Super Bowl champs escape in opener

DENVER (AP) — The NFL kicked off its new season with Denver hosting Carolina in a rematch of the last Super Bowl. And just like last February, the Panthers still cannot beat the Broncos.

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Denver's dominant defense came up big against Cam Newton again and the Broncos escaped with a 21-20 victory. The Panthers looked like they could avenge their Super Bowl loss but Graham Gano missed a 50-yard field goal with four seconds left.

Trevor Siemian, Peyton Manning's successor finished 18 of 26 for 178 yards, one TD and two interceptions and managed the game just well enough for the Broncos to continue their hex on the Panthers.

Newton, the NFL's reigning MVP, was 18 of 33 for 194 yard with one TD and one interception.

NFL-SEAHAWKS-ANTHEM

Baldwin: Seahawks to show demonstration of unity

RENTON, Wash. (AP) — Seattle Seahawks wide receiver Doug Baldwin has tweeted that the team "will honor the country and flag" in a "demonstration of unity" prior to Sunday's season opener against Miami.

Former Green Beret and one-time Seahawks long-snapper Nate Boyer later tweeted that he had spoken with the Seahawks players about their plans and wrote, "what the team will do is a powerful sign of unification + respect for the Anthem + those that fight for our Freedom!"

Sunday is the 15th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks.

San Francisco quarterback Colin Kaepernick (KAP'-ur-nihk) has recently drawn attention for refusing to stand for the playing of the national anthem before games as a protest of minority injustice.

Broncos linebacker Brandon Marshall, a college teammate of Kaepernick, took to a knee during the playing of the national anthem before Denver's season opening win over Carolina.

NFL-VIKINGS-BRIDGEWATER

Bridgewater upbeat after surgery

EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. (AP) — Minnesota quarterback Teddy Bridgewater has undergone surgery on his severely injured left knee.

The surgery comes nine days after Bridgewater went down in practice during a routine non-contact drill.

Coach Mike Zimmer says Bridgewater's surgeon found no major problems beyond the knee dislocation and complete tear of the anterior cruciate ligament. The Vikings said after the injury that Bridgewater also suffered other significant damage.

"Thanks for the thoughts (and) prayers," Bridgewater said on Twitter. "I'll be back!"

The 23-year-old will miss the 2016 season is not likely to be at full strength for 2017.

U.S. OPEN

Williams out at US Open

NEW YORK (AP) — The 10th seed Karolina Pliskova played giant-killer at the U.S. Open.

The 24-year-old Czech upset top seed Serena Williams 6-2, 7-5 to reach her first Grand Slam final.

Williams, who clutched at her left leg between points in the second set, double-faulted to end it. Afterward, her coach, Patrick Mouratoglou, said Williams injured her left knee in the quarterfinals.

It also means Williams' 3½-year reign at No. 1 in the WTA rankings will end. She will be overtaken on Monday by current No. 2 Angelique Kerber, who defeated Caroline Wozniacki (wohz-nee-AK'-ee) 6-4, 6-3 in the second semifinal.

The German lefty will face Pliskova on Saturday in a rematch of the final at Cincinnati nearly three weeks earlier won by Pliskova.

MLB-SCHEDULE

Five in a row for Yanks...Brewers spoil the Cards

UNDATED (AP) — The New York Yankees are playing their best baseball at exactly the most crucial point of the season. Don't look now, but the Yanks are just two games back of Baltimore for the final wild card in the American League. They are four back of AL East-leading Boston.

Rookie Tyler Austin hit a solo homer in the bottom of the ninth inning to give the New York Yankees their season-high fifth straight victory, 5-4 over the Tampa Bay Rays.

Brian McCann hit two homers for the Yankees, who moved a season-high nine games over .500 at 74-65.

In other baseball:

— The Milwaukee Brewers played spoilers by routing St. Louis 12-5 behind a 17-hit attack. The loss deals a blow to the Cardinals, who fell a half-game back of the Mets for the final wild card spot. Domingo Santana and Orlando Arcia hit back-to-back homers. Hernan Perez had four hits and three RBIs for the Brewers, who won their season-high fifth straight on the road and have won seven of their last eight games.

— Ivan Nova pitched a six-hitter to stay unbeaten with Pittsburgh and Jung Ho Kang hit a two-run double to key a three-run first inning as the Pirates defeated Cincinnati 4-1. The Reds have lost five straight.

— Philadelphia got a three-run home run from Ryan Howard and beat the NL East-leading Washington Nationals 4-1. The Phils are 4-3 at Nationals Park this season. Peter Bourjos (BOHR'-jus) homered for the Phillies, who have won three of four overall.

— Cleveland posted a 10-7 win over Houston. Carlos Santana hit a two-run homer, Francisco Lindor had three RBIs and Abraham Almonte hit a two-run triple for the AL Central-leading Indians.

— Kyle Seager slugged his 27th home run, a two-run shot in the seventh, to help the Seattle Mariners down AL West-leading Texas 6-3.

— The San Diego Padres enjoyed a 14-1 laugher over Colorado. Ryan Schimpf hit a three-run homer and drove in four.

MLB-NATIONALS-STRASBURG

Nationals say Stephen Strasburg has a strained flexor mass

WASHINGTON (AP) — Nationals pitcher Stephen Strasburg has a strained flexor mass in his right elbow, and there is no timetable for his return.

Washington director of athletic training Paul Lessard says the injury is not season-ending and the ligament Strasburg had repaired with Tommy John surgery in 2011 is unaffected.

Strasburg, who is 15-4, left his start Wednesday after feeling a pinch in the back of his elbow.

MLB-METS

Tebow lands with the Mets

NEW YORK (AP) — Former Heisman Trophy winner Tim Tebow (TEE'-boh) has signed a minor league contract with the New York Mets. The former quarterback, whose deal includes a $100,000 signing bonus, will take part in the Instructional League in Port St. Lucie, Florida.

The amount of the signing bonus was obtained by The Associated Press from a person familiar with the contract who spoke on condition of anonymity because the figure was not announced.

Mets' GM Sandy Alderson says the club is intrigued by Tebow's "potential."

COLLEGE FOOTBALL-ILLINOIS

Lots of love, and cash, for Lovie

URBANA, Ill. (AP) — Trustees at the University of Illinois have approved a contract with football coach Lovie Smith that will pay him at least $21 million over six years. They approved initial terms for Smith after he was hired in March that were backloaded to pay him $10 million in salary over his final two years. The final contract now moves $2 million of that money to earlier years in his contract.

In addition to his salary, Smith is eligible for up to $8 million in bonuses.

PGA-BMW CHAMPIONSHIP

Castro jumps on top

CARMEL, Ind. (AP) — Roberto Castro has fired a 7-under 65 to take the clubhouse lead in the opening round of the BMW Championship.

His only bogey of the day came on the final hole. That leaves him a shot in front of Brian Harman in the third of the four FedEx Cup playoff tournaments

The round was held up for 3 1/2 hours due to inclement weather. They will resume the first round this morning, but more bad weather is in the forecast for Indiana.

HOCKEY

North America blanks Europe 4-0

QUEBEC CITY (AP) — Nathan MacKinnon scored on a third-period penalty shot for his second goal of the game in Team North America's 4-0 victory over Team Europe in a World Cup of Hockey exhibition game.

MacKinnon, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Johnny Gaudreau scored in a 4:43 span of the second period for the team made up of Canadian and U.S players age 23 or under as of Oct. 1. Matt Murray made 23 saves.

The teams will meet again Sunday night in Montreal.

OLYMPICS-SWIMMING

Lochte, other swimmers suspended

DENVER (AP) — A night of wrongdoing in Rio has already cost Ryan Lochte (LAHK'-tee) quite a bit of money in lost endorsements. Now comes word that he has accepted at 10-month ban from swimming related activities for the gas-station incident in Rio. Fellow swimmers Gunnar Bentz, Jack Conger and Jimmy Feigen were each given a four-month suspension.

Lochte is banned from swimming through next June and will forfeit $100,000 in bonus money that went with his gold medal at the Olympics.