Football fans were in for a treat as the sun set on the Kickoff Weekend 2023 (held on September 7, 10-11). Let’s dive into the sensational performances that graced the pitch!
AFC Top Performers
Offensive Star: Tua Tagovailoa of the Miami Dolphins
- He accumulated an astounding 466 passing yards with three touchdown passes.
- Registered a passer rating of 110.0.
- Notably, this is the 4th highest passing yardage in a season-opening game ever.
- This is Tua’s 2nd Player of the Week accolade following his first in Week 2, 2022.
- Joining an elite club, he became the 5th Miami QB to earn this honour multiple times, sharing this distinction with greats like Dan Marino (18 times), Scott Mitchell, Matt Moore, and Chad Pennington (all two times).
Defensive Dynamo: Jordan Whitehead of the New York Jets
- Remarkably, he was the first player with three interceptions in Week 1 since 2001 (shoutout to Sammy Knight!).
- He was the first Jet with three interceptions in a single game since 2000, reminiscing Marcus Coleman.
- A debutant for the Player of the Week honour.
- Interestingly, he’s the 5th Jets safety to clinch this honour, and the first since 2019 – Jamal Adams in Week 1.
- He’s the 3rd Jet to win OPOW in Week 1, joining Mark Gastineau (1984) and David Harris (2009).
Special Teams Sensation: Xavier Gipson of the New York Jets
- Dazzled with a game-winning 65-yard punt-return touchdown.
- Registered the 3rd overtime punt-return touchdown in NFL history.
- Became the 4th Jets rookie to secure ST POW, joining Chad Cascadden (Week 13, 1995), John Hall and Leon Johnson (both in Week 13, 1997).
- Marking a pattern, this is the 2nd-straight year a rookie has grabbed AFC ST POW in Week 1, following Cleveland kicker Cade York in 2022.
NFC’s Crème de la Crème
Offensive Whiz: Brandon Aiyuk of the San Francisco 49ers
- He reeled in 8 receptions, totalling 129 receiving yards and racking up the only regular touchdowns in Week 1.
- Clinched his 1st Player of the Week award.
- He’s the 6th 49ers WR to achieve this and the 3rd in Week 1, joining Anquan Boldin (2013) and the legendary Jerry Rice (1994).
- He adds to his laurels as the 2nd former Arizona State WR to earn the honour, reminiscent of Ron Brown in Week 12, 1985.
Defensive Prodigy: Jessie Bates of the Atlanta Falcons
- A monumental game with ten tackles, two interceptions, and a forced fumble.
- Securing his first Player of the Week award.
- Becoming the 2nd Falcon to clinch OPOW in Week 1, joining John Abraham (2006) and Chris Doleman (1995).
- Interestingly, he’s the 5th former Wake Forest player to be Player of the Week.
Kicking Maestro: Jake Elliott of the Philadelphia Eagles
- Nailed 4 out of 4 field goals, with distances of 32, 48, 51, and 56 yards, culminating in 13 kicking points.
- He was the only kicker with two made 50-yard FGs in Week 1.
- This marks his 4th Player of the Week recognition after Week 3, 2017; Week 11, 2021; and Week 18, 2022.
- Continuing the Eagles’ tradition, this is the 2nd-straight year an Eagle has bagged STPOW in Week 1, following Zech McPheerson in 2022.
What a kickoff to the 2023 season! Now we wait with bated breath for the next game day. With such a start, the season promises exhilarating action, unparalleled drama, and sensational showcases. Cheers to the beautiful game! 🏈