NFL Week 1 review: Cowboys’ high hopes dashed after injury to Dak Prescott, and other observations


Prescott’s injury is where we begin the Week 1 Review:

• The Cowboys just have to stay afloat until Prescott returns after a 6-8 week absence. But the drop-off from Prescott to backups Cooper Rush and Will Grier is significant. Rush, a six-year veteran, has started one game in his career, with 63 total pass attempts. The last time Prescott got hurt, when he broke his ankle and missed the last 11 games of 2020, the Cowboys finished 6-10.

There aren’t many better options available. Jimmy Garoppolo seems unlikely now that the Niners may give the job back to him soon. The best available trade candidate may be Steelers third-stringer Mason Rudolph. The best free agent may be Cam Newton, who hasn’t gotten a sniff this offseason.

The Cowboys need to be at least 3-5 before their Week 9 bye to have a chance at the playoffs. Even that may be a challenge.

• The teams that invested heavily in receivers got a big return on Sunday.

The Raiders’ Davante Adams started off with 10 catches for 141 yards and a touchdown in the loss to the Chargers. The Dolphins’ Tyreek Hill had eight catches for 94 yards in the win over the Patriots. Eagles receiver A.J. Brown had 10 catches for 155 yards in a win over the Lions.

Jaguars receiver Christian Kirk, who got a surprisingly large free agent contract, had six catches for 117 yards in a loss to the Commanders. The Saints essentially had three new receivers Sunday – Jarvis Landry had seven catches for 114 yards, first-round pick Chris Olave had three catches for 41 yards, and Mike Thomas, out for most of the last two years with an ankle injury, had 57 yards and two touchdowns. Terry McLaurin caught a touchdown pass for Washington, Deebo Samuel had the Niners’ lone touchdown, and even Julio Jones had a 48-yard catch in his Bucs debut.

• Long-snappers are important! The Bengals lost to the Steelers in overtime largely because they couldn’t make a kick after long-snapper Clark Harris went down with a biceps injury. Using backup TE Michael Wilcox to snap, the Bengals had a game-winning extra point blocked with four seconds left in regulation, and Evan McPherson, so clutch for the Bengals in last year’s playoff run, missed a 29-yarder in overtime.

• I initially pegged Week 4 as the game Garoppolo takes over for Trey Lance. After the Niners’ 19-10 loss to the Bears on Sunday, I’m moving that up to Week 2.

Jimmy Garoppolo (left) is in his ninth season in the NFL.Michael Reaves/Getty

To be fair to Lance, Sunday’s game was played in monsoon-like conditions, and the drainage at Soldier Field in Chicago was a mess. But one touchdown in 10 drives, plus 13-for-28 passing for 164 yards and an interception, isn’t going to cut it. The Niners don’t want to start the season 0-2. If Lance struggles in the first half next week against Seattle, don’t be surprised if he gets the quick hook for Garoppolo.

• Props to Texans coach Lovie Smith for not poo-pooing the idea of a tie at the end of the 20-20 draw with the Colts. Smith, not having much faith in his offense, and sensing that his defense was gassed, decided to punt from midfield instead of going for it on fourth-and-3 with 26 seconds left in OT. “I felt like a tie was better than a loss,” Smith said correctly.

Quick hits

• The Rams looked like a team that has been partying for the last seven months. Coach Sean McVay has a lot of work to do with an offensive line that allowed seven sacks to the Bills without seeing any blitzes.

• The Super Bowl hangover is real. The Bengals had five turnovers (four in the first half), two missed kicks and a turnover on downs in their 23-20 loss to the Steelers.

• Cardinals coach Kliff Kingsbury admitted that “we’ve got to practice better” following the team’s 44-21 loss to the Chiefs. Uh, coach, that’s on you.

• No Tyreek Hill, no problem for Patrick Mahomes, who threw for 360 yards and five touchdowns in a 44-21 win over the Cardinals. As long as Mahomes is under center and Andy Reid is calling plays, the Chiefs are going to be dynamic.

Patrick Mahomes (right) is 51-13 in 64 starts in the NFL.Christian Petersen/Getty

• It was another Week 1 stinker for Aaron Rodgers and the Packers. Last year it was a 38-3 loss to the Saints. This year it was a 23-7 loss to the Vikings. They’ll turn it around.

• Bucs receiver Chris Godwin tweaked a hamstring, which may be more trouble long-term than his ACL recovery.

Tracking former Patriots players

• Bucs QB Tom Brady: Only threw for 212 yards, a touchdown, and an interception, but improved to 7-0 against the Cowboys.

• Browns QB Jacoby Brissett: Only threw for 147 yards, but completed a couple of late passes to get the Browns in range to beat the Panthers.

• Chargers LB Kyle Van Noy: Had three tackles on 28 snaps in a win over the Raiders.

• Raiders RB Brandon Bolden: Caught an 18-yard touchdown pass in third quarter of a 24-19 loss to Chargers.

• Colts CB Stephon Gilmore: Played all 70 snaps, had three tackles in tie vs. Texans.

• Bengals G Ted Karras: Played all 100 snaps (including penalties) in loss to Steelers.

Tracking former Patriots coaches

• Raiders coach Josh McDaniels: Needs to clean up an offensive line that allowed six sacks and 22 pressures in a loss to the Chargers.

• Giants coach Brian Daboll: A gutsy decision to go for 2 and play for the win paid off in a big way in his 21-20 win over the Titans.

• Dolphins defensive coordinator Josh Boyer: Held the Patriots to seven points, their second-fewest Week 1 point total in 23 seasons under Bill Belichick (31-0 loss to Buffalo in 2003). Boyer’s defense has also scored three defensive touchdowns in its last two games against the Patriots.

Stats of the Week

• Since 2020, the Falcons have lost three games in which they led by 15-plus points in the fourth quarter. The rest of the NFL has two such losses.

• The Colts and Texans now sit atop the AFC South at 0-0-1.

• This year is the first since 1999 that both Super Bowl teams lost their season opener.

• Tua Tagovailoa is the only quarterback in NFL history to win his first four starts against Bill Belichick.

• Mahomes is the fourth player in the Super Bowl era with 300 yards, five touchdowns, and no interceptions in Week 1. The other three players won the MVP – Dan Marino (1984), Peyton Manning (2013), and Lamar Jackson (2019).

• The Bengals’ 94 offensive snaps (100 including penalties) were the most in an NFL game since the Patriots ran 94 in the 2019 AFC Championship Game against the Chiefs, and since the Steelers ran 95 plays in 2002 against the Texans.

Ben Volin can be reached at