JACKSONVILLE, FLORIDA – Patrick Mahomes was every bit as good as he was during his MVP campaign. Sammy Watkins was better than ever.
Mahomes and Watkins —along with new teammate LeSean McCoy” helped the Kansas City Chiefs open the season much like they finished last year: as legitimate Super Bowl contenders.
Despite losing star receiver Tyreek Hill early, Mahomes threw for 378 yards and three touchdowns while leading the Chiefs to a testy and tactful 40-26 victory over the injury-riddled Jacksonville Jaguars on Sunday.
“They’ve done that to a lot of football teams,” Jaguars coach Doug Marrone said.
Jacksonville had major issues on both sides of the ball, none more concerning than the health of quarterback Nick Foles. Foles broke his left clavicle in the first quarter and will have surgery Monday. Chris Jones hit Foles as he released a 35-yard TD pass to DJ Chark. Jones landed on top of Foles, but did not draw a flag.
Foles is expected to be put on injured reserve and won’t be eligible to play again until Week 11.
“It’s not the way you want to start your time here,” said Foles, who signed a four-year, $88 million contract in March. “Sometimes things don’t happen like we expect them to, but we just have to have faith that it’s for a reason.”
The injury leaves rookie Gardner Minshew in line to start a significant chunk of Jacksonville’s season. Minshew was one of the team’s few bright spots. He completed 22 of 25 passes for 275 yards, with two touchdowns and an interception.
Chark caught four passes for 146 yards, and Chris Conley added six receptions for 97 yards and a score against his former team.
Mahomes completed passes to nine receivers. Watkins had most of the highlights.
Watkins had nine receptions for a career-high 198 yards and three TDs. He slipped through the middle of Jacksonville’s defense for a 68-yard score on the third play of the season and added a 49-yard TD reception late in the opening quarter. He made defenders Ronnie Harrison, Jalen Ramsey and Miles Jack look silly while strolling into the end zone twice. He beat Ramsey again for a short TD in the fourth quarter.
Mahomes took a beating even though he wasn’t sacked and even had to leave the game to get his left ankle taped in the second quarter.
It barely slowed him and the Chiefs down; they scored on their first seven possessions.
McCoy carried 10 times for 81 yards despite barely knowing the offense.
“We have a mindset throughout the season of taking care of certain goals and this was one of them,” Chiefs All-Pro tight end Travis Kelce said. “Just come out blazing, on fire, like we were last year. … I think we’re on the right track and we’re going to keep working to get where we want to be.”Ravens 59, Dolphins 10
In Miami Gardens, Florida, Lamar Jackson looked unstoppable from the start and tied a franchise record with five touchdown passes to help Baltimore humiliate the Dolphins and rookie coach Brian Flores.
The Ravens set a franchise record for points in the first half, and an NFL record for points in the first half of an opener, taking a 42-10 lead at the break. They broke franchise marks for points and total yards with 643.
Jackson’s first nine passes, all completions, went for 204 yards and four touchdowns. That included scores of 47 and 83 yards to first-round draft pick Marquise Brown in the first 11 minutes.
Jackson’s other touchdown passes covered 33 yards to Willie Snead, 5 yards to rookie Miles Boykin and 1 yard to fullback Patrick Ricard. The performance was a big step forward for the Ravens in their transition from Joe Flacco to Jackson, who went 17-for-20 for 324 yards.
Titans 43, Browns 13
In Cleveland, Marcus Mariota threw three touchdown passes, one a stunning 75-yarder to big back Derrick Henry, and the Browns fell flat on their faces in their highly anticipated opener.
Titans tight end Delanie Walker had two TD catches in the fourth, and Tennessee’s defensive backs intercepted Baker Mayfield three times in the final quarter.
Rams 30 Panthers 27
In Charlotte, North Carolina, Malcolm Brown ran for a pair of scores and Jared Goff threw for 186 yards and a touchdown.
Todd Gurley started and ran for 97 yards on 14 carries after being limited to 8 yards rushing on five carries in the first half. Brown was the primary ball carrier for the better part of three quarters and finished with 53 yards on 11 carries.
Christian McCaffrey led the Panthers with 209 yards from scrimmage and two touchdowns.
Eagles 32, Redskins 27
In Philadelphia, Carson Wentz threw a pair of deep touchdown passes to DeSean Jackson, and the Eagles overcame a 17-point deficit for the win. Wentz was 28 of 39 for 313 yards and three TDs in his first game since Week 14 after not taking a snap in the preseason. Jackson had eight catches for 154 yards. Philadelphia racked up 436 total yards.
Case Keenum threw for 380 yards and three TDs, helping the Redskins build a 17-0 lead in his first start with his fourth team in four seasons. But the Eagles’ high-powered offense took over and the defense settled down after a sloppy start.
Vikings 28, Falcons 12
In Minneapolis, Anthony Harris highlighted a thorough thrashing by the Vikings’ defense with two interceptions of Matt Ryan and a fumble recovery.
Dalvin Cook carried a revived running attack, while Eric Wilson recovered his own blocked punt at the Atlanta 21-yard line on the first possession of the game, and the Minnesota was well on its way to winning a fourth straight opener. Including the blocked punt, the Vikings’ first in five years, they turned all four Falcons turnovers into touchdowns.
In Other Games
Bills 17, Jets 16
Chargers 30, Colts 24 (OT)
Seahawks 21, Bengals 20
Cowboys 35, Giants 17
49ers 31, Buccaneers 17
IN FIVE EASY PIECES WITH TAKE 5