NFL: Falcons win late Sunday; all the capsules
Published 12:00 am Monday, September 18, 2017
ATLANTA (AP) — Matt Ryan and the Atlanta Falcons picked up where they left off against the Green Bay Packers, building a big halftime on the way to a dominating victory Sunday night.
The rematch of last season’s NFC championship game was essentially a repeat: Ryan threw for 252 yards and a touchdown, Devonta Freeman had a couple of scoring runs, and Desmond Trufant raced to the end zone off an attempted pass by Aaron Rodgers that was ruled a fumble, leading the Falcons to a 34-23 victory over the Packers that wasn’t really that close.
Last season, Atlanta earned a trip to the Super Bowl by racing to a 24-0 halftime lead and a 31-0 edge early in the third quarter on the way to a 44-31 blowout of the Packers.
In the first regular-season NFL game at $1.5 billion Mercedes-Benz Stadium, and the first sporting event with in which the facility’s camera lens-like roof was open, the Falcons put on a show to mark the occasion. They were ahead 24-7 at halftime and 31-7 less than a minute into the third period.
Unlike the Super Bowl, Atlanta (2-0) made sure this lead stood up.
After struggling a bit offensively in a season-opening victory at Chicago that was preserved with a goal-line stand in the closing season, the Falcons dominated right from the start in an early showdown for conference supremacy. The Packers (1-1) finally showed a bit of life with a couple of fourth-quarter touchdowns, including Rodgers’ 300th scoring pass.
DOLPHINS 19, CHARGERS 17
CARSON, Calif. (AP) — Cody Parkey hit his fourth field goal from 54 yards with 1:05 to play, and the Miami Dolphins rallied in the fourth quarter to spoil Los Angeles’ home opener.
Younghoe Koo missed a 44-yard field goal attempt with 5 seconds left after Philip Rivers maneuvered the Chargers (0-2) into scoring range in the final minute before a crowd of 25,381 in their first home game since relocating to the Los Angeles area after 56 seasons in San Diego.
Jay Cutler passed for 230 yards and Jay Ajayi rushed for 122 in the delayed season opener for the Dolphins, who spent the past nine days in California after leaving South Florida early to avoid Hurricane Irma. Parkey did most of their scoring, connecting from 30, 28 and 35 yards before burying his longest kick in the waning moments.
Rivers passed for 331 yards, and Antonio Gates set an NFL record with his 112th touchdown reception as a tight end.
PATRIOTS 36, SAINTS 20
NEW ORLEANS (AP) — Bouncing back with a vengeance from a season-opening loss, Tom Brady threw three touchdown passes in the first quarter for the first time in his career and eclipsed 300 yards passing in the first half for only the second time.
Brady’s maiden Super Bowl triumph in the Superdome back in February 2002 is bound to be one of his fondest memories. But the 18-year veteran looked like a superior QB in his latest visit. He finished 30 of 39 for 447 yards without an interception — at least not one that counted. Saints defenders caught Brady’s passes twice, but both plays were wiped out by New Orleans penalties.
Brady joined Warren Moon as the only QBs age 40 or older to pass for at least 400 yards and three TDs in a game, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.
Rob Gronkowski had a 53-yard catch and run to highlight his six-catch, 116-yard performance, but left the game in the second half with a groin injury.
BRONCOS 42, COWBOYS 17
DENVER (AP) — Trevor Siemian tied a career high with four touchdown passes and Denver held Ezekiel Elliott to the worst game of his career — 8 yards on nine carries — in a game that included an hour-long lightning delay.
Aqib Talib’s 103-yard interception return for a touchdown with 53 seconds left was the final indignity for the Cowboys (1-1), who watched Von Miller end a career-long five-game sackless streak by dumping Dak Prescott twice.
Elliott, who’s playing while his appeal of a six-game suspension for domestic violence works its way through the courts, came into the game averaging 108 yards rushing per game and more than 5 yards a carry in his career.
C.J. Anderson rushed for 118 yards and a score and also caught a TD pass for the Broncos, whose only big blemish in their fifth straight 2-0 start was the left leg injury to tackle Garett Bolles, their No. 1 draft pick who got hurt on the opening drive of the second half.
SEAHAWKS 12, 49ERS 9
SEATTLE (AP) — Russell Wilson avoided two potential sacks and found Paul Richardson in the front corner of the end zone for a 9-yard touchdown with 7:06 left.
It was an offensive nightmare as both teams had combined for 14 total quarters without a touchdown this season before the Seahawks finally broke the seal on the goal line. Wilson avoided Arik Armstead in the pocket and got his pass away before DeForest Buckner could pull him down. Seattle (1-1) snapped a streak of more than 112 minutes without a touchdown, despite missing on opportunities twice inside the 49ers’ 10-yard line earlier in the game.
Wilson was erratic at times and magical at the end. He was 23 of 39 passing for 198 yards. He rushed for another 34 yards, 27 coming on the decisive scoring drive. Wilson was 4 of 5 on the drive and aided by a 20-yard pass interference penalty against Dontae Johnson.
Blair Walsh added field goals of 25 and 27 yards, but missed the extra point after Richardson’s TD that could have given the Seahawks a four-point lead. The 49ers (0-2) only needed a field goal to tie but never got into position to have an opportunity.
San Francisco went three-and-out after the touchdown, punted and never got the ball back. Rookie Chris Carson rushed for 93 yards, including 58 yards in the fourth quarter.
RAIDERS 45, JETS 20
OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) — Marshawn Lynch ran for a touchdown in his first home game with Oakland and Derek Carr threw three TD passes to Michael Crabtree.
Cordarrelle Patterson and Jalen Richard added long touchdown runs to help put the game away and give the Raiders (2-0) wins in the opening two games of the season for the first time since their AFC championship season in 2002.
Josh McCown threw a pair of TD passes to Jermaine Kearse, but the Jets (0-2) proved to be no match for the more powerful and talented Raiders.
The Raiders’ vaunted offensive line won the matchup against New York’s front four , allowing no sacks and helping clear holes for a 180-yard rushing performance.
Oakland wore down the Jets and got a 43-yard touchdown run by Patterson late in the third quarter and a 52-yarder by Richard early in the fourth that made it 35-13.
REDSKINS 27, RAMS 20
LOS ANGELES (AP) — Kirk Cousins threw an 11-yard touchdown pass to Ryan Grant with 1:49 to play to give the Redskins the victory against their former assistant coach, Rams and rookie head coach Sean McVay.
Cousins capped the winning 70-yard drive by finding Grant in the front left corner of the end zone.
The Rams (1-1) had tied the game at 20 on Greg Zuerlein’s 40-yard field goal with 7:16 to play. It was set up on a trick play, when punter Johnny Hekker completed a 28-yard pass to Josh Reynolds to the Washington 17. But two penalties stalled the drive and the Rams had to settle for the field goal.
Chris Thompson scored on runs of 61 and 7 yards for the Redskins (1-1).
Mason Foster sealed it with 1:37 to go by intercepting Jared Goff.
CHIEFS 27, EAGLES 20
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Chiefs rookie Kareem Hunt reached the end zone twice, Travis Kelce took a shovel pass 15 yards for the go-ahead touchdown and Kansas City held on.
Kelce’s touchdown catch with 6:25 left and Hunt’s second TD scamper appeared to have put the game away.
But Carson Wentz hit Nelson Agholor for an answering score with 14 seconds left, and Trey Burton jumped on the onside kick a few seconds later to give the Eagles one last throw to the end zone.
Wentz unloaded from just inside the 50-yard line, but his pass fell incomplete as time expired.
Kelce finished with 103 yards through the air, highlighted by his somersaulting score. Hunt had 81 yards on the ground, building on a record-setting debut in which he piled up 246 yards from scrimmage in a season-opening victory in New England .
Alex Smith had 251 yards passing for the Chiefs (2-0). Cairo Santos was 2 for 2 on field goals.
Wentz finished with 333 yards and two touchdowns passing, despite facing relentless pressure all afternoon. The spunky quarterback also led the Eagles (1-1) with 55 yards rushing.
CARDINALS 16, COLTS 13, OT
INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Carson Palmer’s late rally got the Cardinals into overtime and Tyrann Mathieu’s interception set up Phil Dawson for a 30-yard field goal to win it.
Dawson made the most of his second chance after pushing a 42-yarder wide right as regulation time expired.
Arizona (1-1) never led until the final play. It hasn’t started 0-2 since 2005.
Coach Bruce Arians won his 42nd career game and tied Don Coryell for the second-most wins in Cardinals history on the same field he called home when he won his first NFL Coach of the Year award in 2012 as an interim for the ill Chuck Pagano.
Indy, 0-2 for the fourth consecutive year, thought it may have changed directions after switching quarterbacks. But newcomer Jacoby Brissett was picked off on the first offensive play of overtime.
STEELERS 26, VIKINGS 9
PITTSBURGH (AP) — Ben Roethlisberger threw a pair of first-half touchdown passes, Le’Veon Bell ran for 87 yards and the Steelers kept Minnesota in check.
Roethlisberger hit Martavis Bryant for a 27-yard score in the first quarter and flipped a shovel pass to JuJu Smith-Schuster that the rookie turned into a 4-yard score. Roethlisberger finished 23 of 35 for 243 yards and the two scores as the Steelers (2-0) improved to 10-1 in home openers under Mike Tomlin.
Minnesota (1-1) played without quarterback Sam Bradford, who sat out with a left knee injury. Case Keenum struggled to get anything going in Bradford’s absence, throwing for 167 yards on 20 of 35 passing.
Vikings rookie Dalvin Cook ran for 64 yards, but Minnesota failed to generate any real momentum against Pittsburgh’s rejuvenated defense.
BUCCANEERS 29, BEARS 7
TAMPA, Fla. (AP) — Jameis Winston threw for 204 yards and one touchdown, helping the Buccaneers return from an unscheduled bye week forced by Hurricane Irma.
The defense stymied former teammate Mike Glennon with four takeaways. Robert McClain returned one of the quarterback’s two interceptions for a TD, and the Bucs didn’t let the Bears into the end zone until Deonte Thompson scored on a 14-yard reception with 1:43 remaining.
The Bucs (1-0) dominated despite having a short week of practice following the massive storm that forced postponement of the team’s scheduled season opener at Miami. Winston completed 18 of 30 passes without an interception. He threw a 13-yard TD pass to Mike Evans, who had seven catches for 93 yards.
Glennon, who signed with Chicago as a free agent last winter, was 31 of 45 for 301 yards and two interceptions in his return to Raymond James Stadium. The Bears (0-2) finished with 310 yards total offense, 1 yard less than a Bucs offense that hasn’t had much work in the past month.
RAVENS 24, BROWNS 10
BALTIMORE (AP) — Baltimore relentlessly harassed two Cleveland quarterbacks, Joe Flacco ramped up his production with a pair of touchdown passes and the Ravens breezed.
Building on their season-opening shutout at Cincinnati, the Ravens picked off four passes and forced a fumble, giving them 10 takeaways in two games.
Most of the defense’s damage came against Browns rookie quarterback DeShone Kizer, who left with a migraine headache in the second quarter after four ineffective series: a three-and-out, a lost fumble, an interception and a punt.
The former Notre Dame starter was replaced by second-year pro Kevin Hogan, but returned in the third quarter with Baltimore up 21-10. On his second series back, Kizer moved the Browns to the Baltimore 7 before being picked off in the end zone by Lardarius Webb.
Brandon Carr’s interception with 6:09 remaining all but sealed the victory.
TITANS 37, JAGUARS 16
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (AP) — Derrick Henry, Delanie Walker and Jalston Fowler each ran for touchdowns, and the Titans dominated the Jaguars.
The result was probably more indicative of what to expect from the AFC South rivals than what each showed in their season openers.
Henry finished with a career-high 92 yards on the ground for the Titans (1-1), including 87 in the final two quarters. Starting running back DeMarco Murray spent much of the second half standing on the sideline and wearing a baseball cap backward, seemingly uninjured. There was no need to risk him in this one, the third consecutive lopsided score in the series.
Marcus Mariota, returning to the place where he broke his right leg last December, completed 15 of 27 passes for 215 yards. He had a 32-yard touchdown pass to Jonnu Smith in the final quarter.
Jacksonville’s home opener felt eerily similar to most of the team’s performances the previous five years: Lackluster offense and mistakes all over the field for the Jaguars (1-1).
PANTHERS 9, BILLS 3
CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — Carolina’s defense allowed only three points for the second straight week, and Graham Gano converted three field goals.
The Panthers (2-0) held Tyrod Taylor and LeSean McCoy in check all day, limiting the Bills (1-1) to 176 yards and 10 first downs. McCoy had 9 yards on 12 carries and Taylor had 125 yards passing. The Panthers had three sacks, two by Julius Peppers in his first home game since re-signing with them.
The Panthers needed a late stop to seal the win.
Buffalo rookie Zay Jones tried to make a diving catch on fourth-and-11, but couldn’t haul in the pass at the Carolina 3 with 9 seconds remaining.
The Panthers have not allowed a touchdown in two games after beating San Francisco 23-3 in Week 1.
But they lost tight end Greg Olsen in the second quarter to a broken right foot. Olsen did not miss a game in his previous 10 pro seasons.