What we know after Week 8
OCT 28, 2013 7:19p ET
Want to be a contender in this league? Then you must win games you arenât supposed to.
What does that mean? Well, when teams are faced with adversity (injuries, large deficits, etc.), itâs how they respond that defines them. Every team in the NFL will deal with such challenges. The elite teams donât let it bother them.
Injuries to premier players ruled the NFL world in Week 7. This week, the cream of the NFL crop has begun to rise. The teams that we expect to watch in early January took care of business in their own respective way. Letâs call Week 8 Separation Sunday.
The Saints cruised to a win at home, while the Patriots overcame a 17-3 deficit after a slug-it-out first half against the Dolphins. The Chiefs remained unbeaten and the Broncos ripped off 38 unanswered points against the Redskins. Meanwhile, the 49ers and Bengals delivered the five-score beatings we expected out of them.
OK, letâs get into what we can take away after this eventful week of football:
The Cowboys had the lead, the ball and all of the momentum very late in the fourth quarter. After questionable play-calling and a failure to run the ball with Phillip Tanner, they kicked a field goal to go up by six points. That gave Matthew Stafford the ball with 1:02 left. Let's be real, nobody gave the Lions much of a chance.
Well, how do you like that?
Stafford piloted a six-play, 80-yard drive which was capped by a QB sneak for a touchdown with seconds remaining. Boom.
While everyone assumes the NFC North is the Packersâ to lose, the Lions continue to find ways to win ugly games. Theyâve beaten just one team (Bears) with a winning record, but can separate themselves from their competitors in the division after their Week 9 bye.
Calvin Johnson had a historic day, hauling in 14 passes for 329 yards and a touchdown (a team record for yards and just seven yards short of Flipper Anderson's NFL record). The other star wide receiver on the field, the Cowboys' Dez Bryant, made some highlights on the field, but made more noise with his heated altercation with Jason Witten on the sideline.
The Jimmy Graham news wasnât good on Sunday morning. NFL on FOX insider Jay Glazer reported that Graham has partially torn plantar fascia and that he would be on a âpitch count.â
While Grahamâs snaps were limited (with only three catches), he made the most of them, catching two touchdown passes.
Drew Brees connected with 10 different receivers, but none of the targets were as electric as rookie Kenny Stills. The Oklahoma rookie caught three passes for 129 yards and two touchdowns and is clearly becoming a home-run hitter.
The Saints defense continued to show why it is one of the leagueâs best, keeping the pressure on second-year quarterback Thad Lewis and forcing three turnovers out of him. Although Bills receiver Stevie Johnson has been limited with injuries the past couple weeks, he had an admirable performance with seven catches for 72 yards a TD.
The Saints get into the meat of their schedule beginning next week with a trip to the Meadowlands to play the Jets.
Broncos 45, Redskins 21 â Broncos exploded like a champion
So much so, the Redskins didnât seem to know what hit them. After all, things were looking up for Washington in the third quarter when DeAngelo Hall picked off a Peyton Manning pass and returned it for a touchdown and a 21-7 Washington lead.
Then the Broncos got to work. First, Montee Ball scored on a 4-yard run. Then Manning connected with Joel Dreesen for a 1-yard TD pass.
Thirty-seven seconds later, Manning delivered a 35-yard strike to Knowshon Moreno:
Then another 35-yarder to Demaryius Thomas:
Oh, by the way, Redskins star Robert Griffin III got hit hard and knocked out of the game on this play.
Feeling dizzy yet? Sorry, weâre not done. Redskins backup quarterback Kirk Cousins completed Denverâs scoring party when he threw an interception to Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie that was returned 75 yards for the final touchdown.
If youâre counting at home, thatâs 38 unanswered points from the Broncos, 31 of them in the fourth quarter. Ouch. Whatâs more, Manning came into the game nursing two sprained ankles. He still threw for 354 yards and four touchdowns â giving him a passer rating of 94.3 despite three interceptions.
Manning will have plenty of time to get back to 100 percent as the Broncos head into their bye week sporting a 7-1 record.
For the Redskins, it was scary to watch Griffin, who had offseason surgery, go down like that. Head coach Mike Shanahan says the injury isnât considered serious and Griffin was kept from returning to the game for precautionary reasons. However, with the team sitting at 2-5, things arenât looking good.
However, all is still not lost as the Redskins are in an NFC East that is â¦ disgusting at best. Despite their record, the âSkins are just 1-1/2 games behind the division-leading Cowboys. So, if they can find a way to clean things up, a playoff spot isnât out of the question.
And isnât that kind of sad?
Bengals 49, Jets 9 â Hell hath no fury like Marvin Jones
Bonus points for anyone who knew about the second-year receiver out of Cal before Sunday. But if you didnât â like most people â you sure do now.
Jones ended up with eight catches for 122 yards. Dalton? He turned in his third straight dominant game, completing 19 of 30 throws for 325 yards FIVE touchdown tosses (another team record). The Bengals are now sitting pretty at 6-2, winners of four in a row and owners of a 2 1/2-game lead in the AFC North.
Now we come to the 4-4 Jets.
All we can say about Gang Green and rookie quarterback Geno Smith is: Gross!
Smith threw for just 159 yards and also had both of his interceptions returned for touchdowns, including this one by Adam Jones:
This came just a week after he played arguably his best game of the season against the Patriots. One step forward, one giant leap back.
To his defense, the Jetsâ running game also was a liability. When backup quarterback Matt Simms, who came on in relief of Smith late, is the teamâs leading rusher with 35 yards on 3 carries, thatâs just embarrassing.
Back to the drawing board, Rex.
Patriots 27, Dolphins 17 â Tom Brady doesnât need to carry this team
New England has relied on its superstar quarterback to bail it out of countless bad situations over the years. This time, the Patriots returned the favor.
The Dolphins came out strong, jumping out to a 17-3 halftime lead. Miamiâs running game was flourishing and its defense was putting strong hits on Brady:
Thank goodness games are 60 minutes long, right?
Brady led the Patriots down the field for a score to cut Miamiâs lead to seven, and on the next Dolphins possession, defensive back Logan Ryan struck:
That sack on Ryan Tannehill and subsequent fumble gave the Patriots plumb field position, which they took advantage of for the tying touchdown. That was 14 points in less than two minutes, and the rout was on.
After all the dust settled, the Patriots had scored 24 unanswered points to move to 6-2 on the season. This is with Brady completing just 13 of 22 passes for just 116 yards with one TD and one INT.
Good looking out, Patriots.
Mike Vickâs return to the Eagles offense didnât go as planned.
Not only did every drive he operate end in either a punt or a turnover, he also left the game early in the second quarter with a hamstring injury. Health has always been an issue for the 12th-year quarterback and it seems Chip Kellyâs offense isnât doing him any favors. Rookie Matt Barkley had his number called, but had an uneven performance.
The Giants defense capitalized on a young quarterback who clearly doesnât fit the spread-it-out, read-option scheme in Philly. Four players (Terrell Thomas, Antrel Rolle, Linval Joseph and Mathias Kiwanuka) tallied a sack on as the defense didnât allow an offensive score all day. The latter is very troubling for Philly as its offense hasnât been able to find the end zone for eight quarters (Sunday's TD was scored by the Eagles defense).
After the Giantsâ 0-6 start, theyâve won their last two games and are only two games out of first place in the NFC East. They enter their bye week and will play the Raiders in Week 10. They need the week of rest as theyâre very banged up.
And what a day for kicker Josh Brown as he put the ball through the uprights five times.
Chiefs 23, Browns 17 â 8-0 is 8-0
The Cinderella season continues in Kansas City. You have to hand it to the Chiefs, because that unbeaten record brings highly motivated opponents who canât wait to hand Kansas City its first loss.
"You want the stages to get bigger. That's why you put all the work in. You want this opportunity. You want that honor,â Chiefs quarterback Alex Smith told the Associated Press.
But was this a really grand stage? The Chiefs were playing at home and facing a subpar Browns team starting its third quarterback of the season in veteran Jason Campbell.
Yet, somehow, the leagueâs top-ranked defense allowed the Browns to do this:
Campbell had a nice performance on Sunday, completing 22 of 36 throws for 293 yards and two touchdowns and had the Browns within three points of a tie in the fourth quarter. But, the Chiefs defense made play after play down the stretch to secure the win.
However, Kansas City took somewhat of a beating from the âpunditsâ on Sunday.
The Chiefs might be the worst 8-0 team I've ever seen â Pete Prisco (@PriscoCBS) October 27, 2013
The Chiefs have run the half table! The Chiefs have run the half table! â trey wingo (@wingoz) October 27, 2013
"A win is a win," said the Chiefs fan, eating uncooked room temperature chicken and pretending nothing was wrong.
â sir broosk (@celebrityhottub) October 27, 2013
Every good team has a hiccup along the way. And the Chiefs are sure to find areas to improve when they watch the film from this game, but for now, it doesnât matter. A win against a bad team like the Browns is still a win. And yes, 8-0 is still 8-0.
Chiefs 8-0 ya'll! Way to go @kcchiefs! â Rob Riggle (@RobRiggle) October 27, 2013
The Packers have been absolutely ravaged by injuries this season, but they were the ones who put a beating on the Vikings on Sunday night.
While Christian Ponder was making another start in front of his hometown crowd, he didnât dazzle anyone. Just six days after Josh Freeman, who is dealing with concussion-like symptoms, stunk up the joint, the Vikings went with Ponder against the Packers. The result? Meh.
It was Aaron Rodgers who did his usual Aaron Rodgers things, completing 24 of 29 passes for 285 yards and two touchdowns in the win. The Packers running game, by way of Eddie Lacy and James Starks, has helped lessen the blow of injuries to receivers James Jones and Randall Cobb. Lacy and Starks each ran for a touchdown and combined for 151 yards on 36 carries.
49ers 42, Jaguars 10 â Not all football is good football
Thankfully, this game was played in England. Sure, it might hurt the NFLâs attempt to spread its brand on the global stage, but at least us Americans werenât forced to buy a ticket to this garbage.
What we saw on Sunday was the equivalent of the school bully taking his frustrations out on the wimpy kid.
It started early with Frank Goreâs 19-yard touchdown run.
And it all went downhill from there. QB Colin Kaepernick had another fine performance, typified by this nifty touchdown run in the first half.
The 49ers (6-2) earned their fifth straight win while the Jaguars fell to 0-8. Yawn. But hey, the day wasnât a total loss. Did you know that British fans know the Wave?
Andre Ellingtonâs first start as the Cardinalsâ running back couldnât get much better.
Ellington, who was filling in for Rashard Mendenhall because of a toe injury, ran for 154 yards on 15 carries. He also rushed his way to an 80-yard score in the second quarter. The Cardinals found success on the other side of the ball, stifling the Falconsâ air attack. Matt Ryan threw four interceptions while trying to claw his way back from a 21-point deficit.
Raiders 21, Steelers 18 â Terrelle Pryorâs run steals the show
The Steelers were faked out on a read-option play and Pryor was off to the races, his scoring run the longest in Raiders history and the longest by a QB in NFL history.
As time wore on, defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau tweaked his game plan and only allowed one first down over the Raidersâ final nine drives. Ben Roethlisberger, who is playing behind a moth-eaten offensive line, was sacked five times and couldnât do enough to stage the late comeback.
Pryor isnât the most polished pocket passer, but if he makes plays like he did on Sunday, he will continue to give opposing defensive coordinators fits.
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