AROUND THE SHIELD — Zack Moss established himself as arguably the best runner in Utah football history.
The Utes’ all-time leading rusher showed he could do more, though, in his NFL debut.
Moss ran for 11 yards on nine carries, but also caught three passes for 16 yards — including his first career touchdown — in the Bills' 27-17 win Sunday over the New York Jets in Week 1 of the 2020 NFL season.
Moss’ 4-yard grab in the corner of the end zone from quarterback Josh Allen with 2:32 left in the first quarter helped propel Buffalo to a 21-0 start against the Jets, and the Bills (1-0) never looked back.
After six months of quarantine and arguably the most contact-free offseason in NFL history, with virtual team meetings replacing training camps and organized team activities through most of the summer, Moss’ touchdown released a cavalcade of emotions.
“It was challenging for everybody,” he told Buffalo media on Friday. “But I think everybody has done a really good job of just buying into everything and getting ready for this game, knowing all the obstacles that we faced.
“I’m pretty confident in what we can do.”
A third-round pick by the Bills, the 22-year-old Moss played in 45% of snaps for the Bills, according to Pro Football Focus, when he hauled in a pass on three of his four targets.
Perhaps more impressive was his ability to scramble alongside his quarterback, which he did on the touchdown.
“Our guys did a great job of finding some lanes and making some plays,” said Allen, who singled out Moss’ touchdown in highlighting the Bills' improvisation when he fled the pocket. “I was fortunate enough to put it on him, and he made the catch. It’s what you love to see.
“When you’re in the game and have good communication like we’ve had, those are the results you’re going to see.”
Former Weber State standout Taron Johnson had a team-high five tackles and a pass breakup for the Bills.
Former BYU linebacker Harvey Langi, a Bingham High product, had six tackles and a pass defended for the Jets (0-1).
Here’s how the rest of the state of Utah’s former high school and college stars fared in the first week of the 2020 season.
Chicago Bears 27, Detroit Lions 23
Former Utah defensive back Jaylon Johnson started at cornerback and made six tackles in the Bears’ win over the Lions.
Johnson, a second-round pick of the Bears, also had two pass breakups — including defending the Lions’ potential game-winner on the final play of the game.
Johnson, to his credit, was ready for the Lions to attack his side of the field. He’s the unproven product in Chicago’s defense, after all, and he admits he’d do the same thing.
"I would expect every quarterback to go after the rookie; that's what I would do if I was a quarterback," Johnson told Chicago media before the game. "For me, it's just about preparing myself to be able to make plays in those positions, and if I give up plays, just keep a strong mindset to just keep pushing."
The 21-year-old rookie kept pushing, even when things were tough. He had earlier become a meme after being trucked by Lions wide receiver Marvin Jones, though it would’ve been impossible for him to know the fun the internet was having at his expense before the end of the game.
Former Weber High and Utah State standout Patrick Scales started his 12th season at long snapper in the NFL for the Bears.
Former Southern Utah standout Miles Killebrew and Utah alum John Penisini both played off the bench for the Lions (0-1).
New Orleans Saints 34, Tampa Bay Buccaneers 23
After the pick, Williams ran down and joined his defensive teammates for a photo, continuing a tradition held in front of fans that the ex-Ute defensive back says continues to give the Saints momentum despite the crowd-free environment.
“It was good seeing the ball in the air,” Williams said. “He threw it up, I saw the ball, and I went to go get it.
“It was good seeing the ball in the air. He threw it up, I saw the ball, and I went to go get it.”
Williams also had a tackle and a pass breakup for the Saints (1-0), and fellow Utah product Chase Hansen came off the bench alongside Judge Memorial graduate Kaden Elliss in the win.
Former BYU quarterback Taysom Hill ran for 13 yards, caught a 14-yard pass, and completed a 38-yard dart to Alvin Kamara, who had 67 all-purpose yards and two touchdowns.
LA Rams 20, Dallas Cowboys 17
Former Ute Terrell Burgess came off the bench but did not record a stat to as the Rams christened SoFi Stadium in Inglewood, California with a win on Sunday Night Football.
Former Bingham High tight end Dalton Schultz, who played collegiately at Stanford, caught one of four targets for 11 yards for the Cowboys (0-1), and Utah grad Bradlee Anae came off the bench on the defensive line for Dallas.
New England Patriots 21, Miami Dolphins 11
Former BYU linebacker Kyle Van Noy had five tackles and a tackle for loss in his Dolphins debut, tied for the fourth-most tackles on the team with former Utah cornerback (and one-time New England teammate) Eric Rowe.
Green Bay Packers 43, Minnesota Vikings 34
Former BYU all-time leading rusher Jamaal Williams ran for 21 yards on seven carries and added four catches for 21 yards in the Packers’ win over the Vikings.
Former Utah State quarterback Jordan Love, who was drafted in the first round of April’s NFL draft to be Aaron Rodgers’ backup, was inactive for Green Bay (1-0).
Las Vegas Raiders 34, Carolina Panthers 30
Former Utah running back Devontae Booker ran for 29 yards on four carries and added three catches for 23 yards in the Raiders’ win over the Panthers.
Herriman High grad Andre James rotated on the offensive line for the Raiders (1-0) in their first game since moving to Las Vegas.
Utah State’s Tyler Larsen rotated along the offensive line for the Panthers (0-1).
Baltimore Ravens 38, Cleveland Browns 6
Former BYU linebacker Sione Takitaki finished with seven tackles, including five solo stops and a quarterback hurry, in the Browns’ season-opening loss to the Ravens.
Former Salem Hills quarterback Porter Gustin, who prepped at USC, made one tackle, and former Utah State receiver JoJo Natson returned one punt for one yard for the Browns (0-1).
Seattle Seahawks 38, Atlanta Falcons 25
Former Utah cornerback Marquise Blair and Utah State linebacker Bobby Wagner both tied for second on the team with seven tackles apiece in the Seahawks’ win over the Falcons.
Wagner added a tackle for loss and two pass breakups for Seattle (1-0), and Blair also forced a fumble. Brighton alumn Cody Barton and Highland High alumn Bryan Mone both rotated into the Seahawks' defense off the bench.
LA Chargers 16, Cincinnati Bengals 13
Former Utah State linebacker Nick Vigil had five tackles to help the Chargers hold off the Bengals.
Vigil, who prepped at Fremont, also recovered a fumble against the Bengals, who drafted the linebacker in the third round of the 2016 NFL Draft.
Former BYU defensive back Michael Davis added a tackle for the Chargers (1-0). Utah product Sam Tevi started at left tackle, and former Orem High safety Alohi Gilman came off the bench for Los Angeles.
Timpview High product Xavier Su’a-Filo started at right guard for Cincinnati (0-1).
Arizona Cardinals 24, San Francisco 49ers 20
Former Utah standout Kylie Fitts had one tackle on special teams in the Cardinals’ win over the Niners.
Herriman High product Leki Fotu came off the bench at defensive tackle in his rookie debut with the Cardinals (1-0).
Former BYU linebacker Fred Warner, who started at Mike linebacker, made 10 tackles with one pass breakup for the 49ers (0-1).
Ex-Utah punter Mitch Wishnowsky averaged 44.5 yards on four punts, including a long kick of 51 yards, three punts downed inside the 20, and a special-teams tackle.
Thursday Night Football
Kansas City Chiefs 34, Houston Texans 20
BYU grad Daniel Sorensen had two tackles as the Andy Reid-led Chiefs opened up their Super Bowl title defense with a win over the Texans.
Former Utah State running back Darwin Thompson played eight snaps on special teams for the Chiefs (1-0), and Layton High alumn Marcus Kemp made one tackle in 11 snaps on special teams.