Deshaun Watson ran for a touchdown and threw for another, and Cleveland’s defense bottled up Cincinnati quarterback Joe Burrow – the NFL’s new highest-paid player – as the Browns opened the season with a 24-3 win over the Bengals on Sunday.
Watson bolted for a 13-yard TD late in the first half, making the kind of dynamic play the Browns envisioned when they signed him to a $230m contract in 2022. He missed 11 games last season for violating the league’s personal conduct policy.
Watson is in uniform from the start this season, and his presence has Cleveland expecting big things. He added a three-yard TD pass in the fourth quarter to tight end Harrison Bryant, and Watson celebrated by skipping down the field in front of Cincinnati’s sideline before converting the two-point try with a run up the middle.
Burrow had a rough opener, two days after signing a five-year, $275m extension – giving him the highest average annual salary in league history. The Browns held Burrow to a career-worst 82 yards passing (14 of 31) as Cleveland’s rebuilt defensive line pressured him all day. Myles Garrett sacked Burrow on fourth down with 10:27 left to help seal Cleveland’s stunningly easy win over the AFC North champions. The Browns forced the Bengals to punt 10 times in 14 possessions.
San Francisco 49ers 30–7 Pittsburgh Steelers
Brock Purdy threw for 220 yards and two touchdowns to Brandon Aiyuk in his return from offseason elbow surgery and the San Francisco 49ers drilled the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Purdy, who went from the last pick in the 2022 draft to entrenched starter in San Francisco after leading the 49ers to the NFC championship game, was crisp while completing 19 of 29 passes, including scoring strikes of eight and 19 yards to Aiyuk.
Christian McCaffery ran for 151 yards and caught three passes for 17 more for the 49ers, who looked every bit the dominant force it was down the stretch last season when Purdy took over at quarterback.
Los Angeles Rams 30-13 Seattle Seahawks
Matthew Stafford threw for 334 yards even without favorite target Cooper Kupp, Kyren Williams and Cam Akers combined for three touchdown runs and the Los Angeles Rams stunned the Seattle Seahawks.
Stafford was brilliant picking apart Seattle’s secondary for the 58th 300-yard passing game of his career in the regular season. He did so despite Kupp being sidelined for the first four games of the season while on injured reserve due to a hamstring injury.
Houston Texans 9-25 Baltimore Ravens
JK Dobbins ran for an early touchdown before suffering a season-ending injury, and Justice Hill scored twice in the second half as the Baltimore Ravens pulled away from the Houston Texans.
Lamar Jackson turned the ball over twice, and Baltimore looked out of sync for much of its first game with new offensive coordinator Todd Monken. But the Ravens kept Houston and rookie quarterback CJ Stroud out of the end zone. Stroud threw for 244 yards and no touchdowns or interceptions on his NFL debut.
Ravens coach John Harbaugh announced Dobbins’ injury after the game and said he would miss the rest of the season with a torn achilles, a significant blow to Baltimore’s offense.
Dobbins missed all of Baltimore’s summer workouts and missed a good portion of training camp while working his way back from a chronic knee injury. He was placed on physically unable to perform list, but was in the starting lineup Sunday against the Texans.
Selected in the second round of the 2020 draft, Dobbins missed the 2021 season with a knee injury and played eight games last season.
Philadelphia Eagles 25-20 New England Patriots
Jalen Hurts threw a touchdown pass and Darius Slay had a 70-yard interception return for a score as the Philadelphia Eagles built a big early lead, then hung on at the finish to beat the New England Patriots. The Eagles capitalized on two early turnovers by the Patriots, spoiling a day in which New England honored former quarterback Tom Brady at halftime. Hurts was 22-of-33 for 170 yards and the TD but had a costly fumble in the fourth quarter that gave the Patriots a chance. New England’s Mac Jones finished 35 of 54 for 316 yards, three touchdowns and an interception.
Miami Dolphins 36-34 Los Angeles Chargers
Tua Tagovailoa threw for 466 yards and three touchdowns and Tyreek Hill had 215 yards and two scores and the Miami Dolphins rallied for a victory over the Los Angeles Chargers. Hill caught a four-yard pass in the right corner of the end zone with 1:45 remaining for the clinching touchdown as the Dolphins finished with 536 yards. Hill had 215 yards – the third-best total in Week 1 in league history. Tagovailoa’s 466 passing yards are the fourth most in an opener. The fourth-year quarterback completed 28 of 45 for three touchdowns.
Green Bay Packers 38-20 Chicago Bears
Jordan Love looked like he might be ready to follow in the footsteps of Brett Favre and Aaron Rodgers, throwing for three touchdowns to lead the Green Bay Packers to a season-opening victory over the Chicago Bears. Aaron Jones ran for a touchdown and caught one, helping the Packers pull away in the second half for their ninth straight win over the Bears. Green Bay were 25-5 against Chicago with Rodgers, including the playoffs, and 22-10 in games Favre started. It was a discouraging start for the Bears and third-year quarterback Justin Fields, who threw for 216 yards, a touchdown and an interception.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers 20-17 Minnesota Vikings
Baker Mayfield recovered from a rough start to throw two touchdown passes without a turnover in his Tampa Bay debut, and the Buccaneers opened the season by beating Minnesota after three first-half turnovers by the Vikings. Chase McLaughlin matched his career long with a 57-yard field goal for the lead with 5:10 left. The Buccaneers forced a three-and-out on Minnesota’s last two possessions. Mayfield is on his fourth team in three years, takeing over for the retired Tom Brady. He completed 21 of 34 passes after a 3-for-11 start.
Jacksonville Jaguars 31-21 Indianapolis Colts
Tank Bigsby made up for a big mistake by scoring the go-ahead touchdown in Jacksonville’s season-opener and Travis Etienne Jr added a 26-yard scoring run to seal a 31-21 victory at Indianapolis.
Bigsby casually allowed the ball to be punched out of his hands after what he thought was an incompletion. Instead, Colts defensive tackle DeForest Buckner scooped up the loose ball and sprinted 26 yards for the score to give Indy a 21-17 third-quarter lead. Three series later, Bigsby’s one-yard plunge to made it 24-21.
Colts rookie Anthony Richardson became the third-youngest quarterback to start an NFL season opener at age 21, going 24 of 37 with 223 yards, one TD and the interception. He also had 10 carries for 40 yards and one TD while being sacked four times. He left the game in the final minute after getting shaken up on a run near the goal line.
Jags QB Trevor Lawrence was 24 of 32 with 241 yards and two scores and Calvin Ridley had eight receptions for 101 yards and the Jags’ first score. It was Ridley’s first game since October 2021, when he left the Atlanta Falcons to deal with mental health before he was suspended all of last season for violating the league’s gambling policy.
Las Vegas Raiders 17-16 Denver Broncos
Jimmy Garoppolo threw two touchdown passes to fellow newcomer Jakobi Meyers and the Las Vegas Raiders spoiled Sean Payton’s Denver debut with a 17-16 win over the Broncos. The Raiders stretched their winning streak over their AFC West rivals to seven games despite the absence of star pass rusher Chandler Jones who is involved in a feud with the front office. Garoppolo and Meyers connected 10 times for 81 yards, including two touchdowns. Denver’s Russell Wilson completed 27 of 34 passes for 177 yards and two touchdowns without an interception.
Tennessee Titans 15-16 New Orleans Saints
Derek Carr passed for 305 yards and a touchdown in a difficult but successful Saints debut, and New Orleans held on to beat the Tennessee Titans. The Saints’ defense did not allow a touchdown, intercepted Ryan Tannehill three times, sacked him three times, and stopped Tennessee on 10 of 12 third down plays.
Carolina Panthers 10-24 Atlanta Falcons
Bijan Robinson outshone No 1 overall pick Bryce Young in their NFL debuts, leading the Atlanta Falcons to victory over the Carolina Panthers.
Young was intercepted twice by Jessie Bates in a rough start for the former Alabama star who is being counted on to lead a resurgence in Carolina.
Robinson, selected at No 8 by the Falcons in defiance of those who say running backs shouldn’t go that high, showed his versatility by taking a swing pass for an 11-yard touchdown.
He also broke off a 21-yard dash that set up Atlanta’s go-ahead TD: Tyler Allgeier’s three-yard run in the opening minute of the fourth quarter.
Allgeier added a clinching touchdown on another 3-yard run with just under five minutes remaining.
Arizona Cardinals 16–20 Washington Commanders
Sam Howell threw a touchdown pass and ran for another score to make up for two turnovers and the Washington Commanders came back to beat the Arizona Cardinals, avoiding what would have been an embarrassing season-opening loss in their first game under new ownership.
In front of a sellout crowd and with several prominent alumni back to celebrate the start of a new era, the Commanders were sloppy with a pair of turnovers and several penalties along the offensive line that allowed Howell to be sacked six times.
Washington’s defense eventually took over and made game-changing plays. Montez Sweat strip-sacked Joshua Dobbs early in the fourth quarter to set up Howell’s go-ahead six-yard TD run, and Abdullah Anderson recovered another fumble by Arizona with under five minutes left.