Week 1 takeaways and big questions: Bad losses for Bengals, Patriots and 49ers

by Ricardo Gutierrez - Multiple quarterbacks made their debuts in new cities and a wild Bengals-Steelers game ended in OT. Here's what to know from Week 1.

4:30 PM ET NFL NationESPN Week 1 of the 2022 NFL season -- we saw it all. Turnovers were the name of the game with the Pittsburgh Steelers forcing five against Joe Burrow -- including a pick-6. But the teams went back and forth until the Steelers won it in overtime with a field goal. Multiple quarterbacks made debuts with new teams in the early window. Baker Mayfield played his first game in a Panthers uniform against his old team, the Cleveland Browns . Matt Ryan -- in his 15th season -- led the Indianapolis Colts to a tie against the Houston Texans . Commanders rookie Jahan Dotson caught his first -- and second -- career touchdown pass from new QB Carson Wentz , leading to a win over the Jaguars. Our NFL Nation reporters react with the biggest takeaways and lingering questions coming out of this week's matchups and look ahead to what's next. Let's get to it. Jump to a matchup: LAR-BUF | NE-MIA | CLE-CAR | BAL-NYJ Miami 20, New England 7 Dolphins What to know: This is Tyreek Hill 's offense. Just in case it wasn't obvious before, the Dolphins made it clear things will run through Hill as he made his regular-season debut since being traded to Miami from the Kansas City Chiefs . He was targeted five times in his first eight routes, finishing the game with 94 yards and eight catches on 12 targets. -- Marcel Louis-Jacques How concerning was Miami's performance on the ground Sunday? One of the NFL's worst rushing teams a season ago, the Dolphins registered just 65 yards on 21 carries against the Patriots -- who were the league's 22nd-best run defense in 2021. Miami also struggled to run the ball during training camp and the preseason. The difference Sunday for Miami compared to last season is there is now a competent passing game to carry the offense when things aren't working on the ground. As teams come to respect that passing game, the run game should open up; it's not quite time to panic yet. -- Louis-Jacques Next game: at Ravens (Sunday, 1 p.m. ET) Patriots What to know: Self-inflicted wounds cost the Patriots in a game that was winnable. They were minus-3 in the turnover differential, and didn't convert on fourth-and-3, which is essentially another turnover. When one of those turnovers is a strip-sack that results in a touchdown, and the other comes in the end zone on a 50-50 ball (in which officials easily could have called defensive pass interference), it hurts that much more. It is often said that before a team can learn how to win, it has to learn how not to lose. That holds true for the Patriots after one game. -- Mike Reiss Can the offense improve fast enough to give the team a chance? The Patriots' offense moved the ball -- which was a promising development based on how the preseason went -- but couldn't close things out consistently enough. It was notable that Kendrick Bourne , who was the team's second-leading receiver last year with 55 receptions for 800 yards and five touchdowns, didn't play until deep into the fourth quarter. He promptly caught a 41-yard pass down the left sideline. For an offense that is in need of explosiveness, why isn't Bourne playing more? -- Reiss Next game: at Steelers (Sunday, 1 p.m. ET) Baltimore 24, N.Y. Jets 9 Ravens What to know: Lamar Jackson isn't distracted by the lack of a contract extension. Jackson dominated like he usually does in a season opener, throwing three touchdowns and one interception. He played loose, delivering a no-look, 25-yard touchdown pass to Devin Duvernay . Jackson then stepped up for a 55-yard touchdown strike to Rashod Bateman (his first one a pass that traveled at least 50 yards in the air). It was the type of performance that the Ravens desperately needed for an offense that is without their top two left tackles (Ronnie Stanley and Ja'Wuan James ) and top running back (J.K. Dobbins ). -- Jamison Hensley Can the Ravens keep this relentless pressure on quarterbacks all season? After hearing all offseason how pass rush was the biggest question mark (Baltimore ranked 22nd in sacks last season), the Ravens recorded three sacks (another was negated by a penalty) and nine quarterback hits in their reunion with Super Bowl-winning quarterback Joe Flacco . Justin Houston continually crashed the edge and Justin Madubuike collapsed the pocket from the middle. The Ravens, though, wreaked havoc against a Jets offensive line dealing with injuries. Baltimore still has something to prove Week 2 against Miami quarterback Tua Tagovailoa , who was sacked three times against the Patriots in the opener. -- Hensley Next game: vs. Dolphins (Sunday, 1 p.m. ET) Jets What to know: The seasons change, but the results remain the same: The New York Jets stink in September. They tied an NFL record with their 13th straight defeat in the opening month, with a mistake-filled, 24-9 loss to the Ravens at home. The Joe Flacco -led offense fell flat, converting only 2-for-14 on third down. The Jets upgraded their skill positions in the offseason, but you couldn't tell. There were too many dropped passes, a couple of key fumbles and leaky pass protection from the re-shuffled offensive line. The defense did some nice things in the first half, but the revamped secondary eventually succumbed to Lamar Jackson , allowing three touchdown passes. The Jets were thoroughly outplayed in the second half, which doesn't reflect well on coach Robert Saleh and his coaching staff. It was a tough assignment, facing the Ravens with a backup quarterback, but the Jets were out of the game by the start of the fourth quarter. -- Rich Cimini Can Flacco keep the season alive until Zach Wilson returns? That's a big ask, considering the upcoming opponents -- the Cleveland Browns and Cincinnati Bengals , both good defensive teams. Wilson, recovering from knee surgery, is expected to miss at least two more games. The Jets could be 0-3 by then unless they show dramatic improvement. "Joe Cool" was Joe Cold against the team that drafted him, but he got no help from his supporting cast. The fans will scream for Mike White to replace Flacco, but it's too soon for that. The Jets don't have a Flacco problem; they have an everything problem. -- Cimini Next game: vs. Browns (Sunday, 1 p.m. ET) Cleveland 26, Carolina 24 Browns What to know: The Browns drafted Cade York in the fourth round for days like Sunday. With eight seconds left, the rookie out of LSU drilled a 58-yard field goal, lifting the Browns to the dramatic victory. Cleveland will have plenty of issues to address coming out of this game. But after years of struggling on special teams, the Browns finally have a kicker with the confidence to deliver big-time field goals. -- Jake Trotter Can Cleveland get more from the passing game? Cleveland's powerful running game -- behind RBs Nick Chubb , Kareem Hunt and an imposing offensive line -- controlled the game. But the Browns could've put Carolina away much earlier had QB Jacoby Brissett capitalized by connecting with open receivers in the first half. Brissett converted on some clutch third-down throws in the fourth quarter. But Cleveland will need more out of its passing attack to stick in the AFC playoff picture. -- Trotter Next game: vs. Jets (Sunday, 1 p.m. ET) Panthers What to know: The Panthers still don't know whether Baker Mayfield can be a long-term solution at quarterback, but they know they have a quarterback capable of bringing them back in the fourth quarter -- something they haven't had the past few years. While Mayfield was superior to Sam Darnold in training camp, he was horrible against his former team for most of three quarters before bringing the Panthers within striking distance with some fourth-quarter heroics, including a 7-yard scramble for a touchdown and a 75-yard touchdown pass to Robbie Anderson . He then led them to a go-ahead field goal, only to see his efforts thwarted by Cleveland's 58-yard field goal at the end. -- David Newton Where was running back Christian McCaffrey in the game plan? The talk all offseason was that Mayfield and the Carolina offense can succeed only if Christian McCaffrey stays healthy. The plan was to monitor McCaffrey's snaps to promote his long-term health. But McCaffrey had only nine touches until Carolina's final drive, and 14 for the game. He did come through with a big play on a screen pass (plus a personal foul penalty against the Browns) to set up a go-ahead field goal, but Carolina needs more than 57 yards from their star to win consistently. -- Newton Next game: at Giants (Sunday, 1 p.m. ET) Washington 28, Jacksonville 22 Commanders What to know: Carson Wentz is a definite upgrade at quarterback, and at times he showed why on Sunday. But he also showed why he has been maddening throughout his career. He threw two touchdown passes in the first half, executing well-designed play calls with pinpoint throws. Washington was rolling. But on consecutive plays in the second half he threw interceptions, leading to 10 Jacksonville points. He missed some easy throws, sailing passes. While there were questions in the past about how Wentz handled adversity, this is what he did after two miscues Sunday: He threw two more touchdown passes. Give him credit for responding to his own adversity. -- John Keim Where is the defensive improvement? Washington held Jacksonville to 22 points, but the Jaguars missed some easy opportunities when quarterback Trevor Lawrence overthrew open targets for potential touchdowns. It allowed 383 total yards, but at least the Commanders intercepted a pass to end Jacksonville's hopes. Washington did better on third downs -- the Jags converted three of 12 opportunities -- but if the Commanders want to take a step forward, the defense must play better. The Jaguars averaged 6.8 yards per run, the Washington pass rush was inconsistent, and cornerback William Jackson III needs to be better in coverage. -- Keim Next game: at Lions (Sunday, 1 p.m. ET) Jaguars What to know: The Jaguars were last in the NFL in turnover margin (minus-20) in 2021 but were able to work their way back into this game because they forced three turnovers (two interceptions and a fumble recovery) and didn't give the ball away. The two interceptions in the second half set up 10 points. Forcing turnovers -- the Jaguars did that only nine times last season -- was a major push during the offseason, and two of the turnovers were by newcomers: Foyesade Oluokun and Travon Walker . The Jaguars are still trying to find their way offensively, but nothing helps a struggling offense more than a ball-hawking defense. If the defense can continue to do that, the Jaguars will continue to be competitive. -- Mike DiRocco Can Trevor Lawrence help himself and give up on a play? Lawrence was twice flagged for intentional grounding, and in each instance, he was fighting to make a play with someone either hanging onto him or in his face. Sometimes the smart play is to eat the ball and take the sack -- especially since those kinds of throws are usually off target and pretty risky. -- DiRocco Next game: vs. Colts (Sunday, 1 p.m. ET) Philadelphia 38, Detroit 35 Eagles What to know: A.J. Brown is in line for a monster year. He erupted for 10 catches for 155 yards against the Lions on Sunday, setting a new record for most receiving yards in an Eagles debut. Quarterback Jalen Hurts targeted Brown 13 times -- nine more than the next closest receiving option. Hurts and Brown consider each other best friends, and got together "countless times" during the offseason to work on their connection. It's fair to say that effort paid off. -- Tim McManus What's up with the defense? The Lions look to be an improved team but the Eagles had no business yielding 35 points. Rush defense in particular was a problem, with the Lions rolling up 181 yards on 28 carries (6.5 avg.). The Eagles played their starters only briefly during the preseason and didn't go live much at training camp. Perhaps that's why the defense looked out of sync. Philadelphia better hope so. -- McManus Next game: vs. Vikings (Monday, 8:30 p.m. ET) Lions What to know: Philadelphia native D'Andre Swift was one of the bright spots for Detroit, rushing for 97 of his career-best 144 yards in the opening half against the Eagles. He became the first player since Barry Sanders in 1996 with 100 rushing yards in a season opener. -- Eric Woodyard Should Lions fans be concerned with the 0-1 start? Not too much. The Eagles made the playoffs last season and nobody is expecting this Lions team to be a postseason contender in 2022. It would be easy to get down after yet another season-opening loss. However, despite glaring defensive issues, Detroit did fight back and make it a game late. -- Woodyard Next game: vs. Commanders (Sunday, 1 p.m. ET) New Orleans 27, Atlanta 26 Saints What to know: Michael Thomas is back. The Saints looked like they were in big trouble in the first half with their offense unable to do much of anything, but the wide receiver proved he's still got a lot left in the tank despite not playing a game last season. Thomas' two touchdowns in the second half was a key reason the Saints were able to come back despite trailing by 16 points at one point in the second half. Thomas will clearly be a key part of the Saints' offense turning things around from last year. -- Katherine Terrell Do the Saints have issues in the trenches? Neither the Saints offensive line nor their defensive line will enjoy watching this game film. The O-line's issues protecting quarterback Jameis Winston were one of the reasons the offense struggled so much in the first half. While Winston's four sacks weren't entirely on the line, it certainly contributed. On the other side, the Saints D-line was not able to sack Marcus Mariota once. -- Terrell Next game: vs. Buccaneers (Sunday, 1 p.m. ET) Falcons What to know: Did that really just happen? What looked like a big debut for quarterback Marcus Mariota in Atlanta and an unexpected win turned into, what else, a double-digit fourth-quarter collapse. A 16-point lead turned into a loss. How? A reader's digest: The defense went from aggressive to porous. The offense offered two of its least productive drives of the afternoon. And now the Falcons, who had a chance to head to Los Angeles with a huge boost in Week 2, have to lament a real opportunity slipping away. -- Michael Rothstein Yes, that pressure is improved from last season, but is it sustainable? That's going to be an unknown for at least a little while, but defensive coordinator Dean Pees was willing to send rushers from every level of the defense, which helped create problems, including four sacks and eight quarterback hits. New Orleans came back when the Falcons stopped creating pressure (not the best decision considering the fourth-quarter meltdown), but considering the Falcons the Rams, who allowed seven sacks and 15 quarterback hits on Thursday, there could be more opportunities coming. -- Rothstein Next game: at Rams (Sunday, 4:05 p.m. ET) Chicago 19, San Francisco 10 Bears What to know: The Bears showed they're capable of fighting back despite a sloppy and ineffective start. In the first half, quarterback Justin Fields went 3-for-9 for 19 yards and an interception. Chicago's pass protection was a mess and the Bears only got past their own 35-yard line once. It was a totally different story in the second half. Fields had a window to get the Bears back in this game by utilizing his incredible playmaking ability to extend a play for Chicago's first score of the game. Fields ended up going 5-for-8 for 102 yards and two touchdown passes in the second half, and the Bears offense scored touchdowns on three straight possessions to solidify their first win of the season. -- Courtney Cronin How can the Bears get their skill position players involved sooner? The Bears tried to commit to the run in the first half (19 rushing attempts), and it made sense due to the miserable weather and soggy field conditions, but it took too long for Chicago to open things up against a 49ers' secondary that got stuck in cement. Fields didn't connect with a wide receiver until he turned a broken play on third-and-long into a 51-yard touchdown pass to Dante Pettis in the third quarter. He then found fellow wideout Equanimeous St. Brown for an 18-yard touchdown that gave the Bears the lead and Chicago put the Niners away by capitalizing off a turnover to punch in a 3-yard touchdown run by Khalil Herbert . This offense is a work in progress, but it has to get its best players involved and support Fields far sooner in Week 2 at Green Bay. -- Cronin Next game: at Packers (Sunday, 8:20 p.m. ET) 49ers What to know: If the 49ers are going to be the contender they believe they can be, they can't afford the type of silly mistakes that cost them Sunday's game against the Bears. On a wet, sloppy field, points always figured to be at a premium, but the Niners piled up a variety of self-inflicted errors that not only kept Chicago in the game but put it in position to win. The Niners finished with 12 penalties for 99 yards. On Chicago's first two scoring drives, the Niners were flagged for two 15-yard penalties, dropped an interception and picked up a holding penalty on a third down to keep the chains moving. Moments later, quarterback Trey Lance threw an interception. Quite simply, the Niners aren't built to overcome so many costly errors, especially with Lance learning on the go. -- Nick Wagoner How much does this loss hurt the 49ers? The Niners were hoping to start faster after they spent the second half of last year desperately trying to get back in the playoff mix. Sure, weird stuff happens in Week 1 all the time and it's a long season, but this is the kind of loss that could be particularly haunting for San Francisco. The schedule is only going to get more difficult as the season goes along, which means the Niners better get the ship righted soon or they're going to be playing do-or-die games throughout the final half of the year just like they did in 2021. -- Wagoner Next game: vs. Seahawks (Sunday, 4:05 p.m. ET) Indianapolis 20, Houston 20 (OT) Colts What to know: The Colts' Week 1 winless streak continued, as the Colts now haven't won a season opener in nine years. The Colts have found all manner of ways to lose in Week 1 going back to 2014. While they managed a tie on Sunday, this game was similar in that the outcome was the product of a long list of miscues ranging from dropped passes to untimely penalties to, most of all, the missed 42-yard field goal by kicker Rodrigo Blankenship in overtime that would have won it. The Colts rallied from a 20-3 late-third-quarter deficit only to come away with nothing to show. -- Stephen Holder Where do the Colts go at kicker? The Colts were not confident in their place-kicking situation to begin with, which is why the team added Jake Verity for preseason competition. Verity performed poorly in training camp and the preseason, giving Blankenship the win in the position battle by default. But he remains a liability for the team as he has been unreliable in pressure situations for Indianapolis. Blankenship's leg strength has also been an issue. He's 1 for 4 beyond 50 yards in his two previous seasons. The Colts have to avoid getting into a situation like they did in 2019 when veteran Adam Vinatieri's late-career struggles cost the team multiple potential wins. -- Holder Next game: at Jaguars (Sunday, 1 p.m. ET) Texans What to know: The Texans missed a golden opportunity to beat the division favorite Indianapolis Colts , blowing a 17-point lead in the fourth quarter before an overtime tie. It's the first tie in Texans' history. The Colts had 216 yards and 17 points in the fourth quarter after being held to three points and 232 yards in the first three. The Texans' defense allowed Colts quarterback Matt Ryan to go 12-for-19 for 146 yards and a touchdown and running back Jonathan Taylor gashed the defense for 70 yards and a touchdown on nine carries. Then in overtime the same theme continued as the Texans' defense allowed the Colts to march into field goal range before Colts kicker Rodrigo Blankenship missed the 42-yarder. -- DJ Bien-Aime Is the first and fourth quarter an indication of what the offense will be? Quarterback Davis Mills completed zero passes in the fourth quarter as the offense completely disappeared with 12 yards and zero points. That helped the Colts to comeback and force overtime. In the first quarter, they only produced 13 yards as Mills completed two passes for six yards. The running game was also nonexistent throughout the game as they finished with 77 yards, around their average of 83 from 2021,which was dead last in the NFL. -- Bien-Aime Next game: at Broncos (Sunday, 4:25 p.m. ET) Pittsburgh 23, Cincinnati 20 (OT) Steelers What to know: When the dust finally settled on the Steelers' wild 23-20 overtime Week 1 win, one thing was clear: the Steelers defense is better than advertised, but more impactful than the outcome of the game was T.J. Watt leaving the field with less than 15 seconds left with a pectoral injury. He went straight to the locker room. and appears to have a torn pectoral, per ESPN's Adam Schefter. Joe Burrow committed four turnovers in the first half and another in the second. Minkah Fitzpatrick , who blocked the extra point attempt to send the game to overtime, scored the first touchdown of the year when he picked off Burrow's first pass attempt and returned it 31 yards for a pick-6. The Steelers managed two more interceptions and a fumble recovery in the first half, but the offense only scored 10 points off those turnovers. The defense also sacked Burrow six times. For the Steelers to have success this season, they'll need more offensive support -- whether it's putting points on the board or extending drives to give the defense a break. -- Brooke Pryor Is this truly Mitch Trubisky 's team? This will be the biggest question throughout the season -- especially if Trubisky's performance contributes to the offensive stagnation. The Steelers only managed 231 yards of total offense. Trubisky completed 21 of 38 attempts for 194 yards and a touchdown, but many of his passes missed the mark, including a handful that sailed too high. On a crucial third down in the fourth quarter, Trubisky's pass bounced in between two receivers, and the Steelers came away from another forced turnover without any points. A lowlight of the preseason, the Steelers offensive line held up pretty well, and Trubisky was only sacked once and hit four times. But the offense couldn't maintain possession and the Bengals held the edge in time of possession 43:43-26:17. -- Pryor Next game: vs. Patriots (Sunday, 1 p.m. ET) Bengals What to know: Cincinnati's offense picked up right where it left off last season. And that was the main culprit in a 23-20 overtime loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers in the season-opener. It featured a slew of sacks and an inconsistent offense. Those things kept the Bengals from winning Super Bowl LVI despite a very strong defensive effort, which the Bengals got again on Sunday. Cincinnati needs to get that issue resolved if it wants to defend its AFC championship. -- Ben Baby Should the Bengals be concerned about Joe Burrow ? Uh, no. Sure, Joe Burrow objectively played his worst game since entering the league. He committed five turnovers -- four interceptions and a lost fumble on a day when he was sacked six times. But Burrow's history, strengths and the resolve he showed to lead the Bengals down the field at the end of the game show that there should be zero long-term concerns for the third-year player coming off an emergency appendectomy in July. -- Baby Next game: at Cowboys (Sunday, 4:25 p.m. ET) Thursday Buffalo 31, L.A. Rams 10 Bills What to know: The Bills played far from a perfect game and still walked away from the season opener against the defending Super Bowl champions with a 21-point victory. After three first-half turnovers, the offense responded in spectacular fashion with three straight touchdown drives, and finished the game converting 9-of-10 third downs, becoming the fourth team in the last 50 seasons to convert 90% of their third downs in a game. In addition to the offensive success, the defensive line lived up to the high offseason expectations, finishing with seven sacks on Matthew Stafford , including two from Von Miller against his former team. -- Alaina Getzenberg Will the Bills continue to us e quarterback Josh Allen as a rusher at this high of a level throughout the season? Once again, Allen finished a Bills game as the team's leading rusher with 10 carries for 56 yards and a touchdown. While his stiff-arm near the sideline was impressive and caught attention, the amount of hits the quarterback is taking through the course of the season is something that the team has talked about trying to minimize, especially early in the year. "Limiting the hits, obviously slide and getting outta bounds, it's the utmost importance there," Allen said. "The best ability is availability, but again, when I'm called upon to do something for my team, I'm willing to do it." Should Allen be rushing with a two-touchdown lead even if he is effective? Offensive coordinator Ken Dorsey will have to continue to work on the right balance throughout the season. -- Getzenberg Next game: vs. Titans (Monday, 7:15 p.m. ET) Rams What to know: It's only been one game, but Rams quarterback Matthew Stafford didn't do much to end the questions about his elbow injury and whether it is affecting his game. Stafford was sacked seven times by the Bills and threw three interceptions. He also struggled when targeting any player but wide receiver Cooper Kupp, who accounted for more than half of the Rams' receiving yardage. -- Sarah Barshop Do the Rams expect to see more from two key players, RB Cam Akers and WR Allen Robinson, going forward? When Rams coach Sean McVay was asked about Akers' involvement in the game, he said, "we really just didn't get in much of a rhythm tonight." Akers played 12 snaps on Thursday to Darrell Henderson's 54. In McVay's answer, he also brought up that he wanted to get WR Allen Robinson more involved in the offense. Robinson was targeted just twice on 45 routes run, according to NFL Next Gen Stats. The 4.4% target rate was the lowest of his career. -- Barshop Next game: vs. Falcons (Sunday, 4:05 p.m. ET)