NFL roundup: Bills stun Vikings; Lions top Patriots
MINNEAPOLIS — Josh Allen played with the poise of a well-seasoned quarterback for the Buffalo Bills by accounting for three touchdowns in his first road start in the NFL. Allen made Minnesota’s Kirk Cousins look like the raw rookie in a stunning 27-6 upset of the Vikings on Sunday.
Cousins had three turnovers, including a lost fumble on a third-down sack inside Minnesota’s 20-yard line, on each of the first two possessions. Buffalo turned those recoveries into 10 points and was on cruise control by midway through the second quarter as the crowd at U.S. Bank Stadium cranked up the boos.
The Vikings (1-1-1) were 16½-point favorites when the game began, allowing the Bills (1-2) to become only the sixth such underdog in the NFL’s last 81 point spreads that big. After being outscored 75-9 over their first six quarters of the season, the Bills have enjoyed a 41-9 advantage over the last six periods.
Allen, the seventh overall pick in the draft out of Wyoming who took the job earlier than expected in relief of a struggling Nathan Peterman in the opener, completed 15 of 22 passes for 196 yards, including a 26-yard touchdown pass to wide-open tight end Jason Croom.
Though Allen took three sacks and fumbled three times, the Bills were able to recover all of them. He settled almost exclusively for safe underneath or sideline throws, but took advantage of several broken coverages by the Vikings for chain-moving gains.
Where Allen did the most damage was on the ground, putting together a mini-highlight film with his feet while injured running back LeSean McCoy watched in team-colored sweats — with a big smile — from the sideline.
LIONS 26, PATRIOTS 10
DETROIT — Matt Patricia beat mentor Bill Belichick, seemingly making all the right moves to help Detroit defeat New England.
The Lions (1-2) suddenly looked like a team with a plan on offense and defense under their first-year coach, and former New England assistant. They opened the season with a 31-point loss to the New York Jets at home and fell short in a comeback at San Francisco.
The Patriots (1-2) have had weaknesses exposed on both sides of the ball, losing two of their first three games for the first time since 2012.
Detroit was in control from the start, creating holes for rookie running back Kerryon Johnson and giving Matthew Stafford time to pass.
Johnson had 101 yards rushing on 16 carries, becoming the first player to reach the mark for the Lions since Reggie Bush ran for 117 yards against Green Bay on Nov. 28, 2013. Detroit’s 70-game stretch without a 100-yard rusher was the longest since the NFL-AFL merger.
SAINTS 43, FALCONS 37, OT
ATLANTA — Drew Brees’ 1-yard run capped an 80-yard touchdown drive to open overtime. Brees’ score came after his apparent 3-yard TD pass to Alvin Kamara was overturned on video review that determined Kamara’s knee was down before the goal line. Brees scored on a keeper on the following play, giving the Saints (2-1) the win on the day the 39-year-old quarterback set the NFL record for career completions.
Brees passed for 396 yards and three touchdowns and ran for two scores. Kamara had 15 catches for 124 yards and ran for 66 yards.
Brees’ biggest play before the winner might have been his improbable 7-yard scoring run with 1:15 remaining that forced overtime. He ran to his left and then spun to avoid tackle attempts by Brian Poole and Robert Alford.
Atlanta’s Matt Ryan had his first career game with five scoring passes, including three to rookie Calvin Ridley. That wasn’t enough for the Falcons (1-2) against the high-scoring Saints, who gained 534 yards.
Ryan passed for 374 yards, including 146 to Ridley, the first Falcons rookie with three scoring catches. Ridley, who had seven receptions, including a 75-yard TD, had his first game with more than one touchdown reception in his first game with at least 100 yards receiving.
EAGLES 20, COLTS 16
PHILADELPHIA — Carson Wentz threw a touchdown pass on his first drive in nine months, then Wendell Smallwood ran in from the 4 for the go-ahead score.
Adam Vinatieri tied Morten Andersen’s career record of 565 field goals by connecting on all three tries, but the Colts (1-2) couldn’t take advantage of two turnovers by Wentz inside the 20 in the second half.
The defending Super Bowl champion Eagles (2-1) needed two defensive stops against Andrew Luck in the final 90 seconds. Indy had a first down at the Eagles 11 and two cracks from the 4, but Luck’s pass to T.Y. Hilton sailed over his shoulder in the left corner of the end zone on third down and Derek Barnett sacked Luck on fourth down.
The Colts got the ball again at their 11 with 39 seconds remaining but couldn’t reach midfield. Jacoby Brissett threw a desperation pass on the final play that fell incomplete.
Playing his first game since he tore two ligaments in his left knee last Dec. 10, Wentz engineered the winning drive with precise passes and nifty moves. Wentz eluded a sack and threw a 10-yard pass to Nelson Agholor, who hurdled for a first down on third-and-9 to extend the drive at the Colts 26.
Four plays later, Smallwood scored to make it 20-16.
Fans welcomed back Wentz with a standing ovation when he ran through the tunnel during introductions.
RAMS 35, CHARGERS 23
LOS ANGELES — Jared Goff passed for 354 yards and three touchdowns, and Todd Gurley rushed for 105 yards and another score, leading the Rams over the Chargers in the franchises’ first meeting since their relocations to Los Angeles.
Cory Littleton blocked a punt in the end zone and Blake Countess recovered for an early touchdown for the Rams (3-0), who racked up 521 yards and remained one of the NFL’s four unbeaten teams.
Two seasons after the Rams kicked off professional football’s return to the nation’s second-largest market after 21 years away, two NFL teams based in Los Angeles met on the field for the first time since Nov. 13, 1994. The teams put on an uncommonly entertaining show for a Coliseum crowd of 68,947 containing a surprisingly significant turnout of Chargers fans, but the Rams’ offensive brilliance kept them ahead all day.
Robert Woods caught two TD passes and Cooper Kupp made a 53-yard scoring catch from Goff, who went 29 for 36 in one of his most impressive pro performances.
Philip Rivers passed for 226 yards and hit Mike Williams with two touchdown passes for the Chargers (1-2), whose two losses have come against the powerhouse Chiefs and Rams without injured pass rusher Joey Bosa. Melvin Gordon rushed for 80 yards and a score.
SEAHAWKS 24, COWBOYS 13
SEATTLE — Russell Wilson threw for two touchdowns in the first half, Chris Carson added a 5-yard TD run in early in the fourth quarter, and the Seahawks avoided an 0-3 start.
Wilson hit Jaron Brown on an 16-yard touchdown early in the second quarter, and later hit Tyler Lockett streaking up the sideline on a 52-yard scoring pass as Seattle (1-2) built a 17-3 halftime lead and cruised past the Cowboys.
The duo of Dak Prescott and Ezekiel Elliott didn’t have the answers against a Seattle defense that had safety Earl Thomas on the field and welcomed back Bobby Wagner after the Seahawks’ defensive leader missed Week 2 with a groin injury. Prescott was intercepted twice by Thomas , including with 3:09 remaining at the Seattle 15 on a deflected pass, with Thomas bowing to the Dallas sideline at the end of the play.
Prescott was sacked five times and Dallas (1-2) had just 58 net yards passing entering the fourth quarter. Elliott had momentary flashes, busting off a few long runs, but they were too infrequent for Dallas’ stagnant offense.
CHIEFS 38, 49ERS 27
KANSAS CITY, Mo. — After winning his first three starts, all away from Arrowhead Stadium, second-year pro Patrick Mahomes finally made his regular-season home debut and torched San Francisco’s banged-up pass defense for 314 yards and three touchdowns. Mahomes now has 13 touchdown passes without an interception, breaking the NFL record for TD passes in the first three weeks of a season. Peyton Manning threw 12 to start the 2013 campaign.
Mahomes’ touchdown passes to Chris Conley, Demetrius Harris and Sammy Watkins , along with a pair of TD runs by Kareem Hunt, helped Kansas City (3-0) race to a 35-7 lead late in the first half.
Few leads are safe against the Chiefs’ porous defense, though.
The 49ers (1-2) rallied behind running backs Matt Breida and Alfred Morris, who kept gouging the Chiefs’ defensive front, and Jimmy Garoppolo, who threw for 251 yards and two scores . It was Garoppolo’s 11-yard pass to Marquis Goodwin early in the third quarter that started the comeback, and Morris scored on a short touchdown run later in the quarter to make it 35-24.
But Garoppolo was injured on a late run and was feared to have his left ACL.
DOLPHINS 28, RAIDERS 20
MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. — Receiver Albert Wilson threw a 52-yard touchdown pass to put the Dolphins ahead midway through the fourth quarter, and then turned a short reception into a 74-yard score that sealed it.
Miami coach Adam Gase used creative play calling to overcome a wave of injuries and penalties, and a 17-minute deficit in time of possession. The Dolphins scored on a pair of shovel passes by Ryan Tannehill that each traveled less than a yard — one on the flip to Wilson, and an earlier similar pass that Jakeem Grant caught before turning the corner for an 18-yard score.
Thanks to all the flashy plays, the Dolphins are 3-0 for only the third time since 1998. The Raiders, led by first-year coach Jon Gruden, are 0-3 for the first time since 2014, when they started 0-10.
Oakland outgained the Dolphins 434-373, and Derek Carr threw for 345 yards. But Xavien Howard intercepted him twice deep in Miami territory, and the Dolphins mounted a first-half goal line stand to stay in the game.
PANTHERS 31, BENGALS 21
CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Cam Newton threw for two touchdowns and ran for two others, while Christian McCaffrey racked up a career-high 184 yards rushing.
Newton completed 15 of 24 passes for 150 yards and ran for 36 yards as the Panthers (2-1) won their seventh straight home game going back to last season.
McCaffrey, who tied a franchise record with 14 receptions last week against Atlanta, did his damage on the ground this time with 28 carries. He surpassed his previous career high of 66 yards rushing and became the first Carolina player with a 100-yard receiving game and a 100-yard rushing game in back-to-back weeks.
Carolina had 230 yards rushing.
Andy Dalton was 29 of 46 with two touchdowns, but was intercepted four times, including twice by rookie cornerback Donte Jackson.
Carolina’s defense, which allowed 432 yards and 31 points to the Falcons last week, held the Bengals (2-1) to 66 yards rushing without Joe Mixon in the lineup.
RAVENS 27, BRONCOS 14
BALTIMORE — Joe Flacco picked apart Denver’s depleted defense for 277 yards and a touchdown. Connecting with eight receivers, Flacco went 25 for 40 without an interception on a rainy afternoon. He threw 28 passes in the first half, when Baltimore (2-1) took control.
The Ravens turned to their defense in the fourth quarter, twice stopping drives inside their 15.
Flacco’s success came against a Denver backfield that began the day without injured cornerback Adam Jones (thigh) and lost cornerback Tramaine Brock (groin) in the first quarter. As a result, rookie Isaac Yiadom saw significant playing time at right cornerback.
Javorious Allen caught a 12-yard touchdown pass and ran for a score for the Ravens.
Denver was coming off two home wins, both by virtue of fourth-quarter comebacks. This time, the Broncos could not rally after Allen’s 1-yard TD run made it 27-14 midway through the third quarter. Denver was inside the Baltimore 5 with 9 minutes left before Case Keenum was intercepted by Patrick Onwuasor, whose 89-yard return for a touchdown was wiped out by a block in the back.
The Ravens took consolation in preventing Denver from getting within a touchdown.
TITANS 9, JAGUARS 6
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Marcus Mariota came off the bench and directed three scoring drives, including one in the fourth quarter. Mariota replaced Blaine Gabbert in the first quarter after Gabbert was knocked out of the game with a concussion.
Mariota sat out last week’s victory against Houston because of an elbow injury sustained in the season opener. He had been experiencing arm weakness along with numbness and tingling in two fingers. The injury affects the velocity and spin he gets on the football. Mariota wore a glove on his injured right hand and was able to do just enough to beat the Jaguars (2-1) for the third straight time and fifth time in the past six meetings.
Mariota completed 12 of 18 passes for 100 yards and ran for 51 more, including a 15-yard gain on a third-and-1 play late.
The Titans (2-1) milked the clock from there and ended up celebrating an early lead in the AFC South.
REDSKINS 31, PACKERS 17
LANDOVER, Md. — Adrian Peterson ran for 120 yards and a pair of 2-yard scores, Alex Smith threw two touchdown passes — all in the first half — and the Redskins held on over a gimpy Aaron Rodgers and the Packers, who again had complaints about a roughing-the-passer penalty on Clay Matthews.
On a rainy afternoon, the Redskins (2-1) moved out to leads of 14-0 and, at halftime, 28-10, by putting together TD drives of 74, 75, 79 and 98 yards. Smith connected for TDs of 46 yards to Paul Richardson on the game’s fourth play and of 9 to Jamison Crowder in the second quarter.
Peterson, who ran 19 times, raised his career total to 102 rushing touchdowns, breaking a tie at 100 with Marshall Faulk and Shaun Alexander and moving him alone into seventh place in NFL history behind Emmitt Smith’s record of 164. This was Peterson’s 52nd game with at least 100 yards on the ground, and first since Nov. 5, 2017, for Arizona against San Francisco.
Playing with a bulky brace on his left knee, which he hurt in Week 1, Rodgers hobbled and limped around, and couldn’t do enough to get the Packers (1-1-1) back into the game. He finished 27 for 44 for 265 yards with two TDs — of 64 yards to Geronimo Allison and 2 yards to Davante Adams — and was sacked four times.
In the third period, Packers linebacker Matthews was flagged for roughing Smith — and there are sure to be more questions about what constitutes a penalty on such plays. Matthews broke in alone on Smith, wrapped him and brought him down with a textbook tackle. Matthews immediately put his arms up and slapped himself in the helmet as the flag was thrown. Packers coach Mike McCarthy threw down a play-calling sheet and argued with two officials about the call, even chasing one along the sideline as he backpedaled away.
GIANTS 27, TEXANS 22
HOUSTON — Eli Manning threw for 297 yards and two touchdowns and rookie Saquon Barkley added a score.
The Giants (1-2) were up by 14 at halftime but had trouble moving the ball in the second half and the Texans (0-3) had cut the lead to five before Manning threw a 7-yard touchdown pass to Sterling Shepard with about two minutes left.
Deshaun Watson threw a 4-yard touchdown pass to Lamar Miller with 1 second left to cut the lead to 27-22, but New York recovered the onside kick.
Watson threw for 385 yards and two scores, but his interception was one of two second-half turnovers by the Texans, off to their worst start since dropping their first four games of 2008.
Odell Beckham Jr., had nine receptions for 109 yards and Barkley finished with 82 yards rushing as the Giants came one point shy of matching their points total from their first two games combined.
BEARS 16, CARDINALS 14
GLENDALE, Ariz. — Cody Parkey kicked his third field goal of the game, a 43-yarder with 4:31 to remaining, to rally the Bears.
Sam Bradford threw two first-quarter touchdown passes to put the Cardinals up 14-0, but was replaced by rookie Josh Rosen after fumbling the ball deep in Chicago territory late in the game.
Rosen, the 10th overall pick in this year’s draft out of UCLA, drew a standing ovation from the Cardinals crowd as he jogged on the field. He drove Arizona past midfield, but on fourth-and-5 from the Bears 45, his pass was intercepted by Bryce Callahan with 1:10 to play.
Arizona got the ball back one more time and the game ended with Rosen sacked by Sherrick McManis, who also had one of two of Bradford’s interceptions.
The Bears (2-1) intercepted three passes and recovered one fumble. Arizona is 0-3 for the first time since 2004.