quarter to win 27-24. The Texans trailed 24-10 entering the fourth quarter, but rookie quarterback Davis Mills led three scoring drives, capped by a 4-yard touchdown pass to Jordan Akins with 15 seconds left. Mills finished with 203 yards and two touchdowns on 18-of-25 passing, while Akins had six catches for 83 yards and a score.
The Patriots started Cam Newton at quarterback, who completed 8-of-9 passes for 103 yards and a touchdown. He also ran for 10 yards on two carries. Newton connected with Nelson Agholor for a 28-yard touchdown in the first quarter, giving the Patriots a 7-0 lead. Agholor had three catches for 57 yards in his Patriots debut.
The Patriots also got a strong performance from their defense, which forced two turnovers and sacked Mills four times. However, they could not stop the Texans’ rally in the final minutes, as Mills found Keke Coutee for a 22-yard touchdown and Ka’imi Fairbairn kicked a 49-yard field goal to tie the game at 24-24. The Patriots had a chance to win the game, but rookie quarterback Mac Jones was intercepted by Lonnie Johnson Jr. on the ensuing drive, setting up the Texans’ game-winning touchdown.
Packers edge Bengals in defensive battle
The Green Bay Packers defeated the Cincinnati Bengals 13-10 in a low-scoring affair that featured strong defensive play from both sides. The Packers scored the only touchdown of the game in the third quarter, when Jordan Love threw a 22-yard pass to Malik Taylor. Love, who started in place of Aaron Rodgers, completed 12-of-17 passes for 122 yards and a touchdown, with one interception.
The Bengals started Joe Burrow at quarterback, who made his return from a season-ending knee injury last year. Burrow played only one series, completing 4-of-5 passes for 38 yards. He led the Bengals to a field goal on their opening drive, giving them a 3-0 lead. Burrow was replaced by Brandon Allen, who completed 8-of-13 passes for 70 yards, with no touchdowns or interceptions.
The Bengals’ defense held the Packers to only 223 total yards and forced two turnovers. They also sacked Love three times and intercepted him once. However, they could not capitalize on their opportunities, as they settled for three field goals and missed another one. The Packers’ defense was equally impressive, holding the Bengals to only 160 total yards and forcing one turnover. They also sacked Allen four times and intercepted him once.
The game was tied at 10-10 in the fourth quarter, when Mason Crosby kicked a 37-yard field goal to give the Packers the lead with 1:56 left. The Bengals had a chance to tie or win the game, but Allen was sacked by Rashan Gary on fourth down, sealing the Packers’ victory.
Falcons fall to Dolphins in close contest
The Miami Dolphins edged the Atlanta Falcons 23-20 in a close contest that came down to the wire. The Dolphins scored the go-ahead touchdown in the fourth quarter, when Tua Tagovailoa threw a 14-yard pass to Mike Gesicki. Tagovailoa, who started at quarterback for the Dolphins, completed 16-of-23 passes for 183 yards and a touchdown, with no interceptions. He also ran for nine yards on two carries.
The Falcons started Matt Ryan at quarterback, who completed 9-of-11 passes for 86 yards and a touchdown, with no interceptions. He also ran for six yards on one carry. Ryan connected with Calvin Ridley for a 19-yard touchdown in the second quarter, giving the Falcons a 10-7 lead. Ridley had four catches for 52 yards and a score.
The Falcons’ defense forced three turnovers and sacked Tagovailoa twice. However, they could not stop the Dolphins’ offense from scoring on their final drive, as Tagovailoa completed five passes for 56 yards and a touchdown. The Falcons had a chance to tie or win the game, but rookie quarterback Feleipe Franks was intercepted by Nik Needham on the last play of the game.
Steelers rally past Buccaneers in fourth quarter
The Pittsburgh Steelers came back from a 10-point deficit in the fourth quarter to beat the Tampa Bay Buccaneers 30-28. The Steelers scored 17 points in the final period, including a 3-yard touchdown run by Jaylen Samuels with 1:21 left. Samuels also caught a 29-yard touchdown pass from Joshua Dobbs earlier in the quarter, as the Steelers erased a 28-18 deficit. Dobbs completed 11-of-13 passes for 152 yards and a touchdown, with no interceptions. He also ran for 18 yards on three carries.
The Buccaneers started Tom Brady at quarterback, who completed 7-of-10 passes for 84 yards and a touchdown, with no interceptions. He also ran for four yards on one carry. Brady threw a 9-yard touchdown pass to Chris Godwin in the first quarter, giving the Buccaneers a 7-0 lead. Godwin had three catches for 36 yards and a score.
The Buccaneers’ offense was explosive, scoring four touchdowns and gaining 379 total yards. They also got a big game from Giovani Bernard, who had seven catches for 73 yards and a touchdown, and ran for 25 yards on six carries. However, they could not hold on to their lead, as their defense allowed the Steelers to score on their last three possessions. The Steelers’ defense also forced two turnovers and sacked Brady once.
The Buccaneers had a chance to win the game, but rookie quarterback Kyle Trask was sacked by Cassius Marsh on fourth down, ending their hopes of a comeback.