NFL Recap: Week 8
By: Andrew Ziemba
As we finally reach the halfway point of the NFL season, let’s look back on the week that was, starting with a rather meaningful Thursday night game between the Broncos and the Chargers. Both teams have the look of playoff contenders, and the game did not disappoint. Former Steeler Emmanuel Sanders finally emerged as a productive component of the already unbelievably talented Denver offense, grabbing all nine passes thrown to him, including all three of Peyton Manning’s touchdown passes on the night. Philip Rivers threw an uncharacteristic two interceptions, an anomaly on a Chargers team that still only has 5 turnovers on the season. The San Diego defense ultimately could not hold back the Broncos, as Denver emerged victorious, 35-21.
In the earliest game in NFL history (9:30 am Eastern Standard Time), that also happened to be played thousands of miles from Detroit or Atlanta, the Lions and Falcons fought it out at Wembley Stadium in London. Down 21-0 at the half, Detroit mustered up 22 unanswered points over the next two quarters to win 22-21 on a Matt Prater game winning 48-yard field goal as time expired, an unusual sighting for this Lions squad. Detroit is still playing without star receiver Calvin Johnson and starting running back Reggie Bush, both having no set timetable to return at this juncture.
Week 8 was certainly not a good week for defenses, as 5 teams scored five or more touchdowns on their way to wins. Two of these teams, the Patriots and the hometown Steelers, both scored 51 points against teams (Chicago and Indianapolis, respectively) that are not generally known for such defensive lapses. The Colts’ Andrew Luck was still sensational in the loss, throwing for 400 yards and three scores, a normally impressive stat line if not for the fact that the other QB in that game, Ben Roethlisberger, threw for 522 yards and an insane 6 touchdowns. Tom Brady threw for five touchdowns as well, leading New England to a definitive win over the flailing Bears, 51-23.
In a divisional matchup that not very many people would think to watch, the shaky and inconsistent Bills offense put up 43 points on the league-worst Jets. The much more impressive and powerful Bills defense was the show-stealer however, forcing six turnovers from Gang Green. If the season were to end today, the Bills (yes, those Bills) would be looking like a serious contender for the wild card spot in the AFC.
The most interesting (and competitive game) of the week came from Philadelphia’s visit to Glendale, Arizona, for a matchup of two of this year’s best looking teams, and two of Pitt’s best football grads. Philadelphia RB LeSean McCoy once again failed to find the endzone, remaining in the one touchdown (on the season) club for another week. Arizona WR Larry Fitzgerald, on the other hand, finally came back and produced 160 yards on seven catches, tacking on a touchdown grab for good measure. Fitzgerald, unfortunately, is not far ahead of McCoy this season, as this was only his second touchdown of the year. Philly looked to have this game in the bag, only trailing once, but a 75-yard TD pass from Carson Palmer to rookie 3rd round pick John Brown with just 1:21 left on the clock put them down late, thus allowing the Cardinals to hold on to win, 24-20.
Week 8 also brought us a game that many would have said, at the beginning of the season, would be a precursor to the NFC title game. Seattle and Carolina, however, both entered the game with lackluster records, and the reigning champs on a recent 2-game loss streak. The only touchdown of the game came late in the fourth, when Russell Wilson connected with TE Luke Wilson with just 47 seconds left in regulation. The Seahawks escaped 13-9. The Bengals also escaped division rival Baltimore on a late touchdown run by QB Andy Dalton, pulling ahead to win 27-24.
The Monday night game featured the streaking Cowboys, who had not lost since Week 1, playing host to rival Washington, a team that has performed poorly all season. Surprisingly, however, Washington played it close, taking Dallas to overtime and making a big defensive stand to pull off the upset, and the all-important divisional win, 20-17. Sensational Cowboys running back DeMarco Murray once again accumulated over 100 yards, extending his streak to 8 games.