If you’re a Boston sports fan, Sunday, Sept. 9 was a pretty good day.
In fact, it was pretty much the picture-perfect sports day for anyone living in the Boston area. Does it get much better than a football-baseball double-header in mid-September? These are the days when you can just escape the copious amounts of stress that life heaps upon all of us and just dive headfirst into a day filled with nothing but sports. And a pair of victories.
First those who took advantage of the double-header, first you ventured out to Foxboro to watch the Patriots kick off their 2018 season against the Houston Texans. You watched 41-year-old Tom Brady do his normal thing: throwing for nearly 300 yards and three touchdowns as the Pats opened the season by making a statement. Then, you came back to Boston for the nightcap at Fenway Park, in which the Red Sox walked off against the Astros in the bottom of the ninth to avoid a three-game sweep.
Sunday couldn’t have turned out better. It’s days like these that we will look back on in about a month, when the Red Sox bullpen coughs up a three-run lead in the eighth inning in Game 7 of the ALCS because their bullpen is an utter nightmare. But even then, we’ll still have Sept. 9, 2018.
Meanwhile, not only did the Patriots win their season opener, but Week 1 was pretty wild all around the NFL … especially the Packers-Bears game on Sunday Night Football. I’ll get more into that later, but Bears fans: please know that you have my sympathy. That was as brutal of a defeat as I have ever witnessed.
Here are a few thoughts following the first NFL Sunday of 2018 …
-- I think the most encouraging thing I took away from Sunday’s Pats-Texans game was how well the New England defense stepped up. Obviously, you knew they wouldn’t be completely awful like they were in the Super Bowl because Dont’a Hightower was back, and also Matt Patricia was gone. But last year in Week 3, Deshaun Watson came into Gillette Stadium as a rookie and carved up the Pats for 33 points.
On Sunday, they had Watson all out of sorts. He fumbled the ball on Houston’s very first snap of the game, for instance. At one point, he carelessly heaved the ball from midfield to the end zone and was intercepted by Stephon Gilmore. Watson’s overall confidence seemed a little shaken. He’ll get it together, but New England definitely succeeded in making him uncomfortable.
Above all else, the Texans struggled mightily in the red zone, and didn’t manage to score a touchdown until the final two minutes of the third quarter. After that abysmal Super Bowl, I wasn’t sure what to expect from the Patriots’ defensively coming into 2018. Their performance on Sunday was good to see.
-- If you’re a Bills fan, you’ve got to be slamming your head against a brick wall right now. Last year the Bills finally snapped their playoff drought, and now they are being forced to watch Nathan Peterman as their quarterback. I was wondering what the over/under would be for how many games it would take for Josh Allen to be forced into action because Peterman would just be so unbelievably bad.
Turns out, Peterman didn’t even last a full game. At one point, it was 39-0 Ravens, and the camera just zoomed in on Peterman standing on the sideline with his helmet on and wearing a heavy jacket to try and keep warm from the rain, and he just looked completely dumbfounded. It was like he couldn’t even comprehend what was happening.
The rookie Allen came in to play the fourth quarter and wound up with more completed passes and more passing yards than Peterman, who also had two interceptions. On the plus side for Buffalo fans, the Bills may very well have the first overall pick in the draft next year.
Alright, I’m running really short on time, so I need to wrap this column up quickly. I’m going to plow through these last few points faster than the speed of light.
-- I have no idea what happened in New Orleans between the Saints and the Bucs (final score: Bucs 48, Saints 40). But I do have one question: is Tampa Bay going to be looking to trade Jameis Winston any time soon? Apparently they score more points without him.
-- Just like I expected, the Kansas City Chiefs offense is the real deal. Tyreek Hill went off for 169 receiving yards and two touchdowns, while first-year starting QB Pat Mahomes threw four touchdown passes on 256 passing yards. Since Jon Gruden totally dismantled the Raiders, I don’t see how the Chiefs don’t win the AFC West.
(PS: Mahomes is the backup QB on my fantasy football team, but he might have just earned his way into my starting lineup for Week 2.)
-- Speaking of fantasy football, I have both Saquon Barkley and the Jaguars defense on my team, and they played against each other in Week 1. But it turned out perfect though, because Barkley broke away for a 68-yard touchdown, and the Jags intercepted Eli Manning for a pick six. Both sides greatly contributed to my fantasy football needs. I appreciate the love and support, guys. Thank you.
-- Alright, to wrap this baby up real quick, I just want to say this: for Chicago fans, I’ve seen few losses in sports tougher than that Sunday night game. The Bears at one point led 20-0, and in the first half, Aaron Rodgers had been knocked out of the game in what everyone feared might be a season-ending knee injury.
But Rodgers miraculously recovered and came back for the second half, and he lit up the Chicago defense in just about every way possible, including a ridiculous 75-yard touchdown pass to Randall Cobb to give Green Bay a 24-23 lead — and ultimately the win. There were just no words to be spoken.
No words other than … sorry, Chicago.