Upsets ruled Halloween in the NFL with division leaders falling hard and teams breaking long losing streaks. We even saw a GOAT turn human in, of all places, the Bayou. All that while some Grim Reapers showed up again to scare young quarterbacks and teams that already feel like the 2021 season is one long horror movie. Here is my recap of all the week eight NFL action.
Green Bay 24 (7-1) at Arizona 21 (7-1): The Packers went to the desert shorthanded yet figured out a way to play a complete game and knockoff the unbeaten Cardinals. Green Bay’s defense set up their offense with two turnovers that were turned into ten points, allowing the Packers to play from ahead most of the first half. In the second half, when Arizona’s offense finally started to make plays, Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay offense responded with a touchdown drive the Cardinals scored to regain a lead. The final defensive play made by the Packers was an end zone interception of Cardinals’ QB Kyler Murray, taking away a chance to kick a game tying FG or scoring a game-winning TD. The Packers won the turnover battle 3-0 and took over the top spot in the NFC with the win while the Cardinals left the field with many more questions than answers.
Carolina 19 (4-4), Atlanta 13 (3-4): Neither of these teams set the world on fire with their offensive productively in this game, however, the Panthers did just enough to break their four-game losing streak in Atlanta. The Falcons gave their home fans just 213 yards of offense in this NFC South matchup with QB Matt Ryan tossing two interceptions in another ugly defeat. Carolina won this game with their offensive line as they posted 203 rushing yards in their victory and return to .500.
NY Jets 34 (2-5), Cincinnati 31 (5-3): If you are a division leader, seeing a trip to play the Jets should strike fear into your hearts and mind. That’s because for the second time this year Gang Green outplayed an AFC divisional leader, adding a Bengals’ pelt to their wall right next to the Titans. Cincy probably knew they were in trouble when they won the turnover battled 3-0 in the first half, but only lead 17-14 at the intermission. From there, despite allowing the same number of points in the second half, the Jets defense made big played to spawn a comeback from 31-20, capped off by an interception of Bengals QB Joe Burrow which set up the game-winning touchdown. Matt White, subbing for the injured Zach Wilson, become the first Jets QB in franchise history to post not just a 300-yard passing day, but a 400-yard game in the win. Perhaps it is Zach Wilson who has been holding back the Jets offense so far this season … but even if it is not, that will be the narrative until team returns to the field Thursday night to take on Kansas City.
LA Rams 38 (7-1), Houston 22 (1-7): When this game was still hanging in the balance, the Rams outscored the Texans 38-0 over the first three quarters. It was only a 22-0 fourth quarter posted by Houston that made this game look close and likely cost a lot of bettors some money on a backdoor Texans’ cover. Rams QB Matthew Stafford had a 305-yard, three TD day to secure his team’s seventh win to maintain their midseason tie with the Cardinals in the NFC West with a chance to avenge their only loss of the year come up in mid-December.
Buffalo 26 (5-2), Miami 11 (1-7): Buffalo QB Josh Allen needed to work hard in this game, attempting 42 passes and running eight other times to comply his 305 yards from scrimmage, and the Bills needed all of them in this game. The Dolphins’ offense did little in support of their defense, posting an early FG and a late TD to close to within 17-11, and after being worn down, Miami’s defense game up a fourth quarter TD and FG, pushing the team too far behind to win. One can wonder if Miami QB Tua Tagovailoa was distracted by the team’s trade rumors surrounding Houston’s Deshawn Watson; but regardless of if he is playing to convince his current team or his next one he is worthy of being a starter, the Crimson Tide product had done little since returning from injury. Add to that rumors that many in the Dolphins’ locker room don’t think Tagovailoa is a franchise player, his career may be slowly slipping away with every loss like this.
Philadelphia 44 (3-5) at Detroit 6 (0-8): The Eagles went into the Lions’ house and dominated Detroit from start to finish in this game. Philly build on a 17-0 halftime lead with a 21-0 third quarter to take a good game and turn it into a laugher over the Lions. Eagles’ QB Jalen Hurts might have been outperformed by Carson Wentz on the stat sheet, but Philly posted 350 total yards to Detroit’s 228 in this lopsided affair that keeps the Lions winless over the season’s first eight games as the rebuilding process continues to be painful in the Motor City.
Pittsburgh 15 (4-3), Cleveland 10 (4-4): In another ugly offensive game, it was Baker Mayfield returning to action for the Browns and doing little to help the Cleveland Dawg Pound cheer. The Browns’ defense did all they could in this game, holding Pittsburgh to nine points through three quarters, but a fourth quarter TD pass by Steelers’ QB Ben Roethlisberger put the game’s final points on the board and secured the win. I doubt either of these teams will make a playoff run of any kind with how inconsistent they have played this season, and when these teams get together for any AFC North games, it is never a pretty affair … another reason to root against both squads.
San Francisco 33 (3-4), Chicago 22 (3-5): The Bears had a chance to stop San Francisco in this game when Chicago was up seven points and had the ‘Niners pinned deep in their own end facing a 3-and-18. Yet the 49ers overcame that spot and went on to post 18 fourth quarter points to turn a close game into an eleven-point win. Some fantasy owners will tell you that Bears’ QB Justin Fields outscored San Francisco’s QB Jimmy Garoppolo, yet on the must more important scoreboard, it was the 49ers who prevailed thanks to Jimmy G’s poise in this game. Both of these teams are still not likely destined for a trip to the postseason; but as Cris Collinsworth pointed out, Garoppolo may not being going anywhere for the 49ers after this season, something that is bound to make some Bay Area football fans happy, and others sad.
Tennessee 34 (6-2), Indianapolis 31 (3-5) OT: These teams were deemed evenly matched heading into this AFC North battle, and it played out that way on the field as they needed overtime to decide a winner. The Titans knew that pushing the Colts three games behind them in the standings and completing the second half of the season sweep this week would make it difficult for them to give up the division lead, and they fought all game to make sure they left Indy achieving all of that, and more. The Colts jumped out to a 14-0 lead but were only ahead 17-14 at the half after the Titans posted two TDs of their own in the second quarter. As expected, the second half was a tight as the first, with an overtime FG the margin of victory for the likely AFC South winners.
Seattle 31 (3-5), Jacksonville 7 (1-6): Twitter had jokes after this game went final with people suggesting which Seattle bars Jaguars’ head coach Urban Meyer would be visiting after this one-sided loss to the Seahawks. Geno Smith might not be the best quarterback in the NFL, but he has enough experience to outplay Trevor Lawrence, and with Pete Carroll still with enough tool in his defensive toolbox to outsmart a rookie, Jacksonville at little chance in this game. Seattle may not be able to save their season with Smith as their QB, but a win is a win, even if it against the Jags.
New England 27 (4-4), LA Chargers 24 (4-3): Playing against any Bill Belichick defense is taking a Ph. D level course in NFL quarterback play; and for Chargers’ QB Justin Herbert, Sunday was a tough lesson in how to win, and lose games. While Herbert did have a two TD passes in this game, it was a pick-six by the Patriots that game New England an early fourth quarter lead they never gave up. Belichick has kept his team in games all season, and in this one, his defense broke through and made the big play when they needed it, which is why they flew home Sunday night a .500 team and the Chargers will go back to the drawing board after a tough loss.
New Orleans 36 (5-2), Tampa Bay 27 (6-2): Posting 375 yards and four TD passes would normally be enough for Tom Brady and the Buccaneers to win … but when he tosses two interceptions, including a late pick-six when trying to mount a comeback drive, even the GOAT will look human. Jameis Winston left this game in the first half, with Trevor Siemian taking over and doing enough as the backup QB to help the Saints win and close to within a half game of the NFC South leaders. Are the Saints really as good as they played in the past few weeks, or are they just an average team who is hot and on a roll? We will find out in the coming weeks if they can keep up with the Bucs.
Denver 17 (4-4), Washington 10 (2-6): After the Panthers broke their four-game winning streak after starting the season 3-0, the late afternoon saw the Broncos do the same thing against Washington. Denver pulled this off despite allowing more yards on defense than they posted (342 to 273) thanks to two defensive interceptions that turned away Washington drives. While the AFC West continues to be competitive, it is difficult to see more than one or two teams emerging from the division as playoff teams, and I doubt the Denver Broncos will be in the mix come December. As for Washington, their off-field issues may finally be taking a toll on the field as last year’s NFC East champs are already looking forward to the 2022 NFL Draft and finding their next quarterback.
Dallas 20 (6-1), Minnesota 16 (3-4): On a day when backup quarterbacks won games for the Jets and Saints, the Cowboys found out on Sunday that their QB Dak Prescott would miss their primetime game. Yet the Vikings could do nothing on their home field against Cooper Rush in his first NFL start, allowing the backup QB to drive down the field and turn a three-point deficit into a four-point win. The Cowboys’ defense overcame more bad penalties late to home Minnesota to a late FG to set up Rush and the Dallas offense; and both sides of the ball did enough to keep the Cowboys in the group of teams with one only one loss as the calendar turns to November.
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NFL Week Eight Recap | TooAthletic.com