NEW ORLEANS (AP) ó Drew Brees looked even better than last year, which was bad news for a Detroit Lions team trying to win for the first time since 2007.
Brees tied a Saints record with six touchdown passes and threw for 358 yards in a 45-27 victory Sunday that extended the Detroit Lions’ regular-season losing streak to 18.
Two of Brees’ touchdown passes went to Jeremy Shockey, who hadn’t scored since being traded from the New York Giants to New Orleans last season.
Brees connected with Marques Colston for 9 yards, Robert Meachem for 39, Shockey for 1 and 15, Devery Henderson for 58 and Heath Evans for 13.
Matthew Stafford’s first start had its ups and downs. The 2009 top overall draft choice was 16 of 37 for 205 yards with three interceptions. He led two touchdown drives, capping one with his first NFL score on a short keeper. Lions safety Louis Delmas also returned a fumble for a 65-yard touchdown.
Detroit is still eight losses off the NFL record of 26 straight defeats by Tampa Bay in 1976-77.
Vikings 34, Browns 20
CLEVELAND (AP) ó Brett Favre threw a 6-yard touchdown pass to rookie Percy Harvin in his debut with the Vikings, and Adrian Peterson scored three touchdowns.
Making his 270th consecutive start after a will-he-or-won’t-he flirtation that dominated NFL headlines this summer, the 39-year-old Favre showed he can still fire the football with authority ó and hasn’t lost his boyish love for the game.
After hooking up with Harvin, Favre sprinted into the end zone and tackled the young wide receiver.
Peterson scored on a pair of 1-yard plunges and capped his day with an electrifying 64-yarder. Peterson, held to 25 yards in the first half, finished with 180 on 25 carries.
Favre was 14 of 21 for 110 yards and appeared to be fully recovered from offseason surgery to repair a torn biceps tendon.
Broncos 12, Bengals 7
CINCINNATI (AP) ó Brandon Stokley caught a tipped pass and outran Cincinnati’s shocked defenders for an 87-yard touchdown with 11 seconds left.
After Cedric Benson’s 1-yard run put Cincinnati ahead 7-6 with 38 seconds left, Kyle Orton ó in line to shoulder the blame for a Denver loss ó threw a desperate pass into a crowd at the sideline, hoping Brandon Marshall would somehow come down with it.
Marshall never got close. Cornerback Leon Hall batted the ball in the air, and the carom went right into the arms of Stokley, who was behind the defense and had a clear path to the end zone. He ran sideways for a few steps to eat up time before finally stepping into the end zone.
Bengals defenders stopped and dropped their heads, unable to fathom the wacky way they’d lost another game. It will go down in team lore along with the time they failed to run out the clock and let San Francisco’s Joe Montana throw a winning touchdown pass to Jerry Rice on the game’s final play in 1987.
Giants 23, Redskins 17
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) ó Eli Manning threw a 30-yard touchdown pass to Mario Manningham, and defensive end Osi Umenyiora ran back a fumble 37 yards in his return from a knee injury.
Lawrence Tynes added three field goals, including a 45-yarder in the fourth quarter set up by an offside penalty by Redskins $100 million defensive tackle Albert Haynesworth, who had an average game in his Washington debut.
Washington, which trailed all game, drew within 23-17 with 1:30 to play on a 17-yard touchdown pass from Jason Campbell to Chris Cooley. Steve Smith recovered the onside kick and New York ran out the clock.
Washington also got an 8-yard touchdown run from punter Hunter Smith on a fake field goal late in the first half.
New York lost top draft pick receiver Hakeem Nicks with a sprained left foot and running back Danny Ware with a dislocated left elbow.
49ers 20, Cardinals 16
GLENDALE, Ariz. (AP) ó Shaun Hill and the rest of San Francisco’s offense had an awful second half, except for one magnificent possession.
Hill directed a 15-play, 80-yard drive for the winning touchdown on a 3-yard pass to Frank Gore, and the 49ers spoiled the season debut of defending NFC champion Arizona.
Arizona rallied from 10 points down to go up 16-13 on Neil Rackers’ 44-yard field goal with 14:52 to play. But the 49ers regained control with the drive that used up nearly half of the final quarter.
It was the Cardinals’ first loss to an NFC West foe in two seasons.
Seahawks 28, Rams 0
SEATTLE (AP) ó Matt Hasselbeck, playing his first game since Thanksgiving Day, overcame two interceptions in his first three throws to connect with John Carlson for two touchdowns.
Hasselbeck finished 25 of 36 for 279 yards, his most for an opener. Seattle beat its division rival for the ninth consecutive time with its biggest win to begin a season since a 38-0 victory over Philadelphia in 1998.
The Rams, under new coach Steve Spagnuolo, gained just 247 yards in a flop that looked alarmingly like their 38-3 loss against Philadelphia that opened last season. The Rams were also doomed by 10 penalties ó two personal fouls after plays by volatile offensive lineman Richie Incognito.
Jets 24, Texans 7
HOUSTON (AP) ó As good as Mark Sanchez was in his NFL debut, the Jets’ defense was better.
Sanchez, the fifth overall pick in this year’s draft, threw for 272 yards and a touchdown in his NFL debut, Thomas Jones scored twice, and the Jets shut down Houston’s high-powered offense.
It was easy to see Rex Ryan’s stamp on this defense in his first game as Jets head coach after leading Baltimore’s stingy unit for the past several years. Houston’s offense got past midfield just once in the first three quarters. The Texans were outgained 462-183, Steve Slaton was held to 17 yards rushing and Andre Johnson had 35 yards receiving.
Matt Schaub struggled, too, completing 18 of 33 passes for 166 yards with no touchdowns and an interception.
Sanchez was poised and confident from the start, often evading the rush to complete key passes. His first NFL touchdown came in the second quarter when he found Chansi Stuckey wide open on a 30-yard reception to put the Jets up 10-3.
Ravens 38, Chiefs 24
BALTIMORE (AP) ó Joe Flacco went 26 for 43 for 307 yards and three touchdowns, all career highs. The Ravens ruined the head coaching debut of Kansas City’s Todd Haley as they amassed a franchise-record 501 yards, yet needed a 31-yard touchdown catch by Mark Clayton with 2:06 left to break a tie.
Willis McGahee scored from the 1 with 31 seconds remaining to clinch it.
Perhaps the most unexpected development during a strange afternoon was that the Chiefs kept it close despite playing without quarterback Matt Cassel, whose sprained left knee didn’t heal enough to enable him to make his Kansas City debut.
That left the quarterbacking responsibilities to Brodie Croyle and Tyler Thigpen, who entered with a collective 1-18 record as NFL starters. The Chiefs used a blocked punt and a long interception return to stay in the game.
Cowboys 34, Buccaneers 21
TAMPA, Fla. (AP) ó Tony Romo threw for 353 yards and three long touchdowns, spoiling the Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ debut under coach Raheem Morris.
Miles Austin avoided two tacklers on the sideline to score on a 42-yard reception just before halftime. Roy Williams streaked through a mistake-prone secondary on a 66-yard TD play early in the third quarter.
Romo teamed with Patrick Crayton, who had six catches for 135 yards, on the longest completion of the Pro Bowl quarterback’s career ó 80 yards ó for a fourth-quarter TD that thwarted any realistic hopes for a Tampa Bay comeback. And erased memories of the departed Terrell Owens.
Cadillac Williams, back after having surgery twice in 15 months, finished with 97 yards on 13 carries and scored a TD.
Falcons 19, Dolphins 7
ATLANTA (AP) ó Tony Gonzalez hauled in a touchdown pass and became the 21st player in NFL history with 11,000 yards receiving. Linebacker Mike Peterson forced a fumble with a vicious hit and picked off a pass for the Falcons.
The matchup between the two most surprising teams of 2008 wasn’t much of a game. The Falcons’ defense, highly suspect after letting go five starters and looking shaky during the preseason, came up with four turnovers and thoroughly shut down a team that won the AFC East after going 1-15 two years ago.
Matt Ryan threw a pair of touchdown passes for the Falcons, who made the playoffs after a quick rebuilding job from the Michael Vick debacle. Now, they are off to a good start in their attempt to post consecutive winning seasons for the first time in their 44-year history.
Gonzalez hauled in five passes for a team-high 73 yards, including a 20-yard touchdown after Peterson’s pick.
Colts 14, Jaguars 12
INDIANAPOLIS (AP) ó Peyton Manning threw for one touchdown, Joseph Addai ran for another and the Colts’ defense stopped Jacksonville twice in the fourth quarter.
Though Manning tied John Unitas’ franchise record for career wins with 118, it was hardly a thing of beauty. Manning lost receiver Anthony Gonzalez late in the first quarter with a right knee injury, a potentially serious blow to the Colts usually high-scoring offense. Reggie Wayne finished with 10 catches for 162 yards and a TD and Colts coach Jim Caldwell won his NFL head coaching debut.
Indy allowed only 228 yards, 114 each on the ground and through the air.
With the Colts leading 14-6 early in the fourth quarter, Maurice Jones-Drew took a pitch and made a nifty move to avoid tacklers on a 7-yard TD run. The Jags then put Jones-Drew in the wildcat formation on a 2-point conversion, but the Colts bottled him up as he reached the line of scrimmage to keep the lead.
Packers 21, Bears 15
GREEN BAY, Wis. (AP) ó Aaron Rodgers brought the Packers back late in the fourth quarter, heaving a 50-yard touchdown pass to Greg Jennings with 1:11 remaining to give Green Bay a victory over Chicago.
Facing third-and-1 at the 50-yard line, Rodgers faked play action and heaved a rainbow of a throw deep to Jennings, who ran in for the go-ahead score. Rodgers found Jennings again for a 2-point conversion.
Rodgers finished 17 of 28 for 184 yards for the Packers, and his big throw ruined the debut of Bears quarterback Jay Cutler, who had a career-worst four interceptions.
The Bears lost a big game to their division rivals and lost several key players to injury. Brian Urlacher left with a wrist injury in the third quarter after fellow linebacker Pisa Tinoisamoa left in the first half with an injured knee. Backup cornerback Trumaine McBride also injured a knee, and tight end Desmond Clark left with a back injury.