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Here is a recap of Week 2 of the 2015 NFL Season with a Tuesday Morning QB & thanks again to AP Sports/ Pro 32 for photos & articles.
Jets 37, Bills 31
ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. (AP) — Matt Forte scored three touchdown runs and Ryan Fitzpatrick finally solved Rex Ryan’s defense, leading the New York Jets to a 37-31 victory over the Buffalo Bills on Thursday night.
Forte’s 3-yard run put New York ahead 27-24 with 2:12 left in the third quarter. He sealed the win by patiently waiting for a seam to open before scampering into the end zone from 12 yards to put New York up 37-24 with 4:02 left in the fourth quarter.
Forte finished with 100 yards rushing, and the offseason free-agent addition became the 13th New York player to score three rushing touchdowns in a game.
The Jets (1-1) bounced back from a season-opening loss to Cincinnati and snapped a five-game skid against their AFC East rivals.
Fitzpatrick finished 24 of 34 for 374 yards and a 5-yard touchdown pass to Eric Decker.
In beating one of his former teams, Fitzpatrick also overcame the stinging memories of last year’s season finale, a 22-17 loss at Buffalo that eliminated the Jets from playoff contention. Fitzpatrick closed the loss by throwing interceptions on each of the Jets final three possessions.
“I think it means a little bit more than a regular game because this was my life for four years being here,” Fitzpatrick said about spending 2009-12 with the Bills. “But I’m more excited about our team and the way we responded in the second half.”
The Bills (0-2) are suddenly reeling in Ryan’s second season as coach , and two years after he has fired by the Jets.
The Bills’ offense sputtered in a 13-7 loss at Baltimore on Sunday, and now it was their defense that showed cracks against the Jets.
New York finished with 493 yards offense, 28 first downs and had seven drives cross midfield.
Bills quarterback Tyrod Taylor rebounded five days after he was limited to 111 yards passing against the Ravens.
He went 18 of 30 for 298 yards and three touchdowns and an interception. Marquise Goodwin scored on an 84-yarder catch, Greg Salas scored on a 71-yard catch and running back Mike Gillislee made it close, by catching an 18-yard touchdown pass with 1:17 remaining.
The Jets scored on each of their first four possessions to build a 20-7 lead.
The Bills responded by scoring on three straight possessions spanning halftime to go up 24-20. Safety Nickell Robey-Coleman capped the run by returning Jalin Marshall’s fumble 36 yards for a touchdown.
Jets cornerback Darrelle Revis got off to another tough start. After having difficulty covering Bengals receiver A.J. Green on Sunday, Revis was burned by Goodwin on his 84-yard touchdown catch. Goodwin burst past Revis up the right sideline at midfield and had two steps on him when he caught Tyrod Taylor’s pass in stride at the Jets 35 and ran it in.
It was Buffalo’s longest touchdown pass at home in team history, and longest since Fitzpatrick hit Terrell Owens for a 98-yard touchdown strike at Tennessee on Nov. 15, 2009.
Adding in Salas’ 71-yard TD catch and Taylor became Buffalo’s fifth quarterback to throw two 70-plus yard touchdown passes in the same game, and first since J.P. Losman did it in 2006.
Forte’s final touchdown came after the Jets defense stopped the Bills twice for no gain at midfield, including run up the middle by LeSean McCoy on fourth-and-1. The Bills converted 3 of 10 third-down chances and were 1-for-2 on fourth down.
Jets receiver Brandon Marshall proved to be a quick healer. It appeared as if he sustained a serious injury when his left knee twisted beneath him while cornerback Stephon Gilmore brought him down by the facemask in the second quarter. Marshall immediately grabbed his knee and lay on the field for a few minutes before getting up on his own.
Marshall returned for the next series and made a 21-yard catch after having his knee examined. The catch helped set up Decker’s 5-yard touchdown catch that put the Jets up 20-7.
Jets: Coach Todd Bowles said Marshall had a slight sprain. WR Quincy Enunwa continued playing despite sore ribs. LB Erin Henderson did not return because of a foot injury. OG James Carpenter injured a calf.
Bills: Goodwin left the game late and was being for a potential concussion.
THEY SAID IT:
Fitzpatrick on Marshall returning to field: “I thought he was down for the count, for sure.”
Bills LB Jerry Hughes: “We just didn’t play good football today. Just bad ball all around. … We just didn’t show up today.”
RETIRING NO. 78
The Bills honored NFL career sacks leader and Hall of Famer Bruce Smith by retiring his No. 78 during a halftime ceremony.
“I don’t know if I’m worthy or lucky enough for all this,” Smith told reporters before the game. He joins Hall of Fame quarterback Jim Kelly, whose No. 12, is the only number the Bills have retired.
Ravens 25, Browns 20
CLEVELAND (AP) — The Ravens were in a huge hole and about to be buried.
Joe Flacco dug them out.
Flacco threw two touchdown passes to wide receiver Mike Wallace and Baltimore, sparked by returning a blocked extra point, rallied from 20 down and beat the Cleveland Browns 25-20 on Sunday.
Justin Tucker kicked three field goals — the last with 2:56 left — and the Ravens (2-0), who were down by nearly three touchdowns less than 10 minutes into the game, withstood Cleveland’s final drive to improve to 15-2 against the Browns under coach John Harbaugh.
In his second game back after undergoing knee surgery that ended his 2015 season, Flacco again showed why he’s one of the NFL’s top quarterbacks and one of the game’s most unflappable leaders.
“I’ve probably never been around someone as cool as Joe,” said Wallace, who signed as a free agent this winter. “Nothing ever bothers him.”
The Ravens scored 25 unanswered points and hung on when linebacker C.J. Mosley intercepted Browns quarterback Josh McCown at the goal line with 13 seconds left.
“It was a good way to end it, on defense,” Mosley said. “We just had to pull it out.”
Baltimore, which went an uncharacteristic 5-11 last season, was in danger of getting blown out after McCown’s second TD pass to rookie Corey Coleman in the first quarter made it 20-0.
But Ravens defensive end Lawrence Guy got a hand on Patrick Murray’s extra point and rookie cornerback Tavon Young scooped up the bouncing ball and returned it for a rare, two-point defensive conversion — a play that ignited the comeback.
“Nobody cracked. Nobody panicked,” Harbaugh said. “Nobody pointed a finger.”
It was the second-biggest comeback in Baltimore’s history, and Flacco told his teammates afterward he was proud to be part of it.
“It wasn’t pretty, it wasn’t great,” he said. “Do you want to play that kind of game in September? Not necessarily, but every single game in January and come February, where we hope to be, is going to be like that.”
McCown stayed in the game despite an injured left shoulder for the Browns (0-2), who were hurt by a missed field goal and three costly penalties in the fourth quarter.
Cleveland was driving for a go-ahead TD in the final minute behind McCown, who completed a 20-yard pass to Terrelle Pryor to the Baltimore 10 with 27 seconds left.
However, the big play was nullified because Pryor, who was held on the play by Webb, was called for taunting when he flipped the ball toward the Ravens defensive back.
Webb said he wasn’t sure if Pryor said anything.
“If he said some things, I guess the referee heard it,” Webb said. “They are real tough on those things now. Good call, that’s what I’m going to say.”
Pryor felt he did nothing wrong.
“I’m just saying there’s other people that can catch a ball and spin it and look at players in the face,” Pryor said. “But if I get up and drop the ball, clearly I wasn’t trying to drop it on nobody.”
HEAVY HEARTS: The Ravens dedicated the win to defensive line coach Clarence Brooks, who passed away Saturday at 65 from cancer.
Brooks joined Baltimore’s staff in 2005 and helped the Ravens develop one of the NFL’s top defensive fronts. He spent time with the team during training camp.
“That was for Clarence Brooks,” Harbaugh said. “I think what the players did out there in his name says it all.”
HURTING QB: Filling in for Robert Griffin III who broke a shoulder bone in last week’s opener, McCown showed amazing heart in playing hurt.
Following the game, McCown couldn’t lift his left arm and his eyes welled with tears as he talked about staying on the field. He said his “plan” is to play next week against Miami, but the Browns may have to turn to rookie Cody Kessler.
“I’d go to war with that guy anytime,” Browns guard John Greco said of McCown. “That guy gets the (stuff) knocked out of him seven, eight times a game, keeps getting up and making throws.”
STUNNING START: Nobody expected the Browns to do what they did in the first 15 minutes, which ended with them leading 20-2.
It was the team’s largest lead after one quarter since Dec. 3, 1961, when the Browns led Dallas 21-0 en route to a 38-17 win.
BLOCK PARTY: Down 20-0 and needing something, anything, to get them going, the Ravens executed the blocked extra point, which Harbaugh said embodied his team’s fight.
“It’s the toughest two seconds in football,” he said. “Then a rookie (Young) is exactly where he’s supposed to be in case it gets blocked, he’s right there to scoop and score. That’s the kind of thing as a coach you feel really good about.”
AS THE CROW FLIES: Isaiah Crowell’s 85-yard TD run helped the Browns back finish with 133 overall. Taking a handoff up the middle, Crowell got an excellent block from fullback Malcolm Johnson, blasted through the secondary and went untouched for the second-longest TD run in Cleveland history. Bobby Mitchell ripped off a 90-yarder in 1959.
Bengals 16, Steelers 24
PITTSBURGH (AP) — No chaos this time. No meltdowns either.
The Pittsburgh Steelers and Cincinnati Bengals stuck to football this time.
And Ben Roethlisberger’s sharp second half gave the Steelers an early leg up in the race for the AFC North title by shaking off a pair of first-half interceptions to finish with 259 yards and three scores and Pittsburgh held on for a 24-16 win on Sunday.
DeAngelo Williams churned out 94 yards on a career-high 32 carries and added a 4-yard touchdown grab with 6:48 remaining to give the Steelers (2-0) all the breathing room they would need.
Tight ends Jesse James and Xavier Grimble also caught scoring passes from Roethlisberger as Pittsburgh kept Cincinnati in check at rainy Heinz Field.
The rematch of the Steelers’ ugly 18-16 win in the wild-card round in January was downright tame by comparison. The teams combined for just 10 penalties and only one personal foul, a marked departure from that messy night in Cincinnati nine months ago that included more than 220 penalty yards and a series of nasty hits that cost the players involved thousands in fines and Bengals linebacker Vontaze Burfict the first three games of the 2016 season.
“I think they’re all civil,” Williams said with a laugh. “Sometimes you have civil disputes. We just didn’t have any of those.”
Andy Dalton passed for 366 yards and a touchdown but needed 31 completions to reach that total, working almost exclusively on dump offs to running backs and tight ends while Pittsburgh clamped down on star wide receiver A.J. Green, who finished with just two receptions for 38 yards.
“We were able to take (Green) out of the game,” Steelers safety Mike Mitchell said. “We knew if we could minimize his impact, the outcome was going to be good for us and it was.”
Pittsburgh controlled the tempo throughout and after Roethlisberger shook off a so-so first half in which he tossed two interceptions and the Steelers pulled away.
Roethlisberger hit Sammie Coates with a pretty 53-yard pass to set up a 9-yard toss to James. The quarterback later used a 14-yard scramble — his longest run in three seasons — to set up a flip to Williams that put Pittsburgh up 24-9.
SLOPPY FINISH: Dalton found Giovanni Bernard for a 25-yard touchdown with 3:25 left, but each of Cincinnati’s last two drives ended in turnovers. Tyler Boyd fumbled after getting hit by James Harrison in Pittsburgh territory with 1:50 to play even though replays appeared to show Boyd — who grew up in suburban Pittsburgh and played collegiately on the same field for Pitt — was down well before the ball came out.
“I should have done a better job with ball security,” said Boyd, who finished with six catches for 78 yards. “I still believe I was down but the call didn’t say so. All I can do is go out there and keep playing.”
Cincinnati’s second turnover came on a last-ditch lateral by Bernard that ended up in Pittsburgh defensive end Cam Heyward’s hands after time expired.
NO SHOW: Maybe it was the weather. Maybe it was the relatively conservative game plans or maybe it was just pretty solid defense. Whatever it was, the expected duel between superstar wide receivers Antonio Brown and A.J. Green never materialized .
Brown caught just four passes for 39 yards and even had a rare drop while running free in the middle of the field in the first half.
Green, guarded almost exclusively by Pittsburgh cornerback Ross Cockrell at the line, struggled to find much room to move. The only impact play Green made came on drawing a pass interference play against Cockrell that set up Mike Nugent’s field goal. A week after dominating Darrelle Revis for 12 catches and 180 yards and a touchdown against the Jets, Green was a nonfactor and one of the reasons Cincinnati went just 4 of 16 on third down.
“We converted one or two, but not enough of them that mattered,” Cincinnati coach Marvin Lewis said.
THEY SAID IT:
“We were never planning on our role being diluted down, but we feel good about where we are now.” James on the contributions of the reserve tight ends following the retirement of Heath Miller and a lingering injury to free-agent signee Ladarius Green.
“There were times when A.J. Green would catch 12 balls and there are other times when other guys will get involved. That’s just how it is.” — Dalton on Green’s lack of production.
Bengals: Welcome Denver to Paul Brown Stadium in their home opener.
Steelers: Travel to Philadelphia to take on the Eagles.
Chiefs 12, Texans 19
HOUSTON (AP) — DeAndre Hopkins got Houston going early and defense and special teams did the rest in a 19-12 win over the Kansas City Chiefs on Sunday.
Hopkins had 113 yards receiving and a touchdown and Nick Novak kicked four field goals to help the Texans to the victory .
Novak connected from 32, 24, 31 and 43 yards for the Texans.
Cairo Santos made three field goals in the fourth quarter to cut the lead to 19-12, but Houston recovered the onside kick with less than a minute left to seal the victory.
The Texans (2-0) showed that they are a much different team than the one that was embarrassed in a 30-0 wild-card playoff loss to the Chiefs (1-1) in January, when quarterback Brian Hoyer had five turnovers.
New quarterback Brock Osweiler did throw two interceptions but the Chiefs had more trouble taking care of the ball, with Houston’s defense setting a franchise record by recovering three fumbles in the first half.
“Our defense really stood up there and when they had to in critical situations played well,” coach Bill O’Brien said.
The first came when a high snap sailed over Alex Smith’s head. J.J. Watt shoved him out of the way with one hand and pounced on it, showing he was getting back to his old self after July back surgery.
Osweiler, who finished with 268 yards passing, connected with Hopkins on a 27-yard touchdown pass on the next play to make it 7-0.
“When your defense makes a big play or your special teams make a big play, on offense you need to take that momentum and finish with a touchdown,” Osweiler said. “That’s exactly what took place in that moment.”
Watt continued to shine later in the first quarter when he took Smith down for his first sack this season, forcing the Chiefs to kick a field goal that made it 7-3.
Houston was leading by seven in the second quarter when Spencer Ware fumbled, Kevin Johnson scooped it up for his first career recovery and returned it 52 yards. The Texans couldn’t get their offense going after that and settled for a 24-yard field goal to make it 13-3.
John Simon forced the last fumble of the half on his strip-sack of Smith. It was recovered by Whitney Mercilus. But once again Houston failed to move the ball and Novak’s try for a 57-yard field goal fell short as time expired in the first half.
“We had way too many mistakes today,” coach Andy Reid said. “Too many penalties. Dropped balls. You name it. Turnovers, we had three turnovers. All these things led to points. That’s my responsibility.”
Marcus Peters intercepted Osweiler at the goal line on Houston’s first possession and picked him off again late in the third quarter.
That led to a 43-yard field goal that cut the lead to 13-6.
A field goal by both teams after that left the Texans up 16-9.
Houston rookie receiver Will Fuller finished with four receptions for 104 yards to become the first rookie in franchise history with consecutive 100-yard receiving games to start his career. The 21st overall pick in this year’s draft had 107 yards receiving in his NFL debut last week.
Houston rookie WR Braxton Miller injured his hamstring in the first half and did not return. He doesn’t think the injury is serious, but will have an MRI on Monday.
Watt finished with 1.5 sacks on Sunday to give him 76 in his 82nd career game. He’s the second fastest in NFL history to reach 75 sacks behind Hall of Famer Reggie White who did it in 65 games.
NO, NO, NO
Peters learned that wagging your finger in the face of an opponent like NBA Hall of Famer Dikembe Mutombo did after blocking a shot is frowned upon on the NFL.
Peters forced an incompletion on a deep ball thrown to Fuller in the second quarter and wagged his finger at him for several seconds. The move earned him a 15-yard penalty for taunting and a warning that a second such penalty would result in an ejection.
“He’s competing against a guy and made a nice play on the ball.” Reid said. “But you can’t wag your finger — they’re going to get you.”
SPREADING THE WEALTH
Hopkins and Fuller gave Houston two players with at least 100 yards receiving for the eighth time in franchise history and the first time since 2013.
BRING IT BACK
Kansas City rookie Tyreek Hill had a 105-yard kickoff return for a touchdown negated because of a holding penalty late in the fourth quarter.
Kansas City hosts the Jets next Sunday.
Houston travels to meet New England on Thursday night.
Dolphins 24, Patriots 31
FOXBOROUGH, Mass. (AP) — The New England Patriots have a brand new quarterback issue.
Jimmy Garoppolo had three touchdown passes before leaving in the second quarter with a right shoulder injury as the New England Patriots outlasted the Miami Dolphins 31-24 on Sunday.
It was the Patriots’ eighth straight home victory over Miami (0-2). It came at a price as New England (2-0) was dealt another blow at quarterback with Tom Brady already out his four-game “Deflategate” suspension.
Garoppolo’s injury came on third down with less than five minutes left in the first half. He was chased out of the pocket and got off a completion to Malcolm Mitchell and driven into the ground on his shoulder by Miami linebacker Kiko Alonso.
Garoppolo initially got up, before going down to one knee and being attended to by the training staff. He ended his day 18 of 27 for 234 yards and the three scores.
Patriots coach Bill Belichick, never one to reveal much information, said of Garoppolo’s injury: “I don’t know yet. So we’ll take it day by day.”
Garoppolo was replaced by rookie Jacoby Brissett, who led New England to a touchdown on its first possession of the second half. Brissett was 6 of 9 for 92 yards. LeGarrette Blount rushed 29 times for 123 yards and a touchdown. Martellus Bennett also had five catches 114 and a touchdown.
The Dolphins, who beat the Patriots in Miami in last season’s finale, had no answers for New England’s offense early and fell into a 24-0 hole as they were stymied by three turnovers. Ryan Tannehill finally found some traction and trimmed a 31-3 deficit to 31-24 with 6:06 to play.
Tannehill didn’t complete a pass until the second quarter as the Patriots’ defensive line pressured him into quick throws. The pressure culminated with Tannehill being intercepted by linebacker Jamie Collins late in the first half.
Patriots WR Julian Edelman on losing Garoppolo: “This game is a 100 percent injury rate. It’s football and everyone’s just gotta do their job a little bit better.”
Dolphins QB Ryan Tannehill on the slow offensive start: “We couldn’t get anything going. We kept putting our defense back on the field after long drives. It’s tough on the defense. … We need to get points on the board early — and give our defense a break.”
COMEBACK DOLPHINS: Tannehill found Kenny Stills for a 24-yard touchdown in the third quarter and connected with Jordan Cameron for a 12-yard score in the fourth. Kenyan Drake also had a 7-yard touchdown run as Miami closed the gap. Tannehill completed 20 of his first 21 passes to begin the second half.
The usually reliable Stephen Gostkowski missed a 39-yard field goal with 1:08 to play. But Duron Harmon intercepted Tannehill’s pass in the back of the end zone with 2 seconds remaining. Tannehill finished 32 of 45 for 389 yards, with two touchdowns and two interceptions.
“We were in a tough situation,” Tannehill said. “At that point, you can go one of two ways. You can either pack it up for the day, or battle. And those guys battled. That’s what you want to see.”
QUICK START: Garoppolo had touchdown passes on each of the Patriots’ first three drives to build a 21-0 lead.
He had four completions of over 10 yards on the opening drive, capping it with a 12-yard touchdown pass to Danny Amendola. New England’s second drive mirrored the first with Garoppolo finding Chris Hogan for gains of 19 and 24 yards. The series ended with a 20-yard scoring strike to Bennett .
NO GRONK: Patriots TE Rob Gronkowski (hamstring) was inactive for the second consecutive game. But New England made do without him. Garoppolo completed passes to seven receivers before his injury, including six completions to Julian Edelman.
Bennett, primarily used as a blocker in last week’s win at Arizona, had an early 26-yard reception to go with his 20-yard touchdown grab in the first quarter.
HIGH RISER: Blount was active on the ground to help take pressure off both Garoppolo and Brissett. He brought the Gillette Stadium crowd to its feet during his 26-yard turn in the fourth quarter, which ended with him hurdling cornerback Byron Maxwell.
INJURIES: Miami RB Arian Foster left with a groin injury in the second quarter and did not return. Linebacker Spencer Paysinger also left the game with a neck injury.
Titans 16, Lions 15
DETROIT (AP) — Marcus Mariota moved the Tennessee Titans down the field like a savvy veteran, not a second-year pro, and completed all nine of his throws to complete a comeback a week after his turnovers hurt his team’s shot to win.
Mariota converted a fourth down with a perfectly lofted 9-yard touchdown pass to Andre Johnson with 1:13 left, lifting the Titans to a 16-15 win over the Detroit Lions on Sunday.
“They came out in a look that we had kind of anticipated,” Mariota said. “Looking at it, we had a matchup with Andre on a linebacker. We felt that we could kind of exploit that a little bit, and he made a great play. I just tried to give him a chance.”
Mariota, the No. 2 pick of the 2015 NFL draft, dropped the pass over linebacker Tahir Whitehead to Johnson, the No. 3 pick overall in 2013, just before safety Rafael Bush could get to him to potentially break up the pass.
Johnson said he didn’t play a lot at Detroit, but was thankful his new team gave him a chance to make a catch in a crucial situation.
“Andre made a great play,” Titans coach Mike Mularkey said. “That’s why he’s going to be in the Hall of Fame.”
The Titans (1-1) ended a five-game losing streak, dating to last December, after Mariota threw two TD passes in the fourth quarter after trailing 15-3.
“It’s something you can build on,” Johnson said.
The Lions (1-1) had an opportunity to set up a winning field goal in the final minute for a second straight week, but Matthew Stafford threw an interception to Perrish Cox at midfield with 18 seconds left.
“It was a great play by him,” Stafford said. “I wish I hadn’t thrown the ball, but hindsight is 20-20.”
Detroit had won seven of nine, dating to midway through the 2015 season, and receiver Golden Tate said wasting a chance to continue the team’s momentum won’t affect its players or coaches.
“We’re definitely confident and will be confident from here on out,” Tate said.
Tennessee started five possessions at their 9 or closer to their end zone, making it tough to win the battle of field position. DeMarco Murray flipped the field once with a 67-yard run, his longest since 2011 when he was a rookie with the Dallas Cowboys, but the Titans didn’t take advantage because of mistakes in the flag-filled game that included 29 penalties. Detroit was flagged 17 times, matching the most penalties the team has had in a game since at least 1950.
When it mattered most, the Titans went 93 yards — including 10 yards they had to gain twice because of a penalty — on 13 plays over nearly 6 minutes on the game-winning drive.
A week ago, Mariota had two turnovers that led to Tennessee losing a 10-point lead in a 25-16 loss to Minnesota and proved he could bounce back.
“The guy is a gamer,” Mularkey said. “He’s gutty. He’ll give us a chance every game we play.”
The Titans got tight end Delanie Walker involved as planned, and as Detroit feared it would after letting Indianapolis Colts tight ends Dwayne Allen and Jack Doyle combine for seven receptions, 88 yards and three TDs last week. Walker had six receptions for 83 yards, including a 30-yard TD catch early in the fourth quarter that helped Tennessee pull within five points.
“When we watched the Colts film, we seen a lot of things that we thought we could take advantage of,” Walker acknowledged.
The Lions played without one of their best players on defense, missing linebacker DeAndre Levy because of a quadriceps injury, and lost another top player on that side of the ball early in the game when defensive end Ezekiel Ansah limped off with a left ankle injury and didn’t return. Detroit running back Ameer Abdullah left with an injured left foot after a 24-yard run in the second quarter. The Titans had linebacker Derrick Morgan (hamstring) inactive and rookie Kevin Dodd made the most of the opportunity to play more, sacking Stafford late in the first half. They lost another linebacker, Avery Williamson, with a back injury during the game.
The Titans head back home to host Oakland. Detroit goes on the road, where it will be for three of its first four games, to play Green Bay.
Cowboys 27, Redskins 23
LANDOVER, Md. (AP) — Discussing Dak Prescott after the rookie quarterback’s first NFL victory, Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones managed to throw in references to folks such as Troy Aikman, Tom Brady and Ben Roethlisberger — QBs with nine Super Bowl victories combined.
Not bad company for a guy who was a fourth-round draft pick and is only playing because Tony Romo is out with an injured back.
Prescott ran for a 6-yard TD , went 22 for 30 for 292 yards, and showed a veteran’s poise in the pocket, helping the Cowboys beat the Washington Redskins 27-23 on Sunday as he stayed turnover-free as a pro so far.
“He exudes confidence,” Jones said about Prescott. “He’s got a great supporting cast, but he’s using it.”
Dallas (1-1) won for only the second time in its past 16 games without Romo — and both of those victories came at Washington (0-2).
Alfred Morris scored the go-ahead touchdown on a 4-yard run with under five minutes left against his former club, taking advantage after Washington’s Kirk Cousins threw an end-zone interception.
Morris was drafted by Washington in 2012 and played his first four seasons there. But his role was reduced last year and he was allowed to leave as a free agent. His first TD in a Cowboys uniform capped an 80-yard drive that started when Barry Church picked off a pass from Cousinsintended for Pierre Garcon.
“This is a quarterback-driven league,” Cousins said. “I need to play at a high level, week in and week out.”
Through two games, he has three interceptions and only one TD pass , an 11-yarder to Jamison Crowder in the third quarter that gave Washington its first lead, 17-13.
But Cousins and the defending NFC East champion Redskins will rue the second-half chances they wasted. They got the ball inside Dallas’ 40 on consecutive possessions — once because of a failed onside kick, once because cornerback Josh Norman caused one of the two fumbles by Dallas rookie running back Ezekiel Elliott — but settled for a field goal each time.
Still, Washington led 23-20 and appeared on its way to adding to the margin after Cousins began a drive by completing a 57-yard pass to rookie Josh Doctson. But on third-and-goal at the 6 with 10 1/2 minutes left, Cousins put the ball right in Church’s gut.
Garcon stomped his foot coming off the field. Redskins right tackle Morgan Moses threw his helmet on the sideline.
HE SAID IT
“Everybody thinks we’re in the morgue or something. We’re not dead, by no means.” — Norman on Washington’s 0-2 start.
One big question entering the game was whether Norman would be assigned to cover Cowboys WR Dez Bryant no matter where the receiver lined up — or stick to one side of the field, as the $75 million defensive back primarily did in Week 1, when he stayed on the left side regardless of where Steelers WR Antonio Brown was. The answer: Norman mainly remained on the left side of Washington’s defense, often leaving CB Bashaud Breeland on Bryant, early on, but eventually started to “travel” to where Bryant was.
After getting only one catch for 8 yards in Week 1, Bryant had seven catches for 102 yards Sunday.
Elliott finished with 83 yards on 21 carries, including a 1-yard TD run. … Morris ran five times for a total of 7 yards. … Redskins RB Matt Jones gained 61 yards on 13 carries with a 14-yard scoring run. … Cousins went 28 for 46 for 364 yards.
On third-and-7 from Dallas’ 37 on Washington’s opening possession, Cousins had Crowder wide open and behind the defense for what should have been an easy-as-can-be TD. But Cousins overthrew the second-year receiver, and that bad miss ended the drive, because coach Jay Gruden chose to punt.
Redskins: NT Kedric Golston injured his right hamstring on the first play from scrimmage, eventually was driven toward the locker room on a cart and did not return. Ziggy Hood took over at nose tackle.
Saints 13, Giants 16
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) — If you missed Victor Cruz’s clutch return to the NFL last week after missing more than a season, the 29-year-old New York Giants receiver offered an encore in Week 2.
Cruz, who had a winning fourth-quarter touchdown catch against Dallas last week, hauled in a 34-yard third-down pass from Eli Manning to set up Josh Brown’s winning 23-yard field goal as time expired and the Giants got off to their first 2-0 start since 2009 with a 16-13 win over New Orleans Saints on Sunday.
“I just wanted to work my way in, catch things that are in front of me, make the plays that are presented to me,” said Cruz, who had four catches for 91 yards. “To make the game-winning catch a week ago and today to make a pretty decisive catch on the sideline to seal the game, I couldn’t draw it up any other way. I just go out and play the game and I think I’m getting better as the weeks go on.”
Brown’s third field goal capped an 11-play, 70-yard drive that featured two key third-down passes by Manning and a pass interference call on a pass to Odell Beckham Jr.
The game was also redemption for the Giants’ defense. After allowing Drew Brees to throw for 511 yards and an NFL-tying seven touchdowns, New York limited him to one touchdown, 263 yards passing and 288 yards in total team offense in handing the Saints their second straight loss.
“It always comes down to a few plays but literally, we needed one more play in each of those games, and we are potentially sitting there at 2-0,” said Brees, who did not complete a pass longer than 23 yards.
The Saints rallied to tie it twice in the fourth quarter. A 17-yard touchdown pass from Brees to Willie Snead IV evened things at 10 early in the quarter. After Brown, who returned from a one-game suspension, gave New York a 13-10 lead with a 19-yard field goal on the next series, Brees led an eight-play, 47-yard drive that ended with Will Lutz kicking a 45-yarder to tie it with 2:54 to play.
The Giants dominated the first half, but they were in danger of falling behind just before halftime when James Laurinaitis recovered Manning’s fumble at the New York 25 after he was sacked by Michael Mauti.
An offensive pass interference on first down forced Lutz to attempt a 38-yard field goal. Defensive tackle Johnathan Hankins came up the middle and blocked it and Janoris Jenkins jogged 65 yards for a go-ahead touchdown with 2:30 left in the half.
Lutz hit a 39-yarder late in the half to get the Saints on the board.
The Saints forced three turnovers, and still only scored 13 points.
“It’s very satisfying,” Giants cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie said. “That guy’s a Hall of Famer. Anytime we can perform like that, you’ve got to give credit to yourself.”
SPECIAL TEAMS: The last time the Giants returned a blocked field goal for a touchdown was Dec. 7, 2008, when Kevin Dockery returned one 71 yards against the Philadelphia Eagles. Coincidentally, Gene Steratore was also the referee in that game.
SECONDARY CONCERNS: The Saints are hurting at cornerback. Delvin Breaux is out with a broken leg, and fellow starter P.J. Williams left in the first quarter against New York with a possible concussion and concern about his spine. Recently signed Sterling Moore and reserves DeVante Harris and Ken Crawley finished the game.
MORE BREES: Brees finished 29 of 44. The 37-year-old passed Dan Marino (61,361 yards) for No. 3 in NFL history.
VICTOR: The chants of “Cruzzz” greeted Cruz in his first game at MetLife Stadium since 2014. However, the 29-year old who caught the game winner against Dallas last weekend, fumbled at the end of a 40-yard catch after being hit by Crawley, spoiling his biggest play, until he came through at the end.
GIANTS BIG THREE: Cruz, Beckham and rookie Sterling Shepard combined for 294 yards and no touchdowns.
49ers 27, Panthers 46
CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — Maybe all the Carolina Panthers needed was to play someone other than the Denver Broncos.
The league’s top-scoring offense from a year ago returned to form Sunday. Cam Newton threw for 353 yards and four touchdowns, and the Panthers overcame four turnovers to beat the San Francisco 49ers 46-27 in their home opener. The Panthers racked up 529 yards on offense.
Carolina lost to Denver in the Super Bowl and again in a rematch in Week 1, combining to score 30 points in those games. The Panthers averaged 31.3 points per game last season.
Newton threw two TD passes to Kelvin Benjamin and one each to Greg Olsen and Devin Funchess to pass Jake Delhomme for most TD passes in franchise history with 122.
Newton showed no ill effects from the four helmet-to-helmet hits he took in Carolina’s season-opening loss to Denver. He took one shot to the head from linebacker Eli Harold late in the game after a pitchout on an option play, but quickly got to his feet.
“It’s one of things those things where the momentum sways the play calling,” Panthers coach Ron Rivera said. “This game we were able to run the ball and it opened some things up. Last week (against Denver) we needed Cam to open some things up. Cam will play his role for us. This was an example of being able to keep him out of the running game for the most part.”
Newton’s first pass was tipped and intercepted by Antoine Bethea, leading to a 49ers field goal. But the 2015 league MVP locked in after that, completing 24 of 40 passes while running for 37 yards on six carries.
Olsen gave the Panthers (1-1) the lead for good in the second quarter when he hauled in a career-long 78-yard touchdown pass from Newton after the 49ers bit hard on play-action. That left the Pro Bowl tight end wide open on a seam route. Olsen finished with five catches for 122 yards.
Benjamin, who missed last season with a torn ACL, finished with seven catches for 108 yards and has three TD catches on the season.
“Most of the DBs that were on me were small and I was able to jump and get the ball,” Benjamin said.
Bethea said the 49ers (1-1) didn’t play up to par after their 28-0 performance against the Rams last week.
“We didn’t do a great job of getting off the field on third down,” Bethea said. “And we’re going up against a very good offense. We can tackle better, too, but everything is correctable.”
WHAT WAS THAT?: The Panthers won despite the four turnovers, including one colossal mistake by returner Ted Ginn Jr., who failed to pick up the ball on a kickoff return. After Ginn bobbled the ball twice, the 49ers recovered at the 1-yard line and scored on the next play.
FOZZY BEAR ON THE RUN: Despite losing running back Jonathan Stewart (hamstring) in the first quarter, the Panthers had no problems moving the ball against a defense that was riding high following a 28-0 win over the Rams in the season opener.
Fozzy Whittaker ran for 100 yards on 16 carries and had three catches for 31 yards.
Rivera said he has “concerns” about Stewart moving forward, but that second-year back Cameron Artis-Payne is ready for action. Artis-Payne has been inactive the last two games.
GABBERT’S DAY: Blaine Gabbert threw for 243 yards and two touchdowns and ran for another score in the loss. Gabbert pulled the 49ers within 34-27 late with a 75-yard touchdown pass to Vance McDonald, but threw two interceptions in the game’s final five minutes.
FIRST TOUCHDOWN: Panthers linebacker Shaq Thompson scored his first career touchdown when he scooped up Carlos Hyde’s fumble and returned it 9 yards to give Carolina a 7-3 lead.
49ers: Linebacker Ray-Ray Armstrong left in the second half with a shoulder injury.
Panthers: Stewart was limited to 9 yards rushing on five carries when he went down in the first quarter.
BY THE NUMBERS
Newton reached 121 career TD passes in 2,480 attempts, while Delhomme had 120 in 2,669 attempts.
Seahawks 3, Rams 9
LOS ANGELES (AP) — Alec Ogletree and Case Keenum figure they’ll always remember the passion and excitement of the Rams’ first home game back in Los Angeles.
Sure, the details of the Rams’ 9-3 victory over the Seattle Seahawks on Sunday might fade with time.
That’s probably fine for both teams, too.
Highlights were scarce while both teams failed to reach the end zones of the Coliseum, which welcomed back the NFL after a 21-season absence. Instead, the Rams’ defense decided it with an effort that showed Los Angeles (1-1) can win this season even without much of an offense.
Ogletree sealed it with 45 seconds to play, falling on a fumble by Christine Michael. The Rams’ new middle linebacker then took the ball to the far end of the Coliseum sideline, handing it to his family in the stands.
“It was an amazing feeling to be out there today,” said Ogletree, the replacement for franchise tackling leader James Laurinaitis. “It was a historical moment. Glad to be a part of it.”
A massive crowd of 91,046 officially welcomed the Rams back to Los Angeles, their home from 1946-94. The pregame festivities included a show by the Red Hot Chili Peppers and the lighting of the Coliseum torch by six Rams Hall of Famers.
The Seahawks (1-1) turned out to be ideal guests for this party — but not because they wanted to be.
Hobbling quarterback Russell Wilson passed for 254 yards, but the Seahawks reached the red zone once all day. Seattle’s defense was stout, but still gave up five drives longer than 45 yards leading to Greg Zuerlein’s three field goals.
“To come out and ptdplay like that, not give us a real shot to get ahead, was tough,” said Seahawks coach Pete Carroll, who returned to the stadium where he spent nearly a decade as USC’s head coach. “Tough day. I never thought we’d go the first couple weeks having scored one touchdown. I’m surprised at that.”
POINT DROUGHT: Both teams are having trouble on offense, but the Seahawks had their lowest-scoring performance since October 2011 while getting shut out for the final 44 minutes. Their problems seem clearly linked to a suspect offensive line with a slew of new starters, but nobody was proud of his effort afterward. “We still had a chance there at the end,” said Wilson, who hit Tyler Lockett with a 53-yard pass shortly before Michael’s fumble. “That’s all I’m looking for is a chance to win the game.”
MAKING A CASE: After a disastrous season opener at San Francisco, Keenum improved in his second start of the season, going 18 of 30 for 239 yards without an interception. With No. 1 pick Jared Goff watching from the sideline as his backup, Keenum made only a handful of mistakes and did nothing to conflict with his previous reputation as a game manager who gives his team a chance to win. “I think a lot of people will remember this day,” Keenum said.
RIVALRY RULES: The Rams haven’t made the playoffs since 2004, but they’ve beaten title-contending Seattle in four of the NFC West rivals’ last five meetings, including three straight. Wilson is just 4-5 against the Rams, while Carroll has no idea why the Rams have his number. “If I did, it wouldn’t have happened,” he said with a grimace. The next meeting isn’t until Dec. 16 in Seattle.
GURLEY GRIND: Todd Gurley managed just 51 yards for the Rams, averaging 2.7 yards per carry against another defense determined to stop him. The Rams showed play-action proficiency while moving the ball well, but coach Jeff Fisher still wants to get his star running back into the end zone soon. “We just have to get him some more touches,” Fisher said. “He ran well when he had the ball. … He’ll be fine. He’ll just be fresh at the end of the season.”
FOND FAREWELL?: Just when the Rams have established a bit of momentum with this big party in their hometown, they’re back on the road almost exclusively until November. Los Angeles plays away from the Coliseum for four of its next five games, including a “home” game against the New York Giants on a cricket ground in England. The Rams host Buffalo on Oct. 9 — and then don’t play at the Coliseum again until Nov. 6.
Buccaneers 7, Cardinals 40
GLENDALE, Ariz. (AP) — The Arizona Cardinals looked like the team they are supposed to be, often at the expense of Jameis Winston.
Carson Palmer threw for 308 yards and three touchdowns, and the Cardinals intercepted Winston four times in a 40-7 rout of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Sunday.
Marcus Cooper, acquired for a conditional draft pick in a trade with Kansas City on Sept. 2, had two interceptions, returning the second 60 yards for a score. Winston also fumbled the ball away once.
“It is a humbling league,” Tampa Bay coach Dirk Koetter said. “We got humbled today.”
Winston, who had four touchdown passes against Atlanta in the opener and was NFC player of the week, threw 51 passes, the most in his two NFL seasons, completing 27 for 243 yards.
“We played one of the best defenses in the league,” Winston said, “but all those interceptions are on me.”
Palmer completed 18 of 31 passes with no interceptions before sitting out most of the fourth quarter.
The Cardinals lost at home to a depleted New England team in their season opener and bounced back in a big way.
“There was too much holding your breath (against the Patriots),” Arizona coach Bruce Arians said. “I thought we cut it loose today.”
All three of Palmer’s scoring passes came in the first half, to Larry Fitzgerald, Michael Floyd and Jaron Brown.
The Cardinals (1-1), coming off a season-opening home loss to New England, scored two touchdowns in a 1:16 span in the final two minutes of the first half for a 24-0 lead into the break.
Winston had an especially rough first 30 minutes, completing 11 of 20 for 77 yards with two interceptions and a fumble.
The four turnovers led to 17 Arizona points.
Tampa Bay took the second-half kickoff and drove for a score. Mike Evans beating Patrick Peterson for a 19-yard TD.
The Buccaneers (1-1) got the ball back and were driving again when defensive lineman Josh Mauro tipped Winston’s pass. Cooper grabbed it and outran defenders down the sideline to make it 33-7.
NEW CORNERBACK?: Arians said the plan was for rookie Brandon Williams and Cooper to alternate series, but once Cooper was in, he stayed in.
“He got hot,” Arians said. “You don’t take hot hands out.”
Now Cooper may have the job all to himself.
“We’ll see how it goes,” Arians said. “He could potentially be the starter over there.”
QUICK STRIKE: The Buccaneers were on their best drive of the first half when running back Charles Sims III brushed against Winston and the ball popped loose. Tony Jefferson recovered for Arizona at the Cardinals 29.
After the fumble recovery, Palmer’s 24-yard pass to Fitzgerald eventually put the ball at the Tampa Bay 1. On third down, Palmer hit Michael Floyd in the back of the end zone and it was 17-0 with 1:36 to go in the half.
A quick three-and-out by the Buccaneers gave the Cardinals the ball at their 26, plenty of time for a high-octane offense finally getting in gear.
Jaron Brown got behind the defense and gathered in a perfect pass from Palmer for a 51-yard touchdown with 20 seconds still remaining until halftime.
WINSTON PICKED: Peterson outmaneuvered Mike Evans on Winston’s deep pass to the end zone and intercepted .
Cooper returned an interception 23 yards to the Tampa Bay 19, leading to an Arizona field goal.
The third pick was Cooper again, for a touchdown. Winston’s fourth interception came on the game’s last play.
DO-EVERYTHING JOHNSON: The Buccaneers held David Johnson to 45 yards rushing in 12 attempts, but he caught three passes for 98 yards. The longest came on a check-down from Palmer, a play that went for 58 yards.
“I don’t think you can find a weakness in his game,” Palmer said.
NO SUBSTITUTION: Koetter got irritated when reporters kept questioning him on why he left Winston in the game when the outcome long had been determined.
“You could criticize me all you want,” Koetter said. “He stayed in. The decision is made. So write what you are going to write.”
INJURIES: Injuries hit the Buccaneers hard.
First, they lost tight Luke Stocker (ankle) in the first quarter. And after a 1-yard gain on Tampa Bay’s first play of the second quarter, standout RB Doug Martin left with a hamstring injury.
Defensive end Robert Ayers Jr. left with an ankle injury late in the second quarter. Finally, wide receiver Cecil Shorts III left with a hamstring injury in the third quarter.
Falcons 35, Raiders 28
OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) — Once Matt Ryan and the Atlanta Falcons offense got going, the Oakland Raiders struggled to stop them.
Ryan threw for 396 yards and three touchdowns with help from a fortunate bounce, and the Falcons bounced back from a home loss to open the season by beating the Raiders 35-28 on Sunday.
After being forced to punt on the first two drives of the game, the Falcons (1-1) scored on seven of their next eight possessions against a struggling Oakland defense to spoil the home opener for the Raiders (1-1).
“Once we kind of found our stride, we kept going and played really well,” Ryan said. “We did a better job in the red zone today. Still have some opportunities to continue to improve, areas we can get better. But, for the most part, I thought our guys played really well today.”
The Falcons ran the ball effectively with Devonta Freeman and Tevin Coleman combining for 139 yards on the ground, got a typical big day from star receiver Julio Jones, who had five catches for 106 yards and a score , and then got lucky at a key spot in the fourth quarter.
With the game tied and Atlanta facing a third down, Ryan’s pass to Coleman was broken up. But the ball popped up in the air and went right to Justin Hardy in the end zone for 8-yard score that gave the Falcons the lead for good.
That helped erase the bad feeling from last week’s 31-24 loss at home to Tampa Bay .
“We were all disappointed in the way that we started, so we went to work last week,” tight end Jacob Tamme said. “We were coming out here, big, long trip. Big trip to the West Coast, playing a team that was on a high after what they did last week, so I thought it was heck of a win, a great way to get on the right track.”
Here are some other takeaways from the Falcons’ win:
STRUGGLING D: For a second straight week, Oakland’s revamped defense struggled to stop anyone. After allowing 507 yards in a 35-34 win at New Orleans , the Raiders gave up 528 yards to the Falcons. It’s the most yards allowed through two games since at least 1940, according to Pro Football Reference. Coach Jack Del Rio pulled linebacker Ben Heeney in the second half after doing the same to cornerback Sean Smith a week ago and also took over play-calling duties late in the game from coordinator Ken Norton Jr.
“I’m speechless,” linebacker Bruce Irvin said. “I’ve never experienced this experience. Until everybody makes a full commitment to turning this thing around we’re going to be a subpar defense.”
NO HUDDLE: Atlanta frequently employed a no-huddle offense that left the Raiders defense scrambling at times. The Falcons went no-huddle on more than 25 plays, including TD passes to Jones and Tamme .
“We did a great job with the tempo — it was effective for us,” Ryan said. “I thought we ran the ball extremely well out of no-huddle and also, we hit some big shots down the field. Going sideline to sideline with all the key plays that we did, I really thought it was effective for us.”
EFFICIENT OFFENSE: With Oakland’s defense struggling, there is even more pressure on quarterback Derek Carr and the offense to pick up the slack. The Raiders have scored 63 points and gained 940 yards through two games without committing any turnovers. Carr went 34 for 45 for 299 yards and three TDs against the Falcons.
“The great thing about this team is we’re not going to be pulled apart,” Carr said. “We understand the situation. We understand what’s going on. There’s nothing that’s going to divide us, at all.”
TARGETING TIGHT ENDS: Ryan frequently found his tight ends for big gains, completing 10 passes for 180 yards and a TD to Tamme, Austin Hooper and Levine Toilolo. Covering tight ends was a major issue for the Raiders last season and is a problem that hasn’t been solved yet. Oakland will get a tough test next week against Tennessee’s Delanie Walker.
“I don’t think there were any physical mismatches out there,” Del Rio said. “It was a matter of guys having their eyes where they’re supposed to be and knowing what the heck they’re doing.”
Colts 20, Broncos 34
DENVER (AP) — Von Miller sack-stripping the quarterback with the game on the line, doing a little celebration dance after his teammate scores the game-sealing touchdown moments later.
Seven months after his sack-strip of Cam Newton led the Broncos to the Super Bowl title, Miller did it again Sunday, punching the ball from Andrew Luck’s grasp in the closing minutes and sealing Denver’s 34-20 win over the Indianapolis Colts.
Just like last year.
Only, this isn’t a deja vu defense to Denver cornerback Chris Harris Jr.
“At this point last year, we don’t think we’re this solid like we were today,” Harris said following Denver’s latest badgering of an elite QB. “We didn’t shut down Andrew Luck at this time last year. Now, we’re ahead of the game.”
The Broncos sent Luck to the hospital last year with a lacerated kidney and torn abdominal muscle but still left the Lucas Oil Stadium 27-24 losers on that November night.
While Luck’s season was over, the Broncos went on to win Super Bowl 50 thanks to a defense that was so dominant it drew comparisons to Pittsburgh’s Steel Curtain units of the 1970s, the ’85 Bears and the turn-of-the-century Ravens.
That’s why Harris didn’t understand all the predictions of doom and gloom when the Broncos lost Peyton Manning to retirement and Brock Osweiler to free agency along with defensive starters Malik Jackson and Danny Trevathan.
They still had Miller & Co., didn’t they?
Jackson cashed in with the Jaguars but the Broncos weren’t about to pay top dollar to a player who was, at best, their sixth-best defensive player, and Trevathan wasn’t even on the field but about one-third of the snaps.
So, the Broncos (2-0) gladly played the Rodney Dangerfield card all offseason: Nobody was giving them the respect they felt they had earned by mauling Newton and the Carolina Panthers 24-10 in the Super Bowl.
That’s fine, they would just duplicate last year’s pre-eminence. They put away their diamond-encrusted rings and pledged to go out this season and be even nastier and carry new QB Trevor Siemian if they had to.
They delivered by hitting Newton 17 times in their win over Carolina in the NFL opener.
Even with Luck avoiding the kinds of big hits he absorbed last time these teams met, the Colts QB still was hit 19 times Sunday.
That included five sacks, three from Miller.
“He’s like a shark when there’s blood in the water,” defensive end Derek Wolfe said. “He just gets going faster and faster.”
With the Broncos clinging to a six-point lead with 1:51 left, Miller said one thought went through his mind:
“It’s time to close.”
And he did it, sweeping past left tackle Joe Reitz and punching the ball out of Luck’s hands . Fellow linebacker Shane Ray scooped it up and raced 15 yards for the touchdown.
“It was Von Miller being Von Miller,” lamented Colts coach Chuck Pagano. “We did a great job on him at some points in the game. But he’s a great, great player and he made a great, great play.”
Like Luck, Miller signed a big contract in the offseason and when training camp began, GM John Elway admonished him to treat the regular season like he had the playoffs, when he tormented Ben Roethlisberger, Tom Brady and Newton in delivering the franchise its first championship since Elway was in the huddle.
Miller has delivered so far with four sacks.
Cornerback Aqib Talib also had a 46-yard pick-6 early in the fourth quarter, meaning Ray’s first career TD marked the 10th time in franchise history the Broncos scored twice on defense.
Talib stepped in front of wide receiver Phillip Dorsett to snag Luck’s pass, which he returned through traffic down Denver’s jubilant sideline. His ninth career pick-6 was his fifth for Denver, a franchise record.
“The good thing about Aqib is if he ever gets his hands on the ball, he’s not only a DB, he’s a returner,” coach Gary Kubiak said.
“I practice it,” Talib said. “When I get an interception in practice, I go score on it. Practice makes perfect.”
Plus, he used to play receiver, Demaryius Thomas noted, “so it’s nothing new.”
After D’Qwell Jackson stuffed C.J. Anderson on third-and-1 from the Colts 17 and Brandon McManus’s 35-yard field goal made it 26-20 with 1:51 left, the Broncos knew Luck would want to go to the air with no timeouts left.
Safety T.J. Ward said Kubiak’s decision to kick the field goal didn’t show a lack of faith in the offense but “just shows his confidence in us.”
His dazzling defense.
The one that keeps getting dismissed. And disrespected.
For anyone still “sleeping on this defense,” linebacker Brandon Marshall said, “I’m pretty sure we woke them up today.”
Jaguars 14, Chargers 38
SAN DIEGO (AP) — Philip Rivers couldn’t help but saying it in the locker room at halftime.
“It’s kind of funny, isn’t it, up 21 again.”
Unlike a week earlier, the San Diego Chargers didn’t turn a three-touchdown lead into a soul-crushing loss. They added on, beating the mistake-prone Jacksonville Jaguars 38-14 Sunday.
Rivers matched his career high with four touchdown passes, including two to Travis Benjamin, and Melvin Gordon ran for one score and had his first 100-yard game
The Chargers (1-1) bounced back from their stunning loss at Kansas City, when they blew a 21-point third-quarter lead and fell 33-27 in overtime.
“It was huge. I’m glad it happened again right away,” Rivers said. “It was good for us mentally to get that put to bed that in the sense, ‘When we’re up 21, guys, we’re going to win,’ instead of that, ‘Oh, we’re hanging on.’ ”
The Jaguars started 0-2 for the fourth time in five seasons. They crossed midfield only six times and committed three turnovers.
“I think we kind of took ourselves out of rhythm by doing stupid stuff, the turnovers and the penalties,” Blake Bortles said.
Casey Hayward led the Chargers’ defense with two interceptions of Bortles. His first set up a short drive Rivers capped with a 12-yard touchdown pass to Benjamin for a 14-0 lead on the first play of the second quarter.
Rivers threw a 2-yard scoring pass to tight end Antonio Gates for a 21-0 lead midway through the second period. That drive started after a missed 54-yard field goal by Jacksonville’s Jason Myers, who went to Mater Dei High in suburban Chula Vista.
His third scoring pass went 44 yards to Tyrell Williams, who bounced off two defenders and broke two tackles just before going into the end zone in the third quarter.
Benjamin, signed as a free agent from Cleveland, caught a 45-yarder late in the third quarter.
Bortles threw TD passes of 4 yards to Marcedes Lewis and 15 to Corey Grant in the fourth quarter.
The Chargers lost a playmaker for the second straight week. Running back Danny Woodhead was helped off the field in the first quarter and taken to the locker room on a cart. The severity of the knee injury wasn’t immediately known.
Star receiver Keenan Allen suffered a season-ending knee injury a week earlier.
What could be the Chargers final home opener in San Diego drew only 52,165 fans at 72,000-seat Qualcomm Stadium.
The Jags were coming off a four-point loss to Green Bay.
“I don’t know if you’re defined by one game,” coach Gus Bradley said. “I think the big thing is to see how we’ll respond from this.”
HUNGRY GORDON: Gordon, a second-year pro, scored on a 3-yard run on the game’s opening drive, his first TD at Qualcomm Stadium. Gordon went in standing up, and then right guard D.J. Fluker lifted him off the ground in celebration. He finished with 102 yards on 24 carries.
“It feels good,” Gordon said. “I don’t get overly excited about anything. It’s early. I’m just hungry, man. But I am happy now. I definitely wanted it, so it’s even better you get the 100-yard game with a win.”
Gordon failed to score a TD during his rookie season, then scored twice at Kansas City.
ANTHEM: Chargers offensive linemen Joe Barksdale and Chris Hairston held up their right fists during the national anthem.
“It’s just a solidarity thing,” Barksdale said. “Chris has two kids, I have a daughter on the way. You never want to bury your kids. We still stand for the national anthem, we’re happy to be in the country. At the same time, things need to change.”
There was also a malfunction with a giant American flag as it was being unfurled on the field by Marines and U.S. Navy sailors. The flag appeared to have a big twist in the middle and couldn’t be fully opened.
A SAN DIEGO INSTITUTION: Rivers and Gates have hooked up on 78 touchdown passes, the most in NFL history for a quarterback-tight end tandem. Gates has caught 80 TD passes since Rivers became the starter in 2006, but two were thrown by LaDainian Tomlinson on halfback option plays. Gates needs six more scoring catches to match Tony Gonzalez’s all-time mark of 111 for a tight end.
WEST COAST WOES: The Jaguars fell to 2-11 on the West Coast and 0-4 in San Diego. The Jags haven’t won on the West Coast since 2004 and have been outscored 260-93 during an eight-game losing streak, falling by double digits in seven of those.
Jaguars: LT Kelvin Beachum was taken to a hospital after sustaining a concussion late the third quarter. The stadium was hushed as he was placed on a back board and lifted onto a cart. The team said he was to be kept overnight for observation, returning to Jacksonville Monday. … Jared Odrick hurt an elbow on the opening drive and returned. …WR Arrelious Benn sustained a cut on Jacksonville’s first possession. The team didn’t give further information. … DT Roy Miller hurt his left hand.
Chargers: In addition to Woodhead, SS Jahleel Addae left with an apparent shoulder injury in the fourth period.
Packers 14, Vikings 17
MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Sam Bradford had a Minnesota debut almost as dazzling as the new $1.1 billion building itself, completing 22 of 30 passes for 286 yards, two touchdowns and no turnovers to lead the Vikings to a 17-14 victory over the Green Bay Packers on Sunday night just 15 days after he arrived in a trade.
“He can throw the ball,” Vikings coach Mike Zimmer said. “He’s got some toughness about him, and this isn’t his first rodeo.”
The defense did the rest, harassing Aaron Rodgers for five sacks and two fourth-quarter turnovers that quashed the comeback and sent the crowd of 66,813 into a deafening frenzy in celebration of the first regular season game at U.S. Bank Stadium.
“I don’t think this is anything to get super crazy about,” Rodgers said. “It’s a tough opponent, a division opponent. They’re a good football team. They’ve still got to come to our place later in the season. Hopefully we’re in a position to play for something then.”
Adrian Peterson limped off in the third quarter with a right knee injury, and only 19 yards on 12 carries, but the Vikings (2-0) proved they still have a lot of options. Stefon Diggs caught nine passes for 182 yards and a touchdown. They held the Packers (1-1) to 65 total yards in the first half, withstanding an early touchdown pass by Rodgers to Jordy Nelson on a drive aided by two penalties by cornerback Terence Newman.
“They didn’t win the division last year by accident. You do have to give them their credit,” said Mike Daniels, who had one of Green Bay’s four sacks.
Trae Waynes, who had two penalties himself, intercepted Rodgers’ pass in Vikings territory with 1:50 left to seal the victory. The previous drive was killed with a strip sack by Brian Robison, when Shamar Stephen recovered at the Minnesota 44 with 6:53 remaining.
Rodgers, who ran for 29 yards and a touchdown, began to find a groove throwing the ball down the stretch. He finished 12 for 21 for 154 yards in the second half, but Bradford was the better quarterback on this night.
The Vikings, who aggressively traded two premium draft picks including next year’s first-rounder to Philadelphia to fetch Bradford after Teddy Bridgewater went down with a massive left knee injury, boldly eschewed a field goal try early in the second quarter.
Bradford found Diggs for a 4-yard completion on fourth-and-1 from the 18. Then he hit Kyle Rudolph for an 8-yard touchdown pass three plays later.
“When quarterbacks and receivers are on time, they’re very tough to stop,” said Packers cornerback Damarious Randall, who was matched up with Diggs for most of the game.
Bradford was hit hard on his non-throwing hand by Packers outside linebacker Clay Matthews while following through on a pass at one point during the drive. He visited the locker room briefly for further examination but never missed a snap, despite significant swelling beneath his left pinky.
There were only a couple of instances that even hinted of newness for Bradford and the offense, when one throw on the first drive sailed well past where Rudolph’s route ended and another later in the first quarter was in the air too quickly for Rudolph to turn around.
“These guys have had my back from day one,” Bradford said.
Peterson, who was on crutches after the game and wearing a brace on his right leg, will have an MRI exam on Monday. Zimmer said he was told the injury had already “calmed down” afterward.
“He might miss a week. I don’t know if he will or not,” Zimmer said.
Davante Adams fumbled at his own 13 on Green Bay’s first play, a short completed pass, when Eric Kendricks punched the ball out and Andrew Sendejo picked it up with an eye toward the end zone. Packers wide receiver Randall Cobb wrestled him down and stripped the ball in the process, recovering it himself. Each team was charged with a turnover because of the change of possession.
The Packers played their first two regular season games on the road for the first time since — wait for it — 1924. They played at the Duluth Kelleys and Chicago Cardinals that year before returning home.
Packers: DT Letroy Guion hurt his knee in the second quarter and didn’t return.
Vikings: DE Danielle Hunter hurt his knee in the fourth quarter and didn’t return.
Eagles 29, Bears 14
CHICAGO (AP) — Carson Wentz followed up an impressive NFL debut with another solid performance, throwing for 190 yards and a touchdown, and the Philadelphia Eagles beat the Chicago Bears 29-14 on Monday night.
Wentz showed plenty of poise, just as he did in his debut against Cleveland.
Playing in the city where he was drafted by the Eagles with the No. 2 overall pick, he completed 21 of 34 passes and played turnover-free ball in his second straight game despite absorbing several big hits.
“Throughout the week, I just realized I’m going back to kind of where my life changed so to speak,” Wentz said. “It was cool to be back here, especially to come out here with the win.”
Ryan Mathews ran for two scores, and the Eagles (2-0) scored a pair of touchdowns late in the third quarter to break open a two-point game.
While Philadelphia was pulling away, Chicago quarterback Jay Cutler walked to the locker room with a right thumb injury and did not return.
That was the biggest blow for the Bears (0-2), who lost several players and fell again after opening with a loss at Houston. It’s not the sort of start they envisioned in their second year under coach John Fox after finishing last in the NFC North. But they continued to struggle at home, where they were 1-7 a year ago.
Cutler, who completed 12 of 17 passes for 157 yards, walked to the locker room following an interception by Nigel Bradham late in the third quarter. Cutler was seen having his right hand examined on the sideline early in the third following a strip-sack by Destiny Vaeao, though he said it happened sometime earlier in the game. That play just aggravated it.
Brian Hoyer took over for Cutler and was 9 of 12 for 78 yards.
Along with the injury, Cutler got an earful from injured Bears linebacker Pernell McPhee. Cameras caught the two having a heated exchange following the interception.
“He’s a passionate guy,” Cutler said. “Everybody’s got a lot vested into this. He does as well. No one likes to lose. No one likes to lose in that type of fashion. He’s upset, I’m upset. Everyone in that locker room is upset right now.”
The Eagles were leading 9-7 late in the third when Mathews bounced off the line and spun outside before lunging in for a 3-yard touchdown.
With Cutler throwing off his back foot on the next play from scrimmage Bradham intercepted a pass apparently intended for Alshon Jeffery, who was about 10 yards behind him, at the 30 and returned it to the 2.
Wentz then hit Trey Burton with a touchdown pass to make it 22-7 with four seconds left.
HE SAID IT
Eagles coach Doug Pederson on Wentz: “He took care of the football and made some nice, tough throws. It wasn’t perfect. But at the same time, he’s seeing things really well. And he’s commanding the huddle and dialog on the sideline with the players and coaches is something that a nine or 10-year vet would do.”
Fox on being 0-2: “It’s two games and we have 14 games left. Right now all our focus very quickly will go to Dallas to go on the road Sunday night.”
Cutler set up the game’s first touchdown when he spun to his left and unloaded a 49-yard heave to Jeffery that put the ball on the 5 in the opening minute of the second quarter. Langford ran it in from the 1, giving Chicago a 7-3 lead.
Eagles safety Malcolm Jenkins and several teammates raised their right fists during the national anthem in a protest prior to their game. Jenkins said Saturday he would lead teammates in a demonstration against social injustice. Cornerback Ron Brooks and defensive end Steven Means joined him. It was not clear if another Eagles player joined in. Jenkins had insisted the protest would not be “an anti-police thing” and that police “are a key part of the solution in this issue.”
Eagles: Safety Jaylen Watkins suffered a bruised knee.
Bears: Linebacker Lamarr Houston left the game with a left knee injury that Fox said “seems to be substantial.” Houston was hurt trying to rush the passer in the second quarter and walked gingerly toward the sideline after being tended to by team medical personnel. … Nose tackle Eddie Goldman was taken from the field on a cart with an ankle injury early in the fourth quarter after he was at the bottom of the pile on a running play. … Safety Adrian Amos and cornerback Bryce Callahan exited with concussions in the third quarter. … Safety Chris Prosinski injured his right calf, and running back Ka’Deem Carey strained his hamstring.