INDIANAPOLIS - The Chicago Bears ruined the opener of the new Lucas Oil Stadium for Indianapolis Colts fans. The Bears used their old formula of ball-control offense and helmet-popping defense to stun the Colts 29-13 on opening night. Rookie running back Matt Forte ran for 123 yards and one touchdown in his NFL debut. Kyle Orton committed no turnovers in managing the game effectively as the Bears QB. Two-time league MVP Peyton Manning didn't look in form in his first game action since having surgery to remove an infected bursa sac from his left knee in mid-July. The loss snapped the Colts 21-game winning streak in September and October.
SAN DIEGO - There was a fantastic finish to Carolina's 26-24 upset of San Diego. After the Chargers had taken a lead on Philip Rivers' third TD pass with 2:27, John Fox's Chargers showed their poise on the road in the most exciting game of the day. Jake Delhomme (deh-LOHM') guided the Chargers on an 11-play, 68-yard drive for the winning touchdown. On a fourth-down play that was the last play from scrimmage, Delhomme hit tight end Dante Rosario with a 14-yard TD pass for the go-ahead score of the heart-stopping game as time expired. John Kasay, who booted four field goals, added the extra point for the final score. Delhomme completed 8-of-11 for all 68 yards on the final drive. For the game, Delhomme was 23-of-41 for 247 yards.
Brett Favre (fahrv) admits it was "shaky" but still called it a good start in his new hometown. Favre earned his 161st career victory -- but first in a New York Jets uniform -- by throwing for two touchdowns in the Jets' 20-14 win at Miami. Favre's new beginning had a happy ending thanks to two late stands by the Jets' defense. Dwight Lowery batted away a fourth-down pass in the end zone with 9 minutes left. Darrelle Revis saved the game by intercepting Chad Pennington's final pass in the end zone with 5 seconds left. Like his days in Green Bay, Favre was highly efficient, completing 15-of-22 for 194 yards. The Jets showed some offensive balance as well, with Thomas Jones rushing 22 times for 101 yards. Ex-Jets QB Pennington was impressive in his Dolphins debut, completing 22-of-43 for 252 yards with one TD and one interception.
FOXBOROUGH, Mass. - Tom Brady's NFL season could be in jeopardy. The reigning NFL MVP suffered a serious knee injury in New England's closer-than-anticipated 17-10 win over lowly Kansas City after being hit on the left leg. Brady started his 128th straight game but left after being hit by Chiefs safety Bernard Pollard midway through the opening quarter. After being tended to on the field, he walked off, limping. Backup Matt Cassel led the Patriots to a 17-10 victory. The two-time Super Bowl MVP was not available for comment after the game. Coach Bill Belichick says he's "not sure what we are dealing with," regarding his star QB's injury. Brady was 7-for-11 for 76 yards, completing a 26-yard pass to Moss on the play in which he was injured. Cassel managed the game effectively in relief, completing 13-of-18 for 152 yards and one TD. Moss caught his 126th career touchdown, tying Jim Brown for eighth place on the all-time list.
Brady will have an MRI Monday to determine exact extent of the injury.
BALTIMORE - Two rookies performed very well in Baltimore's 17-10 victory over Cincinnati, one on the field and the other on the sidelines. Top draft pick Joe Flacco, a 6-foot-6 rookie quarterback out of Delaware, completed 15-of-29 passes for 129 yards and no interceptions. He also ran 38 yards for a touchdown. This all helped another rookie, coach John Harbaugh, win his NFL debut. Baltimore's other touchdown came on a double reverse, a trick play that represented a marked departure from the conservative offense employed by Harbaugh predecessor Brian Billick. But there was one constant from the Billick era - the Ravens' ever-tough defense forced two turnovers and limited the Bengals to 154 yards total yards.
Even the off-the-field stuff didn't go well for Cincinnati. Bengals receiver Chad Ocho Cinco, who legally changed his name from Chad Johnson, was forced by the NFL to wear Johnson on his jersey "because certain issues need to be resolved," the league said in a statement. Ocho Cinco finished with one catch for 22 yards.
NEW ORLEANS - Drew Brees made good on his promise to give the New Orleans Saints' storm-weary fans some major league entertainment. Brees passed for 343 yards and three TDs in the Saints' 24-20 win over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. New Orleans residents had something to cheer following their team's quick return from Hurricane Gustav, which had caused evacuations in the Big Easy. Brees' scoring passes went for 39 yards to David Patten, 84 to Devery Henderson and 42 to Reggie Bush, with Bush's score putting the Saints in the lead for good in the fourth quarter. Former Giants tight end Jeremy Shockey had the Superdome crowd chanting his name as he caught six passes for 54 yards in his Saints debut.
PHILADELPHIA - Donovan McNabb, looking healthier than he has been in years, threw for 361 yards and three TDs in Philadelphia's 38-3 rout of hapless St. Louis. McNabb was 21-for-33, including a 90-yard TD pass to Hank Baskett. DeSean Jackson, the first Eagles rookie wide receiver to start the season opener in 18 years, had six catches for 106 yards. He also returned a punt 60 yards to set up a field goal. The Eagles, coming off their second last-place finish in three years, looked like a team that expects to make a championship run. The offense racked up 522 total yards and the defense was dominant. St. Louis managed just eight first downs and 166 total yards, much of that coming in garbage time in the fourth quarter.
CLEVELAND - The Dallas Cowboys opened what they hope is a championship season with a 28-10 victory on the road at Cleveland. Tony Romo threw for 320 yards, including a 35-yard TD score to Terrell Owens. Romo finished 24-for-32. After winning 13 games last season, the Cowboys' season ended abruptly in the playoffs with a home loss to eventual Super Bowl champion New York Giants. The Cowboys opened 2008 clicking on all cylinders. Besides Romo's aerial gains, the Cowboys ran for 167 yards. Marion Barber anchored the ground game with 80 yards rushing, scoring on two short TD runs. The Cowboys outgained the Browns, 487-to-205 in total yards.
SAN FRANCISCO - Kurt Warner is like an old, comfortable shoe. The veteran Warner, who beat out third-year man Matt Leinart for the Arizona Cardinals' starting quarterback job, showed the wisdom of coach Ken Whisenhunt's choice by guiding the Cards to a 23-13 road win at San Francisco. Warner passed for 197 yards and directed three long scoring drives. Anquan Boldin was Warner's favorite receiver with eight catches for 82 yards. Holding a comfortable lead in the second half, the Cards killed the clock by holding the ball for nearly 23 of the 30 minutes of play in the second half.
ATLANTA - Michael Vick who? Bobby Petrino what? The Atlanta Falcons opened the Matt Ryan era in style with a 34-21 win over Detroit. Ryan, the third overall pick in the draft, threw for a touchdown on his first NFL pass, a 62-yard strike to Michael Jenkins that electrified the Georgia Dome crowd before some fans had settled into their seats. Ryan was a workmanlike 9-for-13 for 161 yards. Michael Turner set a Falcons rushing record by running for 220 yards and two TDs. All this helped Mike Smith earn his first win as an NFL coach as the Falcons try to move on past Vick, who's currently in prison on dogfighting charges, and Petrino, their coach who quit midway through last season's horror show.
PITTSBURGH - Memo to the Houston Texans: don't gamble on fourth down on the road in Pittsburgh. The Texans lost that gamble, a challenge and a 38-17 opener at Heinz Field to the powerful Steelers. Willie Parker ran for 138 yards and three touchdowns. Ben Roethlisberger (RAWTH'-lihs-bur-gur) threw two scoring passes to Hines Ward. After losing possession on a fourth-down gamble in the opening five minutes, the Texans went steadily downhill. They trailed 35-3 before scoring two fourth-quarter TDs to make the final score look less of a rout.
NASHVILLE, Tenn. - The Tennessee Titans sacked David Garrard seven times and Cortland Finnegan intercepted him twice in beating Jacksonville 17-10 in the season opener between the AFC's two wild card teams from last season. But it might be a costly victory for Tennessee. Titans QB Vince Young was on crutches after spraining his left knee late in the game. Coach Jeff Fisher played down the injury but said Young will undergo tests to determine the extent of the injury.
ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. - Buffalo's special teams were largely responsible for the Bills' 34-10 victory over the Seattle Seahawks. Roscoe Parrish scored on a 63-yard punt return. Punter Brian Moorman completed a 19-yard touchdown pass to defensive end Ryan Denney on a fake field goal. Kicker Rian Lindell recovered a fumble on a kickoff, setting up Trent Edwards' 30-yard touchdown pass to Robert Royal. Buffalo opened a season with a win for only the fourth time in 12 years.
There's a two-for-one special on Monday night football. First, the Green Bay Packers open their post-Brett Favre era at home against the Minnesota Vikings in an NFC North matchup. Following that game, it's out to Oakland as the Raiders open against the Denver Broncos in AFC West action.
(Copyright 2008 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)
NFL Sidelines - Week 1
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