No concussion protocol could prevent or mitigate damage from those hits.

It could be argued the concussion protocol is only an attempt to make an inherently damaging game appear safer.

“The reality is, the concussion protocol does matter,” Nowinski said. “Players can die of second-[impact] syndrome. Careers can end from concussion symptoms. We have to get this right.”

The New England Patriots nearly fell to 1-2 at the hands of rookie quarterback Deshaun Watson and the Houston Texans. Instead it was Tom Brady finding Brandin Cooks for the game-winning touchdown and two-point conversion with 23 seconds remaining to rally the Patriots to a 36-33 victory.

In Philadelphia, rookie Eagles kicker Jake Elliott blasted a 61-yard field goal to send the New York Giants to an 0-3 start, despite two touchdown catches – and two interesting celebrations – from wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr.

Detroit suffered disappointment on the final play of the game. Wide receiver Golden Tate appeared to score a game-winning touchdown with 6 seconds remaining. On review, Tate was ruled down at the half yard line. By rule, the review required a 10-second runoff, ending the game and giving the Falcons a 30-26 win. Atlanta starts that season with a record of 3-0.

The Patriots reclaim the No. 1 spot after their victory over the Steelers. It certainly wasn’t easy. But Tom Brady yet again was at his best in crunch time. Rob Gronkowski was a difference-maker for the offense in his return from his one-game suspension. And good luck and meticulous preparation came together for the Patriots in the wild final sequence when the catch-rule replay reversal went their way and their defense was more than ready for the fake-spike throw into the end zone.

The Jaguars may be the one team capable of preventing the expected Steelers-Patriots rematch in the AFC championship game. They can play rugged defense and run the football, and they could face the Steelers in what could be a competitive conference semifinal. But the problem remains: Can QB Blake Bortles, even with his recently improved play, be trusted in games of consequence?

Colin Kaepernick vows to continue fighting after receiving Ali Award (from Beyonce!)

Former 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick received Sports Illustrated’s Muhammad Ali Legacy Award from Beyonce on Tuesday at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn and vowed to continue fighting racial injustice in United States whether he returns to the NFL or not.

Outside the club, McDowell began yelling at police officers who had responded to the incident. According to the New York Post, one officer described McDowell’s actions as a “tantrum” in the police report.

“I repeatedly had to give him instructions and at one point he threw himself down on the ground in a tantrum,” the officer stated in the report. “He immediately accused me of stealing money from him, while I began to search his person, before placing him inside my vehicle, as we are trained to do. I tried to reason with him but to no avail.”

And about that consecutive-starts streak by a quarterback … the Chargers’ Philip Rivers, 35, now has the longest current one at 188, meaning to break Favre’s mark Rivers would have to continue to start through September 2025 — when he would be 44.

“My gut tells me I’m like you — I don’t know if it can be done,” Favre told King. “But there’s always someone. … It’s doable. It’s very hard. So many factors, toughness being one. I just think, obviously, you have to be good for a long time. When it comes to Eli, looks like it might be the changing of the guard, whether it’s his fault or not. I am sorry it ended for him. … I think another factor that will play in my favor is guys making smarter choices about their future, with all the information about brain trauma and CTE out there. Guys will wonder, ‘Is it really worth it?’ Maybe they won’t play as long. I never thought of it. We didn’t really talk concussions.”