Demarus Dye| BKD TV Insiders
Welcome to the second season of BKD TV’s weekly recap on every NFL game for Week 1, this is the first edition of Tuesday Morning (or Afternoon) QB, thanks to Associated Press for there articles & photo assistance in this piece. Tomorrow I will be back with what have we learned after Week 1 of the 2015 NFL Season.
Steelers 21, Patriots 28
FOXBOROUGH, Mass. (AP) — Whether sprinting out of the tunnel for warmups, watching former teammates and the Patriots owner carrying Lombardi Trophies, or tearing apart the Steelers, Tom Brady relished every moment of this NFL season opener.
“It was a pretty special night,” said Brady, who threw for four touchdowns, three to favorite target Rob Gronkowski, in a 28-21 victory Thursday night over undermanned and generally ineffective Pittsburgh. “I was excited, our whole team was excited. We haven’t had one of these games in a long time.”
It was as if he never was away. Of course, he never really was, and with “Deflategate” behind him, the star quarterback was back to his unstoppable self, going 25 of 32 for 288 yards.
“It’s always fun being out there and getting an opportunity to go play,” added Brady, whose 161 victories are tops for a starting quarterback with one franchise in NFL history. He set a team-record with 19 straight completions; and he had his 23rd game with four or more touchdown passes, third all-time along with Brett Favre.
“We took advantage of it. It was a good win.”
His four-game league suspension overturned by a federal judge one week ago, the three-time Super Bowl MVP was in midseason — or postseason — form. He led drives of 90 and 64 yards for scores on passes to Gronkowski. Gronkowski also recovered a fumble by running back Dion Lewis at the Pittsburgh 1 before his final TD.
The outcome added to a festive mood at Gillette Stadium, despite persistent showers that didn’t bother the home team. Before kickoff, the Patriots unveiled their fourth championship banner as owner Robert Kraft and former players Troy Brown, Willie McGinest and Ty Law carried out New England’s four Super Bowl trophies.
Fourth-quarter crowd chants of “Where is Roger?” mocked Commissioner Roger Goodell over “Deflategate.” Goodell did not attend.
Neither, it seemed, did the Steel Curtain. Only occasionally did it come close to clamping down on Brady, yielding 361 yards overall. Third-stringer Lewis rushed for 69 yards, and leading receiver Julian Edelman had 11 catches for 97 yards. Gronkowski had 94 yards.
Minus two All-Pros on offense — running back Le’Veon Bell (suspended) and center Maurkice Pouncey (injured) — and without suspended receiver Martavis Bryant, Pittsburgh moved the ball decently, gaining 464 yards. But it never really was close.
Ben Roethlisberger threw for 351 yards and a late TD to All-Pro receiver Antonio Brown. Backup DeAngelo Williams rushed for 127 yards.
Tomlin was angry after the game, complaining that coaches couldn’t communicate because they were hearing the Patriots radio broadcast over their headsets. Patriots coaches also complained about similar troubles. The league said it was a temporary problem caused in part by the weather. For years, opposing teams have complained about having headset problems in Gillette Stadium.
Pittsburgh had moved the ball decisively on its first drive, but things collapsed after Brown was sacked on a trick play. The drive fizzled, with a missed 44-yarder by Josh Scobee.
Scobee, acquired on Sept. 1 from Jacksonville, also missed from 46 yards and connected from 44 and 24. But the damage was done earlier.
NOTES: Patriots DT Dominique Easley left in the first quarter with a hip injury. … Pittsburgh lost linebacker Sean Spence to a hamstring problem, and safety Will Allen was being examined for a concussion. … Brown, who led the league in catches and yards receiving, had nine receptions for 133 yards.
Dolphins 17, Redskins 10
LANDOVER, Md. (AP) — One big play made all the difference for the Miami Dolphins.
Miami fell into an early hole, put together only one touchdown drive and was dominated statistically by the Washington Redskins.
Thanks to Jarvis Landry, none of that mattered.
Landry returned a punt 69 yards for a touchdown with 10:22 left to give the Dolphins their first lead, and Miami held on for a 17-10 victory Sunday.
Landry, in his second year out of LSU, is listed behind LaMichael James on punt returns. The decision to put him back there came just before the opening kickoff.
Starting an opener for the first time in his four-year career at Washington, Kirk Cousins went 21 for 31 for 196 yards and two interceptions. Robert Griffin III was inactive after only recently recovering from a concussion.
Cousins’ two turnovers hurt, but the Redskins were right in it until the end. Unfortunately, that’s nothing new.
Miami trailed 10-0 in the second quarter, cut it to 10-7 at halftime and pulled even with 11:34 remaining when Andrew Franks kicked a 22-yard field goal to cap a 76-yard drive.
The Dolphins then forced a punt. Landry took the ball in the center of the field and darted up the middle, dodging would-be tacklers along the way.
Miami coach Joe Philbin said: “When he caught the ball there seemed to be a lot of space. He’s good in the open field; he’s a tough guy to get on the ground.”
On the ensuing drive, Cousins threw a sideline pass that Dolphins cornerback Brice McCain intercepted at the Miami 2.
Washington got the ball back and drove to the Dolphins 20 before Cousins threw two straight incomplete passes.
It was the story of the day for the Redskins.
Alfred Morris had 121 yards on 25 carries for Washington. The Redskins outgained the Dolphins 349-256 and held the ball for 37:54 compared to 22:06.
And still, they lost.
The Redskins played most of the game without standout wide receiver DeSean Jackson, who hurt his left hamstring chasing down a long pass on the opening play of Washington’s second series.
Washington also lost starting safety Duke Ihenacho to a wrist injury.
Ryan Tannehill completed 22 of 34 passes for 226 yards for Miami.
Kai Forbath kicked a 45-yard field goal to end Washington’s first possession. He subsequently missed a 46-yarder, but the Redskins went up 10-0 in the second quarter when Cousins capped a 17-play, 88-yard drive with a 4-yard touchdown pass to tight end Jordan Reed.
Tannehill answered with a frenzied 80-yard drive that took less than a minute and a half, ending with a 3-yard TD pass to Rishard Matthews.
Notes: Redskins CB DeAngelo Hall left with a rib injury but returned to finish the game. … CB Justin Rogers hurt his foot and could be sidelined for a few days, Gruden said. … In his debut with the Dolphins, Ndamukong Suh had a tackle and an assist. “For me, there were no jitters or nothing,” he said. … For the first time in this series since 1984, the visiting team won.
Browns 10, Jets 31
Todd Bowles got a big win and a celebratory game ball in his New York Jets debut.
Ryan Fitzpatrick threw two touchdown passes and Chris Ivory ran for two scores, giving the Jets a 31-10 victory over the Cleveland Browns to open the season Sunday.
“It feels good to get the butterflies out of the way, to get that first one,” Bowles said. “It wasn’t perfect, by no means, but we did what we had to do to win.”
The Jets (1-0) had five takeaways against the Browns, including an interception and two forced fumbles of Johnny Manziel, who came in late in the first quarter for an injured Josh McCown.
D’Brickashaw Ferguson presented Bowles with the game ball in the locker room as the team got off to a winning start under their new coach. Bowles was hired in January after Rex Ryan was fired following six seasons.
The victory was a bit dampened by injuries, with a scary moment occurring in the fourth quarter when rookie linebacker Lorenzo Mauldin was taken to a hospital after being carted off the field. A few hours later, the Jets announced Mauldin has a concussion — but no neck injury, as initially feared — and was hospitalized overnight for observation. The team added that Mauldin was awake and had feeling in all of his extremities.
New York also lost cornerback Antonio Cromartie in the second quarter with an injured left knee. He’s scheduled to have an MRI exam Monday.
Brandon Marshall and Eric Decker had touchdown catches for the Jets, who sent the Browns (0-1) to their 11th straight opening-day loss. Cleveland committed 12 penalties for 109 yards to go along with the five turnovers.
Fitzpatrick, who became the starter after Geno Smith had his jaw broken by a punch from a teammate last month, finished 15 of 24 for 179 yards and also threw an interception that ended up being the turning point — for the Jets.
Shortly after Cleveland took a 7-0 lead, Fitzpatrick’s throw to Marshall was picked off by Tashaun Gipson. But the Jets wide receiver ripped the ball out of Gipson’s hands for a fumble recovery that gave New York the ball at the Cleveland 9. Moments later, Ivory ran up the middle for a 10-yard tying TD.
“That, to me, was the play of the game,” Bowles said.
Manziel was 13 of 24 for 182 yards, including a 54-yard touchdown to Travis Benjamin. He also led the Browns with 35 yards rushing on five carries.
“Obviously, the second half leaves a bitter taste in your mouth,” Manziel said. “We’ll see what happens this next week.”
After struggling to find a rhythm early, Fitzpatrick and the Jets’ offense clicked on a nine-play, 72-yard drive that was capped by Decker’s 15-yard touchdown catch with 26 seconds left before the half and gave New York a 14-10 lead.
Marcus Williams intercepted a pass by Manziel intended for Brian Hartline in the third quarter and the Jets made the Browns pay. With a short field to work with, starting on the Browns 28, Fitzpatrick connected with Marshall for 17 yards on third-and-2 and then threw a fade to Marshall for a 1-yard TD on third down to give New York a 21-10 lead with 7:51 left in the third quarter.
Ivory sealed the game with a 3-yard run just over 10 minutes left.
The Browns appeared ready to score on their opening drive, but two big hits on one play kept Cleveland out of the end zone — and knocked McCown out of the game.
On third-and-goal from the Jets 14, McCown took off up the middle and dived for the goal line. As he left his feet, McCown was hit by Calvin Pryor and Demario Davis, knocking the ball out of the quarterback’s hands and out of the end zone for a touchback.
McCown suffered a concussion, allowing Manziel to get in — amid some hearty boos from Jets fans.
On his fifth play, Manziel lofted a perfectly placed pass down the left sideline that landed right in the hands of Benjamin, who outran Cromartie to give the Browns a 7-0 lead.
NOTES: Browns LB Scott Solomon was carted off in the first quarter with an ankle injury. Pettine had no immediate word on the severity. … Ivory finished with 91 yards on 20 carries. … Cleveland is 1-16 in Week 1 games since its expansion return in 1999. … McCown was 5 of 8 for 49 yards before leaving.
Chiefs 27, Texans 20
HOUSTON (AP) — Kansas City’s defense forced Houston into some early mistakes, and Alex Smith capitalized on enough of them to give the Chiefs a win.
Smith threw for 243 yards and three touchdowns in the first half as the Chiefs built a big lead and held on for a 27-20 victory over the mistake-prone Texans on Sunday.
Travis Kelce caught two touchdown passes in the first quarter, the first one coming after Kansas City intercepted Brian Hoyer’s first pass as a Texan.
The Chiefs were up by 14 in the second quarter when Justin Houston sacked Hoyer, forcing a fumble. Kansas City recovered it and a 7-yard touchdown reception by Jamaal Charles pushed the lead to 27-6.
Hoyer struggled in his debut before Ryan Mallett took over with about six minutes left and led Houston on two scoring drives to cut the lead to a touchdown.
J.J. Watt had two sacks, nine tackles and tied a career high with six tackles for losses. Jadeveon Clowney, last year’s top overall pick, had four tackles, with one for a loss, in his first game since microfracture surgery in December. He didn’t start but came in on the second play and played mostly on third downs after the first series.
The Chiefs had five sacks, two by Allen Bailey.
DeAndre Hopkins had nine receptions for 98 yards and two touchdowns for Houston.
Hoyer elicited boos throughout the afternoon, and the home crowd began chanting “Mallett! Mallett!” after Hoyer was called for intentional grounding in the fourth quarter. He was 18 of 34 for 236 yards. Mallett was eight of 13 for 98 yards.
Hoyer’s pass was intercepted by rookie Marcus Peters on Houston’s first drive, giving the Chiefs the ball at the Houston 13. Smith connected with Kelce two plays later on a 10-yard touchdown pass to make it 7-0.
Kelce pushed the lead to 14-0 when Smith found him wide open on a 42-yard touchdown pass. Kelce finished with 106 yards receiving.
Hopkins reached over a defender to grab a 4-yard touchdown pass late in the first quarter. But Randy Bullock missed the first extra point of his career and the first since the NFL moved extra point attempts from the 2-yard line to the 15, to leave Houston down 14-6. He had made all 66 of his previous attempts.
Watt’s first sack came in the second quarter when Jah Reid knocked his helmet off trying to slow him down. Watt got to Smith anyway, taking him down for a 9-yard loss without his helmet. Kansas City’s second field goal of that quarter came two plays later to extend the lead to 20-6.
Houston’s strip sack of Hoyer came on the Texans’ next possession and the Chiefs recovered it at the Houston 7. The Chiefs cashed in on the mistake one play later on the touchdown by Charles.
Another sack by Watt, last year’s Defensive Player of the Year, came with an assist by Clowney in the third quarter. Clowney got into the backfield, flushing Smith from the pocket and Watt dragged him down as he tried to evade Clowney.
Hopkins grabbed an 8-yard touchdown pass from Mallett in the fourth quarter and also caught a pass for the 2-point conversion. A 47-yard field goal by Bullock with less than two minutes remaining got Houston within 27-20.
NOTES: Kansas City safety Eric Berry had two tackles in his first regular-season game since revealing he had lymphoma last November. Berry was declared cancer-free in June and cleared to practice just before camp. … WR Jeremy Maclin had 52 yards receiving in his debut for the Chiefs after spending the first five years of his career with the Eagles.
Colts 14, Bills 27
ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. (AP) — Rex Ryan lamented there was only one thing missing in making his Buffalo Bills coaching debut complete.
“I think, we would have gotten a shutout,” Ryan said following a 27-14 season-opening win over the Indianapolis Colts on Sunday. “But when you’re playing the Colts, that’s not going to happen too often.”
In other words, he’ll take it.
The Bills showed signs of unveiling the bully Ryan had vowed to build in Buffalo when he took over in January after Doug Marrone stepped down abruptly.
Karlos Williams and Boobie Dixon each rushed for touchdowns as part of a ground-and-pound attack that combined for 147 yards. Quarterback Tyrod Taylor was efficient in his Bills debut. He completed 14 of 19 for 195 yards, including a 51-yard touchdown pass to Percy Harvin, and added 41 yards rushing.
And Buffalo’s dominating defense put the clamps on Andrew Luck and what was one the NFL’s best offenses a year ago.
The Colts managed just nine first downs and 148 yards of offense in the first half, which ended with usually reliable Adam Vinatieri missing a 52-yard field goal wide right.
Luck finished 26 of 49 for 243 yards, and two touchdowns — a 2-yard pass to Donte Moncrief’s 2-yard catch and Dwayne Allen’s 6-yard score — and two interceptions.
The Bills grabbed the momentum by capitalizing on Luck’s first interception.
Rookie cornerback Ronald Darby timed his leap perfectly to intercept Luck’s deep pass intended for T.Y. Hilton. Five plays later, Taylor dropped back in the pocket and hit Harvin in stride to open the scoring
Buffalo proceeded to score on its next three possessions, capped by Dixon’s 1-yard run in the third quarter to build a 24-0 lead six minutes into the second half.
It was a hole far too deep for the Colts to overcome.
Actually, the Bills’ defense was playing minus tackle Marcell Dareus, serving a one-game suspension. And Buffalo then lost its senior defensive back, safety Corey Graham, who sustained a possible concussion while tackling Frank Gore on the first play from scrimmage.
For Indianapolis, Hilton didn’t return after bruising his left knee late in the third quarter. Colts owner Jim Irsay said preliminary tests were negative, but added it’s too early to determine whether their top receiver will miss any playing time.
The Colts’ offense was hardly in synch even with Hilton, who finished with seven catches for 88 yards. Gore struggled finding holes in his Colts debut — and also missed a series because he cramped up. He finished with 31 yards rushing on eight carries and had two catches for 0 yards.
Receiver Andre Johnson, another veteran offseason addition, barely made an impact while spending much of the game covered by Buffalo’s top cornerback Stephon Gilmore. Johnson finished with four catches for 24 yards — and had Luck’s 2-point conversion throw go through his hands.
NOTES: Taylor technically didn’t start at quarterback as the Bills opened with a trick play. Taylor lined up at receiver, with veteran Matt Cassel taking the snap and handing the ball to LeSean McCoy for a 6-yard loss. Taylor signed with the Bills this offseason after spending the past four years as Joe Flacco’s backup in Baltimore. … Bills LB Randell Johnson recovered a punt muffed by rookie Phillip Dorsett at the Colts 26 early in the fourth quarter. The turnover led to Dan Carpenter’s 45-yard field goal for a 27-8 lead. … Carpenter was 2 for 2 by also hitting a 45-yarder after missing three of six in preseason.
Packers 31, Bears 23
CHICAGO (AP) — Aaron Rodgers saw James Jones go up for a one-handed touchdown catch and experienced a few flashbacks.
Like they had stepped back in time.
Rodgers threw for three touchdowns, two to Jones, and the Green Bay Packers beat Chicago 31-23 to spoil John Fox’s debut as Bears coach Sunday afternoon.
The Packers got all they could handle from the rebuilding Bears but took control down the stretch to beat them for the 10th time in 11 games, including the postseason.
Rodgers improved to 13-3 lifetime against Chicago. The 2014 MVP completed 18 of 23 passes for 189 yards.
Jones, who spent seven seasons in Green Bay before signing with Oakland last year, caught four passes for 51 yards. That included a one-handed grab on a 13-yard score late in the first quarter that left Rodgers flashing back to 2012, when Jones led the league with 14 TD catches.
He added a 1-yarder in the third — a good start after being released by the Raiders in the spring and by the New York Giants on the final roster cut. With Jordy Nelson (knee) out for the season, the Packers were quick to bring back Jones.
Randall Cobb, hampered late in the preseason by a sprained right shoulder, had 38 yards receiving. He caught a 5-yard touchdown that made it 24-16 early in the fourth quarter, and Clay Matthews sealed the win by intercepting Jay Cutler at the Green Bay 20 and returning it 48 yards.
Eddie Lacy ran for 85 yards and a late touchdown. Julius Peppers chipped in with 1 1/2 sacks for the four-time defending NFC North champions.
The Bears, essentially starting over under Fox and new general manager Ryan Pace after a five-win season, kept this one close though Cutler had a rough afternoon. He was 18 of 36 for 225 yards, with that late interception by Matthews. He also threw a 24-yard touchdown to Martellus Bennett with 34 seconds left, but Green Bay recovered the onside kick.
Matt Forte ran for 141 yards — 105 in the first half — and a touchdown. Alshon Jeffery caught five passes for 78 yards after missing the preseason because of a left calf injury. Robbie Gould kicked three field goals to give him 246 to surpass Kevin Butler as Chicago’s all-time leader.
Green Bay, which outscored the Bears 93-31 over two games last season and beat them at Soldier Field for their 700th win, trailed 13-10 at the half. Rodgers finished a third-quarter drive with a 1-yard slant to Jones and Gould answered with a 44-yard field goal, cutting it to 17-16.
Rodgers made it 24-16 early in the fourth when he hit Cobb with a 5-yard pass, capping a 16-play drive.
But the Bears stalled at the 2 after Cutler’s 50-yard pass to Marquess Wilson. Cutler overthrew Eddie Royal in the end zone on fourth down after Chicago opted not to try a field goal.
Notes: The Bears started two-time Pro Bowl RG Kyle Long at right tackle — a move that many saw coming after Jordan Mills got released a week earlier. Vladimir Ducasse started at right guard. … This was Forte’s fourth game with at least 141 yards and his highest output since he ran for 145 against Tampa Bay on Oct. 23, 2011. … Packers LB Sam Barrington sat out the second half because of an ankle injury.
Seahawks 31, Rams 34 OT
ST. LOUIS (AP) — The Seahawks needed a yard. The Rams defense knew that this time, unlike in the Super Bowl, they would give the ball to Marshawn Lynch.
Once again, Pete Carroll’s choice didn’t work out. Rams defensive linemen Michael Brockers and Aaron Donald stuffed Lynch for a 1-yard loss on fourth down to seal a 34-31 overtime over the two-time defending NFC champs victory Sunday.
Carroll said the play had been getting 2 or 3 yards “all day long.” The Seahawks’ bid to keep overtime going died at the Rams 43, about 10 yards shy of field goal range.
The Rams assembled a defense that features five first-round picks up front for just such a moment. They sacked Wilson six times, getting two each from Donald and Robert Quinn.
Greg Zuerlein kicked a 37-yard field goal on the opening drive of overtime.
The Rams watched a 24-13 lead disappear, as Seattle scored 18 points in the fourth quarter, capped by Cary Williams’ strip-and-score of Nick Foles with 4:39 left.
With 53 seconds left, the Rams tied the game at 31 after Seahawks defensive back Dion Bailey — the replacement for holdout Kam Chancellor — stumbled on Lance Kendricks’ 37-yard touchdown catch.
Bailey, who made his NFL debut, said “I was just too flat-footed, tried to open up and fell down. At that point I’ve got to tackle him and live to fight another day.”
The Seahawks opened overtime with an onside kick that could have given them a shot at winning the game outright, as Bradley Marquez caught Steven Hauschka’s popped-up attempt. After throwing a flag for an illegal fair catch, officials ruled the ball was kicked directly in the air, so Marquez was OK raising his hand.
Carroll said it wasn’t supposed to have been of a pooch kick.
Foles hit Steadman Bailey for a 22-yard catch for the key gain to set up Zuerlein’s kick.
The Seahawks had another special teams letdown when Tavon Austin returned a 57-yard punt by Jon Ryan 75 yards for a touchdown.
Austin was virtually untouched on two touchdowns, also scoring on a 16-yard run.
The play by the defense helped the Rams make up for three lost fumbles.
Foles was 18 for 27 for 297 yards and one TD with no interceptions in his St. Louis debut.
Wilson was 32 for 41 for 251 yards with a TD and an interception, and added 31 yards on eight carries.
Rookie Tyler Lockett had a 57-yard punt return TD and Jimmy Graham caught a touchdown pass in the fourth for Seattle.
The Rams announced 51,792 tickets had been distributed but the 66,000-seat capacity Edward Jones Dome looked to be a little more than half-filled.
NOTES: Graham had six catches for 51 yards including a 7-yard score in the fourth in his Seattle debut. … The Rams lost CB Trumaine Johnson (concussion tests) and special teams ace Chase Reynolds (knee) in the first half. Johnson’s interception set up an early field goal. … St. Louis totaled six sacks on Wilson last year, three in each game.
Panthers 20, Jaguars 9
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (AP) — Panthers cornerback Josh Norman pointed at quarterback Blake Bortles as he strolled toward the end zone, then waved bye-bye before he crossed the goal line.
Indeed, Norman was gone — and so was Jacksonville’s chance of knocking off the two-time defending NFC South champion.
Norman returned an interception for a touchdown, and Carolina did just enough offensively to beat the Jaguars 20-9 on Sunday.
It worked as Carolina held Jacksonville to 75 yards in the second half, intercepted two passes and got four of its five sacks.
Norman provided the game changer early in the third period when he stepped in front of a pass intended for running back T.J. Yeldon and went untouched down the sideline for a 30-yard score.
The big defensive score helped offset a big defensive loss in Carolina’s second straight season-opening win. It also provided a much-needed boost for an offense that managed just 263 yards as it searches for someone to replace No. 1 receiver Kelvin Benjamin.
The Panthers seemed to rally after the loss of star linebacker Luke Kuechly, who left in the final minute of the first half with a concussion.
Kuechly wobbled to the ground after hitting Yeldon following a short gain. Kuechly tried to stand up but dropped to the ground again. He was immediately helped to the locker room, and the team later said he would not return.
Kuechly signed a five-year, $62 million contract earlier this week.
Cam Newton, playing in his first game since signing a five-year, $104 million contract, completed 18 of 31 passes for 175 yards and a touchdown. He also ran for 35 yards and threw an interception.
Newton found Jerricho Cotchery in the back of the end zone in the second quarter for Carolina’s only offensive touchdown.
It was a sloppy game all around for the Jaguars, who have lost four consecutive openers.
Allen Hurns, Allen Robinson and rookie Rashad Greene dropped passes for Jacksonville. Hurns also fumbled. Rookie kicker Jason Myers missed a 44-yard field goal and an extra point.
And Bortles was off all day. He finished 22 of 40 for 183 yards, with a touchdown and two interceptions. His first one was the fifth pick-six in his 14 career starts.
Notes: The teams kicked off the season 20 years after entering the league together as expansion franchises. … Carolina held Jacksonville to 265 yards. … Panthers backup OT Daryl Williams (right knee) left in the first quarter and did not return. … Panthers PK Graham Gano, who has led the NFL in touchback percentage the last three years, kicked four out of five through the end zone. … Jaguars LT Luke Joeckel injured his left ankle late in the first half and did not return. He was using crutches and wearing a walking boot in the locker room, and said he was scheduled for an MRI later Sunday. … Greene sustained a concussion and was not allowed to speak to the media in the locker room. … Jaguars CB Aaron Colvin (shoulder) also left the game.
Saints 19, Cardinals 31
GLENDALE, Ariz. (AP) — From the first series to his very last on Sunday, Carson Palmer showed just how much he means to the Arizona Cardinals.
As if there was any doubt.
Palmer threw three touchdown passes in his first game back from a torn ACL and the Cardinals opened their season with a 31-19 victory over the New Orleans Saints on Sunday. In the process, he became the first Cardinals quarterback since Jim Hart to win seven straight starts,
Drew Brees threw for 355 yards but just one touchdown. The Saints had to settle for Zach Hocker field goals after four drives.
Arizona’s Andre Ellington rushed for 69 yards before being carted off with a right knee injury.
Palmer directed a nine-play, 80-yard touchdown drive after the opening kickoff, punctuated by a 10-yard TD pass to John Brown. The other two scoring passes came in the fourth quarter. Darren Fells made a 17-yard fingertip catch for one score and Arizona clinched it with Palmer’s 55-yard pass to rookie David Johnson with 1:33 to play.
Palmer, 14-2 in his last 16 starts, completed 19 of 32 passes for 307 yards with no interceptions.
Arizona was 8-1 when Palmer went down last season, 3-5 after that, including a wild card playoff loss with their third-string quarterback.
An injury to Ellington would be a tough blow after he played with a torn tendon in his left foot in 2014 before a core muscle injury ended his season. Arians said Ellington appeared to have a posterior cruciate ligament injury, although further tests are planned.
Chris Johnson, a late free agent signing, relieved Ellington. But it was a third running back, David Johnson, who made the play that assured the win.
The Cardinals figured the Saints expected them to keep the ball on the ground to run out the clock, and Johnson was wide open for the short pass.
Fells, who played basketball at UC Irvine, caught four passes for 82 yards, the most in a game by a Cardinals tight end since 1989. Larry Fitzgerald had six catches for 87 yards.
Brees, trying to lead the Saints back from a 7-9 season, completed 30 of 48 passes with one touchdown and one interception.
In his first series since blowing out his knee, Palmer completed 5 of 6 passes for 62 yards. From the 10-yard line, Palmer rolled right and after checking off to receivers all over the field, found Brown open for the touchdown.
The already depleted New Orleans secondary took a blow when safety Rafael Bush, who had started in place of injured Jarius Byrd, left with a chest injury in the third quarter.
Notes: The Saints were called for three penalties on one play, two of them against cornerback Delvin Breaux. … The last Cardinals tight end with more yards receiving was Roy Awalt, who had 105 against Dallas on Nov. 12, 1989. … Rashad Johnson’s interception came when Brees’ pass bounced off Marques Colston’s hands.
Lions 28, Chargers 33
SAN DIEGO (AP) — This is why the San Diego Chargers gave Philip Rivers an $84 million contract extension during training camp.
Down 21-3 less than halfway through the second quarter, Rivers helped rally the Chargers to 30 straight points for a riveting 33-28 victory against the Detroit Lions on Sunday in what could be their final home opener in San Diego.
Rivers overcame two interceptions, including a 31-yard return for a touchdown by Glover Quin, to complete 35 of 42 passes for 404 yards and two touchdowns.
The go-ahead touchdown came on Rivers’ 13-yard pass to tight end Ladarius Green early in the fourth quarter. It tied Rivers with Hall of Famer Dan Fouts for the franchise record, 254.
The Chargers’ future in San Diego is uncertain, with ownership looking to bolt to the Los Angeles area, perhaps as soon as 2016.
This one was really in doubt, until Rivers and the Chargers got straightened out.
“We couldn’t be much worse in that first half. We just couldn’t get going and when we did we threw it to them,” Rivers said.
It was 21-10 at halftime, and Rivers had just thrown an interception in the end zone.
Green was subbing for Antonio Gates, who’s suspended without pay for four games for testing positive for PEDs. Keenan Allen had 15 catches — tying the club record set by Hall of Famer Kellen Winslow in 1984 — for 166 yards.
The Chargers trailed 21-3 after Matthew Stafford threw an 18-yard touchdown pass to Eric Ebron midway through the second quarter. San Diego’s comeback started when Danny Woodhead scored on a 9-yard run 5:02 before halftime. Rivers was picked off by Darius Slay in the end zone just before the break.
But the second half was all San Diego. Rivers threw a 12-yard touchdown pass to Stevie Johnson and rookie Josh Lambo kicked a 25-yard field goal to close to one point. The go-ahead TD pass to Green came with 11:49 to play.
The Lions dominated the first half.
Rookie Ameer Abdullah scored easily on his second run, a 24-yarder. Quin’s interception return on a poor decision by Rivers and Ebron’s touchdown catch made it look as if it was going to be a blowout.
Chargers rookie Melvin Gordon appeared to score on a powerful 21-yard run with a great second effort, but it was ruled that he was down by contact.
Woodhead also scored on a 1-yard run with 2:33 left in the game for a 33-21 lead.
Chargers rookie Kyle Emanuel, a fifth-round draft pick, had a sack and an interception.
NOTES: Chargers RG D.J. Fluker was taken off on a cart with an ankle injury late in the third quarter. … Barksdale was shaken up in the fourth quarter but was OK. … Lions TE Brandon Pettigrew was shaken up but Caldwell declined to elaborate.
Ravens 13, Broncos 19
DENVER (AP) — The debut of Peyton Manning’s new mashup offense was a dud. Not so Denver’s dazzling defense, which came up huge Sunday in a 19-13 win over the Baltimore Ravens.
Former Ravens safety Darian Stewart, who followed Gary Kubiak from Baltimore to Denver over the winter, snatched the ball from tight end Crockett Gillmore in the end zone with 28 seconds left to seal the win for the four-time defending AFC West champs.
Joe Flacco drove the Ravens to the Denver 16 in the final minute. One play before Stewart’s interception, cornerback Brady Roby got a hand in Steve Smith Sr.’s face and a would-be touchdown catch bounded away from the veteran receiver.
Neither offense found the end zone.
Cornerback Jimmy Smith’s 24-yard pick-6 was Baltimore’s only touchdown and Broncos cornerback Aqib Talib responded with a 51-yard interception return for a TD that put Denver ahead for good 16-13.
Talib stepped in front of Smith, snared Flacco’s pass and weaved his way through traffic to put Denver ahead heading into the fourth quarter, when they used an 11-minute drive to help seal it.
Manning, who failed to find the end zone in 11 preseason possessions, didn’t sniff the goal line in 10 full possessions Sunday. He has never looked this bad post-neck surgery, not even in the playoff loss against Indy eight months ago when he was hobbled by a torn quad muscle.
Bounced passes. Overthrows. Some of it was surely his O-line that included two first-time starters and a two-time Pro Bowl guard Evan Mathis, who was making his Denver debut. Manning was flagged for a false start when he was trying to draw a defender offside in the first half.
He was 24 of 40 for 175 yards and a paltry 59.9 passer rating. His four sacks were his most since Oct. 20, 2013.
Flacco was 18 of 32 for 117 yards and two interceptions for a QB rating of 38.2.
The Broncos got the ball at their own 4 with 13:51 remaining and drove to the Ravens 15, where Brandon McManus kicked his fourth field goal, a 33-yarder with 2:55 left that made it 19-13.
The 17-play drive ate up 81 yards and almost 11 minutes.
The only points in the first half came through the uprights with McManus kicking three field goals and joining Greg Zuerlein as the only kickers in NFL history with multiple field goals of 56 yards or more in the same game McManus was good from 57, 56 and 43 yards, and Justin Tucker kicked a 52-yarder for Baltimore.
Bengals 33, Raiders 13
OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) — Andy Dalton couldn’t have scripted his season opener with Cincinnati much better.
For Jack Del Rio and the Raiders, it’s hard to imagine it getting much worse.
Dalton welcomed Tyler Eifert back to the lineup by throwing him two touchdown passes and Jeremy Hill ran for two scores to help the Bengals spoil Del Rio’s coaching debut in Oakland with a 33-13 victory over the Raiders on Sunday.
Dalton was helped by the return of Eifert, who went down with a season-ending elbow injury in the season opener last season.
With A.J. Green taking the attention on the outside, Eifert had free reign in the middle of the field to catch nine passes for 104 yards as the Bengals (0-1) broke out to a 33-0 lead and coasted.
It was a nightmare game for the Raiders (0-1), who lost starting quarterback Derek Carr to a hand injury in the second quarter and were held scoreless until midway through the fourth quarter in Del Rio’s first game as coach.
The tone was set right from the start as the Raiders went three-and-out on their first possession — the eighth straight season they began with a three-and-out or turnover.
Dalton then moved the ball easily on an 11-play drive capped by Hill’s 3-yard score on fourth-and-1 when he got outside of Ray-Ray Armstrong and raced past Ben Heeney into the end zone.
Dalton frequently found the middle of the field open against a Raiders defense that lost starting safety Nate Allen to a knee injury in the first half.
Dalton hit Eifert on scoring strikes in the closing seconds of the first half and then late in the third quarter to make it 30-0, driving Oakland fans to boo or head to the exits.
After 12 straight years without a winning record or playoff berth, the Raiders were hoping for more success with Del Rio in charge and Carr back for his second season as quarterback.
But Carr once again struggled to get the ball downfield, going 7 for 12 for 61 yards before hurting his right hand trying to stiff arm Adam Jones on a scramble late in the second quarter. X-rays were negative, but Del Rio did not say whether Carr would miss time.
Matt McGloin fared no better as the Raiders didn’t even take a snap in Bengals territory until the first play of the fourth quarter against a Bengals defense that looked improved from last season. They avoided the shutout when McGloin threw a pair of TD passes to Marcel Reece in the fourth quarter.
The game was chippy with several personal fouls, including one on Jones for ripping off the helmet of Oakland receiver Amari Cooper and slamming his head against it. Austin Howard, who was already called for holding on the play, then shoved Jones as a mild skirmish broke out. The penalties wiped out a 60-yard run by Jamize Olawale.
NOTES: Aldon Smith, signed by Oakland on Friday, did play but made little impact as a pass rusher. He had one solo tackle, one assist and one quarterback pressure. … The Bengals got their first win in Oakland after 10 previous losses. … Raiders S Charles Woodson left with an injured shoulder on the final drive.
Titans 42, Buccaneers 14
TAMPA, Fla. (AP) — Marcus Mariota looked right at home standing on the sideline in the fourth quarter, watching his teammates close out a lopsided victory.
The rookie quarterback made it look as easy as he did in college Sunday, throwing four touchdown passes and outplaying No. 1 overall draft pick Jameis Winston in their NFL debuts to lead the Tennessee Titans to a 42-14 victory over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
The highly anticipated season opener featuring the first two players selected in the draft was one-sided from the start, not unlike many of Mariota’s dazzling performances at Oregon, where he routinely built big early leads.
The second overall pick, however, cautioned against reading too much into dominating the Bucs, who like the Titans went 2-14 last season.
Mariota threw for 209 yards without an interception to join Hall of Famer Fran Tarkenton as the only players to throw for four or more TD passes in their first NFL game.
Tarkenton did it for Minnesota against the Chicago Bears on Sept. 17, 1961. Mariota became the first to do it in the opening half.
Winston, the No. 1 overall pick and 2013 Heisman winner, did something rare, too, becoming the first quarterback since Brett Favre in 1991 to have his first NFL pass intercepted and returned for a touchdown.
Mariota, meanwhile, teamed with Kendall Wright on a 52-yard TD play less than two minutes into the game and also had TD throws of 12 yards to Bishop Sankey, 4 yards to Harry Douglass and 1-yard to Delanie Walker to build a 35-7 halftime lead.
The Titans, who didn’t score more than 28 in any game while going 2-14 last season, scored on four of five possessions in the opening half. Mariota led another TD drive to make it 42-7 midway through the third quarter.
Winston threw TD passes of 5 and 41 yards to Austin Seferian-Jenkins, but never really established a rhythm throwing the ball. The Bucs have lost 10 straight home games, nine of them under second-year coach Lovie Smith.
Notes: Mariota and Winston met once in college, with Oregon trouncing Florida State 59-20 in last season’s national playoff semifinals. It was the only loss Winston suffered in 27 college starts. … Coty Sensabaugh, starting in place of injured Titans cornerback Jason McCourty, picked off a sideline throw and ran 26 yards for a TD on Winston’s first pass of the game. … Mariota finished 13 of 16 with no interceptions. He was sacked twice before being replaced by Zach Mettenberger with 14:49 remaining in the game. … Winston was 16 of 33 for 210 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions. The Titans sacked him four times.
Giants 26, Cowboys 27
ARLINGTON, Texas (AP) — Tony Romo found Jason Witten for the winning touchdown after a series of Dallas mistakes put the New York Giants in position to beat the Cowboys in an opener for the first time.
Now the Dallas quarterback has to figure out how to make the comeback turn into more victories without All-Pro receiver Dez Bryant, who will miss four to six weeks with a broken right foot.
The Cowboys drove 72 yards in 1:27 after stopping New York at the 1 and forcing Josh Brown’s fourth field goal when a touchdown would have sealed the Giants’ first victory in an opener against Dallas.
The defending NFC East champion Cowboys are 8-0 against their division rival in openers, and have beaten them five straight times.
Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie returned a fumble 57 yards for a touchdown, and the Giants had to go just a yard for their other TD after Trumaine McBride’s interception.
The Giants tried to throw on third down from the Dallas 1 with a 23-20 lead, but the Cowboys weren’t fooled by the play-action fake. Eli Manning threw the ball away instead of taking a sack, stopping the clock and giving Romo the final 1:34 to try to win.
On the winning play, Romo picked up ball after a low snap and found Witten — who finished with eight catches for 60 yards and two TDs — shielding defenders at the goal line. The 13-year veteran made the catch, stayed on his feet and left no doubt about getting the ball in the end zone for yet another huge connection between one of the most prolific quarterback-tight end combos in NFL history.
Romo, who threw for 356 yards with three touchdowns and two interceptions, led two quick touchdown drives in the fourth quarter after McBride’s interception set up Rashad Jennings’ 1-yard scoring that put the Giants up 23-13 with 8 minutes to go.
Some observations after the Cowboys improved the best season-opening winning percentage in NFL history (.670, 37-18-1):
NO DEZ, SO DUNBAR: Running back Lance Dunbar got the final Dallas drive going with two catches for 40 yards. He finished with team highs of eight catches for 70 yards with Bryant twice leaving the game. The first time was in the first half because of dehydration.
BIG HITS: McBride’s interception was the result of safety Brandon Meriweather’s jarring hit on Dallas receiver Devin Street knocked the ball into the arms of McBride. The New York cornerback originally was given a touchdown on a 20-yard return, but replayed showed him stepping out at the 1.
In his first meeting with the Cowboys since his astonishing one-handed touchdown catch last season, Giants receiver Odell Beckham Jr. wasn’t much of a factor with five catches for 44 yards. Dallas safety J.J. Wilcox hit him hard on a crossing route in the first quarter, knocking the ball out.
10 QUICK POINTS: The Giants converted two Dallas turnovers into 10 points in the final minute of the second quarter. Rodgers-Cromartie picked up a fumble by receiver Cole Beasley just before he hit the ground at the end of a run and ran untouched for a 10-6 lead, cutting from the sideline to the middle of the field to avoid Romo along the way.
On Dallas’ next snap, Romo threw behind Witten, who tipped the ball into the arms of linebacker Uani Unga, starting because Jon Beason missed the game with a sprained left knee. The Giants had to settle for Brown’s second field goal, from 40 yards.
REPLACING MURRAY: Joseph Randle got most of the work in the first game for Dallas without 2014 NFL rushing leader DeMarco Murray. He had 16 carries for 65 yards, and Darren McFadden had six for 16.
Eagles 24, Falcons 26
ATLANTA (AP) — In his first game with that big contract, Julio Jones was worth every penny.
Jones hauled in nine passes for 141 yards, including a pair of touchdowns, and the Atlanta Falcons came back after squandering a 17-point halftime lead to beat the Philadelphia Eagles 26-24 Monday night in the coaching debut of Dan Quinn.
Coming off the best season of his career, Jones was rewarded with a new $71.25 million contract. Early on, he dominated the Eagles’ revamped secondary as Atlanta raced to a 20-3 halftime lead.
Philadelphia rallied behind new quarterback Sam Bradford, taking the lead for the first time at 24-23 on Ryan Mathews’ 1-yard run with 8:37 remaining.
Back came the Falcons, driving into position for Matt Bryant’s fourth field goal of the game, a 47-yarder with 6:27 to go that turned out to be the winner.
Cody Parkey was wide right on a 44-yard field goal that could have restored Philadelphia’s lead. The Eagles had one more chance, but cornerback-turned-safety Ricardo Allen intercepted a pass that went through the hands of Jordan Matthews, sealing the victory with 1:11 left.
Bradford, in his first regular-season game in nearly two years after being acquired in a trade with St. Louis, was 36 of 52 for 336 yards. But Philadelphia’s much-hyped running game, led by newcomer DeMarco Murray, was largely a bust.
After leading the NFL with 1,845 yards rushing in Dallas last season, Murray was held to 9 yards on eight carries. Ryan Mathews had only 4 yards, while Darren Sproles led the way with 50 yards on the ground.
Coach Chip Kelly’s up-tempo offense looked unstoppable in the preseason but bogged down in the first half against the fired-up Falcons, who hope the energetic Quinn can turn things around from a 10-22 showing the last two seasons under Mike Smith.
Other than a 69-yard drive that led to a field goal, the Eagles generated just 56 yards on their other seven first-half possessions — three of which went three-and-out, and another ended quickly when Bradford was intercepted. The deficit would have been even bigger if not for Kiko Alonso’s dazzling one-handed interception while falling backward in the end zone.
Jones repeatedly burned new Eagles cornerback Byron Maxwell, including touchdowns of 4 and 22 yards. Philadelphia clamped down in the second half, but Jones finally got loose for his only catch after the break: a 44-yarder that set up Bryant’s winning field goal.
Bryant also connected from 41, 39 and 44 yards.
Ryan was 23 of 34 for 298 yards but handed Philadelphia the momentum on the third play of the second half. A deep pass down the middle just as he was hit was picked off by safety Walter Thurmond, who returned it 23 yards to the Atlanta 8. After an incomplete pass, Murray took off around right end for Philadelphia’s first touchdown of the season.
The Falcons were forced to punt, and the Eagles put together their most impressive drive of the night to that point. Despite four penalties, they went 95 yards in 13 plays, capped off by Bradford’s 5-yard touchdown pass to Murray that sliced Atlanta’s lead to 20-17. The running back hauled in the throw, cut back to leave Kroy Biermann sprawled face-first on the turf, and sauntered into the end zone.
Philadelphia wasn’t done, either.
Bradford guided the Eagles 80 yards in just six plays, including four consecutive completions that went for 24, 12, 21 and 19 yards to the Atlanta 1. Mathews took it in from there, giving Philadelphia its first lead of the game.
Not quite good enough.
NOTES: Matthews finished with 10 catches for 102 yards. … The Falcons had a 105-63 edge in rushing yards against Philadelphia’s much-hyped running game. Rookie Tevin Campbell led the way with 80 yards on 20 carries. … Both teams had a pair of interceptions. William Moore also had a pick for Atlanta. … The Falcons won their home opener for the eighth year in a row.
Vikings 3, 49ers 20
SANTA CLARA, Calif. (AP) — Alex Boone is taking at least a little credit for Carlos Hyde’s breakout game on the NFL’s big stage.
With franchise rushing leader Frank Gore long gone to the Colts, Hyde quickly showed the San Francisco 49ers still have a reliable power runner. He scored touchdowns on runs of 17 and 10 yards and finished with 168 yards rushing on 26 carries to lead the Niners to a 20-3 victory against the Minnesota Vikings in Jim Tomsula’s debut as head coach minus the interim status he had for the final game of 2010.
Hyde wanted to outplay the better-known No. 28 on the field, Adrian Peterson. He did that and more.
Now, Hyde is the league’s leading rusher. Even if it’s only a small sample size.
Peterson ran 10 times for 31 yards playing his first game in more than a year following paid leave and then a suspension last year in the fallout from a child-abuse case against him in Texas.
Here are some things to take from the game:
SHAKING OFF THE RUST: Peterson hadn’t played since Week 1 of 2014 at St. Louis, so there were some adjustments to make on the fly.
He didn’t get his first carry until the second series. He is eager to study film to see what worked and what didn’t go so well.
HAYNE’S DEBUT: Former Australian rugby league star Jarryd Hayne would rather forget his first NFL touch.
The 27-year-old rookie lost the fumble on a punt return in the first quarter when he misjudged the ball and had to dive forward to try to field it. He made a 1-yard run in the second quarter and caught a 7-yard pass.
Hayne was forced into running back duties as the only active backup after Reggie Bush was lost to a left calf injury with about 6 ½ minutes left in the first quarter. Tomsula didn’t consider it serious.
While Bruce Ellington handled the punt returns once Hayne joined the running game, that didn’t leave the popular Aussie feeling better about his night.
BRIDGEWATER UNDER PRESSURE: The Vikings will have to find a way to give Teddy Bridgewater better chances — and more protection.
The second-year quarterback was sacked five times.
Bridgewater was 23 of 32 for 231 yards, connecting on six passes to Mike Wallace for 63 yards.
HEALTHY BOWMAN: 49ers linebacker NaVorro Bowman had one of five sacks against Bridgewater and also seven tackles in his first game in 20 months following a left knee injury sustained during the NFC championship game loss at Seattle in January 2014 that required surgery.
“NaVorro’s a big presence out there,” fellow linebacker Ahmad Brooks said. “He’s our team leader. He’s our defensive leader.”
In a year when the 49ers lost Patrick Willis, Chris Borland and Justin Smith on defense to retirement, seeing Bowman back is big.
“You can’t say enough about NaVorro Bowman and what he’s overcome,” Tomsula said. “You respect that.”
KAEPERNICK ON MONDAY NIGHT: Colin Kaepernick went 17 of 26 for 165 yards and improved to 5-0 on Monday night. He has thrown nine touchdown passes to no interceptions, too.
While he has yet to throw a touchdown pass this year — none during the eight preseason series he played, either — Hyde is certainly taking the pressure off.