It’s common knowledge in sports that, if you take care of your own business, you don’t have to worry about anybody else as far as the standings are concerned.
While this is entirely true, getting some help along the way is never a bad thing. This column will be completely dedicated to the results of the other three NFC South teams throughout the season, and hopefully we’ll be able to bask in their failures together.
Los Angeles Rams 30, Carolina Panthers 27
The Carolina Panthers made a resilient comeback attempt in Week 1’s matchup against the defending NFC Champion Rams. In the end, however, it was just one mistake too many which saw Carolina come up short.
After a scoreless first quarter, the Rams’ prolific offense woke up while the Panthers continued their cat nap; the result was a 13-3 lead going into the half for Sean McVay’s unit. Malcolm Brown had the honor of scoring LA’s first touchdown of the season, in the second quarter.
It turned into a fun back and forth affair in the second half, with Christian McCaffrey scoring a pair of rushing touchdowns to get Carolina back into it, and Brown scoring his second rushing score of the day to hold serve. Carolina’s defense gave them an opportunity to take the lead with a touchdown, in the fourth quarter, but the Panthers’ offense couldn’t take advantage.
A Cam Newton interception gave the Rams a chance to put it away, but they didn’t take advantage. Carolina scored late behind Alex Armah, but they ran out of time.
Newton threw for 239 passing yards, surprisingly added nothing in terms of rushing yards, and didn’t score, while throwing an interception. McCaffrey was Carolina’s leading rusher and receiver, accounting for 209 yards from scrimmage and two rushing touchdowns.
Jared Goff totaled 186 passing yards, one passing touchdown, and one interception. Todd Gurley had 97 rushing yards, but it was Malcolm Brown who scavenged both rushing scores. Robert Woods was the leading receiver with 70 yards.
San Francisco 49ers 31, Tampa Bay Buccaneers 17
Jameis Winston is still bad, y’all. The former first overall pick out of Florida State University repeatedly shot his team in the foot, and threw a whopping two pick-sixes in this game. All of this after the annual Tampa Bay hype train rode through the entire offseason.
Both offenses couldn’t get out of their own way in the first quarter, as Tampa Bay punted twice and fumbled once, while the 49ers also had a fumble along with a made field goal. Jimmy Garoppolo threw an interception which was housed by Vernon Hargreaves for Tampa’s first score of the year, in the second quarter. San Francisco would kick one more field goal to bounce back, and each team would trade turnovers and go into the half with a 7-6 scoreline.
Garoppolo would put on the pressure on with a touchdown on his opening drive of the second half, and Winston cracked under that pressure by throwing his first pick six on the ensuing drive. Through 10 unanswered points following that sequence, the Bucs made it 20-17.
Winston got the ball back late in the fourth quarter, down 23-17, with a chance to put together a game-winning drive. On the first play, he threw an interception which was returned for a score by Ahkello Witherspoon. Tampa would go down with a whimper.
Garoppolo didn’t have the best game — 166 passing yards, one passing touchdown, and one interception which was returned for a score. Raheem Mosart was San Francisco’s leading rusher, totaling 40 yards on nine carries. George Kittle unsurprisingly led the team in targets (10), receptions (8), and receiving yards (54).
Winston threw for 194 passing yards, one passing touchdown, and had three interceptions (two pic-6s). Ronald Jones was Tampa’s leading rusher, totaling 75 yards on 13 carries. Chris Godwin had 53 receiving yards and the lone score to pace the way through the air. Mike Evans was kept quiet with 28 yards.
New Orleans Saints 30 vs. Houston Texans 28
The Houston defense did a fantastic job of absolutely squandering a brilliant game by Deshaun Watson, who really does deserve better.
The Texans got out to a 14-3 halftime lead, with Watson scoring once on the ground and connecting with DeAndre Hopkins in the end zone as well. It was in the third quarter where the Texans defense forgot how to play football, and started giving up touchdown after touchdown — three straight touchdowns to be exact.
The Saints ended up leading 27-21 with 50 seconds and no timeouts left for the Texans, who went 75 yards in just two plays, and who then took the lead on an extra point re-try (after the first attempt was missed and a roughing the kicker was called).
With just one timeout in his pocket, Drew Brees led the Saints to the Houston 40-yard-line. With 0:06 left, the Texans played prevent defense and rushed two, allowing Brees an easy completion to Ted Ginn Jr. at the 40. Wil Lutz subsequently nailed a career-high 58-yard field goal to win.
Brees recorded 370 passing yards, two touchdowns, and one interception. Alvin Kamara contributed 97 rushing yards and 72 receiving yards. Michael Thomas was the leading receiver with 123 yards.
Watson had 268 passing yards, 40 rushing yards, three total touchdowns, and one interception. Carlos Hyde recorded 83 yards on the ground. DeAndre Hopkins was the leading receiver with 111 yards, and two touchdowns. It should be noted, however, that he also recorded three drops in this game.
NFC South Standings after Week 1
1. New Orleans Saints (1-0 overall record; 0-0 division record) - Next at Rams
2. Carolina Panthers (0-1 overall record; 0-0 division record) - Next vs. Buccaneers (TNF)
3. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (0-1 overall record; 0-0 division record) - Next at Panthers (TNF)
4. Atlanta Falcons (0-1 overall record; 0-0 division record) - Next vs. Eagles (SNF)