Half of the season is in the books, but there is still much football to be played. Questions have been raised about several teams and how they will fair with their weaknesses, but Week 8 has answered, drawing a clear line in the sand between contenders and pretenders.
The Baltimore Ravens came out hot last Thursday night by embarrassing the Miami Dolphins 40-0. Quarterback Joe Flacco took a nasty hit and left the game early, but the Ravens’ defense had 2 interceptions returned for touchdowns in the second half to finish off their shutout.
The Chicago Bears lost their tight end Zach Miller to a gruesome knee injury. Doctors performed an emergency surgery just to save his leg, let alone his career. As for the game, the New Orleans Saints led handily, and with generous calls from the referees, were able to win 20-12.
The Cincinnati Bengals had a hard-fought battle with the Indianapolis Colts. With news that Andrew Luck will not return this season, the Colts were very disheartened, but they still led the Bengals for most of the game. Andy Dalton had 243 yards and 2 touchdowns, including the game winner in the fourth quarter. The Bengals clutched the game 24-23.
The game of the week was at CenturyLink Field, where the Seattle Seahawks hosted the Houston Texans. This game was a shootout from the start, with both teams posting identical box scores in the first half. A pick six by Earl Thomas started the scoring for the Seahawks, but it was Texan quarterback Deshaun Watson who had his way with the Seattle defense. Texans wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins scored on a 72-yard screen pass to take the lead late, indicative of his 224-receiving-yard day. However, it was Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson who ended a masterful drive with a touchdown pass to tight end Jimmy Graham to end the game and give the Seahawks a 41-38 win. The stats ended similarly for the quarterbacks, as Wilson passed for a career-high 452 yards and 4 touchdowns, whereas Watson had 402 passing yards for 4 touchdowns.
A battle for second place in the NFC East was underway with the Philadelphia Eagles pulling away with the division. The Dallas Cowboys and the Washington Redskins faced off last Sunday for sole possession of second place. The first half was tight, with the Cowboys holding on to a narrow 1 point lead at halftime; the second half was all Cowboys though. Ezekiel Elliott controlled the clock, running all over the Redskins for 150 yards and 2 touchdowns. Redskins quarterback Kirk Cousins could not get it going and the Cowboys went on to win 33-19.
In other action around the league, the Minnesota Vikings tamed the Cleveland Browns 33- 16, pushing the team to 0-8. The New England Patriots took care of business against the Los Angeles Chargers 21-13. The Carolina Panthers manhandled the Tampa Bay Buccaneers 17-3, thanks to Cam Newton’s 154 yards passing and touchdown. The Oakland Raiders are still searching for answers after a 34-14 loss to the Buffalo Bills, who are proving to be a reckoning force. The Eagles flew to 7-1 with a dominant win over the San Francisco 49ers, who move to 0-8. The Atlanta Falcons stumbled past the New York Jets 25-20 in a rainy game at MetLife Stadium. The Pittsburgh Steelers were held to 20 points, but that was enough to edge out the Detroit Lions 20-15. JuJu Smith-Schuster had 193 yards and a touchdown in the Steelers’ big win. Week 8 wrapped up with the Kansas City Chiefs taking care of the Denver Broncos 29-19. Trevor Siemian would be benched after the Broncos loss.
The second half of the NFL season started out with a big statement win for the Jets Thursday night. The red-hot Buffalo Bills came into MetLife Stadium and got outplayed. The young core of the Jets defense shut down LeSean McCoy and the Bills. McCoy was held to 25 yards and the Jets danced their way to a win. Now at 5-3, the Bills are still in striking range of the Patriots, but need to perform better to prove they are a legitimate contender in the AFC. Now with their fourth win of the season, four more than most thought they would achieve, the Jets have earned much respect, proving they will not be overlooked anymore.
The Saints stayed hot by trouncing the Buccaneers. Jameis Winston left the game early with a shoulder injury, expecting to miss the next few weeks. The biggest play in the game was a fight, started between Winston and Saints cornerback Marshon Lattimore, but when Mike Evans demolished Lattimore with a big hit, it escalated drastically leading to a one-game suspension for Evans. This game was all Saints by a score of 30-10.
The Falcons jumped out to a 10-0 lead early, but the Panthers did not quit. Newton and the Panthers scored 20 unanswered points after that to take the lead. The Falcons scored a touchdown late, but their offense was ineffective yet again. Newton rushed for 86 yards and a touchdown, carrying the Panthers offense to a big divisional win, 20-17.
The Redskins entered Seattle looking to stay in the NFC wild card race while the Seahawks were trying to keep pace with the Rams in the NFC West. A safety by Bobby Wagner in the first would be the only points for the Seahawks in the first half. Facing a 7-2 deficit, Russell Wilson could not answer the bell. The Redskins held Wilson to 297 yards passing and Cousins led a game winning drive highlighted by a long pass to Josh Doctson. Doctson set up Robert Kelley to score the game winning touchdown completing the Redskins comeback and upsetting the Seahawks 17-14.
The Cowboys hosted the Chiefs on Sunday looking to prove they were back in wild card contention. Because of the Ezekiel Elliott scandal, the Cowboys face a lot of uncertainty week to week. Luckily for them, Elliott suited up Sunday and played a key role. Dallas shut down the Chiefs’ offense in the first half, but a crazy Hail Mary touchdown catch and run at the end of the half by Tyreek Hill got Kansas City back in the game. The team came out firing in the second half, taking the lead on a Travis Kelce touchdown on their first possession. That would be it for the Chiefs’ offense this game though. The Cowboys shut them down the rest of the way, and held on to a big 28-14 win.
The Texans were hit by surprise when rookie sensation and MVP candidate Deshaun Watson tore his ACL at practice during a read-option play in Week 9. Houston struggled without their star quarterback, losing 20-14 to the now 3-6 Colts.
Other action around the league included a 23-20 Titans win over the Ravens. Two teams scored over 50 points this week: the Rams embarrassed the Giants 51-17 and the Eagles moved to 8-1 with a 51-23 win over the Broncos. The Jaguars handled the Bengals easily, winning 23-7 and the Cardinals sent the 49ers to 0-9 by winning 20-10. The Raiders held on to a 27-24 win Nov. 5 over the Dolphins and the week ended in Green Bay with a Lions 30-17 win. Marvin Jones Jr. was unstoppable, scoring 2 touchdowns.
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