Chargers, Ravens off to winning starts

Chargers, Ravens off to winning starts
Updated 12 September 2012

Chargers, Ravens off to winning starts

Chargers, Ravens off to winning starts

NEW YORK: Philip Rivers avoided the turnovers that plagued his 2011 season and helped the San Diego Chargers open the new campaign with a 22-14 victory over AFC West divisional rivals the Oakland Raiders on Monday.
In the early game of the Monday Night double header, the Baltimore Ravens unleashed a new-look, wide-open offense on the visiting Cincinnati Bengals and powered to a 44-13 blowout victory in their opener.
Rivers led the Chargers on drives that produced five field goals from Nate Kaeding and finished a steady day with one touchdown throw, and more importantly, zero interceptions.
Rivers threw 20 interceptions last season during a disappointing 8-8 campaign for San Diego.
The Raiders too, were hoping for a new beginning as they entered the 2012 season with a new coach and general manager.
However, they found themselves 10-6 behind at halftime before Kaeding nailed four successive field goals to leave the home team with a mountain to climb.
Carson Palmer, who joined Oakland in the middle of last season, threw for 297 yards but could only muster a consolation touchdown in the final minute.
In Baltimore, Joe Flacco passed for 299 yards and two touchdowns while Ray Rice rumbled into the end zone twice as the Ravens ditched their traditional bruising, methodical attack in favor of a no-huddle offense that blew away the Bengals.
Cincinnati, coming off a surprising season where they reached the playoffs with then-rookie quarterback Andy Dalton, stayed in touch at 17-13 halfway through the third quarter before Baltimore broke loose.
Flacco tossed a touchdown, Ed Reed returned an interception 34 yards for a score and the Ravens ended the game with 27 unanswered points to cap an impressive victory — especially for their quarterback.
“We know what we’ve got in this guy, he’s won a lot of football games,” Ravens coach John Harbaugh told reporters. “Joe
Flacco is a great football player.”
Browns’ Haden suspended
4 games
In Berea, Ohio, the Cleveland Browns had Joe Haden for one game. They’ll be without their best cornerback for the next four.
Haden was suspended Monday without pay for four games for violating the NFL’s policy on performance enhancing substances. Haden’s suspension begins immediately, and he will not be eligible to return to the Browns’ active roster until Monday, Oct. 8, one day after they play at the New York Giants.

Haden, who reportedly tested positive in the offseason for the stimulant Adderall, played in Sunday’s season opener against Philadelphia. He had an interception and six tackles in Cleveland’s 17-16 loss. Haden has not commented on his ordeal since the report first surfaced on espncleveland.com during training camp.
Haden recently had his appeal heard on the suspension, which has been hanging over the Browns for weeks. The league does not announce suspensions until after the appeal process is complete to protect the player’s privacy.
The league did not provide any details about Haden’s violation.
Browns spokesman Neal Gulkis said the team will not make a comment about Haden’s suspension, which will cost the former first-round draft pick $1.356 million in salary. Coach Pat Shurmur was unaware of Haden’s suspension when he held his weekly news conference.
Haden will not be allowed at the team’s headquarters during his suspension. Last week, the Browns practiced without linebacker Scott Fujita, who had his three-game suspension for his role in the Saints’ bounty scandal temporarily lifted by a three-member appeals panel. Fujita did not dress for Sunday’s game.
Haden, who did not have an interception last season after getting six picks as a rookie, seemed to know his suspension was imminent following Sunday’s game, when he had one of the Browns’ four interceptions of Eagles quarterback Michael Vick.
“It felt good,” Haden said afterward. “There’s nothing like playing football. That’s what I’ve been training for my whole life. Being out there with my teammates, you just feel comfortable. You feel at home and at peace. I was just happy to be out there playing with them.”
Haden’s agent, Drew Rosenhaus, attended the game.
It was vital for the Browns to have Haden, their top coverage cornerback, in the opener against the dangerous Vick. He’ll be missed the next four weeks as well as Cleveland will play Cincinnati, Buffalo, Baltimore and the Giants.