Displaced Saints rout struggling Rodgers and Packers 38-3
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (AP) — Jameis Winston and the hurricane-displaced Saints looked right at home in northeast Florida against Green Bay with a 38-3 victory — no doubt to the delight of fans rebuilding homes and lives back in New Orleans.
Winston passed for five touchdowns, New Orleans intercepted reigning NFL MVP Aaron Rodgers twice, and the Saints kicked off the post-Drew Brees era with a strikingly dominant opening victory over the Green Bay Packers on Sunday.
The game, originally scheduled for the Superdome, was moved while the New Orleans area continues to clean up wreckage left by Hurricane Ida, which struck southeast Louisiana as a Category 4 storm on Aug. 29, 16 years to the day after Hurricane Katrina devastated the same region.
After canceling their final preseason game and practicing two weeks in the Dallas area, the Saints looked as sharp and inspired as any club with such distractions could have hoped.
Winston, who led the NFL with 30 interceptions in his last season as a starter with Tampa Bay in 2019, was largely judicious and accurate in going 14 of 20 for 148 yards without an interception.
Juwan Johnson, who came in with four career catches and was converted from receiver to a tight end this offseason, had two TDs.
Green Bay fans seemed to outnumber Saints fans in a crowd announced at 35,242 for what was officially a Saints home game. But they left disappointed in a day that could not have gone much worse for Rodgers, who was pulled with nearly 11 minutes left. He finished 15 of 28 for 133 yards and no TDs. He led one drive to a field goal at the end of the first half.
CHIEFS 33, BROWNS 29
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Patrick Mahomes threw for 337 yards and three touchdowns while running for another score, and the Chiefs came back from a dismal first half in a rematch of their divisional playoff game from January.
Tyreek Hill caught 11 passes for 197 yards and a touchdown, and Travis Kelce hauled in a pair of TD catches, including the go-ahead score as the Chiefs finished off their rally from a 22-10 halftime deficit.
The Chiefs won their fifth straight against Cleveland, including their 22-17 playoff victory, and their 15th consecutive game in September. They also pushed Andy Reid within one win of reaching 100 with two franchises.
As for the Browns? They fell to 1-21 in season openers since returning to Cleveland in 1999, extending their NFL mark to 17 consecutive defeats. They haven’t won an opener on the road since the 1994 season.
Baker Mayfield threw for 321 yards, but he was picked off by Chiefs cornerback Mike Hughes with 1:09 left to end any hope of a comeback. Nick Chubb ran for 83 yards and two scores while Kareem Hunt and Jarvis Landry also had TD runs.
DOLPHINS 17, PATRIOTS 16
FOXBOROUGH, Mass. (AP) — Tua Tagovailoa threw a go-ahead touchdown pass to Jaylen Waddle in the third quarter and Xavien Howard recovered a fumble with New England driving in the fourth.
It was Miami’s second straight win over the Patriots. Tagovailoa also led the Dolphins to a victory in the second meeting between the teams last season.
Tagovailoa finished 16 of 27 for 202 yards, a touchdown and one interception, and also had a 3-yard TD run to lead a revamped offense that kept the Patriots’ rebuilt defense guessing, mixing in no-huddle and empty backfield formations. DeVante Parker caught four passes for 81 yards.
Miami’s win spoiled the debut of New England’s Mac Jones, the first rookie quarterback to start for the Patriots since Drew Bledsoe in 1993. Jones was 29 of 39 for 281 yards and a touchdown. Damien Harris rushed 23 times for 100 yards, but had the costly fumble to end New England’s comeback hopes.
STEELERS 23, BILLS 16
ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. (AP) — Ben Roethlisberger and the Steelers’ new-look offense overcame a slow start, Ulysees Gilbert returned a blocked punt 9 yards for a touchdown, and Pittsburgh rallied.
Down 10-0, the Steelers scored on each of their first four possessions of the second half, with Roethlisberger putting Pittsburgh ahead for good by lobbing a 5-yard touchdown pass to Diontae Johnson in the left corner of the end zone.
The pass initially went off Johnson’s fingertips, but the receiver secured the ball before tumbling out of bounds 3:41 into the fourth quarter. The Steelers extended their lead to 20-10 some 90 seconds later with Miles Killebrew bursting up the middle to block Matt Haack’s punt, with Gilbert scooping up the loose ball and running it in untouched.
In opening his 18th — and perhaps final — season, Roethlisberger posted his 36th career fourth-quarter comeback to tie Drew Brees for third on the NFL list. He finished 18 of 32 for 188 yards and a touchdown.
Chris Boswell hit all three field-goal attempts, including a game-sealing 45-yarder with 2:42 remaining.
CARDINALS 38, TITANS 13
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Kyler Murray threw four touchdown passes and had another score on a run, and linebacker Chandler Jones had a career-high five sacks.
Jones, who tied the franchise record, had three sacks in a first quarter so good LeBron James chimed in on social media for his Defensive Player of the Year candidacy. Jones, who wants a new contract, also forced two fumbles the Cardinals turned into 14 points.
Murray tormented the Titans throwing for 289 yards with two TD passes apiece to All-Pro wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins and Christian Kirk. Murray’s best pass came came early in the third quarter off his back foot to Kirk on a beautiful floater Kirk simply ran under.
Arizona scored the first 17 points and moved the ball almost at will against Tennessee.
SEAHAWKS 28, COLTS 16
INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Russell Wilson threw three of his four touchdowns in the first half as the defending NFC West champions won the 12th of their past 13 games in the early Sunday timeslot.
Indy lost its eighth straight opener, the past five with different starting quarterbacks.
Wilson was sensational in his first action with new offensive coordinator Shane Waldron, shredding a top-10 defense that entered the season with even higher aspirations. But against Seattle’s revamped offense, Wilson made sure the Colts’ defense never had a chance.
Despite taking no preseason snaps, the eight-time Pro Bowler led the Seahawks to touchdowns on their first two drives, hooking up with Tyler Lockett on a twisting, over-the-shoulder catch for a 23-yard TD pass to make it 7-3 and finding Gerald Everett for a 9-yard score. Wilson capped the half with a 69-yard scoring throw to Lockett after he broke free behind two Colts safeties. Wilson finished the half with a perfect passer rating of 158.3 and wound up 18 of 23 with 254 yards. His final rating of 152.3 was the second highest of his 10-year career and his best mark in a September game.
RAMS 34, BEARS 14
INGLEWOOD, Calif. (AP) — Matthew Stafford passed for 321 yards and three touchdowns in a dynamic debut with his new team, leading Los Angeles past Andy Dalton and the Chicago Bears.
Stafford found Van Jefferson for a 67-yard touchdown on his second pass for the Rams, who swung a blockbuster offseason trade to acquire the 13-year veteran quarterback from Detroit. Stafford then hit a wide-open Cooper Kupp for a 56-yard TD to open the third quarter, and he found Robert Woods for a clinching score with 3:17 to play.
Coach Sean McVay improved to 5-0 in season openers with the Rams, who scored on six of Stafford’s first seven full drives while racking up 375 yards of offense, and Kupp finished with seven catches for 108 yards.
Dalton passed for 206 yards in his Bears debut, and rookie quarterback Justin Fields rushed for a 3-yard score while getting a handful of snaps in his NFL debut. David Montgomery rushed for 108 yards and a touchdown for the Bears, who dropped to 1-3 in season openers under coach Matt Nagy.
49ERS 41, LIONS 33
DETROIT (AP) — Dre Greenlaw returned an interception for a touchdown to help the 49ers score 17 points over two-plus minutes late in the first half.
San Francisco led 38-10 early in the fourth quarter and allowed Detroit to score 23 points in three-plus minutes to pull within eight points. But the Lions turned the ball over on downs at the San Francisco 24 with 12 seconds left after getting it back on a fumble by Deebo Samuel.
For most of the afternoon, the 49ers performed more like the Super Bowl-contending team they were two years ago than the 10-loss squad they had last season when injuries took a major toll.
Meanwhile, it looked like the many changes the Lions made might be moot in coach Dan Campbell’s debut — until the comeback provided some hope.
San Francisco welcomed back Jimmy Garoppolo and George Kittle on offense and Nick Bosa on defense after each missed much of last season with injuries.
Garoppolo, who helped San Francisco win the 2019 NFC championship, is 23-8 in the regular season since being acquired from New England. Kittle had four receptions for 78 yards. Bosa had four tackles, including a drive-ending sack early in the fourth quarter.
TEXANS 37, JAGUARS 21
HOUSTON (AP) — Tyrod Taylor threw for 291 yards and two touchdowns filling in for Deshaun Watson in a win over Trevor Lawrence and the mistake-prone Jaguars.
Taylor took over at quarterback for Houston with Watson’s future with the team uncertain after 22 women filed lawsuits alleging sexual assault or harassment after he requested a trade.
Expectations for the Texans were low entering this season with Watson out and star defensive end J.J. Watt gone to Arizona. But Taylor and Houston’s revamped running game were more than enough to handle a Jaguars team that didn’t look much better than it was last season — when it got just one win — despite the addition of top overall pick Lawrence.
It was a bumpy debut for Lawrence. He threw for 332 yards and three touchdowns but also tossed three interceptions, often overthrew open receivers and was the victim of several drops. It was also the NFL debut for Jaguars coach Urban Meyer, who lost the first season opener of his head coaching career after entering the game having won 17 straight as a college coach.
His streak was halted by another coach making his NFL head coaching debut in Houston’s David Culley, a 65-year-old who spent decades as an assistant in the league before being hired by the Texans.
CHARGERS 20, WASHINGTON 16
LANDOVER, Md. (AP) — Justin Herbert threw for 337 yards and a touchdown in an ugly Week 1 matchup full of turnovers and big penalties.
Herbert led scoring drives of 75, 76 and 68 yards, and a go-ahead touchdown pass to Mike Williams made up for his fumble into the end zone and red zone interception on consecutive possessions. The reigning AP Offensive Rookie of the Year and the Chargers went 14 of 19 on third downs, wearing down Washington’s defense led by last year’s top defensive rookie, Chase Young.
The teams combined for 14 penalties for 151 yards and three giveaways.
Los Angeles also got a 3-yard TD run from Austin Ekeler, who was listed as questionable with a hamstring injury. Ekeler finished with 57 yards on 15 carries and joined Danny Woodhead as the only undrafted players in the NFL’s common draft era with 10-plus rushing and 15-plus passing TDs.
Loud cheers erupted from the visiting locker room as the Chargers celebrated Brandon Staley winning his coaching debut.
Washington lost veteran starting quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick to a right hip injury midway through the fourth quarter of his team debut
EAGLES 32, FALCONS 6
ATLANTA (AP) — Jalen Hurts threw three touchdown passes, the first of them to Heisman Trophy winner DeVonta Smith, and the Eagles made a winner of Nick Sirianni in his head coaching debut.
Now firmly entrenched as the Eagles starter after Carson Wentz was traded, Hurts certainly looked the part with touchdown passes of 18 yards to Smith, 9 yards to Dallas Goedert and 23 yards to Jalen Reagor. Another Philadelphia rookie, fifth-round pick Kenneth Gainwell, scored his first TD as a pro with an 8-yard run late in the third quarter.
In an often sloppy matchup between rookie head coaches and the NFC’s two worst teams a year ago, the Eagles limited the Falcons to a pair of field goals and got more than enough production from a revamped offense with Hurts calling the shots. Hurts completed 27 of 35 passes for 264 yards and used his mobility to repeatedly neutralize Atlanta’s attempt to shake him up with a wide variety of blitzes. He rushed for 62 yards on seven carries.
Coming off a 4-12 season in which they fired both their coach and general manager, and an offseason that featured the trade of seven-time Pro Bowl receiver Julio Jones, Matt Ryan and the Falcons got off to a miserable start under new coach Arthur Smith.
BENGALS 27, VIKINGS 24, OT
CINCINNATI (AP) — Evan McPherson kicked a 33-yard field goal as time expired in overtime. The winning kick was set up by a gutsy call. On fourth-and-inches from the Cincinnati 48, Joe Burrow rolled out and hit tight end C.J. Uzomah in stride for a 32-yard gain and get McPherson well within his range. McPherson had a 53-yard field goal early in the fourth quarter.
Cincinnati’s Germaine Pratt recovered Dalvin Cook’s fumble to set up the winning drive. Minnesota challenged the ruling that Cook had fumbled, but it was upheld after a replay review.
Greg Joseph kicked a career-long 53-yard field goal as time ran out in the fourth quarter to tie the game for Minnesota, which had battled back from a 21-7 second-half deficit.
Burrow threw for 261 yards and two touchdowns in his return after major knee surgery nine months ago, and rookie Ja’Marr Chase had 101 yards on five receptions, including a 50-yard scoring pass from his former LSU teammate.
Kirk Cousins passed for 351 yards and two touchdowns to Adam Thielen for the Vikings.
PANTHERS 19, JETS 14
CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — Sam Darnold threw for 279 yards and a touchdown and ran for another score against his former team. Darnold connected on a 57-yard touchdown pass with fellow ex-Jet Robby Anderson and took full advantage of a healthy Christian McCaffrey, who piled up 187 yards from scrimmage on 30 touches after missing 13 games last season with injuries.
Carolina’s defense brought the pressure on Jets rookie quarterback Zach Wilson, sacking the No. 2 pick in the NFL draft six times and intercepting him once. Wilson kept battling, though, and finished 20 of 37 for 258 yards with two touchdown passes to Corey Davis in his first career start.
The loss also spoiled the head coaching debut of Robert Saleh for the Jets.
BRONCOS 27, GIANTS 13
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) — Teddy Bridgewater threw two touchdowns in his first start for Denver and the Broncos dominated possession.
Acquired in the offseason from Carolina, Bridgewater completed 28 of 36 passes for 264 yards, sharing the ball with nine receivers. The 28-year-old QB hit Tim Patrick on a go-ahead 2-yard TD pass with :08 left in the half. Bridgewater eluded pressure and found tight end Albert Okwuegbunam on a 4-yard, fourth-down toss during a 16-play, 75-yard drive to open the second half, extending the lead to 17-7.
Melvin Gordon III added a late 70-yard TD run and Brandon McManus kicked two field goals for the Broncos, who have had four straight losing seasons since their Super Bowl 50 title.
Daniel Jones threw a 37-yard touchdown pass play to Sterling Shepard for New York and ran for a 4-yard touchdown on the final play. The third-year quarterback finished 22 of 37 for 253 yards. He also lost a fumble in the red zone with the Giants trailing 20-7 in the third quarter.
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