By Julian Linden
NEW YORK (Reuters) – New England, New Orleans and Miami maintained their perfect starts to the National Football League season on a wild and drama-packed Sunday.
The Patriots, Saints and Dolphins joined the Kansas Chiefs with their third straight victories of the new season while the New York Giants and Washington Redskins were left wondering where their first wins will come from after embarrassing defeats.
The Giants, co-hosts of this season’s Super Bowl, were thumped 38-0 by the previously winless Carolina Panthers while the Redskins suffered their first loss at home to the Detroit Lions in almost three-quarters of a century.
The Redskins had not lost at home to the Lions since moving to Washington D.C. from Boston in 1937 but their 21-game winning streak came to a shuddering halt with Sunday’s 27-20 loss.
The result left the Redskins, who made the playoffs last year with their brilliant rookie quarterback Robert Griffin III, at 0-3 for the season, along with the Giants, who won the Super Bowl two seasons ago.
The new season may have just started but the odds are already against two of the glamor clubs with only three teams since 1990 going on to make the playoffs after starting 0-3.
“If you had said we’d start 0-3, we’d all be shocked,” Griffin said.
There were no such problems for the New England Patriots on Sunday as they cruised to a 23-3 win over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Gillette Stadium.
With quarterback Tom Brady calling the shots for his new receivers and throwing for two touchdowns, the Pats coasted to a comfortable win to reach 3-0 for the first time since 2007.
“I’d love to get to 4-0,” Brady quipped.
Drew Brees, the quarterback for the New Orleans Saints, threw for three touchdowns in his team’s 31-7 romp over the Arizona Cardinals.
“This is significant,” Brees said. “We’re playing a little better each week and still, offensively I don’t feel we have reached our full potential.”
Arizona actually led after scoring the first touchdown but were powerless to prevent the Saints from piling on 31 unanswered points.
Arizona’s defensive tackle Dan Williams withdrew from the game after his father was killed in a car accident while driving to New Orleans to see his son play.
Dion Sims caught a 1-yard touchdown pass from Miami quarterback Ryan Tannehill with 38 seconds left to maintain the Dolphins’ unbeaten start to the season.
Tannehill led a 13-play, 75-yard drive after Atlanta’s Matt Bryant missed a 35-yard field goal attempt with 4:46 left to give Miami their first 3-0 start to a season in over a decade.
The San Francisco 49ers, last year’s Super Bowl finalists, suffered their second loss in a row, losing 27-7 at home to the Indianapolis Colts.
The Colts’s second year quarterback Andrew Luck passed for 164 yards and ran for a touchdown while 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick threw for 150 yards and completed just 13 of 27 passes.
The Seattle Seahawks, one of the early favorites to win this season’s Super Bowl, thumped the Jacksonville Jaguars 45-17.
The Cincinnati Bengals pulled off the biggest upset of the day when they overturned a 16-point deficit to beat the Green Bay Packers 34-30.
The Bengals trailed 30-14 in the third quarter before rallying to score 20 points without reply, joining the Baltimore Ravens at the top of the AFC North standings.
After losing the season-opener, the Baltimore Ravens have now won two in a row, showing no signs of a hangover from last season’s Super Bowl success.
On Sunday, they beat the Houston Texans 30-9, once again on the back of their stout defense.
The Dallas Cowboys beat the St. Louis Rams 31-7 in Texas with quarterback Tony Romo throwing for three touchdowns.