UNDATED (AP) — Tom Brady could prompt every NFL head coach to bench their starting quarterback for the first four games of the season.
Fresh off a four-game suspension for his involvement in “Deflategate,” Brady connected on his first three passes while engineering a touchdown drive on his opening possession in the New England Patriots’ 33-13 rout of winless Cleveland. The two-time NFL Most Valuable Player completed 28 of his 40 passes for 406 yards and three touchdowns.
Brady said afterward that there was definite rust in his game following a five-week layoff. However, his numbers would have been gaudier if his receivers hadn’t dropped three passes, or if he hadn’t been pulled with six minutes left and the Pats up by 17.
Tight end Martellus Bennett grabbed the three TD passes, Chris Hogan had four receptions for 114 yards and Rob Gronkowski caught five passes for 109 yards.
Meanwhile, the Browns lost yet another starting quarterback to injury. Cody Kessler was knocked out in the first half with rib and chest injuries, making Charlie Whitehurst the fifth QB to take a snap for Cleveland in five games.
The Patriots are 4-1 after bouncing back from last Sunday’s 16-0 loss to Buffalo. The Browns are 0-5.
— By all standards the Minnesota Vikings are enjoying an amazing start to the season. They may not have Teddy Bridgewater or Adrian Peterson, but they just keep on racking up the wins as they beat Houston 31-12. The outcome leaves the Vikes unbeaten at 5-0 and drops the Texans to 3-2. Quarterback Sam Bradford had another good game that included a touchdown pass to Adam Thielen on the Vikings’ opening drive. For the game, Thielen finished with a career-high 127 yards receiving. Bradford also connected on a TD pass with Cordarelle Patterson. On the other side of the ball, the defense flustered Houston QB Brock Osweiler (AHS’-wy-lur). On special teams, Marcus Sherels returned a punt 79 yards for a touchdown. The Vikings are the NFL’s last unbeaten team following losses by Denver and Philadelphia.
— The Broncos hadn’t lost since last Dec. 20 before Matt Ryan threw for 267 yards and a touchdown to lead the Falcons’ 23-16 triumph in Denver. The Broncos held Julio Jones to four catches for 29 yards after the Atlanta receiver went over 300 receiving yards last weekend. But Denver gave up big plays to Tevin Coleman, who had four catches for 132 yards and a TD. Broncos quarterback Paxton Lynch was 23 of 35 for 223 yards, one touchdown and one interception in his first NFL start.
— Eagles rookie quarterback Carson Wentz has suffered his first professional loss as Philadelphia was beaten in Detroit by the Lions 24-23. Matt Prater won the game with a 29-yard field goal with 1:28 left and Darius Slay put it away when he made an over-the-shoulder interception on the next snap. The outcome puts to an end a three-game losing streak for the 2-3 Lions and ends the Eagles’ season-opening winning streak at three games.
— The Cowboys leaned on the “Zeek and Dak Show” once again as the rookies led a 28-14 win over Cincinnati. Ezekiel Elliot became the first Dallas rookie with three consecutive 100-yard rushing games, finishing with 134 and two touchdowns on just 15 carries. Dak Prescott threw for a TD, ran for another and was 18 of 24 through the air for 227 yards. Prescott had his first turnover in five games when he fumbled in the third quarter, but it didn’t stop the 4-1 Cowboys from winning their fourth in a row. Andy Dalton finished 29 of 41 for 269 yards as the Bengals dropped to 2-3.
— Ben Roethlisberger (RAWTH’-lihs-bur-gur) had another great game as he passed for 380 yards and four touchdowns in the Steelers 31-13 win over the visiting Jets. Sammie Coates caught six of the passes for a career-high 139 yards and two scores. Steelers running back Le’Veon (LEH’-vee-ahn) Bell racked up 154 yards of total offense, including a career-high nine receptions. Antonio Brown caught nine passes for 78 yards and a touchdown. New York’s Ryan Fitzpatrick completed 25 of 38 for 265 yards and a touchdown, but it wasn’t enough as the Jets fell to 1-4, while the Steelers improved to 4-1.
— Buffalo picked up its third straight win since an 0-2 start as Tyrod Taylor threw for two touchdowns and LeSean McCoy shredded the Rams’ defense for 150 yards on 18 carries in a 30-19 win at Los Angeles. The game was tied at 16 in the third quarter until Nickell Robey-Coleman brought back an interception 41 yards for a touchdown that put the Bills ahead to stay. The Bills benefited from turnovers as Robey-Coleman snared a pair of Case Keenum interceptions and Todd Gurley lost a fumble. Keenum passed for 271 yards and no touchdowns for the 3-2 Rams.
— The Raiders are 4-1 after Oakland’s Amari Cooper had six receptions for 138 yards and a touchdown in a 34-31 triumph against the Chargers. Cooper hauled in a 64-yard TD pass from Derek Carr, who was 25 of 40 for 317 yards, two touchdowns and one pick. Michael Crabtree’s 21-yard scoring grab put the Raiders ahead for good late in the third quarter. Philip Rivers was 21 of 30 for 359 yards, four touchdowns and two interceptions for the 1-4 Chargers, who botched the snap on a potential game-tying field goal with two minutes left.
— Marcus Mariota (mar-ee-OH’-tah) had a good game throwing for three scores and running for a fourth as the Titans beat the Dolphins 30-17. Mariota completed 20 for 29 passes for 163 yards with no interceptions. He also carried the ball seven times for 60 yards. DeMarco Murray played a key role in the Tennessee offense with 121 yards rushing. The Titans improve to 2-3, while the Dolphins fall to 1-4.
— A strong defensive showing led Washington to a 16-10 road win over the Ravens. The victory is the third straight for Washington and leaves both teams 3-2. For a few moments, Baltimore thought it had won the game until an apparent 23-yard touchdown catch in the final minute by Breshad Perriman was overturned by replay. It marked the first time Washington had won in Baltimore Eddie LeBaron led the 1955 Redskins to a victory against the Colts.
— Andrew Luck threw a 35-yard scoring pass to T.Y. Hilton with 3:43 left as the Colts beat the Bears 29-23. The win is the first for the Colts at home over Chicago. Luck finished 28 of 39 with 322 yards and two touchdowns, while Hilton had 10 catches for 171 yards. Brian Hoyer was solid in his third straight start and gave Chicago a 23-19 lead by capping a 94-yard drive with a 24-yard TD pass to Jordan Howard to make it 23-19
Tonight’s game is in Green Bay, with the Packers playing host to the New York Giants. The 2-1 Packers are coming off a bye week, while the Giants are 2-2 following back-to-back losses. Last Tuesday, Packers tight end Jared Cook got a surprise as he found a fried chicken head mixed in with an order of chicken wings. The incident could cause some marital strife for Cook as his wife is a vegetarian and is now trying to get him to give up meat.
The Monday Night game has Carolina playing Tampa Bay. The NFC champion Panthers have announced that league MVP Cam Newton will not be playing as he continues to deal with a concussion. He hasn’t practiced since taking a helmet-to-helmet hit in Sunday’s loss to the Falcons. Filling in for Newton will be veteran Derek Anderson.