ARLINGTON, Texas — Despite losing star receiver Tyreek Hill early, Patrick Mahomes threw for 378 yards and three touchdowns while leading the Kansas City Chiefs to a testy and tactful 40-26 victory over the injury-riddled Jacksonville Jaguars on Sunday.
Mahomes took a beating and even had to leave the game to get his left ankle taped in the second quarter. He nonetheless looked every bit as good as he did during last year’s MVP campaign, leading the Chiefs to scores on each of their first seven possessions.
Jacksonville lost quarterback Nick Foles to a broken left clavicle.
Sammy Watkins caught nine passes for a career-high 198 yards and three TDs. Watkins slipped through the middle of Jacksonville’s defense for a 68-yard score on the third play of the season and added a 49-yard TD reception late in the opening quarter. He made defenders Ronnie Harrison, Jalen Ramsey and Miles Jack look silly while strolling into the end zone twice. He beat Ramsey again for a short TD in the fourth period.
Jacksonville had major issues on both sides of the ball, fairly reminiscent of last year’s 16-point loss at Arrowhead Stadium in Week 5. This one may have been more of a debacle — and more costly.
Mahomes picked apart what some believed is an elite defense, throwing for 313 yards in the first half and doing most of it without Hill. The three-time Pro Bowler departed after landing on his left shoulder near the sideline.
But considerably more concerning for the Jaguars, they lost Foles in the opening quarter, and rookie linebacker Quincy Williams (knee) in the second half.
Chris Jones hit Foles as he released a 35-yard TD pass to DJ Chark. Jones landed on top of Foles, but did not draw a flag. Foles looked to be in pain as he walked to the sideline to be evaluated. He then jogged into the locker room and did not return.
LIONS 31, CARDINALS 31
GLENDALE, Ariz. — Kyler Murray and the Cardinals nearly finished an improbable comeback in the rookie’s debut, rallying from an 18-point deficit in the fourth quarter to tie the game.
The Cardinals had two chances to win in extra time and so did the Lions, but all they could do was trade field goals and settle for a 27-27 tie.
It was a strange ending to a thrilling game.
Arizona’s new-look offense under first-year coach Kliff Kingsbury was a dud for most of the afternoon before inexplicably coming alive in the fourth quarter. Murray hit David Johnson for a 27-yard touchdown to pull the Cardinals within 24-16 with less than six minutes remaining.
After the defense stopped the Lions, the top overall draft pick was at it again, leading a nine-play, 60-yard drive to a 4-yard touchdown throw to Larry Fitzgerald. Murray found Christian Kirk on the 2-point conversion to tie it with 43 seconds remaining.
Murray was 15 of 19 for 154 yards and two touchdowns during the fourth-quarter comeback. Overall, he was 29 of 54 or 308 yards, two touchdowns and an interception.
It was a stunning collapse for Detroit, which looked totally in control until midway through the fourth period. The Lions took a 17-0 lead during the second quarter and had a 17-3 advantage at halftime.
TITANS 43, BROWNS 13
CLEVELAND — Marcus Mariota threw three touchdown passes — one a stunning 75-yarder to big back Derrick Henry — and the Browns fell flat on their faces in their highly anticipated opener.
Titans tight end Delanie Walker had two TD catches in the fourth, and Tennessee’s defensive backs intercepted Baker Mayfield three times in the fourth period.
Cameron Wake sacked Mayfield in the end zone for a safety in the first half, and the Titans dominated the undisciplined and perhaps overblown Browns, picked by some to contend for a Super Bowl title after adding Odell Beckham Jr. The Browns committed 18 penalties for 182 yards, a poor reflection on first-year coach Freddie Kitchens. Cleveland also had a player ejected for kicking a Titans defender.
The Browns are 1-19-1 in openers since 1999.
Mariota finished 14 of 24 for 248 yards, completing his two scoring passes to Walker in a span of 3:29 of the final quarter when the Titans opened a 23-point lead.
RAVENS 59, DOLPHINS 10
MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. —Lamar Jackson looked unstoppable from the start and tied a franchise record with five touchdown passes to help the Ravens humiliate the Dolphins and rookie coach Brian Flores.
The Ravens set a franchise record for points in the first half, and an NFL record for points in the first half of an opener, taking a 42-10 lead at the break. They broke franchise marks for points and total yards with 643.
Baltimore gained 49 yards on the first play — a run by newcomer Mark Ingram — and hardly slowed down after that. Jeers began when the score reached 14-0, evidence of the impending avalanche already obvious.
Jackson’s first nine passes, all completions, went for 204 yards and four touchdowns. That included scores of 47 and 83 yards to first-round draft pick Marquise Brown in the first 11 minutes.
Jackson’s other touchdown passes covered 33 yards to Willie Snead, 5 yards to rookie Miles Boykin and 1 yard to fullback Patrick Ricard. The performance was a big step forward for the Ravens in their transition from Joe Flacco to Jackson, who went 17 for 20 for 324 yards.
Flores can take small consolation that a drubbing by Baltimore is nothing new. The Ravens have outscored the Dolphins 137-16 in three meetings since 2016.
RAMS 30, PANTHERS 27
CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Malcolm Brown ran for a pair of scores and Jared Goff threw for 186 yards and a touchdown.
Todd Gurley started and ran for 97 yards on 14 carries after being limited to 8 yards rushing on five carries in the first half. Brown was the primary ball carrier for the better part of three quarters and finished with 53 yards on 11 carries.
Christian McCaffrey led the Panthers with 209 yards from scrimmage and two touchdowns.
It was a rough day for Cam Newton, playing in his first regular-season game since Dec. 17, when a lingering shoulder injury forced him to the sideline. Newton completed 25 of 38 passes for 239 yards, but had a costly backward pass that resulted in a fumble deep in Carolina territory, and a fourth-quarter interception. He rarely threw deep downfield.
It’s pretty clear the Rams weren’t going to overload Gurley in the first game of the season. Gurley, who suffered from knee soreness late last season, split carries with Brown. Brown, a fourth-year running back, saw all of the goal-line carries, including scoring on a 5-yard touchdown run .
EAGLES 32, REDSKINS 27
PHILADELPHIA — Carson Wentz threw a pair of deep touchdown passes to DeSean Jackson, and the Eagles overcame a 17-point deficit. Wentz was 28 of 39 for 313 yards and three TDs in his first game since Week 14 after not taking a snap in the preseason. Jackson had eight catches for 154 yards. The Eagles racked up 436 total yards.
Case Keenum threw for 380 yards and three TDs, helping the Redskins build a 17-0 lead in his first start with his fourth team in four seasons. But Philadelphia’s high-powered offense took over and the defense settled down after a sloppy start.
Playing his first game back in Philadelphia since former Eagles coach Chip Kelly cut him following his third Pro Bowl season in 2013, Jackson picked up where he left off six years ago and showed no signs of slowing down at age 32.
Jackson blew past the defense on a third-and-10 in the third quarter, caught Wentz’s pass inside the 10 and strolled into the end zone to give the Eagles a 21-20 lead. The 53-yard TD reception was Jackson’s second of 50-plus yards in the game and the 31st of his career. Only Hall of Famer Jerry Rice had more at 36.
Zach Ertz caught a 26-yard pass to set up Alshon Jeffery’s first career rushing score on the first play of the fourth quarter. Jeffery caught a backward pass from Wentz and fought his way into the end zone. Darren Sproles ran in for the 2-point conversion to extend the lead to 29-20.
VIKINGS 28, FALCONS 12
MINNEAPOLIS — Anthony Harris highlighted a thorough thrashing by Minnesota’s defense with two interceptions of Matt Ryan and a fumble recovery.
Dalvin Cook carried a revived running attack, while Eric Wilson recovered his own blocked punt at the Atlanta 21-yard line on the first possession of the game, and the Vikings were well on their way to winning a fourth straight opener. Including the blocked punt, their first in five years, they turned all four Falcons turnovers into touchdowns.
Kirk Cousins connected with Adam Thielen for a 23-yard score to finish the short first drive and crossed the goal line on a 1-yard sneak in the second quarter to cap a 79-yard march to give Minnesota a 21-0 lead. Cousins went 8 for 10 for 98 yards, all career lows for games he started, but there was no need for more.
Cook had 21 rushes for 111 yards and two touchdowns behind the new zone-blocking scheme influenced heavily by new offensive adviser Gary Kubiak, the former Houston and Denver head coach. Cousins averaged 38 attempts per game in his first season with the Vikings, and much to head coach Mike Zimmer’s chagrin they finished with the third-fewest rushing yards in the NFL. The new system directed by offensive coordinator Kevin Stefanski and the favorable field position shifted the numbers hard the other way.
Ryan played more like a rookie than a 2016 league MVP beginning his 12th NFL season, unable to find his footing all afternoon in the face of a fierce pass rush that racked up four sacks.
BILLS 17, JETS 16
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — Josh Allen threw a 38-yard touchdown pass to John Brown with 3 minutes left, and the Bills rallied from a 16-point second-half deficit.
After struggling to get much going on offense, the Bills finally were able to move the ball after Jets middle linebacker C.J. Mosley left with a groin injury.
Buffalo also took advantage of kicking woes by the Jets as Kaare Vedvik, claimed last week off waivers from Minnesota, missed an extra point and a 45-yard field goal and ended up being the difference in the game.
Le’Veon Bell caught a touchdown pass and had a 2-point conversion in his Jets debut, and Jamison Crowder had 14 catches for 99 yards in his first game with his new team — but Adam Gase’s offense otherwise sputtered behind a line that gave Sam Darnold little time to throw.
Allen finished 24 of 37 for 254 yards and a touchdown, and had one of his two interceptions returned 17 yards for a touchdown by Mosley. Brown caught seven passes for 123 yards.
Darnold was 28 of 41 for 175 yards and the TD to Bell, who ran for 60 yards on 17 carries. The running back, who sat out all last season in a contract dispute with Pittsburgh, also caught six passes for 32 yards.
CHARGERS 30, COLTS 24, OT
CARSON, Calif. — Austin Ekeler scored three touchdowns, including the winner on a 7-yard run with 5:01 remaining in overtime.
The Chargers got the ball to start overtime and went 75 yards on eight plays. Ekeler, the Chargers’ lead back with Melvin Gordon holding out for a new contract, had 154 all-purpose yards on the day. He ran for 58 yards on 10 carries and caught six passes for 96 yards and two scores.
Philip Rivers, who made his 209th consecutive start to pass Peyton Manning for third longest among NFL QBs, completed 25 of 34 passes for 333 yards. It is the fifth time Rivers has thrown three or more TD passes in an opener.
The Chargers led 24-9 midway through the third quarter before allowing 15 straight points to force overtime. Marlon Mack, who had 25 carries for 174 yards, brought the Colts within 24-16 after Ekeler’s second touchdown with a career-long 63-yard scamper up the left sideline.
Indianapolis tied it with 48 seconds remaining when Jacoby Brissett hit T.Y. Hilton for their second scoring connection of the day. Hilton caught the ball at the Chargers 19, made Adrian Phillips miss and then was able to extend the ball over the pylon before going out of bounds.
SEAHAWKS 21, BENGALS 20
SEATTLE — Russell Wilson hit Tyler Lockett for a 44-yard touchdown on the first play of the fourth quarter, and the Seahawks withstood a career day from Andy Dalton.
Wilson and the Seahawks struggled offensively for most of the game, but got the big plays they needed on a day Dalton looked great running new coach Zac Taylor’s offense. Wilson was 14 of 20 for 196 yards and two scores, including a 10-yard TD pass in the first half to Chris Carson, who broke three tackles on his way to the end zone.
Wilson’s numbers were pedestrian compared to Dalton’s. The veteran threw for a career-high 418 yards and two first-half touchdowns to John Ross. But the Bengals failed to score on three possessions inside Seattle’s 36-yard line in the third quarter.
Ross, who had 210 yards receiving all of last season, finished with seven catches for 158 yards. He caught a 33-yard touchdown on a flea-flicker midway through the second quarter and hauled in a 55-yard TD pass with 7 seconds left in the first half after Seattle safety Tedric Thompson misjudged Dalton’s pass.
COWBOYS 35, GIANTS 17
ARLINGTON, Texas — Dak Prescott tied his career high with four touchdown passes while throwing for 405 yards, and the Cowboys rolled up 494 yards.
Saquon Barkley ran 59 yards on his first carry of the season, setting up Eli Manning’s touchdown pass for a 7-0 lead. But the Giants simply couldn’t keep up with a Dallas offense eager to see what could happen at full strength.
As expected, Ezekiel Elliott didn’t seem to be in peak form after spending almost all of training camp trying to stay in shape in Mexico while waiting for the $90 million, six-year contract extension that was settled on the morning of the first full workout of the regular season.
The two-time NFL rushing champion did find a seam for a 10-yard touchdown to put the Cowboys up 35-10 in the third quarter. Elliott finished with 53 yards on 13 carries.
But this going-away win was all about Prescott in his second career 400-yard game, in the first game of his fourth season.
49ers 31, BUCS 17
TAMPA, Fla. — Richard Sherman and Ahkello Witherspoon returned two of a retooled San Francisco defense’s three interceptions of Jameis Winston for touchdowns and Robbie Gould kicked three field goals. Jimmy Garoppolo threw for 166 yards and one touchdown in his first game in nearly a year.
Winston threw for 194 yards to become Tampa Bay’s career passing leader, including a 10-yard scoring pass to Chris Godwin that trimmed a double-digit deficit to 20-14 late in the third quarter. Ultimately, though, the Bucs could not overcome the fifth-year quarterback’s mistakes and dropped their debut under coach Bruce Arians, who was lured out of retirement after Tampa Bay finished 5-11 last season and missed the playoffs for the 11th straight year.
Garoppolo, who missed most of last season with a knee injury, completed 18 of 27 passes with one interception. His 39-yard pass to Richie James Jr. put the 49ers ahead for good early in the second half.
Niners LB Kwon Alexander was penalized 15 yards and ejected for lowering his head to initiate contact on Winston late in the first quarter.