NFL roundup: Browns don’t lose opener; Ravens dismantle Bills; Broncos fend off Seahawks
at Browns 21, Steelers 21 (OT): Well, the Browns didn’t lose.
Cleveland ended its 17-game losing streak on Sunday with a 21-21 tie against the Pittsburgh Steelers, but the Browns missed a chance at their first victory since 2016 when kicker Zane Gonzalez’s 43-yard field-goal attempt with 9 seconds left in OT was blocked by T.J. Watt.
The Steelers, who blew a 14-point lead in the fourth quarter, also wasted their chance to escape with a win when Chris Boswell was wide left on a 42-yard field-goal attempt with 1:44 remaining in the extra period.
It was the NFL’s first tie in Week 1 since 1971 and the league’s first overall since Washington and Cincinnati ended in a 27-27 deadlock on Oct. 30, 2016.
The Browns remain winless since Dec. 24, 2016, but at least they have a positive after going 0-16 last season, just the second team to lose all 16 games.
at Ravens 47, Bills 3: The Baltimore Ravens harassed and embarrassed Buffalo quarterback Nathan Peterman on a rainy Sunday afternoon and beat the rebuilding Bills 47-3.
Joe Flacco threw three touchdown passes for the Ravens, one to each of the new receivers Baltimore added during the offseason to enhance a lackluster passing attack. Flacco went 25 for 34 for 236 yards before being replaced in the third quarter by rookie Lamar Jackson, who did little more than hand off the ball after entering with a 40-0 lead.
Making its debut under defensive coordinator Don Martindale, the Ravens (1-0) held Buffalo (0-1) to 33 yards and no first downs in going up 26-0 at the half.
Baltimore added two touchdowns in the third quarter following Buffalo mistakes before Bills coach Sean McDermott had finally seen enough, replacing Peterman with rookie Josh Allen.
Making his third NFL start, Peterman went 5 for 18 for 24 yards and two interceptions for a quarterback rating of 0.0. Allen was 6 for 15 for 74 yards in Buffalo’s most lopsided defeat since a 56-10 loss to New England in November 2007.
Cousins connected with Stefon Diggs in the second quarter and Kyle Rudolph in the third quarter for scores, and the defense finished the job with three sacks and three second-half interceptions of Garoppolo. Mike Hughes turned one pick into a 28-yard touchdown return, the first by a rookie in a Vikings season opener.
Harrison Smith, who sacked Garoppolo on a third-down safety blitz and had an interception late in the fourth quarter, recovered a fumble by Alfred Morris at the 2-yard line after Linval Joseph stripped the ball just in front of the goal line in the late in the first half.
Bengals 34, at Colts 23: Andy Dalton rallied the Cincinnati Bengals with three scores in the final 19 minutes Sunday and Clayton Fejedelem scored on an 83-yard fumble return with 24 seconds to go, giving the Bengals a 34-23 victory at Indianapolis.
Cincinnati snapped an eight-game losing streak in Indy.
The loss spoiled the Colts’ season opener — and the return of Andrew Luck, who made his first start in more than 20 months.
It looked as if Luck was up to his old tricks after staking the Colts to a 23-10 lead midway through the third quarter and again late when he led the Colts 50 yards to the Bengals 25-yard line in the final minute.
But after completing a pass on third down to Pro Bowl tight end Jack Doyle, who appeared to have the first down, Fejedelem knocked the ball out, scooped it up and sprinted down the sideline avoiding Luck on his way to the end zone for the sealing score.
Starting for the suspended Jameis Winston, Fitzpatrick completed 21 of 28 passes without an interception and also ran for a short touchdown, bowling over free safety Marcus Williams on his way into the end zone.
Saints cornerback Marshon Lattimore, the 2017 defensive rookie of the year, had arguably the worst performance of his career trying to cover receiver Mike Evans, who caught seven passes for 147 yards, including a 50-yard touchdown that put the Bucs up 41-24 late in the third quarter.
DeSean Jackson caught scoring passes of 58 and 36 yards to highlight his five-catch, 146-yard day before leaving with a concussion.
at Patriots 27, Texans 20: Tom Brady threw for 277 yards and three touchdowns, hitting Rob Gronkowski for 123 yards and a score Sunday to lead the defending AFC champion New England Patriots to a 27-20 victory over the Houston Texans.
Brady and Gronkowski, who both floated the possibility of retiring over the offseason, connected seven times, including a 21-yard touchdown three plays after Deshaun Watson fumbled a handoff at the Texans 19 on Houston’s first offensive play. Phillip Dorsett and James White also caught TD passes from Brady, the 41-year-old reigning NFL MVP.
Watson, who missed the final nine games last season with a torn right ACL, completed 17 of 35 passes for 176 yards, one score and one interception. He struggled to move the team in the first 40 minutes, managing just a pair of field-goal drives before Alfred Blue ran it in from 1 yard to make it 24-13 in the last two minutes of the third period.
A muffed punt by New England’s Riley McCarron with under five minutes left set up Watson’s 5-yard TD pass to Bruce Ellington and cut the deficit to 27-20. But after getting the ball back at their 1 with 43 seconds left, the Texans failed to reach midfield.
Linebacker Myles Jack scored on a 32-yard interception return early in the fourth quarter and the Jaguars spoiled the New York Giants debuts of coach Pat Shurmur and second-overall draft pick Saquon Barkley, and the return of Odell Beckham Jr. with a 20-15 win on Sunday.
Blake Bortles threw a short touchdown pass and led two other first-half field goal drives. The Jaguars dominated with the exception a Barkley-induced hiccup in opening a season by living up to the Super Bowl hype.
Held in check much of the game, Barkley brought the sellout crowd to its feet shortly after the Jack touchdown with a spectacular 65-yard run aided by a great block by receiver Sterling Shepard. It got New York within 20-15 with 10:39 to play.
New York went for the 2-point conversion and Barkley (18-rushes for 106 yards) was stopped.
Redskins 24, at Cardinals 6: Alex Smith carved up the Arizona defense for 255 yards and two touchdowns, Adrian Peterson rushed for 96 yards and a score and the Washington Redskins spoiled the Cardinals coaching debut of Steve Wilks with a dominant 24-6 victory on Sunday.
Smith and Peterson were playing their first game as Redskins and the two veterans made an impact from the start.
Smith, acquired from Kansas City in the offseason to replace Kirk Cousins, completed 21 of 30 passes without an interception and had TD throws of 13 yards to Chris Thompson and 4 yards to Jordan Reed.
at Broncos 27, Seahawks 24: Von Miller sacked Russell Wilson three times, forced two fumbles and recovered one in helping Case Keenum win his Denver debut Sunday when the Broncos held off the Seattle Seahawks 27-24.
It was the Broncos’ 18th win in their past 19 home openers, and few were more exciting or competitive.
Keenum threw for 329 yards and three touchdowns, but was also intercepted three times.
Wilson threw for 298 yards and three TDs, but was picked off twice and sacked six times.
at Panthers 16, Cowboys 8: Cam Newton ran for 58 yards and a touchdown, and Carolina’s defense turned in a dominating performance as the Panthers defeated the Dallas Cowboys 16-8 in the season opener Sunday.
Luke Kuechly had 13 tackles, Kawann Short sacked Dak Prescott twice and Mario Addison had a huge strip-sack of the Cowboys quarterback with 1:23 left to seal the victory.
Carolina’s defense had six sacks in all and limited the Cowboys to 232 yards.
at Dolphins 27, Titans 20: Jakeem Grant scored on a tiebreaking 102-yard kickoff return with 14 minutes to go, and the Miami Dolphins overcame two weather delays to win the longest game since the 1970 NFL-AFL merger, beating the Tennessee Titans 27-20 Sunday.
Delays for lightning lasted a total of 3 hours, 59 minutes, and the game took 7 hours, 10 minutes to play. The previous longest game since 1970 was a Bears overtime victory against the Ravens in 2013 that took 5 hours, 16 minutes.
Grant’s touchdown triggered a late flurry of big plays in a season opener that was lackluster for the first six hours.
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