DENVER — Peyton Manning sure didn’t need Wes Welker in this heart-pounding opener. He threw three touchdown passes to tight end Julius Thomas in the first half and the Denver Broncos held on to beat the Indianapolis Colts 31-24 on Sunday night.
In his second try, Manning beat his old team and joined Brett Favre as the only quarterbacks to beat each of the current 32 NFL franchises.
The Broncos raced out to a 24-0 lead thanks to Thomas, then turned to their revamped defense to fend off a furious comeback attempt by Andrew Luck, who was working wonders behind a patchwork offensive line.
Luck brought the Colts within a touchdown when he found Hakeem Nicks for a 9-yard scoring strike with 3:26 remaining. But Indy’s last drive stalled at midfield when rookie Bradley Roby broke up a fourth-and-6 pass to Reggie Wayne.
Welker is serving a four-game suspension for violating the league’s policy on performance-enhancing drugs. But if there’s an offense that can weather the loss of the NFL’s premier slot receiver, it’s the Broncos.
49ERS 28, COWBOYS 17: In Arlington, Texas, Colin Kaepernick threw two touchdown passes to Vernon Davis, one right after the first of three interceptions by Tony Romo, and San Francisco opened the season with a win over sloppy Dallas.
The 49ers (1-0) also got a 35-yard fumble return on the second play of the game when Chris Culliver picked up a loose ball stripped from DeMarco Murray. They led 21-3 after the first quarter despite running just four offensive plays.
Coming off a spotty preseason for his offense, Kaepernick was efficient if not prolific, going 16 of 23 for 201 yards without an interception.
Romo was playing his first meaningful game for the Cowboys (0-1) since back surgery in December.
BILLS 23, BEARS 20 OT: In Chicago, Fred Jackson set up Dan Carpenter’s field goal in overtime with a 38-yard run to the 1, and Buffalo stunned Chicago.
The Bears had just punted to open the extra period and Buffalo took over on its 22 to start the winning possession. The Bills got the ball to the Chicago 39 when Jackson turned toward the left side and broke off his big run, pushing safety Chris Conte out of the way twice inside the 10 before being knocked out of bounds at the 1.
JETS 19, RAIDERS 14: In Florham, Park, N.J., Chris Ivory burst through a few tackle attempts for a 71-yard touchdown run midway through the fourth quarter, and the New York Jets’ defense clamped down on Oakland rookie quarterback Derek Carr.
With still a one-score game, Ivory rushed up the middle and appeared stopped, but slipped a few would-be tacklers on his way to the end zone. A 2-point conversion failed, but the Jets held on to win their season opener.
Geno Smith threw a 5-yard touchdown pass to Chris Johnson as the Jets sent the Raiders to their 14th straight loss in the Eastern time zone.
Carr finished 20 of 32 for 151 yards and touchdown throws to Rod Streater and James Jones.
TEXANS 17, REDSKINS 6: In Houston, rookie Alfred Blue, a former LSU running back, blocked a punt and returned it for a touchdown and J.J. Watt lived up to his massive new contract to help Houston snap a 14-game losing streak with a win over Washington.
The Texans led 7-6 after a 76-yard touchdown reception by DeAndre Hopkins in the second quarter. Blue blocked Washington’s punt on the next drive, scooped it up and returned it five yards for a touchdown to push the lead to 14-6.
Watt had a sack, blocked an extra point, recovered a fumble and swatted down a pass in his first game since signing a six-year, $100 million contract Monday. First overall pick Jadeveon Clowney had a tackle for a loss in the first half before leaving with a knee injury.
Robert Griffin III threw for 267 yards, but Washington was done in by two second-half fumbles.
VIKINGS 34, RAMS 6: In St. Louis, wide receiver Cordarelle Patterson ran for 102 yards on three carries with a 67-yard scoring run off a simple pitchout and Minnesota shut down St. Louis, opening impressively under new coach Mike Zimmer.
The Rams handled Adrian Peterson, limiting the All-Pro to 75 yards on 21 carries. They had zero luck with Patterson, who had three touchdowns rushing as a rookie.
Rams quarterback Shaun Hill lasted one half as the stand-in starter for Sam Bradford, missing the rest of the game with a thigh injury and leaving untested Austin Davis in charge. Hill’s last pass was intercepted by Josh Robinson with 1:09 to go in the half, setting up Matt Cassel’s 8-yard pass to Greg Jennings for a 13-0 lead.
EAGLES 34, JAGUARS 17: In Philadelphia, Nick Foles threw a 68-yard touchdown pass to Jeremy Maclin in the fourth quarter and Philadelphia rallied from a 17-0 second-half deficit to beat Jacksonville.
Chad Henne threw two touchdown passes to rookie Allen Hurns in the first quarter and the Jaguars (0-1) dominated the defending NFC East champion Eagles (1-0) in the first two quarters.
But whatever Chip Kelly said to his players at halftime worked.
The Eagles scored TDs on their first two possessions in the third quarter. Cody Parkey hit a 51-yard field goal on his first career attempt in the fourth quarter to tie it 17-17.
BENGALS 23, RAVENS 16: In Baltimore, A.J. Green caught a 77-yard touchdown pass from Andy Dalton with 4:58 left, and Cincinnati blew a 15-point lead before bouncing back to beat Baltimore.
Green got behind cornerback Chykie Brown, who was pressed into a starting role for the injured Lardarius Webb. The ball popped from Green’s grasp before he gathered it in.
That TD, along with the 2-pont conversion, came just 48 seconds after Baltimore newcomer Steve Smith caught an 80-yard touchdown pass from Joe Flacco.
Dalton went 25 for 38 for 301 yards for the Bengals, who ended a four-game losing streak in Baltimore.
Flacco overcame a poor first half to finish 35 for 62 for 345 yards and an interception.
TITANS 26, CHIEFS 10: In Kansas City, Mo., Jake Locker threw for 266 yards and two touchdowns, Alex Smith was intercepted three times and Tennessee rolled over Kansas City.
Kendall Wright and Delanie Walker had TD catches for the Titans, and Ryan Succop was perfect on four field-goal attempts against the team that released him last weekend.
Smith was 19 of 35 for 202 yards and a touchdown for a Chiefs offense missing suspended wide receiver Dwayne Bowe and right tackle Donald Stephenson.