Thursday, September 11, 2014

Eagles Come All The Way Back, Win 34-17

Let’s all just agree to forget about the first half of Sunday’s season opener against the Jacksonville Jaguars.

Trailing 17-0 at halftime, the Eagles came all the way back in the second half after a sputtering offense finally got going and the Eagles defense shut out the Jaguars offense. After pulling within three points after the third quarter, the Eagles tied up the game 17-17 thanks to Cody Parkey’s first NFL field goal, a ho-hum effort that split the uprights from 51 yards out.

The Jaguars responded with a productive drive, only to be stalled at the Eagles’ 46-yard-line. On the very first play of the ensuing drive, Nick Foles rolled right and tossed a bomb downfield to an absolutely wide open Jeremy Maclin, who strolled into the end zone for a go-ahead 68-yard touchdown reception.

The Eagles defense then stepped up, stopping the Jaguars offense on 4th-and-1 from the Jaguars’ own 29-yard-line when Jaguars quarterback Chad Henne overthrew tight end Marcedes Lewis. The Eagles offense would take advantage of that field position, pushing home a 28-yard field goal to take a 27-17 lead with 1:57 left, all but icing the game.

After a dominant second half, though, the Eagles defense decided to get in on the scoring action, as Trent Cole sacked Henne, prying the ball loose. Fletcher Cox would scoop up the loose ball and scamper into the end zone for a 19-yard touchdown recovery, giving the Eagles the 34-17 lead that would mark the final score.

Eagles 34, Jaguars 17

The Jaguars had a very real chance to stun the home crowd.

For that matter, they had a chance to stun a lot of the NFL, too, sprinting and sacking their way to a seventeen-point halftime lead over the heavily favored Philadelphia Eagles in the 2014 regular-season opener.

Jaguars rookie wide receiver Allen Hurns caught two first-quarter touchdown passes and a revamped defense registered five first-half sacks, but the Eagles rallied with 34 second-half points for a 34-17 victory on a sun-splashed Sunday afternoon at Lincoln Financial Stadium.

Running back Darren Sproles started the comeback with a 49-yard touchdown run on the first possession of the second half, and quarterback Nick Foles overcame a difficult first half to give the Eagles their first lead with a 68-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Jeremy Maclin with 6:59 remaining.

Hurns, a rookie free agent, caught touchdown passes of 34 and 21 yards pass in a first quarter that set the tone for a surprisingly dominant first half by the Jaguars. Hurns finished with four receptions for 110 yards, all in the first half.

Quarterback Chad Henne, who finished the game 24-of-43 passing for 266 yards and two touchdowns with no interceptions, completed 12 of 17 passes for 167 yards and two touchdowns in the first half, after which the Jaguars held a 188-129 total-yardage advantage.

Jacksonville Jaguars vs Philadelphia Eagles1st Half
Turnovers were the key for the Jaguars early, with a swarming defensive front forcing a pair of fumbles that led to Hurns’ first-quarter touchdowns.

Veteran free-agent defensive end Chris Clemons’ sack/fumble on Foles set up a 44-yard drive that ended with a 34-yard touchdown pass to Hurns from Henne, and one possession later, third-year veteran Andre Branch’s sack/fumble was recovered by defensive tackle Ziggy Hood at the Eagles’ 21.

Hurns’ 21-yard reception from Henne two plays later made it 14-0, Jaguars, with 6:50 remaining in the first quarter. A 49-yard field goal by Josh Scobee then pushed the lead to 17-0 early in the second quarter.

The Jaguars missed two chances to increase their lead in the middle of the second quarter, with Scobee first missing from 50 yards. After cornerback Alan Ball’s end-zone interception ended a Philadelphia threat, Eagles defensive end Brandon Bair blocked Scobee 36-yard field goal to end the Jaguars’ next drive.

Reserve running back Darren Sproles pulled the Eagles to within 10, 17-7, with a 49-yard touchdown run on the first possession of the third quarter. The play came on 4th-and-1, with Sproles popping a quick run up the middle with starting middle linebacker Paul Posluszny just having left the game.

The Eagles cut the lead to three with a 25-yard pass from Foles to tight end Zach Ertz on the ensuing possession, then tied it when rookie kicker Cody Parkey converted from 51 yards with 10:55 remaining in the game.

Maclin’s game-winning touchdown came on a high, arching pass from Foles when Maclin got 20 yards behind the Jaguars’ defense and scored untouched.

Parkey’s 28-yard field goal with 1:57 remaining secured the victory for the Eagles, and Eagles defensive end Vinny Curry returned a fumble 17 yards for a touchdown with 1:23 remaining.




TURNING POINT

This came at halftime, when everything that had been going the Jaguars’ way in the first half began tilting toward the Eagles. When Sproles burst through the middle of the Jaguars’ defense on the first series after halftime, it not only cut the Eagles’ deficit to 10, it gave Philadelphia momentum. The Eagles, after being outgained by the Jaguars 188-129, outgained the Jaguars 291-118 after that.




HIGHLIGHTS

1.Clemons – a high-profile free-agent signee – made a huge play early, sacking Foles on 3rd-and-5 from Jaguars 43. Defensive end Ryan Davis recovered at the Eagles 44 to set up the Jaguars’ first touchdown. Clemons also had a pressure later in the quarter when he hit Foles’ arm to force an incomplete pass. …

2.Hurns turned his first career reception into a huge play, catching a 34-yard touchdown on a post route with 9:00 remaining to give the Jaguars a 7-0 lead. The play came four plays after Clemons’ sack fumble. …



3.Branch had a sack/fumble that defensive tackle Ziggy Hood recovered at the Eagles 21 on the drive immediately following Hurns’ first touchdown

4.Hurns followed his early touchdown with another touchdown on his second reception. This one was a 21-yarder that gave the Jaguars a 14-0 lead with 6:50 remaining in the first quarter. On that play, Hurns reached behind him for the ball, then carried two defenders into the end zone. …

5.Jaguars cornerback Alan Ball registered a huge interception early in the second quarter. The Eagles drove to the Jaguars 5 after the missed 50-yarder by Scobee, but the veteran cornerback intercepted Foles in the left corner of the end zone to end the drive. That kept the score at 17-0, Jaguars. …




INJURY WATCH

Safety Johnathan Cyprien sustained a head injury in the second quarter breaking up a pass and banging his head on the ground. He did not return.

Linebacker J.T. Thomas also sustained a head injury late in the game and did not return.

Posluszny sustained what appeared to be a leg injury early in the second half and returned a series later. Running back Toby Gerhart sustained a sprained ankle late in the first quarter, and returned early in the second quarter.

Wide receiver Cecil Shorts III missed the game for the Jaguars, having been ruled out Saturday with a hamstring injury. Tight end Clay Harbor (calf), as expected, also missed the opener, preventing him from playing against the team that released him shortly before the 2013 season. Also as expected, right tackle Austin Pasztor missed the game with a hand injury that is expected to also keep him out Week 2 against Washington. Running back Storm Johnson (ankle) also missed.

Fourth-year veteran Cameron Bradfield started for Pasztor. With Harbor out, newly signed Mickey Shulerplayed a week after he joined the Jaguars off waivers.

Johnson’s absence left the Jaguars with Gerhart, Robinson and Todman at running back. Also, tackle Josh Wells (shoulder) missed the game, with guard Tyler Shatley and defensive end Chris Smithalso inactive.

Defense, Ivory run lead Jets past Raiders 19-14

Rex Ryan wanted more from his New York Jets.

More points. More discipline. More execution.

That's why the coach was far from thrilled after a 19-14 season-opening victory over the Oakland Raiders on Sunday.

"This game should've been a rat kill," Ryan said. "It wasn't."

Chris Ivory had a 71-yard touchdown run midway through the fourth quarter, and the Jets' swarming defense mostly clamped down on Oakland rookie quarterback Derek Carr as New York held the Raiders to 158 total yards and overcame a sloppy, penalty-filled performance to win.

"Our fans were better than our team today," Ryan said, bemoaning the Jets' 11 penalties for 105 yards.

"We never had any takeaways and had two turnovers, so that's obviously a work in progress. It has to get better for us to do what we want to do."

With the game still in the balance, Ivory rushed up the middle and appeared stopped. He slipped a few would-be tacklers and took off into the end zone. A pass on a 2-point conversion failed.

Carr, the Raiders' second-round draft pick, made it close with a 30-yard touchdown toss to James Jones, who made a leaping grab over Darrin Walls with 1:21 left.

The Raiders tried an onside kick, but Greg Salas recovered to seal it for the Jets.

"We'll take it," Ryan said. "I'm not very happy with it, but it's a victory."

Geno Smith was shaky early with an interception and lost fumble. But he threw a 5-yard touchdown pass to Chris Johnson as the Jets sent the Raiders to their 14th straight loss in the Eastern time zone. Smith finished 23 of 28 for 221 yards.

"We've got high expectations," Smith said. "We can't shoot ourselves in the foot and we can't make excuses for it."

Ivory finished with 102 yards on 10 carries, while Johnson had 68 yards rushing in his Jets debut and caught five passes for 23 yards.

The Jets were fired up by comments made by former right tackle Austin Howard, saying the Raiders would push around his ex-teammates.

"They certainly did that, to the tune of 25 yards rushing," Ryan said sarcastically. "And they gave up (212) rushing."

Carr, who got the nod over Matt Schaub, held his own in the first half, but the Jets pressured him throughout the final two quarters. He finished 20 of 32 for 151 yards, with touchdowns to Jones and Rod Streater.

"I don't think the game was too big for him," Raiders coach Dennis Allen said. "Overall, I saw some positive signs, some things that he did well. Obviously, I saw some mistakes."

With the Jets leading 10-7, the defense came out roaring to start the second half, holding the Raiders to minus-3 yards in the third quarter.

"I need to do a better job of putting us in better situations," Carr said. "Now I have to do a better job of making the correct calls. You can put it all on me."

Carr had a short field to work with after Charles Woodson intercepted Smith. He got his first NFL touchdown on a screen to Streater, who scored from 12 yards to give the Raiders a 7-3 lead.

Smith turned it over again on the next possession, killing a long drive, when he fumbled - with Michael Vick lined up at wide receiver - while trying to get into the end zone. Sio Moore plowed into Smith, knocking the ball loose, and TJ Carrie recovered.

Johnson, signed by the Jets as a free agent in April, took a shovel pass and stretched into the end zone for a 5-yard score that put New York up 10-7 just 30 seconds before halftime.

The Jets nearly got a touchdown on some trickery on the previous play when Vick lined up as a wide receiver, sprinted into the backfield and took a flip from Smith. Vick zipped a pass just wide of an open Eric Decker as the ball went off his fingertips in the end zone.

It ended a sloppy first half for the Jets, who were called for eight penalties, including one that was declined. The Raiders had no first-half penalties, and finished with four.

NOTES: Ryan improved to 8-1 against rookie quarterbacks making their first appearance against his Jets defense. ... The Raiders fell to 0-3 in season openers under Allen, while Ryan is 5-1 with the Jets. ... Woodson joined Darrell Green (19) as the only players with an INT in at least 17 consecutive seasons. ... The Raiders' 158 yards were their fewest since getting 124 against the Giants in 2009

Jets Top Raiders 19-14 to Open Season

Rookie QB Derek Carr threw the first two touchdown passes of his career and FS Charles Woodsongrabbed his 19th interception as a Raider, but it wasn't enough as the Raiders fell to the Jets 19-14 in the regular season opener at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey.
The Raiders won the coin toss and elected to defer their choice to the start of the second half. The Jets elected to receive the opening kickoff. WR Saalim Hakim returned the opening kickoff 44 yards to the Jets 40. QB Geno Smith led the Jets to the Raiders 17 on New York’s opening possession. K Nick Folk made a 35-yard field goal but a holding penalty on the Jets wiped it out. His 45-yard kick was good and gave the Jets a 3-0 lead with 9:16 left in the 1st quarter. The successful kick capped a 10-play, 33-yard drive that took 5:44 off the clock.
RB Latavus Murray fielded the ensuing kickoff 9 yards deep in the end zone and took a knee for a touchback. The Raiders started at the 20 with rookie QB Derek Carr at the helm. The Raiders went three and out failing to convert 3rd and 1 and P Marquette King came on. WR Jalen Saunders returned King’s 44-yard punt 3 yards to the Jets 30 where he was run out of bounds by safety Usama Young.
On the second play of the drive, FS Charles Woodson picked off a Smith pass at the Jets 28 with spectacular diving interception. Carr threw his first career touchdown pass, a 12-yard catch and run, to WR Rod Streater. Janikowski’s extra point was good and the Raiders took a 7-3 lead with 2:43 left in the first quarter. That was Woodson’s 19th interception as a Raider.

Hakim returned the ensuing kickoff 21 yards to the Jets 15 where he was tackled by FB Jamize Olawale. The Jets drove deep into Raiders territory but LB Sio Moore and rookie CB TJ Carrieforced a Smith fumble that Carrie recovered at the Oakland 5. The Raiders drove to midfield but were forced to punt. King’s 49-yard punt bounced into the end zone for a touchback.
The Raiders held the Jets to a three-and-out and P Ryan Quigley came on for the first time. Quigley’s punt went out of bounds at the Raiders 41. The Jets returned the favor with a three-and-out of their own and King came on to punt.
Saunders called for and made a fair catch the 20. Murray bobbled the kickoff and returned it to the Oakland 13. The Jets took a 10-7 lead when Smith hit Johnson on 5-yard TD pass with 30 seconds left in the first half.
Murray returned the ensuing kickoff to the Raiders 13 and Carr took a knee to end the half with the Silver and Black down by 3 points.
Murray returned the opening kickoff of the 3rd quarter 38 yards to the Oakland 41. RB Maurice Jones-Drewwas hit hard in the backfield and fumbled. Carr recovered for an 11-yard loss and the Raiders followed that a delay of game penalty and a rare reception by an offensive lineman as rookie Gabe Jackson caught a deflected pass for a 1-yard gain. A Carr incompletion on 3rd and long brought on the punting unit.
Saunders called for and made a fair catch of the 49-yard punt at the Jets 25. The Jets drove out to midfield before the Raiders forced a punt. Quigley’s punt bounced out of bounds at the Raiders 13.
The Raiders went three and out as Carr was sacked at the 5 for an 11-yard loss on 3rd and 7. King’s punt was downed at the Jets 48 with 7:24 left in the 3rd quarter.
The Jets drove into Raiders territory but rookie LB Khalil Mack’s strip sack brought the drive to an end as Smith recovered his own fumble. Folk’s 42-yard field goal gave the Jets a 13-7 lead with 2:38 left in the 3rd quarter.
Murray fielded the ensuing kickoff 9 yards deep in the end zone and took a knee for a touchback. The Raiders managed one first down before the Jets forced a punt. Saunders called for and made a fair catch at the Jets 31.
The Raiders forced a three-and-out and Quigley came on to punt. Carrie called for and made a diving fair catch at the Raiders 6 on a 56-yard boot.
The Raiders went three-and-out and King came on to punt. Saunders returned the 61-yard punt 12 yards to the Jets 44. A SS Tyvon Branch sack took the Jets out of field goal range with a 19-yard loss. Quigley’s punt bounced into the end zone for a touchback.
The Jets defense held the Raiders to a three-and-out and King came on to punt on 4th and 3. Saunders called for and made a fair catch at the 29.
The Jets scored on a 71-yard TD run by RB Chris Ivory. The two-point conversion failed.
Thanks to Jets penalties, the Raiders moved out to the 45 before facing 4th and 14. A false start made it 4th and 19 and King came on to punt with 4:31 to go. Saunders called for and made a fair catch at the Jets 21.
The Raiders held the Jets to a three-and-out and Quigley came on to punt. Carr marched the Raiders 73 yards in 6 plays and capped the drive with a 30-yard TD pass to WR James Jones who made a circus catch for the score. The PAT was good and the Raiders trailed 19-14 with 1:21 to with no timeouts left.
WR Greg Salas fielded the onsides kick at the Oakland 49 and the Jets took over with 1:20 to play. Smith kneeled down twice to secure the victory.
The Raiders fall to 0-1 on the season and return home to face the Houston Texans in Week 2 action in the Silver and Black’s 2014 home opener at O.co Coliseum.

Dolphins Open Season With 33-20 Win Over Patriots

The Dolphins’ first half of football in the 2014 regular season could only be described as sloppy, but neither the coaches nor the players panicked about a 10-point deficit against the New England Patriots.

What ensued was an almost-flawless performance in the final two quarters that gave the Dolphins a big 33-20 victory Sunday at Sun Life Stadium.

The Dolphins won their second consecutive season opener after outscoring New England 23-0 in the second half and outgaining them 222 yards to 67. Miami beat Cleveland in its 2013 opener on its way to a 3-0 start on the season.

“We knew we were going to face something like that,” defensive end Olivier Vernon said. “It’s not going to be a perfect game. We knew there could be doubt at some point. Something is going to go completely wrong and we just knew how to bounce back from that.”

It was the second consecutive Dolphins victory against New England, following their 24-20 thriller at Sun Life Stadium last December, the first time they’ve beaten the Patriots twice in a row since 2000-01.

On Sunday, the Dolphins won thanks to a 13-point third quarter that included a 14-yard touchdown pass from Ryan Tannehill to Mike Wallace and a pair of short field goals by Caleb Sturgis.

The Dolphins got an insurance touchdown with 3:29 left in the fourth quarter when Knowshon Moreno put the finishing touches on a memorable Dolphins debut with a 4-yard run to cap an 85-yard drive.

Moreno finished with 134 yards, thanks to some strong blocking from the new-look Dolphins offensive line and his ability to see the hole and break tackles.

With Lamar Miller adding 59 yards on 11 carries, the Dolphins ended up with 191 yards on the ground.

“If we can run and keep ourselves out of third-and-long, we could be a good team,” tackle Branden Albert said. “But we’ve got to help our defense out like we did today. They did a good job helping us out when we needed them. It was a good trade-off. We did good today.”

The defense definitely came up big for Miami, particularly with a dominating second-half performance.

The Dolphins shut down the high-powered New England offense despite playing without its three starting linebackers — Philip Wheeler, who was inactive, and Dannell Ellerbe and Koa Misi, who both left the game with injuries in the first quarter.

After allowing the Patriots to rack up 248 yards in the first half, the Dolphins defense stiffened in the second half. The Dolphins sacked Tom Brady on four of New England’s first four possessions of the second half, with Cameron Wake, rookie Chris McCain, Olivier Vernon and Wake again taking down the Patriots quarterback.

Wake forced a fumble on his first sack, setting up the Wallace touchdown that tied the game at 20. The fumble, which was recovered by safety Louis Delmas, might have been the biggest play in a game that featured many big plays.

“With Tom Brady behind the offensive line, it’s never a game-changing play until there’s 1 second to go, but I definitely felt the momentum change,” Delmas said. “I definitely felt that the offense knew that they had to make the play after the turnover, and they did.”

The Dolphins defense held New England to a mere two first downs in the second half before the Patriots’ last possession.

The Dolphins trailed by 10 at halftime despite a start they couldn’t have scripted any better.

The defense held New England to a three-and-out, punter Ryan Allen then dropped the snap on fourth down and McCain came in to block the punt to give the Dolphins the ball at the Patriots 15-yard line.

Four plays later, Tannehill hit Miller in the flat for a 4-yard touchdown and quick 7-0 lead.

But the Dolphins turned the ball over on their next three possessions, fumbles by Wallace and Miller sandwiched around an interception by Tannehill.

The interception, with the game tied 7-7, really hurt because it came on an underthrow when Wallace was wide open behind the New England secondary.

The turnovers helped the Patriots score 17 unanswered points before the Dolphins cut the deficit to 17-10 with a 38-yard field goal by Sturgis on the last play before the two-minute warning. Sturgis added a fourth field goal, from 27 yards out, with 2:44 left in the fourth quarter.

“We were just shooting ourselves in the foot,” Albert said. “We had three turnovers in the first half. We were driving the ball; we didn’t punt the ball in the first half. We had to help the defense out. When we helped the defense out, you see what they could do. It was good for our team.”

New England answered Sturgis’ first field goal with a field goal drive before halftime, with Stephen Gostkowski connecting from 46 yards out with 6 seconds left.

That set the stage for the second half when the Dolphins took over the game and completely manhandled their AFC East opponents.

The Dolphins will face another AFC East opponent next Sunday when they travel to Ralph Wilson Stadium to face the Buffalo Bills.

“We’re 1-0, 1-0 in the division, 1-0 in the season,” defensive tackle Jared Odrick said. “No matter who it is. It’s a big win because of who it is against a division rival, it’s the first game, but you must, you must, focus just as much as you did on this first game and if you don’t, it’s an easy way to lose in this league.”

For openers, though, the Dolphins sure put on an impressive performance, even though Philbin wasn’t quite ready to call it a statement game.

“We just said it there in the locker room, it’s kind of the first step on a long journey,” Philbin said. “It’s great to win. These guys have been working hard. They invested an awful lot into this one particular game, and I’m certainly delighted that we won the game, but there’s a lot of football left and I don’t know (that) there’s a statement.

“Our guys played a good football game, played 60 minutes and hung in there, hung tough. We had a lot of guys contributing and that’s what you want to have happen.”

Dolphins dominate 2nd half, top Patriots 33-20

Knowshon Moreno had another huge game against New England.

This time, he got a win as well.

Moreno rushed for 134 yards and a fourth-quarter touchdown that essentially sealed the outcome, Ryan Tannehill threw for two scores and the Miami Dolphins overpowered New England after halftime on the way to a 33-20 win over the Patriots on Sunday.

"The first step in a long journey," Dolphins coach Joe Philbin said.

Moreno now has 358 yards on the ground in his last two regular-season games against New England, the first of those being a 224-yard effort in Denver's loss at the Patriots last season.

That one, Moreno said he barely remembered. This one, he'll surely savor.

So will the Dolphins, who put together 23 unanswered points in the second half to become the first team since 2003 to beat New England in a season-opener. And for the first time since Week 3 of the 2012 season, the Patriots will end a weekend without at least a share of the AFC East lead.

Tom Brady threw a scoring pass to Rob Gronkowski, and Shane Vereen had a rushing touchdown for New England. Brady finished 29 of 56 passing for 249 yards.

Tannehill completed 18 of 32 passes for 178 yards.

"They just played better," Gronkowski said. "They've got a good team. They've got a good defense."

The Patriots had a 10-point lead at the half, which usually means a Patriot win. New England had prevailed in 16 of its last 17 games where it held a double-digit edge at intermission.

But on Sunday, an 89-degree day that felt like 99 degrees when factoring in the humidity, New England wilted.

Tannehill connected with Mike Wallace for a 14-yard score midway through the third quarter to tie the game, Caleb Sturgis added one of his four field goals on the day later in the third to put the Dolphins on top, and then Miami sealed it in the fourth quarter.

Helped by a roughing-the-passer penalty early in the drive and a pair of third-down completions by Tannehill as it went along, the Dolphins went 85 yards in about 6 minutes to put the game away. Moreno barged in from the 4 with 3:36 remaining to push the lead to 30-20, and the outcome was mostly academic from there.

"Once he has the ball in his hands," Tannehill said, "he's going downhill."


The Dolphins blocked a punt on the game's first possession, then took advantage of the short field with Tannehill connecting with Miller for a 4-yard touchdown. It marked the first time since 1992 - when a couple of guys named Dan Marino and Mark Duper hooked up for the honors - that Miami's initial offensive sequence of a season ended with a passing touchdown.

The Patriots answered with a 13-play, 80-yard drive to tie the game on Vereen's 2-yard run. And with the Dolphins, went into implosion mode, with turnovers on three consecutive possessions that New England turned into a total of 10 points.

Wallace fumbled away a catch, Tannehill was intercepted trying to find Wallace with a deep ball, setting up a possession where Brady found Gronkowski for a score. And that was followed by Miami's Lamar Miller - on a run where he would have gotten a first down - getting flipped over on a play where both one of his shoes and the football went flying.

It was 20-10 at the half, New England outgaining the Dolphins 248-138 to that point. And then everything changed.

NOTES: Brady passed Warren Moon for No. 6 on the all-time NFL passing list, and could eclipse the 50,000-yard career mark later this month. ... Miami lost starting LBs Danell Ellerbee (hip) and Koa Misi (ankle) in the first half, neither returning. And those injuries came with another would-be starter in Phillip Wheeler already out. ... Dolphins DE Cameron Wake has had at least one sack in each of New England's last five trips to Miami. ... The Dolphins didn't punt in the first three quarters, then punted twice in the first 3:58 of the fourth.

Chiefs Fall to Titans 26-10

Jake Locker made a strong case for a new contract from the Tennessee Titans on Sunday.

Alex Smith did very little to show the Kansas City Chiefs that he deserves his new deal.

Locker threw for 266 yards and two touchdowns, Smith was intercepted three times and the Titans rolled to a 26-10 victory in coach Ken Whisenhunt's regular-season debut with Tennessee.

Locker picked apart a Kansas City defense that lost Pro Bowl linebacker Derrick Johnsonand starting defensive tackle Mike DeVito to Achilles injuries.

Locker finished 22 of 33 while connecting with eight different players, including former Chiefs wide receiver Dexter McCluster.

Kendall Wright and Delanie Walker had TD catches for the Titans, and Ryan Succop was perfect on four field-goal attempts against the team that released him last weekend.

Smith, who signed a four-year, $68 million extension last weekend, was just 19 of 35 for 202 yards in a haphazard performance by a Kansas City offense weakened by suspensions.

Leading wide receiver Dwayne Bowe was forced to miss the game following an arrest last November, and right tackle Donald Stephenson served the first game of his four-game suspension for violating the league's policy on performance-enhancing substances.

The Chiefs reached the end zone on a short pass to tight end Anthony Fasano in the fourth quarter.

Running back Jamaal Charles, who is the Chiefs' biggest game-breaker, was a non-factor. He carried seven times for 19 yards and had four catches for 15 yards.

Kansas City jumped out to a 3-0 lead when Cairo Santos banged a 35-yard attempt off the right upright and through for the first field goal of his career.

But everything spiraled out of control quickly, beginning with a 47-yarder that Santos missed off the left upright.

The Titans took over and drove 62 yards for a go-ahead touchdown, an easy toss from Locker to Walker in the back of the end zone. Succop added a field goal for a 10-0 halftime lead.

Johnson went down with his Achilles injury just before the half. The veteran linebacker began the game 18 tackles away from matching Gary Spani's franchise record.

DeVito was lost to a nearly identical injury on the first drive of the second half.

Locker capped that drive with a short TD pass to Wright, who managed to contort his body just enough to touch the pylon as he was going out of bounds. The touchdown gave Tennessee a 17-3 lead and started a shower of boos from a crowd that had been full of optimism.

Meanwhile, Locker was pumping his fist throughout an important season opener.

The Titans declined their fifth-year option on the injury-prone quarterback in the offseason, so the pressure is on Locker to perform this season.

He certainly did against a Chiefs defense that was full of questions entering the season, and has even more after a spate of injuries.

Complete Win for Titans in Opener vs Chiefs

Jake Locker passed for 266 yards and two touchdowns, leading the Titans to a decisive 26-10 victory over the Kansas City Chiefs in the regular season opener for both teams Sunday at Arrowhead Stadium. The win marked the 400th regular season victory in Titans-Oilers franchise history.


“Obviously a big win for us, the 400th win for the Titans. That’s quite an accomplishment. I’m very grateful to Mr. [Tommy] Smith and certainly we’ve got a game ball for him,” said Ken Whisenhunt following his first win as the head coach of the Titans.

Defensive coordinator Ray Horton unleashed his 3-4 defense and gave Alex Smith and the Chiefs offense fits all game.

Tennessee's defense was a dominant force throughout the game, holding the Chiefs to 1-for-12 on third downs and intercepting Smith three times. The unit stifled Pro Bowl running back Jamaal Charles, holding him to 34 total yards. Jason McCourty recorded two of the Titans' three interceptions of Alex Smith, who was also sacked four times.

“Hats off to the defense,” said Whisenhunt. “They played very well today. They did a great job on third down, they did a good job against the run game, and made a lot of plays."

Freshly signed kicker Ryan Succop made a triumphant return to Kansas City after being released by the Chiefs just last week. Succop made all four of his field goal attempts with a long of 47 yards.

It took the Titans offense a quarter to get going, but Locker and company found their groove in the second quarter. Down 3-0, Locker led the Titans on an 11-play, 62-yard drive, culminating in a five-yard touchdown pass to tight end Delanie Walker.

At the end of the first half, punter Brett Kern pinned the Chiefs at their own two-yard line. McCourty intercepted Alex Smith on the ensuing play to give the Titans the ball back with 28 seconds remaining. Locker engineered a quick four-play, 24-yard drive that set up a 36-yard Ryan Succop field goal to give the Titans a 10-3 lead at the half.


The Titans opened the third quarter with another scoring drive capped off by a Kendall Wright six-yard touchdown catch. The drive started with a 39-yard bomb downfield to Justin Hunter. Wright finished the afternoon with six catches for 46 yards and the score. Hunter led all Titans receivers with 63 yards.

Locker spread the ball around the entire game with 22 completions going to eight different receivers. Shonn Greene paced the Titans' rushing attack with 71 yards on 15 carries. Dexter McCluster added 29 yards rushing and 19 yards receiving in his return to Kansas City.

The Chiefs scored their lone touchdown of the game on a five-yard touchdown pass from Smith to tight end Anthony Fasano to make the game 23-10 in the fourth quarter. The Titans responded with a 10-play drive encompassing 5:19 seconds off the clock and ended in Succop’s fourth field goal of the day.


Rookie running back Bishop Sankey got involved in the fourth quarter with six carries for 25 yards.

The Titans dominated the day statistically. Tennessee had 24 first downs to Kansas City's 15, held an edge in rushing yards of 162 to 67, and posted a plus-three turnover ratio.

The Titans will host the Dallas Cowboys in week 2 in the team’s home opener at LP Field.

Notes: LB Zach Brown left the game with a shoulder injury and did not return … With 59 yards receiving, Nate Washington became the ninth player in franchise history to reach 4,000 receiving yards.

Watt powers Texans to 17-6 win over Washington

J.J. Watt wanted to start earning his six-year contract as soon as he signed it.

MegaWatt earned every penny of his paycheck, powering the Texans to a 17-6 win over Washington at NRG Stadium.

"Watt is obviously a hell of a football player, there's no other way to put it," Head coach Bill O'Brien said after the game. "He plays a lot of different spots on the line. He has the ability to disrupt the game. He plays within the scheme, he's a great teammate, and there's not too much more you can say about him. He's just a great player."


A record-high 71,770 fans, the largest for opening day in franchise history, was on hand to witness the return of Brian Cushing, Johnathan Joseph, and the debuts of Jadeveon Clowney and Ryan Fitzpatrick.

O'Brien earned his first win as the Texans' head coach as Houston began the 2014 season 1-0. Founder, Chairman, and CEO Bob McNair awarded the game ball to O'Brien.

"I'm excited, I'm happy for these guys," O'Brien said. "I'm really happy for that locker room. I'm happy for the veterans in there that have been part of this change."

Watt's dazzled in his first game since signing his contract with a blocked extra point attempt, fumble recovery, three tackles (including two for a loss), one pass defensed, five quarterback hits, and a sack on Robert Griffin III for a loss of six yards.

"I got a few hits today," Watt said. "I got the sack. I was hoping for a couple more, but at least I got one."

Griffin completed 29 of 37 for 267 but was sacked three times, once each by Watt, Brooks Reed, and D.J. Swearinger.

"You have to give credit where credit is due," Griffin said. "The Texans defense came out and played well as a teamand won the game and that's all that matters. For us offensively, they were going to make us earn it the entire time playing soft coverages, quarters, cover-two, cover-three, a little bit of man out there."

Fitzpatrick was 14 of 22 for 206 yards, one touchdown, and a passer rating of 109.3.

"I think for me, just this situation as a whole, this is probably the best situation I've been in, in terms of just overall team, in terms of the scheme fitting me," Fitzpatrick said. "I feel comfortable, but obviously we need to get a lot better and I need to get a lot better."

Arian Foster rushed for 103 yards on 27 carries in his 26th career 100-yard game.

"It was a little rust off today," Foster said. "It was good. I haven't played since November or something like that, so it was good to get those hits. You feel sore, but it's a good sore and you miss that feeling. I feel like it's going to be a really fun year. You just got to keep on working. I felt good for the first time back."


Defenses dominated early in the game. Swearinger had his first career sack for a loss of eight yards, a quarterback hit, and a tackle for loss in the first quarter.

Both teams remained scoreless until Washington struck first on a one-yard touchdown run by fullback Darrel Young in the second quarter. J.J. Watt blocked the extra point attempt to keep Washington’s lead at 6-0.

Houston didn’t wait long to respond, adding 14 unanswered points in the second quarter. Fitzpatrick connected with DeAndre Hopkins on a 76-yarder with 4:28 remaining. Rookie Alfred Blue added another score on a blocked punt following a three-and-out by Washington.

"I was roughing the wing all night and getting that outside presence," Blue said. "When we called block, I just put the up-and-under on him. I did what the coaches taught me to do. I put my hand out there and he punted it right into my hand, so I just scooped and scored."

Houston led 14-6 at halftime.

Jadeveon Clowney headed into the locker room before halftime with a knee injury and would not return. Clowney, who had one tackle in his NFL debut, was replaced with Whitney Mercilus at outside linebacker in the second half.

Randy Bullock added the lone field goal on the day, a 42-yard kick, extending the Texans' lead late in the fourth quarter.

The Texans extend their opening day winning streak to five with Sunday's win and will head to Oakland for Week 2.

Redskins Drop Season Opener To Texans, 17-6

FIRST IMPRESSIONS
Redskins football is finally back.

After months and months of waiting and preparing, the Washington Redskins on Sunday opened up their 2014 regular season against the Texans at NRG Stadium in Houston.

Both the Redskins and the Texans came into the game looking to move on from disappointing 2013 campaigns, in which both teams combined to win just five games. They both hired rookie head coaches – Jay Gruden for the Redskins and Bill O’Brien for the Texans – to get things moving in the right direction, and spent their entire offseasons trying to establish their new attitudes and strategies into their buildings.

So with all the offseason storylines officially out of the way, the Redskins and Texans got their 2014 campaigns started Sunday afternoon, with the Texans coming out on top, 17-6.

REVEALING MOMENT

The Redskins knew they were going to have to establish the run if they were going to have success against the Texans’ strong pass rush that includes defensive end J.J. Watt, a perennial Defensive Player of the Year candidate, and No. 1-overall pick Jadeveon Clowney, an outside linebacker. On Washington’s first scoring drive of the season Sunday, they leaned completely on the run, first taking advantage of a 25-yard punt return from Andre Roberts and running the ball four times for 46 yards, including a 21-yard scamper by Alfred Morris. Fullback Darrel Young then punched it into the end zone from one yard for his fifth-career rushing touchdown, and the first score of the year for the Redskins.

PLAY OF THE GAME

Vintage Alf. With just less than seven minutes remaining in the second quarter of Sunday's game, the Redskins faced a 2nd and 2 from the Houston 22-yard line. Quarterback Robert Griffin III, who took the snap under center, handed off to Morris to his right, who made one cut and a little hurdle. Before the Texans could blink, he was in their back porch at the Houston 1-yard line, completing a 21-yard play. Morris and Roy Helu Jr. each turned in solid outings in their 2014 debuts, showing that the Redskins, once again, should feature a strong rushing attack.

PLAYER OF THE GAME
The last time Keenan Robinson played in his home state of Texas, he suffered a season-ending pectoral injury more than halfway through the 2012 season against the Dallas Cowboys. So with plenty of support in the NRG Stadium seats, Robinson took the field Sunday as the replacement for legendary Redskins linebacker and captain London Fletcher, who retired following the 2013 season. Robinson showed in the preseason that he could be a major playmaker – with the ability to rush the passer and cover receivers and tight ends from sideline to sideline – and he continued that in Sunday’s season opener. No. 52, a University of Texas product, was a major bright spot for the Washington defense against the Texans, adding a key fumble recovery early in the fourth quarter.

UNSUNG HERO
Tress Way wasn’t even on the Redskins’ roster until their third preseason game against the Baltimore Ravens, but he showed enough to the coaching staff that he had what it takes to be the team’s top option at the punter position going into the regular season. Playing in his first NFL game on Sunday, Way’s first four punts traveled an average of 50.1 yards, including one inside the 20-yard line. Way, a lefty kicker, did what he could the entire game to ensure the Texans wouldn’t have prime field position.

WHAT’S NEXT
The Redskins will take the next few hours to go over what went right and what went wrong in today’s Redskins-Texans season opener, but their primary focus has already moved on to next Sunday’s home opener against the Jacksonville Jaguars.

The Jaguars – who finished last season with a 4-12 record – opened up their season today against the Eagles in Philadelphia.

Next week’s Redskins-Jaguars game is set for a 1 p.m. kickoff at FedExField, and is being televised by CBS.

Turnovers, injuries cost Bears in loss

With six of the Bears' next eight games on the road, it was crucial for them to open the season with a win Sunday over a Buffalo Bills team that compiled a 6-10 record last season.

But costly turnovers, key injuries and an ineffective run defense contributed to a disappointing 23-20 overtime loss, ruining an otherwise perfect sunny afternoon at Soldier Field.

"Going into games like this, you can talk about a lot of different things," said coach Marc Trestman. "But when you have drives and you turn the ball over three times, you wind up minus-two in the plus-minus department, you get all the answers you need.

"Our guys played hard. I think we came out ready to play. But we didn't finish drives, we turned the ball over and we put our defense in tough positions."

The Bears (0-1) compiled 427 total yards and 29 first downs, but committed three turnovers on two Jay Cutler interceptions and a Brandon Marshall fumble that the Bills converted into 13 points.

Chicago's defense generated little pressure on quarterback E.J. Manuel, recording one Willie Young sack while also permitting 193 yards on the ground. The Bears ranked last in the NFL in run defense last season, yielding an average of 161.4 yards per game.

"We didn't play disciplined football for four quarters, and it hurt us," said defensive lineman Lamarr Houston. "We were in a good position to get them stopped, but once again we lacked in the discipline area. We have to do our jobs and know our jobs and just play disciplined football."


Trailing 17-7 at halftime, the Bears stormed back to tie the score 17-17 on Robbie Gould's 41-yard field goal and Cutler's 11-yard touchdown pass to Marshall late in the third quarter.

The rally came after injuries had sidelined receiver Alshon Jeffery (hamstring), guard Matt Slauson (ankle) and center Roberto Garza (ankle) in the first half.

Looking to break the tie midway through the fourth quarter, the Bears marched to the Buffalo 34. But Cutler's ill-advised pass back across the middle intended for tight end Martellus Bennett was intercepted by defensive tackle Kyle Williams, who had drifted back into pass coverage.

"I was just trying to get it inside to Marty," Cutler said. "I should have just thrown it away."

The Bills converted the turnover into Dan Carpenter's 33-yard field goal, taking a 20-17 lead with 4:02 left in the fourth quarter. The Bears forced overtime, however, as Cutler engineered a seven-play, 69-yard drive capped by Gould's 37-yard field goal with :30 remaining.

The Bears won the overtime coin flip but were forced to punt after picking up one first down. The Bills then marched 69 yards on seven plays before winning the game on Carpenter's 27-yard field goal. Fred Jackson set up the kick with a 38-yard run to the Chicago 1.

The Bears had taken a 7-0 lead on their first possession of the game on Cutler's 12-yard TD pass to Bennett over the middle. But their next four drives resulted in two punts and two turnovers.

Cutler was picked off by former Bears defensive back Corey Graham, whose 45-yard return helped set up Manuel's 7-yard TD pass to C.J. Spiller on the next play, giving Buffalo a 17-7 lead.

Cutler completed 34 of 49 passes for 349 yards with two touchdowns, two interceptions and an 86.2 passer rating. He rebounded from the two picks to help force overtime, but ultimately the Bears were unable to overcome the turnovers and their inability to stop the Bills on the ground.

"They're a great running team, there's no doubt about it," Trestman said. "But at the end of the day if you keep them in the 17- or 20-point range, that should be enough for us to win. If we hang onto the football and take care of it, we would have been in a good position to do that.

"As I told the guys, it's continuity football. It's all about team; all three phases were involved in this game and we've got to accept responsibility for it. That starts with me. We'll go back to work. I think there's a lot of good things. But the bottom line is we're very disappointed we lost this game."

Gutty effort lifts Bills over Bears in overtime

It took overtime, but Buffalo gutted out a back and forth game with an inspired rushing effort that almost went for 200 yards and an opportunistic defense that recorded three takeaways in a 23-20 win at Chicago. It was just the fourth time in the last 22 season openers at Soldier Field where the visiting team emerged victorious.

The Bills overcame an early seven-point deficit in the first quarter scoring 17 straight points to close out the first half with a 10-point lead (17-7). But in a back and forth affair, Chicago erased the deficit and tied the score at 17 with four minutes left in the third quarter.

Buffalo re-took the lead capitalizing on the defense’s third takeaway of the game as Dan Carpenter put a 33-yard field goal up and through with four minutes remaining in regulation. Chicago answered with a field goal drive of their own to force overtime.

But C.J. Spiller and Fred Jackson combined for 57 of the 69 yards gained on the game-winning drive before Dan Carpenter finished with a 27-yard field goal for the win.

How it went down:


--After the Bills offense went three and out on their first possession, Chicago made quick work of putting points on the board with a four-play 66-yard drive that culminated in a 12-yard touchdown pass from Jay Cutler to Martellus Bennett.

--Buffalo responded with a touchdown drive of their own. The possession covered 71 yards on nine plays, with EJ Manuel scoring on a two-yard read option keeper (7-7) halfway through the opening quarter.


--A forced fumble by Leodis McKelvin after a reception by Brandon Marshall was recovered by Preston Brown and returned into Chicago territory. Dan Carpenter hit a 50-yard field goal to get points off the turnover and the lead (10-7) midway through the second quarter.

--Corey Graham had the second takeaway of the game picking off a pass intended for Martellus Bennett and returning it to the Bears 19-yard line. A Chicago penalty gave Buffalo a 1st-and-goal at the seven and EJ Manuel hit C.J. Spiller for a seven-yard touchdown catch and run (17-7).

--Chicago cut Buffalo’s lead to a touchdown on their opening drive of the second half when Robbie Gould put a 41-yard attempt through the uprights with nine and a half minutes left in the third quarter (17-10).

--The Bears then tied the game following Chris Conte’s interception of a pass intended for Marquise Goodwin at the Chicago 39. Jay Cutler hit Brandon Marshall on a fade pass for an 11-yard touchdown with just over four minutes left in the third quarter.

--Kyle Williams made a big interception on a key 3rd-and-1 play at the Buffalo 33 to stem the tide of momentum. Buffalo’s offense then drove 37 yards and Dan Carpenter put a 33-yard field goal attempt through for a 20-17 lead with just over four minutes remaining.

--Chicago tied the game with under a minute left on a 37-yard field goal by Robbie Gould.

--Dan Carpenter won the game on a 27-yard field goal with 9:46 left in overtime.

Stat lines

--EJ Manuel had a productive first half as he was 10-12 passing for 97 yards with a touchdown and a rushing touchdown. By the game’s end he was 16-22 passing for 173 yards with a touchdown and an interception.

--Buffalo’s run game was productive all day averaging almost six yards a carry (5.8 avg.). The Bills’ backs finished the day with 193 yards rushing on 33 carries.


--Corey Graham had a heck of a debut in a Bills uniform. Starting in place of an injury Stephon Gilmore, Graham had three tackles, an interception and three pass breakups, including two on the final drive in regulation by Chicago to force a field goal.

--Robert Woods continued his consistent play from the preseason with a four-catch 78-yard effort in regulation.

Subplots:

--The Bills defense had three takeaways in the game including the first career interception by Kyle Williams on a key 3rd-and-1 play with the score tied 17-17.

--Keith Rivers left the game with a groin injury and did not return. Aaron Williams left the game late with concussion-like symptoms.

--Rookie Preston Brown recorded the first takeaway of his career with a fumble recovery in the first half that the Bills turned into a field goal. He was also calling the plays for the defense at times in the game.

--New punter Colton Schmidt had an excellent debut with the Bills. He had four punts downed inside the 20-yard line including a pair of fair catches and effectively flipped the field with a 54-yard effort.

Inactives:

CB Stephon Gilmore, RB Bryce Brown, S Jonathan Meeks, DE Jacquies Smith, G Cyril Richardson, OT Cyrus Kouandjio, TE Lee Smith.

Up Next:

The Bills will open their home schedule against division rival Miami on Sunday Sept. 14 at 1 pm.

Bengals 23, Ravens 16

The Ravens made a lot of changes in the offseason – a new offense, a revamped offensive line and a younger defense.

But Sunday's 23-16 loss at M&T Bank Stadium played out much like many of the defeats from last year.

The defense bent but didn't break for nearly the entire game. The offense was in an early-game slumber but eventually awoke to take the lead. Just when the defense needed one more stop, it broke.

The Ravens battled last year's AFC North champion Cincinnati Bengals tough, overcoming sloppy offensive play and a 15-point halftime deficit to take the lead on an 80-yard touchdown by Steve Smith Sr. with five minutes, 46 seconds remaining.

But Bengals Pro Bowl wide receiver A.J. Green went deep for a 77-yard touchdown just two plays later and the Ravens offense fizzled deep in Bengals territory trying to deliver the game-tying touchdown.

In the end, Baltimore came out with an 0-1 start to the season, already putting the Ravens behind division foes Cincinnati and Pittsburgh.

"It was a bad day," quarterback Joe Flacco said.

"We got ourselves in position to win, but we didn't play well enough to win it."

Flacco and the new offense struggled for two and a half quarters. The offense, which brought much hope for an improved season, didn't have a good debut.

It was shut out in the first half, which ended in disastrous fashion.

With eight seconds remaining in the half and the Ravens easily in field-goal range, they tried for one more shot at the end zone. But Flacco held onto the ball too long, scrambled and was sacked as the clock ran out, meaning the Ravens couldn't even attempt a field goal.

"That was probably the stupidest play I've ever made in football," Flacco said.

Flacco didn't get a lot of help from his receivers. They dropped too many passes, slipped on a couple key plays and simply didn't execute.

Despite being billed as a run-first attack, the offense ended up unbalanced like a year ago. Flacco threw 62 passes, the most since Baltimore's Week 1 loss in Denver last season. He completed 35 of those passes for 345 yards, a touchdown and an interception.

Running back Bernard Pierce – starting in place of suspended Ray Rice – was benched after a second-quarter fumble. Justin Forsett, who had just six rushing attempts last year with the Jacksonville Jaguars, ran 11 times for 70 yards. The Ravens ran a total of 20 times.

"We just played about as bad as you can in terms of simple fundamental things – throwing, catching, running routes, staying up, just running the ball, couple mental busts," Flacco said. "Just fundamental things that you do every day, and it's just part of the routine, and we weren't doing them."

Baltimore's defense kept the Ravens in the game, holding the Bengals to five first-half field goals.

The Bengals offense moved the ball methodically, punted just once in the first half and didn't have any turnovers. But it was held out of the end zone.

But while the Bengals had trouble in the red zone, they at least got points when they could.

Ravens Pro Bowl kicker Justin Tucker missed his first opportunity of the season as a 55-yard attempt hooked wide right. Flacco's blunder at the end of the half prevented another field-goal chance. Those potential six points proved huge at the end of the game.

Dominated in the first half, the Ravens started to flip the momentum when safety Jeromy Miles blocked a field goal and safety Anthony Levine returned it deep into Bengals territory.

But Baltimore's offense faltered again. Smith dropped what would have been a solid gain, then Flacco was intercepted by linebacker Emmanuel Lamur on the next play when Flacco tried to squeeze a throw to the sideline without having his feet set.

The defense held again and the offense scored its first points late in the third quarter.

Flacco found Smith and tight end Dennis Pitta for multiple catches on the drive. Forsett scampered 13 yards into the end zone for Baltimore's first points with 2:20 remaining. Just like that, the Ravens were only down a touchdown and two-point conversion, 15-7.

The defense responded with its first three-and-out of the game, giving the offense the ball back with a chance to tie.

The Ravens offense moved down the field once again. Forsett found room on the ground and Flacco sacrificed his body and took a huge hit to convert on a fourth-and-1. The Ravens got to the 20-yard line but settled for a 38-yard field goal by Tucker to cut the Bengals' lead to five points, 15-10, with 10:28 remaining.

The defense again forced a punt, which Jacoby Jones muffed but recovered, and the offense had the ballon its own 8-yard line with a chance to take the lead.

Facing a third-and-14 from its own 20-yard line, Flacco was flushed out to his left. With the play broken, Flacco directed Smith, who took off vertically down the field, beating his cornerback over the top.

Flacco flung the pass, Smith cradled it in and raced down the sideline. He viciously stiff-armed Bengals cornerback Adam "Pacman" Jones to the ground to get into the end zone for an 80-yard touchdown.

Surprisingly, after being outplayed nearly the entire game, the Ravenstook a 16-15 lead.


"Great pass, easy pass to catch – actually one that I did catch," Smith said, alluding to his previous drops. "I just had to get in there. The AFC North is hard, tough-nosed football they say. So I'm trying to adapt to that."

But the lead didn't last long.

On the Bengals' second play of the next drive, Cincinnati sent Green deep. The All-Pro receiver hadn't been much of a factor earlier in the game, but Green needed just one play.

Green got behind cornerback Chykie Brown, who was starting in place of injured Lardarius Webb. Brown was able to recover enough to barely tip the ball with a diving effort, but it also went off Green's hands and took a perfect bounce up so he could recollect it.

Green juked safety Darian Stewart and cruised into the end zone for a 77-yard touchdown. The Bengals scored the two-point conversion to take a 23-16 lead for good with 4:58 left. M&T Bank Stadium was stunned.

Brown said he was anticipating a deep pass, but just didn't play good technique and let Green get behind him.

"We picked a hell of a time to let them in the end zone, if you ask me," outside linebacker Terrell Suggs said. "I thought we had it. I thought we had it. … It sucks that we gave up the one big deep one."

The Ravens offense had one final chance to tie the game with a touchdown, and moved the ball well again. It methodically picked up first downs and reached the Bengals' 16-yard line.

But facing a third-and-4, Flacco dropped back and was sacked by Bengals defensive end Wallace Gilberry. On fourth-and-10, the Bengals sent an overload blitz around the right side and Gilberry sacked Flacco again, ending the game.

"I thought our guys fought back," Head Coach John Harbaugh said. "Obviously, we have a lot of heart, a lot of determination, and that's a good place to start. What we didn't do was execute when we needed to in certain situations, especially early in the game and then right at the end of the game."

Bengals juggle adversity for opening win

Andy Dalton and A.J. Green came up with one of the most improbable plays of their era when they hooked up with a stunning 77-yard touchdown pass with 4:58 left to give the Bengals a 23-16 win on Opening Day and the Green-Dalton era its victory ever at M&T Bank Stadium.

Moments after falling behind for the first time all day, Green ran by cornerback Chykie Brown and Dalton hit him in stride at about the Ravens 30. But then Green, the world famous juggler, juggled it when Brown tipped it, then caught it again while skating past safety Darian Stewart when he dodged one way and Stewart went the other.

And then Dalton, who finished with an unflustered 301 yards passing and a 98.7 passer rating, made a big throw to wide receiver Mohamed Sanu at the right pylon as muscled the ball away from cornerback Asa Jackson for the two-point conversion.

Then it was back to-back sacks on third down and fourth down in the red zone from defensive lineman Wallace Glberry and safety Reggie Nelson from the Bengals 16 with 55 seconds left. Gilberry got the first one and split the second with the blitzing Nelson for the Bengals first win in Baltimore since 2009.

Another broken play by Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco appeared to break the Bengals in another opener Sunday when Flacco’s scrambling 80-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Steve Smith Sr. on third-and-14 erased a 15-0 lead and gave them a 16-15 lead with 5:46 left.

Cornerback Adam Jones dropped coverage on Smith down the left sideline and Flacco, flushed from the pocket and running for his life, saw it. Jones then couldn’t haul him down at about the 15 and the Ravens had their first lead of the day on the longest pass of Flacco’s career. Six years ago to the day in his NFL debut, Flacco beat the Bengals here in the ’08 opener on a 38-yard scramble for a touchdown.

Then they came up with a big play with defensive tackle Brandon Thompson stopped a two-point run up the middle.

But Jones also played a big role with a 44-yard punt return that set up one of Mike Nugent's NFL-record tying five field goals in a half.


After a bright first quarter, the offense under new coordinator Hue Jackson suddenly slowed and could get nothing on the ground. A game-ending elbow injury to tight end Tyler Eifert late in the first quarter turn the day for them because it basically gutted the two tight-end set. It is feared the elbow is dislocated.

With the Bengals down to four wide receivers, the loss of Eifert, one of their best pass-catchers, Jackson’s options out of a two-tight end set with Jermaine Gresham and Alex Smith were severely limited. After racking up 110 yards in the first quarter, the Bengals had just 302 before Dalton and Green struck.

Trailing, 15-0, early in the third quarter, the Ravens got a life when former Bengals safety Jeromy Miles got inside the slot and blocked Nugent’s sixth field goal attempt of the day and after a return gave Baltimore its best field position of the day at its own 40.

But on an all-out blitz turned into SAM linebacker Emmanuel Lamur’s first NFL interception when he jumped a route in the flat to tight end Owen Daniels. It marked Flacco’s career 16th interception against the Bengals

Yet even though Flacco had just a 36 passer rating when he got the ball back, he recovered to lead the first touchdown drive for anyone when he hit six of seven passes and got a 13-yard touchdown run from running back Justin Forsett with 2:20 left in the third quarter that cut the lead to 15-7.

That typified how the Ravens offensive line took over the game late in the third quarter and began to smash the Bengals in the running game out of spread formations. Justin Forsett (11 carries for 70 yards) ran in a stretch play and rode in behind pulling right tackle Rick Wagner. The big play was a 23-year pass down the middle to tight end Dennis Pitta in the face of an all-out and despite good coverage by Lamur. But Flacco beat it with a great throw.

Flacco was now rolling and the Bengals weren’t. They couldn’t answer on the next drive. On third-and-two, Dalton had Sanu open in the slot, but went for wide receiver Brandon Tate on the outside and the pass was broken up.

With cornerback Leon Hall getting an I.V., the Ravens kept running it with their third back, Forsett, and Flacco even converted a fourth-and-one at the Bengals 30 off a play-action bootleg. But the Bengals got good enough pressure on Flacco to force Justin Tucker’s 38-yard field goal that cut the lead to 15-10 with 10:28 left in the game.

While Jackson flashed all his wares, new defensive coordinator Paul Guenther kept up his end of the deal, throwing a first half shut on one of the NFL’s most dangerous home fields. Flacco missed nine of his first 12 passes and made the gaffe of the day with eight seconds left in the half from the Cincinnati 17.

The Bengals chased Flacco out of the pocket and he inexplicably held the ball until defensive end Carlos Dunlap chased him down for a sack as the half ended.

But it could have been so much more as the Bengals whiffed on their first two red-zone trips of the season and couldn’t take advantage of WILL linebacker Vontaze Burfict’s strip and fumble recovery of Ravens running back Bernard Pierce at the Ravens 23 with less than four minutes left in the half.

Burfict was immense in the half, adding a deflection of a third-down pass, before he levelled an unblocked hit on Flacco in that last drive of the half. He hit his head and he wouldn’t return to the game with a concussion.

Yet after Burfict’s fumble recovery, rookie center Russell Bodine was called for a hold and they could only get three yards on the drive. They had to call on Nugent again for a 38-yard field goal with 2:07 left in the half. That tied Nugent’s career high of five, which came against the Ravens in the Bengals home opener in 2010 and tied an NFL record for most field goals in a half.

When Nugent kicked a 28-yard field goal with 10:13 left in the half, the Bengals had more yards, 152-28, and more plays, 30-12.

At one point Dalton hit 10 straight passes on the way to finishing 18 of 24 in the first half for 147 yards. The streak ended after the Bengals had been given a life at the Ravens 11 when rookie linebacker C.J. Mosely was called for a late hit and a 15-yard penalty.

On second down from the 9, Dalton appeared to think wide open tight end Jermaine Gresham would keep running across the middle but he stopped and the ball went for an incompletion. The Ravens opted to try a 55-yard field goal with 7:12 left, but Pro Bowl kicker Justin Tucker severely missed it right, giving the Bengals the ball at their own 45.

But the Bengals offensive line got pushed back in the second quarter after an encouraging first quarter. Despite Jackson’s emphasis on the run game, they rushed for 2.8 yards per 16 rushes in the half and three yards per on 26 rushes in the game

After the missed field goal, Ravens outside linebacker Terrell Suggs knifed through right tackle Andre Smith and left tackle Andrew Whitworth in an unbalanced line to drop running back Giovani Bernard for a four-yard loss to force another Nugent kick, this one from 46 yards with 4:36 left that made it 12-0 with 4:36 left in the half.

The second field goal, a 22-yarder, was set up by cornerback Adam Jones’ 44-yard punt return and tight end Eifert’s 14-yard catch inside the 10. But Eifert, who caught three balls for 37 yards, injured his right elbow and that was it.

The Bengals tried a quarterback draw on third down from the six, but defensive end Chris Canty worked off rookie center Russell Bodine’s block and stopped the play for nothing to set up the field goal. Dalton hit eight of his first 10 passes for 78 yards, but he couldn’t get much on the ground early when the Bengals went with a bunch of zone reads.

Bernard picked up the season’s first third down on a monstrous 3rd-and-11 all-out blitz when he scooted 16 yards off a screen pass. He also picked up a first down on a second-down run out of an intriguing formation where the tackles spread out to the numbers and there were only three offensive linemen on the line.

Seven of the Bengals’ 10 snaps went for at least four yards and Dalton hit his first pass of the day on the first snap, a snappy nine-yarder over the middle to A.J. Green.

On their next drive, the Bengals went to the zone read out of the no huddle with Dalton. After he kept it for thee yards on first down, Dalton hit Eifert down the sideline for a 20-yard gain. But on second and third down Dalton got stuffed when he kept it, the last on third-and-two when outside linbebacker Terrell Suggs stunted.

But picking up the theme of last season, the Bengals defense always had an answer. They held Flacco to a 52.4 passer rating for the half, 71 for the game. In the first half gave the Ravens running backs just 21 yards on eight carries.
PREGAME NOTES: Bengals first-round pick Darqueze Dennard didn’t make his NFL opener when he was inactive for Sunday’s game at M&T Bank Stadium against the Ravens with a hip injury.

As expected first-year cornerback Onterio McCalebb took Dennard’s spot on the active list after signing from the practice squad Saturday and made his pro debut most likely covering punts opposite cornerback Dre Kirkpatrick.

But McCalebb is still learning the transition from college running back to NFL corner and he figured to be an emergency from scrimmage behind Kirkpatrick and regulars Leon Hall, Terence Newman, and Adam Jones.

Head coach Marvin Lewis opted to dress eight offensive linemen and seven defensive linemen, deactivating rookie defensive end Will Clarke in the wake of Saturday’s release of defensive tackle Christo Bilukidi.

With right tackle Andre Smith starting despite not playing a preseason game, the Bengals have two reserve tackles dressed in Marshall Newhouse and Tanner Hawkinson.

The Bengals had only four receivers dressed with rookie James Wright (concussion) sidelined. Offensive lineman T.J. Johnson also was inactive and wide receiver Marvin Jones (foot), running back Rex Burkhead (knee), and linebacker Sean Porter (hamstring) continued to nurse injuries and were inactive.

With the Bengals limited at wide receiver, look for the tight-end duo of Jermaine Gresham and Tyler Eifert to take many of the snaps. But on a day of unknowns, those are two guys that haven’t been on the field yet at the same time this season, Eifert missed the last three preseason games and virtually all of the spring camps with a shoulder issue.

Lardarius Webb, considered the Ravens best cornerback, was Baltimore’s biggest inactive and fueled speculation the Bengals plan to go after the secondary. Jimmy Smith, the other starting corner, missed two preseason games before returning to practice about 10 days ago and backup cornerback Asa Jackson missed three games before returning to work about the same time.

Plus, safeties Matt Elam and Darian Stewart are considered stronger run players than coverage players.


BALTIMORE - Even a seasoned Pro Bowler like left tackle Andrew Whitworth was a bit taken aback by what the Bengals accomplished offensively in Sunday’s 23-16 Opening Day victory over the Ravens under new coordinator Hue Jackson

And it wasn’t even because on one play early on running back Giovani Bernard’s five-yard run _ he and right tackle Andre Smith lined up wide on the numbers to leave just three linemen.

“We went on the road, didn’t turn the ball over and gave up no sacks, moved the ball all day and missed two third downs of third-and-five or less,” Whitworth said. “We can be better, sure. But could you ask for more from a new offense, rookie center and lose a key piece like (Tyler) Eifert early. That hurt us more than anything.”

Jackson unveiled a batch of plays that had not been seen in the preseason. They’d been running them since the spring, but not for public consumption. Throw in the fact the Bengals went no huddle for much of the game rather than in pockets of the game and it was like driving a new car.

“We were a little off. I thought everyone blocked well, but we’ll get better as we go,” Whitworth said. “The first day of the no huddle, we’re going to get exhausted, too….If we score a couple of touchdowns in the red zone (they were 0-for-2), it’s blowout, it wouldn’t have been close. I think you get six scores in a game you’re doing something right.”



Jackson used plenty of screens to counter the Ravens rush, enough that Bernard was the second-leading receiver with six catches for 62 yards and actually converted a third-and-11 on a 16-yarder and a third-and-four on a 32-yarder down the right sideline. He tried some unbalanced lines. He actually had quarterback Andy Dalton run the option and he pitched it to wide receiver Mohamed Sanu on a play that went nowhere.



Indeed, Jackson’s most eye-opening wrinkles were how often Dalton kept on the zone read in key situations. The working number is four for five yards. He also tried a quarterback draw on third-and-goal from the 4 that got stuffed.

“I may not be as athletic as some of the guys in this league, but I feel comfortable doing it,” Dalton said. “The thing we are always looking for is the right matchup, most of the time I just handed the ball off and got out of the way. We didn’t do that here very much but, in college I ran it a lot.”

No one runs well on the Ravens and even though Jackson has emphasized it as his core philosophy, the Bengals struggled as they often do against Baltimore in rushing for three yards per 26 rushes.



“It’s about driving the football,” Whitworth said. “All the runs were part of driving the ball. That’s what you want.”



There are concerns without Eifert (elbow) for an extended period of time and wide receiver Marvin Jones (foot) not coming back until New England Oct. 5. They ran a lot out of three wides and that didn’t seem to work and the two wideouts behind A.J. Green, Mohamed Sanu (four catches for 36 yards) and Brandon Tate (four for 19 yards) didn’t do a lot of damage.



But Sanu did make a key catch for the two-point conversion after Green’s winning touchdown catch when he outmuscled cornerback Asa Jackson at the right front pylon.



“I saw leverage. I was just trying to get him outside,” Sanu said. “Andy put the ball where it needed to be and he made a great throw.”



GUENTHER DIALS: As linebackers coach last season, defensive coordinator Paul Guenther supervised a third-down package that led the AFC and was second in the NFL.

On Sunday they gave up an uncharacteristic 47 percent on third down (8-for-17), but when it came to the last two snaps with the game on the line, he got back-to-back sacks with the Ravens in the red zone. Defensive lineman Wallace Gilberry, lining up at nose tackle, said he went around a stunt by defensive end Margus Hunt for the sack of quarterback Joe Flacco on third down and on fourth down Guenther blitzed safety Reggie Nelson from the left edge and he shared the sack with Gilberry after Gilberry moved over to the three technique inside.

“I’m so tired I couldn’t tell you how,” said Gilberry of that fourth-down sack. “He said, ‘Hike,’ and I took off.

“He’s very creative,’ Gilberry said of Guenther. “He’ll find a way to get you open. That’s one thing I can say about P. He’s going to dial them up. It’s up to you to execute and get the job done.”

Two-time Pro Bowl defensive tackle Geno Atkins looks to be still trying to find his legs after his ACL surgery. He played better in the second half than the first, but press box stats had him for just one tackle and one quarterback hit. He rotated and wasn’t on the field for the last two snaps. Head coach Marvin Lewis said he thought it was dehydration after he got carted off at the end of the game and Atkins walked out of the locker a half hour later saying he was fine.

Flacco, an occasional golfing partner of Guenther on the Jersey Shore during the offseason, couldn’t pull the trigger.

“At the end of the game there, (they) kind of rotated,” Flacco said. “I knew I had, I think it was Reggie coming off the right corner there, and [I] thought we’d hold him up a little bit and knew I had to make a play [to] get the first down and just couldn’t do it.”

It was a game of big sacks and end Carlos Dunlap ended the first half just like Gilberry and Nelson ended the game. It was a ridiculous play by Flacco, who had a timeout and eight seconds left from the Bengals 15. But he didn’t get rid of the ball when the pocket was broken and Dunlap chased him down as the clock ran out on the Ravens’ bid to get at least a field goal.

“I was (surprised) because he’d been getting it out the whole game,” Gilberry said. “One second and he let it go. That’s how I know the coverage was doing its job because obviously he had nowhere to go with it and it was up to us to get him on the ground.”

Flacco was aghast at himself.

“That was probably the stupidest play I’ve ever made in football. I kind of just got caught up in the play and forgot about the situation,” Flacco said. “There’s no excuse for it, can’t happen.”

The Ravens did make hay in the running game in the second half after the Bengals allowed them 2.6 yards per rush in the first half. With running back Bernard Pierce apparently dinged, Justin Forsett rushed 11 times for 70 yards and finished with 6.4 yards per for the game. Their success also mirrored the departure of Pro Bowl linebacker Vontaze Burfict with a concussion late in the first half.

“In the first half they were using a lot of regular and (one-back sets),” said nose tackle Domata Peko. “We were shutting that down and it seemed like in the second half they were running it out of (three wide receivers) and we had some of our nickel guys out and two linebackers in the box and they had some success.”

The Defensive Player of the Opener just might have been SAM backer Emmanuel Lamur in his first regular-season start after missing all last season with a shoulder injury. He had the game’s only turnover when he jumped a route in the flat headed to tight end Owen Daniels to go with a game-high 11 tackles.

“I read my keys. Coach (Guenther) called a great play. I read the quarterback’s eyes, broke on the ball, and executed the play,” Lamur said. “It’s a blessing being on that field, looking up in the sky, praying to God. I was getting a little emotional out there. I’ve been given a second life. I’m just enjoying the game, having fun with my boys, just going out there and trying to win games.”

Here's something a little sad and sweet. Sunday was the Bengals' first win in Baltimore since Oct. 11, 2009, when they rallied around defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer less than 72 hours after the sudden death of wife Vikki. It was Guenther who hunted down the game ball and handed it to Zimmer at head coach Marvin Lewis'' direction. On Sunday, Zimmer won his first game as a head coach in the Vikings' win over St. Louis.

FIVE THINGS: FALCONS 37, SAINTS 34, OT

1. Overtime Victory Keyed by Moore, Bartu: Entering overtime of the Week 1 matchup between the New Orleans Saints and Atlanta Falcons, the Saints won the coin toss and elected to receive, but two plays into the drive, Falcons S William Moore forced a fumble, recovered by Falcons LB Joplo Bartu. Falcons K Matt Bryant did the rest, calmly taking the field, nailing a 52-yard game-winning field goal, topping the Saints 37-34.

2. Ryan Leads Game-Tying Drive: With 1:20 to play in the game, trailing by three points to the Saints, and one timeout remaining, Falcons QB Matt Ryan led his team on a game-tying drive that covered 47 yards to the Saints' 33-yard line, when Bryant came onto the field for his second clutch kick of the day (earlier nailing a 40-yard FG), tying the game with a 51-yard FG as time expired, sending the game into overtime.

3. Falcons RB Committee: Trailing 27-24 to the New Orleans Saints in the fourth quarter, Falcons RB Jacquizz Rodgers dropped jaws on his way to the end zone for a 17-yard TD run. The phenomenal run gave the Falcons a fourth-quarter lead, 31-27. Also effective on Sunday were other Falcons RBs, including Antone Smith; trailing the NFC South-rival Saints 20-17, Smith lit up the Georgia Dome, capping off a five-play scoring drive that covered 80 yards in 2:31, when he took a short pass from Ryan and didn't stop running until he hit the end zone, 54 yards later. The score electrified the crowd and gave the Falcons their first lead of the game, 24-20. Falcons RBs Steven Jackson and rookie Devonta Freeman were also a big factor in the team's rushing attack, combining for 14 carries for 67 yards.

4. Historic Second Quarter: Ryan and Falcons WR Roddy White continued adding to their already-remarkable career stats in the second quarter; trailing the Saints 13-0, Ryan found White for a two-yard TD pass to tie former Falcons QB Steve Bartkowski as the franchise-record holders for most-career passing TDs (56). Ryan finished the day 31 of 43 for 448 yards and 3 TDs, also setting the franchise record for single-game passing yards. White's TD was the 56th of his career, tying former Falcons WR Andre Rison for the second-most receiving TDs in franchise history, one behind the current record, held by former Falcons WR Terance Mathis. White finished Sunday with five receptions for 72 yards and the two-yard TD.

5. Strong Second-Half Start Fueled Comeback: Whatever Falcons head coach Mike Smith said to the team at halftime worked as the offense took the ball right down the field on the first drive of the second half, using 12 plays to cover 80 yards in 5:38, when Ryan found Falcons TE Levine Toilolo for a 1-yard TD, giving Ryan the record for most career-passing TDs (155) in franchise history.

EXTRA REPS: Falcons WR Julio Jones finished his season opener with seven catches for 116 yards, while fellow Falcons WRs Harry Douglas and Devin Hester combined for 11 receptions for 168 yards. Falcons LB Paul Worrilow led the team with 15 tackles, followed by S Dwight Lowery (11 tackles) and Bartu (10 tackles).

Falcons beat Saints 37-34 in overtime

The Atlanta Falcons defeated the visiting New Orleans Saints 37-34 in overtime Sunday as Matt Bryant made a 52-yard field goal in the season opener.

The Falcons got in scoring position in overtime when they recovered receiver Marques Colston's fumble at the Saints' 38-yard line.

It was the second big kick for Bryant as he made a 51-yarder as time expired to force the extra period.

Both teams' offense dominated play with the Falcons piling up 568 yards while the Saints had 472. Matt Ryan threw for a franchise-record 448 yards on 31 of 43 passing with three touchdowns and no interceptions.

Julio Jones led the Falcons receivers with seven catches for 116 yards while Devin Hester added five catches for 92 yards. Steven Jackson was the team's top rusher with 52 yards on 12. Jacquizz Rodgers chipped in 34 yards including 17 on a fourth quarter touchdown run.

Saints quarterback Drew Brees was 29 of 42 for 333 yards with one touchdown and one interception (which ended a potential scoring drive).

Rookie receiver Brandin Cooks dazzled in his debut making seven catches for 77 yards and a touchdown (the receptions tied a franchise record for rookies). Colston had a big game with five catches for 110 yards and Jimmy Graham had eight catches for 82 yards.

Mark Ingram had two touchdown runs among his 13 carries for 60 yards.

The Saints will play at Cleveland next Sunday at noon central.