NFL season 2016

Last man standing: Jimmy Garoppolo injury leaves New England Patriots with quarterback question

They held on to beat the Miami Dolphins 31-24 as rookie signal-caller Jacoby Brissett made his NFL debut for a team already without Tom Brady

PUBLISHED : Monday, 19 September, 2016, 2:42pm
UPDATED : Monday, 19 September, 2016, 2:43pm

The New England Patriots could be looking for ‘plan C’ after quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo – a stand-in for suspended superstar Tom Brady – suffered a right shoulder injury on Sunday.

After Garoppolo’s departure late in the first half, the Patriots nearly blew a 31-3 lead, but held on for a 31-24 victory over the Miami Dolphins.

Garoppolo, starting his second straight game as Brady serves his long-delayed four game Deflategate suspension, had already thrown three touchdown passes when he was hurt with 4:02 remaining in the second quarter.

Rookie Jacoby Brissett made his NFL debut and led the Patriots to a touchdown on the first drive of the second half, with LeGarrette Blount scoring on a nine yard touchdown run.

New England later intercepted a Miami pass in the end zone with two seconds left to seal the win, their second in as many weeks in the young season.

Now, however, the Pats face a quick turnaround with a Thursday night home game against the Houston Texans.

“We’ll just take it day by day,” Patriots coach Bill Belichick said amid reports from multiple media outlets that Garoppolo could miss six weeks.

Elsewhere, the Minnesota Vikings made their first regular season contest at their new billion-dollar stadium a win as new quarterback Sam Bradford piloted them to a 17-14 win over the Green Bay Packers.

Bradford, acquired from Philadelphia Eagles at the end of the preseason after Teddy Bridgewater was lost to a knee injury, threw for 286 yards and two touchdowns in his first start for Minnesota.

It wasn’t all good news, however, as star running back Adrian Peterson finished with just 19 yards and left the game in the third quarter with a right knee injury.

Vikings coach Mike Zimmer said after the Vikings’ win he did not know the extent of the injury but that an MRI was scheduled for Monday morning.

“Whatever it was, it calmed down,” Zimmer said. “So we’ll see.”

The injury occurred on a five yard run with about three minutes left in the third quarter and the Vikings up 10-7.

Peterson went to the sideline, where Vikings medical personnel appeared to be working on his right calf or ankle area.

It had been tough sledding all night for Peterson, who had 19 rushing yards on 12 carries when he departed.

There was nothing to dim the joy in Los Angeles, where the first NFL game in the city since 1994 saw the newly returned Rams grind out a 9-3 victory over the Seattle Seahawks.

The low-scoring contest was the latest milestone in a homecoming confirmed in January, when NFL owners approved the Rams’ return to Los Angeles from St Louis.

The Cleveland Browns, who lost starting quarterback Robert Griffin III with a shoulder injury in their season opener, could be down to their third quarterback option after Josh McCown, starting in place of Griffin, hurt his left shoulder in a 25-20 loss to the Baltimore Ravens.

McCown, hurt in the first quarter, didn’t miss a snap but was clearly in pain as the Browns were unable to stop the Ravens from surging back from a 20-0 deficit for the victory.

In Denver, Von Miller sacked Indianapolis quarterback Andrew Luck and forced a fumble that teammate Shane Ray returned 15 yards for a touchdown as the Broncos defeated the Colts 34-20.

The Carolina Panthers, beaten by the Broncos in last season’s Super Bowl, notched a decisive 46-27 victory over the San Francisco 49ers thanks to four touchdown passes from quarterback Cam Newton.

Newton completed 24 of 40 for 353 yards as the Panthers bumped their franchise record home winning streak to 14 games.

The Pittsburgh Steelers also continued an impressive record of dominance in home openers as Ben Roethlisberger threw for three touchdowns in the Steelers’ 24-17 victory over the Cincinnati Bengals. Pittsburgh have won 13 of their past 15 home openers.

A year after New York and New Orleans combined to score 101 points, the Giants edged the Saints 16-13 on Josh Brown’s 23-yard field goal as time expired.

The Saints got a scare when cornerback PJ Williams was hit on the head twice in a first quarter tackle attempt. He was taken from the field with his neck stabilised, with team officials later saying he suffered a concussion.

Although it wasn’t the shoot-out of last season, Saints quarterback Drew Brees’s 263 passing yards took his career total to 61,589 yards.

That moved him ahead of former Dolphins great Dan Marino for third place on the all-time list behind only Peyton Manning and Brett Favre.