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Here is a recap of Week 3 of the 2018 NFL Season with a Tuesday Morning QB & thanks again to AP Sports/ Pro 32 for photos & articles.
Jets 17, Browns 21
CLEVELAND (AP) — For the first time in 635 days, the Cleveland Browns won.
Baker Mayfield showed them how.
The No. 1 overall pick replaced injured starter Tyrod Taylor and sparked the Browns, who got two 1-yard touchdown runs from Carlos Hyde and beat the New York Jets 21-17 on Thursday night for their first win since Dec. 24, 2016.
“I’ve just been waiting for my moment,” Mayfield said. “I’m just getting started.”
And so ends Cleveland’s 19-game winless streak, the NFL’s second-longest since the 1970 AFL-NFL merger.
The Browns (1-1-1) trailed 14-0 in the first half before Mayfield came in for Taylor and led four scoring drives while winning an unexpected matchup against Jets rookie quarterback Sam Darnold. Cleveland passed on taking Darnold in the draft and instead chose Mayfield, the Heisman Trophy winner from Oklahoma.
Mayfield finished 17 of 23 for 201 yards in a little more than a half after coming in after Taylor suffered a concussion.
Darnold had one last chance, but was intercepted by Terrence Mitchell with 11 seconds left.
When the final seconds ticked off the clock, Cleveland fans, who had endured a 0-16 season and waited nearly two years to see their Browns win, erupted in celebration.
Refrigerators around the city stocked with Bud Lights were finally unlocked, and there figured to be more than a few beverages consumed in the hours ahead.
This was just one win, and while it was an ending, it also felt like a beginning — because of Mayfield.
“Dilly, dilly to the Cleveland fans,” Mayfield said, using the beer’s commercial slogan. “It’s not the only win we’re going to celebrate.”
Isaiah Crowell had two touchdown runs for the Jets (1-2), who seemed in control when they took a 14-0 lead and knocked Taylor from the game.
Newly signed Browns kicker Greg Joseph made field goals of 45 and 27 yards after being signed just three days ago.
Browns coach Hue Jackson got just his second win in 35 games since being hired by owners Dee and Jimmy Haslam, and this win will ease some of the pressure he’s been feeling to get Cleveland turned around. Jackson could also be faced with a difficult choice — either stick with Mayfield or go back to Taylor when he’s healthy.
The decision might not be as tough now.
Jackson wouldn’t commit to staying with Mayfield, but referred to the performance as “his coming out party” several times.
Mayfield made his NFL debut with 1:42 left in the second quarter, replacing an injured Taylor after Cleveland’s starter was sacked for the third time. Taylor struggled getting to his feet after being dragged down by linebacker Avery Williamson, but he had absorbed several hard blows before that — and had been ineffective.
With Cleveland’s crowd roaring, Mayfield completed a 14-yard pass to Jarvis Landry on his first pass as a pro and then found tight end David Njoku for 17 yards. Mayfield drove Cleveland into field-goal position and Joseph, who signed with the team on Monday following a tryout, drilled a low line drive to pull the Browns within 14-3.
Cleveland’s plan was to have Mayfield watch and learn this season.
Taylor’s injury may change everything.
For Darnold, a promising start ended with his second loss in three games. He completed 15 of 31 passes for 169 yards, but threw two picks late in the fourth as he tried to rally the Jets.
“I feel like I’ve got to play better and make better reads,” Darnold said. “I need to be more decisive. We’ve got to make them pay and put the ball in our playmakers’ hands.”
Hyde’s 1-yard TD run pulled the Browns within 14-12 and Cleveland tied it with a trick 2-point play .
Mayfield shifted to the left and the ball was snapped directly to running back Duke Johnson, who ran right and gave the ball to Landry on a reverse. Landry then lofted a pass into the end zone to Mayfield, whose conversion tied it and sent Cleveland fans into a frenzy.
Crowell scored his second TD with 7:54 left in the second quarter, and was flagged for excessive celebrating when he squatted and wiped the ball on his backside before flinging it into the crowd.
Crowell’s untouched 7-yard run TD run came five plays after Jets linebacker Kevin Pierre-Louis got a hand on Britton Colquitt’s attempted punt and New York took over at Cleveland’s 28.
On the first play of the second quarter, Crowell took an inside handoff and raced into the end zone before firing the ball into the stands in celebration. Crowell spent four seasons with the Browns before signing a three-year, $12 million free agent contract with New York as a free agent in March.
Hyde arrived late for pregame warmups because his wife was giving birth. Jackson said as of late Thursday night the child had not yet been delivered.
Joseph stayed on the field and kicked by himself during the opening coin toss, and each of his makes drew a rousing ovation from Cleveland fans. Just a few days ago, Joseph was relaxing in South Florida with friends while Gonzalez missed four kicks in New Orleans and then got booted by the Browns.
The Browns suspended radio reporter Nathan Zegura eight games for his conduct on the sideline during last Sunday’s loss at New Orleans. Zegura, who also co-hosts the team’s in-house radio broadcast, can’t work a game until Nov. 25. He has also been removed from the team’s afternoon show for two weeks.
Jets: CB Trumaine Johnson left in the first quarter with a suspected head injury, but returned. …. WR Charone Peake sustained a hamstring injury. … CB Buster Skrine injured his knee in the first and did not return. … WR Robby Anderson injured his nose in the third quarter, but came back.
Browns: S Jabrill Peppers hurt a shoulder in the first half, and Landry replaced him on punt returns.
Jets: Play at Jacksonville on Sept. 30.
Browns: Visit the Oakland Raiders on Sept. 30.
Packers 17, Redskins 31
LANDOVER, Md. (AP) — A week removed from what he called “an embarrassment,” Adrian Peterson turned in his first 100-yard game in more than 10 months.
Peterson ran for 120 yards and a pair of 2-yard scores, Alex Smith threw two touchdown passes and the Washington Redskins held on Sunday for a 31-17 victory over a gimpy Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers, who again had complaints about a roughing-the-passer penalty on Clay Matthews.
On a rainy afternoon, the Redskins (2-1) went up 14-0 and were ahead 28-10 at halftime, thanks to putting together TD drives of 74, 75, 79 and 98 yards.
Smith connected for TDs of 46 yards to Paul Richardson on the game’s fourth play and of 9 to Jamison Crowder in the second quarter, and Peterson’s two short trips to the end zone also both came in the first half. After gaining only 20 yards on 11 carries during a 21-9 loss to the Indianapolis Colts in Week 2, Peterson ran 19 times Sunday and raised his career total to 102 rushing touchdowns.
That broke a tie at 100 with Marshall Faulk and Shaun Alexander and moved him alone into seventh place in NFL history behind Emmitt Smith’s record of 164. Next up at No. 6 is former Redskins star John Riggins, at 104.
“It felt good to get into ‘The 100 Club.’ I have a little time off now. Maybe I can look and see who I’m approaching,” said the 33-year-old Peterson, referring to Washington’s Week 4 bye. “Riggins, he’s a guy that I do remember seeing up there on the list and thinking, ‘God willing, I’ll be able to pass him eventually.'”
This was Peterson’s 52nd game with at least 100 yards on the ground, and first since Nov. 5, 2017, for Arizona against San Francisco.
Peterson left the game late after getting kicked in the ankle, but coach Jay Gruden dismissed that as nothing to worry about. Before that, Peterson had a 41-yard run, part of a group of big plays allowed by the Packers that included Smith’s TD toss to Richardson, a 50-yard completion to Vernon Davis and a 34-yard completion to Jordan Reed.
“We just came out and laid an egg in the first half. … Missed tackles. Missed assignments,” said Matthews, who was whistled for the way he sacked Smith late in the third quarter, then complained about the way NFL games are officiated nowadays.
Smith went 12 for 20 for 220 yards. He also had his streak of 156 consecutive passes without an interception, the longest active run in the league, end in the second quarter. Safety Ha Ha Clinton-Dix made the pick when Reed went one way and Smith threw another.
Playing with a bulky brace on his left knee, which he hurt in Week 1, Rodgers hobbled and limped around, and couldn’t do enough to get the Packers (1-1-1) back into the game.
He finished 27 for 44 for 265 yards with two TDs — of 64 yards to Geronimo Allison and 2 yards to Davante Adams — and was sacked four times.
“I got a little banged up, but finished the game and I expect to start next week,” Rodgers said. “It can be painful at times moving around, especially lateral movement. But I’m going to be out there if I’m up to it and try and get this thing back turned the right direction with a win next week.”
Green Bay’s receivers had problems with drops, plus Randall Cobb was stripped of the ball by Fabian Moreau — Josh Norman recovered the fumble — after a completion with about 5½ minutes remaining in the fourth quarter.
“I didn’t give us an opportunity to win. Third-down drop on the first drive. Fourth-down drop. Fumble,” Cobb said. “I played terrible.”
Right after that, Peterson helped seal the outcome, with three runs in a row for a total of 26 yards — a greater output than he managed in the entire game against the Colts.
“In the fourth quarter there, when we needed it the most,” Gruden said, “Adrian was able to make a big impact.”
Packers: DL Muhammad Wilkerson was carted off in the second quarter with an ankle injury. … RT Bryan Bulaga (back) and RG Justin McCray (shoulder) went out. … LB Nick Perry was evaluated for a concussion.
Redskins: RT Morgan Moses exited in the first quarter with a concussion. He was replaced by Ty Nsekhe. … Gruden said Norman had “a little bit of a hamstring issue.”
GO, PACK, GO!
There were several times when loud cheers of “Go, Pack, go!” rang out in the Redskins’ stadium, a week after there were boos and Washington’s home sellout streak ended. “It’s crazy. They brought their fans to the hotel we’re staying in,” Norman said. “Then you saw them in the stands.”
Packers: Host the Buffalo Bills.
Redskins: Bye week, play Oct. 8 at New Orleans.
49ers 27, Chiefs 38
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Patrick Mahomes was flushed from the pocket and scrambled all the way to his left, only to realize that just about everybody wearing a Chiefs helmet was on the opposite side of the field.
It was a rookie mistake by the second-year pro, one he turned into more early season magic.
Mahomes quickly reversed field against the pursuing San Francisco defense, ran all the way to the other side and threw a dart to Chris Conley in the back of the end zone. It was one of three TD passes he threw in a 38-27 victory over the 49ers on Sunday — and easily the most impressive .
“That,” Chiefs coach Andy Reid acknowledged with a smile, “was a good one.”
Mahomes finished with 314 yards passing in his first regular-season start at Arrowhead Stadium, and his touchdown throws to Conley, Demetrius Harris and Sammy Watkins gave him 13 this season without an interception. That total broke the NFL record of 12 for the first three weeks of a season, set by Peyton Manning during the 2013 campaign.
More importantly, all those touchdown tosses have the Chiefs 3-0. They are the third team to score at least 38 points in each of the first three games, joining 2007 New England and the 1967 Baltimore Colts.
“We’ve got a bunch of weapons,” said Chiefs running back Kareem Hunt, who added his first two touchdown runs this season, “and Pat is just a competitor. I knew that from the day we met, when we got drafted together. We said one day we were going to take over the Chiefs Kingdom.”
The Chiefs have clearly found their long-term answer at quarterback.
The 49ers? They have a whole lot of questions now.
Jimmy Garoppolo left late in the fourth quarter after his left knee buckled during a scramble to the sideline. He was crushed on his throwing shoulder by the Chiefs’ Steven Nelson, but the damage was already done, and the 49ers’ franchise quarterback was carted off to the locker room.
“We fear an ACL,” 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan said. “We’ll find out for sure tomorrow.”
The 49ers (1-2) trailed 35-7 late in the first half before rallying behind Garoppolo, who threw for 251 yards and two touchdowns. Matt Breida added 90 yards rushing and Alfred Morris scored on the ground as San Francisco clawed to within 35-24 late in the third quarter.
It was still 38-24 when the 49ers produced a grinding, 17-play drive that wiped out more than half the fourth quarter. But it ended in a strange sequence that began with Garoppolo taking the shot from Nelson along the sideline, rather than stepping out of bounds and avoiding the hit.
“I think that was his fault,” said Chiefs linebacker Justin Houston, who was trailing the play. “I pray he’s not hurt, it’s nothing serious, but as a quarterback you should step out of bounds. It’s only an inch. An inch wouldn’t have made a difference. You got the yardage. You need to be smart.”
C.J. Beathard came in on third-and-goal and threw what appeared to be a touchdown pass to George Kittle, but it was wiped out by offensive pass interference with 5:17 left in the game.
Rather than go for it on fourth down at the Kansas City 25, Shanahan elected to kick a field goal — keeping it a two-possession game. Then the 49ers kicked it deep rather than try an onside kick, and the Chiefs picked up a first down by penalty before Hunt churned for two more and put the game away.
“That’s our time in the game,” Reid said. “You take a lot of pride in it. They’re going backward and we’re going forward and it’s all good.”
MORE ON GAROPPOLO
Shanahan acknowledged a quarterback move is likely, though Beathard is line to start next week in Los Angeles. The 49ers’ only other QB is Nick Mullins, a member of the practice squad. “I just talked to (Garoppolo) in the training room,” Beathard said. “I told him I’ll be praying for him and I love him and he just told me to lead these guys.”
49ers LB Reuben Foster had a rough return from a two-game suspension for violating the league’s personal conduct and substance abuse policy. Foster was hit with a personal foul for hitting Mahomes as the QB was sliding in the first half, Kelce beat him in pass defense, and the young linebacker left early in the fourth quarter when he was shaken up on a tackle.
49ers: The defensive backfield was in tatters by the fourth quarter. CB Richard Sherman left with a calf injury, FS Adrian Colbert hurt his ankle and backup CB Tarvarius Moore left with a wrist injury. SS Jaquiski Taylor was already inactive with a shoulder injury.
Chiefs: LB Dee Ford left with a groin injury in the fourth quarter. He will have an MRI exam Monday … Conley briefly left with a right ankle injury, though he returned to make his TD catch. … SS Eric Berry (heel) remained inactive for the third straight week.
49ers: Play the Chargers in Los Angeles next Sunday.
Chiefs: Visit the AFC West-rival Broncos next Monday night.
Giants 27, Texans 22
HOUSTON (AP) — After two difficult losses, Odell Beckham Jr. saw a different energy in the New York Giants on Sunday.
“We came out and played like we loved the game of football and we were kids just having fun,” the star receiver said. “It wasn’t like: ‘We’re down 0-2 and we’ve got to win.’ It was like: ‘Let’s go out and have fun today.’ That’s what we did, and we got the win.”
Eli Manning threw for 297 yards and two touchdowns and rookie Saquon Barkley added a score as the Giants got a 27-22 victory over the struggling Houston Texans.
The Giants (1-2) were up by 14 at halftime but had trouble moving the ball in the second half. The Texans (0-3) had cut the lead to five before Manning threw a 7-yard touchdown pass to Sterling Shepard with about two minutes left.
“I always knew they had great resolve, but (Sunday) we just made enough plays to win,” coach Pat Shurmur said. “We went from being ‘almost’ in a lot of areas to finishing it.”
Deshaun Watson threw a 4-yard touchdown pass to Lamar Miller with 1 second left to cut the lead to 27-22, but New York recovered the onside kick.
Watson threw for 385 yards and two scores, but his interception was one of two second-half turnovers by the Texans, off to their worst start since dropping their first four games of 2008.
“I just try to think of ways to get us out of this,” coach Bill O’Brien said. “I know that it starts with me … I’ve got to figure out how to do a better job. It’s as simple as that.”
Beckham had nine receptions for 109 yards and Barkley finished with 82 yards rushing as the Giants came one point shy of matching their points total from their first two games combined.
A 54-yard field goal got Houston within 20-9 in the third quarter. The Texans forced a punt and were driving again when Miller caught a short pass and fumbled after a hit by Donte Deayon. The Giants recovered but couldn’t move the ball and had to punt after a drive that featured a sack by J.J. Watt.
But the Texans turned over the ball again, this time when Watson was intercepted in the end zone by Alec Ogletree.
Houston cut the lead to 20-15 when Will Fuller grabbed a 6-yard pass from Watson with about 7 1/2 minutes remaining, but the 2-point conversion failed.
After leading the NFL in yards rushing through the first three games, the Texans couldn’t get anything going on the ground. They finished with 59 yards rushing, and Miller managed just 10 yards on as many carries.
The Texans led 3-0 after a 23-yard field goal by Ka’imi Fairbairn on their first drive. The Giants took their first lead this season when Barkley shed multiple tackles on a 15-yard run that made it 7-3.
New York added two field goals before Manning connected with Rhett Ellison on a 16-yard touchdown to push the advantage to 20-3 late in the second quarter.
Watt had a strip sack on third down to make the Giants settle for the second field goal. Watt hadn’t had a sack since Sept. 18, 2016 before taking Manning down on that play.
Houston cut the lead to 20-6 at halftime after a 28-yard field goal.
New York tight end Evan Engram (knee) left in the second quarter. … Giants CB Antonio Hamilton injured his groin in the first quarter and didn’t return. … Houston WR Bruce Ellington injured his hamstring in the first quarter and didn’t return. … Texans G Senio Kelemete (knee) left in the second quarter.
Watt, who played just eight games in the 2016-17 seasons because of injuries, finished with three sacks, three tackles for losses, four quarterback hits and a forced fumble. The three-time NFL Defensive Player of the Year said he’s feeling progressively better every week and is glad to be contributing again.
“It’s good to finally end such a long drought in that type of way,” he said. “But … personal stats don’t matter at all in a loss.”
SPREADING IT AROUND
Manning did a good job of spreading the ball around, completing at least one pass to six players and finding three guys five or more times.
“I think you want to get everybody involved,” he said. “We got off to a fast start and needed a big drive at the end to win the game and we were able to do it.”
The Texans are searching for a way to eliminate penalties on offense after committing several false start and holding penalties. Right tackle Julien Davenport was the worst offender and had three false start and two holding penalties.
“It’s the story of penalties, mistakes,” Davenport said. “I don’t know how many penalties I had, but way too much. Hurt this team badly. I’ve got to eliminate it all.”
Giants: Host New Orleans next Sunday.
Texans: Visit the Colts next Sunday.
Colts 16, Eagles 20
PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Carson Wentz shook off rust and defenders.
Wentz threw a touchdown pass on his first drive in nine months, Wendell Smallwood ran in from the 4 for the go-ahead score and the Philadelphia Eagles held on for a 20-16 victory over the Indianapolis Colts on Sunday.
“It was a long time coming,” Wentz said after playing his first game since he tore two ligaments in his left knee last Dec. 10. “It felt great.”
Adam Vinatieri tied Morten Andersen’s career record of 565 field goals by connecting on all three tries, but the Colts (1-2) couldn’t take advantage of two turnovers by Wentz inside the 20 in the second half.
“I like to step out there and kick field goals,” Vinatieri said, “but it’s better kicking extra points, that’s for sure.”
The defending Super Bowl champion Eagles (2-1) needed two defensive stops against Andrew Luck in the final 90 seconds.
Indy had a first down at the Eagles 11 and two cracks from the 4, but Luck’s pass to T.Y. Hilton sailed over his shoulder in the left corner of the end zone on third down and Derek Barnett sacked Luck on fourth down.
The Colts got the ball again at their 11 with 39 seconds remaining but couldn’t reach midfield. Jacoby Brissett threw a desperation pass on the final play that fell incomplete.
“We knew we fell short in the red zone,” Luck said. “Our guys gave us a chance at the end. What else can you ask on the road against the defending Super Bowl champs.”
Wentz engineered the winning drive with precise passes and nifty moves. Wentz eluded a sack and threw a 10-yard pass to Nelson Agholor, who hurdled for a first down on third-and-9 to extend the drive at the Colts 26.
Four plays later, Smallwood scored to make it 20-16.
“That was huge,” Wentz said.
Fans welcomed back Wentz with a standing ovation when he ran through the tunnel during introductions.
On a wet, soggy field, Wentz showed no effects of the injury at the start. He misfired on his first pass, then connected over the middle to Zach Ertz and kept going. Running a no-huddle offense, Wentz drove the Eagles 79 yards in 12 plays and capped it with a 13-yard TD pass to Dallas Goedert for a 7-0 lead.
Wentz was sacked five times, scrambled three times and dove for a first down on one of his runs.
“It felt like riding a bike, get hit and pop back up again,” he said.
But the offense couldn’t get much going until the fourth quarter. Wentz nearly gave the Colts the game.
First, he stared down Ertz and floated a pass that was picked by Anthony Walker and returned to the Eagles 16. But the Colts only managed a 31-yarder by Vinatieri that gave them a 13-10 lead.
After Jake Elliott answered with a 24-yarder on the following drive, Margus Hunt knocked the ball out of Wentz’s hands and recovered the fumble at the Eagles 13. Philadelphia’s defense again held and Vinatieri made a 28-yard field goal to give Indianapolis a 16-13 lead.
“Those are things that can’t happen,” Eagles coach Doug Pederson said of the turnovers. “Overall, for his first time back, not so bad.”
Luck threw a 5-yard TD pass to Ryan Grant to tie it 7-7 after Elliott missed a 55-yard field goal wide left.
Colts: Luck was 25 of 40 for 164 yards, one TD
Eagles: Wentz finished 25 of 37 for 255 yards, one TD and one pick.
Colts coach Frank Reich was Philadelphia’s offensive coordinator the previous two seasons.
Wentz’s return sent Super Bowl MVP Nick Foles back to the sideline. Foles replaced Wentz in Week 14 and led the Eagles to their first NFL title since 1960.
Undrafted rookie Josh Adams, the fifth-leading rusher in Notre Dame history, had 30 yards rushing on six carries for the Eagles. He was promoted from the practice squad earlier in the week.
Wentz avoided a sack, ran toward the sideline and dove out of bounds for a first down on third-and-6 on the final drive of the first half. … Luck outran Eagles defensive lineman Chris Long for a 33-yard gain in the second quarter.
Colts: RT Joe Haeg left with an ankle injury. … LT Anthony Castonzo (hamstring) was out again and RB Marlon Mack (hamstring, foot) also sat.
Eagles: S Rodney McLeod left with a right knee injury after colliding with teammate Mills in the third quarter. … RBs Jay Ajayi (back) and Darren Sproles (hamstring) were out and WR Alshon Jeffery (shoulder) missed his third straight game.
Colts: Host the Houston Texans next Sunday.
Eagles: Visit the Tennessee Titans next Sunday.
Saints 43, Falcons 37 OT
ATLANTA (AP) — On the day he became the NFL’s career leader in completed passes, Drew Brees’ biggest plays came as a runner.
Brees’ 1-yard run capped an 80-yard touchdown drive to open overtime that lifted the New Orleans Saints to a 43-37 win over the Atlanta Falcons on Sunday.
That came after his 7-yard score late in the fourth quarter forced the overtime. After the Saints won the coin toss, Brees and the Saints held the ball for more than seven minutes.
Brees jumped over the pile on a quarterback keeper after his apparent 3-yard TD pass to Alvin Kamara was overturned. A review determined Kamara’s knee was down before he crossed the goal line. Brees scored on the following play, giving the Saints (2-1) the win.
“This was a wild one,” said Brees, who passed for 396 yards and three touchdowns and ran for two scores. Kamara had 15 catches for 124 yards and ran for 66 yards.
Brees’ biggest play before the winner might have been his improbable 7-yard scoring run with 1:15 remaining that forced overtime. He ran to his left and then spun to avoid tackle attempts by Brian Poole and Robert Alford.
“At some point, I felt they were coming to take my head off and I could probably spin out of it,” Brees said, adding he now has film evidence to show the youth flag football team he coaches that “spin moves work. Spin moves are good.”
With his 14th completed pass, the 39-year-old Brees broke the record of 6,300 career completions set by Hall of Famer Brett Favre. Brees set the mark with a 17-yard pass to Michael Thomas in the second quarter.
“I’m just very grateful,” Brees said. “I hope there’s a lot more coming. I just think about all the people who have had a hand in that. A lot of hands have caught a lot of passes. … They are all a part of this.”
Atlanta’s Matt Ryan had his first career game with five scoring passes. Calvin Ridley became the first Atlanta rookie with three scoring catches. That wasn’t enough for the Falcons (1-2) against Brees and the high-scoring Saints, who gained 534 yards.
Ryan bemoaned a lost opportunity when the Falcons were forced to punt when stopped at the Atlanta 44 with 25 seconds remaining in overtime.
“We had chances to finish the game today and we didn’t do that,” Ryan said. “That’s disappointing.”
Saints coach Sean Payton called the defensive stop “a huge part of the win.”
Ryan passed for 374 yards, including 146 to Ridley, who had seven receptions, including a 75-yard TD.
Ridley’s third scoring catch against the Saints was a 9-yarder early in the third quarter that held up following a review.
Ryan’s five touchdown passes tied the team record set by Wade Wilson on Dec. 13, 1992, at Tampa Bay.
The fifth scoring pass to Mohamed Sanu came after Saints defensive tackle David Onyemata was called for unnecessary roughness on Matt Bryant’s 29-yard field goal. With the penalty, the Falcons’ offense came back on the field.
Ridley beat P.J. Williams on his first two scoring catches, an 18-yarder in the first quarter and the 75-yarder in the second quarter.
The Saints made a defensive switch, moving Ken Crawley into coverage on Ridley. Crawley was called for pass interference on a deep incompletion to Ridley early in the third quarter that gave Atlanta a first down at the New Orleans 5. On second down from the 9, Ridley’s third scoring catch gave the Falcons a 21-16 lead.
Brees completed his first four passes, including a 19-yard scoring pass to Ted Ginn Jr. on the Saints’ opening drive.
Saints reserve cornerback Patrick Robinson was carted from the field early in the third quarter with a left ankle injury. He did not return.
Falcons safety Ricardo Allen left early in overtime with a left calf injury. He was helped to the sideline and then driven on a cart to the locker room. … Reserve cornerback Justin Bethel injured a knee in the third quarter. … Atlanta rookie linebacker Foyesade Oluokun left in the fourth quarter with an ankle injury.
Thomas had 10 catches for 129 yards. His 38 catches are the most by an NFL player in his team’s first three games to start a season. His 28 catches through two games also were a record.
Ryan’s 75-yard scoring pass to Ridley was his 34th career TD pass against the Saints, the most by any quarterback. He surpassed Joe Montana’s 33 TD passes against New Orleans. Ryan added three more, leaving his total at 37.
DROPS FOR GINN
Ginn dropped a sideline pass on a second-quarter drive that ended with a 49-yard field goal by Will Lutz bouncing off the left upright and over the cross bar. Later in the quarter, Ginn juggled a pass for an incompletion as he ran out of bounds on the Atlanta sideline. He finished with three catches for 12 yards.
Saints: at New York Giants next Sunday.
Falcons: Play their third straight home game against the Cincinnati Bengals next Sunday.
Broncos 14, Ravens 27
BALTIMORE (AP) — Baltimore’s offensive line handled Von Miller, Joe Flacco took care of the football, and the Ravens sliced through Denver’s depleted defense.
Flacco found the time to throw for 277 yards and a touchdown, and the Ravens pushed aside the previously undefeated Broncos 27-14 Sunday.
Baltimore (2-1) got 68 yards rushing from Alex Collins, but the line’s most ample contribution was giving Flacco time to pass against a defense led by Miller, who came in with an NFL-leading four sacks.
“That’s a stout run defense. We kept hammering in there and bled some yards,” Ravens coach John Harbaugh said. “But our pass protection really stepped up and did a great job.”
Flacco went 25 for 40 without an interception on a rainy afternoon. He threw 28 passes in the first half alone, when Baltimore took control.
Miller finished with two tackles and no sacks.
“He’s able to get in there and make a ton of plays and change a game when you look at him on film,” Flacco said. “That was the biggest thing, just not letting him be a factor.”
Flacco’s success came against a Denver backfield that began the day without injured cornerback Adam Jones (thigh) and lost cornerback Tramaine Brock (groin) in the first quarter. As a result, rookie Isaac Yiadom saw significant playing time at right cornerback.
“I think we kind of made it easy for them,” Broncos safety Darian Stewart said. “We gave them a lot of stuff.”
Javorious Allen caught a 12-yard touchdown pass and ran for a score for the Ravens.
Baltimore made 20 first downs, totaled 342 yards and converted half its third-down attempts.
“That wasn’t the game we had intended for,” Miller said. “At times, we couldn’t get off the field as a defense.”
Denver (2-1) was coming off two home wins, both by virtue of fourth-quarter comebacks. This time, the Broncos could not rally after Allen’s 1-yard TD run made it 27-14 midway through the third quarter.
The Broncos were flagged 13 times for 120 yards.
“We probably cost ourselves 20 points today on penalties,” coach Vance Joseph said.
Denver’s lone turnover was just as costly. The Broncos were inside the Baltimore 5 with 9 minutes left before Case Keenum was intercepted by Patrick Onwuasor, whose 89-yard return for a touchdown was wiped out by a block in the back.
The Ravens took consolation in preventing Denver from getting within a touchdown.
“That was a huge stop,” said Harbaugh, who celebrated his 56th birthday in style.
The Broncos’ next drive ended at the Baltimore 11, and the Ravens ran out the clock over the final three minutes.
Keenum completed 22 of 34 passes for 192 yards.
Denver got a touchdown after blocking a punt and also swatted away a field goal try. Chris Harris Jr. took the second blocked kick 58 yards for a touchdown, but an illegal block nullified the second-quarter score.
On the ensuing series, Broncos rookie running back Phillip Lindsay was ejected for throwing a punch during the scramble for a fumble by Keenum.
“He’s obviously a big part of what we do offensively,” Joseph said. “Losing him, that’s a big deal.”
A wild first half ended with Baltimore up 20-14.
After Denver’s Joseph Jones blocked a punt to set up a 6-yard touchdown run by Royce Freeman, Collins ran in from the 6 for Baltimore.
Broncos wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders made it 14-7 with a 35-yard end around, his first career rushing touchdown.
Justin Tucker sandwiched a pair of 52-yard field goals around a 12-yard touchdown throw by Flacco.
Tucker now has six career games with multiple field goals of 50 yards or more, an NFL record. He has also connected on his last eight attempts from at least 50 yards.
The Ravens welcomed back linebacker Ray Lewis, who was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in August following a 17-year career with Baltimore.
After the players were introduced, the song “Hot in Herre” by Nelly boomed over the PA.
Lewis emerged from the tunnel wearing his yellow Hall of Fame jacket and performed his trademark dance while the soggy crowd cheered.
Lewis was presented with his Hall of Fame ring during a ceremony at halftime. He was joined by Jonathan Ogden, the Ravens’ other HOF member.
Broncos: Stewart left in the second quarter with a shoulder injury but returned.
Ravens: MLB C.J. Mosley was inactive with a bruised knee.
Broncos: host Kansas City in an AFC West showdown Monday night, Oct. 1.
Ravens: travel to Pittsburgh for a Sunday night matchup between AFC North teams.
Bills 27, Vikings 6
MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Josh Allen played with the poise of a well-seasoned quarterback, hustling to give Buffalo an early lead in his first NFL road start.
Then, the Bills turned their defense loose on Kirk Cousins and delivered a stunningly lopsided victory over the Minnesota Vikings.
Allen accounted for three touchdowns, making Cousins look like the raw rookie as the Bills beat the Vikings 27-6 on Sunday as 16½-point underdogs.
“This is a tough place to play. That’s a good Vikings defense,” said Allen, who became the first Bills rookie quarterback to record at least one rushing and passing score in his first career road start. “It just solidifies the trust that I have in my teammates.”
Cousins had three turnovers. He lost a fumble on a third-down sack inside Minnesota’s 20-yard line on each of the first two possessions , and Buffalo turned those recoveries into 10 points. The Bills built a 27-0 lead by midway through the second quarter as the crowd at U.S. Bank Stadium, where the Vikings had won 10 of their last 11 games including the playoffs, began booing with increased intensity.
“Great defense, well-coached, great scheme,” Cousins said. “They have legitimate players at a lot of different positions.”
The Vikings (1-1-1) allowed the Bills (1-2) to become only the sixth 16-plus-point underdog winner in the NFL’s last 81 point spreads of that size. According to ESPN research, the last such winner was Washington over Dallas on Dec. 3, 1995.
“I don’t think we took them too lightly,” Vikings coach Mike Zimmer said. “I think they came out and kicked our butts.”
After being outscored 75-9 over their first six quarters of the season, the Bills have enjoyed a 41-9 advantage over the last six periods.
“We really don’t really pay attention to what people think about us,” linebacker Lorenzo Alexander said. “It’s all about internal belief and confidence. If you listen to outside noise, we’d never win a game because nobody respects Buffalo at all. We have to continue to go out and earn that respect.”
Allen certainly earned some with this performance.
The seventh overall pick in the draft out of Wyoming who took the job earlier than expected in relief of a struggling Nathan Peterman in the opener, completed 15 of 22 passes for 196 yards. That included a 26-yard touchdown pass to wide-open tight end Jason Croom .
Though Allen took three sacks and fumbled three times, the Bills were able to recover all of them. He put together a mini-highlight film with his feet while injured running back LeSean McCoy watched in a sweatsuit — with a big smile — from the sideline.
Allen dived to finish a 10-yard run by beating Anthony Barr to the pylon to finish the game’s first drive. Later, on third-and-9, Allen hurdled over Barr to land past the first-down marker. He capped that possession with a 1-yard touchdown leap over the goal line on fourth down for a 24-0 lead early in the second quarter.
“He was decisive early, and that’s important,” coach Sean McDermott said. “It looked like he played with a clear mind.”
With running back Dalvin Cook (hamstring) inactive and the score so lopsided, the Vikings set a franchise record for fewest rushing attempts with six. Cousins, who took four sacks, finished 40 for 55 for 296 yards and a late touchdown to Kyle Rudolph .
The Vikings inducted the late Dennis Green, who’s second behind Bud Grant in winning percentage as a head coach, into their Ring of Honor. Green, who guided the Vikings to the playoffs in eight of his 10 seasons, became the 24th member. The Vikings beat the Bills in all three meetings under Green.
Bills: Beyond McCoy (rib), starting CB Phillip Gaines (elbow) and backup DE Shaq Lawson (hamstring) was inactive. … Russell Bodine, who started at C for Ryan Groy, left with leg cramps in the third quarter. Groy, who had moved to LG when Vlad Ducasse was injured, shifted back to the middle as Ducasse re-entered. … CB Ryan Lewis, making his NFL debut in place of Gaines, left with an injury in the fourth quarter. Murphy (ankle) did, too.
Vikings: In addition to Cook and DE Everson Griffen (knee), backup TE David Morgan (knee) and PR Marcus Sherels (ribs) were held out. Griffen was not at the game, and Zimmer said he was dealing with a “personal matter.” … CB Trae Waynes (ankle) left in the first quarter and didn’t return. … RT Rashod Hill (ankle) departed in the second quarter and didn’t return.
Bills: Play at Green Bay next Sunday.
Vikings: Play the Rams in Los Angeles on Thursday night.
Raiders 20, Dolphins 28
MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. (AP) — The Miami Dolphins had just tricked the Oakland Raiders one final time, and as Albert Wilson and Jakeem Grant sprinted side by side in the clear the final 30 yards toward the end zone for a clinching touchdown, they didn’t wait to celebrate.
While still on the run, the two Miami receivers exchanged a gleeful high-five.
“Just NASCAR on grass,” Grant said.
The Dolphins looked even faster than that.
Wilson threw a 52-yard touchdown pass to put unbeaten Miami ahead midway through the fourth quarter, and then turned a short reception into a 74-yard score that sealed a 28-20 victory Sunday over winless Oakland.
Miami coach Adam Gase used creative play-calling to overcome a wave of injuries and penalties, and a 17-minute deficit in time of possession. The Dolphins scored on a pair of shovel passes by Ryan Tannehill that each traveled less than a yard — one on the flip to Wilson, and an earlier similar pass that Grant caught before turning the corner for an 18-yard score.
“We made some big plays when it mattered,” Tannehill said. “With the explosiveness we have, we just have to keep doing our job and not press.”
Thanks to all the flashy plays, the surprising Dolphins are 3-0 for only the third time since 1998, with an early season showdown at AFC East rival New England next.
“We’re on the right track,” Tannehill said. “Are we there yet? No. But the patterns we’re establishing are going to take us there.”
The Raiders, led by first-year coach Jon Gruden, are 0-3 for the first time since 2014, when they started 0-10. They’ve blown a second-half lead in all three defeats.
Oakland outgained the Dolphins, and Derek Carr threw for 345 yards . But Xavien Howard intercepted him twice deep in Miami territory, and the Dolphins mounted a first-half goal line stand to stay in the game.
“We got hurt on a trick play and didn’t finish some drives in the red zone,” Gruden said. “That’s the story of the game.”
Trickery gave the Dolphins their first lead in the fourth quarter. Tannehill handed off to Frank Gore, who tossed the ball to Wilson on an end-around. Wilson — a quarterback in high school — then lobbed the first pass of his NFL career to a wide-open Grant, who outmaneuvered two Raiders to the end zone.
“I said he’d better catch it, and he’d better not get tackled,” said Wilson, who became the fourth player with a TD pass and TD reception of at least 50 yards in a game. He joined Hall of Famer Jimmy Conzelman (1923), Tom Tracy (1960) and David Patten (2001).
Grant said the Dolphins work on the play every day in practice.
Following Howard’s second interception , Wilson scooted around the end after taking Tannehill’s short pitch and scored the clincher as he high-fived Grant.
“We’ve got guys who can do a lot of different things,” Gase said. “They can throw it, they can run it.”
Dolphins: DE William Hayes (right knee) was hurt when he sacked Carr and missed the second half. … DE Andre Branch hurt his knee in the second half. … TE A.J. Derby (foot) also sat out the second half. … CB Bobby McCain was shaken up in the final minutes. … LB Chase Allen suffered a foot injury in the first half. … S Reshad Jones was inactive because of a shoulder injury.
Raiders: T Donald Penn (concussion) and S Karl Joseph (lower leg) sat out the second half. … WR Seth Roberts was among Oakland’s inactives.
Miami’s Kenny Stills took a big hit when he made a 34-yard touchdown reception in stride in the back of the end zone and slammed into the cushioned retaining wall.
Miami defensive tackle Akeem Spence was ejected in the second quarter for ripping off guard Kelechi Osemele’s helmet. Spence was penalized for unnecessary roughness, which negated a third-down sack by teammate Cameron Wake and led to an Oakland field goal.
Stills and Wilson kneeled during the national anthem, and defensive end Robert Quinn raised his right fist. All three Dolphins have staged similar protests before their team’s other games this season.
Dolphins: Play next Sunday at New England, where they’ve lost nine games in a row.
Raiders: Return home to play Cleveland next Sunday.
Bengals 21, Panthers 31
CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — Panthers coach Ron Rivera wanted a little something more from his offense, which is why he turned to his old boss Norv Turner as the team’s new coordinator this season.
Rivera, who once coached under Turner in San Diego, said he got exactly what he was hoping for Sunday.
Cam Newton threw for two touchdowns and ran for two others , Christian McCaffrey racked up a career-high 184 yards rushing and Carolina handed the Cincinnati Bengals their first loss of the season 31-21 behind a well-balanced offensive attack.
“We want to impose our will,” said Newton, who praised Turner’s play calling. “We are a team that can attack a defense in many different ways. As the game progresses I see the body language of defenders and they are wearing down.”
Newton completed 15 of 24 passes for 150 yards and ran for 36 yards as the Panthers (2-1) won their seventh straight home game going back to last season.
McCaffrey, who tied a franchise record with 14 receptions last week against Atlanta, did his damage on the ground this time. He surpassed his previous career high of 66 yards rushing and became the first player in franchise history to post a 100-yard receiving game and a 100-yard rushing game in back-to-back weeks.
Newton believes McCaffrey’s 28-carry outing will dispel myths he’s just a scat back.
“He’s a total running back,” Newton said. “… This is not a fluke. He has been doing this his entire career, collegiately and professionally. The fact that we have a special talent, you can’t really gear in using packages for him.”
McCaffrey said the labels “definitely” bother him, but has learned to deal with them.
“The more and more I go through this league I learn that it’s never been about proving anyone wrong or proving anybody right,” McCaffrey said. “It’s proving myself right, and that’s the biggest thing that I’ve had to mentally take over as I continue to grow.”
When the Panthers weren’t running McCaffrey, they used him as a decoy.
On one Turner play call, Newton sold a fake pass to McCaffrey and came back to the other side of the field to hit backup running back C.J. Anderson for a 24-yard touchdown on a screen play. The Panthers call it their Pony 21 set, which features McCaffrey and Anderson, a 1,000-yard rusher last season with Denver, in the backfield.
“This is a different style of offense, the way they attack,” Bengals coach Marvin Lewis said. “We have to adjust and morph and play in it and make sure we stay sound in it. You have to be good for the whole ballgame. There were times we were perfect and times we were not.”
Bengals wide receiver A.J. Green, who had three touchdowns last week against the Ravens, left on the third play in the third quarter with a groin injury when he was hit while trying to make a catch over the middle. He did not return.
Green said after the game he was starting to feel better and expects to play next week against Atlanta.
“At first, I thought I’d just knocked the air out of myself and just needed to catch my breath,” Green said. “When I got up and running, I was pretty sore.”
YOU GOTTA OBADA
Efe Obada, the first player to make a 53-man roster from the recently formed NFL International Pathways Program, turned in a huge game in his first NFL appearance, getting an interception, a key fourth-quarter sack and two quarterback pressures on Dalton. One of his pressures was initially ruled sack-fumble in the second quarter, but later overturned by instant replay to an incomplete pass.
Andy Dalton was 29 of 46 with two touchdowns, but was intercepted four times, including twice by rookie cornerback Donte Jackson. Carolina’s defense, which allowed 432 yards and 31 points to the Falcons last week, held the Bengals (2-1) to 66 yards rushing without Joe Mixon in the lineup.
ON THE FUMBLE
Newton took a lot of heat for not jumping on a loose football in a Super Bowl 50 loss to the Denver Broncos, so he wasn’t going to risk losing another in the fourth quarter with the Panthers clinging to a 28-21 lead. After a strip sack, Newton beat three Bengals players to the ball to maintain possession.
“Come hell or high water I was going to get that fumble, how about that?” Newton said. “I’m just trying to create good habits.”
BOYD STEPS UP
Tyler Boyd had a big game for the Bengals with six catches for 132 yards and a touchdown. Gio Bernard had 61 yards rushing on 12 carries and a touchdown, and five catches for 25 yards filling in for the injured Mixon.
Bengals: Nose tackle Ryan Glasgow was carted off the field in the fourth quarter with a lower right leg injury and did not return.
Panthers: Panthers middle linebacker Luke Kuechly left in the fourth quarter with dehydration but received an IV in the locker room and returned to make an interception on a “Hail Mary” on the game’s final play.
Bengals: Visit the Falcons next Sunday.
Panthers: Have a bye next week, then host the Giants on Oct. 7.
Titans 9, Jaguars 6
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (AP) — Marcus Mariota just has a knack for beating Jacksonville.
He’s done it with his arm. He’s done it with his legs. Now he’s done it off the bench.
Mariota directed three scoring drives in relief of Blaine Gabbert, including one in the fourth quarter, and Tennessee knocked off the Jaguars 9-6 Sunday for their third straight victory in the series. Mariota improved to 5-2 against Jacksonville, his most wins against any opponent.
First-year Titans coach Mike Vrabel gave Mariota a game ball in the locker room.
“He was fantastic,” Vrabel said. “He cares about this team immensely. He wants what’s best for this team. You saw him come in there, get us some first downs and give us a spark.”
Mariota sat out last week’s victory against Houston because of an elbow injury sustained in the season opener. He was still experiencing arm weakness along with numbness and tingling in two fingers this week, saying the injury affects the velocity and spin he gets on the football.
Mariota, who wore a glove on his injured right hand, replaced Gabbert (concussion) in the first quarter and did just enough to beat the Jaguars (2-1) for the fifth time in the past six meetings.
Mariota completed 12 of 18 passes for 100 yards and ran for 51 more, including a 15-yard gain on a third-and-1 play late. The Titans (2-1) milked the clock from there and ended up celebrating an early lead in the AFC South.
“Jacksonville has been favored over us these last couple of games because people look at papers; they don’t pay attention to how we play,” Titans defensive tackle Jurrell Casey said.
“They walk into this game thinking they’ve got it, and we know what we can do on our side of the field and we make sure we do it all four quarters. Don’t let them get ahead of you and we can play with these guys.”
Tennessee finished with 233 yards, but grinded out 150 on the ground, played mistake-free football and let the defense do most of the heavy lifting.
“We’re not afraid of anyone,” Titans left tackle Taylor Lewan said. “We’re going to play as if we belong anywhere. People will count us out, but that’s not the case.”
Jacksonville looked lost most of the afternoon on one side of the ball, failing to score an offensive touchdown against Tennessee for the second time in as many games.
Tennessee took away big passing plays, kept a spy on Bortles and dared Jacksonville to win with two backup offensive linemen and a backup running back.
Playing without running back Leonard Fournette, left tackle Cam Robinson and right guard A.J. Cann, the Jags managed 232 yards and a measly 12 first downs. Poor throws, dropped passes and eight penalties hurt. So did coach Doug Marrone’s decision to try a fake punt early in the game.
Corey Grant was stopped on the fourth-and-4 play, giving Tennessee the ball near midfield and leading to Ryan Succop’s first field goal.
“I always regret decisions that don’t work,” Marrone said. “I just wanted to be aggressive early and had the look.”
Jacksonville never found an offensive rhythm, looking much more like the team that struggled in the opener at the New York Giants than the one that shined last week against New England.
“We’ve got to not hurt ourselves, especially the way our defense is and the way we play,” Bortles said. “We’ve got to score one touchdown to win the game. To go out there and score six points in four quarters, that’s bad as an offense.
“We’ve got to find out and figure out how we’re going to handle it as a team.”
The Jaguars insist there was no finger-pointing after the game, even though it was clear the loss was on the offense.
Linebacker Telvin Smith even blamed the defense, saying “we say we’re the best; we’ve got to go out and be the best.”
Fournette missed his second straight game because of a strained right hamstring. Jacksonville ran for 87 yards and lost for the first time in five games without him.
Titans punt returner Adoree’ Jackson joined Gabbert in the locker room in the second quarter and was later ruled out with a concussion. … Titans LB Jayon Brown got hurt late in the game but jogged off the field.
Jaguars defensive end Calais Campbell left the game in the fourth quarter with a right ankle injury. He had his ankle and his right knee wrapped in ice after the game. Defensive tackle Marcell Dareus left briefly in the second half with a shoulder injury.
Titans return home to take on defending Super Bowl champion Philadelphia next Sunday.
Jaguars complete a three-game homestand against the New York Jets next Sunday.
Chargers 23, Rams 35
LOS ANGELES (AP) — Jared Goff was about four weeks old the previous time two NFL teams based in Los Angeles played each other.
When this long-dormant derby returned in its newest form Sunday, the young quarterback was the biggest reason why the Rams won this round in the long fight ahead for the hearts of LA.
Goff passed for 354 yards and three touchdowns, and Todd Gurley rushed for 105 yards and another score, leading the Rams to a 35-23 victory over the Chargers in the franchises’ first meeting since their relocations to Los Angeles.
“It felt like a good rivalry,” said Goff, who was 29 for 36 in perhaps his most impressive pro performance. “I think you could feel the crowd. You could tell there were two sides in here. Ultimately I think we had a little bit more, being at home, but you could definitely feel it. I think they are a great team, we’re a great team, and hopefully that can continue for a long time.”
Cory Littleton blocked a punt in the end zone and Blake Countess recovered it for an early touchdown for the Rams (3-0), who racked up 521 yards and remained one of the NFL’s four unbeaten teams.
Two seasons after the Rams kicked off professional football’s return to the nation’s second-largest market after 21 years away, they got their first meeting with the Chargers, who moved a year later. Both teams put on an entertaining show for a Coliseum crowd of 68,947 containing a surprisingly significant turnout of Chargers fans, but the Rams’ offensive brilliance kept them ahead all day.
These teams are likely to have a friendly coexistence in LA instead of a real rivalry, since they’ll only play each other roughly once every four years while they share a multi-billion-dollar stadium complex in Inglewood starting in 2020.
Neither side ascribed much cultural significance to this win — but the Rams were thrilled to defend their turf.
“Coming out, they were kind of loud, but I think we quieted them up,” Rams receiver Robert Woods said. “At the end of the game, you knew whose house it was, who is LA’s team.”
Woods caught two TD passes and Cooper Kupp made a 53-yard scoring catch from Goff.
Philip Rivers passed for 226 yards and hit Mike Williams with two touchdown passes for the Chargers (1-2), whose two losses have come against the powerhouse Chiefs and Rams without injured pass-rusher Joey Bosa. Melvin Gordon rushed for 80 yards and a score .
“(The Rams) are good in all areas, but I feel like we had a lot of opportunities to make plays,” Williams said. “We know the talent that we have in the locker room. We’ve just got to put it on the field.”
Despite their prolific offensive performance, the Rams never got comfortable. They lost starting cornerbacks Marcus Peters and Aqib Talib to injuries during the game, and the Chargers twice drove deep into Rams territory in the fourth quarter, only to come away with three points.
Chargers rookie safety Derwin James got his first career interception in the end zone to kill a likely scoring drive, but he blamed the defense for the loss.
“We couldn’t get a stop,” James said. “We made them punt one time. Offense put up enough points.”
The Rams racked up 313 yards and held the ball for almost 20 minutes in the first half, but also committed two red zone turnovers that allowed the Chargers to stay close. Gurley fumbled on the Rams’ opening drive, and James picked off Goff in the end zone in the second quarter.
Kupp and Goff put the Rams up 28-13 early in the third when Goff evaded pressure and slung a perfect, long throw to Kupp, who shook off Trevor Williams’ tackle and ran away.
The Rams didn’t punt until they led 35-23 with 7:38 to play, but the Chargers couldn’t get into the end zone in the final 23 minutes of the game.
James, the Bolts’ stellar rookie safety, went out of bounds at the 1 after his pick, and the Chargers eventually had to punt out of their end zone. After a Bolts blocking mistake, Littleton easily blocked the punt to give a 21-6 lead to the Rams.
“Everything went perfectly for us, and that was the result,” said Littleton, who is still playing special teams even after becoming a starting inside linebacker this year. “It was wide open. You don’t get those very often.”
Chargers: P Drew Kaser injured his leg when Littleton rushed in to block his punt in the first half. Rivers replaced Kaser as a kick holder in the first half, but Kaser returned for the second half. … WR Travis Benjamin missed his second straight game with an injured right foot.
Rams: Peters injured his leg during the first half and had to be helped off the field. The Pro Bowl selection didn’t return. Talib then left in the second half. McVay said the Rams will know more Monday. … Kick returner JoJo Natson injured his hand in the first half and didn’t return. He was signed two weeks ago to replace injured Pro Bowl returner Pharoh Cooper. … LB Dominique Easley was sidelined with a knee injury. McVay didn’t know the extent.
Chargers: Host the San Francisco 49ers on Sunday, Sept. 30.
Rams: Host the Minnesota Vikings this Thursday, Sept. 27. With only three days to prepare, the players were already getting extensive treatment in the locker room after the game. “Recovery process starts now!” receiver Brandin Cooks yelled.
Cowboys 13, Seahawks 24
SEATTLE (AP) — Chris Carson dished out punishing runs. Russell Wilson made smart, decisive throws at key moments. A defense led by Bobby Wagner and an unhappy Earl Thomas forced turnovers, making Dak Prescott and Dallas look meager trying to move the ball.
The Seattle Seahawks returned to a familiar, old formula to avoid a dreaded 0-3 start, beating the Cowboys 24-13 on Sunday.
“This is how we want to play. We couldn’t be any more specific about it,” Seattle coach Pete Carroll said.
Wilson threw two touchdown passes in the first half, Carson added a 5-yard TD run in early in the fourth quarter and the Seahawks won their 10th straight home opener. Wilson hit Jaron Brown on an 16-yard touchdown early in the second quarter, and later hit Tyler Lockett streaking up the sideline on a 52-yard scoring pass, and Seattle (1-2) built a 17-3 halftime lead and cruised past the Cowboys.
The duo of Prescott and Ezekiel Elliott didn’t have the answers against a Seattle defense that had Thomas on the field and welcomed back Wagner after the Seahawks’ defensive leader missed Week 2 with a groin injury.
Prescott was intercepted twice by Thomas , including with 3:09 remaining at the Seattle 15 on a deflected pass, with Thomas bowing to the Dallas sideline at the end of the play. It was Thomas’ way of acknowledging the Cowboys should have done more by now to try to acquire him from the Seahawks after the former All-Pro made it clear he wanted out of Seattle if a contract extension wasn’t coming.
“I felt like that was just in the moment and if they were going to trade for me and extend me, they should have did it,” Thomas said of his bow that drew a 15-yard penalty.
Prescott was sacked five times and Dallas (1-2) had just 58 net yards passing entering the fourth quarter. Elliott had momentary flashes, busting off a few long runs, but they were too infrequent for Dallas’ stagnant offense.
Thomas’ second interception was one of two turnovers forced by Seattle in the fourth quarter. Elliott broke free for a 26-yard run to the Seattle 19 earlier in the quarter, but had the ball punched free from behind by Bradley McDougald and recovered by the Seahawks.
“When you’ve got that ball in your hand, that’s the team in our hand,” Elliott said. “Me being a leader on the team, I’ve got to do a better job of taking care of the ball. I mean, that cost us the game.”
Prescott finished 19 of 34 for 168 yards and a 3-yard shovel pass TD to Tavon Austin with 7:11 remaining. Dallas failed to pass for 200 yards for the ninth time in the past 11 games dating to last season. Elliott had 127 yards on 16 carries.
“We’ve got to find exactly our go-to in the passing game — and not necessarily am I speaking on a player,” Prescott said. “I’m just speaking on our go-to concepts or go-to beaters or whatever it may be that we didn’t get to.”
Meanwhile, Wilson had the kind of protection that’s been absent most of the season. After being sacked 12 times in the first two games, Wilson was 16 of 26 for 192 yards and sacked twice by Dallas’ defense that was second in the league in sacks. Despite missing starting center Justin Britt, the offensive line gave Wilson enough time for a few big plays in the passing game.
Wilson’s strike to Brown gave Seattle a 7-0 lead and he took advantage of the absence of safety Jeff Heath when he found Lockett on a 52-yard TD late in the second quarter. Heath departed with a left ankle injury earlier in the drive and Wilson found Lockett streaking up the sideline. Heath’s replacement, Kavon Frazier, was late to rotate over and Lockett went untouched, high-stepping the final few yards for a 14-3 lead.
Carson’s TD run was the first by a Seahawks running back since J.D. McKissic found the end zone on a 31-yard run in Week 4 of the 2017 season. Seattle went 14 games without a running back finding the end zone until Carson bulled his way in with 12:54 remaining.
Carson finished with 102 yards, the first Seattle running back to top 100 yards since late in the 2016 season.
“This is the offense we claimed to be the whole offseason,” Carson said.
Following a week of drama surrounding Thomas, the former All-Pro safety started and almost immediately made his presence known. Thomas missed two days of practice for personal reasons which Carroll provided only vague answers as to why, and left open the possibility Thomas wouldn’t play.
He was on the field as usual, and it took less than a quarter before Thomas was making a remarkable interception, pinning a deflected pass against his shin. It was the second two-interception game of his career and the first since his rookie season in 2010.
Seattle was gifted three points at the end of the half when Randy Gregory was baited into a 15-yard unsportsmanlike conduct penalty, smacking Seattle’s Joey Hunt in the facemask. The penalty put Seattle in range for Sebastian Janikowski’s 47-yard field goal and a 17-3 lead at the half.
Dallas also played a large portion of the second half without linebacker Sean Lee due to a hamstring injury. Lee said it was the same issue that had him listed as questionable on the injury report.
“It feels like the same deal, but I have to get (evaluated) and see where I’m at,” Lee said.
Cowboys: returns home to host Detroit next Sunday.
Seahawks: at division rival Arizona next Sunday.
Bears 16, Cardinals 14
GLENDALE, Ariz. (AP) — Another opportunistic day by the Chicago defense has the Bears at 2-1 and alone in first place in the NFC North for the first time since late in the 2013 season.
The Arizona Cardinals, meanwhile, have joined the parade of teams with a rookie quarterback on the field.
Cody Parkey kicked his third field goal of the game, a 43-yarder with 4:31 to remaining, to rally the Bears to a 16-14 victory over the winless Cardinals on Sunday.
“It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to realize we are winning games because of our defense,” Chicago coach Matt Nagy said. “They are playing fast right now.”
The Bears forced four turnovers on four consecutive Arizona possessions in the second half.
Sam Bradford threw two first-quarter touchdown passes to put the Cardinals up 14-0, but was replaced by rookie Josh Rosen after fumbling the ball away deep in Chicago territory late in the game.
Rosen, the 10th overall pick in this year’s draft out of UCLA, drew a standing ovation from the Cardinals crowd as he jogged on the field.
“I just told him to go get the win,” Bradford said, “be him, go out there and do what he is capable of, lead this team.”
Rosen drove Arizona past midfield, but on fourth-and-5 from the Bears 45, his pass was intercepted by Bryce Callahan with 1:10 to play.
Arizona got the ball back one more time. Chicago picked off Rosen again, this time returning it for a touchdown, but an offside penalty negated the play and the game ended with Rosen sacked by Sherrick McManis, who also had one of two of Bradford’s interceptions.
“I threw a pick and almost a second pick-6,” Rosen said, “so I’ve got a lot to work on.”
Coach Steve Wilks said he made the quarterback change because “I felt like we needed a spark.”
As for the starter next game, “We’re going to evaluate Josh as well as Sam. We’re going to watch the tape and we’ll see exactly what I want to do as far as moving forward with that.”
Clinging to a 14-13 lead, the Cardinals drove to the Chicago 21 early in the fourth quarter but the scrambling Bradford was tackled by Khalil Mack. Bradford fumbled and Danny Trevathan recovered at the Bears 16.
“I knew he was going to have the ball in his right hand, got my head out of the way because that’s a big part of the rules nowadays, and tried to make a play,” Mack said. “It was what we worked on all week.”
Chicago, with the help of an unnecessary roughness penalty on Tre Boston, drove downfield and got the go-ahead field goal.
With a good share of the crowd cheering them on, the Bears (2-1) intercepted three passes and recovered one fumble. Arizona is 0-3 for the first time since 2004.
But it was the Cardinals getting off to a fast start.
Arizona’s offense, which had scored a total of six points in two lopsided losses entering the game, took the opening kickoff and went 75 yards in just five plays.
On third-and-4 from the Cardinals 29-yard line, Bradford connected with rookie Christian Kirk on a 30-yard play. Two plays later, Bradford found tight end Ricky Seals-Jones wide open for a 35-yard touchdown.
The Bears responded with a run-oriented drive to the Arizona 13. But on third down, Bene Benwikere and Budda Baker, blitzing from each side, dropped Mitchell Trubisky for a 15-yard loss and Parkey’s 46-yard field-goal try was wide right.
Arizona went three-and-out but on the next series, Robert Nkemdiche stripped the ball from Trubisky and Corey Peters recovered at the Chicago 21.
On the next play, Bradford threw 21 yards to David Johnson in the end zone to make it 14-0.
The Bears used 5:27 on an 11-play drive that stalled on the Arizona 2 and Chicago settled for a 20-yard field goal by Parkey to cut the lead to 14-3. The driving included roughing-the-passer calls against Nkemdiche and Markus Golden that had Wilks livid on the sideline.
FINALLY, A TD
The Bears finally got in the end zone on Howard’s 1-yard run that cut Arizona’s lead to 14-10 with 6:16 left in the third quarter.
Chicago went for it on fourth-and-1 at the Cardinals 19 and barely converted on a 1-yard shovel pass to Allen Robinson II.
Tarik Cohen’s 17-yard run set up the score.
Mack had another impressive day for the Bears with two sacks, a tackle for loss, a forced fumble and three quarterback hits.
Chicago cornerback Prince Amukamara left the game in the third quarter with a hamstring injury.
Bears: are home against Tampa Bay on Sunday.
Cardinals: host Seattle next Sunday.
Patriots 10, Lions 26
DETROIT (AP) — Matt Patricia weaved his way through a crowd to hug the man who helped him live a dream.
Patricia beat mentor Bill Belichick, seemingly making all the right moves to help the Detroit Lions defeat the New England Patriots 26-10 Sunday night.
“I’m sure it meant a lot, his first win as a head coach,” Detroit quarterback Matthew Stafford said. “Probably no sweeter than to do it against your old team.
“We needed this one.”
The Lions (1-2) suddenly looked like a team with a plan on offense and defense under their first-year coach, and former New England assistant. They opened the season with a 31-point loss to the New York Jets at home and fell short in a comeback at San Francisco.
Patricia was given a game ball by his players, but refused to relish in the moment.
“I’m just happy for the guys,” he said. “They’re the ones who deserve it,” he said.
The Patriots (1-2) have had weaknesses exposed on both sides of the ball, losing two of their first three games for the first time since 2012.
And, Belichick was in no mood to reflect on his former defensive coordinator earning his first win.
“My job is my football team,” said Belichick, who is 14-9 against former assistants. “That’s what I’m worried about. That’s what I’m concerned about.”
Patricia and Patriots quarterback Tom Brady also hugged briefly at midfield after the game and other New England players made a point of connecting with their former coach.
Detroit was in control from the start, creating holes for rookie running back Kerryon Johnson and giving Matthew Stafford time to pass.
Johnson had 101 yards rushing on 16 carries, becoming the first player to reach the mark for the Lions since Reggie Bush ran for 117 yards against Green Bay on Nov. 28, 2013. Detroit’s 70-game stretch without a 100-yard rusher was the longest since the NFL-AFL merger.
“We knew we needed to run the ball and take some of the pressure off Stafford and the receivers if we wanted to win this game,” Johnson said. “The offensive line was hitting holes and we were attacking. That’s the most physical game they’ve played all year, and we were able to take advantage of it.”
Brady pulled the Patriots within three points on a 10-yard TD pass to James White early in the third.
Detroit refused to let the five-time Super Bowl-winning quarterback get any closer.
Stafford responded with a 33-yard TD pass, capping a 10-play, 75-yard drive that took more than 6 minutes off the clock.
Darius Slay picked off Brady’s pass at the Detroit 15 midway through the fourth quarter, helping the Lions seal the win.
While Patricia and his players downplayed how much he could help them prepare for a team he helped coach the previous 14 years, Slay said it was a factor.
“He knows everything about that team and he made sure we knew it as well,” Slay said.
Stafford was 27 of 36 for 262 yards with two touchdowns and an interception. Brady was 12 of 24 for 113 yards with a touchdown and an interception.
Detroit ran the play clock down often in the second half, seemingly choosing to shorten the game and keep Brady off the field.
“That was a key part of the game,” Patricia said. “You certainly don’t want to give the ball back to them.”
Fans booed at Ford Field when Patricia chose to kick a 38-yard field goal instead of going for it on fourth-and-1.
“Any points against a team like that is going to be a good thing,” Stafford said. “We had a positive drive and you would hate to come away from it with no points.”
Patricia also won a challenge , getting a call overturned that gave Stafford a 5-yard touchdown pass to put Detroit ahead 10-0.
ALMOST A LION
New England tight end Rob Gronkowski confirmed an ESPN reportin which sources said he threatened to retire instead of being traded to Detroit in the offseason.
“Yeah, it happened,” Gronkowski said. “Brady’s my quarterback. That’s all. I’m not going anywhere without Brady.”
Patriots: WR Josh Gordon (hamstring) was inactive, delaying his New England debut, after warming up with teammates. S Patrick Chung and DE Trey Flowers were inactive because of concussions. RB Rex Burkhead left the game in the second half with a neck injury.
Lions: DE Ezekiel Ansah (shoulder) was inactive.
Patriots: Hosts the AFC-East leading Miami Dolphins (3-0).
Lions: Play at Dallas (1-2).
Steelers 30, Buccaneers 27
TAMPA, Fla. (AP) — Ben Roethlisberger threw for 353 yards and three touchdowns to lead the Pittsburgh Steelers to a 30-27 victory over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Monday night.
Capping a tumultuous week in which star receiver Antonio Brown made headlines by shouting at an assistant coach on the sidelines and getting into a spat on social media, the Steelers (1-1-1) built a 20-point lead before holding on for their first win.
Vance McDonald scored on a 75-yard pass play and finished with four catches for 112 yards. Brown and Ryan Switzer also had first-half TD receptions for Pittsburgh, which led 30-10 at halftime.
The Steelers’ defense forced four turnovers, including three first-half interceptions of Ryan Fitzpatrick, the 35-year-old journeyman who threw for 819 yards and eight touchdowns in two victories to begin Tampa Bay’s season.
Fitzpatrick, the only player in NFL history to open a season with consecutive games with over 400 yards passing and four touchdowns, tried his best to create “FitzMagic” again in his third start in place of the suspended Jameis Winston.
He led a long field goal drive in the third quarter, and then tossed fourth-quarter TD passes of 4 yards to Chris Godwin and 24 yards to Mike Evans to rally the Bucs (2-1) within 30-27 with 5:43 remaining.
The Bucs got the ball back with just over three minutes left; however, the Steelers forced a punt and Roethlisberger ran out the clock.
Fitzpatrick finished 30 of 50 for 411 yards and three TDs. Roethlisberger was 30 of 38 with one interception, completing nine passes to JuJu Smith-Schuster for 116 yards and six to Brown for 50 yards. His on-field chemistry with Brown appeared fine in the first game since Brown responded to a former team employee on social media by suggesting the club trade him if it wants to find out how productive he can be without Roethlisberger.
Fitzpatrick threw interceptions on three consecutive pass attempts during one stretch of the second quarter. The first stopped a promising drive at the Steelers’ 6, and linebacker Bud Dupree returned the last one 10 yards for a touchdown that put the Steelers up 23-7.
Roethlisberger also turned a fumble into a 27-yard TD pass to Brown and moved the Steelers 75 yards in nine plays just before the half to make it 30-10 on his 1-yard scoring pass to Switzer.
RING OF HONOR
Hall of Fame coach Tony Dungy, who won a Super Bowl ring as player with the Steelers and as a first-time head coach transformed Tampa Bay from a laughingstock into a championship contender, was inducted into the Bucs Ring of Honor at halftime.
He’s the 12th member, joining Hall of Famers Lee Roy Selmon, Warren Sapp and Derrick Brooks; coaches John McKay and Jon Gruden; late owner Malcolm Glazer; and players John Lynch, Mike Alstott, Doug Williams, Jimmie Giles and Paul Gruber.
Dungy and his wife, Lauren, accompanied Tampa Bay’s captains to midfield for the coin toss. Three of the couple’s children — Jade, Justin and Jason — led the team out of the tunnel as the honorary flag runners.
Steelers: Played without All-Pro guard David DeCastro (hand), right tackle Marcus Gilbert (hamstring) and safety Morgan Burnett (groin). Pittsburgh didn’t report any injuries during the game.
Buccaneers: Defensive tackle Beau Allen (foot) was inactive after being injured during Tampa Bay’s Week 2 victory over Philadelphia. S Chris Conte left in the second quarter with a knee injury and did not return.
Steelers: Home vs. Baltimore on Sunday night.
Buccaneers: Visit Chicago on Sunday in the first game Winston is eligible to play.