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#pounditFriday, October 30, 2020

5 biggest surprises of NFL Week 1

Tom Brady

Week 1 of the 2020 NFL regular season has now come and gone, and the fact that it happened at all amid the COVID-19 pandemic is a bit of a surprise. However, it was far from the only surprise, so let’s take a look at a few others from the start of the season.

5. Aldon Smith had no rust

As a result of his long and extensive legal history, Aldon Smith has been out of football since the 2015 season. However, he was reinstated back in May and given the green light to play in Dallas. Despite having not played football in nearly five years, he returned to dominance almost instantaneously. In his first game back, Smith recorded 11 tackles (six solo, one for a loss), two quarterback hits and one sack. Pro Football Focus gave him a modest grade of 72.6, but even that is remarkable when considering how long he had been away from the field.

4. Saquon Barkley rendered useless

While no one expected the New York Giants to start hot (or even be that good) in 2020, the general consensus was that running back Saquon Barkley would be heavily featured in Jason Garrett’s offense and put up historic numbers as a result. In Week 1, that was anything but the case. The Pittsburgh Steelers sold out on shutting Barkley down and did just that, limiting him to six yards on 15 carries. He also averaged a negative 0.7 yards before contact per carry, which was dead last in the NFL. Outside of one fake reverse screen pass where he got into open space, Barkley was rendered completely useless on Monday night and showed that he’s a severe liability in pass protection. Barkley even got called out by a former Giant for that.

3. The Washington Football Team

After a horrendous offseason that featured a name change, new uniform designs, domestic abuse arrests, reports of sexual harassment and just about every other negative you can possibly imagine, the Washington Football Team, under head coach Ron Rivera, came out and whooped the Philadelphia Eagles. Yes, they did get off to a slow start, but over the final three quarters, the game wasn’t even close as Washington physically laid it on their NFC East rivals. They out-scored Philadelphia 27-7 over the final three quarters, including a 13-point fourth quarter. Washington now stands alone at the top of the division with a 1-0 record — all other teams are 0-1. Who saw that coming?

2. Mitch Trubisky, the comeback kid

The Chicago Bears trailed the Detroit Lions 23-6 entering the fourth quarter on Sunday, and then Mitch Trubisky decided it was time to play a little football. He tossed three touchdowns during the final frame, leading the Bears on a 21-0 run that eventually gave them a 27-23 road victory. It was the first time since Jay Cutler in 2014 that a Bears quarterback tossed three-or-more touchdowns with no interceptions to secure a fourth quarter comeback victory. Trubisky also finished the day with a 143.3 QB rating, which led the NFL.

1. Tom Brady the dude

Tom Brady joined the Tampa Bay Buccaneers this offseason and he was going to prove to everyone that he was the reason behind New England’s dynasty. At least that’s what many pundits and fans would have you believe, but it’s not how things shook out. While Bill Belichick and the Pats got off to a 1-0 start, Brady and the Bucs took an “L” and looked terrible doing it. The Brady hype train crashed hard with the future Hall of Famer tossing two bad interceptions in the 11-point loss. After the game, head coach Bruce Arians ripped Brady’s play. The realization that it’s truly “Tom vs. Time” set in.

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