The Dallas Cowboys took advantage of six New York Giants turnovers in a 36-31 win against their division rivals to cap the National Football League’s first full day of regular-season play.
Tony Romo threw two touchdown passes to Jason Witten, Barry Church scored on a 27-yard fumble return and Brandon Carr returned an interception 49 yards for a touchdown in the final two minutes last night as the Cowboys ended the Giants’ four-game winning streak at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas.
“You can’t win turning the football over, that’s the bottom line,” Giants coach Tom Coughlin said.
Also yesterday, the New York Jets beat the Tampa Bay Buccaneers 18-17 on a field goal with two seconds left that was set up by a personal foul penalty, and the San Francisco 49ers topped the Green Bay Packers 34-28 in an opening-week matchup of 2012 division winners.
Colin Kaepernick passed for a career-high 412 yards for the 49ers and was among six quarterbacks to surpass 350 yards passing, a record for the first week of the NFL season.
Eli Manning passed for 450 yards and four touchdowns for the Giants last night, yet had his first pass intercepted while New York had turnovers on its first three possessions. Giants running back David Wilson was benched after losing two fumbles, including one that was returned for a touchdown.
The Giants, who trailed 27-10 in the third quarter, got within 30-24 midway through the fourth quarter on Manning’s third touchdown pass to Victor Cruz. New York reached midfield with just over two minutes left when Manning’s short pass glanced off the hand of backup running back Da’Rel Scott and right to Carr, who raced to the end zone for a touchdown that helped seal the Cowboys’ win.
“We battled, we slugged it out, somehow, someway we get the game to 30-24, the ball’s at midfield, you’ve got to go win the game,” Coughlin said. “That obviously was the play that kept us from going down and scoring when we needed to score.”
The Chicago Bears pulled out a 24-21 win against the Cincinnati Bengals in Marc Trestman’s NFL coaching debut. He was the only first-time coach to win yesterday, as Buffalo’s Doug Marrone, Arizona’s Bruce Arians, Cleveland’s Rob Chudzinski and Jacksonville’s Gus Bradley all lost.
The New England Patriots slipped past the Bills 23-21 on a last-minute field goal, the St. Louis Rams topped the Cardinals 27-24 on a field goal with 40 seconds left, the Miami Dolphins beat the Cleveland Browns 23-10, and Kansas City downed the Jaguars 28-2 in Andy Reid’s first game as the Chiefs’ coach.
Reid’s replacement in Philadelphia, Chip Kelly, makes his NFL coaching debut tonight as the Eagles visit the Washington Redskins. Mike McCoy also will coach his first NFL game tonight as the San Diego Chargers host the Houston Texans.
The New Orleans Saints beat the Atlanta Falcons 23-17 in Sean Payton’s return as coach after a season-long suspension, while the Seattle Seahawks rallied past the Carolina Panthers 12-7 on Russell Wilson’s 43-yard fourth-quarter touchdown pass to Jermaine Kearse.
Matthew Stafford passed for 357 yards and two touchdowns as the Detroit Lions overcame three touchdowns by Adrian Peterson in a 34-24 win against the Minnesota Vikings. Peterson, the NFL’s reigning Most Valuable Player, had a 78-yard touchdown run on his first carry of the season, the longest such score since the league’s merger with the American Football League in 1970.
The Indianapolis Colts topped the Oakland Raiders 21-17 as quarterback Andrew Luck threw two touchdown passes and also ran for a 19-yard go-ahead score with 5:20 left. Luck has led his team to eight game-winning drives in the fourth quarter or overtime since entering the league in 2012, the most by any quarterback through his first 17 games since the merger.
Also yesterday, the Tennessee Titans beat the Pittsburgh Steelers 16-9. In the opening game of the NFL regular season on Sept. 5, Peyton Manning tied a league record with seven touchdown passes as the Denver Broncos beat the defending Super Bowl champion Baltimore Ravens 49-27.
Manning’s younger brother was done in by turnovers last night, with two interceptions on the Giants’ first three possessions. Romo returned from a rib injury to complete 36 of 49 passes for 263 yards for the Cowboys, who totaled 16 takeaways during the 2012 season.
“More than anything, we haven’t created as many turnovers in the last few years as we’d like,” Romo said. “That’s been our number one mantra since training camp.”
Anquan Boldin had 13 catches for 208 yards and a touchdown in his debut for the 49ers after being acquired in an offseason trade with the Ravens. Kaepernick also threw two touchdowns to tight end Vernon Davis, while Frank Gore had a one-yard touchdown run with just under six minutes remaining to give the 49ers the lead for good against the Packers.
The Jets beat the Buccaneers on a 48-yard field goal by Nick Folk that came after Tampa Bay’s Lavonte David was flagged for a 15-yard penalty for hitting New York rookie quarterback Geno Smith as he ran out of bounds following a 10-yard run.