Apr 17, 2022; Birmingham, AL, USA; Houston Gamblers defensive lineman Ahmad Gooden (99) sacks Michigan Panthers quarterback Shea Patterson (2) causing a fumble in the second quarter of a USFL football game at Protective Stadium. The fumble was returned for a touchdown. Mandatory Credit: Vasha Hunt-USA TODAY Sports

The new USFL kicked off its inaugural season this weekend with a primetime game on Saturday night that showcased many of the bells and whistles that their TV broadcasts will hope to lure in trepidacious audiences. However, at the end of the day, it’s going to come down to whether or not the football itself is enjoyable for TV audiences to keep coming back.

Sunday’s game between the Michigan Panthers and Houston Gamblers showcased some of the most recognizable names in the league right now. However, those names seemed to have a particularly rough start to their USFL careers.

The Panthers, coached by longtime NFL head coach Jeff Fisher, trotted out former Michigan quarterback Shea Patterson as their signal-caller to start the season. The No. 1 pick in the USFL Draft, Patteson brought certain expectations with him into the season. However, early on, one play, in particular, seemed to fall way short of those expectations.

Trailing 3-0 early in the second quarter, the Panthers had a chance to take the lead when Patterson dropped back to pass, stumbled over himself, and then fumbled the ball away as it was picked up by a Houston defender and run back for a touchdown.

Fisher decided to give former Denver Broncos first-round pick Paxton Lynch to see if he could be a spark for the Panthers. Somehow, Lynch made things even worse thanks to a bad fumble just as the team had crossed over into Houston’s side of the field.

Now down 17-0, the Panthers needed a spark before halftime to get some momentum going. Instead, Lynch threw one of the most brutal interceptions you’ll see these days.

It was a tough first half for Michigan and its quarterbacks, to say the least.

That appeared to be it for Lynch on the day, whose stat line reads 2-for-5 for one yard and one interception. Meanwhile, Patterson returned in the second half and seemed to start putting it together, scoring his first passing touchdown of the season.

There’s still some football left to play and a decent chance Patterson can lead the Panthers back to victory. If so, he’ll replace a pretty rough start for himself and the franchise. As for Lynch, it might be a long week at practice.

About Sean Keeley

Along with writing for Awful Announcing and The Comeback, Sean is the Editorial Strategy Director for Comeback Media. Previously, he created the Syracuse blog Troy Nunes Is An Absolute Magician and wrote 'How To Grow An Orange: The Right Way to Brainwash Your Child Into Rooting for Syracuse.' He has also written non-Syracuse-related things for SB Nation, Curbed, and other outlets. He currently lives in Seattle where he is complaining about bagels. Send tips/comments/complaints to sean@thecomeback.com.