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(PhatzRadio Sports / USA Today) —- From Week 1 through Week 17, USA TODAY Sports’ NFL staff will be handicapping the race for league MVP.
It’s obviously early, which is why none of our top three finishers in Week 1 — Antonio Brown, Jameis Winston and Drew Brees — even earned a vote in Week 2. A first-place vote is worth five points, a second-place vote is worth three, and a third-place vote is worth one.
Our MVP tracker through Week 2’s games:
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1. QB Ben Roethlisberger, Pittsburgh Steelers (18 points): For all of his accomplishments, he’s spent most of his career operating in the shadows of Peyton Manning and Tom Brady. But right now, Big Ben and his undefeated team are commanding the spotlight. And he leads the NFL with six TD passes through two weeks, the kind of production that should continue to finally cement him as an elite QB and may help him win his first MVP in his 13th season.
2. OLB Von Miller, Denver Broncos (14 points): The reigning Super Bowl MVP has 20 sacks in his last 21 games (including playoffs) and proved to be a closer once again Sunday, when his strip-sack of Andrew Luck led to a game-sealing TD for the 2-0 Broncos.
3. QB Cam Newton, Carolina Panthers (4 points): He’s trying to become the first MVP since Manning in 2009 to win the award in consecutive seasons. Despite taking a beating in Week 1, Newton bounced back with a four-TD effort Sunday and is already reaping the benefits of having WR Kelvin Benjamin back in the lineup.
T4. WR Stefon Diggs, Minnesota Vikings (3 points): The NFL’s receiving leader has 59 more yards than anyone else heading into Week 3. And with RB Adrian Peterson gone for the foreseeable future, Diggs may continue to be the focal point of Minnesota’s offensive attack.
T4. QB Matt Ryan, Atlanta Falcons (3 points): It seems he’s returning to form after appearing to be off his game for most of 2015. Ryan ranks either first or second in passing yards (730), TDs (5) and QB rating (121.4) to date.
Others receiving votes: DeAndre Hopkins (1 point), Philip Rivers (1), DeAngelo Williams (1)
Dropped out: Antonio Brown, Jameis Winston, Drew Brees, Aaron Rodgers
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(PhatzRadio Sports / AP) —- Minnesota Vikings star running back Adrian Peterson left in the third quarter against Green Bay with an injured right knee.
Peterson was injured after a 5-yard run late in the third quarter. He was not able to put any pressure on his leg has he hobbled off the field and needed to be helped back to the locker room for further testing. Upon arriving in the locker room, Peterson was quickly ruled out for the rest of Sunday night.
Peterson tore the ACL in his left knee in the second-to-last game of the 2011 season.
He was on crutches after the game, wearing a brace on his right leg. Coach Mike Zimmer said he was told the injury had “calmed down.”
“He might miss a week. I don’t know if he will or not,” Zimmer said.
Peterson finished the game with just 19 yards on 12 carries against the Packers.
Quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo was knocked out of New England’s game against Miami with a shoulder injury, meaning the highest-profile replacement in the NFL needed a replacement of his own.
Garoppolo — filling in for suspended quarterback Tom Brady — took a big hit from Miami’s Kiko Alonso in the second quarter of the Patriots’ game against the Dolphins on Sunday and left for further evaluation.
The Patriots did not disclose the severity of the injury, but said Garoppolo was ruled out for the rest of the game. The Patriots held on to beat the Dolphins 31-24.
Garoppolo was 18 of 27 passing for 234 yards and three touchdowns in less than a half, as New England rolled to a 24-3 halftime lead. He was replaced by rookie Jacoby Brissett, a South Florida native who found himself facing essentially his hometown team in his pro debut. New England didn’t need another quarterback, but if it did the likely choice figured to be wide receiver Julian Edelman — who played QB in college at Kent State.
There was a very scary scene in the first half of Sunday’s early games as well.
Cornerback P.J. Williams of the New Orleans Saints needed to be placed on a backboard and taken off on a cart after he took multiple blows to the head while trying to make a tackle in his team’s game against the New York Giants. Fox Sports reported that Williams was moving his extremities at a nearby hospital and was being evaluated for a concussion.
Also, Broncos linebacker DeMarcus Ware broke his right forearm early in the third quarter against Indianapolis.
Coach Gary Kubiak said the team will see the extent of the injury on Monday morning and “whether we think it’s something he can play with or something that has to be fixed.”
On the play he was hurt, Ware just missed wrapping up Colts quarterback Andrew Luck and appeared to run into a teammate. He walked off holding his right arm.
The 34-year-old Ware had a half-sack in the game.
In other injuries Sunday:
— Cleveland center Cameron Erving left the Browns’ stadium by ambulance as a precaution, the team said. Erving cramped late in the game and had discomfort in his upper body. The Browns said he’s been diagnosed with a pulmonary contusion and he will remain in the hospital overnight for observation.
— Danny Woodhead left in the first quarter of San Diego’s game against Jacksonville with an apparent right knee injury, and was taken off the sideline on a cart on his way to further evaluation. The Chargers lost Keenan Allen last week, so if Woodhead’s injury is serious then San Diego’s offense would take another hit.
— Colts receiver WR Donte Moncrief left in the second quarter with a head and neck injury. Offensive lineman Denzelle Good left in the fourth quarter with a back injury.
— Tampa Bay tight end Luke Stocker (ankle) left in the first quarter. And after a 1-yard gain on Tampa Bay’s first play of the second quarter, running back Doug Martin left with a hamstring injury. Defensive end Robert Ayers Jr. left with an ankle injury late in the second quarter. Finally, wide receiver Cecil Shorts III left with a hamstring injury in the third quarter.
— Redskins nose tackle Kedric Golston injured his right hamstring on the first play from scrimmage and missed the rest of Washington’s 27-23 loss to Dallas. He was replaced by Ziggy Hood.
— Lions defensive end Ziggy Ansah left in the first quarter against Tennessee with a left ankle injury. Detroit also lost running back Ameer Abdullah and tight end Eric Ebron in that game, one in which the Lions wasted a 15-3 lead and lost 16-15.
— Jaguars left tackle Kelvin Beachum had a concussion late in the third quarter. The stadium was hushed as he was placed on a back board and lifted onto a cart, which drove him off the field.
— Dolphins running back Arian Foster left the game in New England with a groin injury and was ruled out for the second half. Foster was hampered in the week leading up to this game with a hamstring problem, and is coming off surgery to repair his Achilles as well. Miami also lost linebacker Spencer Paysinger in the first half.
— Panthers running back Jonathan Stewart was taken to the locker room after suffering a hamstring injury in the first quarter against the San Francisco 49ers, and was eventually ruled out for the rest of the game. Stewart was replaced by Fozzy Whittaker.
— Houston wide receiver Braxton Miller hurt a hamstring and did not return. He’s expected to be further evaluated on Monday.
Monday, Sept. 19
Philadelphia at Chicago, 8:30 p.m. EDT. The Eagles’ Carson Wentz, the No. 2 overall draft pick, looks to build off an impressive NFL debut in which he threw for 278 yards and two touchdowns in his debut against Cleveland, completing 22 of 37 passes in a turnover-free performance. Jay Cutler and the Bears, meanwhile, will try to avoid an 0-2 start for the second straight season.
— Cam Newton, Panthers, threw for 353 yards and four touchdowns in Carolina’s 46-27 win over San Francisco in its home opener.
— Matt Ryan, Falcons, passed for 396 yards and three scores, helping Atlanta past Oakland 35-28.
— Philip Rivers, Chargers, matched his career high with four touchdown passes, including two to Travis Benjamin, in a 38-14 victory over Jacksonville.
— Eli Manning, Giants, had 368 yards passing with no TDs or turnovers in New York’s 16-13 victory over New Orleans.
— Carson Palmer, Cardinals, tossed three touchdown passes and finished with 308 yards in Arizona’s 40-7 rout of Tampa Bay.
— Dak Prescott, Cowboys, ran for a 6-yard TD and went 22 for 30 for 292 yards, helping Dallas beat the Washington Redskins 27-23.
— Sam Bradford, in his Minnesota debut, completed 22 of 30 passes for 286 yards, two touchdowns and no turnovers to lead the Vikings to a 17-14 victory over the Packers
— Isaiah Crowell, Browns, ran for 133 yards, including an 85-yard touchdown, on 18 carries in Cleveland’s 25-20 loss to Baltimore.
— LeGarrette Blount, Patriots, had 123 yards rushing and a TD to help lead New England past Miami 31-24.
— Fozzy Whitaker, Panthers, rushed for a career-best 100 yards on 16 carries after Jonathan Stewart left with a hamstring injury in a 46-27 win over San Francisco.
— DeAngelo Williams, Steelers, ran for 94 yards on a career-high 32 carries in Pittsburgh’s 24-16 victory over Cincinnati.
— Melvin Gordon, Chargers, had a career-high 102 yards rushing and a score to help San Diego top Jacksonville 38-14.
— Kelvin Benjamin, Panthers, had seven receptions for 108 yards and two touchdowns in Carolina’s 46-27 win over San Francisco, his second game back from ACL surgery that cost him all of 2015.
— Jarvis Landry, Dolphins, caught 10 passes for 137 yards in Miami’s 31-24 loss at New England.
— Travis Benjamin, Chargers, caught six passes for 115 yards and two scores as San Diego topped Jacksonville 38-14.
— Marvin Jones, Lions, had eight catches for 118 yards in Detroit’s 16-15 loss to Tennessee.
— Sterling Shepard, Giants, caught eight passes for 117 yards in New York’s 16-13 win over New Orleans.
— Stefon Diggs, Vikings, caught nine passes for 182 yards and a touchdown in a 17-14 win over Green Bay.
— Tavon Young, Ravens, scooped up the ball after Lawrence Guy got a hand on Patrick Murray’s extra point and returned it for a 2-point defensive conversion in Baltimore’s 25-20 win at Cleveland.
— Greg Zuerlein, Rams, kicked three field goals — the longest a 47-yarder in the fourth quarter — and Los Angeles defeated the Seattle Seahawks 9-3.
— Janoris Jenkins, Giants, returned Johnathan Hankins’ block of a field goal attempt 65 yards for a touchdown in New York’s 16-13 victory over New Orleans. Josh Brown kicked a 23-yard field goal as time expired in his first game after returning from a one-game suspension.
— Nick Novak, Texans, booted field goals of 32, 24, 31 and 43 yards, helping Houston top Kansas City 19-12.
— Von Miller, Broncos, had three sacks, including a sack-strip of Andrew Luck that was recovered by Shane Ray and returned for a touchdown that sealed Denver’s 34-20 win over Indianapolis.
— Marcus Cooper, Cardinals, intercepted two passes and returned one 60 yards for a touchdown in Arizona’s 40-7 rout of Tampa Bay.
— Shaq Thompson, Panthers, scored his first career touchdown when he scooped up Carlos Hyde’s fumble and returned it 9 yards to give Carolina a 7-3 lead in a 46-27 victory.
— Aqib Talib, Broncos, returned an interception 46 yards early in the fourth quarter of Denver’s 34-20 win over Indianapolis.
Victor Cruz, who had a winning fourth-quarter touchdown catch against Dallas last week, hauled in a 34-yard third-down pass from Eli Manning to set up Josh Brown’s winning 23-yard field goal as time expired. The Giants got off to their first 2-0 start since 2009 with a 16-13 win over New Orleans Saints on Sunday. … Indianapolis is off to its third straight 0-2 start after a 34-20 loss at Denver.
New Orleans’ Drew Brees (61,589) threw for 263 yards against the New York Giants and passed Dan Marino (61,361 yards) for No. 3 in NFL history. The Giants’ Eli Manning passed for 368 yards, giving him 44,762 and moving him past Drew Bledsoe (44,611) for 10th place. … Houston’s J.J. Watt finished with 1 1/2 sacks against Kansas City to give him 76 in his 82nd career game. He’s the second fastest in NFL history to reach 75 sacks behind Hall of Famer Reggie White, who did it in 65 games. … Houston rookie receiver Will Fuller finished with four receptions for 104 yards to become the first rookie drafted in the first round with consecutive 100-yard receiving games to start his career. The 21st overall pick in this year’s draft had 107 yards receiving in his NFL debut last week. … Aqib Talib’s interception return for a touchdown in Denver’s 34-20 win over Indianapolis was the ninth score of his career and fifth with the Broncos, a team record.
STREAKS & STATS
New England is 21-1 at home vs. the AFC East since 2009 after beating Miami 31-24. It was the Patriots’ eighth straight home victory over Miami (0-2). … Dallas won for only the second time in its past 16 games without Tony Romo — and both of those victories came at Washington, including a 27-23 win Sunday. … With a 25-20 victory, Baltimore improved to 15-2 against Cleveland under coach John Harbaugh. … Isaiah Crowell’s 85-yard TD run was the second-longest scoring run in Cleveland history, with Bobby Mitchell’s 90-yarder in 1959 the only one to top it. … Jacksonville fell to 2-11 on the West Coast and 0-4 in San Diego. The Jaguars haven’t won on the West Coast since 2004 and have been outscored 260-93 during an eight-game losing streak, falling by double digits in seven of those.
Cleveland took a 20-2 lead against Baltimore, the Browns’ largest lead after one quarter since Dec. 3, 1961, when they led Dallas 21-0 en route to a 38-17 win. But the Ravens rallied back, helped by a returned blocked extra point, and won 25-20. … The usually reliable Stephen Gostkowski missed a 39-yard field goal with 1:08 to play. The 2015 All-Pro was 33 for 36 on field goals last year, making all 17 from 39 yards or closer. Last week, he went 3 for 3 against Arizona.
Jimmy Garoppolo had three touchdown passes before leaving in the second quarter with a right shoulder injury as the New England Patriots outlasted the Miami Dolphins 31-24 on Sunday. Garoppolo was replaced by rookie Jacoby Brissett, who led New England to a touchdown on its first possession of the second half. Brissett was 6 of 9 for 92 yards.
The Los Angeles Rams defeated the Seattle Seahawks 9-3 on Sunday, a game that marked the return of pro football to the nation’s second-largest market for the first time in nearly 22 years. There was an announced crowd of 91,046 on a searing day at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, where the Rams marked the long-awaited occasion by wearing blue-and-gold throwback uniforms for their regular-season home debut.
The expected duel between star wide receivers Antonio Brown and A.J. Green never materialized in Pittsburgh’s 24-16 win over Cincinnati. Brown caught just four passes for 39 yards for the Steelers, and even had a rare drop while running free in the middle of the field in the first half. A week after dominating Darrelle Revis for 12 catches and 180 yards and a touchdown against the Jets, Green had just two receptions for 38 yards.
For the first three quarters, it looked as though Tennessee and Detroit might threaten a 65-year-old NFL record. The Lions finished with 17 penalties for 138 yards, and the Titans were flagged 12 times for 83 yards. The record is 37 penalties by Cleveland (21) and Chicago (16) on Nov. 25, 1951. The Lions and Titans were nearly halfway there after two quarters, having combined for 18. They were at 26 by the end of the third.
In 1937, Detroit was called for only 19 penalties for 139 yards all season — two records that still stand. The Lions nearly reached both of those totals in one game Sunday.
Detroit’s Anquan Boldin had a touchdown catch in the Lions’ 16-15 loss to Tennessee, joining Terrell Owens as the only players in NFL history to have at least 1,000 career receptions and a touchdown catch with four teams. Boldin has played for Arizona, San Francisco, Baltimore and Detroit.
In that same game, Tennessee’s Andre Johnson caught the winning touchdown with 1:13 remaining. He has 1,057 career catches and has a TD reception with three teams (Houston, Indianapolis, Tennessee), joining Boldin, Owens, Jerry Rice and Cris Carter to accomplish the feat.
Tampa Bay held Arizona’s David Johnson to 45 yards rushing in 12 attempts, but he caught three passes for 98 yards. The longest came on a check-down from Carson Palmer, a play that went for 58 yards.
Carolina’s Greg Olsen had a 78-yard touchdown catch and San Francisco’s Vance McDonald had a 75-yarder in the Panthers’ 46-27 win over the 49ers, marking the first game in NFL history in which a tight end on each team had a touchdown catch of at least 75 yards.
Vikings star running back Adrian Peterson limped off in the third quarter of a win over Green Bay with a right knee injury. He had to be helped to the locker room. … New England quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo was knocked out against Miami on Sunday with a shoulder injury, meaning the highest-profile replacement in the NFL needed a replacement of his own. Garoppolo — filling in for suspended quarterback Tom Brady — took a big hit from Miami’s Kiko Alonso in the second quarter of the game against the Dolphins on Sunday and left for further evaluation. The Patriots did not disclose the severity of the injury, but said Garoppolo was ruled out for the rest of the game. The Patriots held on to beat the Dolphins 31-24. … Cornerback P.J. Williams of the New Orleans Saints needed to be placed on a backboard and taken off on a cart after he took multiple blows to the head while trying to make a tackle in his team’s game against the New York Giants. Fox Sports reported that Williams was moving his extremities at a nearby hospital and was being evaluated for a concussion. … Broncos linebacker DeMarcus Ware broke his right forearm early in the third quarter against Indianapolis. Coach Gary Kubiak said the team will see the extent of the injury on Monday morning and “whether we think it’s something he can play with or something that has to be fixed.” … Danny Woodhead left in the first quarter of San Diego’s game against Jacksonville with an apparent right knee injury, and was taken off the sideline on a cart on his way to further evaluation. … After a 1-yard gain on Tampa Bay’s first play of the second quarter, running back Doug Martin left with a hamstring injury. … Cleveland center Cameron Erving left the Browns’ stadium by ambulance as a precaution, the team said. Erving cramped late in the game and had discomfort in his upper body. The Browns said he’s been diagnosed with a pulmonary contusion and he will remain in the hospital overnight for observation. … Lions defensive end Ziggy Ansah left in the first quarter against Tennessee with a left ankle injury. Detroit also lost running back Ameer Abdullah and tight end Eric Ebron in that game, one in which the Lions wasted a 15-3 lead and lost 16-15. … Dolphins running back Arian Foster left the game in New England with a groin injury and was ruled out for the second half. … Panthers running back Jonathan Stewart was taken to the locker room after suffering a hamstring injury in the first quarter against San Francisco.
“Everybody thinks we’re in the morgue or something. We’re not dead, by no means.” — Washington’s Josh Norman on the Redskins’ 0-2 start.
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MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Sam Bradford had a Minnesota debut almost as dazzling as the new $1.1 billion building itself, completing 22 of 30 passes for 286 yards, two touchdowns and no turnovers to lead the Vikings to a 17-14 victory over the Green Bay Packers on Sunday night.
The defense did the rest, sacking Aaron Rodgers five times and producing two turnovers in the fourth quarter that quashed the comeback and sent the crowd of 66,813 into a deafening frenzy in celebration of first regular-season game at U.S. Bank Stadium.
Adrian Peterson limped off in the third quarter with a right knee injury, and only 19 yards on 12 carries, but the Vikings (2-0) proved they still have a lot of options. Stefon Diggs caught nine passes for 182 yards a touchdown. They held the Packers (1-1) to 65 total yards in the first half, withstanding an early touchdown pass by Rodgers to Jordy Nelson on a drive aided by two penalties by cornerback Terence Newman.
Trae Waynes, who had two penalties himself, intercepted Rodgers’ pass in Vikings territory in the closing minutes to seal the victory. The previous drive was killed when Brian Robison knocked the ball out of the hands of Rodgers, who ran for 29 yards and a touchdown. He began to find a groove throwing the ball late, but Bradford was the better quarterback on this night.
PATRIOTS 31, DOLPHINS 24
FOXBOROUGH, Mass. (AP) — Jimmy Garoppolo had three, first-half touchdown passes before leaving in the second quarter with a right shoulder injury.
It was the Patriots’ eighth straight home victory over Miami (0-2). It came at a price as New England (2-0) was dealt another blow at quarterback with Tom Brady already out his four-game “Deflategate” suspension.
Garoppolo’s injury came in a flash. On third down with less than five minutes left in the first half, he was chased out of the pocket and got off a completion to Malcolm Mitchell. Garoppolo was driven into the ground on his shoulder by Miami linebacker Kiko Alonso.
Garoppolo initially got up, before going down to one knee and being attended to by the training staff. He ended his day 18 of 27 for 234 yards and the three scores.
He was replaced by rookie Jacoby Brissett, who led New England to a touchdown on its first possession of the second half. Brissett was 6 of 9 for 92 yards. LeGarrette Blount rushed 29 times for 123 yards and a touchdown. Martellus Bennett also had five catches 114 and a touchdown.
Miami rallied in the second half but couldn’t catch up.
STEELERS 24, BENGALS 16
PITTSBURGH (AP) — Ben Roethlisberger threw for 259 yards and three touchdowns to offset a pair of interceptions.
DeAngelo Williams churned out 94 yards on a career-high 32 carries and added a 4-yard touchdown grab. Tight ends Jesse James and Xavier Grimble also caught scoring passes from Roethlisberger as the Steelers (2-0) kept Cincinnati in check at rainy Heinz Field.
Andy Dalton passed for 366 yards and a touchdown, but needed 31 completions to reach that total, working almost exclusively on dump offs to running backs and tight ends while Pittsburgh clamped down on star wide receiver A.J. Green, who had just two receptions for 38 yards.
The rematch of the Steelers’ ugly 18-16 win in the wild-card round in January was downright tame. The teams combined for just 10 penalties and only one personal foul.
RAMS 9, SEAHAWKS 3
LOS ANGELES (AP) — Greg Zuerlein kicked three field goals, the longest a 47-yarder in the fourth quarter, and the Rams marked the return of pro football to Los Angeles for the first time in nearly 22 years with a win.
Plenty of penalties slowed down the game for the announced crowd of 91,046 on a searing day at the Memorial Coliseum, where the Rams commemorated the long-awaited occasion by wearing blue-and-gold throwback uniforms.
The Rams (1-1) are still without a touchdown after losing 28-0 at San Francisco in their s opener. With field goals accounting for all the offense, it was hardly the high-scoring show Los Angeles sports fans are known to crave.
Seattle (1-1) racked up 10 penalties for 114 yards; the Rams had nine penalties for 78 yards.
BRONCOS 34, COLTS 20
DENVER (AP) — Von Miller gave the Denver fans a reminder of his Super Bowl 50 MVP performance, sweeping in for the sack-strip of Andrew Luck that sealed the win.
With the Broncos clinging to a six-point lead with 1:51 remaining, Miller burst past right tackle Joe Reitz and swiped the ball from Luck’s grasp. Fellow linebacker Shane Ray scooped up the ball and returned it 15 yards for a touchdown.
Miller added a sack on the last play as the Broncos (2-0) sent the banged-up Colts limping to their third consecutive 0-2 start.
They did it by rattling Luck, who started 5 for 18 before he engineered a couple of second-half touchdown drives. Luck completed just 21 of 40 passes for 197 yards and was sacked five times.
FALCONS 35, RAIDERS 28
OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) — Justin Hardy caught a deflected 8-yard touchdown pass to break a tie midway through the fourth quarter.
Matt Ryan threw three TD passes, but got lucky on the go-ahead one in the fourth quarter. His third-down throw to Tevin Coleman was broken up, but the ball bounced high in the air and Hardy caught it in the end zone to put Atlanta (1-1) up 28-21.
The Raiders (1-1) appeared to tie on the next drive when Amari Cooper caught a 51-yard touchdown pass from Derek Carr. But officials ruled Cooper went out of bounds voluntarily before making the catch, although the Raiders contended he was pushed by Desmond Trufant.
Oakland coach Jack Del Rio then went on fourth-and-2, but Jalen Richard was stopped on a 1-yard gain.
BUCCANEERS 40, CARDINALS 7
GLENDALE, Ariz. (AP) — Carson Palmer threw for 308 yards and three touchdowns and Arizona (1-1) intercepted Jameis Winston four times.
Marcus Cooper, acquired off waivers from Kansas City on Sept. 2, had two interceptions, returning the second 60 yards for a score. Winston also fumbled the ball away once.
Winston, who had four touchdown passes against Atlanta in the opener and was NFC player of the week, threw 51 passes, the most in his two NFL seasons, completing 27 for 243 yards for the Bucs (1-1).
Palmer completed 18 of 31 passes with no interceptions before sitting out most of the fourth quarter. All three of Palmer’s scoring passes came in the first half,— to Larry Fitzgerald, Michael Floyd and Jaron Brown.
CHARGERS 38, JAGUARS 14
SAN DIEGO (AP) — Philip Rivers matched his career-high with four touchdown passes, including two to Travis Benjamin and Melvin Gordon ran for one score and had his first 100-yard game.
The Chargers (1-1) bounced back from their stunning loss at Kansas City, when they blew a 21-point third-quarter lead and fell 33-27 in overtime.
The Jaguars started 0-2 for the fourth time in five seasons. They crossed midfield only six times and committed three turnovers.
Casey Hayward led the Chargers’ defense with two interceptions of Blake Bortles.
Gordon, a second-year pro, scored on a 3-yard run on the game’s opening drive, his first TD at Qualcomm Stadium. Gordon went in standing up, and then right guard D.J. Fluker lifted him off the ground in celebration. He finished with 102 yards on 24 carries.
COWBOYS 27, REDSKINS 23
LANDOVER, Md. (AP) — Alfred Morris scored the go-ahead touchdown on a 4-yard run with under five minutes left, leading the Cowboys over his former team.
Washington’s Kirk Cousins threw an end-zone interception that set up a long Dallas drive to the winning score.
With rookie quarterback Dak Prescott looking poised throughout and scrambling for a 6-yard TD run in the second half, Dallas (1-1) won for only the second time in its past 16 games without the injured Tony Romo — and both of those victories came at Washington (0-2).
Prescott finished 22 for 30 for 292 yards.
GIANTS 13, SAINTS 10
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) — Eli Manning hit Victor Cruz on a third-down 34-yard pass to set up Josh Brown’s winning 23-yard field goal as time expired. The Giants got off to their first 2-0 start since 2009, while New Orleans lost its second straight.
Brown’s third field goal capped an 11-play, 70-yard drive that featured two key third-down passes by Manning and a pass interference call on a throw to Odell Beckham Jr.
The game was also redemption for the Giants’ defense. After allowing Drew Brees to throw for 511 yards and an NFL-tying seven touchdowns, New York limited him to one touchdown, 263 yards passing and 288 yards in total team offense.
RAVENS 25, BRONCOS 20
CLEVELAND (AP) — Joe Flacco threw two touchdown passes to Mike Wallace and the Ravens rallied from a 20-point first-quarter deficit.
Justin Tucker kicked three field goals and the Ravens (2-0) withstood Cleveland’s final drive to improve to 15-2 against the Browns under coach John Harbaugh.
C.J. Mosley intercepted Browns quarterback Josh McCown at the goal line with 13 seconds left to seal the win.
Baltimore was a point from trailing by three touchdowns in the opening quarter before blocking an extra point and returning it for two points and igniting the comeback.
McCown stayed in despite an injured left shoulder for the Browns (0-2), who were hurt by a missed field goal and three costly penalties in the fourth quarter.
PANTHERS 46, 49ERS 27
CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — Cam Newton threw for 353 yards and four touchdowns, and the Panthers overcame four turnovers.
Newton threw two TD passes to Kelvin Benjamin and one each to Greg Olsen and Devin Funchess to pass Jake Delhomme for most TD passes in franchise history with 122.
Newton showed no ill effects from the four helmet-to-helmet hits he took in Carolina’s season-opening loss to Denver. He took one shot to the head from linebacker Eli Harold late in the game after a pitchout on an option play, but quickly got to his feet.
Newton’s first pass was tipped and intercepted by Antoine Bethea, leading to a 49ers field goal. But the 2015 league MVP locked in after that, completing 24 of 40 passes while running for 37 yards on six carries.
Olsen gave the Panthers the lead for good in the second quarter when he hauled in a career-long 78-yard touchdown pass after the 49ers bit hard on play-action. That left the Pro Bowl tight end wide open on a seam route. Olsen finished with five catches for 122 yards.
TITANS 16, LIONS 15
DETROIT (AP) — Marcus Mariota converted a fourth down with a perfectly lofted 9-yard pass TD pass to Andre Johnson with 1:13 left.
Mariota dropped the pass over linebacker Tahir Whitehead to Johnson just before safety Rafael Bush could get to the veteran receiver.
Tennessee went 93 yards on 13 plays over nearly 6 minutes on the game-winning drive.
The Titans (1-1) ended a five-game losing streak, dating to last December, when Mariota threw two TD passes in the fourth quarter after trailing 15-3.
The Lions (1-1) had an opportunity to drive for a second straight winning field goal, but Matthew Stafford threw an interception to Perrish Cox at midfield in the final minute.
TEXANS 19, CHIEFS 12
HOUSTON (AP) — DeAndre Hopkins had 113 yards receiving and a touchdown and Nick Novak kicked four field goals. Novak connected from 32, 24, 31 and 43 yards for the Texans (2-0).
Cairo Santos made three field goals in the fourth quarter to cut the lead to 19-12, but Houston recovered the onside kick with less than a minute left.
The Texans showed that they are a much different team than the one embarrassed in a 30-0 wild-card playoff loss to the Chiefs (1-1) in January.
Houston’s defense set a franchise record by recovering three fumbles in the first half.
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JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (AP) — The Cincinnati Bengals were so sharp against Jacksonville that Andy Dalton and several teammates were done long before halftime.
Dalton led the Bengals to two touchdowns in three possessions, earning him a little extra rest in a 26-21 loss to the Jaguars in the preseason Sunday night.
“It was a good outing for us,” said Dalton, who completed 6 of 10 passes for 77 yards and a TD. “Two touchdowns in the first half of a preseason game is pretty good, and we got them both ways. … It’s a good feeling to do it both ways.”
The Bengals (1-2) felt good on both sides of the ball, too. Dalton found Giovani Bernard for a 19-yard score on a third-down play, and then Jeremy Hill capped a 9-minute drive with a 1-yard scramble to the pylon. Defensively, the Bengals held Jacksonville to just 90 yards in the first half. Jacksonville’s first three drives: turnover, three-and-out and three-and-out.
Cincy’s only concern in the regular-season dress rehearsal was the health of three Pro Bowlers.
Receiver A.J. Green left in the first quarter with a bruised right knee, but said he’s fine. Cornerback Adam Jones strained his right calf in preseason warmups and did not play. And special teams ace Cedric Peerman broke his left forearm and could be out for the season.
“It’s unfortunate guys have injuries, but you can’t worry about that,” Dalton said. “You’ve got to worry just about the stuff you can control.”
Safety Tashaun Gipson (bruised knee) was Jacksonville’s only injured starter.
The Jaguars (1-2) had bigger problems — the offense and defense both failed to show — that raised questions about what’s supposed to the franchise’s most talented team in nearly a decade.
T.J. Yeldon fumbled on the opening possession. Center Brandon Linder and quarterback Blake Bortles each were flagged for false starts to open drives. And the left side of Jacksonville’s revamped offensive line was mostly manhandled.
“We kind of killed ourselves. We did some stupid things, really, at every position,” Bortles said. “They didn’t do necessarily anything to stop up, which is a good sign because it’s a good defense. … We were comfortable and confident in what we were doing. We just didn’t execute it and get things done.”
VIKINGS 23, CHARGERS 10
MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Teddy Bridgewater was sharp in his return from a sore arm, completing 12 of 16 passes for 161 yards and a touchdown in the first half for the Minnesota Vikings in a 23-10 exhibition victory Sunday over the San Diego Chargers in the official unveiling their new stadium.
After sitting out last week, Bridgewater found Kyle Rudolph for a 27-yard score to cap a crisp 2-minute drill and led the Vikings to points on three of five possessions. Bridgewater even juked strong safety Adrian Phillips to further a 22-yard run that set up one of three field goals by Blair Walsh.
“The shoulder’s feeling great,” Bridgewater said. “I had some fun out there playing with the guys, and I can’t wait to get back out there.”
Melvin Gordon, aiming to rebound from a rough rookie season, cruised through the middle of Minnesota’s starting defense for a 39-yard touchdown after Philip Rivers audibled to a run upon sensing a blitz. San Diego lost running back Branden Oliver, though, to an Achilles tendon injury on his right leg that required a cart to take him off. The loss of Oliver, the primary kickoff returner and a contributing backup behind Gordon and Danny Woodhead, left the Chargers in a somber mood.
“I went up there as a friend and just prayed for him,” Woodhead said. “That’s the only thing you can do in that situation.”
With sunlight streaming in from the floor-to-ceiling glass on the west side and through the translucent, space-age roof, the Vikings enjoyed a gleaming debut for U.S. Bank Stadium in front of a sold-out crowd of 66,143.
“It’s a beautiful place,” coach Mike Zimmer said, as purple-clad fans watched his postgame press conference from a lounge area the team walks through to reach the field. “It’s just getting used to everything.”
The Chargers undoubtedly felt some envy, with their decade-and-a-half quest to replace 49-year-old Qualcomm Stadium unfulfilled and a move to Los Angeles a possibility. This game was conveniently scheduled for national broadcast on Fox, in case folks in San Diego were still on the fence about public funding.
Rivers went 5 for 9 for 54 yards and an interception for the Chargers.
With Adrian Peterson resting on the sideline, Jerick McKinnon rushed eight times for 56 yards for the Vikings.
NFL training camp buzz: Romo injury makes rookie Prescott sudden starter for Cowboys
FRISCO, Texas (AP) — Dak Prescott grew up rooting for the Dallas Cowboys in Louisiana. He suddenly finds himself in line to start their opener as a rookie quarterback with Tony Romo sidelined by yet another back injury.
Receiver Brice Butler believes the fourth-round pick out of Mississippi State pictured this years ago.
“He ends up getting drafted here. Now he’s the starting quarterback,” Butler said Sunday. “I don’t know if he thought it was going to happen this soon. But I’m pretty sure when he got here, he was like, I’m going to be the future of this franchise.
“He’s in a situation now where he’s the starter and basically that comment I just said is going to depend on how he plays. And I think he’s ready for it.”
The 23-year-old Prescott was the No. 3 quarterback for the Cowboys going into training camp before backup Kellen Moore broke his right ankle in practice.
Prescott was impressive enough in the first two preseason games to make owner and general manager Jerry Jones comfortable with him as Romo’s backup, rather than bringing in a veteran.
After Romo broke a bone in his back on the third play of the third preseason game at Seattle, Jones is ready to roll with Prescott. Assuming the Cowboys do grab a veteran, it figures to be a backup for now. The current No. 2 is Jameill Showers, a second-year player who hasn’t appeared in a regular-season game.
“I don’t know if this stuff will ever hit me,” said Prescott, set to be the first rookie quarterback to start the opener for Dallas since Quincy Carter 15 years ago. “I feel like I belong here. This is where I’m supposed to be. I just come in every day with the right attitude.”
The Cowboys haven’t said how long Romo will be out following his fourth back injury in less than four years, but it’s likely to be the opener at the very least. Jones and his son, executive vice president of personnel Stephen Jones, have said they are comfortable giving Prescott a shot as the starter.
The next question is whether Prescott plays in the preseason finale against Houston on Thursday night. Starters generally sit out that game and turn their focus to the regular season. The Cowboys open Sept. 11 at home against the New York Giants.
Coach Jason Garrett wouldn’t say whether Prescott will be held out against the Texans. Dallas has just the two quarterbacks on the roster, not counting Romo.
“I don’t know if a number of snaps makes a difference if I’m ready or not,” said Prescott, who is 39 of 50 passing for 454 yards with five touchdowns and no interceptions in three preseason games. “I’m going to be ready. Practice is going to get me ready. We are going to game plan the right way. And I’m going to be focused.”
Dallas went 1-11 without Romo last season when he was twice sidelined by a broken left collarbone, and the Cowboys slumped to 4-12 a year after winning the NFC East at 12-4. Because of that, Jerry Jones opened training camp by declaring Dallas would no longer pin its hopes on star players returning from injuries.
The Cowboys might not have envisioned this severe a test this soon.
“The mentality is different,” said receiver Dez Bryant, who missed seven games last season because of a broken foot. “It ain’t even just with the backup quarterback. It’s like with all the players. It’s just different strategy, believing in one another. Like I said, keeping each other lifted and building real chemistry.”
Prescott, who also has two rushing touchdowns, led a scoring drive in his first full possession against the Seahawks after Romo’s injury. He took the Cowboys to a field goal in the final two minutes of the first half. He has looked comfortable running the offense and made strong throws down the field.
The eighth quarterback taken in the draft with the 135th overall pick, Prescott is likely to be the first of those to start in the regular season.
“How do you create a name for yourself without stepping up on those situations and becoming that guy?” cornerback Brandon Carr asked. “Dak has been in the fire early and often. He has done well. It’s going to take all guys to help each other out.”
A.J, Green injured
The worst-case scenario for the Bengals’ preseason game against Jacksonville looked to be coming true in the first quarter Sunday.
A.J. Green made a cut near the sideline and immediately came up hobbling and signaling to come out of the game. The star receiver ran one more route but then gingerly limped to the sideline with a right knee injury.
After trainers sat him down, Green paced the sideline. Bengals officials stated the injury was not serious and said if this had been a regular-season game, Green would have returned.
It, of course, was not a regular-season game, so Green gave up his helmet and called it a night. Green never went into the locker room to have the injury further evaluated.
— Paul Dehner, Jr., Cincinnati Enquirer
Colts catch a break
Indianapolis Colts guard Jack Mewhort will not miss the 2016 season after fears Saturday night that he’d torn an ACL.
Team owner Jim Irsay tweeted Sunday: “Mewhort 2-4 weeks/No Surgery(Initial test results).”
Mewhort may be the most reliable starter on an offensive line that has too often performed poorly in front of quarterback Andrew Luck.
Blow for Bolts
The San Diego Chargers’ running back depth took a hit Sunday when Branden Oliver tore his right Achilles in a presason game against the Minnesota Vikings.
Oliver is a versatile player, but his loss likely means more work for Melvin Gordon and Danny Woodhead moving into the season.
Colts add RB
Free agent running back Steven Ridley signed with the Indianapolis Colts on Sunday.
Ridley was cut Thursday by Detroit, which had signed the sixth-year veteran in April.
Ridley, 5-11, 220 pounds, has played in 60 career NFL games with 26 starts. He went to a Super Bowl with New England in 2011, his rookie year, when he was a third-round selection, and again in 2014, when he was hurt.
Indeed, he’s been injury prone, appearing in six games for the Patriots in 2014 and nine for the Jets last year.
He has 685 carries for 2,907 yards and 22 touchdowns in his career.
— The Associated Press
Goldson finds new home
The Atlanta Falcons signed veteran free-agent safety Dashon Goldson on Sunday.
The Falcons will be without rookie starting strong safety Keanu Neal, the first-round pick, for at least the first two regular-season games with a right knee injury. He will have arthroscopic surgery on Monday.
Coach Dan Quinn has said that backup Kemal Ishmael would fill in for Neal as the starting strong safety.
Goldson, a 2012 All-Pro with the 49ers, had 110 tackles in 15 starts with the Redskins in 2015. He spent his first six seasons with San Francisco and played with Tampa Bay in 2013-14.
— The Associated Press
Titans say Walker OK
Delanie Walker needed an hour to catch his breath after leaving the Titans’ 27-14 preseason victory against the Raiders on Saturday night at O.co Coliseum, and the Titans are awaiting the results of blood tests to determine what happened, the Pro Bowl tight end told The Tennessean.
One source indicated Walker is OK, however, and that the incident could have been an “isolated circumstance.” Another source said only Walker’s blood pressure was tested.
On Sunday afternoon, Titans coach Mike Mularkey said Walker was “fine” and should practice on Monday.
“He’s doing good. … He just had congestion in his chest,” Mularkey said. “He just went back and did a little, the kind of thing you do if you have asthma, and it cleared him right up. We just felt at that point, be smart with him. … He should practice tomorrow.”
Walker said he’d never before had a similar experience.
Walker left the game in the second quarter, as the Titans marched 85 yards in 14 plays. The drive lasted nearly 8½ minutes.
He did not return to the sideline.
— Jason Wolf, The Tennessean
Jets keep Marshall out
Sore hips held New York Jets receiver Brandon Marshall out of the team’s third preseason game Saturday night, a 21-20 loss against the Giants, according to Jets head coach Todd Bowles.
Had it been a regular-season game, however, Bowles said that Marshall would have played, and didn’t seem to be concerned with the No. 1 receiver’s health.
“I just need him ready for opening day,” Bowles said in his postgame press conference. “I think he will be.”
Starting inside linebacker David Harris played Saturday, but left the game with a shoulder injury. Bowles said Harris would undergo more tests Sunday to determine the extent of the injury.
Last season, Marshall caught 109 passes for 1,502 yards (a franchise single-season record) and 14 touchdowns (tying a Jets record).
Harris, meanwhile, led the team with 108 tackles in 2015.
Neither is expected to play in the team’s fourth and final preseason game Thursday against the Eagles.
— Lorenzo Reyes
Ravens lose Watson
The Baltimore Ravens are once again dealing with a depleted tight end corps.
Ben Watson, who signed with the team in the offseason after a stellar 2015 campaign with the New Orleans Saints, tore an Achilles during Saturday night’s preseason game against the Detroit Lions. His season is almost certainly over.
Fellow tight end Dennis Pitta, who’s trying to return from a broken hip for the second time, has been sidelined in recent weeks by a broken finger.
Crockett Gillmore and Maxx Williams should enter the season as the top options at the position in Baltimore.
The Ravens also lost rookie running back Kenneth Dixon to a left leg injury.
Rams lock up Austin
The Los Angeles Rams have extended receiver Tavon Austin’s contract. The team announced a four-year extension Saturday that will keep him in L.A. through the 2021 season.
According to multiple reports, Austin will receive $42 million in new money with $30 million guaranteed. Incentives could boost the entire value to $52 million.
“Tavon has been an integral part of our offense and special teams since we drafted him in 2013,” coach Jeff Fisher said in a statement. “It is important to our organization to retain players we’ve drafted and invested in, and Tavon is an example of that. We’re excited for him to continue his career with the Rams.”
Austin, a first-round pick in 2013, had a career best 907 yards from scrimmage in 2015 (473 receiving on 52 receptions and 434 more on 52 carries) last season. He is also the team’s primary punt returner.
Big return for Browns WR Gordon
Not much went right for the Cleveland Browns on Friday night in the preseason game against Tampa Bay, but the return of Josh Gordon was a bright spot.
Gordon, playing for the first time since 2014, caught a 43-yard touchdown pass from Robert Griffin III and reminded Browns fans of what they had missed while he served his suspension throughout the 2015 season.
Earlier in the game, the two connected for a 44-yard gain.
The Browns denied reports earlier this week they were looking to trade Gordon.
Nelson will not play for Packers
Packers wide receiver Jordy Nelson was inactive for the preseason game against the 49ers on Friday night.
Quarterback Aaron Rodgers is active for the first time this preseason.
Suh, Julio expected to be OK; Falcons rookie out 3-4 weeks
The Miami Dolphins and Atlanta Falcons appear to have averted injuries to their star players on Thursday.
Dolphins Defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh sustained an ankle injury but is OK, Dolphins coach Adam Gase said. Falcons wide receiver Julio Jones also left the game with an ankle injury, but coach Dan Quinn said he likely could have returned and will be back in action shortly.
Keanu Neal, the Falcons’ safety and first-round pick, left the game with a knee injury. The team announced Friday he woulld require arthroscopic surgery and miss 3-4 weeks.
Whitner sets visit with Panthers
The Carolina Panthers appear to be weighing whether to add a veteran presence in the secondary.
Safety Donte Whitner will work out for the Panthers, NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport reported.
Whitner, 31, would bring an additional veteran presence to a Carolina defense led by linebackers Luke Kuechly and Thomas Davis. Beyond Bene’ Benwikere, the Panthers’ top options at cornerback are all rookies (James Bradberry, Daryl Worley and Zack Sanchez).
Patriots pull off another trade
One day after dealing center Bryan Stork to the Washington Redskins, the New England Patriots have swung another trade.
The Patriots are acquiring linebacker Barkevious Mingo from the Cleveland Browns, according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter.
Mingo was the No. 6 overall pick in the 2013 NFL draft but struggled to establish himself in Cleveland. He has just seven career sacks in three years, though he primarily was used as a coverage linebacker the last two seasons.
In NewEngland, he should add depth to the pass rush. Defensive end Rob Ninkovich is recovering from a torn triceps and could miss regular-season games.
Watt expected to practice next week
J.J. Watt could be nearing his return to the Houston Texans.
The defensive end and three-time defensive player of the year is expected to practice next week for the first time since undergoing back surgery in July, NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport reported.
On Wednesday, Watt tweeted a picture of himself with the caption “Soon.”
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SAN DIEGO (AP) — The San Diego Chargers didn’t score an offensive touchdown and it didn’t matter against the Arizona Cardinals on Friday night.
The Chargers forged ahead early and cruised past the Cardinals, 19-3.
With Carson Palmer limited to three series and Philip Rivers not playing, the first half was mostly a competition between veteran backup quarterbacks Kellen Clemens and Drew Stanton.
Cardinals coach Bruce Arians was on the sideline for the game.
Arians was released from the hospital on Wednesday after an overnight stay. The 63-year-old coach was taken to the hospital Tuesday night after complaining of stomach pain as the Cardinals prepared for a joint practice.
“I’m fine,” Arians said after the game.
On their way to a 16-0 halftime lead, the Chargers (1-1) took advantage of two turnovers for 10 first-quarter points.
Brandon Flowers intercepted Palmer’s pass and returned it 25 yards for a touchdown.
“The defense started fast and that’s what we wanted to do,” Flowers said.
“You don’t let it frustrate you,” Palmer said. “You just continue to find ways to get better and look at all the areas that are good, look at all the areas that are bad and evaluate then and move forward.”
Stanton was then picked off in his first series by Jahleel Addae. He brought it back 61 yards to the Arizona 9. The Chargers settled for a 20-yard field goal and a 10-0 lead.
Kicker Josh Lambo was the game’s key offensive player. He made four field goals to pace the Chargers.
One week after allowing a league-high 288 rushing yards, the Chargers limited the Cardinals to 63.
Chandler Catanzaro made a 52-yard field goal for Arizona (0-2).
REDSKINS 22, JETS 18
LANDOVER, Md. (AP) — Even though the Washington Redskins rested several key starters, they couldn’t avoid injuries in their second preseason game.
With quarterback Kirk Cousins, receiver DeSean Jackson and cornerback Josh Norman watching from the sideline, top running back Matt Jones left in the first quarter of the Redskins’ 22-18 victory over the New York Jets with a sprained left shoulder.
Jones couldn’t raise his hand above his head even after the game, but coach Jay Gruden was cautiously optimistic about the situation.
“We’ll continue to get him checked out, get rehab and hopefully it won’t be too long,” Gruden said. “It’s a little upsetting, but I think he’s going to be OK. I don’t think it’s going to be a long injury.”
Jones looked good with 31 yards on seven carries before Calvin Pryor landed on him after pushing him out of bounds. The Redskins (1-1) can ill afford to lose Jones given their lack of experienced depth behind him.
Third-down back Chris Thompson, rookies Robert Kelley and Keith Marshall and second-year player Mack Brown split the bulk of the carries after Jones left. Wide receiver Rashad Ross was among the standouts for Washington with seven catches, including two touchdowns, for 58 yards.
“I thought Ross played outstanding,” said quarterback Colt McCoy, who learned he was starting as he came out of the tunnel before the game and was 13 of 16 for 159 yards. “Ross brings speed to the table, and that’s a big asset. When he uses it that way, it’s good for the offense.”
Having all of the options is better for the offense, but Gruden opted to rest Cousins, Jackson and Pierre Garcon — and Norman, cornerback Bashaud Breeland and linebackers Will Compton and Ryan Kerrigan on defense — to see other players in important spots.
The Jets (1-1) saw good things out of undrafted rookie receiver Robby Anderson, who made six catches for 131 yards. The Temple product hauled in a 50-yard pass from third-stringer Bryce Petty and made a 42-yard touchdown catch.
“He’s got a very, very sneaky way of making hard catches look easy,” Petty said. “He’s made a bunch of those catches in practice, so it’s nice to see that transition to the game.”
Cornerback Darrelle Revis made an impact in his preseason debut, picking off McCoy in the end zone during Washington’s opening drive. Starting quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick was 4 of 9 for 35 yards, and Bilal Powell ran for 23 yards on three carries.
Rookie Nate Sudfeld led Washington on the game-winning drive, completing it with an 18-yard touchdown pass to Kendal Thompson with 29 seconds left.
COWBOYS 41, DOLPHINS 14
ARLINGTON, Texas (AP) — Tony Romo led a touchdown drive in his preseason debut once the Dallas offense stopped committing holding penalties, rookie backup quarterback Dak Prescott had a strong encore and Ryan Tannehill finally got the Miami Dolphins moving.
Alfred Morris finished the second of Romo’s two possessions with a 15-yard scoring run before Prescott ran for two touchdowns and threw for two scores, including another one to Dez Bryant, in the Cowboys’ 41-14 exhibition victory Friday night.
Tannehill had two scoring tosses to Kenny Stills.
Dallas (1-1) had three holding penalties in the first five plays of an opening drive that stalled. Then Romo completed all three passes, including a pair to trusty tight end Jason Witten, before the scoring run from Morris, who had 13 carries for 85 yards.
Romo was 4 of 5 for 49 yards, and the Dallas offense had 300 yards at halftime.
“It was a good start. We needed that,” Witten said. “It’s been a long offseason. We have Tony leading the way. We had a lot of energy.”
Tannehill, who played late into the first half with the Dolphins (1-1) trying to move past a rough opener for the first-team offense last week, had scoring passes of 13 and 3 yards to Stills. Tannehill led another drive inside the 5 that ended on downs and finished 12 of 20 for 162 yards.
“I liked the mentality that he had going into that first half,” first-year coach Adam Gase said. “I liked the fact that the ones wanted to stay in and do another series. That’s what I wanted to see.”
Prescott has two touchdowns passes in each of the two preseason games and is 22 of 27 for 338 yards without an interception after completing his first eight passes following a 10-of-12 showing in his NFL debut against the Los Angeles Rams last week.
The fourth-round pick out of Mississippi State had a 20-yard scoring run and a 1-yard sneak that was held up on review. Prescott tossed a short touchdown pass to Brice Butler the play after a 58-yarder to the speedy wideout.
Prescott had an overthrow for what would have been his first interception in the second quarter, but it was wiped out by a roughing-the-passer penalty against Andre Branch.
“It’s been a great start for him, and he’s excited about it,” Romo said. “You just keep building on it every day, but you can’t ask for a better start.”
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CHICAGO (AP) — For once, the key to the first round of the NFL draft doesn’t belong to the team picking first.
With the Rams and Eagles having traded up to secure the top two spots, where they have said they will take quarterbacks, it’s San Diego that likely will determine the flow on Thursday night. What will the Chargers do with the third selection?
Perhaps defensive back Jalen Ramsey of Florida State, considered one of the best athletes and most NFL-ready players available. Maybe Laremy Tunsil, the Ole Miss offensive tackle who can pile-drive blockers into submission.
Pass rushers Joey Bosa of Ohio State and DeForest Buckner of Oregon could be in the mix, too. Maybe linebacker Myles Jack of UCLA.
Chargers general manager Tom Telesco has not been shy about making draft-day deals, either.
“Like Tom talked about last week at his press conference,” coach Mike McCoy said in a web chat with fans, “we were looking at every scenario with trade possibilities. When those two teams traded ahead of us, that settled things down a bit. The phones weren’t ringing quite as often.
“We’re excited to get on the clock at pick No. 3.”
Dallas follows right behind San Diego, and the Cowboys could be thinking defense or even running back if Ohio State’s Ezekiel Elliott suits their tastes. Their offensive line is strong enough from recent drafts that selecting Tunsil is a long shot.
Then again, some scouts have rated Tunsil the top prospect in the entire crop, and left tackles are a premium commodity. So a bunch of other clubs in need of help on the O-line could be lining up to get the fourth overall pick.
Two other intriguing selections in the top 10 belong to San Francisco and Cleveland. Both could be in the market for a quarterback such as Paxton Lynch; Colin Kaepernick has said he would like out of San Francisco, and the Browns, despite adding Robert Griffin III, always are looking for a QB.
The 49ers have the seventh spot, and the Browns, after trading down from No. 2, will go eighth.
Of course, considering the mega-trades pulled off so far, the top 10 could look very different by the time Los Angeles opens the selection process. Not to mention how the rest of the 31-pick round (New England forfeited its pick in the deflated footballs saga) might go.
1. Los Angeles Rams (from Tennessee Titans) – Jared Goff, QB, California: Everything is in place in Hollywood (including a football team) to serve as a near-ideal supporting cast for a rookie passer – stud RB Todd Gurley, an ascending O-line and defense that could border on elite if paired with a competent offense. Now comes Goff to go atop the marquee. He won’t be slinging the ball like he did at Cal – at least not initially – but his accuracy, decision making and toughness will be welcome on a team that’s only been held back by subpar play at the game’s most vital position.
2. Philadelphia Eagles (from Cleveland Browns) – Carson Wentz, QB, North Dakota State: It’s been 17 years since Philly drafted QB Donovan McNabb second overall. He sat behind Doug Pederson until he was ready to play, and that panned out OK. Like McNabb, Wentz is a strong-armed, mobile passer, and his experience in a pro-style system should ease his transition from the Football Championship Subdivision to the pros. But assuming he’s not NFL-ready by Week 1, Pederson, now the Eagles’ coach, can use vets Sam Bradford – maybe? – or Chase Daniel as a bridge to Wentz.
3. San Diego Chargers – Laremy Tunsil, T, Mississippi: The Bolts could use a jolt on defense, so DB Jalen Ramsey and DL DeForest Buckner should be strong considerations. But when your best player is a 34-year-old quarterback who’s been sacked 155 times over the last four seasons, it might be a good idea to get a new bouncer for Philip Rivers. Tunsil, arguably the top player in this draft, would theoretically keep Rivers on his feet for the remainder of his career while creating operating room for the feet of last year’s first rounder, RB Melvin Gordon, who too often had nowhere to go for the AFC’s worst run game.
4. Dallas Cowboys – Jalen Ramsey, DB, Florida State: Suspensions and free agency suggest Dallas’ pass rush may be non-existent in 2016, at least for the first month of the season. But it’s an area they should fret over Friday considering they can pick Ramsey, quite possibly the best defender coming out this year. The former track star is a freakish athlete who can play throughout the secondary, able to guard WR Odell Beckham one week and TE Jordan Reed the next. Ramsey and 2015 first rounder Byron Jones would form quite the dynamic DB duo for years to come.
5. Jacksonville Jaguars – Myles Jack, LB, UCLA: Dave Caldwell sure doesn’t sound like a general manager who might be spooked by a reportedly questionable prognosis on Jack’s surgically repaired knee. Given Jack’s ability to surgically repair a defense burned for an AFC-worst 448 points in 2015, why shouldn’t Caldwell take a chance? Like most NFL teams, Jacksonville doesn’t have a player who can range from sideline to sideline … and rush off the edge … and cover the slot … and play deep safety … and be a red-zone threat as a tailback … and return kicks …
6. Baltimore Ravens – DeForest Buckner, DE, Oregon: A perfect fit for a defense trying not to deteriorate. Buckner can close running lanes, get after quarterbacks, tie up blockers so aging edge rushers Terrell Suggs and Elvis Dumervil can get home and, as a last resort, his 6-7, 291-pound frame should get in the way of quite a few passes at the line of scrimmage.
7. San Francisco 49ers – Ezekiel Elliott, RB, Ohio State: Per usual, we’re trying to figure out what’s up in San Francisco, including the future of QB Colin Kaepernick. The Niners could certainly be a suitor for Memphis QB Paxton Lynch and have the lone playbook in the league that might feasibly allow the raw prospect to comfortably start in Week 1. But here’s what we do know: new coach Chip Kelly covets multiple running backs who can capably power his hyperkinetic offense. Elliott is a more explosive and, apparently, more durable player than former Buckeyes teammate Carlos Hyde, currently the 49ers’ starter. And Elliott’s presence would immediately make Kaepernick, Blaine Gabbert or whomever is starting a more effective passer.
8. Browns (from Miami Dolphins via Eagles) – Ronnie Stanley, T, Notre Dame: At minimum, he should be an upgrade over departed free agent RT Mitchell Schwartz and bolster the protection for oft-injured QB Robert Griffin III. But Stanley would also provide a succession plan at left tackle and might even help the Browns facilitate a deal of perennial all-pro Joe Thomas, who’s been on the trade block for some time. Thomas might be the last asset Cleveland can divest for the draft picks it continues to stockpile in the franchise’s latest reboot.
9. Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Joey Bosa, DE, Ohio State: This scenario represents a bit of a tumble for Bosa, the No. 1 player on some boards heading into the scouting combine. But Tampa Bay might be an ideal home for the native Floridian. Bosa is an excellent technician, doesn’t take plays off and effectively smothers both running backs and quarterbacks. DT Gerald McCoy would certainly welcome him on his flank.
10. New York Giants – Leonard Floyd, DE/OLB, Georgia: Yes, the Giants already opened their checkbook for DE Olivier Vernon and re-signed Jason Pierre-Paul. But JPP is again in prove-it mode and only under contract for 2016, which would give Floyd time to beef up his 6-6, 244-pound frame. In the interim, he could certainly bring needed fuel to DC Steve Spagnuolo’s coveted NASCAR pass rush packages considering New York had a meager 23 sacks in 2015.
11. Chicago Bears – Jack Conklin, T, Michigan State: One way to prevent another regression by QB Jay Cutler, who’s been forced to endure another offensive coordinator switch, is to fill the vacuum on his blind side.
12. New Orleans Saints – William Jackson III, CB, Houston: Their failed pursuit of CB Josh Norman tells you how the Saints regard a defense that allowed the most points in the NFL (476) last year. Jackson’s height (6 feet) would give him a fighting chance against monstrous NFC South receivers Julio Jones, Kelvin Benjamin, Mike Evans and Vincent Jackson.
13. Dolphins (from Eagles) – Vernon Hargreaves III, CB, Florida: Tailback seems to be the spot Miami is desperate to fill, but it will have to wait unless they manage to snag Elliott. And Hargreaves is hardly a consolation prize. His ability to defend the slot is an ideal complement to newly acquired CB Byron Maxwell, who’s not as equipped to mirror quicker receivers like Sammy Watkins and Julian Edelman.
14. Oakland Raiders – Sheldon Rankins, DT, Louisville: He’s on the short side (6-1, 299) but compensates with excellent quickness and would provide three-down interior playmaking ability to a defense that already appears set on the perimeter.
15. Titans (from Rams) – Taylor Decker, OT, Ohio State: He’d supply a nice dose of nasty to a line charged with better safeguarding QB Marcus Mariota and opening bigger holes for new RB DeMarco Murray. Decker appears best suited to the right side, which would allow LT Taylor Lewan to stay put.
16. Detroit Lions –Jarran Reed, DT, Alabama: A year after dumping Ndamukong Suh and Nick Fairley, Detroit doesn’t have much inside aside from 32-year-old DT Haloti Ngata. Reed is a plug-and-play type who improves the run defense and should help unleash DE Ziggy Ansah off the edge.
17. Atlanta Falcons – Darron Lee, LB, Ohio State: The biggest deficiency of an improving unit is a linebacker who can run make plays in space and hold up in pass coverage. Problem solved with Lee.
18. Indianapolis Colts – Ryan Kelly, C, Alabama: GM Ryan Grigson is determined not to reach for a player – the blue-chip tackle crop looks rather exhausted here – yet knows he must provide better blocking in front of QB Andrew Luck if he’s going to survive to sign that (minimum) $150 million contract that’s in his future.
19. Buffalo Bills – Shaq Lawson, DE, Clemson: A high-effort player who consistently invades enemy backfields. Rex Ryan is a lover of all things Clemson but, more importantly, would appreciate a relentless edge presence to replace the disappointment Mario Williams was in 2015 when this defense woefully underachieved.
20. New York Jets – Paxton Lynch, QB, Memphis: Given the splashy trades that have been a prologue to Thursday night, don’t be shocked to see another one executed by a club that falls in love with Lynch. But if he’s available here, the Jets should pounce given Ryan Fitzpatrick is not a long-term solution (and maybe not a short-term solution); they’re likely to find themselves in a Rams conundrum – too good to draft high, not good enough to seriously contend without a franchise QB; and have a wizened assistant in OC Chan Gailey, who could be the ideal guru for Lynch until he’s prepared to play.
21. Washington Redskins – Andrew Billings, DL, Baylor: Adding Norman last week was an unexpected bonus, but he’s always had the benefit of a strong front seven. So don’t be remotely surprised if GM Scot McCloughan drops a 311-pound anchor into his 26th-ranked run defense. Billings’ athleticism also suggests he could develop into a decent pass rusher.
22. Houston Texans – Will Fuller, WR, Notre Dame: Brock Osweiler has a big arm, so why not stretch it with the draft’s fastest (4.32 40 speed) receiver? Keeping opposing secondaries honest with a few fly patterns from Fuller could really soften up the rest of the field for Pro Bowl WR DeAndre Hopkins and speedy RB Lamar Miller.
23. Minnesota Vikings – Laquon Treadwell, WR, Mississippi: Maybe the draft’s top receiver, Treadwell’s size (6-2, 221) could make him Minnesota’s most productive red-zone target since Randy Moss.
24. Cincinnati Bengals – Corey Coleman, WR, Baylor: His lightning speed would add a new dimension to an offense that’s already fairly diverse with WR A.J. Green, TE Tyler Eifert and a multi-faceted ground game. Cincinnati also needs to reload at wideout after losing its depth behind Green during free agency.
25. Pittsburgh Steelers – Eli Apple, CB, Ohio State: Their first round-strategy? Best. Available. Corner. This is one bad Apple, and his size (6-1, 199) and physical style should get under the skins of AFC North receivers like A.J. Green and Steve Smith while addressing a glaring need for a defense that allowed the most passing yards in the AFC in 2015.
26. Seattle Seahawks – Le’Raven Clark, OT, Texas Tech: Seattle has lost every starting offensive lineman from its Super Bowl title team two years ago, including LT Russell Okung this offseason. The 6-6, 316-pound Clark would be a nice rebuilding block and could become a star under the watchful eye of line coach Tom Cable.
27. Green Bay Packers – A’Shawn Robinson, DT, Alabama: DE Mike Daniels needs some help on the Pack’s three-man front. Robinson, 21, has major upside for a defense that hasn’t finished in the top 10 since Green Bay last won the Super Bowl five years ago.
28. Kansas City Chiefs – Reggie Ragland, ILB, Alabama: ILB Derrick Johnson will be 34 this year. Ragland, an excellent value here, would certainly benefit by playing alongside the graybeard backer for a year or two before becoming the main man in the middle of K.C.’s D.
29. Arizona Cardinals – Robert Nkemdiche, DL, Mississippi: He fills a hole with loads of ability. Fellow DL Calais Campbell can help hone Nkemdiche’s talent, while coach Bruce Arians and DB Tyrann Mathieu ensure a player with trouble in his past stays squeaky clean off the field.
30. Carolina Panthers – Karl Joseph, S, West Virginia: Yes, they just cut the cord with Norman, something GM Dave Gettleman would not have done if he was worried about the cornerback position. But Carolina also has an issue at safety after opting not to re-sign Roman Harper. Joseph could be a rangier version of Bob Sanders – unfortunately, that includes the injury risk – and is probably too good to pass up.
31. Denver Broncos – Kevin Dodd, DL, Clemson: The champs land at the intersection of ability and need with Dodd, a promising talent who could prove to be better than departed Malik Jackson after an apprenticeship under DC Wade Phillips.
Note: New England Patriots were stripped of their first-round pick for their alleged role in Deflategate
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(PhatzRadio Sports / AP) —- Whether in St. Louis or now back in Los Angeles, the Rams are all about big trades.
They made a huge splash in their deal Thursday with the Tennessee Titans, one of the biggest draft-choice transactions in NFL history. Just like the one they pulled off four years ago with the Redskins that landed Robert Griffin III in Washington.
Of the four major pro sports in America, football features the fewest monster trades. Except, that is, when mostly draft choices are involved.
And certainly in recent times, except for when the Rams are involved.
St. Louis’ grab bag for sending the second overall spot in 2012 to the Redskins was plentiful, including No. 6 overall that year, plus two more first-rounders and a second-rounder. St. Louis didn’t exactly turn around the franchise with its selections: defensive tackle Michael Brockers, cornerback Janoris Jenkins, running backs Isaiah Pead and Zac Stacy; linebacker Alex Ogletree; tackle Greg Robinson; receiver Stedman Bailey; and offensive lineman Rokevious Watkins.
Only Brockers, Ogletree and Jenkins made much of an impact, and Jenkins left for the Giants in free agency this year. Meanwhile, the Rams have gone 27-36-1 since that deal.
The Redskins, of course, got an Offensive Rookie of the Year performance and an NFC East title out of RG3 in 2012, but he’s been injured and benched since, and now is with Cleveland.
Tennessee, meanwhile, now has the bevy of picks, something new general manager Jon Robinson, who previously worked in New England, foresees being transformational for the franchise.
“That’s the philosophy and the team-building process I cut my teeth on and that I came up in,” he said Thursday, “and I’m taking that same approach. It’s worked out pretty well for those guys up there.”
How did some other massive draft deals work out for the parties?
DALLAS AND MINNESOTA
Unquestionably the greatest heist in NFL trade annals.
Dallas already was 0-5 in 1989 while shopping star running back Herschel Walker, by far the Cowboys’ most sellable commodity. Minnesota was thinking Super Bowl and that Walker would be the final piece on a championship roster.
Basically, the Cowboys sent Walker, their third-round and 10th-round picks in 1990, and their third pick in 1991 to the Vikings for running back Darrin Nelson, cornerback Issiac Holt, linebackers Jesse Solomon and David Howard, defensive end Alex Stewart and Minnesota’s 1990 first-, second- and sixth-round picks in 1990.
But Cowboys coach Jimmy Johnson had no intention of holding onto most of those veterans. Each of them had a draft pick attached so if Dallas released the player before Feb. 1, 1990, it would get those draft choices instead.
Most of the players were, indeed, cut — Nelson never even reported and was dealt to the Chargers for a second-round and a sixth-round selection.
Among those the Cowboys took with the draft choices: career rushing leader Emmitt Smith; stud DT Russell Maryland; ace safety Darren Woodson; solid cornerback Kevin Smith; and special teams standout Clayton Holmes.
Dallas won three Super Bowls in a four-season span after that. Minnesota still hasn’t sniffed another Super Bowl.
NEW ORLEANS AND WASHINGTON
Theater of the absurd, courtesy of Mike Ditka.
In 1999, then coaching New Orleans, Ditka was so enamored of Texas running back Ricky Williams that he moved the Saints up to fifth overall. In return, he sent all seven of the Saints’ selections, beginning with the 12th overall slot, plus a first-round and third-round choice the next year, to Washington. Then Ditka allegedly lit up a cigar and headed for the golf course.
Williams was a good, not great, player for the Saints, hardly worth an entire collection of picks. The Redskins wound up, through other moves, getting cornerback Champ Bailey and linebacker LaVar Arrington.
Who got the best of that one? Washington and Denver: Bailey built Hall of Fame numbers with both franchises.
NEW YORK GIANTS AND SAN DIEGO
This one doesn’t have the quantity, but, boy, the quality.
Eli Manning was top dog in 2004, but his family didn’t want San Diego taking him with the first overall selection. The Chargers seemingly called the Mannings’ bluff and took him anyway, and Eli couldn’t have been more sour or dour when he came on stage at Radio City Music Hall to be greeted by Commissioner Roger Goodell.
Three picks later, though, the Giants announced they’d acquired Manning in exchange for another highly regarded college QB, Philip Rivers. Suddenly, Eli was all smiles.
It turned out to be a great deal for New York as Manning has led the Giants to two Super Bowl titles and also could be Hall of Fame material. Rivers has been a long-time star for the Chargers, even though they don’t have a Lombardi Trophy in their possession.
AP Pro Football Writer Teresa M. Walker contributed to this report. FILE – In this Oct. 13, 1989 file photo, former Dallas Cowboys running back Herschel Walker smiles as he is introduced at a news conference to announce the trade of five players and seven draft choices by the Minnesota Vikings for the leading NFC rusher, in Bloomington, Minn. The Los Angeles Rams made a huge splash in their deal with the Tennessee Titans on Thursday, April 14, 2016. (AP Photo/Jim Mone, File)