156kg Aussie shines on NFL debut
Australian footballer Jordan Mailata has finally made his NFL debut, representing the Philadelphia Eagles during their season-opener against the Washington Football Team.
Mailata replaced injured rookie Jack Driscoll in the third quarter, and undeniably held his own during Monday's clash at Jack Kent Cooke Stadium in Maryland.
At right tackle, the 23-year-old didn't look out of place on debut, remaining on the field when Driscoll eventually returned.
"Jack (Driscoll) battled his arse off. When he went down, Mailata battled his arse off," Eagles centre Travis Kelce said after the match.
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Mailata, a former U20s player for the South Sydney Rabbitohs, was drafted in the seventh round of the 2018 NFL Draft, but was forced to wait for his first appearance after battling injury throughout the 2019 season.
According to CNN, the 157kg offensive tackle was signed on a four-year deal worth AU$34 million with a signing bonus of approximately $122,000.
"I am very confident and very prepared to do whatever it takes to be on this team and perform at a high level that the coaches expect of me," Mailata told NBC Sports last month.
"I mean, it's my third year going into league and I'm feeling very confident this year in my playbook and my skills, and my ability. So, I feel like I have very well prepared to take on the task ahead."
The Eagles have had Jordan Mailata for two years and even gave him first-team reps in camp this summer.— Dave Zangaro (@DZangaroNBCS) September 13, 2020
But they choose to put in the rookie over him. https://t.co/Az6PFsCNgA
Congratulations to this 156kg wrecking ball and former Rabbitohs Under 20s player, @jordan_mailata who made his long awaited NFL debut for the Philadelphia Eagles! 🐇❤️💚🏉🦅🏈#OldestProudestLoudest #GoRabbitohs pic.twitter.com/6cCxOY4f6j— South Sydney Rabbitohs 🐰 (@SSFCRABBITOHS) September 14, 2020
After racing to a 17-0 lead, the Eagles crumbled to an embarrassing 27-17 defeat, in which Washington running back Payton Barber managed two touchdowns.
"We can't have the mistakes, we can't have the sacks, we can't have the turnovers and expect to win, especially against a division opponent," Philadelphia coach Doug Pederson said.
"Any time you disrupt your offensive line and lose some continuity there, it's going to affect you a little bit, but the one thing I like about our guys is it's a resilient group".
Kelce conceded: "It was a very up-and-down performance for the offensive line, very poor in the run game.
"We gotta be better upfront. No excuses. I don't think anybody, in particular, individually played a terrible game. Everybody had their chances to screw this one up, myself included."
For their next fixture, the Eagles will take on the Los Angeles Rams at Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia on Monday, September 21st AEST.
ROOKIE'S DROP SEALS DRAMATIC COMEBACK
Detroit Lions linebacker Jamie Collins found himself ejected from Monday's 27-23 defeat to the Chicago Bears in bizarre circumstances after he appeared to lower his helmet and make contact with an official.
Collins was complaining about Bears running back David Montgomery before lowering his helmet into a tackle, and inadvertently brushed the game official's chest as he did so.
The 30-year-old's misery was compounded by a fourth quarter collapse that saw the Bears reel off 21 unanswered points to turn a 23-6 deficit into victory.
Detroit rookie D'Andre Swift had the perfect opportunity to seal a last-minute win when quarterback Matthew Stafford found him wide open.
With six seconds remaining on the clock, the well-directed pass was dropped in dramatic scenes, sealing defeat for the Lions.
D'Andre Swift with a MASSIVE drop for Lions -2.5 bettors— Barstool Sportsbook (@BSSportsbook) September 13, 2020
"I put my arm around (Swift) as soon as we got to the tunnel, walked up the tunnel with him and told him he's a great player," Lions coach Matt Patricia said.
"The game's not on him. It's on me."
For their next fixture, Detroit will face the Green Bay Packers at Lambeau Field in Wisconsin on Monday, September 21st AEST.
BRADY'S ROCKY START WITH BUCS
Tom Brady's Tampa Bay career got their season off to a rocky start as the Buccaneers suffered a season-opening 34-23 defeat to the New Orleans Saints at the Superdome on Monday.
Brady, who joined the Buccaneers in March after calling time on his 20-year reign as New England Patriots' quarterback, was sacked three times and intercepted twice as the Saints powered to victory.
It was an uncomfortable outing for the 43-year-old Brady, widely regarded as the greatest quarterback in NFL history.
Although Brady got off to a fairytale start - scoring the game's opening touchdown after a one-yard sneak into the end zone - the Buccaneers were chasing the game for long periods thereafter.
The Saints drew level through an Alvin Kamara touchdown and then took the lead after Brady's first interception of the day.
New Orleans stretched their lead to 24-7 early in the third when Brady was picked off by Janoris Jenkins, who returned for a touchdown.
Although the Bucs closed the gap to seven points with a field goal and a touchdown, Saints quarterback Drew Brees found Emmanuel Sanders for another touchdown to leave the home team in control.
For their next fixture, the Buccaneers will take on the Carolina Panthers at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa on Monday, September 21st AEST.
- With AFP
Originally published as 156kg Aussie shines on NFL debut