Washington: Peyton Manning threw three touchdown passes to Julius Thomas and the Denver Broncos downed Indianapolis 31-24 in their National Football League season opener Sunday.
Manning scorched his former team, completing 22-of-36 passes for 269 yards and three touchdowns while the Broncos` defensive unit, revamped after Denver`s humbling 43-8 loss to Seattle in the Super Bowl last February, kept Manning`s Indy replacement, Andrew Luck, struggling most of the night.
Manning connected on touchdown throws of three, five and 35 yards to Thomas in the second quarter to spark the Broncos, with 25 new players on the roster from their Super Bowl lineup, to a 24-0 lead.
"We got off to a good start. We came out really fast," Manning said.
"In the second half, we came out a little sluggish and it stayed with us the second half. We`ve got to find a way to avoid that and play four quarters."
Luck fired a 41-yard touchdown pass to Dwayne Allen and a 9-yard touchdown pass to Hakeem Nicks to lift the Colts within 31-24 and the Colts took the ball again with 2:58 to play, but Denver defenders forced a turnover on downs to seal the victory.
"Our defense stepped up when they had to all night," Manning said. "When our defense had to make stops, they did. It was a good team win."
The victory was Manning`s first over his former team, putting him alongside Brett Favre as the only quarterbacks to have beaten all 32 NFL teams.
"Any time you join Brett in a classification like that, it`s an honor," Manning said.
Miami`s Ryan Tannehill threw two touchdown passes and former Denver star Knowshon Moreno ran for 134 yards and a touchdown as the Dolphins scored 23 unanswered second-half points to beat visiting New England 33-20.
Patriots star Tom Brady completed 29-of-56 passes for 249 yards and a touchdown but New England lost a season opener for the first time since 2003 and managed only 67 second-half yards.
"We didn`t so anything well in the second half." Patriots coach Bill Belichick said.
San Francisco`s Colin Kaepernick hit 16-of-23 passes for 201 yards and two touchdown passes to Vernon Davis, while defenders forced four turnovers in a 28-17 victory at Dallas.
Dan Carpenter kicked a 27-yard field goal in overtime to give the Buffalo Bills a 23-20 upset victory at Chicago. Fred Jackson ran 38 yards to the Bears` one-yard line to set up the winning kick.
Atlanta`s Matt Ryan completed 31-of-43 passes for a team-record 448 yards and three touchdowns while Matt Bryant kicked a 52-yard field goal 1:43 into overtime to lift the Falcons over New Orleans 37-34.
Philadelphia scored 34 unanswered second-half points to rip Jacksonville 34-17. Nick Foles threw for 322 yards and two touchdowns for the Eagles.
Shaun Suisham kicked a 41-yard field goal as time expired to give host Pittsburgh a 30-27 victory over Cleveland.Houston`s Alfred Blue returned a blocked punt for a touchdown and the Texans beat visiting Washington 17-6 but NFL Draft top pick Jadeveon Clowney suffered a right knee injury that could sideline him for up to six weeks.
Andy Dalton threw a 77-yard touchdown pass to A.J. Green and Mike Nugent kicked five field goals to give Cincinnati a 23-16 victory at Baltimore.
Ryan Succop kicked four field goals against the club that released him last week and Jake Locker threw for two touchdowns to power Tennessee past host Kansas City 26-10.
Derek Anderson filled in for injured Cam Newton and threw two touchdown passes in a 20-14 Carolina triumph at Tampa Bay. Newton suffered a broken rib in a pre-season game.
Chris Ivory rushed for 102 yards, including a 71-yard touchdown run, and the New York Jets beat visiting Oakland 19-14 while Mike Zimmer made a winning debut as coach of the Minnesota Vikings, who routed St. Louis 34-6.
Monday`s games find the New York Giants at Detroit and San Diego at Arizona.