NFL round-up: Redskins debutant Griffin III steals the headlines on opening weekend
12:17 GMT, 10 September 2012
Redskins 40 New Orleans 32
Robert Griffin III began his NFL career by connecting on 19 of 26 passes for 320 yards and two touchdowns, as the Washington Redskins handed Super Bowl favourites New Orleans Saints a 40-32 defeat.
It was the Saints first game since the bounty scandal that overshadowed their off-season, and it was rookie Griffin who stole the headlines after completing his first eight passes, including an 88-yard touchdown pass to Pierre Garcon, tying for the second-longest scoring pass by a quarterback making his NFL debut.
Fellow rookie and running back Alfred Morris rushed for 96 yards and two touchdowns while Aldrick Robinson, also making his bow, had a touchdown catch among four receptions for 52 yards.
Take a bow: Redskins QB Robert Griffin III was the toast of the NFL on opening weekend
Drew Brees uncharacteristically struggled with accuracy, completing only 46 per cent of his throws with two interceptions. But his 339 yards passing and three TDs kept the Saints in the game until his last desperate pass was picked off by Reed Doughty near the Redskins’ goal line.
Bears 41 Colts 21
Jay Cutler threw for 333 yards and two touchdowns and Michael Bush added a pair of scoring runs to spoil quarterback Andrew Luck’s debut for the Colts.
Brandon Marshall had nine catches for 119 yards and a touchdown in his first game since being reunited with Cutler, and Matt Forte ran for 80 yards and a score.
Luck finished his first NFL game 23 of 45 for 309 yards with a 4-yard touchdown pass to Donnie Avery early in the fourth quarter. He also was intercepted three times – twice by Tim Jennings – in an up-and-down effort as he steps in for the departed Peyton Manning.
Reggie Wayne caught nine passes for 135 yards. But it was a familiar result for a team with new management and a new coach in Chuck Pagano.
Broncos 31 Steelers 19
Peyton Manning made a successful return from a year’s sabbatical, leading the Broncos past the Steelers. The four-time MVP coming off four neck surgeries completed 19 of 26 passes for 253 yards and two touchdowns.
Back in the game: Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning made a successful return to action
He got a big assist from another free agent, cornerback Tracy Porter, whose 43-yard interception return of a Ben Roethlisberger pass with two minutes left sealed the win.
Manning, jettisoned by the Indianapolis Colts in March after missing all of last season with a nerve injury that weakened his throwing arm, hit Demaryius Thomas with a 71-yard touchdown toss for his first as a Bronco. It was his 400th career TD toss.
49ers 30 Packers 22
San Francisco’s defense smothered Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay offense for most of the game, then made one last stand to stop a late rally.
The Packers rallied from a 16-point deficit in the fourth quarter, and pulled within eight points when Aaron Rodgers threw a touchdown pass to James Jones with six minutes left, but the 49ers defense held the Packers in the final minute to come away with a big win to open the season.
Randall Cobb’s 75-yard punt return for a touchdown and a two-point conversion early in the fourth quarter cut the 49ers lead to 23-15. But Rodgers threw an interception to linebacker NaVorro Bowman and Frank Gore ran for a 23-yard touchdown.
David Akers tied an NFL record when he kicked a 63-yard field goal to the end the first half, with the ball bouncing off the crossbar and going through the uprights.
Making it count: Clay Harbor
Eagles 17 Browns 16
Michael Vick overcame four interceptions by throwing a four-yard touchdown pass to Clay Harbor with one minute 18 seconds left in the nerve-racking win.
Vick led the Eagles on a 91-yard scoring drive, capping it with his short toss to Harbor on his career-high 56th pass. Before Vick rallied his team, he played poorly and showed rustiness after playing just 12 snaps during preseason because of injuries.
Vick went 29 of 56 for 317 yards and two TDs. Browns rookie quarterback Brandon Weeden threw four interceptions, the last to Kurt Coleman with a minute remaining.
Vikings 26 Jaguars 23, OT
Rookie Blair Walsh kicked four field goals, including a 55-yarder as regulation time expired and another one in overtime, and Adrian Peterson returned from a left knee injury to lift the Vikings.
Peterson ran 17 times for 84 yards and two touchdowns for the Vikings, who led for most of the second half until Blaine Gabbert’s 39-yard touchdown heave with 20 seconds left in the fourth quarter put the Jaguars back in front.
For the first time since the NFL’s new overtime scoring rule was installed last season, the first team on the board didn’t immediately run off the field a winner.
After Walsh’s 38-yard kick, the Vikings had to play defense again while the Jaguars had their chance to match. But Gabbert was hurried into a fourth-down overthrow, spoiling the debut for new Jaguars coach Mike Mularkey.
Lions 27 Rams 23
Matthew Stafford threw a five-yard touchdown pass to Kevin Smith with 10 seconds left to wrap up victory.
Stafford made up for a shaky game by leading an 80-yard, nine-play, game-winning possession that included three passes of at least 18 yards.
Sam Bradford directed a go-ahead drive that set up Greg Zuerlein’s 46-yard field goal and put the Rams ahead 23-20 with less than two minutes left. But coach Jeff Fisher’s debut ended with a loss because the Rams could not shut down Stafford in the end.
Stafford had three interceptions before halftime for the first time in his four seasons. Cortland Finnegan had a 31-yard interception return for a TD that gave the Rams a 13-7 lead late in the first half.
Jets 48 Bills 28
Mark Sanchez threw three touchdown passes, including two to rookie Stephen Hill, and the Jets eased concerns about their offense.
The Jets sprinkled in their wildcat package with Tim Tebow, who was mostly quiet but recovered a late onside kick by Buffalo, and Jeremy Kerley had a touchdown catch and a punt return for a score. Antonio Cromartie also took one of New York’s three interceptions of Ryan Fitzpatrick to the end zone.
Start as he means to go on: Stephen Hill grabbed two touchdown scores against the Buffalo Bills
It was the most points the Jets have scored in a season opener. That’s from a team that had many wondering what to expect after the first-team offense failed to score a TD in the first three games of the preseason.
Meanwhile, Mario Williams, the Bills’ big free agent signing, was quiet as the Jets’ offensive line protected Sanchez all game.
Texans 30 Dolphins 10
Arian Foster had two touchdown runs, Matt Schaub threw a TD pass to Andre Johnson, and Houston’s defense dominated rookie Ryan Tannehill and Miami.
Tannehill threw three interceptions in a 6-minute stretch late in the first half, and the Texans opened impressively in what they believe can be a Super Bowl season.
Schaub threw for 266 yards in his first action since fracturing his right foot in Week 10 last year, and Johnson finished with 119 yards receiving. Texans defensive end JJ Watt deflected two passes that resulted in interceptions and also had one sack.
Marcus Thigpen returned a punt 72 yards for Miami’s touchdown. The Dolphins gained only 275 total yards in coach Joe Philbin’s coaching debut.
Patriots 34 Titans 13
Tom Brady threw for 236 yards and two touchdowns, and the defending AFC champions won easily.
Brady may have suffered a broken nose when he was sacked in the second quarter by Kamerion Wimbley, but he didn’t miss a play.
Bright start: Legendary Tom Brady helped the New England Patriots to an easy win
The Patriots ruined Jake Locker’s debut as Tennessee’s starter, sacking him twice and forcing two turnovers. Rookie Dont’a Hightower returned Locker’s fumble six yards for a TD in his own debut, and Stevan Ridley ran for 125 yards and a TD.
Also, Locker came out of the game after hurting his left shoulder when tackling safety Patrick Chung on a fumble return. He was replaced by Matt Hasselbeck.
Falcons 40 Chiefs 24
Matt Ryan threw for 299 yards and three touchdowns, one of them to Tony Gonzalez in his return to Kansas City. Ryan also ran for a TD, while Julio Jones caught six passes for 108 yards and two scores.
Leading the charge: Matt Ryan
The Falcons took advantage of a Chiefs
defense missing four starters. Pro Bowl linebacker Tamba Hali was
suspended for an unspecified violation of the league’s substance-abuse
policy, and three others were injured.
City matched Atlanta most of the first half, trailing 20-17 at the
break. But a missed field goal by Ryan Succop early in the third quarter
proved to be the turning point.
Matt Cassel finished with 258 yards passing for Kansas City, but also threw two interceptions and lost a fumble.
Buccaneers 16 Panthers 10
Tampa Bay’s rejuvenated defense came up with two interceptions against Cam Newton and the Buccaneers won their debut under coach Greg Schiano.
Josh Freeman threw a six-yard touchdown pass to Mike Williams and Connor Barth kicked three field goals to help the Bucs stop a 10-game losing streak that prompted the firing of former coach Raheem Morris.
Schiano came the Tampa after spent the past 11 seasons transforming Rutgers from one of the losingest programs in college football into a Big East contender. Newton threw for 303 yards and one touchdown.
Cardinals 20 Seahawks 16
Kevin Kolb replaced injured John Skelton and led Arizona on the deciding touchdown drive, throwing 6 yards to Andre Roberts for a score with just under five minutes to play.
Aided by two pass interference penalties, Seattle drove to the Arizona four in the final seconds. But rookie Russell Wilson threw three straight incompletions and the Cardinals held on.
Adding to the confusion, Seattle appeared to have called a timeout when it had none remaining, but that turned out to be a mistake by the replacement officials working the game.