Atlanta Falcons 37, New Orleans Saints 34
An NFC South barnburner with elite quarterbacks matching score for score ended with Matt Bryant kicking a 52 yard field goal in overtime to give Atlanta a win.
The Falcons overcome a pair of 13 point deficits from the first half to take 24-20 and 31-27 leads in the second half. Matt Ryan threw for a team-record 448 yards and three touchdowns, while Drew Brees put up 333 yards, a touchdown and interception.
After a Mark Ingram touchdown gave the Saints a 34-31 advantage with 1:20 left, Ryan took the Falcons 47 yards to set up Bryant for a 51 yarder to send the game into overtime as time expired. On the first play of overtime, safety William Moore came from behind and jarred the bar loose from receiver Marques Colston, with linebacker Joplo Bartu recovering, and Bryant hitting the kick three plays later.
Cincinnati Bengals 23, Baltimore Ravens 16
The Bengals withstood a second-half Ravens rally with a 77 yard touchdown catch from A.J. Green with just under 5 minutes remaining to beat their AFC North rival, 23-16.
Cincinnati had a 15-0 lead after the first half after five Mike Nugent field goals. Baltimore scored 16 straight points, with a touchdown run from Justin Forsett and a Joe Flacco touchdown from 80 yards out to free-agent addition Steve Smith to take a 1 point lead in the fourth quarter after a missed two-point conversion.
However, Andy Dalton went deep to A.J. Green less than a minute later, and the ball bounced off both Green’s hands and cornerback Chykie Brown’s helmet before the fourth-year receiver hauled it in and went the distance. A Dalton pass to Sanu on the two point conversion gave the Bengals a touchdown lead that they would hold on to.
Buffalo Bills 23, Chicago Bears 20
The Bills upset the seven-point favored Bears with a 27 yard field goal by Dan Carpenter in overtime, 23-20.
Buffalo’s defense was the catalyst, forcing three turnovers, including a pair of interceptions of Jay Cutler. Cornerback Corey Graham, starting for an injured Stephon Gilmore, had an interception and a key pass deflection that forced Chicago to go for a field goal to tie the game at 20 to send the game to overtime.
After a stop on Chicago’s first possession of overtime, E.J. Manuel led Buffalo on a seven play, 69 yard drive that included a 38 yard run by Fred Jackson that put the Bills on the one-yard line. Two plays later, Carpenter put the ball through the uprights for the victory.
Manuel threw for 173 yards, a touchdown to C.J. Spiller, and an interception. Cutler put up 349 yards through the air in the loss.
Houston Texans 17, Washington Redskins 6
In a battle of first-year head coaches, Bill O’Brien’s Texans beat Jay Gruden’s Redskins, 17-6.
Houston was paced by its defense, which forced two three fumbles and recovered two. In his first start as a Texan, quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick threw for 206 yards and a 76 yard touchdown to receiver DeAndre Hopkins to take a 7-6 lead after a Darrel Young touchdown run for Washington.
Rookie running back Alfred Blue returned a blocked punt five yards for a touchdown near the end of the first half to make it 14-6, with Washington getting no closer. Robert Griffin III threw for 267 yards in defeat, with J.J. Watt’s presence including a sack and fumble recovery.
First overall pick Jadeveon Clowney recorded a tackle for loss before leaving after the first half with a knee injury.
Tennessee Titans 26, Kansas City Chiefs 10
The Kent Whisenhunt era got off to a great start, as Tennessee upset Kansas City at Arrowhead Stadium, 26-10.
Jake Locker looked in sync in Whisenhunt’s new offense, throwing for 266 yards and two touchdowns, one to Kendall Wright and another to Delanie Walker. The Titans defense picked off Alex Smith three times, who had 202 yards passing and a touchdown, and only gave up 34 yards of total offense to star running back Jamaal Charles.
The Chiefs defense sustained two big blows, as head coach Andy Reid confirmed that defensive lineman Mike Devito and Pro Bowl linebacker Derrick Johnson both suffered ruptured-achilles tendons, likely season-ending injuries.
Miami Dolphins 33, New England Patriots 20
The Patriots’ streak of 10 straight season-opening wins ended in Miami, with the Dolphins outscoring New England 23-0 in the second half to beat their AFC East rival, 33-20.
Miami overcame three first-half turnovers, as Ryan Tannehill threw for 178 and two touchdown passes and an interception, including the tying score to Mike Wallace in the third quarter to tie it at 20. In his Dolphin debut, running back Knowshow Moreno ran for 134 yards and a score in the fourth quarter to make it 30-20 with less than four minutes left, clinching the game.
The Dolphins defense limited Tom Brady to 249 yards and a touchdown on 29 of 56, with his only score a pass to Rob Gronkowski in the second quarter to put New England up 17-7. In his return from a torn ACL, Gronkowski had four grabs for 40 yards and the touchdown.
New York Jets 19, Oakland Raiders 14
The Jets spoiled Derek Carr’s first NFL start, defeating the Raiders 19-14 at Meadowlands Stadium.
Geno Smith was extremely accurate for New York, going 23 of 28 f0r 221 yards, a touchdown, an interception, and a lost fumble. After Carr threw his first career touchdown pass to receiver Rod Streater to give Oakland a 7-3 after the first quarter, the Jets defense clamped down, and Smith found free-agent addition Chris Johnson on a touchdown pass in the second quarter to take a 10-7 halftime lead.
Up 13-7 with just over eight minutes left in the fourth quarter, running back Chris Ivory took a handoff for a 71 yard touchdown, giving New York a 19-7 lead after a missed two-point conversion. Carr found receiver James Jones for a 30 yard touchdown in the final two minutes, but it was too little too late.
Carr threw for 151 yards and a touchdown in the loss.
Philadelphia Eagles 34, Jacksonville Jaguars 17
After three turnovers in the first half by Nick Foles, the Eagles were down 17-0 at halftime. Philadelphia responded by doubling Jacksonville’s first-half output to get the victory, 34-17.
Foles bounced back from an ineffective first two quarters to throw for 322 yards and two touchdowns, including a 68 yard score to Jeremy Maclin, who is returning from a missed 2013 due to a torn ACL. The touchdown gave the Eagles a 24-17 lead in the fourth quarter, and Chip Kelly’s squad never looked back.
Undrafted rookie Allen Hurns scored a pair of touchdowns from quarterback Chad Henne to make it 14-0 after the first quarter. Hurns finished with 110 yards on four grabs, while Henne finished with 266 yards passing.
17-0 in second quarter, Foles threw interception in end zone
Pittsburgh Steelers 30, Cleveland Browns 27
A game that looked to be completely in Pittsburgh’s bag after the first half wasn’t secure until the final play, with kicker Shawn Suisham hitting a 41 yard field goal as time expired to beat Cleveland, 30-27.
The Steelers put up a 27-3 halftime lead behind over 350 yards of offense, with Ben Roethlisberger finishing with 365 passing yards, a touchdown and an interception, with Antonio Brown catching 5 passes for 116 yards and a score. However, the Browns responded with 24 straight second-half points, with quarterback Brian Hoyer leading four scoring drives, throwing for 230 yards and a touchdown to Travis Benjamin to tie it in the fourth quarter.
Undrafted rookie Isaiah Crowell had two rushing touchdowns in the second half, while fellow first-year player Terrance West ran for 100 yards. But the Steelers took the ball from their own 43 yardline with 47 seconds left, and Roethlisberger took them down the field to put Suisham in position to win it.
Minnesota Vikings 34, St. Louis Rams 6
Head coach Mike Zimmer’s debut was a resounding success, with the Vikings winning in St. Louis, 34-6.
Matt Cassel threw for 170 yards and two touchdowns, while receiver Cordarelle Patterson had 128 yards of total offense, including 102 on the ground with a 67 yard touchdown in the second half. The Rams’ quarterback issues continued, as Shaun Hill left the game with a thigh injury and did not return, with Austin Davis taking over and only getting the Rams in position for a pair of field goals.
Zimmer’s defense had 5 sacks and had 2 interceptions, including one returned 81 yards for a touchdown by safety Harrison Smith.
Carolina Panthers 20, Tampa Bay Buccaneers 14
In his first start since 2010, Derek Anderson led the Panthers to a season-opening victory over their NFC South rival Buccaneers, 20-14.
The veteran quarterback, playing in place of an injured Cam Newton, was 24 of 34 for 230 yards and a pair of touchdowns. Carolina’s defense also forced three turnovers, a pair of Josh McKown interceptions and a forced fumble by Pro Bowl linebacker Luke Kuechly that was recovered by rookie cornerback Bene Bikewikere in the final two minutes to help nearly seal the victory.
Bikewikere wasn’t the only rookie to make big plays, as first-year wideout Kelvin Benjamin caught six passes for 92 yards and a touchdown. Benjamin’s debut bested fellow first-round pick Mike Evans, who had five grabs for only 37 yards.
McCown threw for 183 yards and two scores along with his two picks on 35 throws, and wasn’t able to consistently move an offense that was limited by an ineffective run game, including Doug Martin only having nine yards on nine carries.
San Francisco 49ers 28, Dallas Cowboys 17
A disastrous opening day for the Cowboys in their own stadium included four first-half turnovers and a 25 point halftime deficit that they weren’t able to overcome, as the 49ers won 28-17.
Colin Kaepernick threw for 201 yards and two touchdowns to tight end Vernon Davis. A secondary for San Francisco that lost cornerback Tramain Brock early in the game was still able to intercept Tony Romo three times in the first half, and have fellow corner Chris Culliver return a fumble 35 yards for a touchdown.
The 49ers depended heavily on their running game, with Frank Gore running for 63 yards and rookie Carlos Hyde putting up 50 yards on just seven carries, scoring his first NFL touchdown to make it 28-3 near the end of the half. Romo put up 281 yards through the air and a late touchdown to Terrance Williams, while running back DeMarco Murray ran for 118 yards and a score, but the two scores were far too late to make a run toward a victory.
Denver Broncos 31, Indianapolis Colts 24
Despite nearly squandering a 24-point first-half lead, the Broncos held on in the second matchup between Peyton Manning and his old team, 31-24.
Manning and tight end Julius Thomas connected on three first-half touchdown passes to give Denver a 24-0 lead, but an Andrew Luck nine-yard touchdown run in the final minute of the second quarter put the game at 24-7. The Colts moved up and down the field in the second half, but still were down 31-10 with less than 10 minutes remaining in the game after a Montee Ball three-yard touchdown run.
Luck led the Colts on a pair of touchdown drives, and Indianapolis got the ball back with just over three minutes left inside its own 40 with a chance to tie it. However, a fourth and 7 pass from Luck to Reggie Wayne was tipped away by rookie cornerback Bradley Roby in the final two minutes clinched the victory for Denver.
Manning threw for 269 yards and those three touchdowns to Julius Thomas, who had 104 yards on seven grabs. Luck threw for 370 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions, while Wayne had nine catches for 98 yards.
With the win against his former team, Manning becomes the second quarterback in NFL history (Brett Favre) to win against all 32 teams.
Detroit Lions 35, New York Giants 14
The Jim Caldwell era started off with a Matthew Stafford clinic, as the sixth-year quarterback was highly efficient in the new Lions offense, leading Detroit to a 35-14 victory over the Giants.
The Lions got revenge for a home loss last season for the Giants by being the team that created game changing turnovers, not committing them. Calvin Johnson and Stafford connected early and often, as the pair found each other for two touchdowns in the first ten minutes.
Eli Manning answered with a touchdown pass to tight end Larry Donnell late in the first half to make it 14-7. In the third quarter, however, Manning was intercepted twice. Detroit took advantage with 10 points, including a five-yard Stafford touchdown run to put the game at 27-7 after three quarters.
In his Giants debut, running back Rashad Jennings ran for a one yard touchdown with just under twelve minutes left to cut the lead to 27-14. However, a devastating 12 play, 80 yard drive by the Lions that ended with a three yard touchdown run by Joique Bell ended the game, with the Lions up three touchdowns with less than five minutes remaining
Johnson finished with seven grabs for 164 yards and his two touchdowns, while Stafford was 22 of 32 for 346 yards. Manning, in a new offense with first-year offensive coordinator Ben McAdoo, struggled mightily, going 18 of 33 for 183 yards, a touchdown and an interception.
Arizona Cardinals 18, San Diego Chargers 17
On a night when Kurt Warner, the last signal caller to bring Arizona to a Super Bowl, Carson Palmer came up big and helped the Cardinals to 12 fourth-quarter points and a one point win in the final game of the season, 18-17 over San Diego.
The first half was dominated by defense, as Arizona took a 6-3 lead into halftime. But after only 82 in the first half, Philip Rivers got on a roll and threw for 158 in the second half, leading a pair of third-quarter touchdown drives, one that ended with a pass from Rivers to Malcom Floyd and a 20 yard touchdown run from Ryan Mathews to make it 17-6.
The fourth quarter belonged to the Cardinals, however, as Palmer overcame an erratic first three quarters to use both his arm and legs to make plays. He scrambled and found running back Stepfan Taylor for a five-yard touchdown to cut the lead to 17-12.
The game appeared to be in the Chargers’ hands when a controversial call negated a Cardinals interception, but a bad snap took San Diego out of scoring range and gave Arizona the ball with under seven minutes remaining. Palmer ran for a key first down on third and 10, finishing with 30 yards rushing, and found Michael Floyd on a third down to get into the red zone.
Rookie receiver John Brown then took a jailbreak screen for 13 yards and a touchdown, giving Arizona a 18-17 lead with just over two minutes remaining. Rivers had three straight incompletions on the final drive, and running back Jonathon Dwyer clinced the game by running for a first down.
Rivers threw for 238 yards, a touchdown, and an interception, while Palmer had 304 yards through the air and the two fourth quarter touchdowns.
Seattle Seahawks 36, Green Bay Packers 16
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