NFL roundup: Rodgers returns to lead Pack comeback
Green Bay overcame a franchise-record, 17-point fourth-quarter deficit after quarterback Aaron Rodgers revived the offense and guided his team to a 24-23 comeback win over visiting Chicago in both teams’ season opener.
Rodgers, who briefly left the game due to a left knee injury, finished 20 of 30 for 286 yards (273 in the second half) and three touchdowns (all in the fourth quarter) with no interceptions. Trailing 20-0 early in the second half, the Packers pumped the life back into Lambeau Field on a 75-yard touchdown from Rodgers to Randall Cobb with 2:13 left to complete the rally.
Rodgers left the game in the second quarter after he was sacked and was eventually carted to the locker room and was replaced by DeShone Kizer. The Packers backup QB turned the ball over twice to Bears linebacker Khalil Mack on a strip-sack fumble and a 27-yard interception return for touchdown, giving Chicago a 17-0 lead halftime lead.
Green Bay’s defense tightened in the second half and closed out the Bears’ final drive when Nick Perry drilled quarterback Mitchell Trubisky with 58 ticks left.
Brown 21, Steelers 21 (OT)
Cleveland erased a two-touchdown deficit and neither it nor visiting Pittsburgh scored in overtime, leaving the bitter rivals in a tie in a soggy season opener.
Chris Boswell missed a 42-yard field-goal attempt with 1:44 left in overtime for Pittsburgh, the defending AFC North champion, and the Browns’ Zane Gonzalez missed a 43-yard attempt with nine seconds left.
The Browns, 0-16 last season, have not won since Dec. 24, 2016, against the then-San Diego Chargers. Josh Gordon’s 17-yard touchdown catch from Cleveland’s Tyrod Taylor with 1:58 left in regulation created the 21-21 tie after Pittsburgh had built a 21-7 lead.
Patriots 27, Texans 20
Tom Brady passed for three first-half touchdowns and host New England forced two turnovers prior to the intermission in their victory over Houston.
Brady finished 26 for 39 for 277 yards, providing the Patriots enough of a cushion to fend off a superior second half from the Texans and second-year quarterback Deshaun Watson. Brady engineered touchdown drives of 75 and 78 yards in the second quarter.
The Texans, meanwhile, were ragged in the early going. Watson fumbled on the first offensive snap of the season and closed the first half 5 for 13 with 61 yards, an interception and a fumble. Watson passed for 176 yards and tossed a 5-yard touchdown to Bruce Ellington with 2:08 left.
Jaguars 20, Giants 15
Myles Jack returned an interception 32 yards for a touchdown, and visiting Jacksonville held on for win over New York.
T.J. Yeldon added a receiving touchdown out of the backfield for the Jaguars, who won despite the absence of starting running back Leonard Fournette for most of the game because of a hamstring injury. Fournette, who left in the second quarter, finished with nine carries for 41 yards.
Giants running back Saquon Barkley ran for a 68-yard touchdown in his NFL debut. The big play punctuated an otherwise quiet day for the No. 2 overall pick out of Penn State, who finished with 18 carries for 106 yards.
Vikings 24, 49ers 16
Kirk Cousins completed 20 of 36 passes for 244 yards and two touchdowns in his debut with Minnesota, which held on for a win over visiting San Francisco.
Stefon Diggs and Kyle Rudolph each hauled in touchdown passes from Cousins, who signed a three-year, $84 million contract with the Vikings over the offseason. Rookie cornerback Mike Hughes, the Vikings’ first-round pick out of UCF, added an interception return for a touchdown in his NFL debut.
San Francisco’s Jimmy Garoppolo, who entered the game with five career interceptions, was picked off three times in the loss. Garoppolo completed 15 of 33 passes for 261 yards and one touchdown to go along with the costly turnovers.
Bengals 34, Colts 23
Clayton Fejedelem picked up a fumble and returned it 83 yards for a touchdown in the final minute as visiting Cincinnati held off Indianapolis.
The play came at the end of Colts quarterback Andrew Luck’s third-down pass to tight end Jack Doyle, who was crunched on a hit from multiple players. Fejedelem scooped the ball and scored with 24 seconds left. Doyle would have converted a third-and-15 had he not fumbled.
Luck, in his first game after missing the entire 2017 season, was trying to direct a fourth-quarter comeback. He finished 39 for 53 for 319 yards and two touchdowns with one interception.
Buccaneers 48, Saints 40
Subbing for suspended starting quarterback Jameis Winston, veteran backup Ryan Fitzpatrick threw for 417 yards and four touchdowns, including scoring passes of 58 and 36 yards to DeSean Jackson, and visiting Tampa Bay hung on to beat New Orleans.
Fitzpatrick completed 21 of 28 passes and led the Bucs to scores on seven of their first nine possessions. His crucial 12-yard scramble on third-and-11 with 2 minutes left blunted a furious fourth-quarter rally by the Saints from a 24-point deficit with 8:54 left.
The Bucs did not punt until midway through the third quarter. Jackson had five catches for 146 yards before leaving with a concussion, and Mike Evans had seven catches for 147 yards and one touchdown. Saints quarterback Drew Brees finished with 37-of-45 passing for 439 yards and three scores in defeat.
Panthers 16, Cowboys 8
Carolina’s defense created a rough outing for visiting Dallas quarterback Dak Prescott in a season-opening victory.
The Cowboys rarely got going offensively as the Panthers defeated Dallas for only the third time in 12 regular-season meetings. Prescott was 19 of 29 for 170 passing yards but directed only one scoring drive.
Panthers quarterback Cam Newton completed 17 of 26 passes for 161 yards. Newton also gained 58 yards on 13 carries and a touchdown for the Panthers, who lost tight end Greg Olsen (foot) and offensive tackle Darryl Williams (knee) during the game. Dallas lost defensive end Randy Gregory to a concussion.
Chiefs 38, Chargers 28
Quarterback Patrick Mahomes made his debut as Kansas City’s starting quarterback and passed for 256 yards and four touchdowns as the visitors toppled Los Angeles.
Mahomes went 15-for-27 passing as the two-time AFC West champions won their ninth straight game over the Chargers. Kansas City moved up 17 spots to draft Mahomes 10th overall in 2017. He then sat a year ago behind Alex Smith, traded to Washington in the offseason.
Mahomes immediately showed off chemistry developed with speedy wide receiver Tyreek Hill, who had seven catches for 169 yards, while scoring three touchdowns (two receiving and a 91-yard punt return). The Chargers lost despite 541 total yards and 33 first downs on offense.
Broncos 27, Seahawks 24
Quarterback Case Keenum overcame three interceptions in his Denver debut to throw for 329 yards and three touchdowns, Von Miller had three sacks, two forced fumbles and a fumble recovery and the home team beat Seattle.
Emmanuel Sanders had 10 catches for 135 yards and a score for the Broncos, who sacked Seattle quarterback Russell Wilson six times. Wilson passed for 298 yards and three touchdowns but was intercepted twice for the Seahawks, who lost wide receiver Doug Baldwin to a right knee injury in the first half.
The Broncos trailed 24-20 in the fourth quarter but Keenum led them on a seven-play, 75-yard drive. He found Demaryius Thomas just inside the pylon for a 4-yard touchdown that put the Broncos ahead for good.
Dolphins 27, Titans 20
In the longest game since the AFC-NFC merger that featured two lengthy lightning delays, wide receivers Jakeem Grant and Kenny Stills scored on long touchdowns as host Miami defeated Tennessee.
Titans quarterback Marcus Mariota left the game in the third quarter due to an elbow injury. He was replaced by Blaine Gabbert. Tennessee also lost standout left tackle Taylor Lewan (concussion) and tight end Delanie Walker (lower leg).
Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill, who made his comeback after missing the previous 20 games due to knee surgery, completed 20 of 28 passes for 230 yards with two interceptions and two touchdowns. Both TDs were to Stills, who caught four passes for 106 yards.
Redskins 24, Cardinals 6
Alex Smith passed for 255 yards and Adrian Peterson ran for 96 in their Washington debuts, and the visitors drubbed Arizona.
Washington’s offensive acquisitions paid quick dividends. Quarterback Smith completed 21 of 30 passes for two touchdowns without an interception, and Peterson carried 26 times and scored a touchdown. He caught two passes for 70 yards and lost a fumble in fifth-year head coach Jay Gruden’s first opening-week win.
Quarterback Sam Bradford’s debut with the Cardinals was less inspired. He finished 20 of 34 for 153 yards and one interception. Larry Fitzgerald had seven catches for 76 yards.
Ravens 47, Bills 3
Joe Flacco passed for 236 yards and three touchdowns and host Baltimore routed Buffalo, which yanked its starting quarterback shortly after halftime.
Bills quarterback Nathan Peterman was inaccurate and under pressure until being replaced by rookie first-round draft pick Josh Allen with 11:22 remaining in the third quarter. Peterman completed 5 of 18 passes for 24 yards and two interceptions while being sacked three times. Allen was 6 of 15 for 74 yards.
The Ravens outgained the Bills 369 to 153, and Buffalo didn’t make a first down until the third quarter as Baltimore’s defense dominated on a rainy afternoon.
–Field Level Media