Demarus Dye| BKD TV Insiders
Welcome to the fifth season of BKD TV’s weekly recap on every NFL game for Week 1, this is the first edition of Tuesday Morning (or Afternoon) QB, thanks to Associated Press for there articles & photos
Falcons 12, Eagles 18
PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Nick Foles could end up playing a new position when Carson Wentz comes back if he keeps this up.
Foles caught another pass in a clutch spot to spark a sputtering offense that looked out of sync and the defense picked up right where it left off last time it faced Atlanta.
After seeing their “world champions” banner unveiled, the Philadelphia Eagles took the first step toward trying to become the first team to repeat in 14 years by stopping Matt Ryan to Julio Jones on the final play again in an 18-12 victory over the Falcons on Thursday night.
Foles hardly looked like Super Bowl MVP until coach Doug Pederson called his number in the third quarter when the offense needed a spark. Foles caught a 15-yard pass from Nelson Agholor to extend a drive that ended with Jay Ajayi scoring the first of his two touchdown runs.
“It’s great to have it at the right time if you can catch a team (off guard),” Foles said. “Everybody loves a good trick play.”
Foles caught a 1-yard TD pass from tight end Trey Burton in the first half of Philadelphia’s 41-33 win over New England in the Super Bowl. Foles asked Pederson on the sideline if he wanted “Philly Philly” but called the play “Philly Special” in the huddle. This one was “Philly Philly” and Pederson said he borrowed it from New England’s playbook. Tom Brady dropped that pass.
“Offensively, we were sort of misfiring a little bit,” Pederson said. “Just were looking for a big play, somebody to make a play. It felt like the right time.”
If the Eagles need any help at receiver once Wentz is cleared to play after knee surgery last December, Foles is ready to go.
Well, not really.
A sloppy, mistake-filled game that featured 26 penalties came down to Ryan throwing an incomplete pass to Jones in the left corner of the end zone on the final play from Philadelphia’s 5.
Jones couldn’t come down with Ryan’s pass from the 2 in the right corner of the end zone in Atlanta’s 15-10 loss in the divisional round in January.
“It was deja vu,” said cornerback Ronald Darby, who covered Jones on the last play this time around instead of Jalen Mills. “Jones is one of the best but we got the stop.”
A weather delay pushed kickoff back 45 minutes, forcing fans to wait a bit longer for the championship ceremony. Wearing his gold Hall of Fame jacket, former safety Brian Dawkins riled up the sellout crowd with owner Jeffrey Lurie by his side and led a chorus of “Fly Eagles Fly.”
It was the most excitement for a while on a hot, muggy night that seemed more like an August preseason game than a playoff rematch. Both teams looked rusty after many starters didn’t play much in preseason.
Here are some things we learned from the game:
RED ZONE WOES: The Falcons were 1 for 5 in the red zone after struggling inside the opponents’ 20 last year. Second-year offensive coordinator Steve Sarkisian spent plenty of time in the offseason trying to improve the team’s scoring efficiency. Jones only had three TD catches last season. He had 10 receptions for 169 yards but didn’t score.
“It’s never discouraging,” Jones said/ “We just got to keep working, stick together and make plays and get things called down there.”
Jay Ajayi had 62 yards rushing on 15 carries. His 11-yard TD run and 2-point conversion gave the Eagles a lead with 2:25 left. Ajayi ran in from the 1 on the drive Foles made the catch.
“I knew I would have a good day if I just stayed being myself and being the Jay Train,” Ajayi said.
Eagles linebacker Jordan Hicks had 1½ sacks in his first game since rupturing his Achilles tendon last October. Hicks also committed a penalty on fourth down that allowed the Falcons to have one more play at the end but the defense bailed him out.
“The ability to get back out there and have fun and celebrate and have passion no matter the play, it feels good,” Hicks said.
Falcons safety Keanu Neal left the game with a knee injury in the first half but coach Dan Quinn said it doesn’t appear serious. Long snapper Josh Harris had his streak of 103 consecutive games played end because of a hip injury.
Wentz, who hasn’t been medically cleared for contact, threw passes and did other drills while wearing a brace on his left knee during warmups.
49ers 16, Vikings 24
MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Kirk Cousins gave the Minnesota Vikings exactly what they needed for a victorious debut by their new quarterback.
The throws Cousins made in tight coverage at important times were on target. Unlike Jimmy Garoppolo, he kept the ball out of the other team’s hands.
Cousins passed for two touchdowns and the Vikings forced four turnovers, fueling a 24-16 win over the San Francisco 49ers on Sunday that stuck Garoppolo with his first loss in eight games as an NFL starting quarterback.
Cousins connected with Stefon Diggs in the second quarter and Kyle Rudolph in the third quarter for scores, and the defense finished the job with three sacks and three second-half interceptions of Garoppolo. Mike Hughes turned one pick into a 28-yard touchdown return, the first by a rookie in a Vikings season opener.
“I’m so grateful for this opportunity that I’ve been given, and I just want to make good on it with every chance I get,” said Cousins, who had no turnovers.
Harrison Smith sealed the game with an interception with 1:35 left. He also recovered a fumble by Alfred Morris at the 2-yard line after Linval Joseph stripped the ball just in front of the goal line in the late in the first half and sacked Garoppolo on a third-down safety blitz late in the fourth quarter .
“It was pretty smooth sailing there for a while,” Vikings coach Mike Zimmer said, “and it was good to find the fight and the heart that we had there at the end.”
Garoppolo finished 15 for 33 for 261 yards and a touchdown pass to rookie Dante Pettis late in the third quarter. With an injury depleted offensive line in front of him and the absence of top wide receiver Marquise Goodwin, Garoppolo was unable to capitalize on the opportunity for a comeback after the 49ers defense forced three straight three-and-out possessions by the Vikings to start the fourth quarter. DeForest Buckner had 2½ sacks for San Francisco.
“We knew it was going to be a tough challenge with the environment, going against a tough team,” Garoppolo said. “They stood up to everything we thought they would, but with all the things that went bad we still had a shot at the end there. Just a tough way to end it.”
Cousins went 20 for 36 for 244 yards, targeting Adam Thielen 12 times. Thielen caught six passes for 102 yards.
“He played the way he always does,” said cornerback Richard Sherman, who made his 49ers debut. “Efficient. Doesn’t make a lot of mistakes. He’s poised and doesn’t get rattled.”
Vikings running back Dalvin Cook caught six passes for 55 yards. He said Cousins was “locked in” from the start.
“I like to see a guy next to me with that look in his eyes,” Cook said.
TOO KITTLE TOO LATE
Tight end George Kittle had five catches for 90 yards, but the one he didn’t make for the 49ers stood out. Wide open after beating Anthony Barr up the seam, Kittle had what would’ve been a 30-yard completion fall off his fingers at midfield. The third-down interception by Hughes came next to give the Vikings a 17-3 lead.
“Misjudged it,” Kittle said. “Thought it was a little closer to me. Probably ran a bit too far with my arms out. Just a bad play.”
Fred Zamberletti, the team’s original athletic trainer who died last week at age 86, was honored with a pregame moment of silence. The Vikings also staged a 20th anniversary tribute to the 1998 squad that went 15-1 and reached the NFC championship game. Robert Smith, one of 28 former players who were introduced at halftime, received the loudest ovation. He focused on the current team at the end of his speech.
“We want to see them accomplish something that we weren’t able to do,” Smith told the crowd, “and we want them to do it for you.”
49ers: Goodwin hurt his right quadriceps in the first quarter and didn’t return. … RG Mike Person went down in the second quarter. His replacement Joshua Garnett was hurt in the third quarter, both with left foot injuries. With three backups on the OL already inactive, rookie Mike McGlinchey moved from RT to RG for the first time in his life while Garry Gilliam took over at RT … With two starters at LB already out, Malcolm Smith (hamstring) and Reuben Foster (suspension), Smith’s sub, Brock Coyle, suffered a concussion in the fourth quarter and needed several minutes to get up.
Vikings: CB Trae Waynes hurt his right knee while ripping a deep pass away from Pettis in the end zone in the second quarter and didn’t return. With Mackensie Alexander (ankle) inactive and Terence Newman retired, the Vikings had SS Jayron Kearse in slot coverage in the nickel defense with Hughes on the outside for Waynes.
49ers: Host Detroit next Sunday. They haven’t lost to the Lions at home since 1975, a streak of 12 straight wins.
Vikings: Play at Green Bay next Sunday. They haven’t faced the Packers on the road in September since the 2008 season opener.
Jaguars 20, Giants 15
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) — The Jacksonville Jaguars are riding their defense once again, and hope it takes them beyond the AFC title game.
Linebacker Myles Jack scored on a 32-yard interception return early in the fourth quarter and the Jaguars spoiled the New York Giants debuts of coach Pat Shurmur and second-overall draft pick Saquon Barkley, and the return of Odell Beckham Jr. with a 20-15 win on Sunday.
Coming off a season in which they were ranked No. 2 overall and scored seven touchdowns on turnovers, the Jaguars’ defense showed no slippage — with the exception of a spectacular 65-yard run by Barkley . The had two sacks, six quarterback pressures, eight tackles for losses, stopped a 2-point conversion run Barkley and didn’t give up the lead late, stopping a New York drive with 1:55 to play.
A season ago, the Jaguars blew a 10-point, fourth-quarter lead to the Patriots in the conference championship.
“We feel we’re so talented on defense,” said Jack, who scored on a pass deflected by backup nose tackle Abry Jones and finished with a game-high 10 tackles. “We’ve got DBs that can score, linebackers can score. Even D-linemen who can strip sack fumbles and score. We don’t put any pressure on the offense. If the offense scores, it puts even more onus on us. We try to create points.”
The Jags’ offense did just enough playing without top running back Leonard Fournette (hamstring) most of the game.
Blake Bortles, who was 18 of 33 for 176 yards, threw a short touchdown pass and led two other first-half field goal drives.
The Jaguars gained 310 yards in total offense and didn’t score as a unit in the second half. The team also had 11 penalties for 119 yards.
“Our defense bailed us out and played pretty well,” Bortles said. “For us to find a way to win is a good start.”
The Giants, who were 3-13 last season, had their chances after falling behind 19-9 on Jack’s touchdown.
Held in check much of the game, Barkley (18 carries for 106 yards) brought the sellout crowd to its feet less than a minute after Jack’s score with a spectacular run. He took an inside handoff, broke to the outside, got a great block by receiver Sterling Shepard and scored, getting New York within 20-15 with 10:39 to play. His 2-point conversion was stopped.
It proved costly when passes of 19 and 21 yards to Beckham (11 catches for 111 yards in his first game since -October) got New York to the Jacksonville 34. Instead of attempting what could have been a tying fourth field goal from Aldrick Rosas, Eli Manning (23 of 37 for 224 yards) threw a fourth-down incompletion.
A muffed punt cost the Giants a final possession in the last minute.
“I’m encouraged just because I have seen the way we work and the men we have in this locker room,” Manning said. “The talent that we have and guys taking care of each other. Just encouraged by the whole situation. We can get things going and we can play at a high level. We will make it work.”
The Jaguars led 13-6 at the half as Bortles methodically took his team on three scoring scores. Josh Lambo capped the first two with 39-yard field goals, and Bortles hit backup running back T.J. Yeldin from 1 yard for a 13-3 lead.
Beckham, who broke an ankle on Oct. 8 and did not play in a preseason game, drew two pass interference penalties on the ensuing drive. Rosas closed the gap to a touchdown with a 31-yard field goal with :04 left in the half. He added a 44-yarder on the opening series of the third quarter on a drive helped by a ugly facemask penalty by Yannick Ngakoue against Barkley.
Manning targeted Beckham 15 times and connected on 11. The NFL’s highest-paid receiver also drew pass interference penalties of 30 and 15 yards late in the first half, setting up a Rosas field goal.
Jaguars CB Jalen Ramsey and LB Telvin Smith Sr. stood for the anthem. They stayed in the locker room in the preseason. Both teams stood.
Jaguars: Fournette was hurt in second quarter. He finished with 41 yards.
Giants: Backup RB Wayne Gallman left in the second half with a knee injury. He said he was OK after the game.
Jaguars: Home opener next Sunday against New England, the team which beat them in AFC title game.
Giants: Visit Dallas for Sunday night game.
Buccaneers 48, Saints 40
NEW ORLEANS (AP) — Ryan Fitzpatrick backpedaled giddily for about 20 yards as he watched DeSean Jackson come down with a 36-yard touchdown pass over the middle. The journeyman quarterback then turned toward the Tampa Bay Buccaneers sideline and triumphantly thrust his arm in an upward arc.
Time will tell if the Bucs are on a similar trajectory this season, but there’s no denying they’re off to an encouraging start.
Fitzpatrick highlighted a 417-yard, four-touchdown performance with two scoring strikes of more than 50 yards, and the Buccaneers stunned the Saints 48-40 on Sunday.
“I’m happy to announce: FitzMagic is alive and well,” Tampa Bay coach Dirk Koetter said of his 35-year-old reserve quarterback, who was starting for suspended 2015 first-overall draft choice Jameis Winston. “Quite a start, huh?”
Fitzpatrick completed 21 of 28 passes without an interception and also ran for a short touchdown, bowling over free safety Marcus Williams on his way into the end zone.
“I hope somebody had him in fantasy because he went crazy today,” Bucs receiver Mike Evans said of Fitzpatrick. “And he was running the ball — phenomenal game. One of the most complete games I’ve seen.”
Coming off a playoff appearance and hosting a team that won only five games last season, the Saints were among the more heavily favored teams in Week 1. But some of the Saints’ defensive players who were instrumental in New Orleans’ success a season earlier had a miserable start to 2018.
Saints cornerback Marshon Lattimore, the 2017 defensive rookie of the year, had trouble covering Evans, who caught seven passes for 147 yards, including a 50-yard touchdown that put the Bucs up 41-24 late in the third quarter.
“It isn’t going to get me down. Everybody gets beat,” Lattimore said. “We needed to get slapped in our face one good time to see we’re not on a level we think we’re on.”
A season ago, Evans was so frustrated with coverage by Lattimore that he hit him after the whistle and wound up being suspended a game for it. After this latest meeting, Evans said, “I like my odds against anybody, not just him.”
Jackson caught scoring passes of 58 and 36 yards to highlight his five-catch, 146-yard day before leaving with a concussion.
Fitzpatrick also threw a 9-yard touchdown pass to Chris Godwin.
“The talent level in that huddle, with guys that can go up and make plays, it’s a pretty special group,” Fitzpatrick said. “I’m glad we showed it today, but now it’s about consistency.”
The Saints put together a frantic offensive flurry in the fourth quarter, scoring twice on touchdowns by Alvin Kamara — the first a 1-yard run and the second a 7-yard catch, both followed by 2-point conversions. That cut the Saints’ deficit to eight points with 3:31 to go.
On third-and-11, Fitzpatrick needed to make one more play — and did. He scrambled to his left for 12 yards at the two-minute warning. With New Orleans out of timeouts, Fitzpatrick was able to run out the clock.
“That’s the type of game we’ve played in year’s past as a .500 team,” Saints coach Sean Payton said, alluding to three straight 7-9 seasons from 2014-16 before the Saints returned to the playoffs with 11 wins in 2017. “Nothing carries over from last year. I’ve said it a millions times.”
STATS AND TRENDS
The combined 88 points set an NFL record for a regular-season opener, narrowly eclipsing Philadelphia’s 45-42 victory over Washington in September of 1947.
New Orleans’ Drew Brees was 37 of 45 for 439 yards and three TDs. Kamara, the 2017 offensive rookie of the year, caught nine passes for 112 yards and one touchdown to go with two touchdown runs. Receiver Michael Thomas set a single-game franchise record by catching 16 passes for 180 yards and a TD, but turned the ball over on a fumble across midfield in the third quarter.
Tampa Bay scored on six of its first seven possessions. The only Bucs drive of the first half that did not produce points was when they ran out the final 55 seconds before halftime. Tampa Bay did not punt until their eighth drive about halfway through the third quarter. The Bucs finished with eight passing plays of 20 or more yards.
The Saints punted only once in the first half and trailed 31-24 at halftime after Thomas’ 6-yard touchdown catch.
With Mark Ingram serving a four-game suspension for use of a banned substance, the Saints brought in running back Mike Gillislee after he was cut by New England. In his Saints debut, Gillislee fumbled in the second quarter on a hit by Vernon Hargreaves. Cornerback Justin Evans scooped up the loose ball and ran it back for a 34-yard TD.
Buccaneers: Hargreaves was helped to the locker room with a shoulder injury in the fourth quarter.
Saints: New Orleans did not announce any injuries.
Buccaneers: Host Philadelphia on Sunday.
Saints: Host Cleveland on Sunday.
Titans 20, Dolphins 27
MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. (AP) — Jakeem Grant won the longest game with the longest play.
Grant struck like lightning when he scored on a tiebreaking 102-yard kickoff return with 14 minutes to go, and the Miami Dolphins overcame two weather delays to win the longest game since the 1970 NFL-AFL merger, beating the Tennessee Titans 27-20 Sunday.
Delays for lightning lasted a total of 3 hours, 59 minutes, and the game took 7 hours, 8 minutes to play. The previous longest game since 1970 was a Bears overtime victory against the Ravens in 2013 that took 5 hours, 16 minutes.
Grant’s touchdown triggered a late flurry of big plays in a season opener that was lackluster for the first six hours.
After his score, Ryan Tannehill hit Kenny Stills deep for a 75-yard touchdown. Darius Jennings returned the ensuing kickoff 94 yardsfor a Titans score, and they were driving when Miami’s Reshad Jones helped to clinch the win with a 54-yard return after he intercepted Blaine Gabbert.
“I love the way we responded — the way we were able to overcome the delays, to come out with energy after sitting around,” Tannehill said. “To come away from this long day, this grind of a game, and get a win, it feels good.”
Titans starting quarterback Marcus Mariota threw two interceptions in the third quarter and then came out of the game with an elbow injury. Tight end Delanie Walker was carted off the field later in the period with a right leg injury, and tackle Taylor Lewan suffered a concussion, all of which meant a miserable start for Mike Vrabel in his head coaching debut.
Walker’s injury appeared the most serious.
“I haven’t seen him since he left the field,” Vrabel said. “Our thoughts and prayers are with him.”
Miami led 7-3 when the game was suspended for nearly two hours late in the first half. The teams went to the locker room during the delay and stayed on the field for halftime, which was shortened to 3½ minutes.
Lightning forced a halt again midway through the third quarter, and the second stoppage lasted just over two hours. Perhaps 10,000 fans remained at the finish.
“That’s the job we have — to make sure we play through whatever situation,” Vrabel said. “I felt we handled it well, but in the end we didn’t do enough to win the game.”
Sandwiched between the delays was a brawl that started after Lewan appeared to be briefly knocked out . Jordan Phillips and Bobby McCain of Miami and Dion Lewis of Tennessee received offsetting unsportsmanlike conduct penalties for taunting, and Lewan missed the rest of the game.
Gabbert drove the Titans 75 yards to make the score 10-10, but Grant needed only 13 seconds to break the tie, splitting the coverage untouched and racing into the clear near midfield.
“I saw it was just him and the kicker,” Miami coach Adam Gase said. “I was going, ‘Please run by me.'”
Tannehill, playing for the first time since a knee injury in late 2016, went 20 for 28 for 230 yards with two scores and two interceptions.
“I left a lot out there,” Tannehill said. “There are a lot of plays I wanted to have back.”
Titans: Mariota was hurt early in the third quarter when hit on the right side by William Hayes. Mariota missed one play, and then returned to throw two interceptions before again coming out of the lineup.
He said he couldn’t feel his fingers or grip the ball well, and hinted he shouldn’t have returned to the game.
“I’m not using it as an excuse, but I should have made sure I was making the best decision for the team,” he said.
Teammate Adoree Jackson hurt his shoulder on a 26-yard punt return in the third quarter. … LB Wesley Woodyard was shaken up and left the game in the third quarter.
Lewan was flattened on Andre Branch’s blindside block during an interception return by Jones. Lewan sprawled face down on the turf, then suddenly sprang to his feet, and players exchanged words and shoves.
Dolphins receivers Stills and Albert Wilson knelt during the national anthem, and defensive end Robert Quinn raised his right fist. They followed the same practice before preseason games. No Titans appeared to protest.
The Dolphins play at the New York Jets next Sunday.
The Titans face Houston in their home opener next Sunday.
Texans 20, Patriots 27
FOXBOROUGH, Mass. (AP) — Tom Brady and Rob Gronkowski sent New England fans into a panic this offseason when they hinted at retiring rather than returning to the Patriots in 2018.
On Sunday, it was the rest of the NFL watching in fear.
Brady threw for 277 yards and three touchdowns, hitting Gronkowski for 123 yards and a score to lead the defending AFC champions to a 27-20 victory over the Houston Texans. The reigning NFL MVP found Gronkowski seven times, including a 21-yard touchdown three plays after Deshaun Watson fumbled a handoff at the Texans 19 on Houston’s first offensive play .
“It’s very important that they came out and played the way they did. They’re our leaders,” said Phillip Dorsett, who had seven catches, including a touchdown. “When they play well, they give an adrenaline boost to the rest of the team.”
Brady, 41, clashed with the team he’s led to five Super Bowl titles in the past year over the treatment of his personal fitness guru and the plans to elevate backup Jimmy Garoppolo to starter. In February, after throwing for 500 yards in a Super Bowl loss to the Philadelphia Eagles, Brady was coy about returning this season.
The Patriots dangled Gronkowski as trade bait this summer before agreeing instead to sweeten his contract with $4.3 million in reachable incentives. Gronkowski reportedly threatened to retire if traded.
“I’m just glad to be here, glad to be part of this team, glad to be part of this organization,” he said. “All that talk, all that stuff, I would love to put it in the past.”
Brady also found James White for a touchdown, completing 26 of 39 passes in all; he also had an interception on a pass that was tipped at the line of scrimmage. It was Gronkowski’s 31st career regular-season or playoff game of 100 yards or more, tying Tony Gonzalez’s NFL record.
“We’ve been playing together for a long time,” Brady said. “I know his body language. I know his ability to run and what routes. He can do it. He can do really all the routes. It’s just a matter of giving him a chance, and it came with a big touchdown today.”
Watson, who missed the final nine games last season with a torn right ACL, completed 17 of 35 passes for 176 yards, one score and one interception. He struggled to move the team in the first 40 minutes, managing just a pair of field-goal drives before Alfred Blue ran it in from 1 yard to make it 24-13 in the last two minutes of the third period.
A muffed punt by New England’s Riley McCarron with under five minutes left set up Watson’s 5-yard TD pass to Bruce Ellington and cut the deficit to 27-20. But after getting the ball back at their 1 with 43 seconds left, the Texans failed to reach midfield.
“I think it was terrible, on my part,” Watson said. “I just feel like you can put the ‘L’ on me.”
With Julian Edelman serving a four-game suspension, Dorsett caught seven passes for 66 yards, including a 4-yard TD pass in the closing seconds of the first half to make it 21-6. White had four receptions for 38 yards, including a 12-yard score.
Lamar Miller ran 20 times for 98 yards for Houston, which welcomed Watson, defensive lineman J.J. Watt and linebacker Whitney Mercilus back from injuries. Watt had two quarterback hurries, but D.J. Reader had the only two sacks of Brady, both late.
“It’s good to play a full game to know it lasts, to know it holds up,” said Watt, a three-time defensive player of the year. “I didn’t think about it once. So, that’s all you can ask for.”
It was Watson who felt the pressure the rest of the game.
The second-year quarterback, who threw for 301 yards in a 36-33 loss to New England last year in his second NFL start, botched a handoff with Miller in the first quarter, setting up the Patriots up for their first touchdown. In the second quarter, Watson inexplicably chucked the ball into the end zone for a double-covered Vyncint Smith on a second-and-3 from the New England 42.
Stephon Gilmore brought it down for the interception.
The Patriots also had trouble with turnovers.
Brady had an interception in the first quarter on a throw tipped by defensive lineman Angelo Blackson and brought in by Tyrann Mathieu at the Patriots 17. The Texans went backward 7 yards before Ka’imi Fairbairn’s 42-yard field goal made it 7-3.
Gronkowski also fumbled in the third quarter after a 25-yard reception across the middle. Mathieu recovered, but after advancing to the New England 17, the Texans gave the ball back on downs. The muffed punt by McCarron gave the Texans one last chance.
Texans: DE Christian Covington injured his thigh in the first quarter. T Seantrel Henderson left after getting his left ankle rolled a few plays later. Kevin Johnson left with what the team said was a concussion and did not return.
Patriots: RB Jeremy Hill left with a right knee injury on the Gronkowski fumble in the third quarter.
After the Texans forced New England to punt in the final minute, Ryan Allen landed the ball inside the 5-yard line and Jonathan Jones downed it at the 1. Houston advanced to the 16 on a penalty for leading with the helmet and Watson found DeAndre Hopkins for 14 yards before scrambling for 13 more.
From his 43 with 5 seconds left, Watson chucked the ball as far as the 10 but it was knocked away.
Texans: visit Tennessee Sunday for an early AFC South showdown.
Patriots: visit Jacksonville Sunday in a rematch of the Jan. 21 AFC championship game New England won 24-20 to reach the Super Bowl for the third time in four years.
Steelers 21, Browns 21 Tie
CLEVELAND (AP) — One week in and the Browns are still undefeated.
Now that’s progress.
Cleveland ended its 17-game losing streak on Sunday with a 21-21 tie against the Pittsburgh Steelers, who prevented the Browns from getting their first victory since 2016 when linebacker T.J. Watt blocked Zane Gonzalez’s 43-yard field-goal attempt with 9 seconds left in OT.
The Steelers, who blew a 14-point lead in the fourth quarter, also wasted their chance to escape with a win when Chris Boswell was wide left on a 42-yard field-goal attempt with 1:44 remaining in the extra period.
It was the NFL’s first tie in Week 1 since 1971 and the league’s first overall since Washington and Cincinnati ended in a 27-27 deadlock on Oct. 30, 2016.
“If you don’t win,” Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger said, “it feels like a loss.”
The Browns remain winless since Dec. 24, 2016, but at least they have a positive after going 0-16 last season, just the second team in league history to lose all 16 games.
Pittsburgh committed six turnovers, including a strip-sack fumble of Roethlisberger late in OT that had the Browns poised to win their first opener since 2004.
But Gonzalez’s kick was low and Watt, who had four sacks, got deep penetration and appeared to get his hand on the ball, which went sideways and landed on the soaked FirstEnergy Stadium turf as thousands of Browns fans threw up their hands in disbelief.
So close. So far.
“They broke through and were right there, so there wasn’t much I could do about it,” Gonzalez said. “It was blocked. We felt good about it when we went out there. They definitely were in there a little quick.”
Browns coach Hue Jackson felt the Steelers were offside on the climactic kick.
“Disappointed for our fans,” said an exasperated Jackson, who fell to 1-31-1 with Cleveland. “Did not want them going home without a victory. I did not want our players to go home without a victory. We were not able to get it done. Did not finish it, but obviously, a tie. A tie.”
The Browns also had a chance to win it in regulation and were driving for a potential game-winning field goal, but Tyrod Taylor’s deep pass for Josh Gordon was underthrown and intercepted by Cameron Sutton with 16 seconds left.
“There is nothing to be excited about, nothing at all,” said Gordon, who missed most of the past four seasons because of drug suspensions. “We don’t come to work to get ties. It’s the equivalent of a loss to me.”
The Steelers played their opener without star running back Le’Veon Bell, who remains away from the team in a contract dispute. As Bell continued his holdout in warm and dry South Florida, James Conner filled in and scored two touchdowns while running for 135 yards — just nine fewer than he gained as a rookie last season.
Roethlisberger threw three interceptions in the first half and finished 23 of 41 for 335 yards, throwing a 22-yard touchdown pass in the fourth quarter to Antonio Brown.
Down 21-7 in the fourth quarter, the Browns were on the verge of their 18th straight loss.
But they forced a fumble by Conner and scored quickly on Carlos Hyde’s 1-yard run to pull within a touchdown.
Cleveland’s defense then forced a punt before Taylor connected with Gordon, who was playing in his first opener since 2012, made a gorgeous leaping catch in the corner over Steelers cornerback Cameron Sutton.
In his debut with Cleveland, Taylor completed 15 of 40 passes for 197 yards.
Cleveland gave up seven sacks and committed 11 penalties, including four on false starts.
“Tyrod got hit way too much,” left guard Joel Bitonio said.
Browns rookie cornerback Denzel Ward intercepted Roethlisberger twice in his NFL debut. Both picks by the No. 4 overall selection came in the first half.
“We got guys who can get the ball and are ball hawks,” defensive lineman Myles Garrett said. “Denzel is one of them.”
Steelers: CB Joe Haden injured his hamstring in the second half and did not return.
Browns: DE Emmanuel Ogbah left briefly with an ankle injury in the first quarter but returned.
It was a tough week for Browns rookie guard Austin Corbett. First, the No. 33 overall pick was replaced in the starting lineup when coach Hue Jackson slid Joel Bitonio back to left guard and put undrafted rookie Desmond Harrison in at left tackle. Corbett figured to be a backup on game day, but was one of the club’s inactives.
Steelers: Host Kansas City on Sept. 16.
Browns: Visit New Orleans on Sept. 16
Bills 3, Ravens 47
BALTIMORE (AP) — Following a lengthy training camp and five meaningless preseason outings, the Baltimore Ravens finally got the chance to evaluate themselves in a game that counts.
Judging by their 47-3 rout of the Buffalo Bills on a rainy Sunday, the Ravens might be pretty darn good.
Then again, that might be tough to determine: The Bills looked absolutely awful.
Baltimore harassed and embarrassed Buffalo quarterback Nathan Peterman, and the Ravens got three touchdown passes from Joe Flacco in an opener worth savoring.
“Anytime you go get a win in Week 1, it’s great,” Flacco said. “Anytime you have a performance like we did, it’s great. We just have to make sure we build on this.”
Flacco’s TD passes were distributed to each of the three new receivers Baltimore added during the offseason to enhance a lackluster passing attack.
The 11-year veteran went 25 for 34 for 236 yards before being replaced in the third quarter by rookie Lamar Jackson, who did little more than hand off the ball after entering with a 40-0 lead.
Making their debut under defensive coordinator Don Martindale, the Ravens held Buffalo to 33 yards and no first downs in going up 26-0 at the half.
“Whatever they threw at us, we were able to answer,” linebacker Terrell Suggs said.
LeSean McCoy finished with 22 yards on seven carries and the Bills had 70 yards passing.
“LeSean McCoy is a threat. You have to start with that,” Ravens coach John Harbaugh said. “Then you have to get to the quarterback and make him throw quick. That’s what our guys were able to do today.”
Making his third NFL start, Peterman went 5 for 18 for 24 yards and two interceptions for a quarterback rating of 0.0.
After Baltimore followed two Buffalo miscues with a pair of touchdowns for a 40-0 lead, coach Sean McDermott turned to rookie Josh Allen, who went 6 for 15 for 74 yards in Buffalo’s most lopsided defeat since a 56-10 loss to New England in November 2007.
“Obviously, it wasn’t a good showing,” Peterman said. “We’ve got to do a lot better, starting with me.”
There’s a quarterback controversy brewing in Buffalo. Asked about a possible change in starters, McDermott replied, “I’m going to look at everything. … It’s too early to go one way or another.”
If that was Buffalo’s only problem, it might be easier to overcome.
“We need to focus more on the entire team, not just the quarterback,” receiver Zay Jones said. “Offensive line, running backs, wide receivers, defense. We have to do better.”
Baltimore had six sacks and limited Buffalo to 153 yards.
The Ravens and Bills both finished 9-7 last year, but Buffalo won the tiebreaker and earned its first playoff berth since 1999. Since then, however, the Bills sent quarterback Tyrod Taylor to Cleveland and had to replace two starting offensive linemen.
The new-look Bills were not very pretty.
Buffalo won the opening coin toss, deferred until the second half and subsequently offered little resistance while Baltimore mounted a 10-play drive that ended with an 8-yard touchdown run by Alex Collins.
Baltimore quickly added a 7-yard touchdown pass from Flacco to John Brown, who was signed as a free agent after playing with Arizona last year.
A 51-yard punt return by rookie Janarion Grant set up a field goal in the second quarter, and Baltimore added another field goal after an interception by Tony Jefferson in Buffalo territory.
Michael Crabtree made a tippy-toe catch in the back corner of the end zone for a 12-yard TD late in the half, and Willie Snead scored on a 13-yard catch to make it 33-0 in the third quarter.
Crabtree was signed in March after a three-year run with Oakland, and Snead was secured as a restricted free agent from New Orleans.
SPREAD THE WEALTH
To get touchdowns from each of their new receivers was gratifying to Harbaugh, who hopes his team can end a three-year playoff drought.
“To see Joe spread the ball around like that, and to see all the guys step up and play plays was the thing I’m most excited about,” the coach said.
Bills: CB Taron Johnson left with a shoulder injury and did not return.
Bills: Linebacker Tremaine Edmunds is the first Bills rookie with a sack in the season opener since 2002 and first with a forced fumble since 2013.
Ravens: Before entering in the third quarter, Jackson was used sporadically — mostly as a decoy, although he did run once (for no gain) and throw an incomplete pass.
Buffalo opens its home schedule against the Los Angeles Chargers next Sunday afternoon.
Baltimore travels to Cincinnati for a Thursday night matchup between AFC North rivals.
Bengals 34, Colts 23
INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Cincinnati needed Clayton Fejedelem’s pinch-hitting skills Sunday.
He delivered with the perfect swing.
The Bengals’ backup safety jarred the ball loose from Pro Bowl tight end Jack Doyle with less than 35 seconds left in the game. Fejedelem scooped up the loose ball and sprinted down the sideline to end Andrew Luck’s comeback hopes with an 83-yard touchdown return to preserve the Bengals’ 34-23 victory.
“Really lucky he just turned, presented his chest and I saw the ball,” Fejedelem said. “I just tried to get down there and do whatever I could. It just kind of popped and the rest is history.”
It was an unlikely performance in the most unlikely circumstance.
Fejedelem was pressed into service only after starting safety Shawn Williams became the first player this season to be ejected following a helmet-to-helmet hit on Luck.
Fortunately for the Bengals, Fejedelem was ready for anything thrown his way.
He entered the game with 25 tackles in his first two NFL seasons, but finished with 10 tackles Sunday and even seemed to choreograph the head-first dive to cap his first NFL score.
The victory ended Cincinnati’s eight-game losing streak in Indy, gave the Bengals their fourth win in the past five openers and ended Luck’s last gasp chance of a comeback in his first regular-season start in more than 20 months.
“It was relief at that point,” Cincinnati quarterback Andy Dalton said after going 21 of 28 with 243 yards, two touchdowns and one interception. “Them driving the ball down there like that, I was nervous. Our guys made a great play. It’s a big play to end it.”
How desperate were the Bengals?
With Indy trailing 27-23, Luck took over with 3:52 to go and led the Colts to the Bengals 25.
Indy then lost 5 yards on a pass on first down and faced third-and-15 after an incompletion on second down.
Doyle caught Luck’s third down pass near the Bengals 15 and appeared to have twisted his way to a first down when he got stood up by one Bengals defender and Fejedelem knocked the ball loose before Doyle’s knee hit the ground.
“I messed it up,” Doyle said. “It stings.”
Luck was 39 of 53 for 319 yards, two TD passes and an interception on his first official throw of the season — an underthrown pass to Doyle inside the Bengals 5.
But Luck helped stake the Colts to a 23-10 lead midway through the third quarter.
Then, just like last season, the Colts couldn’t close it out.
Dalton cut the deficit to six with a 38-yard TD pass to A.J. Green and the Bengals retook the lead on Joe Mixon’s leaping 1-yard scoring run with 11:07 left to play. Randy Bullock made it 27-23 with a 39-yard field goal with 3:57 to go.
And then Fejedelem ended the Colts’ hopes with one crucial hit.
“To make the strip and make the return is big,” coach Marvin Lewis said.
The Colts and Bengals both refrained from any player protests while the national anthem was sung. And neither team had anyone in the locker room.
Bengals: Mixon carried 17 times for 95 yards and five catches for 54 yards. Green caught six passes for 92 yards and Preston Brown picked off Luck on the Colts’ first possession of the game. Cincinnati was called for four personal fouls.
Colts: Adam Vinatieri made three field goals, missing a 55-yarder just before Cincinnati’s go-ahead score. He has 562 field goals, three short of Morten Andersen’s league record. Luck connected with nine receivers, led by Ryan Grant who had eight catches for 59 yards and Doyle who had seven catches for 60 yards.
Bengals: Brown limped off the field late in the first half with an injured right ankle. Defensive tackle Andrew Billings also left with leg cramps late in the third quarter.
Colts: Indy did not play with longtime left tackle Anthony Castonzo (hamstring), projected right tackle Denzelle Good (knee/wrist) or running back Marlon Mack (hamstring). The Colts also lost cornerback Chris Milton in the second half after he entered the concussion protocol.
THEY SAID IT
Bengals: “You’re back,” Lewis said he told Luck after the game.
Colts: “I was certainly a bit emotional before the game and I wish we would have won,” Luck said. “I think I was a little careless with the ball when we had a chance to put some points on the board and make it an insurmountable lead and we don’t do it.
Bengals: Head home to host Baltimore on Thursday night.
Colts: Begin a two-game road trip against the NFC East by visiting Washington next Sunday.
Chiefs 38, Chargers 28
CARSON, Calif. (AP) — Tyreek Hill helped get the Patrick Mahomes era off to a blazing start for Kansas City.
The speedy receiver scored three touchdowns, including two in the first quarter, as the Chiefs opened the season with a 38-28 victory over the Los Angeles Chargers on Sunday.
“You know, he’s a different animal. That’s the cheetah,” Chiefs running back Kareem Hunt said. “The guy can take off at any time of the game, at any point in the game, and it’s good like that to have a guy with speed like that on your team.”
On a day when the Chargers’ biggest concerns were Mahomes and Hunt, it was Hill’s big plays that set the tone. Hill had a 91-yard punt return for a score and a 58-yard TD reception during the first quarter to give Kansas City a 14-3 lead. He then added a 1-yard reception on a shovel pass for a score in the fourth quarter to put the game out of reach.
Hill also had 169 yards on seven receptions, which is the second-most yards by a Chiefs receiver in an opener, according to Pro Football Reference. Carlos Carson had 173 yards receiving against New Orleans in 1985.
Mahomes, who moved into the starting spot after Alex Smith was traded to Washington in the offseason, was 15 of 27 for 256 yards as the Chiefs extended their winning streak over the Chargers to nine.
“Tyreek really got us going with the punt return and Patrick did a nice job of running the offense,” Kansas City coach Andy Reid said. “There were a lot of great individual efforts on a hot day where we had to endure the elements.”
After the Chargers got the opening kickoff but went three-and-out, Hill took Drew Kaser’s punt 91 yards for a touchdown just 1 minute, 57 seconds into the game. The third-year receiver fielded the punt near the right hash mark, but quickly found an opening up the left sideline.
It was Hill’s fourth punt return for a touchdown in 32 games and the Chiefs’ league-leading seventh since 2013.
“Once I caught it, I was like this is wide open,” Hill said. “The punt return really got me hyped and got the rest of the offense rolling.”
Chargers coach Anthony Lynn said they punted it to the far side to make it hard on Hill, but that he ended up making a good play any way.
“If he was going to come back across the field, surely someone could get there and make a play,” Lynn said, “but we didn’t get it done.”
After Caleb Sturgis’ 45-yard field goal got the Chargers on the board, Mahomes threw his first touchdown pass in the NFL, connecting with Hill for 58 yards . Hill caught the pass at the Chargers 47 and eluded a diving tackle by Jahleel Addae as he found a seam up the left sideline.
Mahomes said it was originally supposed to be a run play with a pass option, but one of the linebackers bit on a run fake.
“It helped that I hit it fast and Tyreek was able to miss the tackler,” Mahomes said. “Tyreek’s really worked on his route running and everything in order to make himself into one of the best receivers in the league. I think today has showed that he has improved and has the speed to bring it any time.”
Hill’s third touchdown came with 9:42 remaining on a 1-yard shovel pass from Mahomes, who became the third quarterback in Chiefs’ history to throw four touchdowns in an opener.
“I don’t want to make any too crazy statements, but he’s one of the most dynamic guys,” Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers said of Hill. “I don’t know if I’ve seen anybody better in the things that he can do speed-wise in all my time playing.”
RIVERS’ 424 YARDS NOT ENOUGH
Rivers’ 424 yards are the most by a Chargers’ quarterback in an opener, but two turnovers led Chiefs’ touchdowns.
Los Angeles was within two points at halftime (14-12), but saw Kansas City score two touchdowns in the third quarter. The second one, which gave the Chiefs a 31-12 lead with 48 seconds remaining in the third, came after Rivers was picked off by Ron Parker at the Chiefs 14.
A 20-yard TD reception by Keenan Allen and 2-point conversion catch by Antonio Gates brought the Chargers within 11, but JJ Jones’ fumble of a punt at the Chargers 2 and subsequent Hill touchdown made the deficit too much to overcome.
“It’s one of those games that you’re sick that you let it get away, because you didn’t make all the plays that you really dream about making. … It does nothing but make me be excited,” said Rivers, who was 34 of 51 with three touchdowns and an interception.
Chiefs: LB Ben Niemann suffered a hamstring injury. Coach Andy Reid said he did not know the severity of the injury and said it was likely going to be week-to-week. S Eric Berry made the trip, but was inactive due to a heel injury.
Chargers: RT Joe Barksdale was carted off after injuring his right knee during the first quarter and did not return. Lynn said he did not know the severity of the injury. Sam Tevi took Barksdale’s place on the offensive line. Lynn also said DT Joey Bosa, who was inactive for the game, remains week-to-week with a foot injury.
Chiefs: Continue their road trip next Sunday at Pittsburgh. Kansas City has dropped three of its last four to the Steelers in the regular season.
Chargers: Travel to Buffalo next Sunday in the first of two straight road games. The Chargers have won three straight and five of the last six against Buffalo.
Cowboys 8, Panthers 16
CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — Panthers defensive tackle Kawann Short stood smiling at his locker sporting a new black golf shirt with three letters stitched on that read: G2X.
It was a present to the defensive linemen from new coordinator Eric Washington — a reminder of the motto of this year’s unit.
“Getting to the spot, man; getting to the quarterback,” Short said. “It’s the mentality for everybody on defense.”
The Panthers’ defense did plenty of that Sunday, sacking quarterback Dak Prescott six times and limiting Dallas to 232 yards in a 16-8 victory over the Cowboys in the season opener.
Cam Newton ran for 58 yards and a touchdown, and Luke Kuechly had 13 tackles to lead the Panthers. Short had two sacks and Mario Addison added a game-clinching strip-sack of the Cowboys quarterback with 1:23 left.
“They’re great,” Prescott said of Carolina’s defense. “Luke Kuechly is the quarterback of that defense and does a great job of putting them in good position. And they are a sure-tackling team.”
The Cowboys, who entered the season looking to replace Dez Bryant and Jason Witten, couldn’t do much against a stingy Carolina defense in the first half. The Panthers limited the Cowboys to 60 yards and four first downs to take a 10-0 lead into the locker room.
Prescott finished with just 170 yards passing and Ezekiel Elliott was held to 69 yards rushing and didn’t score until the fourth quarter. Dallas’ leading receiver was Cole Beasley, who had seven catches for 73 yards.
Prescott refused to blame the team’s struggles on adjusting to new players — or on the offense’s lack of reps together in preseason.
“We have a lot of great players on this team,” Prescott said. “We’re not talking about guys we used to have or guys that are missing. It’s about the guys on the field and we gave it our all. I promise we will have a better performance next week.”
The Panthers seemed in complete control when fullback Alex Armah scored on a 1-yard run early in the fourth quarter to make it 16-0. But Carolina botched the extra point, keeping it a two-possession game and turning the momentum to the Cowboys.
Elliott scored on a 4-yard touchdown run on the next drive and Prescott added the 2-point conversion to cut the lead in half.
But Carolina stopped Dallas on its final two drives and Addison — who had 11 sacks last season — stripped Prescott of the ball and Captain Munnerlyn recovered.
“Kawann can’t get a sack without me; I can’t get a sack without him, can’t get one without (Julius) Peppers,” Addison said. “Everybody’s got to do their job.”
Cowboys coach Jason Garrett said the Cowboys did a better job of spreading the Panthers out late in the game, but added that penalties were a killer. Dallas was penalized 10 times for 85 yards.
OLSEN DOWN AGAIN: Panthers tight end Greg Olsen left in the first half with a foot injury and did not return. He was on the sideline in the second half on crutches with his right foot in the boot.
It’s the same foot Olsen broke last season, costing him nine games. Rivera offered no other updates on how long the three-time Pro Bowl selection might be out.
NEWTON RUNNING: Just as he did last season, Newton led the Panthers in rushing. He had 52 yards on four carries on the game’s opening drive, but Christian McCaffrey fumbled near the goal line.
Newton said new offensive coordinator Norv Turner told him when he arrived that, “I’m going to let you be you, baby.”
“They challenge you in so many different ways,” Garrett said. “The quarterback runs in the first half were such huge plays for them, converting third downs, down in the red zone. He’s been doing that his whole career. We knew that was something we’d have to somehow contain and control.”
GETTING HIS KICKS: Brett Maher, who replaced Dan Bailey — the second-most accurate kicker in NFL history — missed a 47-yard field goal in his first career attempt.
CHANGING TIMES: For the first time in franchise history, the Panthers painted their team logo at midfield.
New owner David Tepper made the decision after purchasing the team from Jerry Richardson in July. The Panthers have always had the NFL “shield” at midfield — per Richardson’s orders — since coming into the league as an expansion franchise in 1995.
Cowboys: Defensive end Randy Gregory suffered a concussion in the first half and did not return.
Panthers: Along with Olsen, second-team All-Pro right tackle Daryl Williams went down with a knee injury in the fourth quarter and was carted off the field. Williams tore his MCL and dislocated his knee cap in the preseason, but Rivera said this is not the same injury. … Kuechly injured his left knee in the fourth quarter but returned to the game.
Cowboys: Host the Giants on Sunday night.
Panthers: Visit the Falcons on Sunday.
Redskins 24, Cardinals 6
GLENDALE, Ariz. (AP) — Alex Smith looked like his old self. So did Adrian Peterson.
When the 34-year-old Smith wasn’t carving up the Arizona defense, the 33-year-old Peterson was running through it.
The result was a 24-6 Washington victory on Sunday, coach Jay Gruden’s first win in a season opener in five tries, and it was even more dominant than the final score would indicate.
“You guys put that monkey there. You guys kept reminding me about the dang 0-4 start,” Gruden said. “It counts as one game. I told our team we are 1-0 and now it is time we have to put back-to-back games together.”
Smith and Peterson were playing their first game as Redskins and the two veterans made an impact from the start.
“I thought the way we came out moving the ball, finishing drives in the red zone was big,” Smith said. “It certainly started with running the football. I thought our O-line was dominant.”
Smith, acquired from Kansas City in the offseason to replace Kirk Cousins, completed 21 of 30 passes without an interception and had TD throws of 13 yards to Chris Thompson and 4 yards to Jordan Reed. Peterson rushed for 96 yards on 26 carries, including a 1-yard touchdown run.
“The sky is the limit (for this offense),” Peterson said. “Alex is doing a great job running this offense and for the past couple of weeks I have seen these receivers go out in practice and grind. The offensive line speaks for itself and then you add C.T. (Chris Thompson) in there. That young guy got me going today.”
Peterson, who played for Arizona a year ago and signed with Washington as a free agent on Aug. 20, finished his day with a 52-yard reception, but fumbled at the end of the play.
The Redskins outgained the Cardinals 429-213 and had 30 first downs to Arizona’s 14 and it was even more one-sided before the Cardinals showed some life late in the game. Washington rushed for 182 yards to Arizona’s 68.
“The nemesis right now is just stopping the run,” Wilks said. “…Tackling was an issue.”
Arizona avoided a shutout when David Johnson ran 2 yards for a touchdown with 5:47 to play.
Johnson, who signed a three-year, $39 million contract extension with Arizona on Saturday night with $30 million guaranteed, carried nine times for 37 yards and caught five passes for 30 yards.
“I’m not even thinking about the contract,” he said. “I’m thinking about the loss and what I did wrong, the mental errors, dropped catches and how bad I played.”
Sam Bradford, in his debut as Cardinals quarterback, was 20 of 34 for 153 yards and was intercepted once.
The Redskins manhandled the Arizona defense in a dominant first half to lead 21-0 at the break. And the Arizona team under the new coaching regime was booed roundly as it left the field.
The statistics were stunningly one-sided through the first two quarters: 261 yards for the Redskins to 36 yards for the Cardinals. Smith completed 17 of 20 passes for 171 yards and two touchdowns. Bradford, meanwhile, was 3 of 7 for 11 yards. Washington had the ball for 22 minutes, 57 seconds to the Cardinals’ 7:03.
“We had three possessions in the first half and we’re down 21-0 at halftime,” Bradford said. “It’s tough on the defense, it’s tough on the offense.”
Arizona got two first downs on its first possession and went three-and-out the only other two times it had the ball in the first half.
Washington, meanwhile, had touchdown drives of 80, 73 and 92 yards behind a powerful rushing game and the efficient management of Smith.
The first scoring drive went 80 yards in 11 plays, Smith went 13 yards to Thompson on the first play of the second quarter for the score.
After Arizona’s first three-and-out, Washington used up 9:06 in a 15-play, 73-yard drive, Peterson plowing in from the 1-yard line to make it 14-0.
The Cardinals went nowhere again and the Redskins took advantage of their last chance of the half.
Smith completed 7 of 7 passes for 77 yards in a 10-play, 92-yard drive. Smith threw 4 yards to Reed for the touchdown and it was 21-0 with 8 seconds left in the half.
Three Washington players left the game with injuries.
Rookie wide receiver Cam Sims injured an ankle in the first quarter and was carted off the field. He did not return. Washington wide receiver Trey Quinn left in the third quarter, also with an ankle injury, and didn’t return. Redskins safety Troy Apke left with a hamstring injury in the fourth quarter.
Arizona right tackle Andre Smith left in the fourth quarter with an elbow injury.
Redskins: host Indianapolis next Sunday. Washington hasn’t started 2-0 since 2011.
Cardinals: play at the Los Angeles Rams next Sunday. Arizona lost at Los Angeles 33-0 last season.
Seahawks 24, Broncos 27
DENVER (AP) — Case Keenum won his Denver debut despite throwing three interceptions to go with his three touchdowns.
He can thank Von Miller , who sacked Russell Wilson three times, forced two fumbles and recovered one as the Broncos held off the Seattle Seahawks 27-24 on Sunday to win for the 18th time in their past 19 home openers.
Keenum, who signed a two-year, $36 million prove-it deal in Denver six months ago after leading the Minnesota Vikings to the NFC championship game, normally spends his time between series with his head down but he kept looking up to watch Miller’s magic.
“I’m trying to stay focused on looking at the pictures, getting ready for my next series. “But it’s hard not to notice when the crowd’s going crazy and Von’s out there crawling or whatever he’s doing, whatever his sack dance is,” Keenum said. “That’s impressive to watch.
“I’m glad I’m on the sidelines when he’s on the field, that’s for sure.”
Wilson wasn’t so lucky.
“We played a really tough defense, one of the best defenses you’re going to face all year. Obviously Von is a great player and he made some key plays,” Wilson said.
Miller, whose best play came when he simply snatched the ballfrom running back Chris Carson’s arms, said recently that he hates facing Wilson, whom he considers the best quarterback in the game today.
“I still don’t like playing against Russell, I mean, running around out there 20 yards, getting everybody tired,” Miller said. “Luckily, we were able to get him before he could get started. That was in our scheme this week, we wanted to keep him in the pocket and (make) him beat us with his arm, which he’s capable of doing. But we’d rather pick that poison and that strategy worked.”
Wilson threw for 298 yards and three TDs, but was picked off twice and sacked six times and ran just twice for 5 yards.
“He got out of the pocket a couple of times, but that’s Russ,” Miller said. “He’s a great player. He’s going to get out of the pocket, but we kept some of the great plays to a minimum.”
Keenum, who threw for 329 yards, only threw seven interceptions last season and already he has three.
“I’m really excited about how good this football team can be,” Keenum said. “Because if we take care of the ball — if I take care of the ball, because those are all on me — we’re going to be really, really hard to beat.”
After Demaryius Thomas atoned for several early hiccups by scoring the go-ahead TD with 11:11 left, the Seahawks gained just 3 yards in their final three possessions, the last one ending with Adam Jones’ interception at midfield with no time left.
“It’s frustrating,” Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said. “Third downs we were lousy (2 for 12) and we didn’t run the ball as well as we wanted (64 yards) and we got sacked a bunch of times. It was not a very clean game for us.”
Wilson put the Seahawks ahead 24-20 when he found Tyler Lockett all alone for a 51-yard touchdown catch early in the fourth quarter.
Brandon Marshall’s 20-yard TD catch for Seattle tied it at 17 and came against the team he started his career with back in 2006.
NO DOUBTING THOMAS
One of Keenum’s interceptions came when Demaryius Thomas, who also had three passes go off his hands and was whistled for a holding call that negated a first-down run, never looked back and safety Earl Thomas snared it in his first game since ending his holdout Wednesday.
“I thought I had a pick-6,” said Thomas, who was caught at the 15-yard line by Broncos speedy running back Phillip Lindsay.
No matter: Six seconds later, rookie tight end Will Dissly blew past rookie linebacker Bradley Chubb and hauled in the 15-yard TD pass.
“Just glad to get through the first game and get that out of the way,” said Earl Thomas, who returned to the team after his pay-me-or-trade-me demands went nowhere.
Denver took a 14-10 lead when Emmanuel Sanders somersaulted into the end zone with a 43-yard score. That was his first touchdown since Week 2 of last season.
“It was good to get back in the end zone so I decided to bust out the flip,” Sanders said. “It felt good.”
Shaquill Griffin’s twin brother, rookie linebacker Shaquem Griffin, started the game with K.J. Wright out following minor knee surgery. It’s another chapter in the remarkable story of Griffin , who had his left hand amputated as a child.
The Griffins had back-to-back tackles on Seattle’s second defensive series.
INJURIES: The only injury of note from either team was Seattle WR Doug Baldwin (right MCL sprain).
Seahawks: Visit Los Angeles Chargers on Sunday.
Broncos: Host Oakland Raiders on Sunday.
Bears 23, Packers 24
GREEN BAY, Wis. (AP) — Slowed by a sore knee, Aaron Rodgers picked up the pace behind center.
Remarkably, the two-time NFL MVP was more effective against the Chicago Bears after returning from what initially looked like a serious injury.
The hobbling quarterback threw three touchdown passes in the fourth quarter after returning from injury, and the Green Bay Packers overcame a 20-point deficit for a thrilling 24-23 win over the Bears on Sunday night.
Rodgers connected with receiver Randall Cobb for a catch-and-run through the secondary for a 75-yard touchdown and the go-ahead score with 2:13 left in the game.
“You’ve seen it time and time again. That guy’s a warrior,” Cobb said.
Rodgers was hurt in the second quarter after slipping to the turf while under pressure from linebacker Khalil Mack and defensive lineman Roy Robertson-Harris. The lineman landed on Rodgers, who grabbed the back of his left leg. He had ACL surgery on his left knee in college.
Rodgers was carted back to the locker room. Doctors determined he did not suffer a major injury and cleared him to return in the second half.
The Packers had to make a slight adjustment with their normally mobile quarterback limited to the pocket.
“Got to get the ball out. Can’t be moving around a whole lot back there,” Rodgers said. “And we did a good job mixing things up in the second half with some of our quicker-hitter stuff and actually some of our more vertical stuff, too.”
Rodgers also had touchdown passes to Geronimo Allison (39 yards) and Davante Adams (12 yards) in completing the rally from a 20-0 deficit with 9:14 to go in the third quarter.
Rodgers finished 20 of 30 for 286 yards, including 17 of 23 for 273 yards in the second half.
“Obviously, that’s a tough one for us. It stings,” coach Matt Nagy said after his Bears debut.
MACK ATTACK: A Chicago defense featuring newly acquired star linebacker Khalil Mack dominated until the third quarter. Mack had a 27-yard interception return for a touchdown against backup quarterback DeShone Kizer in the second. He had a strip-sack that led to another turnover. He had pressure in the backfield on a play in which Rodgers hurt his left knee.
This from a player who missed the entire preseason. The Bears acquired Mack last week in a trade with the Oakland Raiders.
“I prepared all offseason for the first game of the season and I wanted to … make an impact,” Mack said. “But you want to win these games. That’s the only thing on my mind. I hate losing.”
FAST START: An offensive-minded coach, Nagy had the aggressive Bears’ offense pushing the Packers around the field in the first half. Mitchell Trubisky was 23 of 35 for 171 yards. He also ran for 32 yards on seven carries, including a 2-yard touchdown run in the first quarter. It turned out to be the only offensive touchdown the Bears would score all night. The Packers’ defense, in new coordinator Mike Pettine’s first game, held the Bears to two field goals in the second half.
“You know we talked about finishing and we didn’t do that,” Nagy said.
COMEBACK COMPLETE: Nick Perry sacked the Bears’ Mitchell Trubisky on fourth-and-10 with 58 seconds to complete the comeback. It was memorable start to the Packers’ 100th season. Sunday marked the first time in franchise history that the Packers won after trailing by 17-plus points entering the fourth quarter, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.
MORE RODGERS: Packers coach Mike McCarthy said he was prepared to go with Kizer to start the second half until getting the word from the team doctor in the tunnel.
“His performance speaks for itself,” McCarthy said.
Rodgers said he knee was swollen after the game. The Packers plan to run more tests on their QB on Monday, though Rodgers seems very optimistic to about his availability for next week’s game against Minnesota.
“No, I’m planning on playing,” Rodgers said.
OTHER DEBUTS: Chicago’s Allen Robinson had four catches for 61 yards on seven targets in his debut as the Bears’ top receiver. … TE Jimmy Graham had two catches for eight yards on four targets after joining the Packers as a free agent in the offseason from the Seattle Seahawks.
Jets 48, Lions 17
DETROIT (AP) — Sam Darnold rolled right and made a rookie move, lobbing a football across the field that was picked off and returned for a touchdown.
It might’ve been his only mistake all night.
Darnold made a stellar debut after throwing a pick-6 on his first NFL snap, and the New York Jets intercepted five passes and also scored on special teams in a 48-17 rout over the Detroit Lions on Monday night.
The 21-year-old Darnold became the youngest quarterback to start a season opener since the 1970 AFL-NFL merger, and looked his age on the first play.
“Licking my chops a little bit too much, I think, on that play,” he said
Quandre Diggs intercepted his ill-advised pass and returned it 37 yards for a touchdown 20 seconds into the game.
“On that interception, I was pretty nervous,” Darnold said. “After that, I put it behind me.”
The former USC star, drafted No. 3 overall, shook off the nerves and finished 16 of 21 for 198 yards and two touchdowns . He is the first quarterback to win his first start by 31 or more points since Tom Brady in 2001, per ESPN Stats & Info.
“He didn’t flinch,” Jets coach Todd Bowles said. “He didn’t even blink.”
Darnold helped the Jets set a franchise record for points on the road, surpassing the 47 they scored in 1967 against the Boston Patriots.
He also outplayed 30-year-old Matthew Stafford.
Stafford threw four interceptions — one shy of his career high — and left the game briefly in the third quarter after being hit from the front and back by the swarming, hard-hitting Jets.
“We wanted to make sure we came out and made a statement in this game,” New York linebacker Darron Lee said.
Stafford was 27 of 46 for 286 yards and a TD pass to Golden Tate early in the third quarter to tie it at 17. He was mercifully taken out midway through the fourth quarter and replaced by Matt Cassel with Detroit down 31.
“Story of the game’s turnovers, you know?” he asked. “We had too many of them, I had too many of them.”
The Jets dominated in all phases.
They scored 31 straight in the third quarter to pull away, sending Detroit’s fans for the exits and setting off a jolly green party in the Motor City. It was the highest-scoring third quarter in team history and trailed only the 34-point second quarter the Brett Favre-led team scored in 2008 against Arizona.
New York scored on the ground and through the air, on defense and on a punt return by former Lion Andre Roberts. The Jets could’ve piled on even more in the final minutes but turned the ball over on downs after kneeling to take time off the clock. Darnold flipped the ball to a referee after the final kneel down, and the official gave it right back before shaking the rookie’s hand. Darnold was still holding the ball while talking briefly with Stafford on the field.
Detroit coach Matt Patricia, meanwhile, will want to forget his debut as an NFL head coach.
“We’ve got to coach this a lot better than what we did,” he said. “We’ve got to go out and execute a lot better on the field. It’s a team game, and it starts with me.”
New NFL head coaches dropped to 0-6 in Week 1, with Oakland’s Jon Gruden the group’s final hope for an opening victory in the Monday nightcap.
Late in the game, just before Cassel threw an interception, hundreds of New York fans chanted: “J-E-T-S, JETS! JETS! JETS!” A crew clad in green and white filed into seats in four sections along the New York sideline and appeared to outnumber Detroit fans who stuck around for the bitter end.
“That was awesome to be able to see them doing their thing,” Darnold said.
The Jets had played an NFL record 73 games, dating to 2013, without a defensive TD before Lee returned one of his two interceptions 36 yards for a score in the third. Trumaine Johnson, Morris Claiborne and Jamal Adams also picked off passes in a strong start for the Jets self-proclaimed “New Jack City” secondary.
Darnold joined Tampa Bay’s Jameis Winston (2015) and Brett Favre (1991) as quarterbacks who had their first pass intercepted and returned for a score.
Jets: CB Johnson (head injury) and CB Buster Skrine (rib) returned to play after leaving the field with injuries. Johnson was evaluated after he intercepted a pass and fumbled after taking a hard hitfrom Detroit receiver Kenny Golladay.
Lions: DE Ezekiel Ansah, who has struggled to get and stay healthy, left the game with a shoulder after making four tackles, including a sack. OG T.J. Lang left the game with a back injury. CB Darius Slay returned to play after leaving the field to be evaluated for a concussion.
Jets: Host the Miami Dolphins on Sunday.
Lions: Visit the San Francisco 49ers on Sunday.
Rams 33, Raiders 13
OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) — Once Jared Goff and the Los Angeles Rams offense got started after sitting out the entire preseason, they couldn’t be stopped.
Goff threw two touchdown passes, newcomer Marcus Peters returned an interception 50 yards for a touchdown and the Rams used a dominant second half to spoil coach Jon Gruden’s much-anticipated return to the Oakland sideline by beating the Raiders 33-13 on Monday night.
“There was a little bit of feeling it out, seeing what they’re going to do, seeing what their scheme is,” Goff said. “I thought our defense did a great job of responding as well as our offense. I still don’t think we played up to our standards in the first half. Think the second half, we came out and we did.”
Goff and the rest of the offensive starters for the Rams (1-0) didn’t play at all in the preseason, and many of the top defensive players also got little time on the field in the exhibition games.
That might have contributed to the shaky start. The Raiders (0-1) moved the ball relatively easily and the Rams struggled to finish drives. But Los Angeles flipped the script in the second half, outscoring Oakland 23-0 and showing why this team is considered one of the favorites in the NFC after last year’s breakthrough season that ended with a division title.
“I think for us to be able to go through a little bit of adversity and have to come back from behind going into the half, that was a good test of your resolve as a football team,” coach Sean McVay said. “It was certainly a good job by those guys and I thought the offense responded.”
Gruden had his first game as coach of the Raiders (0-1) since the end of the 2001 season. He was traded to Tampa Bay after that season and beat the Raiders in the Super Bowl the following year. He has been announcing for ESPN for the past nine seasons before Oakland owner Mark Davis finally lured him back to the delight of Raiders fans.
But there were only boos by the end of the night after Peters iced the game with his touchdown return on Derek Carr’s third interception of the game.
“It was a tale of two halves,” Gruden said. “Obviously we did not take care of the ball and that was a critical part of that football game.”
Peters punctuated that with a celebratory dive into the end zone reminiscent of his close friend Marshawn Lynch.
“I did the Beast Mode,” Peters said. “That’s what I did.”
Gruden’s second stint started well with the Raiders taking the opening kick and driving 75 yards for a touchdown on a 10-yard run by Lynch. The Rams had Lynch stood up at the 3, but he powered his way into the end zone with help from a push by his offensive linemen.
Oakland managed just six points the rest of the way against a defense fortified by the offseason additions of former All-Pros Peters, Aqib Talib and Ndamukong Suh.
Carr threw an interception in the end zone to John Johnson in the second quarter and another in the fourth when he tried to pull back a pass at the last minute only to have the ball slip out and float right to linebacker Cory Littleton
“It was one of the dumbest plays you could have,” Carr said. “I knew what I should have done as soon as that play was over.”
The Rams matched the early score when Todd Gurley took a flip from Goff and raced 19 yards to the end zone . They took control in the second half.
Los Angeles tied it at 13 on a field goal by Greg Zuerlein on the opening drive of the third quarter and then took the lead for good on a 58-yard, four-play drive that featured two passes downfield to another offseason addition, Brandin Cooks, and then the 8-yard TD to Cooper Kupp.
The Raiders barely touched Goff all night just over a week after trading star pass rusher Khalil Mack to Chicago for a package that included two first-round picks. Bruce Irvin had the only sack when Goff held the ball too long and there were few other pressures.
Gruden’s defeat dropped the league’s new head coaches to 0-7 in Week 1.
The Raiders once again had issues with penalties, committing 10 for 145 yards in the first half alone thanks to two long pass interference calls against Rashaan Melvin (37 yards) and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie (50). That’s more yards in penalties than they had in any game during Gruden’s first four-year stint and the most in the first half for any team since at least 2000. The Raiders had one penalty for 10 yards in the second half.
Raiders long snapper Andrew DePaola injured his knee in the first quarter and didn’t return. TE Lee Smith filled in and provided accurate snaps on two field goals. He had a high snap on a punt but Johnny Townsend leaped and brought it down with no issues. It was a far cry from the 2012 season opener when Jon Condo got hurt for Oakland and Travis Goethel came in and botched three snaps in a loss to the Chargers.
“It was stressful, I can’t even lie to you guys,” Smith said. “I’m just glad they all got back there.”
Rams returner Pharoh Cooper left in the second half with an ankle injury.
Lynch sat once again during the national anthem. Lynch also sat for the anthem all of last season but never gave a reason for his decision.
Rams: Host Arizona on Sunday.
Raiders: Visit Denver on Sunday.