Austin Davis played with the poise and resolve of a seasoned pro.
“We never panicked,” veteran tackle Jake Long said Sunday after Davis led a late field goal drive that gave the St. Louis Rams a 19-17 victory over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Sunday in the 25-year-old quarterback’s first NFL start.
“It’s special. I can’t really describe what I felt,” Davis, a third-stringer when training camp began, said after receiving a game ball from coach Jeff Fisher. “I felt a peace out there. I felt at home, and it had a lot to do with the guys I was around and how well we played.”
Greg Zuerlein’s fourth field goal of the day, a 38-yarder with 38 seconds remaining, won it.
Davis threw 13 yards to Lance Kendricks on third-and-1, 15 yards to Brian Quick on second-and-9, and 27 yards to Austin Pettis on third-and-9 to set up the winner.
“I can’t say enough about Austin. … I felt like he’d be OK because of the entire weeks’ worth of preparation,” Fisher said. “He was very poised. … Nothing overwhelming to him. He made really good decisions against a good defense, an injury-depleted defense, but a good defense.”
Davis completed 22 of 29 passes for 235 yards with no interceptions. Zac Stacy had a 2-yard touchdown run in the first quarter, and Zuerlein also made field goals of 36, 35 and 46 yards to help the Rams (1-1) rebound from a lopsided season-opening loss to Minnesota.
Texans 30, Raiders 14
J.J. Watt caught a 1-yard touchdown pass, Arian Foster ran for 138 yards and a score and the Houston Texans won their second straight game to open the season with the victory at Oakland.
Instead of controlling the game from his usual defensive end position, Watt made his biggest impact on the opening drive when he lined up as a tight end and caught a pass from Ryan Fitzpatrick to get Houston (2-0) started.
After losing their final 14 games in a two-win season in 2013, the Texans have opened 2014 with back-to-back wins under new coach Bill O’Brien.
The home opener for the Raiders (0-2) hardly could have gone worse as they fell behind 27-0 after three quarters and were booed.
Chargers 30, Seahawks 21
The San Diego Chargers used an old, familiar combo — Philip Rivers to Antonio Gates — to upset the defending Super Bowl champion Seattle Seahawks.
Gates had three touchdown catches, including a spectacular, one-handed grab, and the Chargers controlled the tempo to keep Russell Wilson and Marshawn Lynch off the field to beat the Seahawks 30-21 victory Sunday.
The 34-year-old Gates scored on catches of 8, 8 and 21 yards.
The 21-yarder was epic, as the star tight end split two defenders and extended for Rivers’ pass, reaching out with his left hand to gather it in. Flat on his back in the end zone, he held up the ball to show the referee he’d made the catch that gave San Diego a 27-14 lead late in the third quarter.
The three touchdown receptions tied Gates’ career high. Rivers was 28 of 37 for 284 yards.
Seattle was efficient when it had the ball, but it just didn’t have it enough as the Chargers dominated time of possession on a steamy afternoon at Qualcomm Stadium.
San Diego (1-1) had blown an 11-point, fourth-quarter lead and lost its opener Monday night at Arizona. Seattle (1-1) had nine days to prepare after an impressive 20-point opening victory against Green Bay.
Broncos 24, Chiefs 17Terrance Knighton batted away Alex Smith’s fourth-and-goal pass to Dwayne Bowe with 15 seconds left to preserve Denver’s win. The Broncos (2-0) thought they had sealed the win twice earlier on the drive.
Aqib Talib’s pick-6 was negated by Quanterus Smith’s hold. Then, Nate Irving’s fumble recovery following DeMarcus Ware’s sack and strip was ruled an incomplete pass after a replay.
The Chiefs (0-2) converted 11 of 16 third-down opportunities overall.
They just couldn’t capitalize in the biggest moments as the Broncos defense mustered two goal-line stands for the second straight week.
Peyton Manning was 21 of 26 for 242 yards and three TDs.
Packers 31, Jets 24
Aaron Rodgers threw for three touchdowns, Jordy Nelson had a career-high 209 yards receiving and Green Bay rallied from an 18-point deficit to beat visiting New York.
New York appeared to tie it with 5 minutes left on a 37-yard touchdown catch by Jeremy Kerley on fourth down — but it was negated because the Jets (1-1) called a timeout from the sideline just before the snap. The Packers (1-1) held on from there to avoid its first 0-2 start since 2006.
Randall Cobb caught two short scoring strikes and a 2-point conversation that gave the Packers a 24-21 lead in the third quarter.
Green Bay (1-1) went up 31-24 late in the third quarter when Nelson worked a double move on Dee Milliner for an 80-yard touchdown catch.
Browns 26, Saints 24
Brian Hoyer directed an 85-yard drive to set up Billy Cundiff’s 29-yard field goal with three seconds left, giving Cleveland a win in its home opener.
Cundiff’s kick helped the Browns (1-1) snap a nine-game losing streak in home openers and gave rookie coach Mike Pettine his first NFL win. Johnny Manziel made a perfunctory NFL debut for a handful of plays, but had no impact.
Hoyer was marvelous in the clutch, moving the Browns from their own 4 to the New Orleans 11 in 2:43, and Cundiff took it from there. Hoyer completed several big passes on the drive, including one on fourth down and a 28-yarder to Andrew Hawkins with 13 seconds to go.
The Saints (0-2) rallied from a 13-point deficit to take the lead on Mark Ingram’s 1-yard TD run with 12:12 left.
New Orleans quarterback Drew Brees threw two touchdown passes to tight end Jimmy Graham and moved past Hall of Famer John Elway into fourth place on the NFL’s career passing list.
Hoyer went 8 of 11 for 77 yards on the last drive and finished 24 of 40 for 204 yards and a TD. He came off the field for a few plays as Manziel handed the ball off twice and had one incompletion.
Brees went 27 of 40 for 237 yards. Graham had 10 catches for 118 yards.
Patriots 30, Vikings 7
Tom Brady and New England took advantage of Adrian Peterson’s absence and Matt Cassel’s four interceptions, and Chandler Jones returned a field goal he blocked for a touchdown in the win over Minnesota.
Brady went 15 for 22 for 142 yards, one touchdown and no turnovers, and Cassel’s first start against his close friend and former mentor was a dud.
Devin McCourty, Darrelle Revis, Logan Ryan and Dominique Easley all picked him off, setting up 17 points for the Patriots and prompting “Teddy! Teddy! Teddy!” chants from the crowd for the rookie Bridgewater. Cassel finished 19 for 36 for 202 yards.
Peterson was shelved for the game after a charge of child abuse was levied against him Friday in Texas.
Redskins 41, Jaguars 10
Robert Griffin III and DeSean Jackson both left with injuries in the first quarter, and Kirk Cousins stepped in and completed 22 of 33 passes for 250 yards and a pair of touchdowns in Washington’s win over Jacksonville.
Griffin hurt his left ankle and was carted to the locker room with his leg in a splint. Jackson injured his left shoulder.
Cousins subbed for Griffin and completed his first 12 passes. Ryan Kerrigan had four of the Redskins’ 10 sacks, and Washington’s defense didn’t allow Jacksonville past midfield until the final two minutes of the first half.
Washington outgained Jacksonville 449-148.
The Redskins improved to 1-1. The Jaguars are 0-2 for the third consecutive season.
Cowboys 26, Titans 10
DeMarco Murray ran for 169 yards and a touchdown, Dan Bailey kicked four field goals, and Dallas routed Tennessee.
The loss spoiled Tennessee first-year coach Ken Whisenhunt’s home debut.
The Cowboys haven’t started 0-2 since 2010 when Wade Phillips was fired midway through the season and Jason Garrett was promoted to head coach.
Dallas scored the first 16 points of the game in the first half.
Even the beleaguered Dallas defense got into the act, coming up with two sacks and two interceptions.
Tony Romo easily shook off his three interceptions in the season-opening loss to San Francisco. With Murray running so well, Romo was 19 of 29 for 176 yards and a TD.
The Titans (1-1) struggled in all areas after winning their opener at Kansas City and missed on their first 2-0 start since 2008.
Bengals 24, Falcons 10
Running back Giovani Bernard picked up a Cincinnati offense missing receiver A.J. Green, turning short passes into big plays in a victory over Atlanta.
The Bengals won their home opener and improved to 2-0 for the first time since 2006 despite losing several key players to injury, most notably Green.
The Pro Bowl receiver aggravated an injured toe on his right foot, which kept him out of practice last week. He left during the opening series and didn’t catch a pass for the first time in his four-year career.
Cincinnati had more than enough left to handle the Falcons (1-1), who gave up nearly 500 yards for the second straight game. Matt Ryan was 24 of 44 for 231 yards with a touchdown, two sacks and three interceptions.
Cardinals 25, Giants 14
Ted Ginn Jr. ran 71 yards on a punt return for a go-ahead fourth-quarter touchdown and Arizona beat the error-prone New York Giants despite playing without injured starting quarterback Carson Palmer.
Playing in a regular-season game for the first time since 2010, Drew Stanton led the Cardinals (2-0) on three long scoring drives in helping them win for the ninth time in 11 games.
Jonathan Dwyer scored on a 1-yard run and Chandler Catanzaro kicked four field goals, including one a minute after Ginn’s electrifying return on which the speedster bounced off a tackle and was gone.
The Cardinals got the ball back right away after Quintin Demps fumbled on the ensuing kickoff return.
Eli Manning threw two touchdowns for the Giants (0-2), who turned over the ball four times.
Bills 29, Dolphins 10
C.J. Spiller scored on a 102-yard kickoff return, and rookie receiver Sammy Watkins had a 12-yard touchdown catch in leading Buffalo past Miami.
The Dolphins (1-1) also lost a key offseason addition when running back Knowshon Moreno did not return after hurting his left elbow 11 minutes in.
Spiller and Watkins both scored in the third quarter, putting Buffalo ahead 23-10.
Buffalo is 2-0 start for the first time since 2011, and sixth time since 2000.
The Bills rode the momentum of a charged-up crowd in a home opener that celebrated the franchise’s past and future.
The Bills paid tribute to late owner Ralph Wilson, who died in March. On Tuesday, Wilson’s estate reached a “definitive agreement” to sell the team to Terry and Kim Pegula for an NFL-record $1.4 billion.
Panthers 24, Lions 7
Cam Newton made a successful return to the field, throwing for 281 yards and a touchdown in Carolina’s victory over Detroit.
Newton, who missed the season opener with a rib injury, was 22 of 34 and overcame four sacks. Carolina started 2-0 for the first time since 2008.
Trailing 7-6 in the third quarter, the Panthers took advantage of back-to-back Detroit turnovers and scored on three straight possessions.
Carolina’s defense, playing without Pro Bowl defensive end Greg Hardy, had three takeaways and held the Lions scoreless in the first half one week after Matthew Stafford and company put up 35 points against the Giants. Hardy, convicted on two counts of domestic violence on July 15, was a surprise inactive.
Stafford threw for 291 yards with one touchdowns and one interception. He was sacked four times.