By The Associated Press
FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- Tom Brady limped off the field under the worried stares of Patriots fans. The thing they feared most finally happened -- losing the NFL's reigning MVP to injury.
Brady hurt his left knee when tackled by safety Bernard Pollard midway through the first quarter of a 17-10 victory over Kansas City to open the season Sunday. He didn't return.
Last season, the two-time Super Bowl MVP set an NFL record with 50 touchdown passes, but it ended in disappointment with the Super Bowl loss that left the Patriots at 18-1.
Matt Cassel, who had thrown only 39 passes as Brady's backup the past three seasons, took over and did surprisingly well, completing 13 of 18 passes for 152 yards and one touchdown. Cassel failed to lead the Patriots to a touchdown in 17 possessions during four exhibition games.
But New England needed solid defense at the end to keep the lead.
Damon Huard, playing after Chiefs quarterback Brodie Croyle left with a shoulder contusion late in the third quarter, completed a 68-yard pass to Devard Darling to the Patriots 5 with 53 seconds left. But they moved no further with two incompletions, a run for no gain by Larry Johnson and a poorly aimed pass toward Dwayne Bowe that sailed to the ground wide of the end zone on fourth down.
Jets 20, Dolphins 14
MIAMI (AP) -- Six months after Brett Favre decided to call it a career in Green Bay before changing his mind, he made a successful debut with his new team. Broadway Brett threw for two scores.
Favre's new beginning had a happy ending thanks to two late stands by the Jets' defense. Dwight Lowery batted away a fourth-down pass in the end zone with 9 minutes left, and Darrelle Revis intercepted Chad Pennington -- again in the end zone -- with 5 seconds left.
Favre finished 15-for-22 for 194 yards and his 161st victory, extending his NFL record for starting quarterbacks.
For the Dolphins, the loss marked a disappointing start to the Bill Parcells era, and it was painfully reminiscent of last year's 1-15 team. Parcells took over last December, but despite turning over more than half the roster and hiring Tony Sparano as coach, Miami gave up too many big plays and sputtered on offense until a frantic late rally.
Panthers 26, Chargers 24
SAN DIEGO (AP) -- Jake Delhomme threw a 14-yard touchdown pass to tight end Dante Rosario as time expired. capping a desperation drive for the win.
After Philip Rivers rallied San Diego with his third TD pass of the game, Delhomme moved the Panthers to the San Diego 14-yard line with 2 seconds left before calling his final timeout.
Delhomme dropped back on fourth down and found Rosario in the back of the end zone. Carolina coach John Fox raised his arms and clenched his fists as the offensive players mobbed each other between the goal posts and the stands.
John Kasay, who had four field goals, added the extra point to set the final score.
Delhomme returned after missing all but three games last season with an elbow injury that required reconstructive surgery. He was 8-of-11 for 68 yards on the final drive.
Cowboys 28, Browns 10
CLEVELAND (AP) -- Terrell Owens caught a 35-yard touchdown pass, Tony Romo effortlessly picked apart Cleveland's secondary, and Marion Barber scored on a pair of 1-yard runs.
Coming off a 13-win season which ended with a bitterly disappointing playoff loss at home to the Giants, the Cowboys lived up to all their preseason hype with a solid all-around performance.
With Romo completing 24 of 32 passes for 320 yards, Dallas' offense controlled the clock and strung together four long touchdown drives. The defense held one of the AFC's most potent offenses in check, and except for some silly penalties, the star-studded Cowboys had a dazzling debut.
Cardinals 23, 49ers 13
SAN FRANCISCO (AP) -- Kurt Warner passed for 197 yards and led three monotonously effective drives in the second half. Anquan Boldin had all of his eight catches for 82 yards in the second half of the Cardinals' third straight opener against the 49ers, who beat them twice last year to ruin their playoff hopes.
Arizona allowed none of the late-game hijinks that cost the Cards both meetings with San Francisco last year, grinding out 12 first downs while holding onto the ball for nearly 23 minutes in the second half.
J.T. O'Sullivan passed for 195 yards in his first NFL start for the 49ers, whose long-woeful offense looked downright competent under new coordinator Mike Martz -- if it could only get its hands on the ball. Frank Gore rushed for 96 yards and San Francisco's only touchdown on an early 41-yard scamper, but the Niners' offense barely got on the field in the second half.
Titans 17, Jaguars 10
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) -- The Titans sacked David Garrard seven times and Cortland Finnegan intercepted him twice in the season opener between the AFC's two wild cards in 2007.
Jacksonville came in without top backup Richard Collier on the offensive line after he was shot earlier this week. The Jaguars had three more linemen get hurt, and Maurice Williams and Vince Manuwai did not return. That helped Tennessee limit the Jaguars to 187 yards offense, just 33 yards rushing by what was the NFL's second-best rushing team in 2007.
Jacksonville had first-and-goal from the Titans 9 in the final minutes. But Garrard was incomplete on three straight passes, and Josh Scobee kicked a 27-yard field goal with 2:13 to go. The Jaguars tried to recover an onside kick, but illegally touched it before the ball went 10 yards.
Steelers 38, Texans 17
PITTSBURGH (AP) -- The Texans lost a gamble, a challenge and, likely, their opener in the first five minutes of the season. Willie Parker and the Steelers made certain Houston didn't get a second chance.
Parker ran for 138 yards and three touchdowns and a near-perfect Ben Roethlisberger threw two scoring passes to Hines Ward in a Steelers rout that began with Houston's fourth-down failure on its opening possession.
The Steelers retain most of the top players from the team that won the Super Bowl three seasons ago, and many played a role in Pittsburgh's sixth consecutive season-opening win. The streak is the NFL's longest since Miami won 11 in a row from 1992-2002.
Parker showed no loss of speed or cutback ability from the broken right leg that ended his 2007 season in the Steelers' next-to-last game, when he was leading the NFL in rushing. Roethlisberger missed on only one of 14 passing attempts until being lifted after three quarters.
Eagles 38, Rams 3
PHILADELPHIA (AP) -- Donovan McNabb threw for 361 yards and three touchdowns, and rookie DeSean Jackson had an impressive debut.
McNabb was 21-for-33, including a 90-yard TD pass to Hank Baskett. Jackson, the first Eagles rookie wide receiver to start a season opener in 18 years, had six catches for 106 yards and returned a punt 60 yards to set up a field goal.
The Eagles played like a team that expects to make a championship run as the offense racked up 522 total yards and the defense was dominant.
The Rams, 3-13 last season, were downright awful again.
Marc Bulger didn't have much time to throw and Steven Jackson hardly had any room to run against Philadelphia's stifling defense. St. Louis had 109 total yards through three quarters.
Saints 24, Buccaneers 20
NEW ORLEANS (AP) -- Drew Brees passed for 343 yards and three touchdowns, giving fans already jubilant about the Saints' quick return from Hurricane Gustav a triumph to celebrate as well.
Tampa Bay had a shot to win the brutally physical, back-and-forth contest until Scott Fujita intercepted Jeff Garcia's fourth-down pass just inside the Saints 20 with under 40 seconds to go.
Brees' scoring passes went for 39 yards to David Patten, 84 to Devery Henderson and 42 to Reggie Bush, with Bush's score putting the Saints in the lead for good in the fourth quarter.
Garcia was 24-of-41 for 221 yards, including a 2-yard TD pass to Ike Hilliard, which gave the Bucs a brief 20-17 lead.
But Tampa Bay's offense produced only one touchdown. The Bucs' defense got the other in the first quarter, when blitzing linebacker Barrett Ruud hit Brees as he threw, causing a fluttering pass that Phillip Buchanon intercepted and returned 26 yards.
Falcons 34, Lions 21
ATLANTA (AP) -- Matt Ryan threw for a touchdown with his very first NFL pass, Michael Turner set a team rushing record in his Atlanta debut, and the Falcons were off and running.
Michael Vick who?
Having put No. 7 in their rearview mirror, the Falcons got off to a rousing start in their first game with Ryan and Turner. The rookie quarterback electrified the crowd with a 62-yard touchdown pass to Michael Jenkins before many fans had settled in their seats. Turner rumbled for 220 yards and two TDs after coming to Atlanta from San Diego in the offseason.
The Lions bickered among themselves on the sideline and showed again that a perfect record in the preseason is downright meaningless when the games actually count.
The Falcons scored on their first three possessions for a 21-0 lead. Ryan, the third overall selection in the draft, looked worthy of the starting job bestowed on him after just three preseason games; he completed his first five passes and finished a workmanlike 9-for-13 for 161 yards.
Free-agent addition Turner broke off a 66-yard touchdown, scored again on a 5-yard romp and had another TD called back by a penalty. Even with that minor setback, he ran 22 times -- averaging 10 yards per carry -- to break the team record of 202 yards set by Gerald Riggs in 1984.
Bills 34, Seahawks 10
ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. (AP) -- Roscoe Parrish scored on a 63-yard punt return, and punter Brian Moorman completed a 19-yard touchdown pass to defensive end Ryan Denney on a fake field goal, sparking Buffalo to a dominating win. As if that wasn't enough, kicker Rian Lindell recovered a fumble on a kickoff, setting up Trent Edwards' 30-yard touchdown pass to Robert Royal.
Marshawn Lynch also scored on a 21-yard run as the Bills never trailed, blowing out the flat-footed and injury-depleted four-time defending NFC West champions. Buffalo opened a season with a win for only the fourth time in 12 years.
The 34 points came from a team that failed to score 20 a dozen times last season. They were also four more than Buffalo combined to score in its final three games of 2007.
Edwards, the second-year player opening his first season as starter, had a solid day, finishing 19-of-30 for 215 yards, while Lynch had 76 yards rushing.
The Bills defense did the rest, holding the Matt Hasselbeck-led offense to 252 yards. Hasselbeck finished 17-of-41 for 190 yards and an interception, looking very rusty after getting limited playing time in the preseason because of a back injury.
Ravens 17, Bengals 10
BALTIMORE (AP) -- The Ravens forced two turnovers and limited the Bengals to 154 yards to make John Harbaugh a winner in his debut as an NFL coach. Cincinnati's Carson Palmer was 10-for-25 for 99 yards, and his interception ended the Bengals' deepest foray into Baltimore territory -- except for a 65-yard fumble return for a touchdown by Johnathan Joseph.
Palmer was outplayed by Ravens rookie Joe Flacco, forced into the starting role because of a season-ending shoulder injury to Kyle Boller and Troy Smith's infected tonsils. Flacco ran for a 38-yard touchdown to put Baltimore up 17-3 in the third quarter and deftly operated within the careful attack deployed by Harbaugh and new offensive coordinator Cam Cameron.
Baltimore's other touchdown came on a double reverse, a trick play that represented a marked departure from the conservative offense employed by Harbaugh predecessor, Brian Billick.
Bengals receiver Chad Ocho Cinco, who legally changed his name from Chad Johnson, was forced by the NFL to wear Johnson on his jersey "because certain issues need to be resolved," the league said in a statement. Ocho Cinco finished with one catch for 22 yards.