There were plenty of close games and fantastic finishes in Week 1 of the 2016 NFL season. Here’s what we learned this week:

Jimmy Garoppolo Was Just As Good As Tom Brady. Sort Of.

Chandler Catanzaro missed a 47-yard field goal with less than a minute to play, and the Patriots beat the Cardinals, 23-21, in their first game without suspended quarterback Tom Brady on Sunday night. Backup quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo was 24 of 33 for 264 yards, with one touchdown and no interceptions for New England (1-0). He drove the Pats down the field and into position for Stephen Gostkowski’s go-ahead field goal with six minutes left. Garoppolo will continue to start while Brady serves the rest of his four-game suspension. If the Patriots start 4-0, hmmm...

Carson Palmer threw for 271 yards and two touchdowns to Larry Fitzgerald for Arizona (0-1).

The AFC West Race Is Going To Be Crazy

Oakland Raiders v New Orleans Saints
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Already the division of the reigning Super Bowl champion-Broncos, the AFC West has three other teams who look like they’ll be very competitive in 2016.

The doormat of the division for the past 15 years, the Raiders looked poised to start another season with a loss, until they rallied past the Saints, 35-34, in the Superdome. Quarterback Derek Carr threw a 10-yard touchdown pass to Seth Roberts to pull Oakland (1-0) to 34-33 pending an extra point, but it was head coach Jack Del Rio’s decision to go for a two-point conversion — with Carr tossing a fade to Michael Crabtree — that gave his team the win. New Orleans (0-1) had a chance to win the game, but kicker Wil Lutz missed a 61-yard field goal wide left as time expired. The Raiders defense looked awful, giving up 423 passing yards to Drew Brees. It will need to play better for Oakland to be a true contender.

The preseason AFC West favorite, the Chiefs were down 24-3 to the Chargers in the second half before they rallied to win the game, 33-27, on Alex Smith’s 2-yard dive in overtime. Smith passed for 363 yards and two touchdowns, as Kansas City (1-0) won its 11th consecutive regular-season game. Quarterback Philip Rivers threw for 243 yards and a score for San Diego (0-1), but the Chargers’ offense was pathetic in the fourth quarter, failing to sustain drives and putting its defense back on the field often.

The Broncos? They beat the Panthers, 21-20, on Thursday when Graham Gano missed a 50-yard field goal in the closing seconds. That’s quite a first week from what might be the NFL’s closest division race this season.

Carson Wentz Had A Better Debut Than Dak Prescott

Cleveland Browns v Philadelphia Eagles
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For at least one Sunday, Carson Wentz is the king of Philadelphia. The second-overall pick of the 2016 NFL Draft, Wentz led the Eagles to an easy 29-10 win over the Browns on Sunday. Wentz was 22-of-37 passing for 278 yards with two touchdowns and no interceptions, as Philadelphia (1-0) won the coaching debut of Doug Pederson. Cleveland (0-1) lost its NFL-record 12th consecutive opening game. Browns quarterback Robert Griffin III suffered a sprained left (non-throwing) shoulder while completing just 12 of 26 passes for 190 yards with an interception.

Cowboys rookie quarterback Dak Prescott played well in his team’s 20-19 loss to the Giants, but Dallas (0-1) fell to 1-14 in their past 15 games without injured quarterback Tony Romo. Prescott, who finished 25-of-45 for 227 yards and no turnovers, led the Cowboys into position for a game-winning field goal attempt, but receiver Terrance Williams didn’t get out of bounds and time expired. New York (1-0) bottled up Dallas’ best offensive weapons: rookie running back Ezekiel Elliott had just 51 yards on 20 carries and receiver Dez Bryant caught one pass for eight yards. Giants’ receiver Victor Cruz caught the game-winning touchdown in his first game back in nearly two full years.

Fans Were Probably Glued To NFL RedZone

Detroit Lions v Indianapolis Colts
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In addition to the above-mentioned, nail-biting finishes in Arizona, New Orleans, Kansas City and Dallas, three other games came down to the closing seconds on Sunday.

Minutes after missing an extra point that could have cost his team the game, Matt Prater kicked a 43-yard field goal that gave the Lions a 39-35 road win over the Colts. Quarterback Matthew Stafford’s third touchdown pass of the day gave Detroit (1-0) a 34-28 lead, but Prater’s missed PAT allowed Indianapolis (0-1) to rally to a 35-34 advantage when quarterback Andrew Luck threw a six-yard scoring pass to Jack Doyle with 37 seconds left and Adam Vinatieri made the extra point. Stafford marched the Lions down the field far enough for Prater to get his redemption. Luck completed 31 of 47 passes for 385 yards with four touchdowns.

Despite suffering an ankle injury, Russell Wilson threw a two-yard touchdown pass to Doug Baldwin with 31 seconds to play, and the Seahawks edged the Dolphins, 12-10, on Sunday. Miami (0-1) had taken a 10-6 lead minutes earlier when quarterback Ryan Tannehill scored on a sneak. Seattle (1-0) won ugly yet again behind its franchise quarterback and head coach Pete Carroll’s stout defense.

Mike Nugent kicked a 47-yard field goal with 54 seconds to play, giving the Bengals a 23-22 road win over the Jets. New York (0-1) sacked Andy Dalton seven times, but they couldn’t keep him from leading Cincy downfield for the game-winning kick. Dalton passed for 366 yards and a touchdown. Cincinnati (1-0) rallied after Jets’ kicker Nick Folk made a go-ahead 23-yard field goal with 3:23 left.

Colin Kaepernick Isn’t the Only NFL Player Protesting

Miami Dolphins v Seattle Seahawks
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Miami Dolphins players Arian Foster, Kenny Stills, Michael Thomas and Jelani Jenkins kneeled during the national anthem in Seattle, while the Seahawks team stood and interlocked arms. In Kansas City, the Chiefs locked arms during the national anthem, but cornerback Marcus Peters raised his fist while standing at the end of the line. On Thursday, Denver linebacker Brandon Marshall knelt during the song prior to his team’s game.

Packers, Jaguars and Texans players held ends of the giant flags on the field prior to their respective games.

The displays and reactions are tied directly to San Francisco backup quarterback Colin Kapernick, who did not stand during the song in his team’s last two preseason games as a means of protesting ongoing national social issues. The 49ers will open the season at home on Monday against the Rams.

Other Scores

Sunday, Sept. 11
Green Bay 27, Jacksonville 22
Baltimore 13, Buffalo 7
Houston 23, Chicago 14
Tampa Bay 31, Atlanta 24
Minnesota 25, Tennessee 16

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