Jarryd Hayne fumbles in first NFL game
IT was a nightmare start for Jarryd Hayne in his first NFL game, but the former Parramatta star ended up celebrating a first-up 20-3 win with the San Francisco 49ers.
After being confirmed in the team's 46-man game-day roster less than two hours before kick-off for the home clash against the Minnesota Vikings, Hayne's first touch was a fumble, dropping a difficult swirling punt in the first quarter.
He could have let the ball bounce for his team to enjoy a first down, but his rugby league instincts kicked in instead, diving forward to attack the ball and coming up short.
"There's a bit of wind in the stadium tonight, but that is an inexcusable mistake for Jarryd Hayne," commentator Trent Dilfer said.
But the former Eels, Blues and Kangaroos star brushed off the error - after heavily admonishing himself for it - to make some solid runs as the game progressed.
It certainly wasn't the spectacular overall performance he displayed in his four games in the pre-season that earned him a multi-million dollar contract with sportswear manufacturer Under Armour.
But his night against the Vikings did include his first receive as an NFL player, catching a pass from quarterback Colin Kaepernick, making Vikings cornerback Terence Newman miss and picking up seven yards in the second quarter.
That meant he became the second Aussie to complete a reception after Hayden Smith with the New York Jets in 2012.
Hayne also lined up for a punt return on special teams - the position in which he excelled during the pre-season - in the second quarter.
It was an impressive 11-yard return, but the play didn't count because of a penalty against a teammate for running into the kicker.
The 27-year-old also made history by becoming the first Australian to post a rushing yard in the NFL, his best one of nine yards coming up the middle in the third quarter.
Fellow 49ers running back Carlos Hyde was the star of the show, picking up 168 yards from 26 carries, including two touchdowns.
Former NFL MVP and Vikings running back Adrian Peterson only made 31 yards from his 10 carries in a largely scrappy and error-filled game.
There were plenty of Australian fans in the crowd, some with inflatable kangaroos, cheering on the American football convert.
After the match Hayne was seen soaking up the win with Niners fans, carrying an Aussie flag, a dream ending to what has been an Australian sporting fairytale.
"I was a bit emotional seeing that flag," he told reporters.
"I think that kind of brought back memories, realising how far I'd come.
"It's been a great journey."