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NFL

AFC North Week 1 roundup: Chiefs surge past Browns in fourth quarter; Steelers rally over Bills; Bengals top Vikings in OT

Patrick Mahomes threw for 337 yards and three touchdowns while running for another score, and the Kansas City Chiefs came back from a dismal first half against the Cleveland Browns for a 33-29 victory Sunday in a rematch of their divisional playoff game from January.

Tyreek Hill caught 11 passes for 197 yards and a touchdown, and Travis Kelce hauled in a pair of TD catches, including the go-ahead score with 7:02 remaining as the Chiefs finished off their rally from a 22-10 halftime deficit.

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The Chiefs won their fifth straight against Cleveland, including their 22-17 playoff victory, and their 15th consecutive game in September. They also pushed Andy Reid within one win of reaching 100 with two franchises.

As for the Browns? They fell to 1-21 in season openers since returning to Cleveland in 1999, extending their NFL mark to 17 consecutive defeats. They haven’t won an opener on the road since the 1994 season.

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Baker Mayfield threw for 321 yards, but he was picked off by Chiefs cornerback Mike Hughes with 1:09 left to end any hope of a comeback. Nick Chubb ran for 83 yards and two scores while Kareem Hunt and Jarvis Landry also had TD runs.

The game was a rematch of a physical, defensive-minded playoff game that Kansas City clinched when backup quarterback Chad Henne threw a fourth-down pass to Tyreek Hill for a first down with just over a minute to go.

There wasn’t a whole lot of defense Sunday.

The Browns twice converted fourth downs in the Chiefs’ red zone to keep first-half scoring drives alive. Chubb ended the first with his first TD run, and Jarvis Landry scored on fourth down on the second, before Chubb tacked on an 18-yard run through a gaping hole in the rebuilt Chiefs defensive line to make it 22-10 at halftime.

The Chiefs finally found some offensive balance in the second half, riding Clyde Edwards-Helaire down the field before Mahomes hit Kelce for a touchdown. That capped a drive that took up half the third quarter and, most importantly for the lackluster Kansas City defense, kept Mayfield and the rest of the Browns offense off the field.

The Chiefs nearly ground out the rest of the quarter by turning Chubb’s fumble into Harrison Butker’s second field goal.

When the Browns weren’t beating themselves, the Chiefs weren’t doing a whole lot to stop them. Kevin Stefanski’s bunch immediately responded with a seven-play, 75-yard drive — their fourth scoring drive at least that long — that former Chiefs running back Hunt finished off to make it 29-20 with 10:24 to go.

But the Browns weren’t done beating themselves, either.

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First, they blew coverage on Hill near midfield, and he merely had to cradle a pop-up pass from Mahomes and take off for a 75-yard touchdown reception. Then, after the Chiefs finally forced a three-and-out, Browns punter Jamie Gillan inexplicably dropped the snap and the AFC champs took possession at the Cleveland 15.

Mahomes hit Kelce three plays later to give Kansas City a 33-29 lead, its first of the game. And after the teams traded late punts, Mayfield made one last mistake with his interception with just over a minute to go.

Ejected: Browns SS Ronnie Harrison Jr. was tossed with 4:59 left in the first quarter after shoving Chiefs assistant Greg Lewis in a sideline scrum. It happened after Harrison helped tackle Clyde Edwards-Helaire. Referee Bill Vinovich initially flagged the Chiefs bench for unsportsmanlike conduct before meeting with his crew and ejecting Harrison instead.

Missing stars: The Browns were missing WR Odell Beckham Jr. (knee), who tried to warm up but was declared inactive about 90 minutes before kickoff, and backup FS Grant Delpit. Kansas City was without FS Tyrann Mathieu, who was taken off the COVID-19 list on Saturday, and DE Frank Clark, who has been sidelined by a hamstring injury.

Injury report: Browns: LT Jedrick Willis Jr. (left ankle) left in the second quarter and did not return.

Chiefs: LB Anthony Hitchens (right wrist) left in the first half but returned in the second.

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Steelers 23, Bills 16

Ben Roethlisberger and the Steelers’ new-look offense overcame a slow start, Ulysees Gilbert returned a blocked punt 9 yards for a touchdown and Pittsburgh rallied to a season-opening 23-16 win over the Buffalo Bills on Sunday.

Down 10-0, the Steelers scored on each of their first four possessions of the second half, with Roethlisberger putting Pittsburgh ahead for good by lobbing a 5-yard touchdown pass to Diontae Johnson in the left corner of the end zone.

The pass initially went off Johnson’s fingertips, but the receiver was able to secure the ball before tumbling out of bounds 3:41 into the fourth quarter. The Steelers then extended their lead to 20-10 some 90 seconds later with Miles Killebrew bursting up the middle to block Matt Haack’s punt, with Gilbert scooping up the loose ball and running it in untouched.

In opening his 18th — and perhaps final — season, Roethlisberger posted his 36th career fourth-quarter comeback to tie Drew Brees for third on the NFL list. He finished 18 of 32 for 188 yards and a touchdown.

Chris Boswell hit all three field-goal attempts, including a game-sealing 45-yarder with 2:42 remaining.

The Steelers defeated the Bills after losing to them in each of the past two seasons — both times in primetime.

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In a matchup of defending AFC division champs, the Bills produced a dud following an offseason in which many pegged them as Super Bowl contenders.

Buffalo’s Allen-led dynamic offense sputtered in resembling nothing of the aggressive unit which set numerous scoring and passing records last year. Allen finished 30 of 51 for 270 yards with a 3-yard touchdown pass to Gabriel Davis.

The Bills otherwise settled for Tyler Bass hitting three field goals and, worse still, failed to convert consecutive fourth-down opportunities to open the second half.

Give the Steelers defense credit for keeping them in the game.

Gilbert’s touchdown came when the Bills were forced to punt following a three-and-out in which James Pierre punched the ball out of the arms of Emmanuel Sanders to prevent a 20-yard catch on second down, and T.J. Watt followed by sacking Allen for a 6-yard loss.

Watt certainly made his presence felt three days after becoming the NFL’s top-paid defensive player by signing a four-year, $112 million contract extension. He sacked Allen in the second quarter and forced a fumble by chasing the quarterback down from behind on third-and-13 at the Pittsburgh 41.

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Roethlisberger overcame a slow start under Steelers new offensive coordinator Matt Canada. Pittsburgh combined for just three first downs and 54 net yards on its six possessions in the first half. Rookie first-round draft pick, running back Najee Harris, had 7 yards on eight carries in the first half, and finished with 45 yards on 16 carries.

Big opening: The Bills scored on their opening possession with Bass hitting a 37-yard field goal, which was set up by Isaiah McKenzie’s 75-yard kickoff return.

Buffalo didn’t score again until its final possession of the half, in which Allen capped a 13-play, 91-yard drive with a 3-yard touchdown pass to Davis. Facing third-and-goal, Allen threaded a perfect pass in hitting Davis in stride, and a step ahead of defender Cameron Sutton.

Watt’s up: Watt got his 18th career forced fumble, which is the most in the NFL since he was drafted in 2017. Watt also upped his sack total to 51 1/2.

For the block: Killebrew’s blocked punt was Pittsburgh’s first since Roosevelt Nix against Atlanta in 2018. Gilbert’s TD return off a blocked punt was Pittsburgh’s first since Bills current special teamer Tyler Matakevich scored against Cleveland in 2017.

Bengals 27, Vikings 24, OT

Evan McPherson kicked a 33-yard field goal as time expired in overtime to push the Cincinnati Bengals to a 27-24 win over the Minnesota Vikings on Sunday.

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The game-winning kick was set up by a gutsy call. On fourth-and-inches for the Bengals from their 48, Burrow rolled out and hit tight end C.J. Uzomah in stride for a 32-yard gain and get McPherson well within his range. McPherson added a 53-yard field goal early in the fourth quarter.

Cincinnati’s Germaine Pratt recovered Dalvin Cook’s fumble to set up the winning drive for Cincinnati. Minnesota challenged the ruling that Cook had fumbled, but it was upheld after a replay review.

Greg Joseph kicked a career-long 53-yard field goal as time ran out in the fourth quarter to tie the game for Minnesota, which had battled back from a 21-7 second-half deficit.

Burrow threw for 261 yards and two touchdowns in his return after major knee surgery nine months ago, and rookie Ja’Marr Chase had 101 yards on five receptions, including a 50-yard scoring pass from his former LSU teammate.

Burrow, who flashed his considerable potential last season before tearing up his left knee in Week 11, completed 20 passes on 27 attempts and didn’t show any residual effects from being sacked five times by the Vikings. The 24-year-old played only one series in the preseason, in the final game, as he continued to rehab.

Cincinnati running back Joe Mixon, making a return from a foot injury that sidelined him much of last season, rushed for 127 yards and had a 2-yard touchdown plunge in the third quarter.

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Kirk Cousins passed for 351 yards and two touchdowns to Adam Thielen for the Vikings.


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