The Kansas City Chiefs started slowly on Sunday but did more of what they’ve done quite a bit over the past few years: win.
Patrick Mahomes threw for 337 and three touchdowns and ran for another touchdown as the Chiefs rallied for a 33-29 victory over the Cleveland Browns. Kansas City trailed 22-10 at halftime but played much better in the second half. Travis Kelce caught an eight-yard touchdown pass from Mahomes with 7:04 left to complete the comeback and set the final margin.
Cleveland’s Baker Mayfield threw for 321 yards, but he was picked off by Chiefs cornerback Mike Hughes with 1:09 left to end any hope of a comeback.
Jameis Winston and the hurricane-displaced Saints looked right at home in northeast Florida against Green Bay with a 38-3 victory no doubt to the delight of fans rebuilding homes and lives back in New Orleans.
Winston passed for five touchdowns, New Orleans intercepted reigning NFL MVP Aaron Rodgers twice, and the Saints kicked off the post-Drew Brees era with a strikingly dominant opening victory over the Green Bay Packers.
The game, originally scheduled for the Superdome, was moved while the New Orleans area continues to clean up wreckage left by Hurricane Ida.
Winston, who led the NFL with 30 interceptions in his last season as a starter with Tampa Bay in 2019, was largely judicious and accurate in going 14 of 20 for 148 yards without an interception.
Sam Darnold threw for 279 yards and a touchdown and ran for another score against his former team as the Carolina Panthers defeated the New York Jets to win their first season opener since 2018.
Darnold connected on a 57-yard touchdown pass with fellow ex-Jet Robby Anderson and took full advantage of a healthy Christian McCaffrey, who piled up 187 yards from scrimmage on 30 touches after missing 13 games last season with injuries. Carolina’s defense brought the pressure on Jets rookie quarterback Zach Wilson, sacking the No 2 pick in the NFL draft six times and intercepting him once. Wilson kept battling, though and finished 20 of 37 for 258 yards with two touchdown passes to Corey Davis in his first career start.
Darnold, acquired from the Jets for three draft picks this past offseason, struggled in the red zone early. He turned over the ball on a botched handoff that hit his fullback’s arm and the Panthers had to settle for a short field goal by Ryan Santoso on another possession.
But the momentum changed midway through the second quarter when the Jets went for it on fourth-and-inches near midfield and Panthers defensive end Yetur Gross-Matos tackled Tevin Coleman behind the line of scrimmage. On the next play, Darnold found Anderson streaking down the middle of the field for a 57-yard score. Darnold then made it 16-0 on the next drive when he scored on a five-yard touchdown run on a quarterback draw as the Panthers outgained the Jets 282-72 in the first half.
Wilson spent the better part of the game under heavy duress, pressured on 10 of his 19 dropbacks in the first half. He was 0 for 7 passing with three sacks on those pressures, according to ESPN Stats Info.
Ben Roethlisberger and the Steelers’ new-look offense overcame a slow start, Ulysees Gilbert returned a blocked punt nine yards for a touchdown and Pittsburgh rallied to a season-opening 23-16 win over the Buffalo Bills.
Down 10-0, the Steelers scored on each of their first four possessions of the second half, with Roethlisberger putting Pittsburgh ahead for good by lobbing a five-yard touchdown pass to Dionte Johnson.
In opening his 18th and perhaps final season, Roethlisberger posted his 36th career fourth-quarter comeback to tie Drew Brees for third on the NFL list. He finished 18 of 32 for 188 yards and a touchdown.
Tua Tagovailoa threw a go-ahead touchdown pass to Jaylen Waddle in the third quarter and Xavien Howard recovered a fumble with New England driving in the fourth to help the Miami Dolphins hold on for a win over the Patriots.
Tagovailoa finished 16 of 27 for 202 yards, a touchdown and one interception, and also had a 3-yard TD run to lead a revamped offense that kept the Patriots’ rebuilt defense guessing, mixing in no-huddle and empty backfield formations. DeVante Parker caught four passes for 81 yards.
Miami’s win spoiled the debut of New England’s Mac Jones, who became the first rookie quarterback to start for the Patriots since Drew Bledsoe in 1993. Jones was 29 of 39 for 281 yards and a touchdown. Damien Harris rushed 23 times for 100 yards, but had the costly fumble to end New England’s comeback hopes.
Dre Greenlaw returned an interception for a touchdown to help the San Francisco 49ers score 17 points over two-plus minutes late in the first half, and they barely held on for a 41-33 win over the Detroit Lions.
San Francisco led 38-10 early in the fourth quarter and allowed Detroit to score 23 points in three-plus minutes to pull within eight points. But the Lions turned the ball over on downs at the San Francisco 24 with 12 seconds left after getting it back on a fumble by Deebo Samuel.
For most of the afternoon, the 49ers performed more like the Super Bowl-contending team they were two years ago than the 10-loss squad they had last season when injuries took a major toll. Meanwhile, it looked like the many changes the Lions made might be moot in coach Dan Campbell’s debut until the comeback provided some hope.
Kyler Murray scored five touchdowns and linebacker Chandler Jones had a career-high five sacks as the Arizona Cardinals simply dominated the Tennessee Titans 38-13 for a big road win to open the season.
Jones, who tied the franchise record, had three sacks in a first quarter so good LeBron James chimed in on social media for his Defensive Player of the Year candidacy. Jones, who wants a new contract, also forced two fumbles the Cardinals turned into 14 points.
Murray tormented the Titans throwing for 289 yards with two TD passes apiece to All-Pro wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins and Christian Kirk. Murray’s best pass came came early in the third quarter off his back foot to Kirk on a beautiful floater Kirk simply ran under.
Teddy Bridgewater threw two touchdowns in his first start for Denver and the Broncos dominated possession and beat the Giants, spoiling the return of New York running back Saquon Barkley after a long ACL rehabilitation.
Acquired in the offseason from Carolina, Bridgewater completed 28 of 36 passes for 264 yards, sharing the ball with nine receivers. The 28-year-old hit Tim Patrick on a go-ahead TD pass with eight seconds left in the half. Bridgewater eluded pressure and found tight end Albert Okwuegbunam on a four-yard, fourth-down toss during a 16-play, 75-yard drive to open the second half, extending the lead to 17-7 with 6:48 to go in the quarter. Melvin Gordon III added a late 70-yard TD run and Brandon McManus kicked two field goals for the Broncos, who have had four straight losing season since their Super Bowl 50 title.
Russell Wilson threw three of his four touchdowns in the first half Sunday and Seattle clamped down in the second half to close out a season-opening victory at Indianapolis.
The defending NFC West champions have won 12 of their past 13 games in the early Sunday timeslot. Indy lost their eighth straight opener, the past five with different starting quarterbacks.
Wilson was sensational in his first action with new offensive coordinator Shane Waldron, shredding a top-10 defense that entered the season with even higher aspirations. But against Seattle’s revamped offense, Wilson made sure the Colts defense never had a chance.
Jalen Hurts threw three touchdown passes, the first of them to Heisman Trophy winner DeVonta Smith, and the Philadelphia Eagles made a winner of Nick Sirianni in his head coaching debut with a 32-6 rout of the hapless Atlanta Falcons.
Now firmly entrenched as the Eagles starter after Carson Wentz was traded, Hurts certainly looked the part with touchdown passes of 18 yards to Smith, nine yards to Dallas Goedert and 23 yards to Jalen Reagor. Another Philadelphia rookie, fifth-round pick Kenneth Gainwell, scored his first TD as a pro with an eight-yard run late in the third quarter to essentially seal the victory.
Justin Herbert threw for 337 yards and a touchdown to help the Los Angeles Chargers beat Washington 20-16 in an ugly game full of turnovers and big penalties.
Herbert led scoring drives of 75, 76 and 68 yards, and a go-ahead touchdown pass to Mike Williams made up for his fumble into the end zone and red zone interception on consecutive possessions. The reigning AP Offensive Rookie of the Year and the Chargers went 14 of 19 on third downs, wearing down Washington’s defense led by last year’s top defensive rookie, Chase Young. The teams combined for 14 penalties for 151 yards and three giveaways.
Tyrod Taylor threw for 291 yards and two touchdowns filling in for Deshaun Watson to lead the Houston Texans to a 37-21 win over Trevor Lawrence and the mistake-prone Jacksonville Jaguars.
Taylor took over at quarterback for Houston with Watson’s future with the team uncertain after 22 women filed lawsuits alleging sexual assault or harassment after he requested a trade.
Expectations for the Texans were low entering this season with Watson out and star defensive end J.J. Watt gone to Arizona. But Taylor and Houston’s revamped running game were more than enough to handle a Jaguars team that didn’t look much better than it was last season when it got just one win despite the addition of top overall pick Lawrence.
The former Clemson standout became the first rookie quarterback to start an opener in franchise history. It was a bumpy debut during which he threw for 332 yards and three touchdowns but also tossed three interceptions, often overthrew open receivers and was the victim of several drops.
Joe Burrow found CJ Uzomah with a 32-yard pass on fourth-and-short late in overtime to set up the Cincinnati Bengals’ season-opening victory against the visiting Minnesota Vikings on Sunday.
Two plays after Burrow’s pass, rookie Evan McPherson nailed a 38-yard game-winning field goal for the Bengals as time expired. Minnesota’s Greg Joseph hit a career-long 53-yard field goal on the last play of regulation to push the game into overtime at 24-24.
Burrow was sharp in his return from a torn ACL, completing 20 of 27 passes for 261 yards and two touchdowns. Joe Mixon rushed for 127 yards and a touchdown on 29 carries. Rookie first-rounder Ja’Marr Chase had five catches for 101 yards and a touchdown.