VIDEO: Buccaneers Get Big Week 1 Road Win, Jags and Dolphins Find Ways To Lose
By Alan Zlotorzynski, Space Coast Daily // September 12, 2016
2008 last time any Florida team made playoffs
ABOVE VIDEO: Highlights from the Tampa Bay Buccaneers 31-24 road victory over the Atlanta Falcons on Sunday.
BREVARD COUNTY, FLORIDA – Sunday number one is in the books in the NFL and Florida’s NFL teams, despite playing much better collectively, provided a similar Sunday result – a losing record.
The three team that represent the Sunshine state went 1-2 on Sunday with only the young promising Tampa Bay Buccaneers winning.
In what can be described as positive, both the Jaguars and Dolphins were in position to win their games vs. two playoff teams from a year and were in position with less than a minute to play in their respective games.
Let’s start with the winning team.
BUCCANEERS 31, FALCONS 24
Jameis Winston bounced back from an early interception to throw four touchdown passes, and Tampa Bay claimed a winning record for the first since 2012 by opening the season with a victory over the Falcons.
Winston began his second year as a pro by going 23 of 33 for 281 yards, using just about every weapon at his disposal in the matchup between NFC South rivals. He hooked up with receiver Mike Evans, running back Charles Sims III and tight ends Austin Sefarian-Jenkins and Brandon Myers on scoring plays.
Winston continues to amaze at his progress and he also continues to place his name where few names are located. With his four TD passes, Winston (22 years, 249 days) is the fourth-youngest quarterback to throw at least four touchdown passes on Kickoff Weekend.
The only three players to accomplish the feat at a younger age are Pro Football Hall of Famer Fran Tarkenton (21 years, 226 days) in 1961, Marcus Mariota (21 years, 318 days) in 2015 and Drew Bledsoe (22 years, 203 days) in 1994.
The Falcons grabbed a 10-3 lead late in the first quarter after Winston’s pass for Vincent Jackson was picked off by Desmond Trufant, who returned it 13 yards to the Tampa Bay 9. There was a mix-up between the quarterback and receiver, as Jackson broke outside while Winston’s threw to the inside.
While much of the hype surrounded the Bucs offense, the defense, which finished ranked tenth overall in 2015, looked good. In fact, the Buccaneers’ defense looked less sloppy in its opening game under Koetter and new defensive coordinator Mike Smith than it did last year under the guidance of Lovie Smith and Leslie Frazier.
Tampa Bay was the second-most penalized team last season, but against the Falcons were only penalized 48 yards total, none of which helped the Falcons on big drives.
The defense held a pretty good signal caller and All Pro receiver in check on third down. The Falcons converted just three of 13 third down attempts during the game. Kwon Alexander played lights out registering 15 tackles and a sack.
New Bucs head coach Dirk Koetter got a game ball after his debut as an NFL head coach.
PACKERS 27, JAGUARS 23
ABOVE VIDEO: Aaron Rodgers threw two touchdown passes and ran for another score, leading the Packers to a victory against Blake Bortles (24-49 320 yards 1TD, 1 INT) and the revamped Jaguars defense.
With all of the talent Jaguars head coach Gus Bradley is accumulating, losing games like the one Jacksonville did Sunday to the mighty Green Bay Packers is no longer acceptable.
Aaron Rodgers threw two touchdown passes and ran for another score, leading the Packers to a victory against the Jaguars.
Rodgers looked every bit like, well, a two-time league MVP. He extended plays with his feet, escaped sacks and had precision accuracy all over the field. He completed 20 of 34 passes for 199 yards, with TD passes to Jordy Nelson and Davante Adams. He was sacked once for no yards and didn’t turn it over.
His counterpart, Jags QB Blake Bortles picked up where he left off last season. The former UCF Knight was 24-49 for 320 yards with one touchdown and done interception. Bortles TD pass came late in the first half as he found TE Julius Thomas for a 22 yard TD capping off a seven play, 75-yard drive in just, 1:56
The jags defense could not hold the lead heading into the half and allowed the Packers to score the go ahead TD with just 13 seconds to play in the first half.
Rodgers had all day to thrown on Sunday. While he didn’t find open receivers early in the down often, he used his legs and still very potent arm to drop a number of “wow” plays on Jacksonville.
The rebuilt Jaguars secondary did their job overall but coach Gus Bradley has to be disappointed with his group’s inability to rush the passer.
Red shirt sophomore Dante Fowler Jr. and Yannick Ngakoue were not effective rushing Rodgers. Bradley better get his defense turned around, next week the Jags travel to San Diego.
Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers has destroyed the Jaguars in six career games, throwing for 1,899 yards and 15 touchdown passes, with only four interceptions. Rivers has 677 yards and seven touchdowns, with no interceptions, in his past two games against the Jaguars.
The Jaguars mounted a late drive that came up short following two head scratching play calls on third and fourth down. Bortles rushed the play on third down throwing an incompletions and on a fourth-and-1 play at the Packers 14, WR Allen Hurns failed to juke his way past the sticks.
The Jaguars had converted their previous three fourth-down plays.
SEAHAWKS 12, DOLPHINS 10
ABOVE VIDEO: The Dolphins snatch defeat from the jaws of victory. While Fins can feel good about how they played the Patriots won a game no one expected them too and are now 1-0. The more things change the more they stay the same.
Seattle QB Russell Wilson pulled off another fourth-quarter comeback, throwing a 2-yard touchdown pass to Doug Baldwin with 31 seconds left, giving the Seahawks a win over the Dolphins.
The expected contenders in the NFC looked flawed offensively and buckled defensively in the fourth quarter, giving up an 86-yard touchdown drive to Ryan Tannehill that gave the Dolphins a 10-6 lead with 4:08 remaining.
That’s when Wilson went to work, playing on a right ankle that twisted badly in the third quarter as he was sacked by Ndamukong Suh.
Seattle converted fourth-and-1 early in the drive on a 7-yard run by Christine Michael, but the big play was Wilson finding Baldwin for 22 yards on a crossing route on fourth-and-4 near midfield.
Wilson hit Baldwin in the corner of the end zone to give Seattle the lead. The extra point was partially blocked by Miami’s Jason Jones, but it didn’t matter.
Tannehill was 16 of 29 for 186 yards but missed opportunities seem to plague his tenure in south Florida—and while not always his fault, Sunday was no different. Miami twice drove inside the Seattle 20 and failed to come away with points.
Miami missed on three great scoring chances. On fourth-and-1 at the Seattle 17 in the first quarter, Tannehill tried to draw the Seahawks offside before handing off to Arian Foster, who was stuffed at the line of scrimmage.
On their next series, Kenny Stills got free behind Seattle’s secondary only to drop what would have been a sure touchdown. And in the third quarter, Andrew Franks’ 27-yard field goal attempt was blocked by Cassius Marsh.
New Dolphins pass rusher Mario Williams left in the second half to be evaluated for a concussion. He did not return. DT Earl Mitchell also suffered a calf injury in the first half.
I’m not buying into the theory that the while Dolphins leave Seattle disappointed after their close loss, they also found out they are probably better than many people, including themselves expected. Miami’s locker room was quietly confident that this can be a good season. The team just has to clean up early mistakes.
The problem is Miami plays in the same division with New England and if a team needs a lesson on winning games as an underdog playing a tough NFC West team, the Fins do not have look any further than those hated Patriots.
Playing without Tom Brady and Rob Gronkowski, New England defeated the seven point favorite Arizona Cardinals, 23-21. With Jimmy Garoppolo at QB, the Pats trailed 21-20 with about 10 minutes to play until the backup led his team on a 13 play, 61 yard, 6:02 drive which was capped by a 32-yard Stephen Gostkowski field goal…The difference, the Patriots defense held, the Dolphins did not.
You’ve heard the expression, if you want what “they” have you have to be willing to work like they do and the Dolphins failed to do that during the Seahawks final possession of the game.
While it is a long year, do not discount the importance of winning and losing on the first Sunday of the season.
Since 1978 when the NFL went to the 16-game schedule, and excluding the abbreviated season of 1982, teams that are victorious in their season openers are more than twice as likely to reach the playoffs than losers of an opening game:
- Of the 554 teams which won openers…288 went to the playoffs (173 won division titles).
- Of the 555 teams which lost openers…134 went to the playoffs (77 won division titles)