San Diego: Philip Rivers avoided the turnovers that plagued his 2011 season and helped the San Diego Chargers open the new campaign with a 22-14 victory over AFC West divisional rivals the Oakland Raiders on Monday.
In the early game of the Monday night double header, the Baltimore Ravens unleashed a new-look, wide-open offense on the visiting Cincinnati Bengals and powered to a 44-13 blowout victory in their opener.
Rivers led the Chargers on drives that produced five field goals from Nate Kaeding and finished a steady day with one touchdown throw, and more importantly, zero interceptions.
Rivers threw 20 interceptions last season during a disappointing 8-8 campaign for San Diego.
The Raiders too, were hoping for a new beginning as they entered the 2012 season with a new coach and general manager.
However, they found themselves 10-6 behind at halftime before Kaeding nailed four successive field goals to leave the home team with a mountain to climb.
Carson Palmer, who joined Oakland in the middle of last season, threw for 297 yards but could only muster a consolation touchdown in the final minute.
In Baltimore, Joe Flacco passed for 299 yards and two touchdowns while Ray Rice rumbled into the end zone twice as the Ravens ditched their traditional bruising, methodical attack in favour of a no-huddle offense that blew away the Bengals.
Cincinnati, coming off a surprising season where they reached the playoffs with then-rookie quarterback Andy Dalton, stayed in touch at 17-13 halfway through the third quarter before Baltimore broke loose.
Flacco tossed a touchdown, Ed Reed returned an interception 34 yards for a score and the Ravens ended the game with 27 unanswered points to cap an impressive victory — especially for their quarterback.
“We know what we’ve got in this guy, he’s won a lot of football games,” Ravens coach John Harbaugh told reporters. “Joe Flacco is a great football player.”