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Around the NFL: Defenses for Jacksonville Jaguars & Los Angeles Rams Rise Up
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11 Sep 2017 04:58 PM EST

-by Daniel Mogollon, Staff Writer; Image: Los Angeles Rams LaMarcus Joyner returns interception for touchdown. (Image Source: AP Photo)

Around the NFL:

Defensive Juggernauts?

In their 46-9 season-opening win over the Indianapolis Colts, the Los Angeles Rams became the first team to post two interception returns for touchdowns and a safety in their first game of the season.

Cornerback Trumaine Johnson and safety LaMarcus Joyner each turned in pick sixes, which tied for the most in Week 1. The last time a team did so on Kickoff Weekend was the Minnesota Vikings versus the Atlanta Falcons in 2007. Defensive end Morgan Fox recorded the safety for a Rams defense led by defensive coordinator Wade Phillips.

Meanwhile in Houston, the Jacksonville Jaguars pulled off a 29-7 upset over the Houston Texans behind a stellar defensive effort of their own.

Led by four sacks from defensive end Calais Campbell, the Jags brought down Houston’s quarterbacks 10 times on Sunday. Jacksonville’s other defensive end, Dante Fowler, had a sack and a 53-yard fumble-return touchdown.

The Jags are just the second team in league history to post 10 sacks and score a defensive touchdown on Kickoff Weekend, joining the 1985 Oakland Raiders.

Comeback Kids Season 2

A season after setting an NFL record, when they won eight times after trailing in the fourth quarter a year ago, the Detroit Lions had the Arizona Cardinals right where they wanted them when they trailed 17-15 in the final stanza.

Quarterback Matthew Stafford threw for 292 yards and four touchdowns (one INT) with a 113.1 passer rating as the Lions came out on top 35-23. He now has 27 game-winning drives in the fourth quarter or overtime since 2011, which is the most in the NFL over the past six-plus seasons.  

Week 1 Rookie Watch

Offense: Cleveland Browns second-round pick quarterback DeShone Kizer threw for 222 yards and accounted for two touchdowns (1 rushing, 1 passing) in his NFL debut. It marked the 10th-straight season in which a rookie quarterback started on Kickoff Weekend, which is the longest such streak in league history.

Defense: Part of the reason the Pittsburgh Steelers were able to squeak out a 21-18 win over the Cleveland Browns was the effort given by their first-round pick, outside linebacker T.J. Watt. The Wisconsin man had two sacks and an interception, the first player to do so in his NFL debut since the sack became an official stat in 1982.

Special Teams: The Oakland Raiders beat the Tennessee Titans 26-16 behind four field goals by Giorgio Tavecchio who was perfect in his first game. Technically not a rookie, Tavecchio was undrafted coming out of Cal in 2012, but he did make history by becoming the first kicker to hit two field goals of 50-plus yards in his NFL debut when he drilled a pair of 52-yarders. Joining Sebastian Janikowski, who was placed on the injured reserve on Saturday, Tavecchio is the second kicker in team history to have multiple field goals of at least 50 yards in a game.

Daniel Mogollon is a member of the Pro Football Writers of America and the Football Writers Association of America. He is also a voter for the Thorpe and the Rotary Lombardi Award, as well as the Latino Sports MVP Awards. 

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