Sunday, September 10, 2017

Record-setting Witten, Cowboys top Giants 19-3 in opener

Jason Witten scored the only touchdown while breaking the franchise record for yards receiving and the Dallas defense shackled a New York offense missing Odell Beckham Jr. in the Cowboys' 19-3 season-opening victory over the Giants on Sunday night.
Ezekiel Elliott had a rugged 104 yards rushing and another 36 receiving two days after a judge halted his six-game suspension over a domestic violence case, although last year's NFL rushing leader had already been cleared to play the opener.
Dak Prescott was turnover-free while throwing for 268 yards as the Cowboys dominated the NFC East rival that swept them during a 13-3 season that topped the NFC and was fueled by the sensational rookie years for the quarterback-running back duo. Dan Bailey kicked four field goals.
Eli Manning didn't have Beckham in his 200th straight start after his dynamic top target sprained his ankle in a preseason game. The Giants were outgained in the first half 265-49 while falling behind 16-0.
Manning was 28 of 37 for 211 yards with an interception and connected with new receiver Brandon Marshalljust once, late on a desperation drive with the outcome already settled.
Witten scored the Cowboys' first touchdown on a 12-yard catch and finished with seven catches for 59, breaking Hall of Fame receiver Michael Irvin's club record of 11,904 yards. Witten, already the franchise leader in catches, now has 1,096 receptions for 11,947 yards.
A 35-year-old in his 15th season, Witten is the only tight end other than Tony Gonzalez with at least 1,000 catches and 10,000 yards.
The Giants had a nearly 10-minute drive to start the second half but settled for Aldrick Rosas' 25-yard field goal after a second-down sack of Manning, Dallas' third of the game and the first of Charles Tapper's career.
Anthony Brown all but sealed the win for the Cowboys when he was the first to get his hands on a throw from Manning and won a tug-of-war with Roger Lewis Jr. for the interception midway through the fourth quarter.
Elliott had to work for his yards after the crowd cheered loudly when he was introduced and kept up the "Zeke" calls while he made his trademark feed-me gesture after first downs. His biggest play was a 30-yard catch-and-run, easily the most open field he saw against one of the league's best run defenses a year ago.
Dallas receiver Cole Beasley made a crazy catch in the fourth quarter to keep a drive alive. He got his hand on a wobbly ball as he was approaching the sideline and reached behind his head with his left hand, trapping the ball against his shoulder pads and helmet.
Just like a year ago when the Giants finished 30th in rushing offense, they couldn't help Manning when he was under more pressure than he's been used to in recent years against the Cowboys. Paul Perkins had 16 yards on seven carries as the Giants were outgained 129-35 on the ground.
Cowboys: CB Orlando Scandrick left in the second quarter with a hand injury and didn't return.
Giants: Home against Detroit (1-0) on Monday night next week.
Cowboys: At Denver on Sunday.

Packers beat Seahawks 17-9 to take NFC heavyweight match

A marquee season opener between two NFC heavyweights turned into a defensive slugfest.
The Green Bay Packers - not the menacing Seattle Seahawks - landed the momentum-swinging punch.
Green Bay defensive lineman Mike Daniels' strip sack of Russell Wilson deep in Seattle territory in the third quarter set up Ty Montgomery's 6-yard touchdown run on the next play to spark the Packers' 17-9 win on Sunday.
"This really started with our defense," Green Bay coach Mike McCarthy said. "It starts on the line of scrimmage. We were in the backfield a bunch."
The Packers' Aaron Rodgers was 28 of 42 for 311 yards and added a 32-yard touchdown pass to Jordy Nelson to make it an eight-point game late in the third quarter.
Rodgers' regular-season streak of passes without an interception ended at a career-high 251. The Seahawks defense reinforced by the return of safety Earl Thomas bottled up receivers from making many big plays and put plenty of pressure on Rodgers.
But the Packers started denting Seattle with runs or quick passes to Nelson, Randall Cobb and Montgomery in the second half, chewing up clock in the process. A 12-play, 53-yard drive that took up more than five minutes ended with Mason Crosby's 40-yard field goal with 8:01 left to make it a two-score game.
"That was a great defense that we went against. They're going to keep everybody kind of in front, they're going to make us go the long way," Nelson said.
Green Bay's defense had an even better debut, especially considering how maligned the Packers were against the pass last season.
Seattle managed just three field goals. Wilson was held to 14 of 27 for 158 yards. The Packers held decisive edges in total yardage (370-225) and first downs (26-12). Green Bay held the ball for 39 minutes.
"I was disappointed they were able to be as aggressive up front as they were with their defense," Seattle coach Pete Carroll said.
Seattle cornerback Jeremy Lane was ejected after referee John Parry said he threw a punch during a scrum with Packers receiver Davante Adams.
The tussle occurred around the Packers 30 during a play in which Nazair Jones intercepted Rodgers at 9:26 of the first quarter. It was Rodgers' first interception since Nov. 13, 2016, at Tennessee.
Tensions were already high between the teams early in the game. Rodgers was picking on Lane in the secondary, with Cobb whistled for taunting following a 14-yard gain while being defended by Lane.
Seattle Seahawks defensive end Michael Bennett sat on the bench again during the national anthem. On the other sideline at about the 30, his younger brother Martellus Bennett, a tight end for the Packers, stood at the end of the line next to his teammates, but raised his right fist in the air during the anthem.
Michael Bennett last week released a statement alleging racially motivated excessive force by Las Vegas police.
Seahawks offensive lineman Justin Britt stood next to Bennett again during his anthem protest. Defensive linemen Frank Clark and Cliff Avril each went back to shake hands with Bennett during the anthem and then joined him on the bench.
Also for Green Bay, safety Ha Ha Clinton-Dix helped hold a giant American flag on the field as the anthem was played.
Packers linebacker Ahmad Brooks, who just joined the team last week as a free agent after being cut by the 49ers, left with a concussion. His injury was announced at the start of the third quarter. ... Rodgers appeared to be limping after getting pushed back by a defender in the pocket late in the fourth quarter. He took a few extra seconds to get back to the huddle on a couple plays but did not leave the game.
Seahawks: Host the San Francisco 49ers in home opener on Sept. 17.
Packers: Visit Atlanta Falcons on Sept. 17.

Goff's Rams blast Colts 46-9 in coach McVay's big debut

 Jared Goff passed for a career-high 306 yards and a touchdown in his first victory as an NFL starter, and the Los Angeles Rams routed the Indianapolis Colts 46-9 Sunday in Sean McVay's impressive debut as the youngest head coach in modern league history.
Todd Gurley had 40 yards rushing and 56 yards receiving while the Rams roared to a 37-3 lead in the third quarter. Los Angeles snapped a six-game skid at the Coliseum with its most impressive performance since returning home from St. Louis last year.
Rams linebacker Alec Ogletree celebrated the win with a Gatorade shower for McVay on the sideline in the final minutes.
Los Angeles' defense also excelled against fill-in Colts quarterback Scott TolzienTrumaine Johnson intercepted Tolzien's first pass and returned it 39 yards for a touchdown, while Lamarcus Joyner returned another pick 29 yards for another score in the third quarter.
Tolzien passed for 128 yards in his fourth career NFL start in place of Andrew Luck, who wasn't ready to return from a right shoulder injury.
Indianapolis also played without center Ryan Kelly and top cornerback Vontae Davis, and the Rams thoroughly exploited every absence with an aggressive, exciting performance for a team that finished last season with 11 losses in 12 games.
Goff went 0-7 as a starter last year, but the No. 1 pick in the 2016 draft looked much sharper after an offseason of study under the 31-year-old McVay. Goff went 21 for 29.
The Rams produced their highest-scoring performance since November 2014 in their first game since McVay took over a franchise that went 4-12 in its 13th straight non-winning season and 12th straight non-playoff season.
Rookie Cooper Kupp's first NFL touchdown catch put the Rams up 24-3 in the second quarter. That's a bigger lead than the Rams held at any point over the past two seasons in St. Louis and Los Angeles, when they had the NFL's worst offense.
Jacoby Brissett replaced Tolzien for the fourth quarter and led Indy's only touchdown drive - but Adam Vinatieri, who missed a field goal earlier, missed his first extra point since 2014. Brissett attempted three passes.
New Rams defensive coordinator Wade Phillips' unit also had a memorable debut, throttling the Colts' offense and adding a fourth-quarter safety to its two interception returns for TDs.
All-Pro defensive lineman Aaron Donald missed the first game of his four-year NFL career for the Rams, but he reported to the team Saturday after ending his four-month contract holdout. Donald could play next week if he is physically ready.
Colts: Rookie LB Anthony Walker was ruled out in the first half with a hamstring injury.
Rams: Starting CB Kayvon Webster didn't return after injuring his right shoulder in the second quarter. Rookie CB Dominique Hatfield went to the locker room in the second quarter to be evaluated for a concussion.
Colts: Host Arizona. Luck might not be ready to return until October.
Rams: Host Washington. McVay was Jay Gruden's offensive coordinator with the Redskins for the past three seasons.

Newton throws 2 TDs to lead Panthers past 49ers 23-3

 Cam Newton threw a pair of touchdown passes following San Francisco turnovers and the Carolina defense shut down Kyle Shanahan's offense in his coaching debut as the Panthers beat the 49ers 23-3 Sunday.
Newton threw a 40-yard touchdown pass to Russell Shepardin the first half following a fumble by Brian Hoyer, then a 9-yard touchdown to Jonathan Stewart in the third quarter after Luke Kuechly intercepted Hoyer.
That helped the Panthers get off to a good start in the season opener following last year's disappointing 6-10 finish . Despite the touchdowns, Newton did not look particularly sharp after playing just one series in the preseason as he recovered from surgery to repair a partially torn rotator cuff.
Newton was off-target on numerous throws, including missing a wide-open Ed Dickson in the end zone in the first half. Carolina had to settle for a field goal on that drive. Newton finished 14 for 25 for 171 yards.
Those mistakes didn't matter against a Niners team that didn't look much improved from last year's outfit that tied a franchise worst with 14 losses. That led to the firing of coach Chip Kelly and general manager Trent Baalke.
Shanahan and new GM John Lynch each got six-year contracts to oversee a massive rebuilding job . There is plenty of work to do as San Francisco was held scoreless in the first half of the opener for the first time in 40 years and lost the first game of the year for the first time since 2010. The Niners finished with just 217 yards of offense.
Hoyer had a rough debut for San Francisco, throwing for only 193 yards and committing the two turnovers.
Carolina first-round pick Christian McCaffrey had an up-and-down debut. The former Stanford star gained 45 yards on 13 carries and added five catches for 38 yards. He also lost a fumble in the fourth quarter.
Shanahan went twice on fourth down in the first half and failed. Hoyer was sacked by Thomas Davis on fourth-and-4 from the Carolina 44, and Kyle Juszczyk was stuffed by Star Lotulelei on a fourth-and-1 from the 45. The Panthers turned those short fields into a pair of field goals. San Francisco converted one of two fourth-down attempts in the second half.
The Panthers put heavy pressure on Hoyer and had four sacks, including one by Wes Horton that forced a fumble by Hoyer. Carolina finished second in the NFL last season with 47 sacks.
San Francisco safety Jaquiski Tartt had a wild first half that included a missed tackle on Shepard's touchdown, a personal foul for unnecessary roughness, then an acrobatic interception near the goal line on a deep pass to Kelvin Benjamin.
Niners rookie linebacker Reuben Foster had an impressive debut cut short when he injured his right ankle late in the first quarter. Foster got hurt on a run by McCaffrey and was taken to the locker room on a cart. He returned to the field a few minutes later, but didn't get back in the game. Foster had three tackles and a pass breakup before the injury. Shepard caught his TD on the play after Foster left.
Panthers: Host Buffalo next Sunday.
49ers: Visit Seattle next Sunday.

Wentz, pass rush give Eagles season-opening win vs. Redskins

 Carson Wentz put on a magic act evading pressure, the Philadelphia Eagles' defense ratcheted up its pass rush and the result was the end of a losing streak against the Washington Redskins and a Gatorade bath for coach Doug Pederson.
Behind two touchdowns from Wentz and four sacks of Kirk Cousins, the Eagles beat the Redskins 30-17 on Sunday in a sloppy, mistake-filled season opener between the NFC East rivals.
Wentz threw for 307 yards and also had an interception returned for a touchdown but made fewer errors than Cousins, who was picked off at the goal line and fumbled twice.
Eagles receiver Nelson Agholor, the recipient of a 58-yard TD pass from Wentz after he avoided being sacked by Jonathan Allen and Preston Smith, called the second-year quarterback "a magician."
"I don't know how the guy does it," left tackle Jason Peters said of Wentz, who was 26 of 39. "He's just got a knack for feeling pressure coming and he rolls out of it, he gets out of it and makes a play down the field."
Cousins finished 23 of 40 for 240 yards with an interception and two fumbles, the second of which was forced by Brandon Graham and returned 20 yards for a touchdown by Fletcher Cox in the final minutes, putting the game away.
Cousins had a TD pass to third-down back Chris Thompson, but much of the afternoon was done in by drops and other offensive blunders.
"I think we're better than that up front, better than that at receiver, better than that at quarterback," Redskins coach Jay Gruden said.
The Eagles snapped a five-game skid against the Redskins going back to Sept. 9, 2014, and won at FedEx Field for the first time since 2013.
"We've been talking all week about kind of getting the monkey off our back down here and really against the Redskins," Pederson said. "It was just the old setup on the sideline, and I got the bath. Appreciate it, but a little sticky.
NO RUNNING GAME: Gruden and Pederson avoided the running game, in part because it was having little effect for each team. Cousins, in the second straight season of being franchised by Washington, tied as the Redskins' leading rusher with 30 yards on four carries; they finished with 64. The Eagles had 59 yards on 23 carries, including several handoffs on a clock-draining fourth-quarter drive.
"I think Washington just had a good game plan, but at the end of the day we made enough plays to win," Wentz said.
DARBY DOWN: The Eagles lost cornerback Ronald Darby to what looked like a serious right ankle injury early in the second quarter. Darby's ankle bent the wrong way as he was running in coverage with Washington tight end Jordan Reed, and he was carted off.
Pederson said Darby would be evaluated when the team returns to Philadelphia.
"It's tough because he's playing lights-out, and I want him to be a part of this party we're about to have on this field," Graham said. "I'm hoping it's nothing major."
Kicker Caleb Sturgis, who made three field goals, was injured late in the game, which led Pederson to go for two after the Eagles' final touchdown.
PICK-SIX TIMES THREE: When Redskins linebacker Kerrigan picked off Wentz and returned it 24 yards for a touchdown, he added to his unique career history with interceptions. All three times Kerrigan has had an interception in the NFL, he has returned it for a touchdown. This was his first since 2012.
NO DOCTSON IMPACT: Despite going into the game as a projected starter , Redskins 2016 first-round pick Josh Doctson was a limited part of the game plan with no targets as Ryan Grant filled in as the third receiver. After missing almost all of his rookie season with sore Achilles tendons, Doctson was bothered by a sore hamstring during the preseason, but was full go in practice this week, but Gruden said the Redskins were easing him back in.
Eagles: Visit the Kansas City Chiefs, who upset New England on Thursday night.
Redskins: Visit former offensive coordinator Sean McVay and the Los Angeles Rams.

Carr, Raiders edge out Titans yet again 26-16

 Derek Carr showed the advantage of having a year of experience and a better supporting cast in a season opener pitting two of the NFL's rising, young quarterbacks.
Carr threw for 262 yards and two touchdowns, and Oakland beat Tennessee 26-16 to give Carr his third straight win over Marcus Mariota and his Titans in as many years.
"It was fun to be back out," Carr said.
Amari Cooper caught a TD pass as the Raiders made the Titans pay for opening the season with an onside kick they couldn't recover.
Marshawn Lynch also looked very refreshed after his year away from football. Lynch finished with 18 carries for 76 yards - 10 in the fourth quarter.
"We're one for one with that," Raiders coach Jack Del Rio said of using Lynch late. "And that's the idea to be able to close these things, and we did that very well."
Giorgio Tavecchio kicked field goals of 20, 52, 52 and 43 yards in his NFL debut. He was signed Friday to fill in for the Raiders' all-time leading scorer and 18-year veteran Sebastian Janikowski, who's on injured reserve with a bad back.
Both Carr and Mariota broke their right leg hours apart on Christmas Eve for season-ending injuries. Carr finished his third season by tying Ezekiel Elliott of Dallas for third in voting for the AP MVP award after leading Oakland to a 12-4 season, while Mariota led the Titans to a 9-7 mark in just his second season.
Mariota looked healthy in running for a 10-yard TD and threw for 256 yards.
While Mariota was healthy for training camp, the Titans' top offseason additions of rookie wide receiver Corey Davis and veteran Eric Decker weren't. The Titans had to settle for a pair of Ryan Succop field goals after driving inside the Oakland 10.
"When you play against a good team like Oakland, you have to hit on all cylinders, and unfortunately we didn't make enough plays," Mariota said.
The Titans became the first team since 2009 to open a season with an onside kick. The Minnesota Vikings were the previous, and they also didn't recover the kick. Ryan Succop's kick went to Shalom Luani. Carr completed three passes, Lynch rumbled 14 yards on his first carry, and Cooper finished the drive with an 8-yard TD catch for a quick 7-0 lead .
Titans coach Mike Mularkey defended his decision to open with an onside kick, saying he wanted the ball for his offense. No, he didn't second-guess himself. "Not for a second," Mularkey said.
Lynch took the first carry of the game for Oakland and rumbled right over Pro Bowl defensive lineman Jurrell Casey on the Raiders' final scoring drive on one of his six rushes to set up the clinching field goal.
Lynch accidentally interrupted Del Rio's postgame interview and told a team official he had been available for three minutes. "They didn't holler at me. I'm good right?" Lynch said to laughter before closing the door and leaving.
After Lynch picked up a first down on fourth-and-1 inside the Titans 5, the Raiders didn't give him the ball again with Carr throwing three straight passes to Cooper.
The wide receiver dropped the first, Titans rookie Adoree Jackson got a hand in breaking up the second and Titans linebacker Brian Orakpo got his right fingers on the third that Cooper couldn't pull in at the back of the end zone.
Carr complimented Jackson's play while also blaming himself for not making better throws. "I'm completely fine with saying I screwed up," Carr said. "I did a couple times. It always happens in a Week 1, but when you win you can sit back and realize that we could've had so much more."
The Raiders led the NFL in 2016 in the fewest sacks allowed and went 10 games allowing one sack or fewer. The Titans sacked Carr on back-to-back plays early in the second quarter with Wesley Woodyard, then Derrick Morgan taking the quarterback down. Tennessee didn't get to Carr again.
Raiders: Host Jets.
Titans: Visit Jaguars.

Fournette, strong defense lead Jaguars over Texans 29-7

 Leonard Fournette ran for 100 yards and a touchdown in his NFL debut, and Jacksonville had 10 sacks and forced four turnovers to help the Jaguars to a 29-7 win over the Houston Texans on Sunday.
Blake Bortles threw for 125 yards and a touchdown, Calais Campbell had four sacks and Dante Fowler returned a fumble 53 yards for a score as the Jaguars snapped a six-game skid against Houston.
The Texans hoped to provide a boost to the area ravaged by Hurricane Harvey with a win. Instead, Tom Savage struggled behind a porous line and was benched in favor of rookie Deshaun Watson at halftime with Houston down 19-0.
J.J. Watt returned after missing 13 games last season after back surgery, but injured his finger in the first half and finished with just one tackle.
A 42-yard field goal by Jason Myers made it 3-0 in the first quarter and he added one from 25 yards early in the second.
The Texans punted on their first four possessions, and the fifth one ended when Savage fumbled on a sack by Yannick Ngakoue and the Jaguars recovered the ball.
Fournette, who was the fourth overall pick in this year's draft, added his 1-yard touchdown after that, but the kick failed, leaving Jacksonville up 12-0.
Savage was sacked six times in the first half, playing behind a line without veteran left tackle Duane Brown, who is holding out. The Texans were also without receivers Will Fuller, who has a broken collarbone, and Jaelen Strong, who served a one-game suspension for violating the NFL's substance abuse policy.
Ngakoue picked up the last sack of the half, stripping the ball as he pulled Savage down. Fowler scooped it up and dashed for the score to make it 19-0.
When Houston traded up 13 picks to take Watson 12th overall in this year's draft, many assumed he'd be the starter to open the season. But coach Bill O'Brien insisted he'd back up Savage and raved about the progress of the third-year player.
He had seen enough after Houston's offense failed to move the ball for two quarters during which Savage managed just 62 yards passing and lost two fumbles.
The crowd, who had booed Savage for much of the first half, cheered loudly when Watson, who led Clemson to a national title last season, trotted onto the field for the second half.
He didn't waste any time getting going, throwing a 4-yard touchdown pass to DeAndre Hopkins on his first drive to cut the lead to 19-7 early in the third quarter.
Tommy Bohanon grabbed a 1-yard TD pass from Bortles after that to extend Jacksonville's lead to 26-7.
The Texans coughed it up again late in the third quarter when Watson fumbled on a sack by Fowler and Ngakoue recovered it.
Houston was driving late in the fourth quarter when Watson turned it over again on an interception by Tashaun Gipson, who returned it 67 yards. The Jaguars added a field goal after that to make it 29-7.
Houston linebacker Brian Cushing, tight ends Ryan Griffin and C.J. Fiedorowicz and receiver Bruce Ellington all left the game with concussions. Jaguars receiver Allen Robinson injured his left knee in the first quarter and didn't return.
Jaguars: Host Tennessee on Sunday.
Texans: Face a quick turnaround with a trip to Cincinnati on Thursday.

Stafford's 4 TDs lift Lions to 35-23 win over Cardinals

Matthew Stafford was forced to play defense on his first play of the season, and failed to stop an opponent from scoring after he threw an interception.
Like the rest of the Detroit Lions, he knows how to bounce back.
Stafford threw two of his four touchdown passes to rookie Kenny Golladay in the fourth quarter, helping Detroit rally to beat the Arizona Cardinals 35-23 on Sunday.
"We just have to get out of our own way earlier," Stafford said.
Detroit got in the way of a few of Carson Palmer's passes.
Palmer was picked off three times and one of his interceptions was returned by Miles Killebrew for a score in the fourth quarter. To make matters worse for the Cardinals, star running back David Johnson was knocked out of the game after fumbling in the third quarter.
"You're not going to beat anybody turning the ball over that many times," Arizona coach Bruce Arians said.
Detroit opened the season with another comeback after setting an NFL record last year by rallying to win eight games after trailing in the final quarter.
The Cardinals scored the first 10 points of the game and led 17-9 late in the third quarter before giving up 26 straight points.
"We played pretty well for three quarters, but that's a good team," safety Tyrann Mathieu said. "And, it is always going to be tough to stop them for 60 minutes. "
Stafford's first pass was returned 82 yards for a touchdown by Justin Bethel , but the player with the richest contract in the NFL was undeterred. He was 29 for 41 yards for 292 yards and threw 45- and 10-yard TD passes to Golladay , along with short passes to Theo Riddick and Marvin Jones for scores.
Palmer was 27 of 48 for 269 yards with three interceptions, one shy of his career high, and threw a 1-yard TD pass to J.J. Nelson in the final minutes. Johnson, who led the league with 2,118 yards from scrimmage and 20 touchdowns last season, was limited to 23 yards rushing on 11 carries and had six receptions for 68 yards.
Golladay ran past Bethel and fully extended to catch a long TD pass with 4:13 left in the game, putting Detroit up by 11 points.
"That's a receiver's dream," he said. "The quarterback leads you and you get a chance to lay out and make a play. You just focus on getting your hands under the ball and bringing it in."
The Lions botched their first extra point as holder Jake Rudock bobbled the snap and ended up running. That was one of their many miscues in a sloppy first half.
"It was not a fake," Detroit coach Jim Caldwell said. "There weren't too many things that happened in the early part of the game were fake. You wished they were."
Cardinals: Johnson left with a wrist injury and Arians didn't have an update on his condition. Early in the game, starting left tackle D.J. Humphries left the game with a knee injury.
Lions: Kasey Redfern's NFL debut didn't last long and his season may be over after he had what Caldwell described as a significant injury. The punter, filling in for injured Sam Martin, hurt his knee in the first quarter when he dropped a snap in the end zone, picked up the ball and tried to run it out. Placekicker Matt Praterpunted the next four times for Detroit, marking the first time he has done that since he was a junior at Central Florida.
"I practice a little, but after all these years, I never really thought it was going to happen," Prater said. "When I saw them load Kasey onto a golf cart and drive him away, I realized it was about to happen."
Cardinals: Play at Indianapolis on Sept. 17.
Lions: Visit New York Giants on Sept. 18.

Brown's clutch catch gives Steelers 21-18 win over Cleveland

For Pittsburgh's first road game, Antonio Brown wore a bow tie and purple and black suit embroidered with fire-breathing gold dragons. He completed his outlandish outfit with ruby red-sequined sneakers.
The flashy look was both dazzling and jaw-dropping - just like Brown's game.
The All-Pro wide receiver made a crucial, leaping catch with less than three minutes left and Ben Roethlisberger threw two touchdown passes to tight end Jesse James as the Steelers, with minimal help from Le'Veon Bell, opened the season by holding off the Cleveland Browns 21-18 on Sunday.
Roethlisberger improved to 21-2 in his career against the Browns, who led by rookie quarterback DeShone Kizer gave their rivals all they could handle - a positive sign for coach Hue Jackson and Cleveland fans after a horrid 1-15 season.
But the Browns couldn't stop Brown. With the Steelers clinging to their 3-point lead, he somehow caught and held onto Roethlisberger's throw in traffic for a 38-yard gain with 2:26 left to seal Pittsburgh's win. Brown finished with 11 receptions for 182 yards.
"I've watched him make unbelievable plays like that from the stands," said Steelers rookie running back James Conner, who played at Pitt and grew up rooting for Pittsburgh. "So to be out there with him when he does it is crazy. He's an amazing football player."
Kizer, who ran for a TD and threw a scoring a scoring in an impressive debut, had pulled the Browns within three on a 3-yard TD pass to Corey Coleman followed by a 2-point conversion with 3:36 left.
With Pittsburgh needing a big play, Brown delivered one - as usual.
Roethlisberger rolled left to buy some time and lobbed his deep pass near Pittsburgh's sideline toward Brown, who went up over defensive back Jason McCourty and hauled in the game's biggest catch. Jackson challenged the call, but it held up after a video review and the Steelers improved to 32-6 against the Browns since 1999.
"It's not our first rodeo," said Roethlisberger, who passes for 263 yards. "I see AB go and I'm going to take that shot. I've got all the trust in the world in him, he's got it in me. I don't think there are any two guys who have worked together more than him and I do.
"So, it's fun to watch him play and be on the same team with him."
The Browns have lost 13 straight openers, but they showed some promise, especially with Kizer and a vastly improved defense that played well despite not having top overall pick Myles Garrett, who injured his ankle earlier this week.
Bell, who skipped training camp in a contract dispute, ran tentatively and gained just 32 yards on 10 carries. He rejoined his teammates last week and signed his $12.1 million franchise tag, far less than he feels he deserves.
The Steelers sacked Kizer seven times, two by rookie T.J. Watt, the younger brother of Houston star J.J. Watt. The first-round pick also had an interception in a memorable debut.
With the Browns driving late in the third, Watt picked off Kizer.
"I was dropping back in coverage and it came right to me," Watt said. "Once I caught it, I just tried not to fumble it."
Steelers CB Joe Haden began the day looking for the visitors' locker room. He ended it holding the game ball.
Released recently by Cleveland, Haden faced the team he played with for seven seasons. He exchanged jerseys with Browns LB Christian Kirksey at midfield following the game and got some good-natured kidding by his new teammates for finally winning an opener.
Haden said he doesn't hold a grudge with Jackson.
"Me and the coach have a really good relationship. "It's strong."
In a show of unity, the Browns ran from their tunnel and onto the field before the game accompanied by Cleveland police officers, firefighters, military personnel and emergency workers.
After being criticized for kneeling in prayer during the national anthem before an exhibition, several Browns players, who felt their gesture had been misinterpreted, met with owners Dee and Jimmy Haslam to discuss ways to help Cleveland - and the nation - heal during a time of division. As part of better connecting to the community, the Browns asked to be joined by the public servants.
They all stood together for the national anthem and were joined on the sideline by the Haslams and Cleveland police chief Calvin Williams.
"We love our police department and our military and everything they do for us, and we respect what they do," Jackson said. "We showed that today, and we showed that we are all together in this."
Steelers: Host Minnesota on Sunday.
Browns: Travel to Baltimore on Sunday.