Erickson, Mariucci successful in debuts

Published 12:00 am Monday, September 8, 2003

Dennis Erickson was nervous before his first game as coach of the San Francisco 49ers. There was no need to worry.

San Francisco beat Chicago 49-7 Sunday in the season opener for its most lopsided victory since 1989. Erickson and Steve Mariucci were the only coaches to win in their debuts with their new teams. Cincinnati's Marvin Lewis, Dallas' Bill Parcells and Jacksonville's Jack Del Rio lost.

Erickson took over for Mariucci, who joined the Detroit Lions after getting fired in San Francisco.

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''To be honest, you can't ask for a better start,'' Erickson said. ''We blitzed a lot, we came after them … and everybody did their job. It was a great team effort.''

Jeff Garcia passed for 229 yards and two touchdowns, and Garrison Hearst caught a TD pass and rushed for another score. Ahmed Plummer returned an interception 68 yards for a score, and Terrell Owens caught seven passes for 112 yards.

Mariucci, who also had a big win as the Lions beat Arizona 42-24, has created excitement after returning to his home state. Detroit was 5-27 under Marty Mornhinweg for the worst two-year mark in team history.

''This is the beginning of what I have spent the last seven months waiting for,'' Mariucci said. ''It's great to be home.''

Joey Harrington was 17-of-30 for 195 yards, four touchdowns and no turnovers. Rookie Charles Rogers had four receptions for 38 yards and two scores.

Falcons 27, Cowboys 13

At Irving, Texas, Doug Johnson threw two third-quarter touchdown passes to lead the Falcons over Bill Parcells and the Cowboys.

Johnson, filling in for the injured Michael Vick, drove the Falcons to 17 unanswered points, then responded to a late Dallas touchdown with a 1-yard plunge.

He finished 16-of-27 for 228 yards with one interception, while Troy Hambrick had 53 yards on 14 carries in his debut as Emmitt Smith's replacement.

Titans 25, Raiders 20

At Nashville, Tenn., Steve McNair threw two touchdown passes and punter Craig Hentrich kicked three field goals. Hentrich was doing double duty because Joe Nedney sprained his right knee on the kickoff after making a 50-yard field goal.

It was a messy opener that doubled as a rematch of last season's AFC championship game. The teams combined to commit 28 penalties for 284 yards, but it was the Raiders who hurt themselves over and over. Their share was 17 for 173.

Panthers 24, Jaguars 23

At Charlotte, N.C., Jake Delhomme threw a 12-yard touchdown pass to Ricky Proehl on fourth-and-11 with 16 seconds remaining.

Delhomme replaced an ineffective Rodney Peete at the start of the second half and rallied Carolina with three touchdown passes. Seth Marler attempted a 55-yard field goal as time expired, but Mike Minter blocked it.

Texans 21, Dolphins 20

At Davie, Fla., Kris Brown kicked his fifth field goal, a 35-yarder with 25 seconds left, as the second-year Texans gave the Dolphins an 0-1 record for the first time in 12 years.

Houston's David Carr went 17-of-31 for 266 yards, including a 78-yard touchdown to Corey Bradford. The Texans limited Ricky Williams to 69 yards rushing and forced the game's only three turnovers, including an interception by Marcus Coleman that set up the winning score.

Seahawks 27, Saints 10

At Seattle, Matt Hasselbeck threw two touchdown passes and Shaun Alexander ran for 108 yards and scored twice.

Seattle scored 21 straight points in the second quarter, reaching the end zone on each of their possessions. Deuce McAllister had 99 yards rushing on 22 carries and Aaron Brooks was 29-of-47 for 274 yards with one interception for the Saints.

Giants 23, Rams 13

At East Rutherford, N.J., Kurt Warner had six fumbles and was sacked six times, then went to the hospital after the game with a concussion.

New York forced four turnovers, and each started a drive that led to points.

Halfback Tiki Barber, who dislocated a finger in the first quarter, led the Giants with 146 yards rushing on 24 carries. Warner finished 34-for-54 for 342 yards.

Bills 31, Patriots 0

At Orchard Park, N.Y., Drew Bledsoe engineered scoring drives of 80 and 90 yards on his first two possessions and threw for 230 yards against his former team.

Bledsoe and safety Lawyer Milloy savored the win. The Bills snagged Milloy, a four-time Pro Bowl selection, on Wednesday after the Patriots released him for salary cap reasons.

Vikings 30, Packers 25

At Green Bay, Wis., Randy Moss caught nine passes for 150 yards and a touchdown as the Vikings won in front of a record crowd of 70,505 at remodeled Lambeau Field.

The Vikings forced four turnovers, including three interceptions by Brett Favre, who hadn't been picked off that many times in the first half since 1995.

Chiefs 27, Chargers 14

At Kansas City, Mo., Priest Holmes showed no ill effects of hip surgery, running for two touchdowns and 159 total yards in the first half.

Steelers 34, Ravens 15

At Pittsburgh, Tommy Maddox threw three touchdowns passes and Pittsburgh roughed up Baltimore rookie quarterback Kyle Boller in his NFL debut.