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Here is a recap of Week 2 of the 2017 NFL Season with a Tuesday Morning QB & thanks again to AP Sports/ Pro 32 for photos & articles.
Texans 13, Bengals 9
CINCINNATI (AP) — A black tux and bowtie. Deshaun Watson decided to dress in style for his first NFL start, one that came in prime time on his 22nd birthday.
The clothes and the moment were a perfect fit for the national champ.
Watson scrambled 49 yards for the game’s only touchdown Thursday night, leading the injury-depleted Houston Texans to a 13-9 victory over the Cincinnati Bengals. He avoided the big mistake, made the game-turning play, and led Houston (1-1) to a clinching field goal in the closing minutes.
“It was insane,” defensive end Christian Covington said of the rookie’s touchdown run . “That’s why he is who he is. The whole sideline went crazy. That was a game-sealing touchdown right there.”
It came in the first half, but given the way the Bengals are playing on offense, it was indeed the decisive play. Cincinnati (0-2) opened the season with a pair of home games, but has yet to score a touchdown in 25 possessions.
The last team that opened with two home games and failed to reach the end zone was the 1939 Eagles, according to the Elias Sports Bureau. No team has scored so few points in a pair of season-opening home games since the 1949 Packers.
“I am shocked,” coach Marvin Lewis said. “Yes, I am. We should be better.”
Few young quarterbacks have gotten better results than Watson, who was working with an offense missing three tight ends to concussions, plus a receiver and a guard. He ran five times for a team-high 67 yards and completed 15 of 24 passes for 125 yards with no interceptions and three sacks.
Watson won a national championship at Clemson with his dual-threat ability. The first-round pick used every bit of it in a conservative plan aimed at making the most of what the Texans had left on offense.
“I don’t really get nervous when I step on the field,” Watson said. “Football is football. This is what I’ve been dreaming of my whole life.”
Some takeaways from the Texans’ win:
WATSON’S PLAUDITS: Watson is the first rookie quarterback to win his first start on the road in a prime-time game since the Eagles’ Joe Webb in 2010, according to Elias. He’s the first quarterback in the last two seasons to lead his team in both passing and rushing and get a win.
“That’s one of the things you’ve seen throughout his career at Clemson, and what we’ve seen in the preseason here,” coach Bill O’Brien said. “He just has that ability and that knack.”
WATT BACK IN FORM: J.J. Watt raised more than $30 million for those affected when Hurricane Harvey hit Texas. He was emotional in the Texans’ home opener Sunday and managed only one tackle and one quarterback hit. He was back in form Thursday with six tackles, one pass deflection and one hit on Dalton. He also leveled center Russell Bodine on the game’s final play after he got a lateral.
“Zig-zag, zig-zag, zig-zag, tired, tired, tired,” Watt said, describing the multi-lateral play. “Thank you for throwing it to the guy closest to me — body slam.”
MORE TEXANS INJURIES
Houston starting cornerbacks Johnathan Joseph (right shoulder) and Kevin Johnson (left knee) were hurt in the second half and didn’t return, adding to the Texans’ mounting injury woes. Linebacker Brian Cushing is serving a 10-game suspension for violating the NFL’s policy on performance-enhancing substances.
DALTON’S STRUGGLES: Andy Dalton threw four interceptions , lost a fumble and finished with a passer rating of 28.4 in a 20-0 loss to the Ravens on Sunday, the first time the Bengals were blanked in a home opener. He was under heavy pressure again Thursday while going 20 of 35 for 224 yards with three sacks and a passer rating of 76.4. He has struggled against the Texans, his hometown team — he grew up in suburban Katy. Dalton is 1-6 career against Houston, including a pair of first-round playoff losses. He’s thrown three touchdowns and seven interceptions.
CHANGES NEEDED: Receiver A.J. Green insisted that the Bengals need to do a better job getting the ball to their playmakers in the crucial moments. The offense slipped last season with Ken Zampese in his first season as coordinator, with injuries gutting the unit at midseason. They’ve been fully healthy during the horrid 0-2 start.
Asked if changes are ahead, Lewis said, “We’re not going to talk about that right now.”
Eagles 20, Chiefs 27
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — The Kansas City Chiefs followed their offensive-minded upset of the New England Patriots by leaning on their stout, opportunistic defense to upend the Philadelphia Eagles.
Two wins. Two vastly different ways to achieve them.
“No two games area alike in this league,” said Alex Smith, who threw for 251 yards and a touchdown in their 27-20 victory on Sunday. “You have to find ways to make adjustments.”
Six sacks and two interceptions is a good place to start.
The Chiefs (2-0) simply outscored the Patriots in their season opener last week, but they needed three sacks and a pick from defensive tackle Chris Jones , solid play in a secondary missing star safety Eric Berry, and some big plays down the stretch to keep the Eagles (1-1) at bay.
Travis Kelce had eight catches for 103 yards and a somersaulting go-ahead touchdown grab with 6:25 left in the game. Rookie Kareem Hunt followed his record-setting debut by running for 81 yards and two scores, the second of them giving Kansas City a 27-13 lead and seemingly putting the game away.
But Carson Wentz hit Nelson Agholor for an answering score with 14 seconds left, and Trey Burton jumped on the onside kick a few seconds later to give the Eagles one last throw to the end zone.
The Chiefs’ defense stood tall once more: Wentz unloaded from just inside the 50-yard line, but his pass bounced off the hands of a couple defendersand fell incomplete as time expired.
“The takeaway is you’re right there, a team that lit the scoreboard up in Week 1 in New England,'” Eagles coach Doug Pederson said. “But we got to get the run game fixed. It’s a team effort. However the game plays out, we try to find a way to win at the end and mistakes obviously cost us today.”
Wentz finished with 333 yards and two touchdowns passing, despite facing relentless pressure all afternoon. The spunky quarterback also led the Eagles with 55 yards rushing.
“He’s going to be one of the great ones in the league,” Chiefs linebacker Justin Houston said. “He’s very mobile, very calm in the pocket. It’s tough to rush a guy like that that’s real mobile in the pocket, that can spin moves and get out, get out of trouble.”
The Chiefs led 6-3 at halftime, and it was still 13-13 in the fourth quarter when Wentz threw a pass that bounced off Houston and into the arms of Chris Jones. The pick gave Kansas City the ball deep in Eagles territory, and Kelce hurdled into the end zone five plays later.
It was sweet atonement for the talented but troublemaking tight end, who earlier in the half got an earful from coach Andy Reid when he picked up a 15-yard penalty for taunting.
“You can’t do that. Got to be smarter,” Reid said when faced with three questions about Kelce’s antics. “He’s got to learn. He did come back with a good play.”
INTIMATE KNOWLEDGE: Both offenses struggled much of the game, and for good reason. Pederson was Reid’s offensive coordinator in Kansas City for several years, and the two coaches run similar versions of the West Coast offense. That means they both knew what to expect. “We got a feel for what they were doing and our front seven got after them,” Chiefs safety Daniel Sorensen said.
JONES-ING: Jones had his big game despite leaving briefly in the second half and getting his eye checked. “The crown on my helmet hit me in my eye,” the Chiefs’ gregarious defensive tackle said. “I was sweating in it and it fell down and hit me in my eye, gave me a little stinger.”
GETTING COMFY: After struggling last week against Washington, Alshon Jeffery appeared to get on the same page with Wentz at Arrowhead Stadium. He finished with seven catches for 92 yards and a score.
SACK ATTACK: Philadelphia had four sacks for the second straight game. Fletcher Cox had one to give him 30 1/2 for his career, the fourth most by an Eagles interior defensive lineman.
ERTZ-WHILE: Eagles tight end Zach Ertz had five catches for 97 yards, including a 53-yard catch late in the first half that ricocheted off the Chiefs’ Terrance Mitchell. That play appeared to have set up a chip-shot field goal, but Jake Elliott’s attempt missed as the half expired .
CLIPPED WINGS: The Eagles’ ailing secondary lost two more players when starting safety Rodney McLeod and backup cornerback Jaylen Watkins left with hamstring injuries in the first half. Philadelphia was already without starting cornerback Ronald Darby because of a dislocated ankle.
MORE INJURIES: Chiefs center Mitch Morse left late in the game with a sprained foot. “Center in this offense makes a ton of calls,” Smith said. “It’s a big adjustment when he goes out.”
NAMING RIGHTS: The Chiefs renamed the TV booths at Arrowhead Stadium in honor of Len Dawson, their Hall of Fame quarterback and broadcaster. He is retiring from doing radio analysis after the season.
Eagles: home opener vs. Giants.
Chiefs: at Los Angeles Chargers.
Vikings 9, Steelers 26
PITTSBURGH (AP) — Ben Roethlisberger took a knee in prayer then sprinted to midfield holding the flag honoring the man who helped guide the Pittsburgh Steelers from irrelevance into a dynasty. Five months after longtime president and chairman Dan Rooney’s death, the Steelers won a game like so many during his tenure.
Their 26-9 victory over short-handed Minnesota during an emotionally draining home opener on Sunday was an awful lot like Rooney himself. Workmanlike. Pragmatic. Decidedly unflashy. Relentlessly effective.
Afterward the players presented the game ball to current team president Art Rooney II, Dan’s son, who promised it would find its way to his mother Patricia.
“It was special,” Roethlisberger said.
Even if the current on-field product in Pittsburgh remains very much a work in progress. Wearing a patch featuring a black shamrock with the initials “DMR” on their jerseys, the Steelers (2-0) used a pair of first-half touchdown passes by Roethlisberger to take control, and its rapidly improving defense kept Vikings backup quarterback Case Keenum in check to improve to 10-1 in home openers under head coach Mike Tomlin.
The Steelers managed only 335 yards and converted only 3 of 13 third downs, hardly the kind of firepower expected out of its star-laden offense. Pittsburgh is unbeaten anyway. The style will come. For now, the substance of their play is fine.
“We’re just winning football games,” Roethlisberger said. “We’re 2-0, we did what we had to do, we won the football game.”
Roethlisberger finished 24 of 35 for 243 yards and the two scores, a 27-yard strike to Martavis Bryant in the first quarter and a 4-yard flip to JuJu Smith-Schuster in the second. Bryant caught three passes for 90 yards and drew a 51-yard pass interference penalty that set up Smith-Schuster’s first NFL touchdown that put the Steelers up 14-0. Bryant feigned rolling diceduring his end zone celebration, his first touchdown since returning from a year-long drug suspension.
“I came a long way,” Bryant said. “My whole year I put a lot of work in. I’m just focused on getting better as a team and just going out and playing hard on Sunday.”
Minnesota (1-1) played without quarterback Sam Bradford, who sat out with a left-knee injury. Case Keenum struggled to get anything going in Bradford’s absence, throwing for just 167 yards on 20 of 35 passing. Vikings rookie Dalvin Cook ran for 64 yards, but Minnesota failed to generate any sustained momentum.
Some of the Steelers didn’t even realize it was Keenum behind center until the game was underway. It didn’t occur to linebacker Bud Dupree until he found himself chasing after Keenum on Minnesota’s second possession.
The offense that hummed at home with Bradford at the controls operated in only fits and starts, thanks in large part to 11 penalties for 131 yards.
“I thought we showed some good things but obviously didn’t get off to a great start and kind of shot ourselves in foot quite a few times,” Keenum said. “When other things aren’t clicking, It’s unfortunate.”
Bradford was spectacular against the Saints but was slowed all week with an achy left knee. Enter Keenum, who went 9-15 as a starter with Houston and the Rams before signing on with Minnesota. The Vikings offensive line had trouble giving Keenum time in the pocket, and the results were often checkdowns that went nowhere.
Minnesota’s only touchdown came on a 1-yard plunge by fullback C.J. Ham that drew the Vikings within 17-9 early in the third quarter. Kai Forbath missed the extra point and Pittsburgh responded with a 10-play, 74-yard drive that ended with the second of Chris Boswell’s four field goals with 4:59 left in the third. The Vikings never threatened again.
Steelers running back Le’Veon Bell finished with 89 total yards on 30 touches (27 rushes, three receptions) in his second game since ending a summer-long sabbatical due to a contract dispute. Bell’s longest play was an 11-yard run, though Minnesota’s front seven did an excellent job of clogging rush lanes and making sure Bell didn’t get loose in the passing game.
“I’m due for an explosion play,” Bell said. “It hasn’t happened yet. I think I had almost three today but those guys, they made a couple tackles on a screen or a run where I almost broke out.”
Before kickoff, Steeler Hall of Famers Mel Blount and Rocky Bleier raised a flag honoring Rooney over the south end zone at Heinz Field. The Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra played the national anthem while the capacity crowd, including NFL commissioner Roger Goodell, held a moment of silence as the Steelers began their first season in more than 50 years without Dan Rooney as part of the day-to-day operations.
Steelers: Rookie linebacker T.J. Watt left in the second quarter with a groin injury and did not return. Watt called the injury “minor.” Left tackle Alejandro Villanueva exited in the third quarter with “heat-related issues” but returned in the fourth. Right tackle Marcus Gilbert sat out most of the fourth quarter with cramps.
Vikings: Host Tampa Bay next Sunday.
Steelers: Travel to Chicago to face the winless Bears.
Cardinals 16, Colts 13 OT
INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Carson Palmer managed to get the Arizona Cardinals into overtime Sunday. Tyrann Mathieu and Phil Dawson made sure they got out of Indianapolis pretty darn quick.
“The defense saved me,” Dawson said. “Missed one with the game on the line and the game could have turned out another way.”
The improbable rally was no small feat on a day full of comebacks.
Palmer seemed to be out of sync with his receivers most of the day, but made just enough plays in the final eight minutes of regulation to give the Cardinals a chance. He was 16 of 39 with 332 yards, one touchdown and one interception.
“The quarterback has to play better. It’s that simple,” coach Bruce Arians said. “And we have to block better.”
Palmer did not respond to the critique.
Arizona’s defense allowed scoring drives of 14, eight and 16 plays, but kept Brissett and the Colts out of the end zone for the final 52 minutes before Mathieu came up with the play of the game by undercutting Colts receiver Kamar Aiken.
The usually reliable Dawson then took advantage of a rare second chance after pushing a 42-yard field goal wide right as time expired in regulation.
Yes, everyone played a role as the Cardinals (1-1) avoided their first 0-2 start since 2005.
“We were making plays to win the game instead of to not lose a game,” Arians said after tying the late Don Coryell for No. 2 on the franchise’s career wins list with 42.
Indy simply blew it.
The Colts never trailed until the final play despite struggling in the red zone and being unable to close it out on offense or defense.
Now coach Chuck Pagano must dig his way out of a fourth consecutive 0-2 start, perhaps the most frustrating yet because of how it slipped away.
“In games like this, you’ve got to put teams away,” he said. “There are no moral victories. We are 0-2 and it is what it is.”
For 3 ½ quarters, it looked as if Pagano made all the right moves.
He went with Brissett over Scott Tolzien, and Brissett led the Colts to 10 points on their first two possessions.
All Indy could muster after that was a chip shot field goal from Adam Vinatieri with 11:42 left in regulation for a 13-3 lead. Brissett was 20 of 37 for 216 yards in his third career start — his first with the Colts, who acquired him in a Sept. 2 trade.
Then, Palmer started playing vintage football.
He hooked up with Jaron Brown on a 22-yard completion and picked up another 15 yards on the play because of a roughing the passer call. On the next play, J.J. Nelson split two defenders and Palmer fit the ball in perfectly for a 45-yard TD pass that made it 13-10.
Palmer followed that with by getting Dawson into position for the tying field goal and they expected to be the winner.
Instead, the Cardinals needed Mathieu’s interception and Dawson’s second chance.
“I’ve played long enough to know a win’s a win and we have to enjoy it,” Palmer said. “It doesn’t matter how you get it done, but we got it done.”
Vinatieri’s 29-yard field goal early in the fourth quarter broke another NFL record. He now has 177 field goals from 20 to 29 yards, one more than Morten Andersen.
Actually, his first kick of the day would have been the record breaker — if Arizona hadn’t been called for leverage on the play. Indy pulled the points off the board and capped the drive with Frank Gore’s 5-yard TD run.
Cardinals: Nelson caught five passes for 120 yards. Palmer was sacked four times. Chris Johnson had 11 carries for a team-best 44 yards.
Colts: Tight end Jack Doyle caught eight passes for 79 yards, while Indy’s wide receivers had a combined nine catches for 98 yards. Malik Hooker got his first interception in his first career start. Brissett also was sacked four times.
Cardinals: Played without left tackle D.J. Humphries, left guard Mike Iupati or running back David Johnson, who has already had wrist surgery. But Arians didn’t report new injuries form the game.
Colts: An already banged-up secondary pressed Indy into giving Hooker and cornerback Quincy Wilson, their top two draft picks, their first career starts. Pagano said the Colts came out injury-free, too.
Bears 7, Buccaneers 29
TAMPA, Fla. (AP) — So much for the notion that a Hurricane Irma-imposed layoff might hinder the Tampa Bay Buccaneers against the Chicago Bears.
Jameis Winston and Co. played like a team with heightened expectations in winning their season opener 29-7 on Sunday. They also looked confident, fully capable of ending a long playoff drought.
“Complementary football at its finest,” the third-year quarterback said. “Defense played phenomenal. Offense had great drives, eliminated the three-and-outs, and eliminated turnovers.”
Winston threw for 204 yards and one touchdown, the Bucs’ defense stymied former teammate Mike Glennon with four turnovers, and the sloppy Bears (0-2) didn’t get into the zone until Deonte Thompson scored on a 14-yard reception with 1:43 remaining.
“Basically, not a good day at the office,” Bears coach John Fox said. “I think any time you go out and have four giveaways in the first half, it’s not good news.”
The Bucs (1-0) dominated despite having a short week of practice following the massive storm that forced postponement of the team’s scheduled season opener at Miami.
The team joined the Dolphins and Jacksonville Jaguars in wearing “ONE FLORIDA” decals on their helmets Sunday. First responders who’ve worked tirelessly in the aftermath of Irma were among special guests in the announced crowd of 56,640 at Raymond James Stadium.
“We had a chip on our shoulder. … We wanted to be a pick-me-up for our fans, definitely the cities around the Tampa Bay area,” Winston said. “It was fun out there. The crowd was electric, and we tried our best.”
Winston completed 18 of 30 passes without an interception. He threw a 13-yard TD pass to Mike Evans, who had seven catches for 93 yards.
Glennon, who signed with Chicago as a free agent last winter, was 31 of 45 for 301 yards and two interceptions in his return to the city where he played for the first four years of his career . The Bears finished with 310 yards total offense, 1 yard less than a Bucs offense that hasn’t had much work in the past month.
By the time he lined up to face the Bears, Winston hadn’t taken a snap in a game in three weeks. Eight regulars, including Evans, receiver DeSean Jackson, linebacker Kwon Alexander and defensive tackle Gerald McCoy, hadn’t seen game action in a month.
The Bucs insisted, though, that they would not use rustiness as an excuse if they had a less-than-sharp debut. The way the Bears played, the layoff never had a chance to become an issue.
After opening the season with a solid performance in a 23-17 loss to defending NFC champion Atlanta , the Bears turned over the ball four times in the opening half, helping Winston build a 26-0 halftime lead.
If Chicago had an advantage entering the game, it figured to be Glennon’s knowledge of the Tampa Bay defense. The fifth-year pro faced it in practice every day the past four seasons, the last two as Winston’s backup.
And while the Bears did have some success moving the ball, the barrage of turnovers was too much to overcome.
Glennon’s first-half miscues led to two touchdowns. Rookie Tarik Cohen’s ill-advised decision to scoop a punt off the ground and run with it deep in Bears territory set up Tampa Bay’s first TD, Winston’s 13-yard pass to Evans.
Noah Spence sacked Glennon, forcing a second-quarter fumble that led to Jacquizz Rodgers’ 1-yard TD run. Robert McClain’s interception and 46-yard return up the sideline on Chicago’s next possession hiked the lead to 23-0.
“Obviously not what I had envisioned or hoped. Ultimately it shows how precious taking care of the football is,” Glennon said.
“Four turnovers in the first half, you’re not going to win many football games,” the Bears quarterback added. “Three of those fall on me, and ultimately I have to do a better job taking care of the football and giving us a chance to win.”
NOWHERE TO RUN
The Bucs limited the Bears to 20 yards rushing. While part of that could be attributed to Chicago falling behind early, it’s fair to note that Cohen and Jordan Howard didn’t have much room to run when they did get the ball. Cohen gained 13 yards on seven attempts, with 9 coming on one carry. Howard, who topped 100 yards during a lopsided loss to Tampa Bay last season, finished with 7 yards on nine attempts. As a tandem, Cohen and Howard averaged 1.3 yards per carry.
EFFECTIVE, THOUGH NOT FLASHY
Jackson was Tampa Bay’s big offseason acquisition. The speedy receiver, who had a 21-yard reception and finished with three catches for 39 yards, was signed in free agency in hopes of making the offense more explosive.
Bears: OL Tom Compton (hip) and LB Nick Kwiatkoski (pectoral) did not play in the second half.
Buccaneers: Alexander, who had Tampa Bay’s first interception, left the game in the second quarter with a hamstring injury and did not return.
Bears: Return home to face Pittsburgh.
Buccaneers: Play road opener at Minnesota, which played Sunday without QB Sam Bradford
Patriots 36, Saints 20
NEW ORLEANS (AP) — If Tom Brady and the Patriots were suffering from a Super Bowl hangover, it looks as though a trip to New Orleans pulled the defending champions out of it.
The 40-year-old Brady hasn’t often looked better in his long, illustrious career, providing an audible contingent of traveling Patriots fans ample reason to spend the rest of their Sunday celebrating in the French Quarter.
“Hopefully they’re all on Bourbon Street,” said Brady, whose name was chanted by fans as the game wound down, and again when he walked across the field to the team bus. “It was a good road game to come to.”
Bouncing back with a vengeance from a season-opening loss , Brady threw three touchdown passes in the first quarter for the first time in his career, eclipsed 300 yards passing in the first half for only the second time, and New England scored 30 first-half points en route to a 36-20 victory over the winless Saints.
“Being 0-1 with a 10-day break felt like a year,” Brady said, alluding to a Thursday night loss to Kansas City in Week 1. “All the veterans had a chance to say the things they wanted to say to their different (position) groups. … I’m glad we executed. There were a lot of tight plays and we made them.”
Saints coach Sean Payton bemoaned another poor outing by his defense, which also gave up a slew of quick strike plays to Minnesota in Week 1 .
“We’ve got the right type of locker room, but we’re going to have to respond quickly,” Payton said. “We’ll find out a little bit about what we’re made of.”
Brady’s maiden Super Bowl triumph in the Superdome back in February 2002 is bound to be one of his fondest memories, but the 18-year veteran looked like a superior QB in his latest visit. He finished 30 of 39 for 447 yards. He committed no turnovers — at least not any that counted. Saints defenders twice caught Brady’s passes, but both plays were wiped out by New Orleans penalties. Brady joined Warren Moon as the only QBs 40 or older in NFL history to pass for at least 400 yards and 3 TDs in a game, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.
Rob Gronkowski had a 53-yard catch and run to highlight his six-catch, 116-yard performance , but left the game in the second half with a groin injury .
In Brady and the Saints’ Drew Brees, the game featured the NFL’s top two active quarterbacks in terms of career yards and touchdowns. Their 922 TD passes and 128,251 yards passing combined coming in represented the most in NFL history by starting QBs the same game.
But in this matchup, Brees couldn’t keep up.
He was 27 of 45 for 356 yards and two TDs. The Saints’ desperation to stay close was encapsulated by a failed attempt to convert a fourth down — despite being in field goal range on the Patriots 25-yard line — with 2:27 left in the first half and New England up by 13.
Brady responded by quickly marching the Patriots to the Saints 10 to set up Stephen Gostkowski’s field goal, making it 30-13 at halftime.
When asked to explain what’s wrong with New Orleans, it seemed Brees wasn’t sure where to begin.
“Unfortunately, it’s just been a little bit everything right now,” he said.
The Patriots’ first three drives ended with a 19-yard TD pass to Rex Burkhead, Gronkowski’s long TD and a 13-yard scoring pass to Chris Hogan.
New Orleans briefly rallied with Brees’ 5-yard TD pass to Brandon Coleman and Wil Lutz’s field goal on consecutive drives, pulling as close as 20-13. But New England responded with Mike Gillislee’s short scoring run on a drive highlighted by downfield passes to Gronkowski, Hogan and former Saint Brandin Cooks.
“Our team responded well to this week of practice,” Patriots coach Bill Belichick said. “We made some plays early in the game. We were able to play from ahead, and that was a good thing. A lot of different people contributed.”
SEPTEMBERS TO FORGET
The Saints are now 1-11 in September since 2014, having begun 0-2 in four straight campaigns. The Saints have finished 7-9 the past three seasons.
“It puts you in a little bit of a hole, but we can’t cry over spilled milk here,” Brees said. “We’ve got to find a way to get a win.”
Bills 3, Panthers 9
CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — Julius Peppers has played 17 seasons in the NFL for pretty good defensive teams.
But he said none compares to this year’s Carolina Panthers.
“This is the best one I have ever played on,” Peppers said emphatically Sunday.
Carolina’s defense allowed only three points for the second straight week, and Graham Gano converted three field goals as the Panthers held on to defeat the Buffalo Bills 9-3 to remain unbeaten.
The Panthers (2-0) held Tyrod Taylor and LeSean McCoy in check all day, limiting the Bills (1-1) to 176 yards and 10 first downs. McCoy had 9 yards on 12 carries and Taylor had 125 yards passing. The Panthers had three sacks, two by Peppers in his first home game since re-signing with them.
“I have all of the confidence and trust and belief in these guys,” said Peppers, who has 146 career sacks . “We all play for one another. I feel like the sky is the limit.”
Panthers coach Ron Rivera said Peppers was simply awesome and is turning out to be a great fit in Carolina with three sacks in two games.
“He has found a niche with the way we rotate these guys to keep them fresh,” Rivera said.
With Carolina’s offense struggling to move the ball and tight end Greg Olsen out with a broken right foot , the Panthers didn’t put the game away until 9 seconds remained when Taylor’s fourth-and-11 pass sailed off diving rookie Zay Jones’ fingertips .
“It was a great call by our coaching staff and a good throw by Tyrod,” Jones said. “I just didn’t make the play to help my team win this game.”
The Panthers beat San Francisco 23-3 in Week 1.
“We’ll take three points a week — that’s a good showing for us,” Peppers said.
Cam Newton was 20 of 32 for 228 yards and ran for 27 yards but was sacked six times by Sean McDermott’s defense and overthrew an open Christian McCaffrey at the goal line with less than three minutes remaining that could have sealed the victory. McDermott was Panthers defensive coordinator for the previous six seasons before taking over as head coach of the Bills earlier this year.
“We knew the skill set of Cam Newton coming in,” McDermott said. “Our staff did a phenomenal job (with a game plan), and I just helped. We pressured him and confused him a little.”
Newton, who twisted his ankle in the third quarter but stayed in the game, said he can’t afford to “miss layups.”
It was the second straight week he overthrew an open receiver in the end zone.
“I’m disappointed in myself but happy for the overall team just to see how we battled to win a football game,” Newton said. “It wasn’t pretty at all. But anytime you can get a win in this league, you take it and run with it. But I know I have to be better.”
Said coach Ron Rivera: “It is tough to win in this league when all you do is kick field goals. But you have to give the Bills credit because they played hard.”
REPLACING OLSEN: The Panthers’ offense now will have to find a way to fill in for Olsen, who is coming off three straight 1,000-yard seasons. Olsen injured his foot in the first half. He will see Dr. Robert Anderson on Monday, but said he expects to be out a while.
McCOY A NON-FACTOR: McCoy has reached the 3,000 yards receiving mark for his career. He is the fourth active running back to achieve the feat, joining Darren Sproles, Matt Forte and Frank Gore.
McCoy had 34 yards receiving on six catches but couldn’t break loose for any big gains.
“I’ll give them credit, their team, their defense,” McCoy said. “We just didn’t get it done. I didn’t get it done.”
GETTING HIS KICKS: Gano was locked in a kicking battle in the preseason, but is 6 for 6 on field goal attempts so far this season.
“I’m feeling pretty good,” Gano said. “Just trying to chop away.”
TAYLOR MOVES UP: With his 9-yard completion on the opening drive, Taylor moved into seventh place on the team’s all-time passing yards list, passing Dennis Shaw (6,286). Taylor now has 6,291 passing yards.
Bills OT Cordy Glenn injured his ankle and did not return. Bills DT Marcell Dareus left the game briefly with an ankle injury but did return.
Olsen left in the second quarter. Panthers WR Kelvin Benjamin left after taking a brutal hit to his left shoulder in the end zone from Bills FS Jordan Poyer, but did return. Two-time All-Pro center Ryan Kalil developed a kink in his neck before the game and didn’t play. He was replaced by Tyler Larsen.
Browns 10, Ravens 24
BALTIMORE (AP) — The Ravens are making a habit of converting turnovers into victories.
Baltimore relentlessly harassed two Cleveland quarterbacks, Joe Flacco ramped up his production with a pair of touchdown passes and the Ravens breezed past the Browns 24-10 on Sunday.
Building on their season-opening shutout at Cincinnati, the Ravens picked off four passes and forced a fumble — giving them 10 takeaways in two games.
The victory carried a stiff price: Six-time Pro Bowl guard Marshal Yanda fractured his left ankle and will be lost for the season.
“Unfortunately, it’s bad news,” coach John Harbaugh said. “We’ll have to bounce back from it, and we’ll have to handle it.”
Most of the defense’s damage came against Browns rookie quarterback DeShone Kizer, who left with a migraine headache in the second quarter after four ineffective series: a three-and-out, a lost fumble, an interception and a punt.
The former Notre Dame starter was replaced by second-year pro Kevin Hogan, who would become the third quarterback in two games to be intercepted by the Baltimore defense.
Kizer said the headaches are hereditary, and that he hasn’t had one crop up in a game since high school. He received medication, underwent concussion protocol, and finally received clearance to return in the third quarter with Baltimore up 21-10.
On his second series back, Kizer moved the Browns to the Baltimore 7 before being picked off in the end zone by Lardarius Webb.
Brandon Carr’s interception with 6:09 remaining all but sealed the victory.
Coming off a solid performance in his debut against Pittsburgh, Kizer went 15 for 31 for 182 yards with three interceptions and a lost fumble.
Hogan completed five of 11 passes for 118 yards with a touchdown and an interception.
“The turnovers will always stick out because it stops you from scoring points or leads to points for the other team,” coach Hue Jackson said.
Both were outdone by Flacco, playing his second game since returning from a sore back that kept him sidelined the entire preseason. After going 9 for 17 in a keep-it-simple outing against the Bengals, Flacco went 25 for 34 for 217 yards in the encore.
“Get a lead and get pressure on the (other) quarterback is a good winning recipe,” Flacco said. “Putting guys in that situation the last two weeks has been big for us.”
As he matures, Kizer ultimately will come to understand the problem of holding the ball too long in the pocket — a mistake that put the Browns in an early hole.
On Cleveland’s second series, Kizer was looking for a receiver when sacked by Terrell Suggs. The rookie fumbled, Baltimore recovered, and minutes later Terrance West scored on a 4-yard run.
Kizer’s next turnover wasn’t entirely his fault: With the Browns at the Baltimore 26, his pass glanced off the hands of running back Duke Johnson into the arms of safely Eric Weddle.
Baltimore went up 14-0 in the second quarter when Flacco completed two straight passes totaling 43 yards to tight end Benjamin Watson before Javorius Allen caught a 9-yard TD throw.
Hogan entered and promptly took the Browns on an 83-yard drive that ended with his first career touchdown pass, to David Njoku.
But Flacco countered with a 2-yard TD pass to Jeremy Maclin on the final play of the half, and that was enough to hand Cleveland its 14th consecutive road defeat.
NEXT MAN UP
The Ravens will be looking at another shuffle of an already thin offensive line with Yanda out.
“It’s a big loss for us,” center Ryan Jensen said, “but you got to keep pushing and keep going. You can’t dwell on that situation.”
Browns left tackle Joe Thomas passed the 10,000-mark with his remarkable streak of consecutive snaps played.
Thomas hasn’t missed a snap since breaking into the league in 2007. He reached 10,000 in a row on the first play of Cleveland’s second series, and began work on his next 10,000 snaps immediately thereafter.
Houston Texans defensive star J.J. Watt said on his Twitter account: “10,000 consecutive snaps. That’s unbelievable. Hats off to you good sir.”
Browns: WR Corey Coleman’s afternoon ended after he hurt his hand on a fourth-quarter play. The Browns later tweeted that LB Jamie Collins sustained a concussion.
Ravens: Rookie backup LB Bam Bradley tore his ACL and is lost for the season. … DT Brandon Williams hurt his foot in the third quarter and did not return. … Maclin missed time in the first quarter with a right shoulder stinger.
Browns: Cleveland has another road game, this one against the Indianapolis Colts, who have won seven of the past eight games in the series.
Ravens: Baltimore heads abroad for its first game in London, a matchup against the Jacksonville Jaguars. The Ravens lost the first eight games in the series and have since won nine of 12.
Titans 37, Jaguars 16
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (AP) — Tennessee and Jacksonville each played much more like all those preseason predictions Sunday.
Derrick Henry, Delanie Walker and Jalston Fowler each ran for touchdowns, and the Titans pounded the Jaguars in the second half for a 37-16 victory.
Reality check? The result was quite possibly more indicative of what to expect from the AFC South rivals than what they showed in their season openers.
“Those guys wanted to come out the second half and make a statement, and I think they did,” Titans coach Mike Mularkey said.
Henry finished with a career-high 92 yards on the ground for the Titans (1-1), including 87 in the final two quarters. His 17-yard touchdown run , which seemingly broke Jacksonville’s defense in the third, came on a play the Titans installed Saturday night.
“It was awesome to start running the ball the way we did in the second half, to start popping the holes open and get the runs breaking out,” right tackle Jack Conklin said.
“It was huge for us. It’s picking up where we left off last year. That’s the way we want to play. It’s smash-mouth football. We love when (the coaches) want to run, run, run the ball. That’s what we’re all about.”
Starting running back DeMarco Murray spent much of the second half standing on the sideline and wearing a baseball cap backward, nursing a tight hamstring. There was no need to risk him in this one, the third consecutive lopsided score in the series.
Marcus Mariota, returning to the place where he broke his right leg last December, completed 15 of 27 passes for 215 yards. He had a 32-yard touchdown pass to Jonnu Smith in the final quarter.
“Last year, I was leaving here on crutches,” Mariota said. “To be able to walk out of here with the guys, huge divisional win, I’m going to enjoy it.”
Tennessee’s performance surely eased some concerns about a 10-point home loss to Oakland in the opener. The Titans ran 21 times for 95 yards against the Raiders, hardly the ground attack Mularkey craves.
Tennessee finished with 179 yards on the ground against Jacksonville, including 121 in the final 30 minutes.
“We tried it in the first half and it didn’t go so well,” Mularkey said. “It was the patience of sticking with it.”
Jacksonville’s home opener felt eerily similar to most of the team’s performances the previous five years: Lackluster offense and countless mistakes.
Blake Bortles threw two interceptions, including one on a ball tipped at the line, and fumbled once. He completed 20 of 34 passes for 223 yards and a touchdown to Allen Hurns in garbage time.
Rookie Leonard Fournette scored for the second time in as many games , but this one came with the game out of reach. Tennessee led 30-3 before Fournette found the end zone. He finished with 40 yards on 14 carries.
The Jaguars (1-1) enjoyed a near-perfect opener at Houston, running the ball with authority, avoiding errors and playing stingy defense.
Jacksonville looked nothing like that against Tennessee. The team’s biggest issues were turnovers (three) and penalties (10).
“With the way we play, we can’t have any mistakes,” receiver Marqise Lee said. “It’s only the second game. You’ve still got 14. If you’re sitting here worried, then you’ve got a problem.”
Titans rookie receiver Corey Davis injured a hamstring. Fellow receiver Taywan Taylor injured his left ankle on punt coverage in the second quarter, but later returned.
Jaguars defensive tackle Malik Jackson left the game with a groin injury in the third quarter. Linebacker Lerentee McCray injured a knee and did not return. Defensive tackle Michael Bennett left the game with a pectoral injury.
Jaguars cornerback Jalen Ramsey got a little chippy after Walker’s 1-yard touchdown run late in the third quarter. Ramsey pushed Walker after he was in the end zone and was flagged for unnecessary roughness. Several players exchanged words as Mariota grabbed Ramsey and whispered something into this ear.
“Going to let somebody walk in our end zone celebrating and (stuff) with the ball in one hand,” Ramsey said. “I gave him a little nudge. I ain’t even really get all in to him, to be honest. I gave him a little nudge.”
The Jaguars wore “One Florida” stickers on their helmets to recognize those affected by Hurricane Irma. Defensive end Dante Fowler, who grew up in Florida, led the team onto the field while carrying the state flag.
The Titans host Seattle next Sunday. Tennessee has lost six of the past seven in the series.
The Jaguars travel to London to play Baltimore. It will be Jacksonville’s sixth consecutive season playing at Wembley Stadium, the most of any NFL team.
Jets 20, Raiders 45
OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) — Marshawn Lynch provided the early touchdown, the dance moves and the inspiration for the crowd in celebratory home opener in Oakland.
He got plenty of help in an almost flawless offensive performance for the Raiders, who also got three touchdown passes from Derek Carr to Michael Crabtree and long touchdown runs from Cordarrelle Patterson and Jalen Richard in a 45-20 victory over the New York Jets on Sunday.
The Raiders (2-0) gained 410 yards, scored on seven of 10 possessions and didn’t commit a turnover, allow a sack or a quarterback hit in a thorough beating of the struggling Jets (0-2).
“We know that we have a lot of talent, a lot of weapons,” Carr said. “But the cool part about that is that we have a group of guys that just work. That’s the culture that we’ve built here. When you have talent and work, you’re able to do things like that.”
The Raiders did just about anything they wanted against the Jets. Lynch didn’t put up prolific numbers but did run for 45 yards and the touchdown that helped break open a close game late in the first half.
Crabtree matched his career high with three touchdown catches, including two near the goal line , where with his strength he is a difficult matchup for any defense.
They even used some tricks with a flea-flicker to key their first touchdown drive, and by moving Patterson from receiver to the backfield, where he was lined up for his 43-yard touchdown run .
Richard added another speed element when he scored on a 52-yard run in the fourth quarter to add to the celebration in the stands. There isn’t as much celebrating in the locker room, even though the Raiders are off to their first 2-0 start since their AFC championship season in 2002.
“It’s still early,” left tackle Donald Penn said. “You got to sustain it. It’s not about doing it in the beginning. You got to sustain it. You’ve got to go 16 weeks with it. Hopefully we are going into 17, 18, 19 weeks with it. We’re off to a good start.”
Here are some other takeaways from the game:
DANCE PARTY: On a day with six touchdowns, the biggest highlight might have been Lynch’s dance moves on the sideline . After Crabtree’s third TD catch made it 42-13 early in the third quarter, Lynch took advantage of the stoppage in play to delight his hometown crowd with moves on the sideline.
“I don’t think I’ve ever seen him dance like that,” said Raiders linebacker Bruce Irvin, Lynch’s former teammate with the Seahawks. “He didn’t ever do that in Seattle. I guess it was because he was at home. He was having fun. That was a cool moment.”
GOOD CONNECTION: About the only thing to go well for the Jets was the connection between quarterback Josh McCown and receiver Jermaine Kearse. McCown hit Kearse on a 34-yard touchdown in the second quarter and an 11-yarder in the fourth as the two are quickly building a rapport. Kearse was acquired just before the season in a trade from Seattle.
“We did some good things out there,” Kearse said. “Offensively, we were getting on the same page and we were able to click and drive down the field. We just got to continue to build on that.”
SACK PARTY: Improving the pass rush was a priority for the Raiders after getting a league-low 25 sacks a year ago. They had just one in the opener before breaking through with four against the Jets. Safety Karl Joseph forced a fumble on one sack off a blitz and forced McCown into another earlier in the game that Mario Edwards Jr. and Denico Autry split. Edwards also had one of his own, and Defensive Player of the Year Khalil Mack got his first of the season.
WHERE’S THE D: After allowing 190 yards rushing in the opener against Buffalo, Jets coach Todd Bowles called out his defense in hopes of a better performance against the Raiders. There wasn’t much improvement as evidenced by Oakland’s 180 yards on the ground, two long touchdowns and 6.7 yards per carry.
“As a defense, our job is to stop the run,” defensive tackle Kony Ealy said. “It’s very frustrating to do that. Nobody to blame but ourselves. We’ve got to look in the mirror and stop that problem ourselves.”
Dolphins 19, Chargers 17
CARSON, Calif. (AP) — The Miami Dolphins packed their bags and boarded their buses at this converted soccer stadium with a visible excitement. After spending an uneasy week in California while a hurricane ravaged their city and postponed their opener, the Fins were finally headed home.
And they’re coming back with a gutsy victory.
Cody Parkey hit his fourth field goal from 54 yards with 1:05 to play, and the Dolphins rallied in the fourth quarter to spoil the Los Angeles Chargers’ home opener with a 19-17 victory Sunday.
“I think it’s huge for us to come out here through all the adversity that we had to go through the past couple of weeks and just put out a performance,” said Jay Ajayi, who rushed for 122 yards. “It shows how resilient our team is.”
Younghoe Koo missed a 44-yard field goal attempt with 5 seconds left after Philip Rivers maneuvered the Chargers (0-2) into scoring range in the final minute. The Chargers got a familiar result in a new city, disappointing their portion of the crowd of 25,381 in their first home game since relocating to the Los Angeles area after 56 seasons in San Diego.
With two last-minute defeats to start their relocation year, the Chargers have dropped 11 games by eight points or fewer since the start of last season — three more than any other NFL team.
“The last two weeks kind of seem hard to believe after last year,” defensive end Joey Bosa said. “I didn’t think it would be happening like this still.”
With “ONE FLORIDA” decals on their helmets and their hometown in their hearts, the Dolphins had earned the right to celebrate wildly when Koo pushed his kick barely right.
“I think adversity shows character, and here we are,” Miami defensive end Cameron Wake said. “It definitely has been a crazy past few days. Every so often, something happens that puts things in perspective. Football takes a back seat for a while, but once we weathered the storm and got out … we were just trying to get back to normal.”
Jay Cutler passed for 230 yards in his debut for the Dolphins, who made their long stay on the California coast to avoid Hurricane Irma. Kenny Stills caught a 29-yard TD pass in the third quarter from Cutler, who went 24 of 33 without an interception.
JUST FOR KICKS
The Dolphins were well-rested after their home opener against Tampa Bay was postponed. Parkey still did most of Miami’s scoring, connecting from 30, 28 and 35 yards before the big one.
“I’ve hit game-winners, and I’ve missed game-winners,” said Parkey, the Jupiter, Florida, native claimed off waivers two weeks ago. “I want to go ahead and say that Koo is a phenomenal kicker. He should just keep swinging.”
Rivers passed for 331 yards, and Antonio Gates set an NFL record with his 112th touchdown reception as a tight end, breaking his tie with Tony Gonzalez.
The veteran playmakers couldn’t prevent the Chargers from taking yet another agonizing loss. Neither could Melvin Gordon, who scored the Chargers’ first touchdown in their new home from 1 yard in the second quarter, but managed just 13 yards rushing.
Rivers and the Chargers moved 54 yards in 52 seconds to set up Koo, whose potential game-tying field goal was blocked in Denver last week.
The undrafted rookie kicker beat out maligned Josh Lambo for this job in the preseason, but he missed two more field goals against the Dolphins.
“I just pushed it right,” Koo said. “It was a great snap, great hold. It’s definitely frustrating. I can’t say it’s not.”
The familiar unpleasantness of a last-second loss dampened the festivities around a fresh start for the Chargers, who brought five members of their inaugural 1960 Los Angeles Chargers to their temporary home at 27,000-seat StubHub Center. The converted soccer stadium was packed with a lively mix of both opponents’ fans — just like at most games in San Diego in recent years.
“We had a warm atmosphere,” Chargers pass-rusher Melvin Ingram said. “I definitely loved it, but we have to get a win for StubHub.”
Cowboys 17, Broncos 42
DENVER (AP) — Aqib Talib’s 103-yard interception return for a touchdown with 53 seconds left was the final indignity for the Cowboys in the Denver Broncos’ 42-17 blowout of Dallas and its vaunted offense on Sunday.
It was Talib’s 10th pick-6, just two shy of Darren Woodson’s NFL record.
“No. 10,” relished Talib. “It’s just mind-boggling.”
Sort of like Denver’s defensive dominance of Dallas and its vaunted offense.
Ezekiel Elliott had the worst game of his career with nine carries for 8 yards, Dallas managed just 40 yards rushing and one first down on the ground. The Cowboys (1-1) went 3-for-14 on third downs and failed three times on fourth down, looking nothing like the team that dominated the Giants in their opener.
“I want to emphasize today, this is not what we’re about in my view,” Cowboys owner Jerry Jones said. “I feel strongly about that. On the other hand, this is what Denver is about.”
The only big blemish in Denver’s fifth straight 2-0 start was the apparently serious injury to their top draft pick, left tackle Garett Bolles, who left the stadium on crutches and with a boot on his left foot after getting hurt in the third quarter.
With the stadium still rocking in the final minute, Talib stepped in front of Dez Bryant, who had earlier beaten him for a TD, snared Dak Prescott’s fourth-down pass and raced up the Dallas’ dejected sideline.
He slipped Cole Beasley’s tackle and followed linebacker Brandon Marshall’s beautiful block of Prescott into the south end zone, where he jumped into the stands, exhausted by enjoying every last bit of what he called “an all-around complete ballgame from the Broncos.”
Trevor Siemian tied a career high with four touchdown passes in a game that included an hour-long lightning delay that did nothing to slow Denver’s rolling offense.
“We knew they were sound in the secondary,” Jones said. “We were a little taken aback by how well they did offensively. “They seemed to really have our number. There’s no excuses here. Their quarterback played outstanding.”
Elliott, who’s playing while his appeal of a six-game suspension for domestic violence works its way through the courts, came into the game averaging 108 yards rushing per game and more than 5 yards a carry in his career.
“We just were getting dominated up front,” said Elliott, whose previous worst game was a 51-yarder in his NFL debut against the Giants last year. “We couldn’t get any movement off the ball.”
The star in the backfield on this day was C.J. Anderson, who rushed for 118 yards and a score and also caught a TD pass.
Thanks in part to Von Miller, who had two sacks, the Cowboys lost for the sixth straight time to the Broncos.
Siemian threw scoring strikes of 10 and 6 yards to Emmanuel Sanders as the Broncos built a 21-10 halftime lead. The Cowboys were lucky to be that close after a first half in which they managed just five first downs, converted one third down and were outgained 246 yards to 97.
The only touchdown for Dallas came on a 3-yard drive after DeMarcus Lawrence’s strip sack of Siemian after beating right tackle Menelik Watson. Bryant beat Talib for the score two plays after Maliek Collins scooped up the loose ball at the Denver 3.
SUSPECT SECONDARY: The Cowboys began the day without their top cornerback, Orlando Scandrick, who broke his left hand last week, and they lost rookie Chidobe Awuzie (hamstring) and Nolan Carroll (concussion) in the first half.
Denver scored on its first drive when Siemian found Sanders for a 10-yard strike , and the Broncos were driving for another score but Brandon McManus pushed a 49-yarder wide right, his second miss in three attempts since signing his contract extension Monday.
LIGHTNING DELAY : The game was delayed by lightning for 62 minutes in the first quarter. The Cowboys were at midfield with 33 seconds left in the first quarter when the teams were told to head to their locker rooms and fans retreated to the concourses.
Broncos coach Vance Joseph said they turned off the air conditioning and turned on the TVs to watch some football during the delay.
Miller joked that they spent it dancing and playing games.
“Connect Four, we had some peanut butter and jelly sandwiches,” Miller said. “We had a couple of rock-paper-scissors in there, turned on the music for a dance contest. … Just came in, danced around.”
Actually, Miller didn’t even do any of his usual dances after his sacks, but he did raise his arms after ending his career-high five-game sackless streak, which came after he’d been flagged twice for jumping offside.
“You think he was getting antsy?” Joseph said.
SPLIT ALLEGIANCES : DeMarcus Ware was the honorary alumni captain for the coin toss between the game pitting his former teams. He said he was thrilled to have played for both teams, but would always root for Miller.
Ware retired in January after nine years in Dallas and three seasons in Denver because of chronic back problems. He acknowledged he considered coming out of retirement when Broncos linebacker Shane Ray injured a wrist early in training camp but decided to stick with his new gig working for the NFL Network.
“I’ve played enough football,” he said.
Redskins 27, Rams 20
LOS ANGELES (AP) — Even Kirk Cousins was OK with how much the Washington Redskins ran the ball in a 27-20 victory against their former offensive coordinator, Sean McVay, and the Los Angeles Rams.
The Redskins (1-1) rushed 39 times for 229 yards, including touchdown runs of 71 and 7 yards by Chris Thompson on Sunday.
The game-winner came when Cousins threw an 11-yard touchdown pass to Ryan Grant with 1:49 to play. Even that 70-yard drive featured smash-mouth running, with seven runs by Samaje Perine.
“It’s always good to make plays in the passing game,” Cousins said. “But make no mistake, it’s always nice to hand off to Chris Thompson and watch him just go 50, 60 yards for a touchdown. So I’ve got no complaints, either.”
Washington ran the ball seven straight times on a drive capped by Thompson’s 7-yard run for a 10-0 lead.
“I don’t know how many times that happens in a season where you have an entire drive of running the ball,” Cousins said. “You have to credit the offensive line.”
That was a common theme for the Redskins, who held the ball for nearly 13 minutes more than the Rams did.
Guard Brandon Scherff said the Redskins could sense the Rams (1-1) were wearing down.
Coach Jay Gruden “asked us what we wanted to do and we said, ‘Run the ball,” Scherff said.
Here are some nuggets from the game:
MOMENTUM: “We definitely needed this,” Thompson said. “It was big for us to finally get going. We had a rough preseason running the ball. Last week was rough also. So to be able to go out there and get over 200 yards rushing was great. Now it’s on us. We’ve got to continue to keep it going.”
Late in the second half, on second-and-6 from the Washington 39, Thompson took a delayed handoff from Cousins out of the shotgun and burst through the defense for his long TD run and a 20-10 lead.
He finished with 77 yards on three carries. Rob Kelley, who suffered a thigh injury midway through the second quarter, had 78 yards on 12 carries. Perine finished with 67 yards on 21 carries.
McVAY: The 31-year-old worked for the Redskins for seven seasons, including the last three as offensive coordinator under Gruden, before being hired by the Rams as the youngest head coach in modern league history.
Despite McVay’s familiarity with the Redskins, it didn’t translate into a win for the Rams (1-1).
“We continued to fight back, but we can’t hurt ourselves with the penalties, some of the different things that occurred throughout the course of the game,” McVay said.
TODD GURLEY: The Rams, who didn’t look near as sharp as they did in routing Indianapolis a week earlier, made a game of it, thanks to a spectacular play by the running back.
Midway through the third quarter, Gurley caught a swing pass from Goff, hurdled cornerback Bashaud Breeland and then reached for the pylon to complete the 18-yard play and pull the Rams to 20-17.
Gurley also scored on a 1-yard run midway through the third quarter. His fumble helped set up a 22-yard field goal by Washington’s Dustin Hopkins in the second quarter.
The Rams had tied the game at 20 on Greg Zuerlein’s 40-yard field goal with 7:16 to play. It was set up on a trick play, when punter Johnny Hekker completed a 28-yard pass to Josh Reynolds to the Washington 17. But two penalties stalled the drive and the Rams had to settle for the field goal.
After Grant’s score, Mason Foster sealed the win with 1:37 to go by intercepting Jared Goff.
Cousins had a much better day than in a season-opening loss to Philadelphia, when he had three turnovers. He completed 18 of 27 passes for 179 yards and one touchdown, with no interceptions. L.A.’s Jared Goff was 15 of 25 for 224 and one touchdown. After Grant’s score, Mason Foster sealed the win with 1:37 to go by intercepting Goff.
49ers 9, Seahawks 12
SEATTLE (AP) — After 7 ½ quarters of offensive inefficiency, the Seattle Seahawks finally broke the seal on the goal line.
It took some more magic from quarterback Russell Wilson to make it happen and avoid an 0-2 start.
Wilson avoided two potential sacks and found Paul Richardson in the front corner of the end zone for a 9-yard touchdown with 7:06 left and the Seahawks held on for an unsightly 12-9 win over the San Francisco 49ers on Sunday.
It was an offensive nightmare as both teams had combined for 14 total quarters without a touchdown this season before the Seahawks finally broke through. Wilson avoided Arik Armstead in the pocket and got his pass away before DeForest Buckner could pull him down. Seattle (1-1) snapped a streak of more than 112 minutes without a touchdown, despite missing on opportunities twice inside the 49ers’ 10-yard line earlier in the game.
“We had to find a way to get into the end zone and capitalize,” Wilson said. “We had been down there a few times earlier in the game and missed our opportunities there, so this was all we got. We’ve got to go make it happen right now.”
Wilson was erratic at times and magical at the end. He was 23 of 39 passing for 198 yards. He rushed for another 34 yards, 27 coming on the decisive scoring drive. Wilson was 4 of 5 on the drive and aided by a 20-yard pass interference penalty against Dontae Johnson.
Richardson suffered a dislocated right ring finger in the first quarter that popped through the skin. The finger was put back in place and the skin stitched up so he could return and eventually made the winning catch.
“That was the goal once I got it sewed up, still go win,” Richardson said. “I wasn’t just trying to get out there, ‘Oh he’s tough, he’s finishing out the game.’ I wanted to go make a difference.”
Blair Walsh added field goals of 25 and 27 yards, but missed the extra point after Richardson’s TD that could have given the Seahawks a four-point lead. The 49ers (0-2) only needed a field goal to tie but never got into position to have an opportunity.
San Francisco went three-and-out after the touchdown, punted and never got the ball back.
“I’m not happy at all. I’m extremely disappointed,” 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan said. “Anytime you as a team think you put yourself in a position to win the game, you expect to win it. I felt like we had that opportunity and we didn’t get it done which is extremely disappointing.”
Robbie Gould kicked three field goals to amount for San Francisco’s output. Carlos Hyde rushed for 124 yards, including a 61-yard run in the first half, but Brian Hoyer was 15 of 27 for 99 yards passing and an interception.
San Francisco took the lead on Gould’s 34-yard field goal with 11:36 to play, but was unable to hold off Seattle’s final drive.
Seattle should have found the end zone earlier, but had dropped passes on two drives inside the 49ers’ 10 in the first half. C.J. Prosise dropped a potential touchdown near the goal line on Seattle’s first drive. Tanner McEvoy was unable to corral a high pass from Wilson in the end zone on the second drive.
For the first time in franchise history, the 49ers have gone the first two weeks of the season without scoring a touchdown. In the two games, the 49ers have had one offensive drive inside the opponents’ 10-yard line.
“It’s only two games. We have a whole lot of games left,” Hyde said.
Rookie Chris Carson rushed for 93 yards, including 58 yards in the fourth quarter. Carson was Seattle’s primary option as Thomas Rawls had his amount of carries limited in his first game after suffering a high-ankle sprain in the preseason. Carson had 20 carries, while Rawls had just five.
San Francisco lost safety Eric Reid to a knee injury in the third quarter. Reid appeared to hurt his left knee in the first half and sat the rest of the half before returning in the third quarter. He lasted about five minutes before walking off the field with trainers again.
Seattle running back Eddie Lacy was a healthy scratch for Sunday’s game. It was a surprise absence as Lacy had not appeared on any injury reports. Like much of Seattle’s offense, Lacy struggled to get going in the opener against Green Bay and was limited to 3 yards on five carries.
49ers: San Francisco has a quick turnaround and will host the Los Angeles Rams on Thursday night.
Seahawks: Seattle will make its second long road trip of the season, traveling to Tennessee next Sunday.
Packers 23, Falcons 34
ATLANTA (AP) — New season. New stadium. Same ol’ result.
Matt Ryan and the Atlanta Falcons picked up where they left off against the Green Bay Packers, building a big halftime lead on the way to a dominating 34-23 victory Sunday night. The rematch of last season’s NFC championship game was essentially a repeat: Ryan threw for 252 yards and a touchdown, Devonta Freeman had a couple of scoring runs, and Desmond Trufant darted to the end zone off an attempted pass by Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers that was ruled a fumble.
“We came out aggressive,” said Julio Jones, who had five catches for 108 yards. “We did a great job and got after them.”
Back in January at the Georgia Dome, Atlanta earned a trip to the Super Bowl by racing to a 31-0 edge early in the third quarter on the way to a 44-21 blowout of the Packers.
In the first regular-season NFL game at $1.5 billion Mercedes-Benz Stadium — and the first sporting event in which the facility’s camera lens-like roof was open — the Falcons put on quite a show to mark the occasion.
They were ahead 24-7 at halftime and 31-7 less than a minute into the third period.
Unlike the Super Bowl Atlanta (2-0) made sure this lead stood up.
Ryan threw for 201 yards in the first half, getting Jones involved in the offense. Freeman rushed for 84 yards, and Tevin Coleman chipped in with 42 on the ground plus a touchdown catch. Trufant not only scored a defensive touchdown, he came up with a crucial interception near the end of the first half.
“That’s when we really come to light,” coach Dan Quinn said. “Different weapons. You never know who’s going to be the one.”
After struggling a bit offensively in a season-opening victory at Chicago that was preserved with a goal-line stand in the closing seconds, the Falcons dominated right from the start in an early showdown for conference supremacy.
“If we get down to a tie-breaker, this game could be a big one,” Rodgers said, already looking far down the road.
On the opening possession, Ryan guided a nine-play, 86-yard drive that was reminiscent of the league’s highest-scoring team a year ago. Jones hauled in two passes for 53 yards and the Falcons didn’t get to third down until they were at the Green Bay 1. Freeman powered in from there to make it 7-0.
The Packers (1-1) responded with a 75-yard drive of their own, capped by Ty Montgomery’s 1-yard TD run. But it was downhill from there for Rodgers and his offense, which was missing both of its starting tackles and lost receiver Jordy Nelson early on with a quadriceps injury.
Atlanta led 17-7 after Freeman’s second TD run from 2 yards out and Matt Bryant’s 51-yard field goal. Then, the game totally got away from Rodgers and the Packers near the end of the first half. Three penalties in four plays — one a disputed offensive pass interference that wiped out a 36-yard gain — pushed Green Bay back to its own 3 before Rodgers lofted a terrible pass down the right sideline that was picked off easily by Trufant at the 36.
Ryan hit Mohamed Sanu with a 21-yard pass, setting up a 3-yard scoring pass to Coleman with 24 seconds remaining.
On the second play of the second half, Trufant turned it into a rout.
Rodgers was plastered by 2016 sack leader Vic Beasley Jr. attempting to throw, the ball wobbling out of his hand for what appeared an incomplete pass. But Trufant wisely scooped it up and scooted into the end zone for what was ruled a 15-yard touchdown. The call stood when the replay didn’t show conclusively that the pass went forward.
“A big play by him with the interception at the end of the half,” Quinn said, “then a smart play to start the second half on the forced fumble.”
The Packers finally showed a bit of life with a couple of fourth-quarter touchdowns, including Rodgers’ 300th career scoring pass.
It wasn’t nearly enough.
Green Bay: Already short-handed up front, the Packers lost several more players during the game. Nelson was the most prominent injury, but also going down were defensive tackle Mike Daniel (hamstring), receiver Randall Cobb (shoulder) and cornerback Davon House (quad). In addition, backup safety Kentrell Brice was forced out by a groin injury.
Atlanta: On the first touchdown of the night, right tackle Ryan Schraeder was knocked out of the game with a concussion. The Falcons also lost Beasley (hamstring) and defensive lineman Courtney Upshaw (ankle).
Rodgers’ first touchdown pass came on a 33-yard, fourth-down pass to Davante Adams, who made a brilliant play to keep his feet inbounds while kicking the pylon. No. 300 for Rodgers was as short as you can get, a little left-handed shovel pass to Montgomery from the 1.
“They all count,” Rodgers quipped.
Bryant’s first field goal was his 200th since joining the Falcons in 2009, making him the first Atlanta kicker to reach that figure. He also connected in the third quarter from 53 yards.
Green Bay: Return to Lambeau Field to face the Cincinnati Bengals (0-2) next Sunday.
Atlanta: Travel to Detroit to take on the Lions (1-0), who face the New York Giants on Monday night.
Lions 24, Giants 10
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) — So far, so good for Matthew Stafford and the Detroit Lions. Eli Manning and the New York Giants are heading in the opposite direction.
Stafford threw for two touchdowns, rookie Jamal Agnew broke the game open with an 88-yard punt return and the Lions beat the Giants 24-10 on Monday night.
The Lions (2-0) sacked Eli Manning five times and Stafford put together another big game while sending the Giants (0-2) to a second straight disappointing performance. Star receiver Odell Beckham Jr. returned from a sprained left ankle, but New York still struggled offensively.
“We did a nice job of getting in the end zone early and our defense did what they do,” Stafford said.
Stafford found Marvin Jones for a 27-yard touchdown in the first quarter and passed to Eric Ebron for a go-ahead 7-yarder in the second. Matt Prater added a 56-yard field goal just before halftime that bounced off the upright, helping the Lions to a 17-7 lead at the break.
Ezekiel Ansah had three sacks as Detroit joined Atlanta and Carolina as the only unbeaten teams in the NFC through Week 2. The Lions made the playoffs last season, but finished the year with four straight losses.
Beckham, a three-time Pro Bowler who missed the season opener, had four catches for 36 yards in limited action.
Manning threw an 18-yard touchdown pass to Evan Engram on the first play of the second quarter, but the rookie tight end was called for unsportsmanlike conduct for a seemingly obscene gesture. It allowed the Lions to get the ball at the Giants 45 after the kickoff went out of bounds and Stafford drove them for a second score.
New York closed to 17-10 on Aldrick Rosas’ 25-yard field goal early in the second half, but it wasted a chance for a TD. The Giants had first-and-goal at the 1 and then got pushed back to the 11 on a holding penalty on a first-down run.
“We talked about playing complete, complimentary football. By no stretch of the imagination did we do that tonight,” said Ben McAdoo, who led the Giants to their first playoff berth since 2011 last season in his first year as head coach. “We’ve got to do better. We’ve dug ourselves in a hole. No one feels sorry for us. We’ve got to find a way to get better and get better in a hurry.”
Agnew then helped clinch the game for Detroit with his big return with 12:56 left, faking out New York punter Brad Wing on his way to the end zone. It was the fifth-longest punt return in team history.
Manning was 22 for 32 for 239 yards for New York, while Stafford was 15 for 21 for 122 yards. The NFL’s highest-paid player threw for four touchdowns in Detroit’s season-opening victory against Arizona.
Lions SS Tavon Wilson (shoulder) left in the second half. … The Giants lost starting RT Bobby Hart on the opening series. LG Justin Pugh moved to tackle and Brett Jones replaced him. Giants also played without starters MLB B.J. Goodson (lower leg) and CB Janoris Jenkins (ankle-hand). Backup LB J.T. Thomas (groin) was ruled out early in the second half.
The Giants held a halftime ceremony to honor the 10th anniversary of their 2007 Super Bowl championship team. Coach Tom Coughlin and Hall of Famer Michael Strahan brought the Lombardi Trophy onto the field. New York beat the previously undefeated New England Patriots in the title game.
Lions: host the undefeated Falcons on Sunday afternoon.
Giants: at Philadelphia for Sunday afternoon game.