Cal Bears: Pro Bears Goff and Tavecchio Shine in NFL’s Week One

NASHVILLE, TN- SEPTEMBER 10: Kicker Giorgio Tavecchio
NASHVILLE, TN- SEPTEMBER 10: Kicker Giorgio Tavecchio /

In the NFL’s opening week, two former Cal Bears stood out with huge performances to help lead their teams to a 1-0 record

A new NFL season is upon us, bringing with it hopes for new successes in a different year. Two former Cal Bears, who have taken very different paths, shined in week one of 2017.

Kicker Giorgio Tavecchio suited up for an NFL regular season game for the first time, while former first overall pick quarterback Jared Goff had the best game of his young career. Though Goff was the hand-picked future of a franchise, Tavecchio had to wait a long time just to make a roster.

Tavecchio was the Golden Bears’ kick from 2008 to 2011, making 48 field goals in 64 attempts (75 percent) and 112 of 120 extra-point attempts (93.3 percent). Despite kicking for no scouts during his pro day because of rain, Tavecchio never gave up the NFL dream. He was signed by the San Francisco 49ers, and subsequently cut. He was signed by the Green Bay Packers, and cut. The Detroit Lions signed and cut him. The Oakland Raiders did the same thing.

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The Raiders cut Tavecchio in 2014, 2015, 2016, and earlier in 2017, but kept him on the practice squad this year. That persistence paid off on Saturday, when Tavecchio was promoted to the active roster for the season opener as longtime Raiders’ kicker Sebastian Janikowski was placed on injured reserve because of a back injury.

Tavecchio not only took advantage of the opportunity, he made NFL history. In the second quarter, he was successful on his first field goal attempt from 20 yards out. He followed that with a booming kick later in the second, drilling a 52-yarder as time expired to give Oakland a 16-13. He was true from 52 yards out again in the third quarter to extend the lead, becoming the first kicker in NFL history to make multiple 50-plus-yard field goal attempts in his debut.

His day wasn’t done, as Tavecchio added a fourth made field goal, this one from 43 yards out to give the Raiders a 10-point lead with under four minutes to play. He was a perfect four-for-four on field goal attempts, and made a pair of extra-pointers for a total of 14 points on the day. The Raiders won 26-16.

Goff didn’t have to wait as long to make his NFL debut, but made his first week one start on Sunday and played the best game of his young career. He appeared to be leaps and bounds ahead of where he was last season, a product of spending an entire offseason with the knowledge that he is the number one quarterback.

In his first game under rookie head coach Sean McVay, Goff threw for 300 yards for the first time, reaching 306 yards as he completed 21 of his 29 attempts. The offensive line, which the front office made it a point of emphasis to improve during the past offseason, held up well in front of the second-year quarterback, only allowing one sack.

Goff worked well with his new targets. Sammy Watkins has been a Ram for only a month, but caught five passes for 58 yards. Rookie Cooper Kupp made four grabs for a team-leading 76 yards, and caught Goff’s lone touchdown pass on the day. Robert Woods made three catches for 53 yards. Todd Gurley again didn’t have much success running the ball (2.1 yards per carry), but caught five passes for 56 yards.

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The second-year quarterback seems to have made huge strides from where he was last season, and was a huge factor in the team’s 46-9 blowout of the Indianapolis Colts. It was the team’s first 40-plus point performance since week 13 of 2014. What a way to start his sophomore season.

Go Bears!