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Here is a recap of Week 3 of the 2015 NFL Season with a Tuesday Morning QB & thanks again to AP Sports/ Pro 32 for photos & articles.
Texans 0, Patriots 27
FOXBOROUGH, Mass. (AP) — Another week, another new quarterback, another win for the New England Patriots.
Jacoby Brissett had a 27-yard touchdown run in his first NFL start, LeGarrette Blount added scoring runs of 1 and 41 yards , and the Patriots beat the Houston Texans 27-0 on Thursday night.
It was the Patriots’ first shutout win since 2012 and the first time the Texans have been shutout since 2003.
Brissett began the season as the third-string quarterback behind Tom Brady, the franchise cornerstone who is serving a four-game suspension for his role in “Deflategate,” and Jimmy Garoppolo — inactive after injuring his right shoulder last week against Miami. Brissett’s start on Thursday was the first time that New England had started a rookie quarterback since Drew Bledsoe in 1993.
The Texans (2-1) entered the game with the NFL’s third-ranked defense and nine sacks through two games, but they struggled to put pressure on the 23-year-old quarterback.
Brissett was steady throughout, moving the chains on offense with a diet of short passes and scrambles. The Patriots (3-0) also mixed in lots of pre-snap motion and shifts that helped create both throwing and running lanes for Brissett. He finished the night 11 of 19 for 103 yards, and ran eight times for 48 yards.
Houston didn’t help itself on special teams either, turning the ball over twice on fumbled kickoff returns. Houston quarterback Brock Osweiler was 24 for 41 for 196 yards and was sacked twice. He also had a promising drive in the second quarter thwarted by Jamie Collins’ interception . The Texans had a chance to get on the board just before halftime, but that drive stalled at midfield.
Lamar Miller rushed 22 times for 84 yards.
Brissett on his first NFL touchdown: “It was crazy. It was awesome. Definitely great to see all the players just run up to you. I got a headache from all the head bobbing and head bumping. But it was definitely worth it.”
Osweiler on the loss: “I felt like we had a great week of preparation, very focused. The game plan was solid and we worked hard. So this is hard to take. But the bottom line is that New England had a great game plan. They deserve all the credit. But we’ll bounce back from this one.”
BLOUNT FORCE: Blount ran 24 times for 105 yards and two touchdowns, including the 41-yarder in the fourth quarter to give New England a 27-0 lead. It’s the third time in his career he has had back-to-back 100-yard games, and the first time since 2011. Blount also had a 1-yard TD run in the third quarter.
GRONK RETURNS: Tight end Rob Gronkowski made his season debut after sitting out the first two weeks with a hamstring injury he sustained during training camp. Gronk was used sparingly and mainly as a blocker, appearing in just 14 snaps, and three in the second half.
RUNNING QBS: Brissett’s 27-yard touchdown run was the longest for a Patriots quarterback since Steve Grogan went 41 yards for a score in 1976. The longest run of Tom Brady’s career is 22 yards.
“I was just running until I got stopped,” Brissett said. “It worked out how we planned it was going to work out. The guys up front did a great job. And Malcolm on that side did a great job blocking that guy.”
CHALLENGE: The Patriots’ first touchdown was set up by a successful coach’s challenge by Bill Belichick. After Stephen Gostkowski’s 24-yard field goal put New England up 3-0, Houston’s Charles James fielded the ensuing kickoff from just inside the end zone. James ran it out, and was tripped up at the 17. But the ball squirted out on a hit by Brandon Bolden. Duron Harmon recovered for the Patriots, but James ruled down on the field. Belichick challenged, and the call was reversed.
STREAK ENDS: The Texans entered Thursday having not allowed touchdown in six consecutive quarters. That streak ended in the first quarter with Brissett’s 27-yard touchdown run.
INJURIES: Houston tight end Stephen Anderson left the game in the third quarter with a hamstring injury and did not return.
MOVING ON UP: Belichick tied Curly Lambeau for fourth place on the regular-season wins list with 226. He is now only behind Tom Landry (250), George Halas (318) and Don Shula (328).
Ravens 19, Jaguars 17
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (AP) — As his 54-yard field goal split the uprights, Justin Tucker raised both arms in celebration and turned toward Baltimore’s bench.
He probably should have taken a bow.
Tucker kicked four field goals, including the long-distance winner with 1:02 remaining, and the Ravens remained unbeaten with a 19-17 victory over the Jacksonville Jaguars on Sunday.
The fourth quarter featured four interceptions, a muffed punt, a blocked field goal and a huge fourth-down conversation. The fourth-down play — Joe Flacco’s short pass to Steve Smith — helped set up Tucker’s kick.
“It was controlled chaos. That’s all it is,” Smith said. “In the fourth quarter, there are either blowouts or there are nail-biters, and that definitely was a nail-biter. We make it interesting, and I think we make it more interesting than we really like.”
The Ravens improved to 3-0 for the third time in franchise history and first time since 2009.
The Jaguars are 0-3 for the third time in the last four years and surely will hear more talk about coach Gus Bradley’s job security. Bradley is now 12-39 in four seasons, the second-worst winning percentage of any NFL coach with at least 50 games.
The blame for this one fell on Blake Bortles and an offense that had plenty of chances down the stretch. The Ravens turned the ball over on three consecutive possessions in the fourth — Devin Hester muffed a punt, and Flacco threw back-to-back interceptions — and gave Jacksonville the ball in field-goal range all three times.
The Jaguars came away with three points, thanks to Blake Bortles’ second of three interceptions and Jason Myers’ blocked field goal.
“We have to stop giving games away,” Jaguars veteran tight end Marcedes Lewis said. “Execution down the stretch could have been better. The turnovers, the penalties, you do that in this league, the parity is so good in this league, the margin for error is so small, you can’t be out there playing like on some plays like we’ve never practiced it.
“We’ve got to go out there and execute. I feel sick right now.”
FRANCHISE RECORD: Flacco completed 29 of 40 passes for 214 yards. It doesn’t seem like a record-setting outing, but it was. He broke his own franchise record for consecutive completions by connecting on 21 straight. Flacco misfired on four of his first five throws, but then reeled off 21 in a row. The streak ended on Mike Wallace’s drop in the end zone early in the third quarter. Flacco’s previous record was 14 straight set in 2009.
BRIGHT SPOT: Allen Robinson was Jacksonville’s lone bright spot on offense. He finished with seven catches for 57 yards and two touchdowns. He had a 3-yard score in the first quarter and an 11-yarder in the third. After his first TD of the season, Robinson chucked the ball into the stands in a release of frustration.
“In these first couple of games, I may have left some plays out there or I may not have impacted the game how I know I can,” Robinson said. “I’m trying to lead this team each and every week.”
PENALTY BOOST: Tucker’s 42-yard field goal at the end of the first half was huge, and it was helped by two Jacksonville penalties. The Jaguars looked like they had forced a three-and-out, but Malik Jackson was flagged for roughing the passer when he touched Flacco’s facemask. Tucker was short on a 57-yarder a few plays later, but Dante Fowler Jr. was called for unsportsmanlike conduct for “leveraging” during the kick. The 15-yard penalty gave Tucker another shot from 42 yards, and he drilled it.
WOE LINE: Injuries forced the Jaguars to shuffle their offensive line for the first time this season. Left tackle Kelvin Beachum (concussion) and center Brandon Linder (knee) were inactive, leaving center Tyler Shatley and guard Chris Reed to make their first career starts. The injuries also forced guard Luke Joeckel to slide back to left tackle. All the movement was evident as Bortles was sacked four times and Jacksonville averaged 2.3 yards a carry.
SLOW START: Bortles now has thrown first-quarter interceptions in every game this season, leading to 17 points for opponents. Ravens linebacker C.J. Mosley had the latest, making a leaping, one-handed catch in front of Allen Robinson down the field. The Ravens turned it into a field goal and a 10-0 lead.
IVORY RETURNS: Running back Chris Ivory made his Jaguars debut but was mostly ineffective. Ivory missed the first two games because of a “general medical issue” that required an overnight hospital stay. Ivory was a 1,000-yard rusher with the New York Jets last season. He finished with 14 yards on 12 carries, hobbling to the sideline several times with an apparent knee injury.
ANTHEM PROTEST: Four Jaguars — Fowler Jr., linebacker Telvin Smith, defensive end Jared Odrick and linebacker Hayes Pullard III — raised their right fists during the national anthem.
Browns 24, Dolphins 30 OT
MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. (AP) — Jay Ajayi got a second chance, and so did the Miami Dolphins.
They made the most of both.
Ajayi scored on an 11-yard run with 8:26 left in overtime, and the Dolphins escaped with a 30-24 win over the Cleveland Browns on Sunday — the first victory for first-year head coach Adam Gase.
“We come out here in our first game and showcase to our home fans what we’re about, and offensively we’re out there flopping it around,” said Gase, who was in no celebratory mood afterward. “It irritated me a little bit.”
Ajayi’s game-winner came one play after Miami quarterback Ryan Tannehill found a wide-open Jarvis Landry for a 32-yard gain, as the Dolphins (1-2) avoided what would be their first 0-3 start since 2011.
Tannehill threw for 319 yards and three touchdowns for Miami, and Landry caught seven of those passes for 120 yards.
Cody Parkey, who was signed Saturday after Patrick Murray was hurt the day before in practice, missed three field goals for Cleveland, including a 46-yarder as time expired in regulation. The Browns had a golden chance to win after Corey Lemonier stripped the ball from Tannehill and recovered the fumble himself with 20 seconds left.
Parkey went wide left, some Dolphins fans who were leaving turned around in the stairwells, and to overtime they went.
“I know everybody will say it came down to the field goals, but I’m not going to put that kind of pressure on Cody,” Browns coach Hue Jackson said. “Cody just got off a plane with us and I don’t know him as well as I know this chair right now.”
Cleveland started Cody Kessler at quarterback, making him the third player in as many weeks to hold that job for the Browns. The Browns lost Robert Griffin III and Josh McCown in the season’s first two weeks, and ultimately got a spark from quarterback-turned-wide-receiver.
Terrelle Pryor became the first Browns player since 1977 to have multiple receptions, rushes and passes in the same game. The former Ohio State quarterback, now primarily a receiver, started taking some snaps in the game’s second series and finished with eight catches for 144 yards — along with 35 passing yards and 25 rushing yards. Pryor even played safety on the last play of the first half.
“Dynamic athlete,” Miami defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh said. “Whether he’s playing quarterback or wide receiver he’s obviously effective.”
Miami trailed 13-10 at the half. Landry caught a 42-yard touchdown pass in the third quarter to put the Dolphins on top, and the lead got stretched to 24-13 when Tannehill hit Damien Williams with what became a 10-yard scoring throw early in the fourth.
Cleveland’s first offensive touchdown in its last 16 series came with 10:12 left, when Pryor scored on a 3-yard run. The two-point conversion got the Browns within 24-21, and Parkey’s 38-yard field goal later in the fourth pulled Cleveland into a tie.
And in OT, Ajayi — who didn’t even fly with the team to Seattle for its season opener — capped it with a run around the left side.
“I’m always happy to get a win. It was ugly, we didn’t play well at times today, but we stuck together and found a way,” Tannehill said.
Briean Boddy-Calhoun was inactive in Week 1 and Week 2 for Cleveland. He made his debut one to remember, becoming the first player in franchise history to run back an interception for a score in his first NFL game.
Cleveland won the coin toss prior to overtime and let Miami have the ball, even though a Dolphin touchdown on that possession would have ended the game. Miami wound up punting. “The way we were playing offensively, it was probably a good idea,” Gase said.
Patriots coach Bill Belichick offered a memorable “We’re on to Cincinnati”series of quotes in October 2014, not wanting to answer questions about Tom Brady after a bad loss to Kansas City. Gase, whose club goes to Cincinnati on Thursday, channeled some Belichick on Sunday. “We’re moving on to Cincinnati,” Gase said.
Dolphins C Mike Pouncey (hip) missed a third straight game, and his replacement — Anthony Steen — left with an ankle injury 15 seconds into the fourth quarter, so Miami turned to third-stringer Kraig Urbik. The Dolphins also lost LB Jelani Jenkins (quad), LB Koa Misi (neck) and TE Jordan Cameron (assessment for concussion).
Broncos 29, Bengals 17
CINCINNATI (AP) — Four touchdown passes, more than 300 yards passing, two clutch touchdown drives in the fourth quarter.
Trevor Siemian played every bit like Peyton Manning in his first road start.
In some ways, even better.
Siemian was nearly perfect as he rallied the Denver Broncos to a 29-17 victory over the Cincinnati Bengals on Sunday, leading a pair of fourth-quarter touchdown drives with veteran aplomb.
The defending Super Bowl champions’ biggest offseason challenge was replacing their famous quarterback, and it looks as if they made the right choice. They’re 3-0 under Siemian, who took over after Manning retired and Brock Osweiler went to Houston.
Siemian became the first Bronco to throw for four touchdowns since Manning in 2014 against the Dolphins. No NFL quarterback had thrown for 300 yards with four touchdowns and no interceptions in their road debut, according to ESPN Stats and Info.
“Obviously going in, nobody really knew about him,” said Emmanuel Sanders, who caught the first two touchdowns. “Now everybody’s starting to talk about him. He’s always calm, cool and collected, even in the fourth quarter. You should have seen the way he took command in the huddle.”
Trailing at the start of the fourth quarter, Siemian completed 11 of 12 passes while rallying the Broncos to those fourth-quarter touchdowns. He finished 23 of 35 for 312 yards and a passer rating of 132.1.
“I’m still learning a lot,” Siemian said. “There are a couple of plays I’d like to do over again.”
Siemian had a 41-yard touchdown pass to Sanders to get it started, and stood in under a heavy rush and connected with Demaryius Thomas on a 55-yard score with 4:23 left to clinch it. Sanders finished with nine catches for 117 yards.
The Bengals got their dormant running game going, but were still out of sync as they fell to 1-2 for the first time in five years. Jeremy Hill ran for a pair of touchdowns and 97 yards — huge strides for Cincinnati’s pass-heavy offense — but Andy Dalton couldn’t do much after the Bengals fell behind.
“We’re still trying to find ourselves,” said receiver A.J. Green, who had eight catches for 77 yards but dropped a pivotal third-down pass. “We’ve got to be more consistent.”
Broncos safety T.J. Ward hurt his neck late in the first quarter but returned. The Broncos were already missing safety Justin Simmons. … Bengals kicker Mike Nugent suffered a shoulder injury while helping to make a tackle during a kickoff return in the second quarter but later made a field goal.
UP AND RUNNING … BRIEFLY
After two games of getting virtually nothing out of their running game, the Bengals made it a point of emphasis and got immediate results. Hill, who had a total of 53 yards in the first two games, broke off a 50-yard run on Cincinnati’s opening possession — his longest run since 2014. He capped the drive with a 3-yard TD run, giving the Bengals a season high in rushing after one series. Denver clamped down the rest of the way.
The Bengals are 6-4 in their past nine games at Paul Brown Stadium, including a first-round playoff loss to Pittsburgh.
Ward raised his right fist during the anthem, the first time he’s made such a gesture. Brandon Marshall again went to his knee behind the front line of players.
The Broncos switched their offensive line, with Ty Sambrailo starting at right tackle in place of Donald Stephenson, who has a strained calf. Sambrailo got called for holding late in the first half, but Siemian had enough time for his big game. He was sacked only twice.
AGGIE VS AGGIE
Bengals right tackle Cedric Ogbuehi got to block Von Miller, who was a teammate at Texas A&M for one season. In his third NFL start, Ogbuehi — a first-round pick last season — got caught holding the Super Bowl MVP once and gave up one of Denver’s four sacks.
The Broncos play at Tampa Bay next Sunday.
The Bengals have a quick turnaround, getting ready to host the Dolphins on Thursday night.
THEY SAID IT
Broncos: “That’s what we’ve been waiting for man. That’s a huge step forward for our team to do that on the road against a playoff team.” — cornerback Chris Harris Jr.
Bengals: “It’s still early. There’s a lot to be accomplished.” — Andy Dalton.
Raiders 17, Titans 10
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — To Derek Carr, it’s time for all the critics to stop picking on the Oakland Raiders defense.
Carr threw for 249 yards and a touchdown, and the Raiders beat the Tennessee Titans 17-10 on Sunday with their defense finally coming up with some big plays.
“They won the game for us,” Carr said. “That right there was a prime example of what I’ve seen every day in practice. That’s why I kept saying what I was saying. It’s hard to complete balls against them.”
The Raiders (2-1) forced three turnovers and had a sack after coming into this game having given up more yards than any team since at least 1940 through the first two games. Coach Jack Del made a couple of lineup changes, starting linebacker Cory James and rookie safety Karl Joseph, their top draft pick.
Oakland took control in the second quarter, scoring 10 points and outgaining the Titans 129-40 to take a 17-3 lead into halftime.
The Titans (1-2) rallied from a 15-3 deficit a week ago in beating Detroit 16-15 , and they thought they at least had forced overtime when Marcus Mariota found Andre Johnson alone in the end zone for a touchdown. But officials flagged Johnson for interference on Raiders cornerback TJ Carrie.
“If he wouldn’t have fell down, it wouldn’t have been called,” Johnson said.
Two plays later, Carrie appeared to grab Harry Douglas in the end zone on the Titans’ final play with no flag thrown. Carr knelt to run out the clock as the Raiders escaped with a win.
Titans coach Mike Mularkey said he needed to watch the tape on some of the plays.
“I need to be careful,” Mularkey said.
LEWAN’S PENALTY: Titans left tackle Taylor Lewan may have had the costliest penalty. He apologized to his teammates for an unnecessary roughness penalty that backed the Titans from the Oakland 3 to the 18 with 50 seconds left.
Tajae Sharpe caught a 19-yard pass and was being tackled when Lewan flew in to clean up the pile. Officials flagged him, costing Tennessee first-and-goal at the 3 with 50 seconds left to first-and-10 at the Raiders 18. Asked about the penalty, Mularkey said Lewan and the Raiders thought the play was still alive.
“Everybody but the officials,” Mularkey said.
MARIOTA’S TURNOVERS: Mariota turned the ball over three times, and the No. 2 pick overall in the 2015 draft now has lost three fumbles with four interceptions already this season. The Raiders turned a fumble forced by Bruce Irvin into a field goal and a 10-3 lead. That was all the points the Raiders got off his mistakes.
NICE OPENING: Latavius Murray didn’t touch the ball on Oakland’s opening drive until he was handed the ball on the final play. Then, he ran 22 yards up the middle for a touchdown to put the Raiders ahead to stay. Carr also tossed a 19-yard TD pass to Seth Roberts late in the second quarter against a Tennessee defense that had allowed only one offensive TD through the first two games.
NFL RECORD: Raiders kicker Sebastian Janikowski became the NFL’s career leader in field goals made from 50 yards and out when he connected from 52 with 8:13 left in the second quarter. He gave the Raiders a 10-3 lead on the 53rd field goal of 50 or more yards for the 17-year veteran, which broke a tie with Jason Hanson, who had 52 such field goals in 21 NFL seasons. His field goal came after a holding penalty wiped out a TD pass by Carr.
MR. MURRAY: Murray, the NFL’s 2014 offensive player of the year, helped the Titans get back into the game. He reeled off a 36-yard run with the Titans backed up near the own end zone, and he capped a 93-yard drive by outracing a pair of Oakland defenders around the right side to the end zone for a 5-yard TD with 5:51 left in the third quarter. It was Murray’s first TD running the ball this season.
He also ran for 114 yards on 16 carries to become the first running back to reach 100 yards in a game since the 2013 season finale.
Cardinals 18, Bills 33
ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. (AP) — LeSean McCoy scored twice and safety Aaron Williams returned a botched field-goal snap 53 yards for a touchdown in leading the Buffalo Bills to a 33-18 win over the Arizona Cardinals on Sunday.
Quarterback Tyrod Taylor also scored on a 20-yard run at a time the Rex Ryan-coached Bills spent the past week taking the brunt of criticism after opening the season 0-2.
The win also came on the heels of Ryan firing offensive coordinator Greg Roman and replacing him with running backs coach Anthony Lynn.
McCoy scored on 24- and 5-yard runs, and finished with 110 yards rushing after combining for just 117 in his first two games. Taylor had 76 yards rushing, including a 49-yarder, the longest by a quarterback in team history.
Ryan’s defense also bounced back after allowing 493 yards in 37-31 loss to the New York Jets on Sept. 15. The Bills limited Arizona to 348 yards and intercepted Carson Palmer on each of Arizona’s final four possessions.
Stephon Gilmore had two interceptions.
Arizona (1-2) unraveled a week after a 40-7 win over Tampa Bay, and had a five-game road winning streak snapped going back to last season.
The Cardinals combined for just 2 yards net offense and no first downs on their first five possessions. Palmer finished 26 of 50 for 264 yards and was sacked five times.
David Johnson scored on 4- and 22-yard runs for Arizona.
The Bills took control in building a 30-7 lead on Williams’ fumble return with 2:25 left in the third quarter.
With Chandler Catanzaro lining up to attempt a 32-yard field goal, Kameron Canaday’s snap sailed high and through the hands of holder Drew Butler. Catanzaro missed in an attempt to fall on the ball, and the ball squirted loose. Catanzaro missed a last-minute field goal in the opener against New England because of a poor snap.
Trailing 30-16 midway through the fourth quarter, the Cardinals had a golden opportunity slip through their fingers.
Safety Tyrann Mathieu batted down quarterback Tyrod Taylor’s backward pitch intended for Robert Woods for a fumble. Mathieu failed twice attempting to scoop up the ball and instead kicked it out of bounds into the Cardinals sideline.
The Bills’ defense then secured the victory on Arizona’s next possession, when Gilmore intercepted Palmer’s pass up the left sideline intended for John Brown. The turnover led to Buffalo putting the game away with Dan Carpenter hitting a 45-yard field goal.
Catanzaro was forced to take over the punting duties after Drew Butler hurt his left ankle on the final play of the first quarter. Backed up in his own end zone, Catanzaro’s first punt traveled 47 yards.
He then shanked his next punt early in the third quarter. It traveled just 19 yards and bounced out of bounds at the Cardinals 47.
Catanzaro did hit a 60-yard field goal , the longest in a Bills home game. The previous record was Bills kicker Steve Christie hitting a 59-yarder in 1993.
Larry Fitzgerald finally made a catch in Orchard Park.
The Cardinals receiver extended the NFL’s longest active reception streak to 182 consecutive games with a 3-yard catch on a crossing pattern midway through the first quarter. Fitzgerald’s streak began during his rookie season and after he failed to make a catch in a 38-14 loss at the Bills on Oct. 31, 2004. It stands as the only game of his career he’s not had a reception. He finished with seven catches for 60 yards.
Injuries continue to hamper the Bills, who were down three starters. And that doesn’t include starting defensive tackle Marcell Dareus, who is suspended for the first four games of the season for violating the NFL’s substance abuse policy, or defensive end Shaq Lawson (offseason shoulder surgery) and linebacker Reggie Ragland (torn knee in training camp).
Watkins has been bothered by a sore left foot he had surgically repaired in April. He then aggravated the injury when a teammate stepped on his foot during a walk-through last week. Also out were cornerback Ronald Darby (hamstring) and left tackle Cordy Glenn, who missed his second consecutive game after aggravating an injury to his left ankle.
Redskins 29, Giants 27
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) — All the Washington Redskins needed to avoid a dreaded 0-3 start was a couple of fourth-quarter interceptions by backups and five field goals from a guy who had never made that many in a game.
Dustin Hopkins kicked a 37-yard field goal with 1:51 to play and the defending NFC East champion Redskins got a much-needed 29-27 win over the penalty- and error-prone New York Giants (2-1) on Sunday.
“We needed to get that first win bad,” said cornerback Greg Toler, who played most of the game after starter Bashaud Breeland hurt an ankle early. “We couldn’t lose the first three, and we hung in there and got some real contributions from everybody. You get everyone stepping up. The coaches treat all of us the same, coaches us up whether first- or second- or third- or fourth-string like we are starters.”
The guys who really stepped up were linebacker Su’a Cravens and cornerback Quinton Dunbar.
After Hopkins put Washington ahead, the Giants got a first down at their own 39 with 69 seconds to play. On the next play, Manning went over the middle to Shane Vereen and Cravens dived in front of the halfback and picked it off.
Earlier in the quarter, Dunbar jumped a seam pattern pass to tight end Will Tye in the end zone and intercepted it, ending a Giants drive at the Washington 15 courtesy of an Odell Beckham catch-and-run. It kept Washington ahead 26-24.
Josh Brown would put New York ahead with a 30-yard field goal midway through the quarter, but Washington came back.
It was a game marked by Giants mistakes. They turned the ball over three times and had 11 penalties for 128 yards.
“Any time you lose against any team, no matter where they are at, it is a tough one to swallow,” receiver Victor Cruz said. “Especially one like this where we had some opportunities to put some points on the board, but you win some and you lose some, you have to learn from the losses and move on.”
The worst of the Giants’ penalties was a third-down hit to the helmet by Olivier Vernon that kept the Redskins’ game-winning drive alive.
“Everyone loves touchdowns. I love touchdowns,” Hopkins said. “When they call on me, I do the best I can to put the team in a position to win, whether they send me out there five times or once, it’s OK.”
Shane Vereen scored on a 1-yard run, Manning threw a 23-yard TD to Shepard and Orleans Darkwa scored on a 2-yard run for New York.
Kirk Cousins threw touchdown passes of 44 yards to DeSean Jackson and 55 to Jamison Crowder as the banged-up Redskins handed new Giants coach Ben McAdoo his first loss.
This was an NFC East matchup that see-sawed the entire second half after Washington rallied from a 21-9 deficit.
BECKHAM VS. NORMAN: The fourth quarter was wild with the matchup of Beckham and Redskins cornerback Josh Norman, leading to big plays by Beckham, an ejection of Giants center Weston Richburg and a personal foul against Norman for a big hit on Sterling Shepard.
“We got it in us. We are fighters, fighters to the end. Scrapping. Savagery as they come,” Norman said. “Real gritty, all the way down to the bone and gristle. Fight, fight, fight.”
In the end, Washington made the big plays in avoiding the 0-3 start. Only three teams since 1990 have made the playoffs after losing three in row to start the season.
INJURIES GALORE: The Redskins lost four players to injuries in the game: C Kory Lichtensteiger (ankle), G Shawn Lauvao (calf), CB Bashaud Breeland (ankle) and S DeAngelo Hall (knee). The Giants had CBs Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie (groin) and Eli Apple (hamstring) leave.
SPECIAL TEAMS: It was an exciting day for the guys from specials. Crowder’s 50-yard punt return and a 31-yard fourth-down pass by punter Tress Way to Dunbar set up two of Hopkins’ field goals. Dunbar, however, muffed a punt that led to Vereen’s TD early in the game. The
Giants had a blocked punt by Romeo Okwara nullified with just over 11 minutes to play by a personal foul against Andrew Adams, who was added to the roster Saturday.
NEAR-COSTLY GAMBLE: The Redskins lost a cheap-shot field goal at the end of the first half when they elected to run a play from the Giants 4 with 6 seconds left. Jason Pierre-Paul had a sack and forced fumble on Cousins and the clock ran out.
NUMBERS: Cousins finished 21 of 35 for 296 yards. Manning was 25 of 38 for 350. The Giants gained 457 yards in failing to gain their 700th franchise win. The Redskins gained 403 yards and had the ball for 33:26.
Lions 27, Packers 34
GREEN BAY, Wis. (AP) — The timing is back for quarterback Aaron Rodgers and the rest of Green Bay’s offense.
The Packers’ pass defense might need a little work, though.
Rodgers threw for 205 yards and four touchdowns, including two in the first half to Jordy Nelson, and the Packers snapped out of their offensive funk before holding off the Detroit Lions for a 34-27 win Sunday.
Rodgers was 15 of 24, leading the Packers to touchdowns on their first three series. Nelson had 101 yards on six catches, returning to the form that made him one of the NFL’s best receivers before missing the 2015 season with a knee injury.
“Just got on the same page. Hitting Jordy for some big plays helps,” Rodgers said. “Jordy and I connected. Whenever we’re doing that, it kind of opens other things up for the offense.”
They moved the ball on the Lions’ short-handed defense with ease in the first half. The Packers (2-1) led 31-10 at halftime before the Lions slowly chipped away.
Marvin Jones’ 35-yard touchdown catch with 3:34 left got Detroit (1-2) within seven. But Rodgers had a critical 11-yard run on third-and-8 from the Packers 27 with 3:22 left to effectively seal the win.
Jones had a career-high 205 yards on six receptions. Matthew Stafford passed for 385 yards and three scores with one interception for the Lions, who held advantages in total yardage (418-324) and time of possession, holding the ball for 35 minutes.
But the Packers burned the secondary with big plays to build a big lead, and Eddie Lacy ran for 103 yards on 17 carries.
“Obviously it was a difficult situation. We put ourselves in that situation. On offense, we didn’t score enough points in the in the first half,” Stafford said. “I’m proud of the guys for fighting back.”
PACK IS BACK
So much for the fuss over the Packers’ struggling offense.
Coach Mike McCarthy and Rodgers heard questions about the out-of-sync passing game following the 17-14 loss last week to Minnesota.
Now the Packers head into an early bye week with renewed confidence after a successful opener at Lambeau Field.
“Offensively the focus was to be a good, healthy mix of run and pass, so we accomplished that today,” McCarthy said.
The Lions gained chunks of yardage in the second half after being forced to play catch-up following Green Bay’s big early lead. The Packers’ defense was also missing four starters, including linebacker Clay Matthews.
Stafford found holes over the middle of the field. He connected with Jones for a 23-yard completion on the first play from scrimmage in the second half to the Detroit 46.
The Packers allowed Detroit to convert on eight of 14 third-down tries, a problem that McCarthy planned to focus on during the bye week.
But Green Bay’s staunch run defense had another big day, albeit against a Lions offense playing without injured tailback Ameer Abdullah. Detroit managed just 50 yards on 23 carries, with a team-high 38 yards on 10 carries by Dwayne Washington.
The Packers also played without nose tackle Letroy Guion, safety Morgan Burnett and defensive lineman-linebacker Datone Jones, who were all out with injuries.
Jones gave the Lions a boost going into halftime with a 73-yard touchdown pass from Stafford to get Detroit within 31-10. He stiff-armed cornerback Josh Hawkins before sprinting untouched 45 yards into the end zone.
“I feel like what we did in the second half was to be commended, but obviously we didn’t get it done,” Jones said. “The first half, we didn’t play up to our standards and we came back and we fought, but we ran out of time and it wasn’t enough.”
WORKING THE MIDDLE
The Packers’ offense accomplished two of McCarthy’s bigger goals for this week: Receivers worked the middle of the field, and Lacy got more carries in the running game.
Nelson was lined up in the slot on his 8-yard touchdown catch in the first quarter, when Rodgers pump-faked, then stepped up in the pocket to find Nelson.
Lacy looked rejuvenated as he bounced off defenders for a 23-yard run in the second quarter.
Lions: S Tavon Wilson left in the first quarter with a neck injury. It was another blow for a defense already without lineman Ezekiel Ansah and linebacker DeAndre Levy.
Packers: TE Jared Cook went to the locker room with a right ankle injury after getting tangled up with a defender at 11:35 of the second quarter. … FB Aaron Ripkowski did not return after going to the locker room near the end of the second quarter with a back injury.
Vikings 22, Panthers 10
CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — The Minnesota Vikings keep finding ways to overcome injuries —and keep finding ways to win football games.
Sam Bradford threw a touchdown pass to Kyle Rudolph, Marcus Sherels returned a punt for a score and the Vikings snapped the Carolina Panthers’ 14-game home winning streak 22-10 on Sunday.
The Vikings put the clamps on Cam Newton, intercepting the league’s reigning MVP three times and getting eight sacks, one of those resulting in a safety by Danielle Hunter. The eight sacks were the second-most ever against Newton.
“We have a great team — the best team I have been a part of,” said Vikings defensive end Everson Griffen, who had three sacks. “We come from every area on the field and we get sacks.”
Said Newton: “They were dictating to us after they got the momentum.”
The Vikings improved 3-0 despite losing running back Adrian Peterson and offensive tackle Matt Kalil to injuries last week. They lost starting quarterback Teddy Bridgewater in the preseason.
The Panthers were averaging 42 points per game in their last three home games, but could do little after bolting to a 10-0 lead. The Vikings held Carolina wide receivers Kelvin Benjamin and Devin Funchess without a catch.
“For him not to have any touches is baffling,” Newton said of Benjamin. “We have to find ways” to get him the ball.
Cornerback Captain Munnerlyn said the Vikings focus was on shutting down Benjamin.
“We just knew where Benjamin was the whole time,” Munnerlyn said. “Funchess, we weren’t worried about him. It was Kelvin Benjamin. Me personally, I think No. 17 (Funchess) is not that good, so we weren’t really worried about him.”
Benjamin said the Vikings’ pressure on Newton helped take him out of the game.
Bradford improved to 2-0 as the Vikings starter, completing 18 of 28 passes for 171 yards. With Peterson injured, Matt Asiata and Jerick McKinnon combined for 70 yards rushing on 22 carries. Rudolph had seven catches for 70 yards, including a 15-yard TD catch to put the Vikings ahead for good in the early in the third quarter.
HOME LOSS: It was Carolina’s first home loss since Nov. 16, 2014.
“If you want to be a playoff team you have to win at home,” Panthers offensive tackle Michael Oher said.
Carolina only led 10-8 at halftime despite outgaining the Vikings 205-34 in the first half and limiting Minnesota to two first downs.
PROTESTS OUTSIDE: Outside the stadium about 100 people gathered before the game to stage a peaceful protest over the police shooting of a 43-year-old black man last week.
Panthers coach Ron Rivera said the events didn’t affect the team’s play.
“When we are here, we practice, we do the things we are supposed to do. We got out and we answered the questions,” Rivera said. “What happened here was very tragic, and what we were hoping to do was be able to come out and put that aside. We just didn’t play very well. I am not looking for excuses.”
BY THE NUMBERS:
Vikings: Asiata got the start at running back but McKinnon was more productive back with 45 yards on 16 carries.
Panthers: Cameron Artis-Payne started over Fozzy Whittaker with Jonathan Stewart (hamstring) out of the lineup and ran for 47 yards on 12 carries. Whittaker only got five carries and had 22 yards rushing after running for 100 yards last week against San Francisco.
SAFETY FIRST: Hunter beat Michael Oher to sack Newton in the end zone in the first quarter for Minnesota’s first safety since Jared Allen had one on Dec. 4, 2011. Hunter has 6 1/2 sacks in his last seven games.
SHERELS RETURN: Sherels accounted for the Vikings only touchdown of the first half, taking an Andy Lee punt near midfield and cutting across the grain for a 54-yard touchdown return.
BENJAMIN’S BLUNDERS: Benjamin was called for two penalties in the first half, including a block in the back that nullified a 56-yard TD reception by Whittaker.
INJURIES: Panthers first-round draft pick Vernon Butler left the game with a right ankle sprain in the third quarter and did not return.
Rams 37, Buccaneers 32
TAMPA, Fla. (AP) — Turns out the offensively challenged Los Angeles Rams are capable of getting the ball in the end zone.
Case Keenum threw for the team’s first touchdown since relocating back to Los Angeles, and Todd Gurley rushed for two more scores Sunday in a 37-32 victory over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
The Rams (2-1), who did not have TD in the first two games of the season, also scored on Ethan Westbrooks’ 77-yard fumble return and Tavon Austin’s 43-yard reception in the fourth quarter before thunder and lightning caused a 69-minute weather delay with two minutes remaining.
” When you score points, which we did, you’ve got a chance,” Rams coach Jeff Fisher said.
The Rams, who used three field goals to beat Seattle 9-3 in Week 2, saw Keenum complete 14 of 25 passes for 190 yards, two TDs and one interception, which Bucs linebacker Kwon Alexander returned 38 yards for a first-quarter touchdown. In addition to throwing a TD pass to Austin for a late 11-point lead, he got the Rams on track early with his 44-yard scoring pass to Brian Quick for the franchise’s first TD as the L.A. Rams since 1994.
“Anytime you can get out there and have success early, it kind of settles you down as an offense,” Keenum said.
The defense did its part, too, holding off Jameis Winston’s bid to rally the Bucs (1-2) in the closing seconds.
Tampa Bay forced a punt after the lightning delay and drove from its 44 to the Rams 15 in 1:42 before Winston threw two incompletions and was tackled by Robert Quinn after a 10-yard run on the final play. Winston looked tentative and never really took off full-speed on the play, instead apparently still hoping to throw the ball after he crossed the line scrimmage.
“I was just trying to bait them, get closer to the end zone,” Winston said. “At that moment I’ve got to give somebody a chance in the end zone.”
Winston threw for 405 yards and three TDs for Tampa Bay (1-2). He threw an interception that set up one of Gurley’s two 1-yard touchdown runs, and was stripped by the Quinn on the fumble that Westbrooks returned up the left sideline for a 31-20 lead.
Mike Evans’ 7-yard TD reception trimmed Tampa Bay’s deficit to 37-32 with 2:15 remaining.
“I’m confident in my defense. It’s the best defense in the league, and I believe that,” Keenum said. “I had no doubts they were going to stop them.”
Officials suspended play during the two-minute warning with the Rams facing third-and-11 from their 5. Fans were asked to clear the stands and seek coverage in stadium concourses before the approaching thunderstorm passed directly over the field, dumping heavy rain.
The Rams scored their first touchdown of the season, driving 75 yards on eight plays following the opening kickoff to take a 7-0 lead on Keenum’s 44-yard pass to Quick just over three minutes into the game. Gurley’s TD, set up by ex-Buc Mark Barron’s interception and 7-yard return to the Tampa Bay 22, trimmed Tampa Bay’s lead to 20-17 just before halftime. With Tampa Bay driving for a possible go-ahead score in the fourth quarter, Quinn’s sack/strip led to Westbrooks’ fumble return. It was the NFL-leading 18th fumble Quinn has forced since entering the league in 2012.
With RB Doug Martin sidelined with a hamstring injury, Charles Sims made his first NFL pro start for the Bucs and rushed for 55 yards on 13 attempts. The third-year pro, who has been a key component of Tampa Bay’s passing game since Winston joined the team, also had six receptions for 69 yards.
WATCH ME NOW
The Bucs unveiled a new video board system as part of a $140 million renovation of Raymond James Stadium. The system features two 9,600 square-foot boards on the north and south ends of the stadium, as well as four 2,300 square-foot tower walls. With more than 31,000 square feet of combined video display space, the team says it the third-largest video board system in the NFL.
Evans had 10 receptions for 132 yards and became the first player in Bucs history to catch a TD pass in three consecutive games to start a season. WR Adam Humphries finished with nine receptions for a career-best 100 yards, and TE Cameron Brate had TD receptions of 3 and 1 yards.
49ers 18, Seahawks 37
SEATTLE (AP) — Russell Wilson is already dealing with more injuries in the first three weeks of the 2016 season than the first four years of his career.
This time, the Seattle Seahawks quarterback got lucky.
Wilson threw for 243 yards and a touchdown before suffering a left knee injury and the Seattle Seahawks rolled to a 37-18 rout of the San Francisco 49ers on Sunday.
Wilson was injured with about 10 minutes to go in the third quarter getting pulled down awkwardly on a sack by San Francisco’s Eli Harold.
Harold was called for a horse collar penalty, but the bigger concern was how he fell on Wilson’s left leg.
“Fortunate. I don’t think it’s as severe as it looked,” Wilson said.
Seattle coach Pete Carroll referred to the injury as a slight sprained knee and Wilson was set to undergo an MRI to verify the initial diagnosis.
Wilson stayed down on the field for a few moments after the injury before walking off. Wilson missed the first play of his career because of an injury, but returned almost immediately — and without perhaps the approval of his coaches — to throw one more pass.
The completion led to the third of Steven Hauschka’s three field goals for a 27-3 lead and after that Wilson’s day was done.
“He walked on the field on his own. You could see all the coaches we’re like ‘Nobody told him to do that,'” wide receiver Doug Baldwin said. “But that’s Russell though.”
Wilson had a brace placed on his left knee, and he never saw the field again, giving the final 1½ quarters of the blowout to rookie Trevone Boykin.
Wilson finished 15 of 23 passing, including an 18-yard touchdown pass to tight end Jimmy Graham. Boykin also threw the first TD pass of his career, hitting Baldwin on a 16-yard touchdown early in the fourth quarter.
Baldwin had eight catches for a career-high 164 yards.
It was a big day for Seattle’s offense that slogged through the first two weeks, scoring just 15 points in the first 120 minutes of the season.
The Seahawks nearly matched that total in the first 11 minutes of the game thanks to the first two touchdowns of Christine Michael’s career.
“It was amazing. I give all that to my offensive linemen,” Michael said.
Getting the start with Thomas Rawls out because of a shin injury, Michael had TD runs of 41 and 4 yards on Seattle’s first two drives, the first drive taking three plays and just 43 seconds. Michael rushed for 106 yards on 20 carries, the second 100-yard game of his career.
Carlos Hyde two TD runs in the fourth quarter for San Francisco, but the 49ers had just five first downs entering the fourth quarter and missed on their first 10 third-down attempts. Blaine Gabbert’s streak of 12 straight games with a touchdown pass ended as he was 14 of 25 for 119 yards and an interception.
“We knew we were going against the most talented group defensively we were going to face and knew it was our job specially to convert on third down and we didn’t do that,” San Francisco coach Chip Kelly said.
The knee injury for Wilson comes on top of the Seattle quarterback suffering a sprained right ankle in the opener against Miami . Wilson never missed a snap against the Dolphins and played the entire game last week against Los Angeles, although his mobility was limited. Wilson appeared to have better movement on Sunday, but had only one official run for 3 yards.
Seattle may not have wanted a bye in Week 5, but it could end up being critical for the health of its quarterback.
Seattle had not allowed a 100-yard rusher in the previous 24 games, a streak that dated to Week 11 of the 2014 season when Kansas City’s Jamaal Charles topped the 100-yard mark.
Hyde finally snapped Seattle’s streak when he topped 100 yards on his final carry, an 8-yard TD run with 56 seconds left. Hyde finished with 103 yards.
Graham seems fully back from the torn patellar tendon suffered last November. The athletic tight end had six catches for 100 yards and a touchdown in the first half on Sunday for Seattle.
Graham’s score was his first TD since Sept. 27, 2015. He later wrestled a 40-yard jump ball away from safety Eric Reid that set up a field goal. Graham also had an 18-yard catch to convert third-and-15 in the first quarter.
It was his second 100-yard receiving game since joining Seattle via trade before last season.
San Francisco lost two key players in the first half. Tight end Vance McDonald suffered a hip injury in the second quarter and did not return. And starting cornerback Jimmy Ward injured his quadriceps covering a kickoff in the second quarter and also did not return.
The loss of McDonald was compounded when backup Garrett Celek was hit the back by Kam Chancellor on the first possession of the second half. Celek returned later in the third quarter.
Jets 3, Chiefs 24
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Derrick Johnson saw everybody else picking off passes for Kansas City and decided to join the party.
Then he figured he might as well score, too.
The veteran linebacker snagged one of six interceptions thrown by Ryan Fitzpatrick, scored one of the Chiefs’ two touchdowns off turnovers, and put an exclamation mark on a rather bizarre 24-3 victory over the hapless, turnover-prone New York Jets on Sunday.
“We put an emphasis on taking away the ball all the time,” said Johnson, who scored his fourth career TD. “If you can get a turnover, it’s a big momentum changer. And if you can score, it’s even bigger.”
A turnover? How about get eight.
Marcus Peters had two of the interceptions for the Chiefs (2-1), including the first of four in the fourth quarter. Johnson, Daniel Sorenson and D.J. White grabbed the others as the Jets piled up their most turnovers since setting a franchise record with 10 in a loss to the Patriots on Nov. 21, 1976.
“I’m stunned, disappointed … mad,” Jets coach Todd Bowles said. “We could have come out prepared. We could have come out and executed better. There’s 50 million things when you lose and we lost. Pick any one of them.”
Alex Smith was 25 of 33 for 237 yards and a touchdown for Kansas City, while Spencer Ware added 75 yards rushing. But it was the performance of the defense — and all those Jets turnovers — that helped the Chiefs bounced back from their first regular-season defeat in 12 games.
Eric Berry picked off a pass in the end zone late in the third quarter, and a fumbled kick return by the Jets’ Jalin Marshall was returned 27 yards by Demetrius Harris for another score.
“I think it stemmed from practice this week,” Berry said. “Everybody had a great practice. The emphasis was on finishing plays and not being too concerned with the score.”
The Jets’ Matt Forte, who scored three times against the Bills, was held to just 65 yards rushing, while wide receivers Brandon Marshall and Eric Decker were held in check.
But it was Fitzpatrick who was downright dismal a week after torching Buffalo, going 20 of 44 for 188 yards. His six picks tied a franchise record while establishing a career high, surpassing the five that he threw for St. Louis against Minnesota on Dec. 11, 2005.
“I’ve had some bad ones,” he said, “so all I can do is put it behind me and move on.”
CHIEFS NOT INFALLIBLE
Kansas City appeared to take a 24-3 lead in the third quarter when Ware stretched the ball into the pylon for a touchdown. But officials reviewed the play and saw the ball beginning to come out, and decided that it was a fumble resulting in a touchback for New York.
“You don’t want them dropping the ball,” Chiefs coach Andy Reid said, “but it’s hard to tell them not to stretch.”
Things could have been worse for New York. Berry and Sorenson dropped picks moments before Sorenson hauled in his interception, and Fitzpatrick fell on his own fumble earlier in the game.
PETERS A ‘PICKER
It was the second straight two-interception day for Peters, who has quickly become one of the league’s top cornerbacks. He had eight as a rookie in the regular season a year ago.
“When things are happening like today,” Peters said, “you enjoy. You embrace the opportunities.”
Decker had his streak of touchdowns in six straight games come to an end. The Jets wide receiver, who has scored 15 times in his last 19 games, had his only catch in the fourth quarter.
Marshall was active after missing practice earlier in the week with a slightly sprained knee. But shadowed by Peters and Berry, the star wide receiver had a tough time getting open. He finished with three catches for 27 yards, on several occasions complaining about the tight coverage.
Jets: CB Darrelle Revis was evaluated for an eye injury and missed the final series of the first half. He returned after the break. … DL Lawrence Thomas left in the first half with a shoulder injury. … LB Erin Henderson was inactive because of a foot sprain.
Chiefs: RB Jamaal Charles (ACL surgery) remained inactive for the third straight week, but coach Andy Reid insisted the four-time Pro Bowl selection is getting closer to playing.
Steelers 3, Eagles 34
PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Carson Wentz threw for 301 yards and two touchdowns, a fierce defense shut down Ben Roethlisberger and Antonio Brown and the Philadelphia Eagles beat the Pittsburgh Steelers 34-3 on Sunday to remain unbeaten.
The rookie No. 2 overall pick connected with Darren Sproles on a 73-yard, catch-and-run TD and tossed a 12-yard TD pass to Jordan Matthews.
“Everyone has confidence and high expectations for themselves,” Wentz said. “We’re playing inspired football.”
After beating the Browns and Bears in the first two games, the Eagles (3-0) proved they could compete with the big boys.
The Steelers (2-1) averaged 31 points the first two weeks and are considered Super Bowl contenders.
Pittsburgh was 19-2 against rookie quarterbacks since 2004. But Wentz is no ordinary rookie.
Everyone is jumping on the Wentz wagon in Philadelphia. And he was the No. 3 quarterback until Sam Bradford was traded to Minnesota just eight days before the season opener.
“What he’s doing is special and it’s a testament to his preparation and demeanor,” Eagles safety Malcolm Jenkins said of Wentz.
Sproles finished with six catches for 128 yards and Kenjon Barner and rookie Wendell Smallwood each had their first career rushing TDs.
Roethlisberger had 257 yards passing, one interception and no TDs after tossing six in the first two games. Brown caught 12 passes for 140 yards, most of which after the outcome was decided.
“This is a very good NFC team,” Roethlisberger said. “They got after us and made us one-dimensional.”
THEY SAID IT: Steelers coach Mike Tomlin: “We lost just about every aspect of that one. It was a poor performance by us, and I mean all of us. It starts with me. They outcoached us. They outplayed us. They were better fundamentally. We were highly penalized. We didn’t get it done and they did.”
FAST START: The Eagles scored on their first drive for the third straight game. Caleb Sturgis’ 29-yard FG put them up 3-0. Wentz tossed a TD pass to Matthews on the next possession to make it 10-0. Sturgis kicked a 38-yard FG on Philadelphia’s third drive for a 13-3 lead.
MISSED OPPORTUNITY: After Pittsburgh’s Markus Wheaton dropped a TD pass in the back of the end zone on the game’s opening drive, Bennie Logan blocked Chris Boswell’s 36-yard FG attempt.
INJURIES: Steelers LB Lawrence Timmons injured his left shin in the first half and was taken to a hospital for evaluation. He returned to the locker room after the game with a huge bandage on his shin. SS Robert Golden (hamstring) and LG Ramon Foster (chest) also didn’t return in the second half for Pittsburgh. WR Eli Rogers injured his toe in the third quarter and didn’t return. … The Eagles were missing two starters for the second straight game: TE Zach Ertz (rib) and CB Leodis McKelvin (hamstring).
BOTHERING BIG BEN: Fletcher Cox had two sacks, including one that forced a fumble recovered by Brandon Graham. Logan and Graham also had sacks as the Eagles put plenty of pressure on Roethlisberger. The Steelers allowed only two sacks in the first two games combined.
NIFTY MOVES: The speedy, elusive Sproles left Artie Burns on the ground by zig-zagging his way into the end zone after catching Wentz’s pass down the right sideline near the Philadelphia 48, cutting to the middle of the field, back to the right and then scoring down the middle.
STATS: Wentz is the first rookie in NFL history without an interception in his first 100 pass attempts to begin a career. … The Steelers are 0-9 in Philadelphia since their previous win here in 1965. … Eagles RB Ryan Mathews carried only two times for minus-5 yards. … Barner had 42 yards rushing, including an 8-yard TD. … Smallwood had 79 yards rushing, including a 1-yard TD.
ANTHEM PROTEST: Jenkins and CB Ron Brooks were the only players to raise their fists during the national anthem. Last week, they were joined by DEs Marcus Smith and Steven Means.
Chargers 22, Colts 26
INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — T.Y. Hilton blamed himself for not doing enough in the Indianapolis Colts’ first two games this season.
He made amends for it Sunday.
The smallest receiver on the Colts’ roster came up big twice, making an acrobatic 8-yard catch on fourth-and-7 to keep the Colts’ drive alive following the 2-minute warning, then spinning away from safety Dexter McCoil for a 63-yard TD pass that gave Indy its first win of the season.
“I caught one (like that) earlier in the game, I caught it and just kind of started going down and I said, ‘I’m not going to go down anymore. If they’re going to tackle me, it’s going to take two or three of them,'” Hilton said after the 26-22 victory over San Diego . “Once I caught it, I saw a safety and he didn’t I think saw him so he tried to hit me and I just spun off and did the rest.”
Right on cue.
On Wednesday, Hilton referred to his four-catch, 41-yard game at Denver as “unacceptable.” And at the same time he was promising his injured friend, Donte Moncrief, that he “had his back,” Hilton was still trying to shake off the frustration of catching 10 passes for 120 yards in Indy’s two losses.
At the same time, his body was sore, too.
So coach Chuck Pagano gave Hilton an extra day off Friday and it appeared to work.
Hilton was his old self against the Chargers (1-2), catching balls, turning short throws into long plays and zig-zagging around the field to make defenders miss.
He finished with eight catches, 174 yards and the winning TD. It was his highest catch total since a 10-reception game against Cleveland on Dec. 7, 2014, and his highest yardage total since a 223-yard day against Houston on Oct. 9, 2014.
“It wasn’t frustrating, I just wasn’t giving my team a chance to win,” Hilton said when asked about his slow start to this season. “They look for me to make big plays and I wasn’t doing that the first two games and I told them, ‘I’m going to be the difference-maker today.’ I said earlier in the week, ‘I want to put it on me, put the game on me’ and that’s what I did today.”
On a day Andrew Luck went 24 of 37 with 331 yards and one interception, he looked Hilton’s way on almost a third of his pass attempts.
Hilton wound up catching all but three of the throws, including the one that prevented Indy (1-2) from starting 0-3 for the first time in five years.
“It isn’t doomsday, you know, but it is,” coach Chuck Pagano said, explaining how important Sunday’s victory was.
Luck, who missed practiced Wednesday and was limited Thursday because of a sore throwing shoulder, struggled at times and for the second straight week watched a defensive player scoop up one of his fumbles and return it for a score.
So with Luck a little off on his accuracy, including the fourth-down throw, it was Hilton who delivered the two most important plays in Indy’s young season.
“If anyone’s going to keep good on his promise, it’s going to be T.Y,” left tackle Anthony Castonozo said. “I’m just baffled on how fast he is. On that last one, obviously I saw it, the ball was out and I could see where he was at. Just seeing him run away from guys, stop and starting, it’s real impressive stuff.”
Bears 17, Cowboys 31
ARLINGTON, Texas (AP) — Maybe the Cowboys will be OK without quarterback Tony Romo this time. The future of the Dallas running game with Ezekiel Elliott looks pretty good, too.
Dak Prescott led scoring drives on all four Dallas possessions in the first half before throwing his first career touchdown pass in fellow rookie Elliott’s first 100-yard game, and the Cowboys beat the Chicago Bears 31-17 on Sunday night to snap an eight-game home losing streak.
With his second straight win, Prescott doubled the number of victories the Cowboys (2-1) had in 14 games without the injured Romo over three seasons before the fourth-round pick showed up.
Prescott’s first TD pass was a 17-yarder to Dez Bryant for a 31-10 lead in the fourth quarter, and he’s up to 99 throws without an interception to start his career. Philadelphia’s Carson Wentz has 102, and those are the two highest career-opening totals for a rookie in NFL history.
“Dak’s handled every opportunity he’s had right from the start really, really well,” coach Jason Garrett said. “No different tonight.”
Brian Hoyer had trouble moving the Chicago offense early with Jay Cutler sidelined by a sprained right thumb as the Bears fell behind 24-3 at halftime and dropped to 0-3 for the second time in two seasons under coach John Fox.
Making his 27th career start for his fourth different team, Hoyer was 30 of 49 for 317 yards — a good portion of that with the game out of each late in the fourth quarter — and threw for two scores to Zach Miller.
“We haven’t played a complete game,” Fox said. “This week was the reverse of what we’ve had. We played very poorly in the first half.”
Elliott finished with 140 yards on 30 carries, including a 14-yard run when he hurdled safety Chris Prosinski. The Cowboys kept giving him the ball while trying to work the clock with a two-touchdown lead in the fourth quarter a week after he was benched because of two fumbles in a win over Washington.
“Made a lot of good runs tonight, a lot tough runs, a lot of NFL runs,” Garrett said. “He’s physically tough. He’s mentally tough.”
It didn’t even bother Prescott that Pro Bowl left tackle Tyron Smith missed just the second game of his six-year career after his back tightened up during the week.
Prescott was 19 of 24 for 248 yards in Dallas’ first home win since last year’s opener, which was a week before the first of two broken left collarbones that kept Romo out of 12 games last season.
Romo is expected to miss about another month after breaking a bone in his back in the preseason.
Prescott had one of three rushing touchdowns for the Cowboys, who have seven this season after getting eight all of last year, when they finished 4-12.
Because the Bears fell behind again, they couldn’t do much with the running game. They had just 15 carries for 73 yards and lost leading rusher Jeremy Langford to an ankle injury in the second half.
Owner Jerry Jones said Bryant likely has a sprained right knee after his leg bent awkwardly when the 2014 All-Pro he was tackled on his first catch early in the game. An MRI was planned this week. Bryant wasn’t in the locker room when it was open to reporters after the game.
It was Chicago’s first game without linebackers Danny Trevathan (sprain thumb) and Lamarr Houston (season-ending left ACL year). And the Bears struggled to slow the Cowboys, getting outgained 274-114 in the first half. Dallas had a 19-4 edge in first downs before halftime and finished with 447 yards, including 199 on the ground.
The Cowboys were on their way to a score on a fifth straight possession when Terrance Williams fumbled at the end of a 47-yard catch on the opening drive of the second half. The Bears turned that into the first of Hoyer’s two TDs to Miller, a 2-yarder on fourth down to cut it to 24-10.
Prescott on finally getting his first touchdown pass: “I had a couple of close moments there earlier in the game. And then to get Dez in there, it took a lot of attempts, but it happened.”
Hoyer: “One thing I will say is it’s the resilience of the room to come back out down 24-3 at halftime and just keep battling. You’ve just got to take that and build on it, and figure out how to move the ball a little better.”
Chicago S Harold Jones-Quartey left with a concussion in the first half and didn’t return. … The Cowboys lost another lineman when LG La’el Collins missed the second half with a sprained foot. Ron Leary, the starter who lost his job to Collins this season, was his replacement.
Falcons 45, Saints 32
NEW ORLEANS (AP) — Devonta Freeman practically wore out the Superdome turf with one long gain after another, Tevin Coleman wouldn’t be denied near the goal line and the New Orleans Saints hardly looked like the team that made an emotional homecoming nearly 10 years ago to the day.
Cheers turned to boos, and many fans filed out early.
Coleman rushed for three touchdowns, Matt Ryan passed for two TDs and Deion Jones returned an interception 90 yards for a score to help the Atlanta Falcons beat the winless New Orleans Saints 45-32 on Monday night.
“It was real fun. Everybody was doing their job and everybody was playing for each other,” Coleman said. “Everything clicked, and we got it done. It’s a real big win for us to beat this team here.”
The game coincided with New Orleans’ celebration of the 10-year anniversary of the Saints’ memorable return to the Superdome on Sept. 25, 2006, 13 months after Hurricane Katrina. But there would be no reprise of New Orleans’ dominant and emotional 23-3 triumph over Atlanta a decade ago.
The Saints’ depleted defense struggled to slow Freeman, who rushed for 152 yards and caught five passes for 55 yards. Coleman also was effective in the passing game out of the backfield, with three receptions for 47 yards to go with his 42 yards rushing.
“We have to stop the run better,” Saints coach Sean Payton said. “They were over 200 yards in situations where you knew the run was coming, even at the end of the game.”
Ryan finished with 240 yards passing for Atlanta (2-1), which did not turn the ball over and moved into sole possession of first place in the NFC South.
Drew Brees put up his usual big numbers — 376 yards and three TDs passing — and hit tight end Coby Fleener seven times for 109 yards and a TD. But Brees’ tipped pass that resulted in Jones’ TD return early in the fourth quarter gave the Falcons a 45-25 lead that proved too much for New Orleans to overcome.
The loss dropped the Saints (0-3) to last place — a far cry from their 3-0 start in 2006.
Jones had “NOLA” written on his cleats as a nod to his hometown of New Orleans. The rookie was only 11 when the dome re-opened after Katrina. He wound up with a pivotal scoring play in his first pro game there.
“It was a great moment for Deion Jones, right here back at home,” Falcons coach Dan Quinn said. “That was very personal to him.”
SPECIAL TEAMS BLUNDER
A cruel irony for the Saints was the way they lost the early momentum on — of all plays — a Falcons punt. A decade earlier, the Saints seized the early momentum on Steve Gleason’s punt block that was recovered for a touchdown.
On Monday night, New Orleans had raced to a 7-0 lead and forced a punt on a sack, only to turn the ball over when punt returner Tommylee Lewis was run into by teammate De’Vante Harris. After the collision knocked Lewis to the ground, the ball came down right near him. As it bounced up, Harris tried to grab it, but it bounced away from him. It was recovered by Atlanta on the 11, setting up Coleman’s first TD.
“It’s a terrible play,” Payton said, citing Harris specifically. “There’s two mistakes — runs into the returner and then tries to pick the ball up. It’s bad.”
Atlanta star Julio Jones played despite missing a couple practices during the week because of a sore calf. He did not make his first catch until the second half, on the sixth pass of the game intended for him. That play went for 16 yards and was his only catch.
The Falcons gouged New Orleans’ porous defense for 217 yards on the ground, highlighted by runs of 48, 36 and 26 yards by Freeman. That took a lot of pressure off Ryan, who praised his offensive line.
“Our offensive line was outstanding across the board,” Ryan said. “Anytime you get over 200 rushing yards, your offensive line has played well. Those guys did great.”
Falcons: Receiver Mohammed Sanu left with a shoulder injury and did not return.
Saints: Guard Senio Kelemete left with a right leg injury.