ATLANTA (AP) — Matt Ryan and the Atlanta Falcons picked up where they left off against the Green Bay Packers, building a big halftime on the way to a dominating victory Sunday night.
The rematch of last season’s NFC championship game was essentially a repeat: Ryan threw for 252 yards and a touchdown, Devonta Freeman had a couple of scoring runs, and Desmond Trufant raced to the end zone off an attempted pass by Aaron Rodgers that was ruled a fumble, leading the Falcons to a 34-23 victory over the Packers that wasn’t really that close.
Last season, Atlanta earned a trip to the Super Bowl by racing to a 24-0 halftime lead and a 31-0 edge early in the third quarter on the way to a 44-31 blowout of the Packers.
In the first regular-season NFL game at $1.5 billion Mercedes-Benz Stadium, and the first sporting event with in which the facility’s camera lens-like roof was open, the Falcons put on a show to mark the occasion. They were ahead 24-7 at halftime and 31-7 less than a minute into the third period.
Unlike the Super Bowl, Atlanta (2-0) made sure this lead stood up.
After struggling a bit offensively in a season-opening victory at Chicago that was preserved with a goal-line stand in the closing season, the Falcons dominated right from the start in an early showdown for conference supremacy. The Packers (1-1) finally showed a bit of life with a couple of fourth-quarter touchdowns, including Rodgers’ 300th scoring pass.
DOLPHINS 19, CHARGERS 17: CARSON, Calif. (AP) — Cody Parkey hit his fourth field goal from 54 yards with 1:05 to play, and the Miami Dolphins rallied in the fourth quarter to spoil Los Angeles’ home opener.
Younghoe Koo missed a 44-yard field goal attempt with 5 seconds left after Philip Rivers maneuvered the Chargers (0-2) into scoring range in the final minute before a crowd of 25,381 in their first home game since relocating to the Los Angeles area after 56 seasons in San Diego.
Jay Cutler passed for 230 yards and Jay Ajayi rushed for 122 in the delayed season opener for the Dolphins, who spent the past nine days in California after leaving South Florida early to avoid Hurricane Irma. Parkey did most of their scoring, connecting from 30, 28 and 35 yards before burying his longest kick in the waning moments.
PATRIOTS 36, SAINTS 20: NEW ORLEANS (AP) — Bouncing back with a vengeance from a season-opening loss, Tom Brady threw three touchdown passes in the first quarter for the first time in his career and eclipsed 300 yards passing in the first half for only the second time.
Brady’s maiden Super Bowl triumph in the Superdome back in February 2002 is bound to be one of his fondest memories. But the 18-year veteran looked like a superior QB in his latest visit. He finished 30 of 39 for 447 yards without an interception — at least not one that counted. Saints defenders caught Brady’s passes twice, but both plays were wiped out by New Orleans penalties.
BRONCOS 42, COWBOYS 17: DENVER (AP) — Trevor Siemian tied a career high with four touchdown passes and Denver held Ezekiel Elliott to the worst game of his career — 8 yards on nine carries — in a game that included an hour-long lightning delay.
Aqib Talib’s 103-yard interception return for a touchdown with 53 seconds left was the final indignity for the Cowboys (1-1), who watched Von Miller end a career-long five-game sackless streak by dumping Dak Prescott twice.
REDSKINS 27, RAMS 20: LOS ANGELES (AP) — Kirk Cousins threw an 11-yard touchdown pass to Ryan Grant with 1:49 to play to give the Redskins the victory against their former assistant coach, Rams and rookie head coach Sean McVay.
Cousins capped the winning 70-yard drive by finding Grant in the front left corner of the end zone.
The Rams (1-1) had tied the game at 20 on Greg Zuerlein’s 40-yard field goal with 7:16 to play. It was set up on a trick play, when punter Johnny Hekker completed a 28-yard pass to Josh Reynolds to the Washington 17. But two penalties stalled the drive and the Rams had to settle for the field goal.
CHIEFS 27, EAGLES 20: KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Chiefs rookie Kareem Hunt reached the end zone twice, Travis Kelce took a shovel pass 15 yards for the go-ahead touchdown and Kansas City held on.
Kelce’s touchdown catch with 6:25 left and Hunt’s second TD scamper appeared to have put the game away.
But Carson Wentz hit Nelson Agholor for an answering score with 14 seconds left, and Trey Burton jumped on the onside kick a few seconds later to give the Eagles one last throw to the end zone.
Wentz unloaded from just inside the 50-yard line, but his pass fell incomplete as time expired.
Kelce finished with 103 yards through the air, highlighted by his somersaulting score. Hunt had 81 yards on the ground, building on a record-setting debut in which he piled up 246 yards from scrimmage in a season-opening victory in New England .
CARDINALS 16, COLTS 13, OT: INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Carson Palmer’s late rally got the Cardinals into overtime and Tyrann Mathieu’s interception set up Phil Dawson for a 30-yard field goal to win it.
Dawson made the most of his second chance after pushing a 42-yarder wide right as regulation time expired.
Coach Bruce Arians won his 42nd career game and tied Don Coryell for the second-most wins in Cardinals history on the same field he called home when he won his first NFL Coach of the Year award in 2012 as an interim for the ill Chuck Pagano.
STEELERS 26, VIKINGS 9: PITTSBURGH (AP) — Ben Roethlisberger threw a pair of first-half touchdown passes, Le’Veon Bell ran for 87 yards and the Steelers kept Minnesota in check.
Roethlisberger hit Martavis Bryant for a 27-yard score in the first quarter and flipped a shovel pass to JuJu Smith-Schuster that the rookie turned into a 4-yard score. Roethlisberger finished 23 of 35 for 243 yards and the two scores as the Steelers (2-0) improved to 10-1 in home openers under Mike Tomlin.
BUCCANEERS 29, BEARS 7: TAMPA, Fla. (AP) — Jameis Winston threw for 204 yards and one touchdown, helping the Buccaneers return from an unscheduled bye week forced by Hurricane Irma.
The defense stymied former teammate Mike Glennon with four takeaways. Robert McClain returned one of the quarterback’s two interceptions for a TD, and the Bucs didn’t let the Bears into the end zone until Deonte Thompson scored on a 14-yard reception with 1:43 remaining.
The Bucs (1-0) dominated despite having a short week of practice following the massive storm that forced postponement of the team’s scheduled season opener at Miami. Winston completed 18 of 30 passes without an interception. He threw a 13-yard TD pass to Mike Evans, who had seven catches for 93 yards.
Glennon, who signed with Chicago as a free agent last winter, was 31 of 45 for 301 yards and two interceptions in his return to Raymond James Stadium. The Bears (0-2) finished with 310 yards total offense, 1 yard less than a Bucs offense that hasn’t had much work in the past month.
RAVENS 24, BROWNS 10: BALTIMORE (AP) — Baltimore relentlessly harassed two Cleveland quarterbacks, Joe Flacco ramped up his production with a pair of touchdown passes and the Ravens breezed.
Building on their season-opening shutout at Cincinnati, the Ravens picked off four passes and forced a fumble, giving them 10 takeaways in two games.
Most of the defense’s damage came against Browns rookie quarterback DeShone Kizer, who left with a migraine headache in the second quarter after four ineffective series: a three-and-out, a lost fumble, an interception and a punt.
TITANS 37, JAGUARS 16: JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (AP) — Derrick Henry, Delanie Walker and Jalston Fowler each ran for touchdowns, and the Titans dominated the Jaguars.
The result was probably more indicative of what to expect from the AFC South rivals than what each showed in their season openers.
Henry finished with a career-high 92 yards on the ground for the Titans (1-1), including 87 in the final two quarters. Starting running back DeMarco Murray spent much of the second half standing on the sideline and wearing a baseball cap backward, seemingly uninjured. There was no need to risk him in this one, the third consecutive lopsided score in the series.
PANTHERS 9, BILLS 3: CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — Carolina’s defense allowed only three points for the second straight week, and Graham Gano converted three field goals.
The Panthers (2-0) held Tyrod Taylor and LeSean McCoy in check all day, limiting the Bills (1-1) to 176 yards and 10 first downs. McCoy had 9 yards on 12 carries and Taylor had 125 yards passing. The Panthers had three sacks, two by Julius Peppers in his first home game since re-signing with them.