Newton off the mark as Patriots begin post-Brady era

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Los Angeles (AFP)

Cam Newton rushed for two touchdowns as the New England Patriots made a winning start in the post-Tom Brady era with a season-opening 21-11 victory over the Miami Dolphins on Sunday.

Newton, who joined the Patriots in the off-season from the Carolina Panthers after Brady's move to Tampa Bay, extended his quarterback touchdown rushing record to 60 with a score in each half at Foxborough, Massachusetts.

Former NFL Most Valuable Player Newton's first touchdown came in the second quarter, skipping into the end zone from four yards out. He added a second touchdown in the third quarter to extend New England's lead to 14-3.

The Dolphins closed the gap to 14-11 with a Jordan Howard touchdown followed by a successful two-point conversion attempt early in the fourth quarter.

But Newton then led the Patriots on a 10-play, 75-yard drive that ended with running back Sony Michel barrelling over from one yard out to make it 21-11.

Newton, 31, is aiming to relaunch his career under Patriots coach Bill Belichick after an injury-plagued final two seasons with the Panthers, who jettisoned the quarterback in March.

While the Patriots made a successful start to life without Brady, their former quarterback will be in action on opening weekend later Sunday as the Buccaneers take on the New Orleans Saints.

- Ravens rout -

In other early games, reigning NFL MVP Lamar Jackson threw for 275 yards and three touchdowns as the Baltimore Ravens demolished the Cleveland Browns 38-6.

Jackson opened his account for the season with a five-yard touchdown pass to Mark Andrews as the Ravens took the lead in the first quarter.

Although the Browns responded with a touchdown through David Njoku from Baker Mayfield's pass, the Ravens rattled off four more touchdowns without reply to pull clear of their AFC North divisional rivals.

Elsewhere, the Green Bay Packers made a winning start in their NFC North divisional battle with the Minnesota Vikings, romping to a 43-34 victory in Minneapolis.

Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers led the Green Bay offense, passing for 364 yards and four touchdowns with no interceptions. Rodgers made 32 completions from 44 passing attempts.

In Atlanta, meanwhile, the quarterback duel between Seattle Seahawks star Russell Wilson and Falcons counterpart Matt Ryan finished with Wilson firmly in the ascendancy as the Seahawks scored an impressive 38-25 win.

Ryan led the passing yards with a whopping 450 yards and two touchdowns, but Wilson threw for four touchdowns and 322 yards in the win.

In Detroit, Lions linebacker Jamie Collins found himself ejected from his team's 27-23 defeat to the Chicago Bears in bizarre circumstances after he appeared to lower his helmet and make contact with an official.

Collins looked to be attempting to complain about Bears running back David Montgomery lowering his helmet into a tackle, but inadvertently brushed the game official's chest with his head as he did so.

Collins' misery was compounded by a fourth quarter collapse that saw the Bears reel off 21 unanswered points to turn a 23-6 deficit into a 27-23 victory.