By The Associated Press
SAN DIEGO — Drew Bledsoe threw three touchdown passes, two to Keyshawn Johnson, and became the 10th player in NFL history to throw for 40,000 yards as the Dallas Cowboys dropped San Diego 28-24. Bledsoe threw the winning 2-yard touchdown pass with 3:06 left as Johnson beat cornerback Sammy Davis on a quick out.
The Cowboys didn’t get to celebrate, though, until Aaron Glenn intercepted Drew Brees’ throw in the end zone with 24 seconds left. Brees kept alive a desperation drive with a 33-yard completion to Eric Parker to the Dallas 7 in the final minute. Then Brees’ fourth-down pass bounced off Parker and Glenn came down with it.
San Diego’s LaDainian Tomlinson was held to 72 yards on 19 carries. He scored on a 2-yard run in the first quarter, his 13th straight game with a TD rushing to tie the NFL record held by John Riggins and George Rogers.
Brees threw two touchdown passes to Keenan McCardell and was intercepted twice.
Saints 23, Panthers 20
CHARLOTTE, N.C. — The New Orleans Saints took their minds off two weeks of death and despair, focused on football and won a game Sunday for the victims of Hurricane Katrina.
Deuce McAllister ran for two touchdowns and John Carney kicked a 47-yard field goal with 3 seconds left to lift the Saints to an emotional win over the Carolina Panthers.
Aaron Brooks threw passes of 11 and 25 yards to Joe Horn to move the Saints into field goal range. Carney then came onto the field to win a game for New Orleans and the entire Gulf Coast region.
The Saints rushed out on the field to celebrate the kick, their first joy since Katrina tore through New Orleans on Aug. 29. Like the thousands of evacuees, the storm left them homeless and searching for a little bit of normalcy.
They found it on the field, scoring an important victory over an NFC South rival and an emotional win for their fans.
Two Panthers stars coming back from injuries played well. Stephen Davis ran for 81 yards and a score, while Steve Smith had eight catches for 138 yards and a TD.
Colts 24, Ravens 7
BALTIMORE — Here’s a twist: The Indianapolis Colts won a game on the strength of their defense.
The Colts barely missed their first shutout since 1997, Peyton Manning threw two touchdown passes, and Indianapolis cruised past the Baltimore Ravens.
The Ravens lost quarterback Kyle Boller, who hyperextended a right toe while being sacked by Larry Triplett in the third quarter with Baltimore trailing 17-0. Boller finished 15-for-23 for 141 yards and an interception.
His replacement, Anthony Wright, completed 19 of 31 passes for 214 yards and two interceptions in his first game since 2003. His 17-yard touchdown pass to Daniel Wilcox with 13 seconds left ruined the Colts’ bid for their first shutout since a 41-0 rout of Miami on Dec. 14, 1997.
Manning went 21-for-36 for 254 yards and no interceptions, and Marvin Harrison had six catches for 69 yards. But the real story was the marvelous play of the Indianapolis defense, which received few headlines last year while Manning threw an NFL-record 49 touchdown passes for an offense that amassed a league-leading 522 points.
Buccaneers 24, Vikings 13
MINNEAPOLIS — Brian Kelly had two interceptions, the last one at his 6-yard line with 1:45 left that sealed a scrappy victory for Tampa Bay.
Rookie tight end Alex Smith caught two touchdown passes for the Bucs, which also forced two fumbles by Daunte Culpepper and allowed only 26 yards rushing.
Another Bucs rookie, Carnell “Cadillac” Williams, added a 71-yard touchdown run with 1:23 remaining against a revamped Vikings defense that played pretty well until that point.
Coming off a career-best season, Culpepper looked more like a rookie than a three-time Pro Bowler. He threw his third interception to Derrick Brooks, on the final, desperation drive and finished 22-for-33 for 233 yards.
Steelers 34, Titans 7
PITTSBURGH — Willie Parker had a dazzling first career start with 161 yards rushing and a long reception, and a mistake-free Ben Roethlisberger threw for two scores.
The Steelers won their 15th in a row during the regular season, four short of the Patriots’ NFL record they stopped last season. Roethlisberger improved to 14-0 as an NFL starter, and his play was as perfect as his record. So was his perfect 158.3 passer rating; he is the first NFL quarterback since Kansas City’s Trent Green in 2003 to have a perfect rating.
Steve McNair looked fine after missing half the 2004 season with a sternum injury, going 18-of-26 for 219 yards and a touchdown, and Chris Brown averaged 5.7 yards on his 11 carries.
Dolphins 34, Broncos 10
MIAMI — Gus Frerotte led a creative offense by throwing for 275 yards, Jason Taylor returned a fumble 85 yards for a score and Miami successfully kicked off the Nick Saban era.
The Broncos lost cornerback Champ Bailey and running back Mike Anderson to injuries, wilted in the 90-degree South Florida heat and dropped an opener for only the third time in 13 years under coach Mike Shanahan.
Frerotte, starting his first game for his sixth NFL team, went 24-for-36 with touchdown passes of 2 yards to Randy McMichael and 60 yards to Marty Booker.
Redskins 9, Bears 7
LANDOVER, Md. — The Washington Redskins allowed only 166 yards, and John Hall kicked three field goals.
The Redskins overcame three turnovers, five untimely penalties and the loss of QB Patrick Ramsey, who had his neck wrung by blitzing linebacker Lance Briggs in the second quarter. Mark Brunell entered to lead three drives for field goals, powered in part by the running of Clinton Portis, who rushed for 121 yards on 21 carries.
Kyle Orton was the first rookie quarterback to start for Chicago on opening day in 51 years. Orton, starting because of an injury to Rex Grossman, completed 15 of 28 passes for 141 yards.
Jaguars 26, Seahawks 14
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Jimmy Smith caught seven passes for 130 yards and two touchdowns for the Jaguars.
The Seahawks kept the game close until two costly errors in the final seven minutes.
Linebacker Daryl Smith intercepted a pass by Matt Hasselbeck that led to a 29-yard field goal by Josh Scobee. Akin Ayodele sacked Hasselbeck on the ensuing drive, caused a fumble and set up another field goal. Scobee finished with four field goals.
Jacksonville’s defense was stout, as usual. The unit held Shaun Alexander to 73 yards on 14 carries. Hasselbeck finished 21-of-38 for 246 yards, with two touchdowns and three interceptions.
Bengals 27, Browns 13
CLEVELAND — Carson Palmer threw two touchdown passes and the Bengals spoiled Romeo Crennel’s coaching debut with the Browns.
The Bengals haven’t had a winning record since 1990. Now, in capturing their first opener since 2001, they’re 1-0 for the first time in three seasons under coach Marvin Lewis.
Palmer picked apart Cleveland’s secondary, finishing 26-of-34 for 280 yards and one interception. Rudi Johnson rushed for 126 yards on 26 carries and 1-yard TD run, and Shayne Graham kicked two field goals.
Making just his third start since 2003, Browns quarterback Trent Dilfer finished 26-of-43 for 278 yards and one touchdown.
Bills 22, Texans 7
ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. — Making his NFL debut as a starter, J.P. Losman engineered scoring drives on each of Buffalo’s first five possessions. The 2004 first-round draft pick who has taken over for Drew Bledsoe finished 17-of-28 for 170 yards and a touchdown.
Rian Lindell hit a career-high five field goals, one short of the franchise record set by Steve Christie in 1996.
The defense did the rest, generating five turnovers, five sacks and limiting Houston to 107 yards. Houston had seven possessions of three plays or less.
Chiefs 27, Jets 7
KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Kansas City’s improved defense came within 29 seconds of a shutout. Although weakened by first-half injuries to starters Patrick Surtain and Ryan Sims, the Chiefs held the mistake-prone Jets out of the end zone until the final half-minute.
The Chiefs forced seven fumbles and recovered two. Chad Pennington was sacked three times. Pennington, coming off shoulder surgery, was intercepted once and had several passes dropped.
Larry Johnson rushed for 110 yards and two touchdowns on nine carries and Priest Holmes added 85 yards and a touchdown for an offense that scored 17 points on its first three possessions.
Lions 17, Packers 3
DETROIT — Two of Brett Favre’s three turnovers led to 10 points in a game in which scoring was scarce. Detroit won its opener for a third straight year, but the Lions hope this season doesn’t wind up like the last two — or the two before that. Since 2001, the Lions have lost an NFL-high 48 games.
Joey Harrington threw two touchdown passes, including one to rookie Mike Williams with 4:13 left.
Favre then drove Green Bay to Detroit’s 12 before he was sacked twice and threw his second interception. The three-time MVP finished 27-of-44 for 201 yards with two interceptions and one fumble, and the Packers had their worst day offensively since Sept. 13, 1992, when Tampa Bay beat them 31-3, two weeks before Favre started his record streak of playing 227 straight games, including the playoffs.
Giants 42, Cardinals 19
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — The Giants had their highest point total in more than two seasons. Eli Manning threw for two scores, Willie Ponder returned a kickoff 95 yards for a score and Chad Morton, signed by the Giants a week and a half ago, returned a punt 52 yards for a touchdown in the fourth quarter.
Kurt Warner, the former two-time MVP acquired by the Giants last year to guide Manning through his rookie season, finished 27-for-46 for 264 yards and one touchdown in his first start for Arizona.
Cardinals linebacker Karlos Dansby had two interceptions, one of which he ran back for an 18-yard touchdown.
49ers 28, Rams 25
SAN FRANCISCO — Brandon Lloyd and Arnaz Battle caught second-quarter touchdown passes from Tim Rattay, and Michael Adams intercepted Marc Bulger’s pass in San Francisco territory with 52 seconds left.
Rookie Otis Amey returned a punt 75 yards for a touchdown the first time he touched the ball for the 49ers, who erupted for 21 points in the second quarter — more than last season’s 2-14 team scored in any quarter of its wretched season.
The 49ers’ defense was on the field for nearly 40 minutes, but San Francisco held on for its first regular-season victory in regulation since Dec. 7, 2003. Both of the Niners’ wins last season came in overtime against Arizona.
Torry Holt caught 10 passes for 125 yards for the Rams, but San Francisco’s defense sacked Marc Bulger seven times.