The dust has settled on the first week of the 2023 NFL season, and it’s clear – we’re in for an electrifying year of football. From unexpected rookie breakouts to stalwart performances by the league’s established stars, Week 1 was a showcase of the highs, lows, passion, and intensity that define the NFL.
As teams dusted off their off-season rust, the games were not without their fair share of fumbles, injuries, and moments of sheer brilliance. Defensive showdowns stole the limelight in some matches, while others saw offensive juggernauts going head-to-head in gripping shootouts. For fans and analysts alike, there were surprises around every corner.
Now, as we settle into the rhythm of the season, let’s take a closer look at the standout moments, players, and strategies that made headlines in Week 1. Whether you’re rooting for the rookies making a splash or the veterans reminding us of their worth, this recap promises a comprehensive look at a week that had football enthusiasts on the edge of their seats. Buckle up; it’s time to dive into the drama, touchdown by touchdown, tackle by tackle.
Detroit Lions 21, Kansas City Chiefs 20
Rookie Spotlight: Brian Branch couldn’t have asked for a better start to his NFL career. The versatile 2nd round defensive back got a pick-six thrown by the 2022 League and Super Bowl MVP Patrick Mahomes. He also managed three tackles and only allowed one reception for three yards before going off injured in the 4th quarter.
Atlanta Falcons 24, Carolina Panthers 10
Rookie Spotlight: Bijan Robinson scored one of the best touchdowns of Week 1 where he forced three missed tackles en route to the end zone. The rookie only had 10 carries for 56 yards but hauled in 6 receptions for 27 yards and his TD. The potential is there for Bijan. Hopefully, he gets more of the ball in week 2.
Baltimore Ravens 25, Houston Texans 9
Rookie Spotlight: Will Anderson, the 3rd overall draft pick for the Texans announced himself to the NFL with 6 total tackles and a sack in an impressive display.
The rookie that stole the show though was Zay Flowers who established himself as the clear #1 option for the Ravens whilst Mark Andrews is out. The rookie had 9 receptions off 10 targets for 78 yards and rushed twice for 9 yards. The Ravens have a real player on their hands.
Cleveland Browns 24, Cincinnati Bengals 3
Offensive Spotlight: Let Nick Chubb do Nick Chubb things. The star running back was as efficient as ever as he rushed for 106 yards. His 30th game with over 100 yards.
The rest of the offense on both sides wasn’t much to shout about with Burrow and the Bengals struggling to get going. The highest-paid player in the NFL only threw for 82 yards and no touchdowns. Browns QB Deshawn Watson was slightly better. He threw for 154 yards, one TD, and one INT with 45 rushing yards and a TD off 5 carries.
San Francisco 49ers 30, Pittsburgh Steelers 7
Offensive Spotlight: Brock Purdy is that guy. He went 19 0f 29 with 220 passing yards and two touchdowns. He didn’t look hindered by his elbow surgery at all and proved to all his critics that he is the man for the job. He also showed that he could feed all the San Francisco stars. Christian McCaffery rushed for 152 yards and a TD with 17 receiving yards, whilst Brandon Aiyuk went 8 for 8 and 129 yards and two TDs. It was a dominating offensive display by the 49ers.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers 20, Minnesota Vikings 17
Rookie Spotlight: The Vikings’ first-round pick Jordan Addison caught four of his six targets for 61 yards and a 39-yard TD. Listed officially as the third-string receiver behind K.J. Osborn, it was surprising to see Addison featured so much, but he definitely made his claim to be the #2 guy behind Justin Jefferson.
Jacksonville Jaguars 31, Indianapolis Colts 21
Offensive Spotlight: Calvin Ridley has not lost a step. Suspended last year because of gambling, Ridley went off vs. the Colts for eight receptions, 101 yards, and a touchdown. He looked as sharp as ever and with an ever-improving Trevor Lawrence, the two of them could be in for a huge season. Jags fans should be very excited.
Washington Commanders 20, Arizona Cardinals 16
Defensive Spotlight: The Commanders’ defense hounded Josh Dobbs and the Cardinals all day. They sacked him three times, forced three fumbles, and recovered two of them. Emmanuel Forbes, the rookie 16th overall pick from the draft made a huge play late in the game and helped the Commanders edge a narrow win. On his regular season debut, Forbes did not allow a single reception.
New Orleans Saints 16, Tennessee Titans 15
Offensive Spotlight: Derek Carr had a decent first outing as a Saints player. He totaled 305 passing yards and a passing TD. Chris Olave, the second-year receiver immediately benefitted from having a competent QB, hauling in eight receptions for 112 yards despite missing part of the game.
Los Angeles Rams 30, Seattle Seahawks 13
Offensive Spotlight: Cooper who? If Kupp’s not careful, Rams fans may soon forget about their star receiver as rookie Puka Nacua stole the show. The fifth-round pick caught 10 receptions off 15 targets for 119 yards.
The Rams run game was also impressive. Running backs Kyren Williams and Cam Akers running the ball in for 3 combined TDs and 37 carries.
Miami Dolphins 36, Los Angeles Chargers 34
Offensive Spotlight: Tua-infinity and beyond! This is what the Dolphins fans will be shouting after that performance from Tua and Co. Tua Tagovailoa threw for 466 yards, 3 TDs, and one interception. The biggest benefactor of Tua’s impressive arm was Tyreek Hill who caught 11/15 targets for 215 yards and 2 TDs.
The Chargers responded to the Dolphins passing masterclass by rushing for a total of 234 yards and 3 TDs. Austin Ekeler and Joshua Kelley each having 17 carries each.
Green Bay Packers 38, Chicago Bears 20
Defensive Spotlight: There are too many defensive players on the Packers side to highlight, the whole time played well and neutralized Bears QB Justin Fields. Second-year linebacker Quay Walker picked Fields off and returned it for a pick-six, yet he wasn’t even the standout performer on the Packers. Devonte Wyatt, the 28th overall pick from 2022, recorded 1.5 sacks and two tackles for loss. Darnell Savage recorded 10 total tackles and one tackle for loss. The Packers’ defense was everywhere and took the pressure off Jordan Love.
Las Vegas Raiders 17, Denver Broncos 16
Defensive Spotlight: There was a lot of focus on how Sean Payton would transform this Denver offense into an oiled machine, but the real stars this week were their defense. Denver held the Raiders to just 61 rushing yards. 2022’s leading rusher Josh Jacobs only managed 48 yards of 19 carries.
Philadelphia Eagles 25, New England Patriots 20
Defensive Spotlight: The Eagles’ defense started the game off on fire. Cornerback Darius Slay returned an interception for a 70-yard pick 6, breezing past Mac Jones who made a pathetic attempt to tackle him. Minutes later, Zach Cunningham forced a fumble on Ezekiel Elliot and the Eagles’ offense went on to score and make it a 16-0 lead. On the other side of the ball, the Patriots neutralized Jalen Hurts. They held the Eagles, a run-first team to 97 total rushing yards.
Dallas Cowboys 40, New York Giants 0
Defensive Spotlight: The Cowboys’ defense was destructive against the Giants. They registered seven sacks, ten tackles for loss, and picked off Daniel Jones twice. It was an unbelievable performance by the Cowboys who embarrassed their division rivals. Dorance Armstrong and Osa Odighizuwa both registered 2 sacks each and 5 TFL combined.
New York Jets 22, Buffalo Bills 16
Defensive Spotlight: How about the monstrous performance from Jets safety Jordan Whitehead? He picked off elite QB Josh Allen not once, not twice, but three times. After the Jets lost Aaron Rodgers very early in the game, Whitehead gave the Jets fans something to cheer about, and his contribution played a huge factor in the Jets being able to win without their veteran QB.
As the sun sets on the opening week of the 2023 NFL season, it leaves behind a trail of memories, lessons, and anticipations. Each game, whether a nail-biting close contest or a blowout victory, spoke to the unpredictable nature of football and the sheer determination of its players.
The rookies came out in force, proving that the future of the league is in good hands. From Brian Branch’s impeccable start against the formidable Patrick Mahomes to Zay Flowers swiftly becoming a go-to option for the Ravens, new talents are emerging, eager to leave their mark. It’s a testament to the fact that every draft class has the potential to reshape the dynamics of the teams and the league at large.
On the other hand, seasoned players reminded us why they’re revered, showcasing their skill and experience when it mattered the most. Moments like Nick Chubb’s powerful running game and Calvin Ridley’s triumphant return are timely reminders that the veterans still have plenty left in the tank.
However, it wasn’t just about individual performances. Team dynamics, tactical decisions, and on-field strategies played a crucial role in the outcomes. Defenses, in particular, took center stage in many matches, underscoring the old adage: “Defense wins championships.”
In the grand scheme of things, Week 1 is but a drop in the ocean of a full-fledged NFL season. Yet, its implications are profound. It sets the tone, builds early momentum, and offers teams a glimpse into their strengths and vulnerabilities. As fans, analysts, players, and coaches reflect on this week’s happenings, all eyes now turn to Week 2 with bated breath. Will the underdogs continue to surprise? Can the frontrunners maintain their momentum? Only time will tell. Until then, let’s cherish the spectacle that was Week 1 and gear up for another thrilling chapter of the 2023 NFL saga.