The 2020 NFL season has just begun. A season in which many stadiums will have no fans because of the COVID-19 pandemic. A season that gave teams less preparation due to an off-season cut short and a cancelled preseason. A season in which the players protest the national anthem for social justice and the Black Lives Matter movement. A season in which future hall of farmers moves to very different teams. Welcome to the 2020 NFL season.
The season started on Thursday when the defending Super Bowl champions Kansas City Chiefs faced off against the Houston Texans, a team in which they came back against in last year’s Divisional Round. Super Bowl MVP QB Patrick Mahomes II threw for 3 touchdowns. Chiefs 1st round pick and rookie, Clyde Edwards-Helaire out of LSU, scored his 1st career touchdown in the game during the 3rd quarter. Texans QB Deshawn Watson threw and ran for a touchdown and running back David Johnson, whom the Texas acquired in a trade with the Arizona Cardinals during this off-season which sent DeAndre Hopkins to the Cardinals, also ran for a touchdown. Kansas City went on to win the game 34-20 for the 1st game of the 2020 season.
On the possibly strangest Sunday kickoff in history, Cam Newton made his debut with the Pats and impressed with 2 Rushing touchdowns. Cam Newton replaced Tom Brady, who went to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the off-season. For the first time in 20 years, the Patriots were without Brady. In the 4th quarter, Sony Michel scored the last touchdown of the game for New England winning 21-11.
In other early games, the Seahawks crushed the Falcons where Russell Wilson threw for 4 touchdowns, with a final score of 38-25. The reigning MVP, Lamar Jackson, helped the Ravens stomp the Browns 38-6. In the 1st game as the Las Vegas Raiders they defeated the Carolina Panthers 34-30 with RB Josh Jacobs running for 3 touchdowns. Phillip Rivers made his Colts debut against the Jacksonville Jaguars, in which the Jaguars were the only stadium on Sunday in which there were fans in attendance. The Jags won 27-20 in the divisional match up. NFC North match ups had the division rival Bears and Lions in which the Bears came back in the 4th with a Mitch Trubisky TD pass to Anthony Miller to win the game 27-23. The other NFC North game was the Packers and Vikings. The Packers beat the Vikings 43-34 with Aaron Rodgers scoring 4 touchdowns. Washington defeated the Eagles by sacking Carson Wentz 8 times, including Chase Young who was the 2nd overall pick in this year’s draft who even had a strip sack. The final from D.C. was 27-17. Lastly, The Bills also defeated the Jets 27-17.
During the 4 PM slot, Tom Brady under performed in his Bucs debut against Drew Brees and the New Orleans Saints. Tampa eventually lost 23-34. 1st overall pick Joe Burrow made his debut when the Bengals faced the LA Chargers. Burrow rushed for a touchdown in the game but lost his 1st start 13-16, due to a missed field goal by Bengals kicker Randy Bullock, in which he injured his calf during the play. Last season’s Rookie of the year Kyler Murray shocked the defending NFC champions San Francisco 49ers 24-20 for an impressive first win.
On Sunday night football, the Cowboys went to LA to face the Rams for the 1st game at Sofi stadium in Englewood, CA. The Rams won 20-17 against Dallas.
Lastly on Monday Night Football, there was a double header. The 1st game was the Steelers vs the Giants at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, NJ. Ben Rothlisberger came back from a shoulder injury that took him out last season. The Giants went into their 1st season without Ben’s fellow 2004 draftee Eli Manning, who retired after the season ended. The Steelers won 26-16 against the Giants with JuJu Smith-Schuster scoring 2 receiving touchdowns in the game.
In the last MNF game, the Titans faced off against the Denver Broncos, in which Mile High Stadium allowed limited fan attendance. The keynote of that game was former Patriots kicker Stephen Gostkowski, who missed 3 field goals and an extra point attempt. But Gostkowski would move on to kick a game winning field goal with 17 seconds remaining in the 4th to make the final score 16-14.
In terms of the protests, the NFL played “Lift Every Voice,” “Sing for Social Justice” and the National Anthem. Teams decided to either stay in the locker room, stand or kneel for the anthems. Houston Texans, who were the first to make the call to stay inside followed by the Miami Dolphins, Buffalo Bills, and the New York Jets all decided to stay in the locker room. The Pats all stood for the anthem. Most teams let the players decide to kneel or stand.
Much has happened between now and Colin Kaepernick’s initial protest to kneel during the National Anthem back in 2016 especially in regard to the league’s views on player’s public protest toward racial injustice. What was once deemed disrespectful and unpatriotic to the point where the league announced in 2018 that teams would be fined if players kneeled, has significantly changed after this summer’s Black Live’s Matter protests following the murder George Floyd and Breonna Taylor. Since, the NFL has publicly admitted that they were wrong to deny players their right to protest peacefully.
Regarding Covid-19, the NFL has issued fines of $100,000 to multiple coaches for not wearing their masks on the sidelines.