Everything You Need to Know: Week 8
Let’s face it: While there’s nothing better than NFL Sundays, it can be a little intimidating keeping up with what’s going on in every game. You can analyze the box scores or scan Twitter, but we’ll make it even easier. Here you’ll find the most important points from every day game, so you’ll be prepared no matter what comes up at the water cooler Monday morning. We’ll be updating throughout the games, so keep checking back.
1. Reggie Bush likes playing against the Giants. Bush entered today with one career 100-yard game -- it came against the Giants in his rookie year. Five years later, Bush finally got his second 100-yard game. Against the Giants. He needed just 12 carries to hit the mark and finished with 103 yards on 15 carries.
2. The Giants defense didn't do the team any favors. Poor open-field tackling (put on display most prominently on a 35-yard Reggie Bush run), bad containment (as seen on Matt Moore's fourth-down touchdown run) and bad third-down defense led to the Dolphins taking the lead all the way into the 4th quarter.
3. The Dolphins yet again couldn't close out a game they were in control of late. Last week, it was Miami giving up against Tim Tebow and the Broncos, blowing a 15-point lead in the 4th quarter. This week, it was a 17-10 lead the Dolphins surrendered in the final frame. It was the third 4th-quarter lead the Dolphins have blown this year.
1. Both rookie quarterbacks, Christian Ponder and Cam Newton, turned in impressive late drives. With the game tied at 21, Ponder hit on 5 of 5 pass attempts to lead the Vikings to a go-ahead field goal. Newton responded by getting the Panthers into Minnesota's red zone in the final seconds -- that drive included a 4th-and-15 conversion. Olindo Mare's missed chip shot field goal kept Newton's heroics from resulting in overtime.
2. It took until the third quarter, but the Vikings finally started gashing Carolina on the ground. Adrian Peterson wound up topping 160 total yards (86 rushing and 76 receiving) and scored a pair of touchdowns.
3. Newton had a couple of key turnovers, both coming on sacks where he fumbled. The first came on Carolina's first offensive play and set up a Minnesota touchdown. Newton then coughed up another fumble in the second quarter, which Minnesota also cashed in for a touchdown.
1. A telling sequence for Tennessee early in the fourth quarter: The Titans got the ball back after 10 unanswered Colts points. And Javon Ringer was on the field for every play on that Tennessee possession -- which resulted in a punt -- with Chris Johnson glued to the sideline. Johnson and Ringer each finished with 14 carries, but Ringer rushed for 60 yards while Johnson had 34.
2. Joseph Addai was active but didn't see any action for the Colts. That left Donald Brown and Delone Carter to pick up the slack -- Brown scored, but the Colts' leading rusher wound up being Curtis Painter, who scrambled his way to 79 yards on the ground.
3. A somewhat-lifeless game finally received a shot in the arm early in the second quarter, when the Titans blocked a Pat McAfee punt and recovered it for a touchdown and a 10-0 lead. Tennessee added 10 more points before the half, aided by a Curtis Painter interception, to more or less put this one away.
1. Two first-round pass-rushers helped fuel the Rams. Chris Long (2008) and Robert Quinn (2011) were terrors all game, combining for four sacks (three by Long) and terrorizing the Saints' offensive line all game.
2. The Rams took advantage of the Saints' blitzing tendencies. New Orleans had some early success with its aggressive rush, but the Rams have figured out how to counter that with quick passes and lots of Steven Jackson. While New Orleans got to A.J. Feeley with some regularity, the Saints were being burned far more often.
3. Brandon Lloyd made an impact in his second game with the Rams. Lloyd finished with 53 yards receiving and a touchdown, but those numbers could have been much loftier. On consecutive plays in the first quarter, Lloyd was open deep for long touchdowns -- he was underthrown on the first and overthrown on the second. It didn't take long for Lloyd to become a prominent player in the Rams' offense, and his ability to stretch the field is an element St. Louis has sorely lacked in its offense.
1. There was a lot made this week about Baltimore's lackadaisical hurry-up offense in a loss to Jacksonville, but that should quiet down after Sunday. Joe Flacco picked up the pace to bring the Ravens back from a 24-3 deficit, with the key to his success being wide receiver Anquan Boldin, who torched his former club for 145 yards -- 80 coming on one TD drive.
2. Patrick Peterson turned in a spectacular 82-yard punt return for a touchdown, breaking several tackles, juking one defender and then just exploding past the Ravens' coverage team.
3. The huge deficit Baltimore found itself in at halftime more or less took Ray Rice out of the game plan, but he still managed to find the end zone three times thanks to multiple pass-interference penalties on Arizona. Those infractions gave the Ravens a seemingly endless string of chances from inside the Cardinals' 5.
1. Houston's defense continues to pick up the slack with the offense stumbling in Andre Johnson's absence. The Texans held Blaine Gabbert and the Jaguars to 174 total yards. If not for a pair of turnovers by the offense, the Texans might have pitched a shutout.
2. Gabbert bruised his ribs on a first-quarter run and was replaced briefly by backup Luke McCown. But after a lengthy visit with the trainers, Gabbert returned to the game. He finished just 10 of 30 for 97 yards, a touchdown and two interceptions; McCown was 0 for 2 in his brief relief appearance.
3. Once again, Matt Schaub was unable to find a big-play threat with Andre Johnson out of the lineup. But the Texans' tight ends continue to pitch in. Joel Dreesen caught a 7-yard TD early in the third quarter to give Houston a 14-7 lead, and Owen Daniels made four grabs for 60 yards.
1. Opposing defenses have the choice to try to take away Fred Jackson and Buffalo's ground game or Ryan Fitzpatrick and the passing attack. Washington did not succeed in slowing either -- Jackson rushed for 125 yards; Fitzpatrick threw for 262 and two touchdowns to Scott Chandler. The Redskins did, at least, force Fitzpatrick into a pair of turnovers.
2. Without injured back Tim Hightower, the Redskins' run game is nonexistent right now. Ryan Torain led the way with a measly 14 yards rushing. The run game is the heart of Mike Shanahan's offense, so with an effort like that, it's no surprise that Buffalo pitched a shutout.
3. What now for Washington? Mike Shanahan already flipped the switch at QB from Rex Grossman to John Beck. But Beck has had two straight terrible outings, so does Shanahan go back to Grossman? Either way, it's hard to see the Redskins winning too many more games.
1. Tim Tebow's late rally in Week 7 overshadowed the struggles he had over the first 55 minutes against Miami. But his start Sunday was an unmitigated disaster. Tebow was sacked seven times, turned it over twice -- both resulting in Detroit defensive touchdowns -- and didn't top 100 yards passing until it was 45-3.
2. Ndamukong Suh has been shut down, stats-wise, by offensive lines this season. But part of the benefit for Detroit of teams focusing so much attention on Suh is that Cliff Avril and Kyle Vanden Bosch have more room off the edge. Avril had a pair of strip sacks or Tim Tebow Sunday, and he returned the second of those to the house for a touchdown.
3. Matthew Stafford was questionable to play all week with a leg injury, but he looked 100 percent. He finished 21 of 30 for 267 yards and three touchdowns. He could have had a fourth, too, but Calvin Johnson was ruled down at the Denver 1. Maurice Morris, who turned in a solid 58-yard rushing effort, punched the ball in two plays after that Johnson grab.
1. Brandon Tate put the icing on the cake for the Bengals late in the fourth quarter, taking a punt 56 yards for a touchdown to up Cincinnati's lead from a tenuous eight points to a comfortable 27-12 margin.
2. Why did Charlie Whitehurst start for Seattle Sunday if Tarvaris Jackson was healthy enough to play? That's a question Pete Caroll will have to answer -- he switched from Whitehurst to Jackson after just two series. The Seahawks fumbled on Jackson's first play when he and Marshawn Lynch botched a handoff, but Jackson finished with 323 yards passing. He did throw a late pick-6.
3. With Cedric Benson serving a one-game suspension, Bernard Scott stepped into the starting lineup and rushed for 77 yards on 20 carries. The Bengals could not have asked for much more from Scott, who kept the Seattle defense honest.
1. Ben Roethlisberger threw a career-high 32 passes in the first half Sunday and went to the air 50 times overall. For the most part, the Patriots did not have an answer, as Roethlisberger put up 365 yards. The only mistake he made came on a second-quarter interception, which kept New England in the game after Pittsburgh dominated the first 15 minutes.
2. Given Roethlisberger's number, it's hard to believe the Patriots did not keep cornerback Leigh Bodden around, at least for this one. Bodden lost his starting spot early in the season, but he's still an experienced veteran -- one that could have been useful against Pittsburgh's pass-heavy offense.
3. Pittsburgh's defense has had a lot of trouble dealing with Tom Brady in the past, but the Steel Curtain got after him from the get-go. LaMarr Woodley, who left in the third quarter after pulling his hamstring, turned in an especially disruptive performance, picking up two sacks. Even New England's last play, with the Steelers rushing just three, was blown up by the pass rush -- Brady was stripped of the ball as he went to pass, and the play resulted in a safety.
1. Frank Gore continues to get healthier and healthier, and it's paying dividends on the field. Gore carried the ball 31 times against Cleveland, allowing the 49ers to grind out a victory. He wound up with 134 yards and a touchdown.
2. The run game was far less effective on the other sideline. With Peyton Hillis again missing due to injury, the Browns mustered just 66 yards -- 30 by starting QB Colt McCoy and 34 from Chris Ogbonnaya.
3. Chalk this up as another step in the right direction for much-maligned San Francisco wide receiver Michael Crabtree. He had nine catches for 77 yards two weeks ago against Detroit, then followed it up with a team-leading 54 yards and a touchdown Sunday. - Tom Mantzouranis contributed to this post.