Pittsburgh’s Ulysees Gilbert, left, celebrates with his teammates after returning a blocked punt for a touchdown Sunday against the Buffalo Bills in Orchard Park, N.Y. Adrian Kraus/Associated Press

ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. — Ben Roethlisberger and the Steelers’ new-look offense overcame a slow start, Ulysees Gilbert returned a blocked punt 9 yards for a touchdown and Pittsburgh rallied to a season-opening 23-16 win over the Buffalo Bills on Sunday.

Down 10-0, the Steelers scored on each of their first four possessions of the second half, with Roethlisberger putting Pittsburgh ahead for good by lobbing a 5-yard touchdown pass to Dionte Johnson in the left corner of the end zone.

The pass initially went off Johnson’s fingertips, but the receiver was able to secure the ball before tumbling out of bounds 3:41 into the fourth quarter. The Steelers then extended their lead to 20-10 some 90 seconds later, as Miles Killebrew burst up the middle to block Matt Haack’s punt and Gilbert scooped up the loose ball and ran it in untouched.

Roethlisberger posted his 36th career fourth-quarter comeback to tie Drew Brees for third on the NFL list. He finished 18 of 32 for 188 yards and a touchdown.

Chris Boswell hit all three field-goal attempts, including a game-sealing 45-yarder with 2:42 remaining.

PANTHERS 19, JETS 14: Sam Darnold threw for 279 yards and a touchdown and ran for another score against his former team as host Carolina got its first season-opening win since 2018.

Darnold connected on a 57-yard touchdown pass with fellow ex-Jet Robby Anderson and took full advantage of a healthy Christian McCaffrey, who piled up 187 yards from scrimmage on 30 touches after missing 13 games last season because of injuries.

Carolina’s defense brought pressure on Jets rookie quarterback Zach Wilson, sacking the No. 2 pick in the NFL draft six times and intercepting him once. Wilson kept battling, though, and finished 20 of 37 for 258 yards with two touchdown passes to Corey Davis in his first career start.

CHARGERS 20, WASHINGTON 16: Justin Herbert threw for 337 yards and a touchdown to help visiting Los Angeles win a game 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 reigning AP Offensive Rookie of the Year and the Chargers were 14 of 19 on third downs, wearing down Washington’s defense.

The teams combined for 14 penalties for 151 yards and three giveaways.

Los Angeles also got a 3-yard TD run from Austin Ekeler, who was listed as questionable because of a hamstring injury. Ekeler finished with 57 yards on 15 carries and joined Danny Woodhead as the only undrafted players in the NFL’s common draft era with 10-plus rushing and 15-plus passing TDs.

Washington lost veteran starting quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick to a right hip injury midway through the fourth quarter of his team debut. Fitzpatrick was replaced by popular backup Taylor Heinicke, whose name was chanted by fans still remembering his surprise playoff heroics in the wild-card round loss to eventual Super Bowl champion Tampa Bay.

SEAHAWKS 28, COLTS 16: Russell Wilson threw three of his four touchdown passes in the first half and Seattle clamped down in the second half to close out a victory at Indianapolis.

Indy lost its eighth straight opener, the last five with different starting quarterbacks.

Wilson was sensational in his first action with new offensive coordinator Shane Waldron, shredding a top-10 defense that entered the season with even higher aspirations.

Despite taking no preseason snaps, the eight-time Pro Bowler led the Seahawks to touchdowns on their first two drives, hooking up with Tyler Lockett on a twisting, over-the-shoulder catch for a 23-yard TD pass to make it 7-3, and finding Gerald Everett for a 9-yard score to give Seattle a 14-3 lead.

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.

Now firmly entrenched as the Eagles starter after Carson Wentz was traded, Hurts certainly looked the part with touchdown passes of 18 yards to Smith, 9 yards to Dallas Goedert and 23 yards to Jalen Reagor.

Another Philadelphia rookie, fifth-round pick Kenneth Gainwell, scored his first TD as a pro with an 8-yard run late in the third quarter to essentially seal the victory.

CARDINALS 38, TITANS 13: Kyler Murray passed for four touchdowns and ran for another, and linebacker Chandler Jones had a career-high five sacks as Arizona opened its season with a big road victory.

Jones, who tied the franchise record for sacks, also forced two fumbles that the Cardinals turned into 14 points.

Murray tormented the Titans, throwing for 289 yards, with two TD passes apiece to All-Pro wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins and Christian Kirk.

49ERS 41, LIONS 33: Dre Greenlaw returned an interception for a touchdown to help San Francisco score 17 points over two-plus minutes late in the first half, and the 49ers barely held on for a win at Detroit.

San Francisco led 38-10 early in the fourth quarter but allowed Detroit to score 23 points in three-plus minutes to pull within eight points. But the Lions turned the ball over on downs at the San Francisco 24 with 12 seconds left after getting it back on a fumble by Deebo Samuel.

TEXANS 37, JAGUARS 21: Tyrod Taylor threw for 291 yards and two touchdowns to lead Houston to a win at home over Trevor Lawrence and mistake-prone Jacksonville.

Expectations for the Texans were low entering this season, but Taylor and Houston’s revamped running game were more than enough to handle a Jaguars team that didn’t look much better than it was last season, when it won only one game.

Lawrence became the first rookie quarterback to start an opener for Jacksonville. It was a bumpy debut during which he threw for 332 yards and three touchdowns but also tossed three interceptions, often overthrew open receivers and was the victim of several drops.

BENGALS 27, VIKINGS 24: Evan McPherson kicked a 33-yard field goal as time expired in overtime to push Cincinnati to a win at home.

The game-winning kick was set up by a gutsy call. On fourth-and-inches from the Cincinnati 48, Burrow rolled out and hit tight end C.J. Uzomah in stride for a 32-yard gain.

McPherson also made a 53-yard field goal early in the fourth quarter.

Cincinnati’s Germaine Pratt recovered Dalvin Cook’s fumble to set up the winning drive. Minnesota challenged the ruling that Cook had fumbled, but it was upheld after a replay review.

Greg Joseph kicked a career-long 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.

CHIEFS 33, BROWNS 29: Patrick Mahomes threw for 337 yards and three touchdowns and ran for another score, and Kansas City came back from a dismal first half to beat visiting Cleveland.

Tyreek Hill caught 11 passes for 197 yards and a touchdown, and Travis Kelce hauled in a pair of TD catches, including the go-ahead score with 7:02 remaining as the Chiefs finished off their rally from a 22-10 halftime deficit.

The Chiefs won their fifth straight against Cleveland – including their 22-17 playoff victory last season – and their 15th consecutive game in September. They also pushed Andy Reid within one win of reaching 100 with two franchises.

The Browns fell to 1-21 in season openers since returning to Cleveland in 1999, extending their NFL mark to 17 consecutive defeats.

SAINTS 38, PACKERS 3: Jameis Winston passed for five touchdowns, New Orleans intercepted reigning NFL MVP Aaron Rodgers twice, and the Saints kicked off the post-Drew Brees era with a strikingly dominant victory in a game moved to Jacksonville, Florida, because of wreckage in New Orleans caused by Hurricane Ida.

After canceling their final preseason game and practicing two weeks in the Dallas area, the Saints looked as sharp and inspired as any club with such distractions could have hoped.

Winston, who led the NFL with 30 interceptions in his last season as a starter with Tampa Bay in 2019, was largely judicious and accurate in going 14 of 20 for 148 yards without an interception. The only risky throw that backfired on him – a deflected pass caught by Packers defensive back Darnell Savage in the end zone – was negated by a contested roughing-the-passer penalty called against edge rusher Z’Darius Smith.

BRONCOS 27, GIANTS 13: Teddy Bridgewater threw two touchdowns 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 completed 28 of 36 passes for 264 yards, sharing the ball with nine receivers. The 28-year-old hit Tim Patrick on a go-ahead 2-yard TD pass with eight seconds left in the first half. Bridgewater eluded pressure and found tight end Albert Okwuegbunam on a 4-yard, fourth-down toss during a 16-play, 75-yard drive to open the second half, extending the lead to 17-7 with 6:48 to go in the quarter.

Melvin Gordon III added a late 70-yard TD run and Brandon McManus kicked two field goals for the Broncos, who have had four straight losing season since their Super Bowl 50 title.

Daniel Jones threw a 37-yard touchdown pass play to Sterling Shepard for New York and ran for a 4-yard touchdown on the final play. The third-year quarterback finished 22 of 37 for 253 yards. He also lost a fumble in the red zone with the Giants trailing 20-7 in the third quarter.

RAMS 34, BEARS 14: Matthew Stafford passed for 321 yards and three touchdowns in a dynamic debut with his new team, leading Los Angeles past visiting Chicago.

Stafford found Van Jefferson for a 67-yard touchdown on his second pass for the Rams, who swung a blockbuster offseason trade to acquire the 13-year veteran quarterback from Detroit. Stafford then hit a wide-open Cooper Kupp for a 56-yard TD to open the third quarter, and he found Robert Woods for a clinching score with 3:17 to play.

With Stafford in place of Jared Goff, the Rams again looked like the offensive powerhouse of their first two seasons under Coach Sean McVay, who improved to 5-0 in season openers. The Rams scored on six of Stafford’s first seven full drives while racking up 375 yards, and Kupp finished with seven catches for 108 yards.

Andy Dalton passed for 206 yards in his Bears debut, and rookie quarterback Justin Fields rushed for a 3-yard score while getting a handful of snaps in his NFL debut. Chicago moved the ball steadily, but Dalton’s end-zone interception after a solid opening drive left the Bears playing from behind all night.

NOTES

SAINTS: Cornerback Marshon Lattimore, the 11th overall draft choice in 2017, has agreed to a five-year extension worth in the range of $97 million, a person familiar with the situation said.

The person spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity Sunday night because the agreement had not been announced.

The 25-year-old Lattimore, who was the AP Defensive Rookie of the Year in 2017, has 10 career interceptions and has been named to three Pro Bowls. He entered this season going into the final year of his rookie contract.

The NFL Network first reported the agreement on his extension.


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