Alex Kielar | September 7th, 2019
With the 2019 NFL season kicking off last night between the Bears and Packers, we are now officially in the final season of the decade. I thought I would go over the best moment from each kickoff game this decade, including last night, and rank them.
10. 2010- Kevin Ogletree Two TD Catches with 114 yards (Giants vs. Cowboys)
The Giants kicked off the 2012 season against division rival Dallas, and a surprising receiver had an impressive ‘breakout’ game. Ogletree was relatively unknown prior to the kickoff of the season and wasn’t drafted in most fantasy leagues. But then he went off for two touchdowns with 114 yards to help the Cowboys take the first game of the season 24-17. Ogletree never wound up being a consistent receiver, but this game is one he won’t forget.
9. 2014- SEA Marshawn Lynch 20 carries for 110 yards and Two TDs (Seahawks vs. Packers)
The 2014 season kicked off just like it should have ended, with Marshawn Lynch running the ball. Lynch ran crazy against the Packers to start the season, getting the handoff 20 times and going 110 yards with two touchdowns. This was a huge part of the Seahawks pulling away from the Packers in the second half and winning 36-16. To this day, everyone still questions why the Seahawks didn’t hand off to Lynch at the end of Super Bowl 49. We all saw what he did on kickoff night and throughout that season. Instead, Malcolm Butler happened.
8. 2015- NE Rob Gronkowski Five Catches for 94 yards and Three TD (NE vs. PIT)
Gronk just announced his retirement from the NFL following this past season after many seasons of being a beast. 2015 was one of those seasons, as it started off very strong as the Patriots opened up the season against rival Pittsburgh. Gronk outmatched the Steelers defense and lit up their secondary, and I mean, he isn’t an easy guy to cover. He only caught five targets, but three of them were touchdown catches and all five went for 94 yards. He definitely gave fantasy owners something to be happy about.
7. 2010- NO Pierre Thomas Go-Ahead (eventual winning) TD Run (NO vs. MIN)
The 2010 season kicked off with a very low scoring game between defending champion Saints and the Vikings. There wasn’t much action, but it was back and forth, with the Saints laying the final blow in the 3rd quarter. That blow came from the legs of Saints’ Pierre Thomas, going up the middle and pushing into the endzone to give the Saints a lead that they would never relinquish. Skip to 2:29 in the video below to see the play.
6. 2019- GB Adrian Amos Game-Clinching INT in the end-zone (CHI vs. GB)
The first game of this season last night was very boring, with only 13 combined points being scored. The most interesting moment/play in the game came at the end, involving former Bear safety Adrian Amos. In a fitting end to a very defensive game, Amos made what was a fairly easy interception, as Mitchell Trubisky desperately heaved the ball up in the direction of receiver Allen Robinson. This pick pretty much sealed the game for the Packers, with the Bears getting the ball back one last time, but not getting very close to the endzone that time. Following the interception, the Packers defense celebrated in the endzone in what was a very picturesque moment.
5. 2018- PHI Jay Ajayi go-ahead rushing TD in 4th Quarter (PHI vs. ATL)
In what was another low-scoring defensive game, the best moment/play of the night came at the end. The Eagles had trouble getting their offense going on the night, but with just over two minutes left in the game, Ajayi got the ball handed off to him and trounced for 11 yards to the endzone for his and the Eagles’ second touchdown of the game. The Eagles would go for two to make it an 18-12 score, which wound up being the final score. On that final drive, the Eagles rested heavily on the run game, with Ajayi finishing it off.
4. 2016- DEN Chris Harris tipped interception sets up game-winning score (DEN vs. CAR)
The 2016 season kicked off with a rematch of Super Bowl 50, and was yet another low-scoring affair (seemed to have happened a lot this decade). The key play of the game came with just over 14 minutes remaining, with the Broncos trailing 17-14. On second down, Cam Newton threw a pass intended for Kelvin Benjamin. The pass was tipped and cornerback Chris Harris Jr. dove out to make the pick. The Broncos, led by Trevor Siemian, went on to drive down the field, and score on C.J. Anderson‘s second rushing touchdown of the game. The Broncos defense would only allow a field goal the rest of the way and won the game 21-20.
3. 2011- GB Randall Cobb 108-yard kickoff return (GB vs. NO)
The 2011 season kicked off in a more booming fashion in a high-scoring game between the Packers and Saints. The biggest play came from rookie Randall Cobb making his NFL Debut for the Packers. In the third quarter, with the Packers up 28-20, Cobb took the kickoff deep in his own endzone, spun and missed tackles and took it to the house for a record-tying 108 yards. Cobb easily could have been down at the 20-yard line but spun loose from several defenders. Green Bay went on to win the game in a shootout, 42-34.
2. 2013- DEN Peyton Manning ties NFL record with Seven TD Passes
In a season that would end in his fifth MVP award and third Super Bowl appearance, Peyton Manning couldn’t have asked for a better start to the 2013 season. The future Hall of Fame Manning looked nearly unstoppable as he threw for a record-tying SEVEN touchdown passes at the age of 37. Manning threw the seven touchdown passes to four different receivers, two to three of them.
1. 2017- KC Kareem Hunt 78-yard go-ahead TD (KC vs. NE)
While Hunt isn’t a good person at all, his play back in 2017 as the Chiefs were matched up against the Patriots on opening night, was a huge play. The Chiefs were down 27-21 early in the 4th quarter, and then Alex Smith aired it out to Hunt and he outran the Pats’ defense all the way to endzone to put the Chiefs up with a lead they would never relinquish. It was the second 75+ yard touchdown pass of the night for Smith, as he threw a 75-yard touchdown pass to Tyreek Hill early in the second half. That was a touchdown that also put the Chiefs up, but that one was only temporary.
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Main Image Credit: Embed from Getty Images