San Francisco Chronicle
In battle of bad, Texans rout Jags, rookie Lawrence
With Deshaun Watson out, Tyrod Taylor’s steady play and veteran leadership helped the Houston Texans open the season with a surprising rout of the Jacksonville Jaguars.
Taylor threw for 291 yards and two touchdowns to lead the host Texans, who were 4-12 last season, to the 37-21 win Sunday over Trevor Lawrence and the mistake-prone Jaguars.
“We expected to win,” new coach David Culley said. “We’re not surprised simply because we played good football.”
Taylor took over at quarterback with Watson’s future uncertain after 22 women filed lawsuits alleging sexual assault or harassment.
“It was never about me,” Taylor said. “It was about coming out and doing whatever it takes to help the team win.”
Taylor and Houston’s revamped running game were more than enough to handle a Jaguars team that didn’t look much better than last season’s 1-15 team despite the addition of top draft pick Lawrence.
Lawrence, the former Clemson standout, threw for 332 yards and three touchdowns but also threw three interceptions, often overthrew open receivers and was the victim of drops.
It was also the NFL debut for Jaguars coach Urban Meyer, who lost the first opener of his career after winning 17 openers as a college coach.
“I love Trevor and we all do,” Meyer said. “Offensive football is about 11 guys doing their job.”
Bengals 27, Vikings 24: Evan McPherson kicked a 33-yard field goal for the host Bengals as time expired in overtime. Cincinnati’s Germaine Pratt recovered Dalvin Cook’s fumble to set up the winning drive. Greg Joseph kicked a careerlong 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. Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow threw for 261 yards and two touchdowns in his return after major knee surgery nine months ago. Kirk Cousins passed for 351 yards and two touchdowns to Adam Thielen for the Vikings.
Dolphins 17, Patriots 16: Tua Tagovailoa threw a go-ahead touchdown pass to rookie Jaylen Waddle in the third quarter and Xavien Howard recovered a fumble with New England driving in the fourth to help visiting Miami hold on. Miami’s win spoiled the debut of New England rookie quarterback Mac Jones, the 15th overall pick who was 29for-39 for 281 yards and a touchdown. Damien Harris rushed 23 times for 100 yards but had the costly fumble to end New England’s hopes.
Rams 34, Bears 14: Matthew Stafford passed for 321 yards and three touchdowns in his debut with host Los Angeles.
With Stafford in place of the traded Jared Goff, the Rams again looked like the offensive powerhouse of their first two seasons under coach Sean McVay. Quarterback Andy Dalton passed for 206 yards in his Bears debut, and rookie quarterback Justin Fields rushed for a 3-yard score and completed both of his passes for 10 yards while getting a handful of snaps in his NFL debut. David Montgomery rushed for 108 yards and a touchdown for Chicago.
Eagles 32, Falcons 6: Jalen Hurts threw three touchdown passes, the first of them to Heisman Trophy winner DeVonta Smith, and visiting Philadelphia made a winner of Nick Sirianni in his head coaching debut. Entrenched as the Eagles starter after Carson Wentz was traded, Hurts looked the part, completing 27 of 35 passes for 264 yards and evading Atlanta’s blitzes. He rushed for 62 yards.
Panthers 19, Jets 14: In Charlotte, N.C., Carolina’s Sam Darnold threw for 279 yards and a touchdown and ran for another score against his former team. A healthy Christian McCaffrey piled up 187 yards from scrimmage on 30 touches after missing 13 games last season with injuries. Carolina’s defense pressured Jets rookie quarterback Zach Wilson, sacking the No. 2 pick in the NFL draft six times and intercepting one of his passes. Wilson, in his first career start, finished 20-for-37 for 258 yards with two touchdown passes to Corey Davis.
Broncos 27, Giants 13: Teddy Bridgewater threw two TD passes in his first start for Denver and the visiting Broncos spoiled the return of New York running back Saquon Barkley after a long ACL rehabilitation. Acquired in the offseason from Carolina, Bridgewater was 28-of-36 for 264 yards. Barkley finished with 10 carries for 26 yards.
Seahawks 28, Colts 16: Russell Wilson threw three of his four TD passes in the first half for visiting Seattle. Indianapolis lost its eighth straight opener, the past five with different starting QBs. Wilson was sensational with new offensive coordinator Shane Waldron, shredding a top-10 defense. The eight-time Pro Bowler led the Seahawks to TDs on their first two drives.
Cardinals 38, Titans 13: Kyler Murray accounted for five touchdowns and linebacker Chandler Jones had a careerhigh five sacks as Arizona romped in Nashville. Jones, who tied the franchise record, also forced two fumbles that the Cardinals turned into 14 points. Murray threw for 289 yards with two TD passes apiece to All-Pro wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins and Christian Kirk. Arizona scored the first 17 points and moved the ball almost at will.
Chargers 20, Washington 16: Los Angeles’ Justin Herbert threw for 337 yards and a touchdown in Landover, Md., in an ugly matchup full of turnovers and big penalties. Herbert led scoring drives of 75, 76 and 68 yards, and a go-ahead touchdown pass to Mike Williams made up for his fumble into the end zone and red zone interception on consecutive possessions. The Chargers went 14-for-19 on third downs, wearing down Washington’s defense led by last year’s top defensive rookie, Chase Young. Washington lost starting quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick to a right hip injury in the fourth quarter.