NFL – Cards, Eagles unbeaten while Saints sinking at 0-2

By The Associated Press

The Arizona Cardinals and Philadelphia Eagles are still perfect, surprising standouts on the NFL’s quickly dwindling list of undefeated teams.

Sure, it’s just two weeks into the season, but 2-0 sure sounds good. Especially when only five teams can say that.

The New Orleans Saints, however, are still looking for a win without their head coach or their once-dominant defense.

Kevin Kolb threw for one touchdown and ran for another, Stephen Gostkowski missed a potential winning field goal in the final seconds, and Arizona upset New England 20-18 on Sunday.

“Nobody really gave us a chance,” said Arizona coach Ken Whisenhunt, whose team was a two-touchdown underdog, “but our guys believed they could do it and it’s great to see them operate that way.”

Houston, San Diego and San Francisco also improved to 2-0 on Sunday, with Denver (1-0) and Atlanta (1-0) looking to join the club heading into their Monday night matchup.

The Cardinals (2-0) have won nine of their last 11 games, and they got this one thanks in large part to Kolb, who filled in for starter John Skelton and sent the Patriots (1-1) to their first loss in 11 home openers since they moved into Gillette Stadium in 2002. The Cardinals also ended a five-game losing streak against the Patriots, beating them for the first time since Sept. 29, 1991.

“We knew what kind of game this was going to be,” Kolb said. “We’ve been kind of stressing it all week: Stay patient, don’t get greedy.”

The Patriots began their final possession after Vince Wilfork recovered a fumble by Ryan Williams at the Cardinals 30-yard line with 1:01 left. A 30-yard run into the end zone by Danny Woodhead was nullified by a holding penalty against Rob Gronkowski. New England then moved to the 24 before Tom Brady spiked the ball to stop the clock with 6 seconds remaining.

But Gostkowski sent his kick to the left.

“I had a chance to win and it came down to me and I didn’t pull through, and it stinks,” said Gostkowski, who had been 3 for 3 in his career on field-goal attempts in the final two minutes with a chance to tie or win a game.

The Patriots suffered a big loss when tight end Aaron Hernandez, their most versatile offensive player, hurt his right ankle in the first quarter. He left Gillette Stadium wearing a walking boot and carrying crutches. The Patriots gave no update on the injury.

At Philadelphia, Michael Vick scored on a 1-yard TD run with 1:55 left, helping the Eagles overcome a slew of turnovers to beat the Baltimore Ravens 24-23 for their second straight comeback win.

The Eagles are 2-0 for the first time since Donovan McNabb and Terrell Owens led them to the Super Bowl in 2004.

“In the moment, you have to be at your best,” Vick said. “It’s got to be an any-means-necessary mentality.”

Rookie kicker Justin Tucker made field goals of 56, 51 and 48 yards for the Ravens, but Joe Flacco couldn’t get Baltimore (1-1) in his range in the final minute.

The Ravens had a lot to say about the replacement officials after this one.

“There’s some serious calls the refs missed,” Baltimore’s Ray Lewis said. “It’s just the way it is, man, all around the league. We have to correct that. These games are critical. Guys are giving everything they’ve got all across the league. But these are calls, with the regular refs, if they were here, we know the way the calls would be made.”

At Charlotte, N.C., Cam Newton threw for 253 yards and ran for a career-high 71 yards and led the Panthers to a 35-27 win over New Orleans that left the NFC South champion Saints 0-2 for the first time since 2007.

“Times change,” wide receiver Steve Smith said of Carolina’s first win over New Orleans since 2009.

Coach Ron Rivera said a loss to Drew Brees and the Saints would have been tough to take especially with a tough game coming up Thursday night against the Super Bowl champion New York Giants.

“The way we responded as a team this week was outstanding,” Rivera said of his 1-1 Panthers. “I think the attitude, the effort was great.”

The Saints, meanwhile, have serious concerns on defense. They’ve allowed 922 yards and 75 points in two games against Newton and Robert Griffin III.

“If you look at our defense, and you look at the two offenses we’ve played, we’ve played the most unconventional offenses in the National Football League,” said interim coach Aaron Kromer, who is running the team because coach Sean Payton and assistant head coach Joe Vitt are serving suspensions for their roles in the Saints bounty scandal. “So do we have to do better against those styles of offenses? Yeah, we do.

“One thing we need to get settled in on is on that style. But we’ve played two good offenses, and we just need to keep working at it and plugging away.”

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GIANTS 41, BUCCANEERS 34

At East Rutherford, N.J., Eli Manning came up with a near-record performance in throwing for 510 yards, and Andre Brown scored on a 2-yard run with 31 seconds left to lift the New York Giants over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Manning’s yardage total was the second most for a Giants quarterback, and tied for the eighth-highest in NFL history. He threw three first-half interceptions, and came back with a monster 295 yards passing in the second, finishing 3 yards short of Phil Simms’ team record.

The Bucs (1-1) led by 11 points before the Super Bowl champions came back and avoided an 0-2 start.

Manning threw touchdowns of 23 yards to Hakeem Nicks, 80 to Victor Cruz and 33 to Martellus Bennett with 3:59 to play to give New York (1-1) a 34-27 lead. Cruz finished with 11 catches for 179 yards, both career highs, while Nicks had 10 catches for 199 yards, with the yardage a personal best. Only the 1951 Rams had a 500-yard passer and two 150-yard receivers in the same game.

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COLTS 23, VIKINGS 20

At Indianapolis, Adam Vinatieri made a 53-yard field goal with 8 seconds left to give Andrew Luck his first NFL victory.

Minnesota (1-1) rallied from a two-touchdown deficit in the final 5½ minutes and tied the score on a 6-yard TD pass from Christian Ponder to Kyle Rudolph with 31 seconds left.

But that was too much time for Luck, who had thrown two touchdown passes for the Colts (1-1). He started with back-to-back 20-yard completions, then drew the Vikings offside before spiking the ball with 12 seconds to go. Vinatieri, the best clutch kicker in NFL history, knocked the 53-yarder through the uprights to win it.

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49ERS 27, LIONS 19

At San Francisco, Vernon Davis caught touchdown passes of 21 and 23 yards from Alex Smith, who extended his franchise-record streak of passes without an interception to 216, leading the NFC West favorite Niners (2-0) to their ninth straight win in the series.

Smith took a hard hand to the helmet from John Wendling late and bloodied his nose, but the 49ers ran their home winning streak against the Lions (1-1) to 12 — and there was no heated greeting afterward this time. Coaches Jim Harbaugh and Jim Schwartz met before the game with a friendly hello and handshake.

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DOLPHINS 35, RAIDERS 13

At Miami, Reggie Bush ran for 172 yards and two touchdowns, and the Dolphins won a home opener for the first time since 2005.

Ryan Tannehill threw his first NFL touchdown pass, ran for another and avoided any turnovers after tossing three interceptions in his pro debut a week earlier.

The Dolphins improved to 1-1, and Joe Philbin earned a sideline drenching for his first victory as a head coach. The Raiders, under new coach Dennis Allen, are 0-2 for the first time since 2007.

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TEXANS 27, JAGUARS 7

At Jacksonville, Fla., Arian Foster ran for 110 yards and a touchdown, Ben Tate added 74 yards and two scores and Houston dominated from the start.

The Texans improved to 2-0 for the third consecutive season by winning their fourth in a row against the AFC South-rival Jaguars, who started 0-2 for the third time in the last five years.

Jacksonville, which has never had a winning record after dropping its first two games, was far from competitive in the latest meeting. The Jaguars finished with a franchise-low 117 yards.

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BILLS 35, CHIEFS 17

At Orchard Park, N.Y., C.J. Spiller scored twice and had 123 yards rushing in sparking Buffalo.

Ryan Fitzpatrick threw two touchdown passes, including a 49-yarder to Stevie Johnson, and Leodis McKelvin scored on an 88-yard punt return — the second-longest in team history — in the Bills’ home opener.

Buffalo’s high-priced defense had five sacks and forced three turnovers as the Bills (1-1) bounced back from a season-opening 48-28 loss to the Jets last week.

Dwayne Bowe scored both touchdowns for Kansas City, 0-2 for the sixth time in seven years.

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BENGALS 34, BROWNS 27

At Cincinnati, Adam “Pacman” Jones returned Cleveland’s first punt 81 yards for a touchdown, and Andy Dalton matched his career high with three touchdown passes.

The Bengals (1-1) have won 13 of the last 16 against the Browns (0-2), who got impressive games from rookie quarterback Brandon Weeden and running back Trent Richardson. Weeden threw for two touchdowns, and Richardson became the first Browns rookie to run for 100 yards and score on a run and a pass.

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STEELERS 27, JETS 10

At Pittsburgh, Ben Roethlisberger passed for 275 yards and two touchdowns and the Steelers smothered the New York Jets in the second half.

Roethlisberger completed 24 of 31 passes. He hit Heath Miller for a 1-yard score to give the Steelers (1-1) the lead late in the first half, then found Mike Wallace for a 37-yard strike early in the third quarter to break the game open and avoid Pittsburgh’s first 0-2 start in a decade.

Mark Sanchez passed for 138 yards and a touchdown, but the Jets (1-1) hardly resembled the offensive juggernaut that piled up points in a 48-28 opening-week blowout win over Buffalo.

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RAMS 31, REDSKINS 28

At St. Louis, Sam Bradford threw for 310 yards and three touchdowns and Danny Amendola caught 15 passes for 160 yards in rallying the Rams (1-1).

The Rams made their comeback after running back Steven Jackson left the game after drawing an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty in the second quarter. Later, coach Jeff Fisher said Jackson left because of a groin injury.

Griffin led the Redskins (1-1) to a 21-6 lead, but the Rams came back thanks to the pass-catching of Amendola, who tied the NFL record with 12 first-half receptions.

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SEAHAWKS 27, COWBOYS 7

At Seattle, Marshawn Lynch ran for 122 yards and a 3-yard touchdown in the fourth quarter and the Seahawks’ special teams came up with two huge first-quarter plays that led to 10 points.

Michael Robinson forced Felix Jones to fumble on the opening kickoff that led to a short field goal, and Malcolm Smith blocked Chris Jones’ punt and Jeron Johnson returned it for a touchdown to give Seattle (1-1) a 10-0 lead in less than 5 minutes against the Cowboys (1-1).

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CHARGERS 38, TITANS 10

At San Diego, Dante Rosario had three touchdown catches for the first time in his NFL career and the Chargers’ defense harassed Jake Locker all day in beating Tennessee for the ninth straight time.

Before the game, the Chargers (2-0) retired Junior Seau’s No. 55. Seau, the hard-hitting, first-pumping leader of the Chargers for 13 seasons, committed suicide May 2. San Diego’s winning streak against the Titans (0-2) dates to 1993, when the franchise was still the Houston Oilers.

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