The NFL season is starting soon. Week 1 in the National Football League marks the start of the fall season for many people. It also sets the tone for teams as they try to embark in a Super Bowl run. Since 2000, parity has reigned supreme in the NFL. Many teams that no one saw coming start their surprising runs with big opening victories. Here’s a look at the 5 best NFL Week 1 games since 2000.
2000 – St Louis Rams 41, Denver Broncos 36
The Rams were the defending champions. They started their defense on the right track, hosting the Denver Broncos in a Monday Night Shootout. The teams traded the lead in the first half, with no team gaining more than a 4 point edge, which the Rams held at halftime. The Rams managed to build a 35-20 lead in the 3rd quarter before Denver battled back to take a 36-35 lead on a Terrell Davis touchdown. The Rams regained the lead with 3 minutes left and held on for a 41-36 win. Kurt Warner threw for over 440 yard while Brian Griese went for over 300 for the Broncos.
2002 – Kansas City Chiefs 40, Cleveland Browns 39
The Browns saw a great day from QB Kelly Holcomb, who threw for 326 yards and 3 touchdowns without an interception. It wasn’t enough though. The teams were back and forth before Cleveland built a 27-14 lead in the 3rd quarter. The Chiefs took the lead, lost it, and regained it. The Browns eventually grabbed a 39-37 lead with 29 seconds left in the game. In an amazing ending, Browns linebacker Dwayne Rudd celebrated a game ending hit by throwing his helmet. That allowed the Chiefs one more play, which they used to hit a field goal no time on the clock.
2004 – New England Patriots 27, Indianapolis Colts 24
The Patriots were playing on Thursday night to start the season following their 2nd Super Bowl title in 3 seasons. A back and forth first half gave the Colts a 17-13 lead at the break. The Patriots responded with two touchdowns in the 3rd quarter to take control. A late touchdown gave the Colts a chance, but they couldn’t capitalize. Tom Brady outdueled Peyton Manning in a battle of great quarterbacks, throwing for 3 touchdowns and 335 yards.
2008 – Carolina Panthers 26, San Diego Chargers 24
The Chargers were coming in to the season with a lot of hype. Playing at home, they were expected to handle the Panthers. The Chargers couldn’t do much to gain an edge on Carolina, and 4 John Kasey field goals helped the Panthers grab a 19-10 lead. San Diego fought back though, and managed to take a 24-19 lead. With the victory in hand for San Diego, Carolina’s Dante Rosario caught a 14 yard touchdown pass as time expired to give the Panthers a 26-24 stunner.
2009 – Denver Broncos 12, Cincinnati Bengals 7
This game wasn’t all about offense. The total yardage was pretty mild. But the last minute saw some fireworks. The Broncos lead 6-0 when Cedric Benson scored an apparent game winner for the Bengals with 38 seconds left. After getting the ball back, Brandon Stokely caught a deflected pass from Kyle Orton and rumbled in to the end zone for an improbable 87 yards pass play. The fluke ending fueled a 6-0 start for Denver. Cincinnati got the last laugh though, claiming a playoff spot at the end of the year.
Rams – Broncos 2000 Box Score
Chiefs – Browns 2002 Box Score
Patriots – Colts 2004 Box Score
Broncos – Bengals 2009 Box Score
Panthers – Chargers 2008 Box Score