- The Washington Times - Sunday, September 9, 2012

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The Falcons gladly took advantage of a short-handed Chiefs defense Sunday.

Matt Ryan threw for 299 yards and three touchdowns, one of them to tight end Tony Gonzalez in his return to Kansas City, and Atlanta used a second-half surge to pull away for a 40-24 victory.

Ryan also ran for a TD, and Julio Jones caught six passes for 108 yards and two scores, both of them enjoying a Chiefs defense missing four starters because of injuries and suspension.

The Chiefs matched Atlanta most of the first half, trailing just 20-17 at the break, but a missed field goal attempt by Ryan Succop early in the third quarter proved to be the turning point. Atlanta scored 20 unanswered points to put the game away.

Matt Cassel threw for 258 yards and had touchdowns running and throwing, but he also fumbled deep in Kansas City territory to set up a short TD, and his two interceptions created short fields that the Falcons turned into field goals by Matt Bryant, who was 4 for 4.

49ers 30, Packers 22

GREEN BAY, Wis. — San Francisco’s defense smothered Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay for most of the game, then made one last stand to stop a late rally as the 49ers beat the Packers.

Randall Cobb drew the Packers close with a 75-yard punt return for a touchdown, and a 2-point conversion cut the lead to 8. But Rodgers threw an interception to linebacker NaVorro Bowman and Frank Gore ran for a 23-yard touchdown.

Rodgers threw a touchdown to James Jones, again cutting the lead to 8, but the 49ers held the Packers in the final minute.

Things went so well for the 49ers that when David Akers tried a 63-yard field goal at the end of the first half, it bounced off the crossbar and then kept going through the uprights to tie an NFL record.

Patriots 34, Titans 13

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Tom Brady threw for 236 yards and two touchdowns, and defending AFC champion New England routed Tennessee for its ninth straight season-opening win.

The Patriots ruined Jake Locker’s debut as Tennessee’s starter, sacking him twice and forcing two turnovers. New England rookie Dont’a Hightower returned Locker’s fumble 6 yards for a TD in his own debut, and Stevan Ridley ran for 125 yards and a TD.

New England even knocked Locker out of the game in the fourth quarter. He hurt his left shoulder tackling safety Patrick Chung on a fumble return officials should have whistled dead as an incomplete pass to Titans receiver Nate Washington, who also was hurt on the play. Matt Hasselbeck replaced Locker.

Vikings 26, Jaguars 23 (OT)

MINNEAPOLIS — Rookie Blair Walsh kicked four field goals, including a 55-yarder as regulation time expired and another one in overtime, and Adrian Peterson returned from a left knee injury to lift Minnesota over Jacksonville.

Peterson ran 17 times for 84 yards and two touchdowns for the Vikings, who led for most of the second half until Blaine Gabbert’s 39-yard touchdown heave with 20 seconds left in the fourth quarter put the Jaguars back in front.

For the first time since the NFL’s new overtime scoring rule was installed last season, the first team on the board didn’t immediately run off the field a winner.

After Walsh’s 38-yard kick, the Vikings had to play defense again while the Jaguars had their chance to match. But Gabbert was hurried into a fourth-down overthrow. Gabbert was 23 for 39 for 260 yards and two touchdowns.

Jets 48, Bills 28

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — Mark Sanchez threw three touchdown passes, including two to rookie Stephen Hill, and the New York Jets eased concerns about their offense with a 48-28 rout of the Buffalo Bills on Sunday.

The Jets sprinkled in their wildcat package with Tim Tebow, who was mostly quiet but recovered a late onside kick by Buffalo, and Jeremy Kerley had a touchdown catch and a punt return for a score.

Antonio Cromartie also took one of New York’s three interceptions of Ryan Fitzpatrick to the end zone. It was the most points the Jets have scored in a season opener.

That’s from a team whose first-team offense failed to score a touchdown in the first three games of the preseason.

Bears 41, Colts 21

CHICAGO — Jay Cutler threw for 333 yards and two touchdowns, Michael Bush added a pair of scoring runs and the Chicago Bears spoiled Andrew Luck’s debut in whipping Indianapolis.

Brandon Marshall had nine catches for 119 yards and a touchdown in his first game since being reunited with Cutler.

Matt Forte ran for 80 yards and a score for the Bears, and also had 40 yards receiving. Luck finished 23 of 45 for 309 yards with a 4-yard touchdown pass to Donnie Avery.

Eagles 17, Browns 16

CLEVELAND — Michael Vick overcame four interceptions by throwing a 4-yard touchdown pass to Clay Harbor with 1:18 left as Philadelphia Eagles opened the season with a harrowing win over Cleveland.

Vick (29 of 56, 317 yards, 2 TDs) led the Eagles on a 91-yard scoring drive, capping it with his short toss to Harbor.

Buccaneers 16, Panthers 7

TAMPA, FLA. — Tampa Bay’s rejuvenated defense came up with two interceptions against Carolina’s Cam Newton, and the Buccaneers won their debut under coach Greg Schiano.

Josh Freeman threw a 6-yard touchdown pass to Mike Williams and Connor Barth kicked three field goals to help the Bucs stop a 10-game losing streak.

Texans 30, Dolphins 10

HOUSTON — Arian Foster had two touchdown runs, Matt Schaub threw a TD pass to Andre Johnson, and Houston’s defense overwhelmed rookie Ryan Tannehill and Miami.

Tannehill, the eighth overall pick by the Dolphins in the draft, threw three interceptions in a game-turning six-minute stretch.

Cardinals 20, Seahawks 16

GLENDALE, Ariz. — Kevin Kolb replaced injured John Skelton and led Arizona on the deciding touchdown drive, throwing 6 yards to Andre Roberts for a score with 4:59 to play in a win over Seattle. Seahawks running Marshawn Lynch, questionable with a sore back, carried 21 times for 85 yards.