Tom Brady's debut a dud as Bucs fall to Saints

When Tom Brady led the Bucs onto the field against the Saints, they had a confidence in their eyes, a strut in their stride and belief in their hearts.

They had the greatest quarterback in NFL history. What could go wrong?

Brady even directed an 85-yard touchdown to start the game, capping it with his two-yard run and emphatic spike in the end zone.$zoom_0.192%2C$multiply_2.1164%2C$ratio_1.5%2C$width_756%2C$x_0%2C$y_0/t_crop_custom/q_62%2Cf_auto/96edcbff40d2a2b6ee37722d1ec7f30e2273e485
Tom Brady's Tampa Bay debut did not end in a W.AP

But instead of feeling a renewal from the ageless Brady, the Bucs played like the same old error-prone team that has missed the playoffs the past 12 years.

They broke off routes that led to an interception and misfires. They had a punt blocked. They fumbled a kickoff. They missed blocks and got their 43-year-old quarterback hit more times than he should have been (three sacks total).

After falling behind 24-7, Brady did what he has always done, rallied his team to within one score and gave them a chance to win.

Despite cutting the lead to a touchdown in the third quarter, the Bucs fell 34-23 to the Saints at the Superdome.

Brady finished 23 of 36 passing for 239 yards with two touchdowns and two interceptions.

But eyes were on more than just Brady and the Bucs. It was a week of superstars showing off new uniforms, many players choosing to stay in the locker room for the national anthem, teams playing through horrible air conditions out west, and stadiums being mostly empty because of coronavirus precautions. And a few shocking upsets reminded everyone that football games can go sideways quickly.

Here's what else we learnt from week one of the NFL:

These are not Brady's Patriots. In his first game for New England, quarterback Cam Newton led the team to an easy win over the Miami Dolphins by throwing for 155 yards and rushing for 75 more along with two touchdowns. The 75 rushing yards are more than Brady had in 14 of his 19 seasons as New England's starter, with the veteran's single-game high being just 31 yards.$zoom_0.189%2C$multiply_2.0847%2C$ratio_0.666667%2C$width_378%2C$x_9%2C$y_0/t_crop_custom/q_62%2Cf_auto/40d7519028c44d2eafdbe04fb8fad0dbc2f6fa5e
Aaron Rodgers starred for Green Bay.Getty Images

When they say "on any given Sunday," that includes week one. The Jacksonville Jaguars, the Chicago Bears and the Washington Football Team looked like basement dwellers coming into the season, but all three are 1-0 after Jacksonville and Washington delivered shocking upsets of well-regarded teams (the Indianapolis Colts and the Philadelphia Eagles, respectively) and the Bears engineered a thrilling fourth-quarter comeback over the Detroit Lions. You might want to wait a week or two before hopping on these bandwagons – people were skeptical for a reason – but Jacksonville's Gardner Minshew had a day to remember, completing 19 of 20 passes and throwing three touchdowns, while outdueling Philip Rivers in the veteran's debut for the Colts.

The Packers should have drafted Aaron Rodgers' heir apparent years ago. Much was made of Rodgers being miffed that Green Bay used its first-round pick on Jordan Love, a quarterback out of Utah State. Rodgers said the right things in interviews, but he seemed to do so through clenched teeth. Known for playing well with a chip on his shoulder, Rodgers responded to the perceived slight by throwing for 364 yards and four touchdowns in a road win over the rival Minnesota Vikings. If Rodgers can play like that every week, the Packers might want to draft a quarterback next year, too.

Sometimes the obvious call is the right call. In a classic case of overthinking things, Carolina faced a fourth-and-inches play in the closing minutes of the team's game against the Las Vegas Raiders. With just about everyone in the world expecting a run, or pass, to Christian McCaffrey, the Panthers' superstar running back, Teddy Bridgewater instead handed off to fullback Alex Armah, who was crushed to the ground at the line of scrimmage for no gain, ending Carolina's comeback attempt. McCaffrey finished the day with 134 yards from scrimmage and two touchdowns. Armah carried the ball twice for one yard.

MCT, with The New York Times