No respite for NFL as injuries strike
Actual football games were supposed to provide some respite for the NFL from off-field headlines created by Ray Rice, Adrian Peterson and drug policies.
Instead, there was a rash of injuries to stars grabbing attention.
Robert Griffin III, Jamaal Charles, A.J. Green, Knowshon Moreno and DeSean Jackson were sidelined Sunday, with Griffin’s injury appearing the most long-term.
RG3 dislocated his left ankle and receiver Jackson sprained his left shoulder in the first quarter. Luckily for Washington, Kirk Cousins came in and threw for 250 yards and two touchdowns in a 41-10 romp past Jacksonville.
Griffin was carted to the locker room with his leg in a splint and could be out for two months. The quarterback will undergo X-rays to determine if the ankle is broken.
“It’s an excruciating pain,” Griffin said. “Anytime you look at your ankle and it’s going in a strange direction, you don’t want to get up.”
Kansas City All-Pro running back Charles left with a left ankle injury in Denver after being brought down in the first quarter. The Broncos won 24-17.
Green aggravated a right toe problem early in Cincinnati’s 24-10 victory over Atlanta. The receiver was blanked for the first time in his three-plus pro seasons.
Moreno hurt his left elbow 11 minutes into Miami’s 29-10 loss at Buffalo. The running back didn’t return.
That’s hardly the kind of weekend the league hoped for after all the negative news generated by the Rice and Peterson cases. Week 2 concludes Monday night with Philadelphia (1-0) at Indianapolis (0-1).
Redskins 41, Jaguars 10
Cousins subbed for Griffin and completed his first 12 passes. Ryan Kerrigan had four of the Redskins’ 10 sacks, and Washington’s defense didn’t allow Jacksonville (0-2) past midfield until the final two minutes of the first half.
Host Washington (1-1) outgained Jacksonville 449-148.
“He’s waited patiently,” coach Jay Gruden said of Cousins, “and now his time is going to come to really take this thing and run with it.”
Broncos 24, Chiefs 17
At Denver, Terrance Knighton batted away Alex Smith’s fourth-and-goal pass to Dwayne Bowe with 15 seconds left to move the Broncos to 2-0.
The Chiefs (0-2) converted 11 of 16 third-down opportunities overall, even without Charles.
“He’s a great player and you do have a number of plays in for him because of that,” coach Andy Reid said.
Peyton Manning was 21 of 26 for 242 yards and three TDs.
Bengals 24, Falcons 10
At Cincinnati, running back Giovani Bernard picked up the depleted offense by running for 90 yards as the Bengals (2-0) won their home opener despite Green’s absence.
Cincinnati also lost tight end Alex Smith (left biceps), right guard Kevin Zeitler (right calf), and Pro Bowl linebacker Vontaze Burfict (pinched nerve in his neck).
“I think the sky is the limit with this offense,” said rookie running back Jeremy Hill, who ran for 74 yards and a touchdown. “Once we get some of those guys back, it’ll be exciting.”
Atlanta (1-1) allowed 472 yards.
Bills 29, Dolphins 10
The Clemson connection was decisive in lifting Buffalo (2-0): C.J. Spiller scored on a 102-yard kickoff return, and rookie receiver Sammy Watkins had a 12-yard touchdown catch.
The Bills rode the momentum of a charged-up crowd in a home opener that celebrated the franchise. The Bills paid tribute to late owner Ralph Wilson, who died in March. On Tuesday, Wilson’s estate reached a “definitive agreement” to sell the team to Terry and Kim Pegula for an NFL-record $1.4 billion.
Miami (1-1) allowed four sacks and had two giveaways.
Bears 28, 49ers 20
A downer for the 49ers (1-1) as they made their regular-season debut at Levi’s Stadium by blowing a 17-0 lead.
Jay Cutler passed for three fourth-quarter touchdowns after much of Chicago’s starting defense went down. The Bears left the game with five key defensive players hurt: cornerbacks Sherrick McManis (quadriceps) and Charles Tillman (triceps), defensive end Trevor Scott (foot), safety Chris Conte (shoulder) and defensive tackle Jeremiah Ratliff (concussion).
Altogether, Cutler threw three TD passes to Brandon Marshall, and also hit Martellus Bennett for the go-ahead score.
Rookie Kyle Fuller made two late interceptions.
Colin Kaepernick threw three interceptions in all and lost a fumble for the Niners (1-1).
Chargers 30, Seahawks 21
At San Diego, Antonio Gates was unstoppable with three touchdown catches. A 21-yarder in the third quarter saw the tight end split two defenders and extend for Philip Rivers’ pass, reaching out with his left hand to gather it in. Flat on his back, made the super catch.
Rivers was 28 of 37 for 284 yards for San Diego (1-1).
Defending Super Bowl champion Seattle (1-1) had the ball for less than 18 minutes.
Cardinals 25, Giants 14
Ted Ginn Jr. ran 71 yards on a punt return for a go-ahead fourth-quarter touchdown for Arizona (2-0), which was without its starting QB.
Playing in a regular-season game for the first time since 2010, Drew Stanton replaced the scratched Carson Palmer and led the Cardinals on three long scoring drives. Arizona won for the ninth time in 11 games.
Jonathan Dwyer scored on a 1-yard run and Chandler Catanzaro kicked four field goals.
Eli Manning threw two touchdowns for the host Giants (0-2), who turned over the ball four times.
Browns 26, Saints 24
At Cleveland, Billy Cundiff kicked a 29-yard field goal with 3 seconds left and the Browns (1-1) snap a nine-game losing streak in home openers.
Rookie coach Mike Pettine’s first NFL win was secured when Brian Hoyer drove the Browns 85 yards in 14 plays in the final 2:46.
The Saints (0-2) took the lead on Mark Ingram’s 1-yard run with 12:12 left. Drew Brees threw two touchdown passes to Jimmy Graham and moved into fourth place on the NFL’s career passing list.
Packers 31, Jets 24
At Green Bay, the Packers (1-1) stormed back from an 18-point hole as Aaron Rodgers threw for three touchdowns. Jordy Nelson had a career-high 209 yards receiving, including an 80-yard TD.
Strangely, New York (1-1) appeared to tie it with about five minutes left on a 37-yard catch by Jeremy Kerley on fourth down. But someone on the sideline had called a timeout just before the snap.
Randall Cobb caught two short scoring strikes and a 2-point conversion for the Pack.
Patriots 30, Vikings 7
At Minneapolis, Tom Brady’s former backup, Matt Cassel, was picked off four times. Chandler Jones returned a field goal he blocked for a touchdown right before halftime, too.
Devin McCourty, Darrelle Revis, Logan Ryan and Dominique Easley all had interceptions, setting up 17 points for the Patriots (1-1).
Star RB Peterson was deactived by the Vikings (1-1) after a charge of child abuse was levied against him Friday in Texas.
Cowboys 26, Titans 10
At Nashville, DeMarco Murray ran for 167 yards and a touchdown and Dan Bailey kicked four field goals to ruin Ken Whisenhunt’s home debut as Titans coach.
Even the beleaguered defense contributed for Dallas (1-1) with two sacks and two interceptions.
The Titans (1-1) had the ball for less than 19 minutes and allowed 26 first down while gaining half that many.
Panthers 24, Lions 7
At Charlotte, Cam Newton was back and threw for 281 yards and a touchdown. Newton, who missed the season opener with a rib injury, was 22 of 34 and overcame five sacks for Carolina (2-0).
Carolina’s defense, playing without Pro Bowl defensive end Greg Hardy, had three takeaways and held the Lions (1-1) scoreless in the first half one week after Matthew Stafford and company put up 35 points against the Giants. Hardy, convicted on two counts of domestic violence on July 15, was a surprise inactive.
Stafford was sacked four times.
Texans 30, Raiders 14
At Oakland, J.J. Watt caught a 1-yard touchdown pass, Arian Foster ran for 138 yards and a score.
Defensive end Watt made his biggest impact on the opening drive as a tight end. He caught a pass from Ryan Fitzpatrick to get Houston (2-0) going.
After losing their final 14 games in a two-win season in 2013, the Texans have opened strong under new coach Bill O’Brien. And the Raiders are 0-2.
Rams 19, Buccaneers 17
At TAMPA, Greg Zuerlein’s fourth field goal, a 38-yarder with 38 seconds remaining, gave the Rams (1-1) a tight win.
Austin Davis completed 22 of 29 passes for 235 yards with no interceptions in his first NFL start. Zac Stacy had a 2-yard touchdown run.
Bobby Rainey rushed for 144 yards and quarterback Josh McCown had two short TD runs for the Bucs (0-2) in a game delayed in the first half by dangerous weather.