LOS ANGELES: The New England Patriots’ early-season struggles didn’t last long.
Quarterback Tom Brady threw for 302 of his 447 passing yards in a 30-point first-half burst and the Super Bowl champion Patriots bounced back from a season-opening defeat with a 36-20 rout of the Saints in New Orleans on Sunday (Monday in Manila).
Brady, who had completed just 16 passes in a 42-27 loss to Kansas City last week, connected on 19 of 25 with three touchdowns in the first half alone.
It was the first time in the 40-year-old superstar’s career that he completed three TD passes in the first quarter.
“We were 0-1, and with the 10-day break, it felt like a year,” Brady said. “It was a good four quarters of great competition. We got off to a good start with some situational things, but we still left some things out there.”
Brady hit Rex Burkhead for a 19-yard TD, connected with Rob Gronkowski on a 53-yard score and threw a 13-yard touchdown pass to Chris Hogan.
The Patriots led 30-13 at halftime and handed a Saints team led by prolific quarterback Drew Brees their second defeat in as many games this season.
It wasn’t all good news for New England.
Gronkowski, limited to eight games last season because of injury, appeared to have shaken off the rust as he caught six passes for 116 yards, but he departed the game in the fourth quarter with an apparent groin injury.
Hogan was limping in the second half and receiver Phillip Dorsett left late with a knee injury.
The Patriots’ final three scoring drives ended in field goals by Stephen Gostkowski.
Coming off their big season-opening win over the Patriots, the Chiefs got off to a slow start but came alive in the second half for a 27-20 win over the Philadelphia Eagles.
Kareem Hunt got loose for a 53-yard touchdown run with 1:20 left in the third quarter to put the Chiefs up 13-10.
Philadelphia tied the game with 11:57 seconds left in the fourth quarters with a 40-yard field goal from rookie Jake Elliott.
But the Chiefs took the lead for good with a 15-yard TD pass from Alex Smith to tight end Travis Kelce before Hunt plunged over for another touchdown from two yards out.
The Atlanta Falcons, who collapsed spectacularly in the Super Bowl against New England in February, improved to 2-0 with a 34-23 victory over the Green Bay Packers.
In their first game at their $1.5 billion Mercedes-Benz Stadium, the Falcons built a big lead and made it stand up.
Matt Ryan threw for 252 yards and a touchdown and Devonta Freeman rushed for 84 yards and two short TDs for Atlanta.
Falcons safety Desmond Trufant, who missed the second half of last season, had a 15-yard fumble return for a touchdown and set up another TD with an interception in the rematch of last season’s NFC championship game.
The Arizona Cardinals erased a 10-point fourth quarter deficit to post a 16-13 overtime victory over the Colts in Indianapolis.
Phil Dawson, who missed a potential game-winning field goal from 42 yards on the final play of regulation, booted a 30-yard field goal with 8:02 left in the extra period to win it.
He got the chance after Tyrann Mathieu intercepted Colts quarterback Jacoby Brissett at the Indianapolis 22 yard line on the first play of overtime.
In Los Angeles, Kirk Cousins connected on an 11-yard touchdown pass to receiver Ryan Grant with 1:49 to play to lift the Washington Redskins to a 27-20 victory over the Rams.
There was disappointment for Los Angeles’ other team, too, as the Chargers, newly relocated from San Diego, dropped their first home game at the StubHub Center 19-17 to the Miami Dolphins.
Cody Parker kicked four field goals, including a 54-yarder with 65 seconds left, for Miami.
San Diego’s South Korean-born rookie Younghoe Koo missed a 44-yard field goal attempt with nine seconds left.