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 with Miles Killebrew bursting up the middle to block Matt Haack’s punt, with Gilbert scooping up the loose ball and running it in untouched.
In opening his 18th — and perhaps final — season, 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.
The Steelers defeated the Bills after losing to them in each of the past two seasons — both times in primetime.
In a matchup of defending AFC division champs, the Bills produced a dud following an offseason in which many pegged them as Super Bowl contenders.
Buffalo’s Allen-led dynamic offense sputtered in resembling nothing of the aggressive unit which set numerous scoring and passing records last year. Allen finished 30 of 51 for 270 yards with a 3-yard touchdown pass to Gabriel Davis.
The Bills otherwise settled for Tyler Bass hitting three field goals and, worse still, failed to convert consecutive fourth-down opportunities to open the second half.
Cardinals dominate Titans
Kyler Murray scored five touchdowns and linebacker Chandler Jones had a career-high five sacks as the Arizona Cardinals simply dominated the Tennessee Titans 38-13 Sunday for a big road win to open the season.
Jones, who tied the franchise record, had three sacks in a first quarter so good LeBron James chimed in on social media for his Defensive Player of the Year candidacy. Jones, who wants a new contract, also forced two fumbles 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. Murray’s best pass came came early in the third quarter off his back foot to Kirk on a beautiful floater Kirk simply ran under.
Arizona scored the first 17 points and moved the ball almost at will against Tennessee. Murray either bought time scrambling around until he could find an open receiver or just kept the ball. Murray was so wide open on a keeper he held the ball up almost immediately on a 2-yard TD for a 24-6 lead.
Wilson leads Seattle past Indianapolis
Russell Wilson threw four touchdown passes, two to Tyler Lockett, as the Seattle Seahawks opened their season with a 28-16 victory against the host Indianapolis Colts on Sunday.
Wilson quickly took to new offensive coordinator Shane Waldron’s system, putting up a perfect passer rating of 158.3 in the opening half when he completed 9 of 11 passes for 166 yards and three TDs in guiding Seattle to a 21-10 lead.
Tight end Gerald Everett scored on a 9-yard catch and wideout DK Metcalf on a 15-yarder for Seattle. The latter, with 6:45 remaining, gave Seattle a 28-10 advantage.
Wilson finished 18 of 23 for 254 yards.
The Seahawks spoiled the Indianapolis debut of quarterback Carson Wentz, acquired by the Colts in an offseason trade with Philadelphia for a pair of draft picks. Wentz, who missed most of training camp because of foot surgery and spent another week in quarantine after close contact with a staff member who tested positive for COVID-19, was 25 of 38 for 251 yards and two touchdowns, both to Zach Pascal.