Had you told someone this past weekend that the Jacksonville Jaguars would be the only Sunshine State team that looked like it belonged on the field this past Sunday, you would’ve gotten a few strange looks.
However, that’s exactly how the opening weekend of the 2020 NFL season played out for Florida’s three teams: Tom Brady was underwhelming, the Miami Dolphins were mediocre as expected and the Jags came away with the only victory of the three.
Brady bust: Bucs lose to Saints
Brady’s Tampa Bay Buccaneers headed into New Orleans in what was one of the weekend’s most anticipated games.
The New Orleans Saints went into the game a 3.5-point favorite, with oddsmakers pegging the over/under at 47.5.
Brady capped the Bucs’ first scoring drive with a two-yard touchdown run, putting Tampa ahead 7-0. The drive was vintage Brady: Precision passing, confidence and a gritty quarterback sneak for a score.
That was, arguably, Brady’s best drive of the game.
The Bucs didn’t score for the rest of the half and, about two minutes into the second half, Brady threw an awful pick-six to Saints defensive back Janoris Jenkins. Brady bounced back with a nine-yard TD pass to tight end OJ Howard on the next drive to make the score 24-14.
However, the Bucs never made up the deficit. New Orleans scored another 10 points before Tampa Bay was able to put another touchdown on the board.
The final score: 34-23. Brady finished the game 23-36 for 239 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions.
Dolphins dive: Cam slams Miami
The Dolphins traveled to Foxboro as 6.5-point underdogs, a role that suits them well. The past two seasons, the Fins pulled out wins against the Patriots despite long odds.
However, an upset was not in the stars for Miami. New England quarterback Cam Newton notched a pair of rushing touchdowns and Sony Michel added another in the 21-11 victory.
Dolphins quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick was putrid, throwing three interceptions and no touchdowns.
The Dolphins employed a backfield-by-committee approach for the running game. Second-year RB Myles Gaskin led the team with 40 yards on nine carries, while new running backs Matt Breida and Jordan Howard combined for 30 yards on 13 carries and one touchdown.
Jags win: Minshew mania mars Rivers’ Colts debut
The Jaguars entered Sunday’s game as 8-point underdogs against their division rival. The Jags were a colossal question mark, having seen the front office release or trade three of its best players: Calais Campbell, Yannick Ngakoue and Leonard Fournette.
While the Jaguars on offense in the first quarter, QB Gardner Minshew and undrafted rookie, free-agent running back James Robinson led the team to a pair of second-quarter touchdowns to pull the Jags within 3 points at halftime, 17-14.
Kicker Josh Lambo hit a field goal in the third quarter to tie the game, and a Minshew pass to wide receiver Keelan Cole put the Jags ahead for good in the fourth quarter.
The Colts put together a couple of promising drives in the final quarter, but the Jags stopped both, one via an interception and another by a pass break-up by rookie defensive back CJ Henderson. The final score: 27-20.
New Colts QB Philip Rivers threw for more than 360 yards and a touchdown, but his two interceptions likely stood in the way of a win.
Looking ahead to NFL Week 2
The Jaguars and Dolphins face tough opponents this weekend. Jacksonville travels to Nashville to take on the Tennessee Titans and Derrick Henry, while the Dolphins have a home game against the Buffalo Bills.
Tampa Bay likely has the easiest matchup: A home game against the Carolina Panthers, who lost their Week 1 game against the Oakland Raiders.
The lines as of Wednesday morning are:
- Panthers at Buccaneers: -9, 49
- Jaguars at Titans: -9, 42.5
- Bills at Dolphins: +5.5, 41