NFL roundup: Josh Jacobs carries Raiders past Panthers; Jaguars stun Colts
CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Josh Jacobs ran for 93 yards and three touchdowns, Derek Carr threw for 239 yards and a score and the Las Vegas Raiders hung on to beat the Carolina Panthers 34-30 on Sunday to spoil Matt Rhule’s coaching debut.
Jacobs’ 6-yard run around the right end with 4:14 left put the Raiders ahead for good after they’d surrendered a 12-point fourth quarter lead.
Carolina had a chance to take the lead, but the Panthers handed off to fullback Alex Armah — instead of All-Pro Christian McCaffrey — on fourth-and-inches at midfield, He was stopped at the line, turning the ball over on downs with 1:11 left. McCaffrey racked up 134 yards from scrimmage and scored two touchdowns for Carolina.
After going three-and-out on their first drive, the Raiders scored on five straight possessions to take a 27-15 lead in a game played in front of fewer than 50 guests of the Panthers due to the coronavirus pandemic.
SoFi Stadium, the NFL’s crown jewel, was the the culmination of Rams owner Stan Kroenke’s vision and the NFL’s desire to return to the L.A. market.
Carolina battled back with McCaffrey getting 11 touches for 64 yards on one drive and scoring on a 3-yard run. After one of only three defensive stops by the Panthers, Teddy Bridgewater found Robby Anderson for a 75-yard strike on a blown coverage to take a 30-27 lead.
Bridgewater, who replaced Cam Newton as the starting QB, finished 22 of 34 for 270 yards and one touchdown in his Carolina debut. Anderson, a free agent pickup from the Jets, had six catches for 115 yards.
Saints 34, Buccaneers 23
NEW ORLEANS — Tom Brady was intercepted twice in his Tampa Bay debut, Alvin Kamara scored touchdowns running and receiving, and New Orleans won.
The first of Brady’s interceptions led to Kamara’s 6-yard touchdown run. The second pick thrown by the new, 43-year-old Bucs QB — who left the New England Patriots in free agency after 20 years and six Super Bowl triumphs — was returned 36 yards for a touchdown by Janoris Jenkins.
Neither quarterback was statistically exceptional in this first-ever NFL game featuring two quarterbacks in their 40s.
The 41-year-old Drew Brees passed for 160 yards and two TDs, but he also avoided critical mistakes. He did not turn the ball over and took only one sack. His first TD pass was a dump-off to Kamara from 12 yards out. In the fourth quarter he hit free-agent signing Emmanuel Sanders for a 5-yard score.
Few witnessed this historically significant quarterback matchup in person, with government leaders and the Saints having agreed that no fans should attend the opener amid the coronavirus pandemic.
That turned the normally deafening 73,000-seat Superdome into more of an echo chamber. When Wil Lutz’s field goal put New Orleans up 17-7, the squeaking of pulleys could be heard across the stadium as the net behind the goal post was lowered.
Tight end Jared Cook caught five passes for 80 yards for New Orleans, highlighted by a 46-yard reception down the left side that set up Sanders’ TD.
Brady was 15 of 28 passing for 157 yards and one TD through the first 54 minutes of the game. He padded his numbers in garbage time, finishing with 239 yards and two TDs, the second scoring strike going to Mike Evans with 2:41 left.
Jaguars 27, Colts 20
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Minshew Mania is back and maybe better than before.
Gardner Minshew threw three touchdown passes, including a 22-yarder to Keelan Cole in the fourth quarter, and Jacksonville stunned Indianapolis and Philip Rivers.
The Jaguars entered Week 1 as the NFL’s biggest home underdogs, with talk of tanking being the most prevalent preseason topic surrounding the revamped team. The tempered expectations may have contributed to the team only being able to distribute about 14,000 tickets for the league’s lone game played with fans in the stands Sunday.
Minshew gave the sparse crowd plenty to celebrate. The second-year pro completed 19 of 20 passes for 173 yards and no turnovers. He connected with DJ Chark, rookie Laviska Shenault and Cole for scores — and looked sharp all day.
Undrafted rookie running back James Robinson accounted for 90 yards, including 62 on the ground.
Jacksonville’s defense turned in several big plays, none more important than Andrew Wingard’s interception with less than five minutes remaining. That set up Josh Lambo’s second field goal and gave the Jags a little cushion down the stretch.
The Colts have themselves to blame for the loss. Coach Frank Reich went for it on fourth down from the 3-yard line early and failed to get points. Rookie kicker Rodrigo Blankenship hit the left upright from 30 yards out, another missed opportunity.
And Rivers looked solid at times, but also had some questionable throws with his new team.
The longtime Chargers star had tormented the Jaguars over the years, winning seven of his last eight starts against them and topping 30 points six times.
Patriots 21, Dolphins 11
FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — Cam Newton looked just fine as Tom Brady’s replacement, rushing for two touchdowns in the win.
Newton rushed for 15 times for 75 yards and threw for 155 yards, leading a Patriots offensive attack that did most of its damage on the ground in their first game since the departure of Brady to Tampa Bay as a free agent.
Sony Michel added a touchdown for New England, which had 217 of its 357 yards on the ground. Newton was 15 of 19 passing.
Most of the sights and sounds normally associated with Gillette Stadium’s usually raucous crowd were silenced by a Massachusetts COVID-19 ordinance prohibiting fans from attending for at least the first two games of the season.
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Aside from the play on the field, the only familiar staples of a normal game day were the presence of Patriots mascot and cheerleaders, though they cheered from a concourse high above New England’s entrance tunnel.
It didn’t seem to bother the Patriots, who had plenty to cheer about.
Miami struggled for most of the game offensively and lost top receiver DeVante Parker, who left in the third quarter with a hamstring injury. Ryan Fitzpatrick was 20 of 30 for 191 yards and three interceptions. Miami was held to 269 total yards.
Cardinals 24, 49ers 20
SANTA CLARA — DeAndre Hopkins had a career-high 14 catches for 151 yards in his Arizona debut and set up Kenyan Drake’s 1-yard TD run with 5:03 to play that led the Cardinals to victory.
Kyler Murray threw for 230 yards and a touchdown and ran for 90 yards and another score to help the Cardinals overcome a pair of fourth-quarter deficits to beat the defending NFC champion 49ers in a smoky opener at an empty stadium.
Jerick McKinnon caught a 5-yard TD pass from Jimmy Garoppolo in the running back’s first game in more than two years to give San Francisco a 20-17 lead with 8:38 to play before Murray led a late comeback.
His 33-yard pass to Hopkins got the ball down to the 1 and then Drake ran it in on the next play to give Arizona the lead.
Garoppolo led the 49ers down to the 16 before throwing an incomplete pass to Trent Taylor on fourth-and-5 that ended the comeback attempt
Murray had given the Cardinals the lead earlier in the fourth with a 22-yard scramble and his running ability wore down San Francisco’s defense as the game went on.
Garoppolo finished 19 for 33 for 259 yards and two scores, also connecting on a 76-yarder to Raheem Mostert in the first quarter.
Washington 27, Eagles 17
LANDOVER, Md. — The Washington Football Team played like a group of guys determined to make a name for themselves.
Peyton Barber ran for two touchdowns and Dwayne Haskins rallied Washington from a 17-point deficit to beat Philadelphia in coach Ron Rivera’s debut.
After falling behind 17-0 following a pair of touchdown passes by Carson Wentz, Washington relied on a punishing defense and opportunistic offense in its first game since owner Dan Snyder finally agreed to change the team’s name and former employees alleged sexual harassment.
Rivera lived up to his “Riverboat Ron” nickname earned in nine seasons with Carolina. In his first game after finding out he has a form of skin cancer, Rivera went for it on fourth-and-1 from the Eagles 5 with the score tied midway through the fourth quarter.
Barber ran for the first down and then scored from the 3 to give Washington a 24-17 lead.
Zach Ertz dropped a pass on fourth-and-3 from the Eagles 42 on the ensuing drive and Dustin Hopkins kicked a 40-yard field goal to make it 27-17.
Wentz was sacked eight times and threw two costly interceptions behind an injury-depleted offense line featuring two guys — right tackle Jack Driscoll and right guard Nate Herbig — starting their first career games.
Seahawks 38, Falcons 25
ATLANTA — Russell Wilson was cooking right from the start, throwing four touchdown passes to lead Seattle to victory over Atlanta.
With the Falcons not allowing fans for at least their first two homes games because of the coronavirus pandemic, the Seahawks took advantage of what was essentially a neutral site to pull away in the second half.
Seattle heeded the pleas of its fans to “Let Russ Cook” — essentially a call to open up the offense in the first half rather than relying on Wilson to keep leading dramatic comebacks.
He completed 31 of 35 passes for 322 yards, throwing a pair of TD passes in the first quarter as Seattle built a 14-12 halftime lead and adding two more in the third quarter to put the Falcons away.
The biggest one of all came after the Falcons made what looked to be a crucial stop, leaving the Seahawks with fourth-and-5 at the Atlanta 38. The offense stayed on the field, but instead of going for the first down with a short throw, Wilson lofted one to DK Metcalf, who was streaking toward the end zone.
Metcalf beat cornerback Isaiah Oliver and hauled in the perfectly thrown ball without breaking stride to push Seattle to a 21-12 lead.
Bills 27, Jets 17
ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. — Josh Allen led three consecutive first-half touchdown drives, and Buffalo overcame own sloppiness and injuries to two starting linebackers in a win over New York.
John Brown had six catches for 70 yards and a touchdown, and Stefon Diggs finished with eight catches for a team-leading 86 yards in his Bills debut after being acquired in a trade with Minnesota in March.
Allen finished 33 of 46 for 312 yards in becoming Buffalo’s first player to top 300 yards since Tyrod Taylor had 329 in a 34-31 overtime loss to Miami on Dec. 24, 2016.
Buffalo’s defense was a force despite losing Matt Milano to a hamstring injury in the second quarter, and after the outside linebacker intercepted Sam Darnold’s weak pass over the middle. Middle linebacker Tremaine Edmunds did not return after hurting his shoulder while trying to tackle Jets receiver Jamison Crowder, who scored on a 69-yard touchdown catch and run, which briefly cut Buffalo’s lead to 21-10 with 5:10 left in the third quarter.
The Bills defense, however, came through on New York’s next possession. Safety Jordan Poyer stripped the ball from tight end Chris Herndon, and the fumble was recovered by Jerry Hughes at the Jets 38 two plays into the fourth quarter.
The turnover set up Tyler Bass hitting a 22-yard field goal — after the rookie missed his first two attempts wide right. Bass, a sixth-round draft pick out of Southern Georgia, won the kicking job ahead of veteran Stephen Hauschka last month.
Bass’ first miss from 38 yards led to Crowder’s touchdown three plays later.
Packers 43, Vikings 34
MINNEAPOLIS — Aaron Rodgers took full advantage of the young cornerbacks and the empty stadium in Minnesota, beginning his 13th season as Green Bay’s starting quarterback by passing for 364 yards and four touchdowns to lead the Packers.
Davante Adams was predictably the biggest beneficiary, with a career-high, franchise-record-tying 14 catches for 156 yards and two scores. Marquez Valdes-Scantling and Allen Lazard each reached the end zone, too, as Green Bay had its way with a Minnesota defense renovated this year out of salary-cap necessity as hefty new contracts were given to quarterback Kirk Cousins and running back Dalvin Cook.
Aaron Jones rushed for 66 yards and a touchdown for the Packers, who posted their highest score against the Vikings since a 44-31 victory at the Metrodome on Oct. 27, 2013.
Cook rushed 12 times for 50 yards, two touchdowns and two 2-point conversions. Adam Thielen caught six passes for 110 yards, two scores and another 2-pointer, but Cousins underthrew him in the final minute of the first half. Jaire Alexander, who also recorded a safety on an untouched cornerback blitz in the second quarter, made the bobbling interception.
Bears 27, Lions 23
DETROIT — Mitchell Trubisky perfectly lofted a 27-yard go-ahead touchdown pass to Anthony Miller with 1:54 remaining and Chicago held on to beat Detroit.
Detroit drove to the Chicago 16 with a chance to win, and rookie running back D’Andre Swift dropped a pass in the end zone. Matthew Stafford threw another incomplete pass as time expired to complete the collapse.
Trubisky threw three touchdown passes in the fourth quarter to help Chicago come back from a 17-point deficit. It looked familiar to Lions fans: Detroit opened last season by blowing an 18-point lead at Arizona and settling for a tie. That began a trend that saw the team fail to stay ahead during a season that ended with just wins.
Trubisky, who held off Nick Foles to keep his job, shook off a shaky start to complete 20 of 36 attempts for 242 yards with three touchdowns, including short passes for scores to Jimmy Graham and Javon Wims.
Stafford was 24 of 42 for 297 yards with a TD pass to T.J. Hockenson in the third quarter — and an interception that gave Chicago a great chance to take its only lead of the game.
Adrian Peterson ran for 93 yards on 14 carries in his Detroit debut, just four days after signing with the team.
Ravens 38, Browns 6
BALTIMORE — Looking every bit like the reigning NFL MVP, Lamar Jackson threw for 275 yards and three touchdowns to help Baltimore beat Cleveland, ruining Kevin Stefanski’s debut as the Browns’ head coach in a game played without fans in attendance.
Although the COVID-19 pandemic kept the seats empty and the play was sloppy following a preseason without any games, two constants prevailed: Jackson was the focal point of a high-powered offense and the Browns lost another opener.
Facing a Cleveland secondary depleted by injuries, Jackson completed 20 of 25 passes and racked up a team-high 45 yards on the ground. A year ago, the multi-faceted star set an NFL single-season record for yards rushing by a quarterback and threw 36 TD passes.
The Browns were incapable of stopping him. As a result, Cleveland still hasn’t opened with a victory since 2004.
Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield threw an interception on the opening series, the first of three Browns turnovers. Those miscues, two missed kicks by Austin Seibert and an unsuccessful fake punt call by Stefanski contributed to the rout.
Mayfield went 21 for 39 for 189 yards and was sacked twice.
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