Sunday’s roundup: Cruz scores in return for Giants
Arlington, Texas — The salsa is back, and the Giants finally finished when the Dallas Cowboys failed to stop the clock in the final seconds.
Eli Manning threw for three touchdowns, including the go-ahead score to Victor Cruz in his first game in nearly two years, and the Giants beat the Cowboys 20-19 Sunday.
The Giants (1-0) won the debut of coach Ben McAdoo after 12 years and two Super Bowl titles under Tom Coughlin while spoiling the first game for Dallas’ Dak Prescott and Ezekiel Elliott.
Cruz, who missed most of 2014 with a knee injury and all of last season with a bad calf, broke free in the end zone for a 3-yard TD with 6 minutes remaining, prompting his trademark salsa dance.
“You couldn’t even describe what was going through my body,” said Cruz , who had four catches for 34 yards. “Wanted obviously to do the dance. I’m sure I’ve got that down pat.
“Everybody just pulled for me each and every day, each and every week as we got closer to Week 1. And to score a touchdown. You just couldn’t make up a story any better than that.”
Because of Tony Romo’s back injury, Prescott and Elliott were the first rookie quarterback-running back combo to start an opener for the Cowboys since Roger Staubach and Calvin Hill in 1969.
The game ended with Dallas in position for a roughly 57-yard field goal, but Terrance Williams didn’t get out of bounds after a catch and the clock ran out before Prescott could spike the ball.
Dan Bailey had four field goals, matched his career long at 56 yards and had another one from 54.
“The guy was trying to make a play,” Prescott said of Williams. “You never want to knock a guy trying to make a play.”
Randy Bullock, kicking because of Josh Brown’s one-game suspension, made the extra point for the lead after an earlier missed PAT.
New York beat Dallas in an opener for the first time in nine tries.
The Giants’ defense, fortified in free agency, held Dallas after the go-ahead score. Then the Giants emphasized the run to use most of the clock, quite a contrast to last season when questionable clock management contributed to six losses late in regulation or in overtime in a 6-10 season.
Elliott was held to a 2.5-yard average (51 yards on 21 carries), although he had his first touchdown, and the only one for Dallas. Prescott was 25 of 45 for 227 yards.
Manning was 19 of 28 for 207 yards, including a 45-yarder to Odell Beckham Jr. set up the first TD.
New England 23, (at) Arizona 21: Jimmy Garoppolo, starting in place of suspended Tom Brady, threw for 264 yards and a touchdown, leading the severely depleted Patriots to a victory over the favored Cardinals. Arizona’s Chandler Catanzaro missed a 47-yard field goal with 41 seconds to play.
The miss came after Garoppolo, in his first NFL start, directed the Patriots from their own 19 to the Arizona 15 to set up Stephen Gostkowski’s 23-yard field goal with 3:44 to play.
Garappolo completed 24 of 33 passes with no interceptions. Arizona’s Carson Palmer threw for 271 yards and two touchdowns, both to Larry Fitzgerald.
Not only were the Patriots without Brady, suspended for his role in “deflategate,” but they also didn’t have tight end Rob Gronkowski, defensive end Rob Ninkovich and two starters on the offensive line.
A remarkable 45-yard run by David Johnson set up a 2-yard, over-the-shoulder touchdown catch by Fitzgerald that gave the Cardinals their only lead of the night, 21-20, with 9:46 remaining.
(At) Kansas City 33, San Diego 27 (OT): Alex Smith dived for a touchdown on the first possession of overtime, completing the Chiefs’ frantic rally from a 17-point fourth-quarter deficit.
“I think everyone knows how bad we played,” Smith said after the 33-27 overtime victory. “As great as it is to win, there’s going to be a lot to improve upon, a lot to learn from.”
Smith threw for 363 yards and two touchdowns, the second a back-shoulder fade to Jeremy Maclin with just over nine minutes left in the fourth quarter that trimmed the Chiefs’ deficit to 27-17.
Cairo Santos kicked a 33-yard field goal a few minutes later, and after forcing a three-and-out, Spencer Ware finished off a four-play drive with a touchdown plunge to knot it at 27.
Cincinnati 23, (at) N.Y. Jets 22: Mike Nugent kicked a 47-yard field goal with 54 seconds left for the Bengals.
Andy Dalton threw for 366 yards and a touchdown to A.J. Green, who caught 12 passes for 180 yards to help the Bengals beat the Jets for the first time in 10 meetings in New Jersey.
The Bengals won despite Dalton being sacked a career-high seven times.
“We’ve got to do better,” Bengals coach Marvin Lewis said.
Green Bay 27, (at) Jacksonville 23: Aaron Rodgers threw two touchdown passes and ran for another score, leading the Packers.
Rodgers completed 20 of 34 passes for 199 yards, with TD passes to Jordy Nelson and Davante Adams.
Nelson, who played his first game in more than a year, tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee and missed the entire regular season.
“It feels great having Jordy back,” Rodgers said. “He does so many things well out there. He had a great second and third reaction on the TD catch .”
Nelson finished with six receptions for 32 yards, including a 6-yard TD in the second quarter.
(At) Houston 23, Chicago 14: Brock Osweiler threw for 231 yards and two touchdowns in his debut with Houston.
Osweiler completed passes to eight different receivers, led by rookie first-round pick Will Fuller, who became the first player in franchise history to have 100 yards receiving in a debut with 107 and a touchdown.
J.J. Watt didn’t seem to be limited in his return after sitting out the exhibition season after back surgery.
“I’m knocking a little bit of rust off,” he said.
(At) Philadelphia 29, Cleveland 10: Carson Wentz had 278 yards passing and two touchdowns in a stellar NFL debut for the Eagles.
The No. 2 overall pick from North Dakota State played mistake-free football despite missing the last three exhibition games with injured ribs.
Wentz finished 22 of 37 with a 101.0 passer rating.
“I felt very confident,” Wentz said. “It’s a great first start.”
Browns quarterback Robert Griffin III plans to play against Baltimore despite suffering a sprained left shoulder late in the fourth quarter. His mother was so worried she called him during his postgame news conference.
“She’s really concerned about me,” Griffin said. “I’m in pain, but I’ll be OK.”
Tampa Bay 31, (at) Atlanta 24: Jameis Winston bounced back from an early interception to throw four touchdown passes.
Winston began his second year as a pro by going 23 of 33 for 281 . He hooked up with receiver Mike Evans, running back Charles Sims III and tight ends Austin Sefarian-Jenkins and Brandon Myers on scoring plays.
(At) Seattle 12, Miami 10: Hobbled by an ankle injury, Russell Wilson pulled off another fourth-quarter comeback, throwing a 2-yard touchdown pass to Doug Baldwin with 31 seconds left.
Wilson played on a right ankle that twisted badly in the third quarter as he was sacked by former Lion Ndamukong Suh.
The extra point was partially blocked by former Lion Jason Jones, but it didn’t matter.
(At) Baltimore 13, Buffalo 7: The Ravens used a touchdown pass by Joe Flacco, two field goals and a throwback defensive performance to beat the Bills.
The Ravens limited the Bills to 160 yards and sacked former teammate Tyrod Taylor twice.