Greg Olsen (88) of the Carolina Panthers and Donald Hawkins (78) check the health of Cam Newton (1) after he was pummeled by Shaquil Barrett (48) of the Denver Broncos and Darian Stewart (26) during the fourth quarter of the Broncos' 21-20 win. The Denver Broncos hosted the Carolina Panthers on Thursday, September 8, 2016. (Helen H. Richardson/The Denver Post via Getty Images)
EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - SEPTEMBER 11: Fans hold an American flag during the National Anthem prior to the game between the New York Jets and the Cincinnati Bengals at MetLife Stadium on September 11, 2016 in East Rutherford, New Jersey. (Photo by Steven Ryan/Getty Images)
Zach Ertz #86 of the Philadelphia Eagles makes a one handed catch against Jordan Poyer #33 of the Cleveland Browns in the first quarter at Lincoln Financial Field on September 11, 2016 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images)
JACKSONVILLE, FL - SEPTEMBER 11: Green Bay Packers fans during the game against the Jacksonville Jaguars at EverBank Field on September 11, 2016 in Jacksonville, Florida. (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)
JACKSONVILLE, FL - SEPTEMBER 11: Aaron Rodgers #12 of the Green Bay Packers attempts to pass during the game against the Jacksonville Jaguars at EverBank Field on September 11, 2016 in Jacksonville, Florida. (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)
NEW ORLEANS, LA - SEPTEMBER 11: Michael Crabtree #15 of the Oakland Raiders catches a pass over Delvin Breaux #40 of the New Orleans Saints completing a two-point conversion to take the lead late in the second half of a game at Mercedes-Benz Superdome on September 11, 2016 in New Orleans, Louisiana. (Photo by Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images)
KANSAS CITY, MO - SEPTEMBER 11: Defensive back Marcus Peters #22 of the Kansas City Chiefs rips the helmet off of wide receiver Keenan Allen #13 of the San Diego Chargers during the game at Arrowhead Stadium on September 11, 2016 in Kansas City, Missouri. (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
ARLINGTON, TX - SEPTEMBER 11: Jason Witten #82 of the Dallas Cowboys greets former First Lady Laura Bush and former U.S. President George W. Bush prior to the game against the New York Giants at AT&T Stadium on September 11, 2016 in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images)
ARLINGTON, TX - SEPTEMBER 11: Odell Beckham #13 of the New York Giants wears 9/11 cleats as a tribute for the 15th anniversary of September 11th before a game against the Dallas Cowboys at AT&T Stadium on September 11, 2016 in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
Fans pose in front of the Pat Tillman statue before the NFL game between the Arizona Cardinals and New England Patriots at the University of Phoenix Stadium on September 11, 2016 in Glendale, Arizona. (Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
GLENDALE, AZ - SEPTEMBER 11: Wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald #11 of the Arizona Cardinals celebrates his 100th career touchdown with offensive tackle Earl Watford #78 during the fourth quarter of the NFL game against the New England Patriots at the University of Phoenix Stadium on September 11, 2016 in Glendale, Arizona. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger #7 of the Pittsburgh Steelers meets with defensive back Josh Norman #24 of the Washington Redskins after the Pittsburgh Steelers defeated the Washington Redskins 38-16 at FedExField on September 12, 2016 in Landover, Maryland. (Patrick Smith/Getty Images)
Colin Kaepernick #7 of the San Francisco 49ers kneels in protest during the national anthem prior to playing the Los Angeles Rams in their NFL game at Levi's Stadium on September 12, 2016 in Santa Clara, California. (Robert Reiners/Getty Images)
Football is finally back. The season kicked off last Thursday, Sept. 8, with a Super Bowl rematch that had the same results: a battered Cam Newton and his Carolina Panthers falling to the Denver Broncos. (The Broncos obviously had a new play-caller onboard in Trevor Siemian, with Peyton Manning having retired.) Despite taking a few brutal helmet-to-helmet hits, the defending league MVP set the record in Thursday’s game for the most career rushing touchdowns for a quarterback (44) and most games with a rushing and passing touchdown (32). (Both records were formerly set by Hall of Famer Steve Young.)
Falling on the 15th anniversary of the September 11th attacks, this season’s first Sunday had a somber tone. For a different reason, the day was significant for a few players. Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz had perhaps the best debut of any rookie, throwing for 278 yards in the 29-10 win over the Browns. The Oakland Raiders overcame an 11-point deficit capped by a risky two-point conversion with 47 seconds left on the clock to win against the New Orleans Saints. After not playing for 700 days due to recurring leg injuries, Giants wide receiver Victor Cruz had the perfect comeback moment with a go-ahead touchdown in the fourth quarter to trump the Dallas Cowboys, 20-19. New England Patriot Jimmy Garoppolo proved he could be a sufficient stand-in for quarterback Tom Brady, as he serves his four-game suspension for the “Deflategate” debacle. Arizona Cardinals wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald, who seems to defy the laws of time and only get better with age, scored his 100th career touchdown.
It was a night of back-to-back domination from the Pittsburgh Steelers and the San Francisco 49ers in Monday’s doubleheader. Continuing with the trend of veterans cementing their place in the record books, quarterback Ben Roethlisberger completed his 500th pass to Antonio Brown last night, becoming the first in NFL history to throw 500 passes to three different teammates—including Heath Miller (540) and Hines Ward (512). After a tight first half, the dual threat of Brown and tailback DeAngelo Williams allowed the Steelers to blow the game wide open with 24 points, for a 38-16 win.
On the West Coast, the San Francisco 49ers denied the newly transplanted Los Angles Rams, 28-0. The shutout shouldn’t be taken too seriously, though, considering the Rams had one of the league’s worst offenses last season. That said, it was an important win for Chip Kelly in his first game as head coach for San Francisco, following two tumultuous years in Philadelphia. Unfortunately for Los Angeles fans, they’ll have to wait another week to see their new team in the end zone.