Newton, defense lead Panthers past Giants
CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Cam Newton threw three touchdown passes and ran for another, and Carolina sacked Eli Manning seven times as the Panthers handed Tom Coughlin his worst defeat as coach of the New York Giants, 38-0 Sunday.
It was the largest margin of victory in Panthers history.
The Panthers (1-2) allowed Newton to run out of the read option, which helped open up an offense that had been mostly stagnant this season. Newton had 223 yards passing and threw two touchdown passes to Brandon LaFell and one to Ted Ginn Jr. He ran for 45 yards and his first TD of the season.
The Giants are in trouble: Of the 161 teams that have started the season 0-3 since 1978, only five made the NFL playoffs, according to STATS LLC.
The Giants came in with only 73 yards rushing in their first two games and managed just 60 yards on the ground. Manning, under pressure all day long, finished 12 of 23 for 119 yards with two interceptions.
COLTS 27, 49ERS 7
SAN FRANCISCO — Andrew Luck threw for 164 yards and ran for a 6-yard touchdown while facing college coach Jim Harbaugh for the first time, and Indianapolis defeated San Francisco.
Trent Richardson scored a 1-yard touchdown on his first carry in his Colts debut after being acquired on Wednesday from the Browns.
He was drafted two spots behind Luck at No. 3 last year.
Ahmad Bradshaw added a 1-yard TD run in the final minutes, and Adam Vinatieri kicked a pair of field goals before missing a 51-yarder early in the fourth.
But Luck came through again to give Indianapolis (2-1) more opportunities.
It was Colin Kaepernick’s his first home loss at Candlestick Park as a starter.
Frank Gore ran for 82 yards after going for 60 total in his first two games, but there were few bright spots for Kaepernick as San Francisco (1-2) struggled to establish a passing game with tight end Vernon Davis sidelined by a hamstring injury.
PATRIOTS 23, BUCS 3
FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — Tom Brady threw two touchdown passes to Kenbrell Thompkins to lead New England to a one-sided win over Tampa Bay.
Thompkins, an undrafted free agent, scored on plays of 16 and 5 yards in the first half. Aaron Dobson, a second-round draft pick, finished with seven catches for 52 yards. In their first two games, the rookies combined for just nine receptions.
The Patriots led 17-3 at halftime as the Buccaneers (0-3) wasted several opportunities.
They turned the ball over twice on downs, Rian Lindell missed a 38-yard field goal attempt before making a 30-yarder, and Josh Freeman threw an interception to former Bucs cornerback Aqib Talib with 11 seconds left in the first half.
The Patriots (3-0) have allowed just 34 points this season.
Freeman, who entered the game with a completion rate of 45.3 percent, the worst in the NFL, completed only 19 of 41 passes for 236 yards. The Patriots held Doug Martin, who rushed for 144 yards a week earlier, to 88 yards on 20 carries.
BENGALS 34, PACKERS 30
CINCINNATI — Terence Newman returned a fumble 58 yards for a touchdown with 3:47 left, rallying Cincinnati past Green Bay in a game of wild momentum swings set up by nonstop turnovers.
Each team gave it away four times. Each team returned a fumble for a touchdown — M.D. Jennings ran one back for Green Bay (1-2).
The Bengals blew a 14-point lead, and the Packers let a 16-point lead get away in the second half.
The Bengals (2-1) finished it off when Michael Johnson batted down Aaron Rodgers’ fourth-down pass at the Cincinnati 20-yard line with 1:21 left, ending a subpar showing for the quarterback.
The Bengals defense made the difference as Rodgers was 26 of 43 for 244 yards with a touchdown, but was sacked four times and threw two interceptions.
Cincinnati’s Andy Dalton was 20 of 28 for 235 yards with two touchdowns, an interception and a fumble that Jennings returned 24 yards for a touchdown in the second quarter, sparking Green Bay’s comeback.
Dalton threw touchdown passes of 20 yards to A.J. Green and 11 yards to Marvin Jones, cutting the deficit to 30-28.
SAINTS 31, CARDINALS 7
NEW ORLEANS — Drew Brees passed for three scores and scrambled for New Orleans’ first touchdown rushing of the season in a victory over Arizona.
The Saints quarterback was 29 of 46 for 342 yards, with two TD strikes to tight end Jimmy Graham and the other to Robert Meachem.
Brees was intercepted once by New Orleans native and former LSU star Tyrann Mathieu. That play ended a scoring threat, but only delayed the inevitable on a day when Arizona’s short-handed defense was little match for the prolific passing attack of the Saints (3-0).
Arizona (1-2) had no answer for the 6-foot-7 Graham, who caught nine passes for 134 yards.
Meanwhile, the Saints’ rejuvenated defense produced four sacks and two interceptions of Carson Palmer.
The Saints hadn’t opened a season with three straight victories since 2009, when they went on to win the franchise’s only Super Bowl.
COWBOYS 31, RAMS 7
ARLINGTON, Texas — DeMarco Murray ran for 175 yards and a touchdown two years after torching St. Louis with a franchise record as a rookie, and Tony Romo threw for three scores in Dallas’ rout.
Murray had his first 100-yard game in more than a year.
The Cowboys (2-1) sacked Sam Bradford four times in the first half and had six overall after St. Louis (1-2) hadn’t allowed a sack in four games, dating to last season.
It was the Rams’ longest streak since John Hadl was under center for a division champion in 1973.
Bradford went 29 for 48 and wasn’t intercepted.
DeMarcus Ware had two sacks and broke Harvey Martin’s 30-year-old franchise record of 114.
The Rams had just 18 total yards in the first half compared to 96 for Murray. The Cowboys had 202 yards before halftime.
Romo, who had 217 yards passing, went 2 yards to Dez Bryant for the first Dallas score.
He had a pair of 24-yarders in the second half to rookie tight end Gavin Escobar and Dwayne Harris.
St. Louis avoided the shutout on Bradford’s 4-yard pass to Austin Pettis on fourth down late in the third quarter.
RAVENS 30, TEXANS 9
BALTIMORE — Daryl Smith had a 37-yard interception return for a TD, Tandon Doss took a punt 82 yards for another score, and Baltimore smothered Houston’s high-powered offense.
The Ravens (2-1) won despite playing without Ray Rice for the first time since 2008.
The three-time Pro Bowl running back was replaced by Bernard Pierce, who ran for 65 yards and a touchdown.
Houston (2-1) led 6-3 before Smith picked off Matt Schaub’s pass and took it into the end zone with 2:39 left in the first half.
Less than two minutes later, Doss had his first punt return for a touchdown.
The Ravens haven’t allowed a touchdown in eight quarters since their season-opening 49-27 defeat in Denver.
Schaub went 25 for 35 for 194 yards and an interception. He played much of the second half without wide receiver Andre Johnson, who appeared to have an ankle or foot injury.
Joe Flacco completed 16 of 24 passes for 171 yards for the Ravens.
LIONS 27, REDSKINS 20
LANDOVER, Md. — Matthew Stafford completed 25 of 42 passes for 385 yards with two touchdowns and one interception, and Calvin Johnson and Nate Burleson both had 100 yards receiving for Detroit, which beat Washington on the road for the first time.
The Lions (2-1) ended a 21-game streak against the Redskins, the second-longest in NFL history.
Detroit’s last win away from home in the series came in 1935 against the Boston Redskins, two years before the move to Washington.
Robert Griffin III and the defending NFC East champion Redskins fell to 0-3.
The Lions got their insurance touchdown with 3:56 remaining on Stafford’s 11-yard pass to Johnson. Washington pulled within seven with a field goal with 1:40 to play, but a desperation pass on the game’s final play fell incomplete.
Griffin completed 32 of 50 passes for 326 yards and had his fourth interception of the season, one shy of his 2012 total. The Redskins scored an offensive touchdown for the first time this season.
TITANS 20, CHARGERS 17
NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Jake Locker helped Tennessee end a skid against the San Diego that spanned two states and two decades.
Locker threw a 34-yard touchdown pass to rookie Justin Hunter with 15 seconds left and the Titans rallied to beat the Chargers.
It was their first win over the Chargers for the franchise since 1992 when the team was in Houston and Titans coach Mike Munchak still was playing for the then-Oilers.
The Titans (2-1) had lost nine straight to San Diego.
Locker ended the slide by completing seven passes to six receivers for 94 yards on the game-winning drive. He finished with 299 yards passing and ran for 68 yards.
San Diego (1-2) led most of the game despite having four starters out because of injuries and lost a fifth to an injured foot in the first half.
The Titans outgained San Diego 452-277 yards with Nate Washington catching eight passes for 131 yards. Chris Johnson ran 19 times for 90 yards.
BROWNS 31, VIKINGS 27
MINNEAPOLIS — Jordan Cameron caught three touchdown passes, including the go-ahead grab in the back of the end zone with 51 seconds left, and Cleveland kept Minnesota winless.
Third-stringer Brian Hoyer threw for three scores for the Browns (1-2), the latest team to torch Minnesota’s depleted secondary.
He overcame three interceptions to throw for 321 yards, going 30 for 54. Josh Gordon had 10 catches for 146 yards and a touchdown in his season debut, and Cameron had six receptions for 66 yards.
Christian Ponder ran for two touchdowns for the Vikings (0-3), but he threw an interception, lost a fumble and took his sixth sack on the final play of the game.
After trading young star running back Trent Richardson and elevating Hoyer for his second career start, the Browns looked finished. But they held Adrian Peterson to 88 yards and one score on 25 rushes, used a fake punt and a fake field goal in the first half to build their lead.
SEAHAWKS 45, JAGS 17
SEATTLE — Russell Wilson matched his career high with four touchdown passes — two each to Sidney Rice and Zach Miller — and Seattle overwhelmed Jacksonville.
The Seahawks improved to 3-0 for the first time since 2006, beginning a stretch of four straight games against the AFC South. Seattle came in as a 19-point favorite and never gave Jacksonville (0-3) a chance.
Seattle jumped ahead 17-0 early in the second quarter. Wilson connected with Miller twice in the first 16 minutes on TDs of 1 and 4 yards. He hit Rice for an 11-yard TD late in the first half and found him again on a 23-yarder early in the third quarter.
Wilson checked out with 3:54 left in the third and finished 14 of 21 for 202 yards. The four TD passes matched his performance last December in a win over San Francisco.
The Seahawks forced Jacksonville into three turnovers.
They sacked Chad Henne four times, and Maurice Jones-Drew, playing with an injured ankle, was limited to 43 yards on 19 carries.
Henne was 18 of 38 for 235 yards.
DOLPHINS 27, FALCONS 23
MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. — Ryan Tannehill lobbed a 1-yard touchdown pass to rookie Dion Sims with 38 seconds left, and unbeaten Miami rallied past Atlanta.
The score capped a 13-play, 75-yard drive after Atlanta’s Matt Bryant missed a 35-yard field goal attempt with 4:46 left.
Jimmy Wilson intercepted Matt Ryan to seal the victory.
Miami fell behind 10-0 and 20-10 and trailed much of the game, but nonetheless improved to 3-0 for the first time since 2002. The injury-plagued Falcons, who were one play from the Super Bowl last season, fell to 1-2.
Tannehill finished 24 for 35 for 236 yards and two scores.
He shook off two turnovers and five sacks, and was at his best at the end of each half.
On the final drive, Tannehill went 8 for 11 for 69 yards and had two passes dropped.
Atlanta lost despite advantages of 24-16 in first downs, 377-285 in yards and 5-0 in sacks.
Ryan threw for 231 yards, and in the absence of Steven Jackson, Jacquizz Rodgers and Jason Snelling combined for 139 yards rushing.
JETS 27, BILLS 20
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — Geno Smith threw two touchdown passes, including a go-ahead 69-yarder to Santonio Holmes in the fourth quarter, and the New York Jets overcame a team-record 20 penalties to hang on and beat Buffalo in an ugly game.
Smith slightly outplayed EJ Manuel in a matchup of the first two quarterbacks selected in the NFL draft in April. But this one was tough to watch at times with the barrage of penalties. The Jets (2-1) rolled up 168 yards in penalty yardage, and nearly gave it away against the Bills (1-2).
Capping a drive kept alive by four straight penalties on the Jets, Manuel connected with Scott Chandler for a 33-yard touchdown, then hit Stevie Johnson for a 2-point conversion to tie it at 20 with 10:39 left in the game.
Bilal Powell ran for a career-high 149 yards for the Jets.
BEARS 40, STEELERS 23
PITTSBURGH — Chicago’s defense forced five turnovers and scored twice, and the Bears beat Pittsburgh to remain unbeaten.
Major Wright returned an interception 38 yards for a touchdown in the second quarter, and Julius Peppers picked up Ben Roethlisberger’s fumble and raced 42 yards for a score in the fourth quarter as the Bears (3-0) held off a late rally.
Roethlisberger completed 26 of 41 passes for 406 yards, and threw two touchdowns to Antonio Brown, but the Steelers fell to 0-3 for the first time since 2000 thanks to an avalanche of mistakes.
Jay Cutler passed for 159 yards and threw a 17-yard touchdown strike to Earl Bennett with just under 6 minutes remaining to give the Bears breathing room after the Steelers trimmed a 21-point deficit to four.