NFL

Preseason rest led to Week 1 rust for several top QBs

Week 1
Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow (9) pauses between plays during the first half of an NFL football game against the Pittsburgh Steelers, Sunday, Sept. 11, 2022, in Cincinnati.
AP Photo/Jeff Dean

By JOSH DUBOW AP Pro Football Writer

Preseason rest appeared to lead to a little bit of rust in Week 1 for several of the NFL’s top quarterbacks.

More than one-third of the league’s Week 1 starting quarterbacks didn’t play a single snap in the preseason and most of those 11 QBs didn’t play anywhere close to their usual form.

Whether the poor results were a result of rust or other factors isn’t clear but the poor results are. The only QBs to rest the entire preseason and end up on the winning side in Week 1 were Minnesota’s Kirk Cousins, Justin Herbert of the Chargers and Baltimore’s Lamar Jackson.

Cousins and Herbert bested two other quarterbacks who rested with the Vikings beating Aaron Rodgers and Green Bay and the Chargers knocking off Derek Carr and the Raiders.

The other resting QBs who lost in Week 1 were Matthew Stafford of the Rams, Arizona’s Kyler Murray, Dallas’ Dak Prescott, Denver’s Russell Wilson, Cincinnati’s Joe Burrow and Tennessee’s Ryan Tannehill.

The 11 QBs combined for an 86.1 passer rating, 6.9 yards per attempt and a touchdown to interception ratio of 1.38. Those were steep drop-offs from 2021 numbers when those QBs posted a 100.4 rating, averaged 7.7 yards per attempt and had a 2.65 TD to INT ratio.

The rough openers from many of the league’s top passers led to a downturn in scoring across the league with the 42.1 combined points per game in Week 1 down from 48 last season and the lowest for Week 1 since 2017, when teams combined for 40.4 points per game.

SUPER BOWL HANGOVER

The Super Bowl teams from last season got off to a not-so-super start to 2022.

The defending champion Los Angeles Rams lost the opener 31-10 to Buffalo and the runner-up Cincinnati Bengals fell 23-20 in overtime to Pittsburgh.

It marked the first time since 1999 when Denver and Atlanta both lost the opener that the two Super Bowl teams began the next season 0-1.

The only other times that happened were: 1996 (Dallas and Pittsburgh), 1988 (Washington and Denver) and 1985 (San Francisco and Miami).

TURNAROUND TEAMS

There were six Week 1 matchups between teams that made the postseason in 2021 and teams that missed the playoffs last season.

Surprisingly, five of those non-playoff teams came out of Week 1 as winners with the New York Giants beating Tennessee, Minnesota topping Green Bay, the Chargers knocking off Las Vegas, Miami beating New England and Chicago toppling San Francisco.

Only Philadelphia ended up on the winning side in that group, beating Detroit 38-35.

The five wins by teams that didn’t make the playoffs the previous seasons against returning playoff teams were the most in Week 1 since it happened seven times in 2005.

WINNING TIME

The Giants comeback win at Tennessee left New York in unfamiliar territory.

For the first time since the end of the 2016 season, the Giants have a winning record. They had lost the opener each season since then and never recovered as their 22-59 record (.272 winning percentage) was tied with the Jets for the worst in the NFL from 2017-21.

Cleveland also did something new, beating Carolina 26-24 to win the season opener for the first time since 2004. The Browns were 0-16-1 in Week 1 from 2005-21 — the longest Week 1 winless streak in NFL history.

Indianapolis ended an eight-year Week 1 losing streak with a 20-20 tie at Houston. But the Colts’ nine straight openers without a win are now tied with Washington (1959-67) and Philadelphia (1968-1976) for the second longest streak in NFL history.

CLOSE CALLS

The bizarre ending to Denver’s 17-16 loss at Seattle on Monday night was the seventh game decided by three points or fewer last week, including the Indianapolis-Houston tie.

That’s the most Week 1 games ever decided by three points or fewer, topping the six close games done five times previously — most recently in 2016.

Five games were decided by a game-winning score in the final 2 minutes of regulation or in overtime, the most in Week 1 since there were six in 2002.

Indianapolis (17-point deficit), New Orleans (16), the Giants (13) and Chicago (10) all overcame double-digit deficits to win or tie, the most double-digit comebacks in Week 1 since there were five in 2002.

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