The New England Patriots opened up the 2017 season with a lackluster performance at home against the Kansas City Chiefs, but they were able to figure things out on the road Sunday afternoon. Tom Brady threw for 447 yards and three touchdowns in the Pats' 36-20 win over the New Orleans Saints. Brady got off to a quick start, with all three of his touchdowns coming in the first quarter for the first time in his career. He surpassed 300 yards in the first half for just the second time, helping his team put up 30 of their points by halftime. The 40-year-old was efficient at 30-of-39 passing to spoil the Saints' home opener at the Superdome. Rob Gronkowski helped those efforts with a 53-yard touchdown catch, but he did exit the game in the second half with a groin injury. The big man was seen on the sideline for the rest of the game on the training bike. Drew Brees was on the other side of the field and finished with 356 yards passing and two touchdowns, although, his Saints fell to 0-2 on the young season. Brady's three touchdown passes came on each of the first three possessions of the game for New England, who avenged a 42-27 loss to the Chiefs in the opener. Mike Gillislee found the end zone on the ground for the Pats, becoming the first rookie running back in franchise history with four touchdowns in the first two games. The defending champs return home next week for a matchup with the Houston Texans, while the Saints look for their first win on the road against the Carolina Panthers.
Falcons Open Up Stadium With Win Over Packers
The Atlanta Falcons struggled in their season-opening win over the lowly Chicago Bears, but everyone expected them to come out energized to open up Mercedes-Benz Stadium. That was exactly the case, as the Falcons got off to a quick start and improved to 2-0 with a 34-23 win over the Green Bay Packers on Sunday night. Atlanta put up a 17-spot in the second quarter, and led by as many as 24 before holding off Aaron Rodgers and "The Pack" late. Devonta Freeman found the end zone twice on the ground in the first half, while Matt Ryan threw for 252 yards and a score on the night. Atlanta also got it done from their kicking game, as Matt Bryant made field goals of 51 and 53 yards to add to the Falcons' big lead. The Packers did attempt to make things interesting in the fourth quarter, as Rodgers found Davante Adams and Ty Montgomery late, making it a two-possession game. The Packers' QB finished with 343 yards passing, but could not get the ball back with enough time to complete any type of comeback. Green Bay also turned the ball over twice to give the Falcons more momentum, as they suffered their first loss of the year. The turnover game ended up being the difference, as the Falcons only out-gained the Packers by three yards on the night. Atlanta will hit the road to face the Detroit Lions in Week 3, while Green Bay returns home to go against the struggling Cincinnati Bengals.
Astros Clinch, Tigers' Boyd Loses No-Hit Bid
The Houston Astros had a magic number of 1 to clinch the AL West Division heading in to Sunday, so it's only fitting that they turn to their recently-acquired ace on the mound. Justin Verlander delivered for Houston, striking out 10 batters over seven innings in his first home start, as the Astros secured the division crown with a 7-1 win over the Seattle Mariners. Derek Fisher, Marwin Gonzalez, George Springer, and Carlos Correa all went deep to support Verlander, who was acquired on August 31st from the Detroit Tigers. The division title is their first since 2001 and seventh in franchise history. With this year's win, they become the first team to win three separate divisions, after previously winning the NL West and NL Central. They will be back in the postseason for the second time in three years, after making it as a Wild Card team in 2015. Meanwhile, Verlander's former team also had an eventful day on Sunday, as young hurler Matthew Boyd took a no-hit bid into the ninth inning against the Chicago White Sox. Boyd lost it with two outs on a double by shortstop Tim Anderson in what was a 12-0 rout for Detroit. Boyd went on to retire Yoan Moncada to finish the complete game, which saw him walk just one batter. He struck out five on a day that he threw a career-high 121 pitches in his sixth win of the season. Nicholas Castellanos went deep and drove in four, while Mikie Mahtook added a long ball to lead the Tigers' offensive explosion. As much as the Tigers are well out of the postseason conversation, it definitely gave the Detroit fan base something interesting to focus on for a few hours.