The New England Patriots trolled the Pittsburgh Steelers on Saturday and then blew them out Sunday night.
A day after the acquiring former Steelers malcontent Antonio Brown, the defending Super Bowl champions showed they might not even need him, getting 341 yards and three touchdown passes from 42-year-old Tom Brady to beat Pittsburgh 33-3.
Phillip Dorsett caught two touchdown passes, including a 58-yard score, and Josh Gordon — another disgruntled receiver who wore out his welcome elsewhere — caught one TD pass. On the night New England unveiled its sixth NFL championship banner, Super Bowl MVP Julian Edelman caught six passes for 83 yards and also completed a throw to help the Patriots begin their quest for back-to-back titles.
The last team to do that: New England in 2003 and '04.
Facing the last team to beat them, the Patriots opened a 20-0 lead before Pittsburgh kicked a field goal on fourth-and-goal from the 1 with 10:17 left in the third quarter. Brady responded with a 58-yard touchdown pass to Dorsett and a 27-3 lead.
Dorsett, who will be moving down the depth chart Monday when the Patriots make Brown's signing official, had four catches for 95 yards and the first multi-score game of his career.
Ben Roethlisberger completed 27 of 47 passes for 277 yards and an interception, with much of the production coming on non-scoring drives in garbage time. The offense showed the effects of losing two of its biggest playmakers: Brown, who talked and tweeted his way out of both Pittsburgh and Oakland in one offseason, and running back Le'Veon Bell, a two-time All-Pro who sat out all of last season to avoid a franchise tag.
Bills inch past Jets 17-16
Josh Allen and the Buffalo Bills had more turnovers than points while scuffling through much of the first three quarters against the New York Jets.
None of those early struggles mattered in the end.
Allen threw a 38-yard touchdown pass to John Brown with 3 minutes left, and the Bills overcame four early turnovers to rally from a 16-point second-half deficit and stun Le’Veon Bell and the Jets 17-16 in the season opener Sunday.
“We continued to fight,” Brown said. “We didn’t point any fingers. We just kept fighting until the time was up.”
After struggling to get much going on offense, the Bills finally were able to move the ball after Jets middle linebacker C.J. Mosley, who had two takeaways including an interception for a touchdown, left with a groin injury late in the third quarter.
“When he went out, it was kind of a game changer,” Allen said, “as far as they didn’t have somebody that vocal in the middle of the field that was able to make all their calls and all their checks.”
Buffalo also took advantage of kicking woes by the Jets as Kaare Vedvik, claimed last week off waivers from Minnesota, missed an extra point and a 45-yard attempt.
“We’ve just got to get better,” said Adam Gase, coaching his first game for the Jets. “We have to make extra points. We have to make field goals. We can’t be losing out on points in those areas of the field.”
Vikings trample Falcons 28-12 behind fierce defense, Cook
After dropping back to pass a mere 11 times for Minnesota, Kirk Cousins joked that this defense-and-running-dominated performance felt like youth football.
He was more than happy to hand the ball off and get out of the way.
Anthony Harris had two interceptions and a fumble recovery, Dalvin Cook rushed for 111 yards and two touchdowns, and the Vikings started the season with a 28-12 victory over the Atlanta Falcons on Sunday.
"It was what the game called for, and I have no problem with being conservative," Cousins said. "As long as we win the football game, that's all that matters."
Eric Wilson recovered his own blocked punt at the 21-yard line after a three-and-out by the Falcons on the first possession of the game, and the Vikings were well on their way to winning a fourth straight opener. Including the blocked punt, their first in five years, they turned all four Falcons turnovers into touchdowns.
Cousins connected with Adam Thielen for a 23-yard score to finish the short first drive. He crossed the goal line on a 1-yard sneak in the second quarter to cap a 79-yard march to give Minnesota a 21-0 lead. Cousins went 8 for 10 for 98 yards, all career lows for games he started, but there was no need for more on this turnover-free afternoon by an offense that sputtered down the stretch last season.
"When I'm on the field, a lot of special things can happen," said Cook, who missed 17 of his first 32 games to injury.
Cook carried the ball 21 times behind the new zone blocking scheme influenced heavily by new offensive adviser Gary Kubiak, the former Houston and Denver head coach. Cousins averaged 38 attempts per game in his first year with the Vikings, and much to Zimmer's chagrin they finished with the third-fewest rushing yards in the NFL. The new system directed by offensive coordinator Kevin Stefanski and the favorable field position sure shifted the ratio hard the other way.
"We know that's the strength of our team. We know we have one of the best running backs in the NFL, if not the best, and we know we have an offensive line that can just ground and pound," Thielen said.
Chiefs beat Jags despite losing Hill
Reigning Most Valuable Player Patrick Mahomes threw for 378 yards and three touchdowns to lead the Kansas City Chiefs to a 40-26 victory over the Jacksonville Jaguars on a bruising opening Sunday in the NFL.
Sammy Watkins grabbed nine passes for a career-high 198 yards and three touchdowns, taking over as the top target for Chiefs quarterback Mahomes after Tyreek Hill departed with a shoulder injury days after he inked a three-year, $54 million deal last week.
Hill was later transported to hospital with what Chiefs head trainer Rick Burkholder called a "sternoclavicular joint injury which is where your clavicle comes into your sternum".
With the possibility of complications, the Chiefs opted to have Hill treated by an ortho-trauma physician in hospital.
The news was possibly worse for the Jaguars, who lost quarterback Nick Foles to a broken left clavicle less than a quarter into his debut for the team.
Jaguars coach Doug Marrone said there was no timetable for Foles's return after surgery expected on Monday.
Jackson's 5 TD passes help Ravens drub Dolphins 59-10
Nine minutes into the season, Lamar Jackson had fans booing his hometown team.
The South Florida native looked unstoppable from the start Sunday, and tied a Ravens record with five touchdown passes to help them humiliate the Miami Dolphins and rookie coach Brian Flores, 59-10.
The Ravens set a franchise record for points in the first half, and an NFL record for points in the first half of an opener, taking a 42-10 lead at the break. They broke franchise marks for points and total yards with 643.
When Jackson emerged from a jubilant locker room, he said the recipe for success was simple.
“The offensive line did a great job — I barely had pressure,” he said. “And the receivers were getting open and catching the ball.”
Baltimore gained 49 yards on the first play, a run by newcomer Mark Ingram, and hardly slowed down after that. Jeers began when the score reached 14-0, evidence of the impending avalanche already obvious.
Jackson’s first nine passes, all completions, went for 204 yards and four touchdowns, including scores of 47 and 83 yards to first-round draft pick Marquise Brown in the first 11 minutes.
The performance should help dispel the impression Jackson is one-dimensional.
“Not bad for a running back,” he said.
His other touchdown passes covered 33 yards to Willie Snead, 5 yards to rookie Miles Boykin and 1 yard to fullback Patrick Ricard. The performance was a big step forward for the Ravens in their transition from Joe Flacco to Jackson, who went 17 for 20 for 324 yards.
“For him to come down here — I was happy for him,” coach John Harbaugh said. “I was impressed with his poise under pressure.”
Brown, the cousin of NFL receiver Antonio Brown, made four catches for 147 yards.
“He is fast,” Jackson said. “Can’t wait to see more.”
Ingram, also making his Ravens debut, ran for 107 yards and two scores as Baltimore won its fourth opener in a row.
Prescott lightens Elliott’s load as Cowboys top Giants 35-17
Ezekiel Elliott’s workload in the opener didn’t matter much after the Dallas Cowboys running back missed the entire preseason in a holdout.
Now there are more questions about how soon quarterback Dak Prescott will get the big payday his backfield mate enjoyed just four days before the season started.
Prescott tied his career high with four touchdown passes while throwing for 405 yards, and the Cowboys rolled up 494 yards under new play-caller Kellen Moore in a 35-17 win over Eli Manning and the New York Giants on Sunday.
Saquon Barkley ran 59 yards on his first carry of the season , setting up Eli Manning’s touchdown pass for a 7-0 lead. But the Giants simply couldn’t keep up with a Dallas offense anxious to see what could happen at full strength.
As expected, Elliott didn’t seem to be in peak form after spending almost all of training camp trying to stay in shape in Mexico while waiting for the $90 million, six-year contract extension that was settled on the morning of the first full workout of the regular season.
The two-time NFL rushing champion did find a seam for a 10-yard touchdown to put the Cowboys up 35-10 late in the third quarter. Elliott finished with 53 yards on 13 carries.
“We wanted to be mindful of how many reps we gave him in the game,” said coach Jason Garrett, noting he thought it was more than 30, including one catch for 10 yards. “I think now over time, he’ll practice a little more, get a little more game experience, he’ll get more and more comfortable.”
This going-away win was all about Prescott in his second career 400-yard game, in the first game of his fourth season.
Seahawks hold off Dalton, Bengals for 21-20 win
In a way only Pete Carroll could enjoy, the Seattle Seahawks coach was perfectly fine seeing his team trailing going into the fourth quarter against the Bengals.
Maybe it was because he knew what was being dialed up to start the final 15 minutes.
“We played from behind the whole day and those guys never stopped. They never stopped thinking we were going to win the football game and that’s so valuable to us,” Carroll said.
Seattle never trailed again after Russell Wilson hit Tyler Lockett for a 44-yard touchdown on the first play of the fourth quarter, and the Seahawks withstood a career day from Andy Dalton to beat Cincinnati 21-20 on Sunday.
It was not supposed to be this tough for one of the favorites in the NFC. Seattle had DK Metcalf, Jadaveon Clowney and several other new options to deploy against a revamped Bengals team under first-year coach Zac Taylor.
It nearly became one of the big upsets of the opening week. Wilson and the Seahawks struggled offensively for most of the game, but got the big plays they needed on a day Dalton looked great running Taylor’s system.
Wilson was 14 of 20 for 196 yards and two scores, including a 10-yard TD pass in the first half to Chris Carson , who broke three tackles on his way to the end zone. Carson also had a 1-yard TD run.
“We started off kind of rusty. It was something we had to get the hang of, but we have to start off faster than that,” Carson said.
Jackson shines in Philly return, Eagles beat Redskins 32-27
DeSean Jackson’s homecoming turned into a highlight show for the speedy receiver.
Carson Wentz threw a pair of deep touchdown passes to Jackson, and the Philadelphia Eagles overcame a 17-point deficit to beat the Washington Redskins 32-27 on Sunday.
Wentz was 28 of 39 for 313 yards and three TDs in his first game since Week 14 after not taking a snap in the preseason. Jackson had eight catches for 154 yards. The Eagles racked up 436 total yards.
“I couldn’t stay calm,” Jackson said. “I was overly excited like a kid before Christmas, knowing what I mean to the city and what the city means to me. I couldn’t think of it being any other way.”
Case Keenum threw for 380 yards and three TDs, helping the Redskins build a 17-0 lead in his first start with his fourth team in four seasons.
But Philadelphia’s high-powered offense took over and the defense settled down after a sloppy start.
Playing his first game back in Philadelphia since former Eagles coach Chip Kelly cut him following his third Pro Bowl season in 2013, Jackson picked up where he left off six years ago and showed no signs of slowing down at age 32.
“We were able to get him in some mismatches and hit those two home runs,” Wentz said of Jackson. “With him being out there and the other weapons we have, we’re going to keep teams on their toes.”
Jackson blew past the defense on a third-and-10 in the third quarter, caught Wentz’s pass inside the 10 and strolled into the end zone to give the Eagles a 21-20 lead. The 53-yard TD reception was Jackson’s second of 50-plus yards in the game and the 31st of his career. Only Hall of Famer Jerry Rice had more at 36.
“One of those was miscommunication and the other was a great throw, but DeSean is DeSean,” said Redskins coach Jay Gruden, who had Jackson in Washington from 2014-16. “You can never blow a coverage when No. 10 is on the field.”
Zach Ertz caught a 26-yard pass to set up Alshon Jeffery’s first career rushing score on the first play of the fourth quarter. Jeffery caught a backward pass from Wentz and fought his way into the end zone. Darren Sproles ran in for the 2-point conversion to extend the lead to 29-20.
The Eagles trailed 17-0 in the second quarter when Jackson made an over-the-shoulder, 51-yard TD catch.
“If they’re going to leave D-Jack on-on-one, it’s going to be a long day for the other team,” Ertz said.
Wentz found Jeffery going across the back of the end zone for a 5-yard TD pass to cut Washington’s lead to 20-14 in the third quarter.
Keenum hit Terry McLaurin perfectly in stride on a deep pass for a 70-yard TD to give the Redskins a 17-0 lead, inciting the first boos from fans anticipating a championship season.
The Redskins got the ball to start and scored a touchdown on the season’s opening drive for the first time since 2004. Vernon Davis turned a short pass from Keenum into a 48-yard score after hurdling Ronald Darby and breaking a tackle on his way down the right sideline.
“They’re a great defense,” Keenum said. “The way the game played out, we were able to move the ball through the air. There’s a lot to learn. I’m excited to go watch the film.”
QB Mayfield leaves with wrist wrapped after Browns pounded
Quarterback Baker Mayfield had his right wrist wrapped after the Browns were rocked 43-13 by Tennessee in their opener.
Mayfield appeared to get hurt Sunday when he was sacked for a safety in the first half by Cameron Wake. Following the game, Mayfield said “I’ll be all right” when asked if he had gotten injured.
The second-year QB went for X-rays outside Cleveland’s locker room and then left FirstEnergy Stadium with his wrist heavily taped.
The team said X-rays were negative.
Mayfield was intercepted three times in the fourth quarter, when the Titans scored 21 points and ran away from the Browns.
Mayfield completed 25 of 38 passes for 285 yards and one touchdown. He wasn’t the only problem as the Browns were penalized 18 times for 182 yards.
The Browns fell to 1-19-1 in season openers and disappointed a sellout crowd revved up by an offseason roster overhaul.