Charlotte, N.C. – Tony Jones Jr. ran for two touchdowns, rookie Blake Grupe kicked two field goals and the New Orleans Saints beat the Carolina Panthers 20-17 on Monday night, improving to 2-0 for the first time since 2013.
Jones replaced former Lion Jamaal Williams, who was injured late in the first half and ran for 34 yards on 12 carries.
The Saints’ defense did the rest, holding Panthers rookie Bryce Young to 153 yards passing in his home debut. New Orleans limited Carolina (0-2) to 239 yards and sacked Young, the top overall pick in the draft, four times.
The Saints nearly made it two full games without allowing a touchdown before giving up a 3-yard scoring toss from Young to Adam Thielen with 1:16 left in the game. Young’s 2-point conversion pass to Thielen got the Panthers within three, but the Saints recovered the onside kick and ran out the clock.
Derek Carr, who threw for 305 yards in the Saints’ Week 1 win over Tennessee, struggled early. He had a badly underthrown interception into triple coverage and missed several other open receivers as the Saints limped into the locker room at halftime with a 6-3 lead.
But Carr improved in the second half.
He found Chris Olave, who made a diving one-handed grab along the left sideline late in the third quarter for a 42-yard gain. That set up Jones’ 2-yard touchdown run to give the Saints a 13-6 lead. Olave had another short grab leading to Jones’ second TD with about three minutes to play.
Carr finished with 228 yards passing and the one pick.
The Saints pulled even with unbeaten Atlanta and Tampa Bay atop the NFC South, while the Panthers fell into an early hole.
Young spent a good portion of the night under pressure as the offensive line struggled. Carolina couldn’t get much going in the running game; Miles Sanders was limited to 43 yards rushing.
The Panthers’ offensive night was marred by miscues, penalties and mental errors.
In the third quarter, the Panthers brought in Young’s backup, Andy Dalton, presumably to run a quarterback sneak on fourth-and-inches. But before Dalton could take his first snap of the season, guard Cade Mays jumped offside. Eddy Pineiro bailed out the offense with a 54-yard field goal, one of his three on the night.
The Panthers had a chance to tie the game just before halftime while facing third-and-6 at the Saints 18, but Carl Granderson sacked Young and forced a fumble that Paulson Adaebo recovered.
Steelers 26, Browns 22
Pittsburgh – T.J. Watt scooped up a fumble by DeShaun Watson and ran 17 yards for the go-ahead touchdown midway through the fourth quarter, and the Pittsburgh Steelers beat the Cleveland Browns 26-22 on Monday night in a game overshadowed by a serious knee injury to Cleveland star running back Nick Chubb.
The Steelers (1-1) beat the Browns (1-1) for the 20th straight time at home in the regular season when outside linebacker Alex Highsmith – who returned an interception for a touchdown on the game’s first snap – beat Cleveland left tackle Jedrick Wills Jr. off the edge and chopped the ball out of Watson’s hands.
Watt picked it up and raced home as Pittsburgh extended its home winning streak on Monday night to 21 straight dating to 1991. Cleveland allowed an opponent to score two defensive touchdowns for the first time since Pittsburgh did it on Oct. 16, 1983.
The Browns played most of the final three quarters without Chubb, who was carted off the field with what appeared to be his second major left knee injury. He suffered a dislocation and three torn ligaments while in college at Georgia.
Chubb took a handoff from Watson early in the second quarter and reached the Pittsburgh 3 when Steelers safety Minkah Fitzpatrick dove at Chubb’s legs. The four-time Pro Bowler’s left leg bent awkwardly underneath him as he rolled over Fitzpatrick, with his knee being pushed one way while the rest of his body went another.
The injury was so disturbing to watch that a replay was shown just once inside the stadium, and ESPN declined to show replays on its telecast. Players on both teams knelt in prayer while Chubb was tended to by medical personnel.
Chubb, respected by his teammates because, as former quarterback Jacoby Brissett put it, “he’s an All-Pro and acts like he’s on the practice squad,” was taken off on a cart.
Jerome Ford, Chubb’s replacement, ran for 106 yards and caught a 3-yard touchdown pass for the Browns, but Cleveland’s miscues cost it a chance to win at Pittsburgh in the regular season for the first time since 2003. The Browns beat the host Steelers in the playoffs after the 2020 season.
Watson completed 22 of 40 for 235 yards with a touchdown and an interception. He was also flagged twice for unsportsmanlike conduct for grabbing the facemask of a Steeler while running. The penalties cut a pair of promising drives short.
The Browns were penalized eight times for 81 yards and turned it over four times, two of which ended with one member of the best edge-rusher tandems in the NFL celebrating in the end zone.
The Steelers avoided their first 0-2 start since 2019 even though their offense continued to sputter. Kenny Pickett connected on 15 of 30 passes for 222 yards, a third of them coming on a 71-yard catch-and-run touchdown by George Pickens in the second quarter that briefly brought the Acrisure Stadium crowd to life.
Cleveland still appeared to be in good position when Ford raced 69 yards to set up a 1-yard dive by Pierre Strong that put the Browns ahead 22-19 midway through the third quarter.
Pittsburgh’s offense did next to nothing for most of the second half, leading to chants from the crowd to fire coordinator Matt Canada.
Highsmith’s bull rush off the edge and Watt’s scoop-and-score bailed the Steelers out.