NFL Week 1 preseason scores, schedule, updates: Sam Darnold shines in first half of debutAugust 11, 2018
Week 1 of the 2018 NFL preseason started in earnest on Thursday night with 12 games. We saw the Browns‘ two quarterbacks impress, Saquon Barkley take his first career carry for 39 yards, and unfortunately, we saw a few important players (like Washington’s Derrius Guice) suffer long-term injuries.
The Friday night slate was a bit less crowded with just two games, with Sam Darnold making his NFL debut against the Falcons in the early game. The Jets did all of the scoring against Atlanta, with Darnold and Teddy Bridgewater each leading first-half touchdown drives and Taylor Bertolet knocking in a 45-yard field goal. Atlanta didn’t throw an incomplete pass until the third quarter but still could not manage to get on the scoreboard — even missing a field goal attempt as time expired in the fourth quarter.
In the late game, Jon Gruden’s Raiders got a win in his first game back in the league in a decade. The starters barely saw the field against the Lions and there were a ton of penalties, turnovers, and inefficient play on both sides of the field, but Gruden’s squad ground out the clock in the second half, leaning on rookie running back Chris Warren to do a lot of the dirty work.
For all the scores, highlights and takeaways from the first week of the preseason, make sure to keep reading.
Scores and schedule
Panthers 28, Bills 23 (box score)
Bengals 30, Bears 27 (box score)
Buccaneers 26, Dolphins 24 (box score)
Browns 20, Giants 10 (box score)
Steelers 31, Eagles 14 (box score)
Saints 24, Jaguars 20 (box score)
Patriots 26, Redskins 17 (box score)
Ravens 33, Rams 7 (box score)
Packers 31, Titans 17 (box score)
Texans 17, Chiefs 10 (box score)
49ers 24, Cowboys 21 (box score)
Colts 19, Seahawks 17 (box score)
Have the Jets finally found a quarterback????
Well, we’ll have to wait until the real games start if we want to find out. But Sam Darnold got off to a heck of a start in his preseason debut. Darnold entered the game midway through the second quarter and looked fantastic throwing the ball to all levels of the field. He completed 9 of 11 passes in the first half for 74 yards and a touchdown to Charles Johnson.
Darnold actually completed two touchdown passes to Johnson on the drive, but the first one was called back on a (very weak) offensive pass interference penalty.
Of course, Darnold did all this against what was mostly the Falcons’ second- and third-string defense. But you can only throw passes against the defenders who are lined up against you, and so that’s what Darnold did. And he could hardly have done better than he did in the first half against the Falcons.
Darnold was not quite as electric after halftime, as he finished the game 13 of 18 for 96 yards and the aforementioned score. (That’s 4 of 7 for 22 yards in the second half.) The Jets did not give him many opportunities to push the ball down the field, but he also did not really attempt to test the defense vertically outside of the initial play design. He ended the evening with a strong completion rate but only an average of 5.3 yards per attempt.
Josh McCown got the start under center, but his game-opening drive went pretty much nowhere before New York punted. Said punt pinned the Falcons back near their only goal line, and they ended up quickly kicking back to the Jets. When New York took the field for its second drive of the game, it was Teddy Bridgewater under center.
And Bridgewater looked really good! He went 4 of 5 for 37 yards in his first drive as a Jet, converting a fourth-down conversion and ending the drive with a touchdown toss to fellow newcomer Isaiah Crowell.
Bridgewater doesn’t seem likely to start in New York, given that they have experience with and trust in McCown, as well as Sam Darnold waiting in the wings. If he impresses throughout the preseason, however, another team could be convinced to trade for him, whether as a starter or a backup. One drive and one touchdown is a nice start. He finished his evening 7-of-8 for 85 yards and the above score.
As a side note: Crowell was not penalized for lowering his helmet while carrying the ball, even though that’s supposed to be a point of emphasis this season. Crowell was then spotted heading into the blue tent on the sideline to be evaluated for a head injury, as he was dinged in the head twice while attempting to cross the goal line.
Connor cooking in Gruden’s debut
Derek Carr played just one series in Oakland’s preseason opener, and it ended with a punt after Marshawn Lynch’s 60-yard touchdown run was called back due to a holding penalty on first-round tackle Kolton Miller. Carr was relieved by backup Connor Cook, who looks like he’s picking up new coach Jon Gruden’s offense fairly quickly.
Cook made a couple plays outside the pocket, including his seven-yard touchdown pass to wideout Ryan Switzer.
Switzer was acquired from the Cowboys on draft day in exchange for defensive lineman Jihad Ward, who himself was replaced by second-round pick P.J. Hall. Hall collected a sack of Lions QB Matt Cassel early in the game, while Switzer found himself open in the back of the end zone to give the Raiders a double-digit lead.
After the scoring pass to Switzer, Cook found himself 5 of 8 for 95 yards. That’s a nice start for a player who has not made much of an impact through two years in the league.
Marshawn goes Beast Mode on Carr’s interview
The starters did not play very much for the Raiders, but they did stick around for the rest of the game. As is the norm in preseason openers, some of the more notable members of the team were interviewed by the television broadcast.
In this game, Derek Carr got the honor of answering questions. Naturally, Marshawn Lynch decided it was time to steal the show.
It’s not quite, “I’m just here so I won’t get fined,” but we can certainly file this away for the Marshawn highlight reel as well.
Kerryon, my wayward son
Rookie running back Kerryon Johnson didn’t see much action with the first team, but when he got his chance to tote the rock some more in the second half, he took advantage. Unfortunately, Johnson’s best run of the day — a 57-yard scamper during which he broke multiple tackles — was called back for a holding penalty. (He had seven carries for 34 yards otherwise, as well as four catches for 33 more yards.)
Still, check out the shiftiness from the second-round pick.
The Lions haven’t had a running back rush for over 100 yards in a game in approximately 118 years (actually since Reggie Bush back in 2013), but they obviously have high hopes for Johnson. The crew they’ve been running the ball with over the past few years has not really cut it, and Johnson wasn’t the only reinforcement that was brought in to help. LeGarrette Blount was signed this offseason as well, and he seems likely to be ticketed for a short-yardage/early-down role, with Johnson mixing in and Theo Riddick resuming his role as pass-catcher extraordinaire.
That leaves 2015 second-rounder Ameer Abdullah as the likely odd man out … you’d think. But Abdullah got some work with the first team on Friday night, and he even found the end zone. This is a situation to watch throughout the preseason as the Lions try to figure out who they’ll use next to Matthew Stafford in the backfield.