In which we pick the one player (or coach, or equipment manager, or mascot, or drunk fan) who made the biggest impact on NFL Sunday — the one who gets people talking the most, in a good way.
Week 1 of the 2016 NFL season is all but in the books, and as a return to football gets, it pulled out all the stops. There were multiple huge comebacks, some of which fell short, there were auspicious rookie debuts, there was an overtime game, and a whole bunch of offense in general, but what stood out the most?
Looking through the box scores, not too many results were a huge surprise. Oh sure, the Patriots beat the Cardinals as 9.5-point road underdogs without Rob Gronkowski and Tom Brady, but they’re the Patriots. Just because the Terminator gets shot and half-blown up doesn’t make it an upset when he keeps going; that’s what Terminators do. No, the man who won this week was Raiders quarterback Derek Carr, who is a big part of the reason why Oakland entered the season with more promise and hype than it’s had in over a decade and came out of Week 1 with a gutsy comeback win over the Saints in New Orleans.
Carr passed for 319 yards on 38 attempts, good for a very healthy 8.4 YPA, a number which many used to criticize his otherwise-encouraging sophomore season in 2015. He only passed for one touchdown on the day, but the rushing game took care of the Raiders in the red zone with two short-yardage scores. More importantly, he led the Raiders on yet another fourth quarter comeback after four of those last year. He was accurate all over the field, and even showed off some athleticism running for a first down (leave this one on mute):