Recapping week one of the NFL season

By Patrick Gainor, Guest Writer

The Cincinnati Bengals fell to the Pittsburgh Steelers at Paycor Stadium in one of the most chaotic opening week games.

Joe Burrow had one of the worst games of his career, throwing four interceptions and losing a fumble. Three of those turnovers happened in the first half, making it the first time the Bengals turned the ball over four times in the first half since 2013. Pittsburgh capitalized with 17 points off turnovers, including a pick-six from safety Minkah Fitzpatrick.

The Steelers went into halftime with a 17-6 lead, but the Bengals slowly fought back with a touchdown pass to Tyler Boyd in the third, and a game-tying touchdown pass to Ja’Marr Chase with two seconds left in the game. However, the game-winning extra-point attempt was blocked by Fitzpatrick, thereby forcing overtime.

After a Pittsburgh punt, the Bengals drove down the field and lined up to kick a 29-yard game-winning field goal. However, a high snap by backup long snapper Mitchell Wilcox led to Evan McPherson kicking the ball with the laces forward and causing the kick to go wide left. After another arduous Steelers drive, Chris Boswell attempted a 55-yard field goal, which hit off the left goalpost. — Washington Football Team vs. Cincinnati Bengals from FedEx Field, Landover, MD, August 20, 2021 (All-Pro Reels Photography)

The Bengals once again attempted to drive down the field, but after Burrow’s seventh sack of the day and a rather obscure rule about teams recovering their own fumbles, they were forced to punt, leading to Mitchell Trubisky marching the Steelers down the field and Boswell kicking the game-winning field goal.

Despite the late comeback to send the game into overtime, questions about Burrow’s performance and the offensive line allowing seven sacks plague the opening week of this season. Burrow acknowledged his rough game in a postgame interview but brushed it off in the end. “Obviously you don’t want to throw four picks. But I never panicked,” said the quarterback, “We stayed even keeled and we came back and put us in position to win.”

Burrow finished 33/53 for 338 yards and two touchdowns along with those four interceptions. Chase was excellent on Sunday, pulling in ten receptions for 129 yards and the game-tying touchdown. Joe Mixon rushed 27 times for 82 yards, as well as caught seven passes for an additional 63 yards. McPherson went two for three on field goals, the first of which was made from 59 yards, a new franchise record.

The Bengals fall to 0-1, and after wins by the Ravens over the Jets and the Browns over the Panthers, they sit in fourth place in the AFC East. They travel to Dallas on Sunday to take on the Cowboys, who will be without Dak Prescott under center for at least the next six weeks.

Other games:

Packers 7, Vikings 23: In an NFC North matchup that made the writer of this article a happy man, the Minnesota Vikings, led by new Head Coach Kevin O’Connell, shut down the Green Bay Packers in a 23-7 win. Justin Jefferson had the game of his life, pulling in nine catches for 184 yards and two touchdowns as he consistently burned the Packers defense. Kirk Cousins also had a phenomenal game, going 23/32 for 277 yards and two touchdowns, averaging nearly nine yards per pass. Aaron Rodgers struggled to connect with receivers, in a game where he finished 22/34 for 195 yards and an interception.

Giants 21, Titans 20: Brian Daboll made his coaching debut for the New York Giants on Sunday. Despite being down 13-0 to the Tennessee Titans at the half, the Giants surged back to take the lead off of a gutsy two-point conversion attempt in the final minute of play to take a 21-20 lead. The Titans drove down the field, but Randy Bullock missed the game-winning field goal, giving New York their first winning record since 2016. Daniel Jones, despite early struggles, finished 17/21 with 188 yards, two touchdowns, an interception and a lost fumble.

Buccaneers 19, Cowboys 3: The season opener for the Dallas Cowboys could not have gone much worse. The offense could not get going after an opening drive field goal, which would stay all of the scoring they would do. Micah Parsons tallied two sacks, but the defense couldn’t contain Brady’s Bucs for long as they fought their way to a 19-3 victory. What’s worse is that Prescott left the game with a fractured thumb and is set to miss several weeks, seemingly dooming their playoff aspirations. Dallas is set to host the Cincinnati Bengals this Sunday.