NFL Week 1 winners and losers: Dallas Cowboys’ defense puts NFL on notice, a heathly Tua Tagovailoa, Deshaun Watson struggles and more


Dallas Cowboys defensive end Micah Parsons wanted everyone to see Sunday night what he has known for weeks: The Dallas Cowboys defense is the league’s best.

Now, Philadelphia will disagree. So will San Francisco and a few others.


The next 16 weeks will ultimately prove which team has the NFL’s best defense. This much we know, the Cowboys will be part of that conversation after their 40-0 destruction of the New York Giants before a national TV audience.

Parsons, second in the Defensive Player of the Year voting to Nick Bosa, was a destructive force against the Giants, though he finished with three tackles and a sack. The Giants frequently double-teamed him, and the rest of the Cowboys’ defensive line won their one-on-one battles.

Defensive tackle Osa Odighizuwa and defensive end Dorance Armstrong each had two sacks for a unit that recorded seven sacks and allowed just 171 yards on 65 plays. They forced three turnovers, and the Giants fumbled five times, resulting from the Cowboys’ physical play.

“I saw it before anybody. I said, ‘I can’t wait to get to New York.’ I already knew we was coming,’” Parsons said after the game. “Just because when preparation meets execution, I don’t think there’s no one that can beat us.”

It was the Cowboys’ largest shutout win in franchise history and the first time since 1999 a team has started the season with a shutout win of more than 40 points on the road.

That year, Pittsburgh beat Cleveland 43-0.

The Jets and quarterback Aaron Rodgers will pose a significantly more difficult challenge next week.

“It’s just one win, it’s the beginning of the season,” said defensive end Demarcus Lawrence, “but I definitely feel like we put the league on notice, that we’re for real, that we’re coming.”

Brock Purdy ‘shut some haters up’

brock purdy

Nick Bosa signed a $170-million contract on Wednesday and played 35 snaps against Pittsburgh.

He had two tackles and a quarterback hit, but his presence is part of why the 49ers dominated. Like Parsons, Bosa drew so much attention that defensive end Drake Jackson took advantage of one-on-one blocking for three sacks as the 49ers traveled to Pittsburgh and steamrolled the Steelers 30-7.

We know Bosa is one of the league’s great players; the same is not true of quarterback Brock Purdy.

The 2022 7th-round pick completed 19 of 29 passes for 220 and two touchdowns for the 49ers. Not bad for a player who spent the offseason recovering from surgery to repair a torn ligament in his right elbow.

“Purdy shut some haters up. I think whenever a guy comes back from an injury, people kind of don’t expect them to make another leap in the second year,” Bosa said after the game. “I’m just happy for him. He’s exactly who we thought he was.

“You definitely need to prove people wrong and show that you’re the same player. I’m just happy he got an amazing recovery. I think it was quicker than anyone expected, so he was able to get reps throughout the offseason. He’s definitely a good leader for us.”

San Francisco has the Rams, a surprise blowout winner over Seattle, the Giants, and Arizona before an October showdown against Dallas.

A healthy Tua Tagovailoa is a dangerous Tua Tagovailoa

tua tagovailoa

What a performance by Tua Tagovailoa, who spent the offseason trying to persuade folks that he could be an elite player.

He missed parts of four games with concussion symptoms last season, and some thought Miami wouldn’t exercise its fifth-year option on him. They did, and it seemed like a prudent move after he completed 28 of 45 passes for a career-high 466 yards and three touchdowns in a 36-34 road win over the Los Angeles Chargers.

Tyreek Hill caught 11 passes for 215 yards and two touchdowns.

But Tagovailoa, who added 10 pounds of muscle and studied jujitsu to help him learn how to fall when tackled, played the best game of his career.

He just needs health, something that has eluded Tagovailoa in his first three seasons. He’s missed eight games the past two seasons. Still, Tagovailoa showed everybody that he’s part of the group of young AFC quarterbacks who have the potential to be superstars.

Justin Herbert passed for 228 yards and a touchdown with a passer rating of 99.1, and Tagovailoa played so well nobody’s talking about it.

“I don’t think anything else relates to the adrenaline rush when you go out there. You’ve got the fans. Even when you’re warming up, you can smell the popcorn,” Tagovailoa, said after the game. “There’s just a lot of things that you just can’t really emulate. And being able to go out there with the guys, it was awesome and I was just really appreciative of the opportunity.”

A new (and not so improved) normal for Deshaun Watson?

deshaun watson

At some point, the Cleveland Browns’ front office will start to wonder when, if ever, Deshaun Watson will look and play like his old self.

He certainly didn’t play like one of the NFL’s highest-paid quarterbacks, passing for just 154 yards with a touchdown and an interception against Cincinnati.

Joe Burrow, who signed a five-year, $275-million deal Friday that made him the NFL’s highest-paid player, played the worst game of his career.

Burrow, who didn’t play in the preseason, passed for a career-low 82 yards with a long of 12. Tee Higgins didn’t catch a pass on eight targets, and Ja’ Marr Chase caught just five passes for 39 yards.

Cincinnati looked like an offense that didn’t play in the preseason, while the Browns looked like a unit hoping their quarterback can find the rhythm that made him an elite player just a couple of years ago.

NFL Rookie watch

jalen carter

Philadelphia defensive end Jalen Carter, the projected No.1 pick for much of the offseason, dropped all the way to No. 9 because of off-the-field issues.

He flashed why so many teams thought he was the draft’s best player with a tackle, a sack and three quarterback pressures and a hit on Mac Jones.

He was disruptive and, at times, unblockable. He’s a problem.

The No. 1 quarterbacks

bryce young

Carolina’s Bryce Young became the ninth straight quarterback taken No. 1 overall to lose the opener as Atlanta beat the Panthers 24-10.

Young completed 20 of 38 passes for 146 yards with a touchdown and two interceptions. He finished with a passer rating of 48.8.

He can only improve, right?

“It’s on me. It’s unacceptable. Definitely a lot of things I wish that I could get back,” Young said after the game. “All I can do now is grow from it, learn from it. It’s a tough pill to swallow, but we have to turn the page. You’ve got to figure out how you build from it.

“Critical mistakes. Turnovers. They made great plays and I didn’t. I didn’t do a good job of taking care of the ball. I think it was just overall execution.”

Houston’s C.J. Stroud, the second player taken in the draft, passed for 242 yards without a touchdown or an interception in a 25-9 loss to Baltimore.

Indianapolis’ Anthony Richardson passed for 223 yards with a touchdown and an interception. He also led the team with 40 rushing yards and a touchdown on 10 carries.

After the game, Jacksonville quarterback Trevor Lawrence told Richardson to make sure he protects himself when he runs, so he lasts the season.

Key Stat


Green Bay quarterback Jordan Love, entering his third season, won his first game as an NFL starter against the hated Chicago Bears. He passed for 245 yards and three touchdowns. Aaron Rodgers is gone, so this is his team, and he made a great first impression.

Jean-Jacques Taylor is an NFL Insider for Sportsnaut and the author of the upcoming book “Coach Prime“, with Deion Sanders. Follow him on Twitter.

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