NFL Grades: A Look Back At Week 8
NFL Grades A Look Back At Week 8
Week 8 brought us to the half way point in the 2012 NFL season, and things are starting to shake out across the league. At this point we know who is going to be in for sure, who will be out, and we know who those teams are that have a shot at the wild cards.
Every team goes out with the intention to win whenever they hit the field. To quote Herm Edwards “You play to win the game!” Even so, these games down the stretch take on even more importance as teams jockey for playoff position, and Week 8 was no exception.
From pathetic to dominant, and everything in between, Week 8 began to separate the wheat from the chaff. There were perennial powerhouses that reminded everyone of why they are the best, and preseason favorites who continued to inexplicably fade into the night. There were blowouts and nail-biters, and best of all there were underdog overachievers winning where they were supposed to lose.
Here we will look at every game from the week and give our grades for the week. The grades are based purely on this week’s game alone. As tempting as it is to take the rest of the season into account, we will instead look at each match up as though in a vacuum.
Week 8 featured 14 individual games, showcasing 28 of the NFL’s 32 teams, leaving 4 inactive as they took advantage of a weekend of rest. The four teams on their bye were: the Buffalo Bills, Baltimore Ravens, Cincinnati Bengals, and the New York Jets.
Click the next and see how well your team, or their greatest rival, played last week!
Chargers Look Pathetic In Cleveland
San Diego Chargers (2-4 ater Loss vs Cleveland Browns: 6-7)
If there was an F- to hand out, San Diego would be the ones to get it. In What was expected to be a statement game from the Chargers, Phillip Rivers was only able to complete 18 of his 34 pass attempts for just 154 yards, and running back Ryan Mathews continued his fumbling ways. The offense couldn’t get the ball in the end zone against a team that has given up an average of 23.2 points per game.
The only bright spot was the performance of Ronnie Brown, who had 102 yards of total offense, most of which came in the passing game. When the best player on your team is an aging back up running back, things did not go well. For a team that was expected to be the favorite for the AFC West division title, this game was an embarrassment .
Jets Look Horrible In Blowout
New York Jets (3-5 after Loss vs Miami Dolphins: 30-9)
The Jets knocked Ryan Tannehill out of the game in the first quarter, but that wasn’t enough to help them on this day. The Mark Sanchez led offense was only able to manage 3 points through 3 quarters, while the Dolphins seemed to be scoring at will. Coach Rex Ryan stated after the game that he never felt the need to put back up quarterback Tim Tebow in to the game in relief of Sanchez, but maybe he should have. In a game that was heavy laden with playoff implications for both teams, New York failed to answer the bell, and are now sitting at the Bottom of the AFC East.
Chiefs Continue To Lose
Kansas City Chiefs (1-6 after Loss vs Oakland Raiders: 26-16)
The post game statistics show 7 players in the rushing column. Of those 7 players, 6 had more yards than Jamaal Charles, who had led the league in rushing at the outset of Week 8. The starting quarterback was knocked out of the game after he had passed for 1 yard and 1 interception, the former starting quarterback gave one away, and the special teams decided to match their quarterbacks, and gave up the ball twice themselves. The team failed in every phase of the game, and even when they got Sebastian Janikowski to miss a field goal, the play was erased by a penalty and the kicker was good from 5 yards closer.
I know I said these games needed to be looked at individually, but the CBS crew threw out a fact at the end of the game that should be noted: No team has ever not held the lead in a game through the first 7 games of the season.
Cardinals Lose Another One
Arizona Cardinals (4-4 after Loss vs San Francisco 49ers: 3-24)
The score doesn’t even come close to telling the story on this game. The Arizona Cardinals were dominated in this game, from start to finish. Quarterback John Skelton threw for 185 extremely ineffective yards, and the team’s star receiver, Larry Fitzpatrick, took such a beating, the cameras caught him in the huddle sniffing smelling salts to chase the cobwebs away. The most pathetic stat of the night came from the rushing game, which only managed to rack up 7 total yards.
Jolting his senses may have kept Fitzgerald in the game, but unfortunately, no amount of salts would wake the Cards up from their nightmare on Monday Night.
Rams Picked Apart By Pats
St Louis Rams (3-5 after Loss vs New England Patriots: 45-7)
In a game played across the Atlantic, in front of a London crowd, the Rams did very little to impress the Brits. Sam Bradford threw a 50 yard bomb to Chris Givins for a touchdown on the first drive of the game, and after that, the entire St Louis team looked as though they were already checking out to head to the airport. Steven Jackson and Darrel Richardson were unable to make any headway and Bradford only managed another 154 yards through the air.
The Rams get no curve for where the game was played, or who they played against. A stinker is a stinker, no matter what continent it is on.
Vikings Get Trampled At Home
Minnesota Vikings (5-3 after Loss vs Tampa Bay Buccaneers: 17-36)
At home, on Thursday night, and against a 2-4 team, the Vikings forgot how to stop the run, how to defend the pass, and how to protect the ball, and how to get to the opposing quarterback. All of which contributed to an embarrassing loss the whole nation got to see.
The only reason Minnesota did not get an F was the performance of Adrian Peterson (15 carries for 123 yards and a TD), and of Percy Harvin (7 catches for 90 yards and a TD). If the Vikings want to be relevant near the end of the season, they will need to do more to help their two biggest stars win games.
Redskins Have No Answer For Steelers D
Washington Redskins (3-5 after Loss vs Pittsburgh Steelers: 12-27)
Against the Steelers defense Robert Griffin III finally looked the part of a rookie quarterback in the NFL. He was held to a pedestrian 177 yards, and although he did get the ball in the end zone early in the second quarter, it would be the only success he would have all day.
The Redskins led the NFL in rushing coming into this game, but were only able to manage 86 yards on the ground, and it took 11 plays from the Pittsburgh 22 yard line to get the ball across the goal line. The receivers also dropped the ball 10 times, doing nothing to help their QB. This along with a complete meltdown by DeAngelo Hall, puts the Redskins near the bottom of the class.
Vick Protects The Ball But Eagles Lose Again
Philadelphia Eagles (3-4 after Loss vs Atlanta Falcons: 30-17)
Prior to this game the Andy Reed led Eagles were 13-0 coming off of a bye. Playing against the leagues only unbeaten team on Sunday, no one would have ever guessed they had known such success.
Atlanta ran screens all day, and the Eagles were unable to even slow them down. Michael Vick finally was able to protect the ball, but was held to under 200 yards passing, and once again LeSean McCoy only touched the ball 16 times. Things are looking grim for both Vick and Reed, and this game did not help their cause.
Saints Knocked Down In Denver
New Orleans Saints (2 -5 after Loss vs Denver Broncos: 14-34)D
This game was expected to be a shoot-out between two of the best quarterbacks in NFL history. Instead, the Saints offense could not gain any traction against the Broncos defense, gaining just 252 yards, the lowest output of the 2012 season. The defense was just as bad, giving up 530 yards, also the worst showing of the season.
Drew Brees threw for a pedestrian 213 yards, 2 scores, and 1 interception. This would be a good day for most of the quarterbacks in the NFL, but for Brees, it is a bad day at the office.
Packers Ho-Hum In Home Win
Green Bay Packers (5-3 after Win vs Jacksonville Jaguars: 15-24)
In a game at home, against one of the worst teams in the league, Green Bay seemed to just mail this performance in. The offense gained just 238 yards, the worst effort they have shown this season. The Packers secondary missed the presence of Charles Woodson, and it was evident in the way an injured Blaine Gabbert kept attacking down the field.
While this performance may mean very little to the end results for the Packers, it is worth mentioning that without a special teams touchdown, the Packers might have lost this game by a point.
Another Rough Outing For Dallas
Dallas Cowboys (3-4 after Loss vs New York Giants: 29-24)
Sending the Cowboys below .500, this game was another game in which Dallas showed both sides of the teams personality. The first half saw Tony Romo once again throw for 4 interceptions, and the Giants took of to a 23-0 lead on the road.
But the team settled down and came within a Dez Bryant fingertip of pulling the victory out of the Giant’s jaws. The split personality performance was bad enough for an F and good enough for an A, so they get a C.
Titans Lose Heartbreaker
Tennessee Titans (3-5 after Loss vs Indianapolis Colts: 19-13)
Although it was in a loss, the Titans defense finally showed a backbone. Granted it was against the Indianapolis Colts, who have not been known as an offensive juggernaut, but the effort was there, and that is good to see.
The Titans could have earned a higher grade, but the offense was non-existent in the second half, scoring just 3 points. The stagnant O allowed the Colts to creep back into the game and steal it away in overtime.
Carolina Panthers Despite Good Performance
Carolina Panthers (1-6 following Loss vs Chicago Bears: 22-23)
Cam Newton nearly looked like his old self, except that the only way he reached the end zone was by putting the ball into the hands of the Bear’s defensive unit. Take away Cam’s 37 yards on the ground, and the running game failed to reach 100 yards.
Still the Panthers nearly doubled the Bears offensive yardage, and even with the pick six, they were in position to win the game.
Browns Run Over Chargers
Cleveland Browns (2-6 after Win vs San Diego Chargers: 6-7)
Another pair of rookies led the way as Brandon Weeden and the rest of the Browns got behind Trent Richardson and ran their way to a much needed win against the San Diego Chargers.
The Browns scored on a Richardson run in the 1st quarter, and were silent offensively from that point on. The defense did well, holding the Chargers to a pair of field goals, and the Browns won a game they deserved to win.
Jags Play Tough On The Frozen Tundra
Jacksonville Jaguars (1-6 following Loss vs Green Bay Packers: 15-24)
A torn labrum in his shoulder was not enough to keep Blain Gabbert from putting over 300 yards and a score up against the Packers in Lambeau. Cecil Shorts caught 8 passes and broke the 100 yard mark for the first time in his career.
All in all it was a good game from the Jaguars. Despite playing one of the best teams in the league without the production of their biggest offensive weapon, Maurice Jones-Drew, the Jaguars traveled to the Frozen Tundra to compete.
Chicago Bears Do Enough To Win
Chicago Bears (6-1 after Win vs Carolina Panthers: 22-23)
Whether Chicago deserved to be graded above their opponent or not is debatable, but the Panthers inability to stop Jay Cutler to Brandon Marshal was the difference in the game. Argue all you want, there is no changing that fact.
The Bears defense does what it does best and put points up on the board, aiding an offense that was lackadaisical against a team they should have easily racked up the points on.
Giants Edge Out Another Win In Arlington
New York Giants (6-2 following Win vs Dallas Cowboys: 29-24)
Just as the Cowboys played two different games, so did the Giants. They came out on fire, jumping to a 23-0 lead, and looking like they were going to continue their dominance over America’s team in Arlington. Instead of a rout, the Giants offense slowed to a crawl, and Eli failed to connect with one of his many targets for a touchdown for the first time this season.
New York actually had to come from behind once again this season, and while another win for the G-Men is impressive, it shows that the Giants have issues of their own to work out.
Seahawks Lose In Detroit
Seattle Seahawks (4-4 after Loss vs Detroit Lions: 24-28)
Seattle went on the road did all they could to beat a Detroit team that finally found some of last year’s magic. Russell Wilson did his part, throwing for 236 and a touchdown, but an interception late in the 3rd quarter that led to a Lions touchdown. Marshawn Lynch broke a 77 yard touchdown of his own, but only finished the game with 105 yards, which is a testament to the Detroit run defense.
As for Seattle’s defense, which is the true strength of this team, they kept the ball out of Calvin Johnson's hands until the final minute of the 3rd quarter, but they were still unable to keep the struggling Lions offense under foot.
A good effort on the road, but not enough for the win.
Colts Pull Off Tough Road Victory
Indianapolis Colts (4-3 following Win vs Tennessee Titans: 19-13)
Andrew Luck got his first road win of his young career and continues to keep his name in the Rookie of the Year conversation. Luck did so by leading the Colts on an 80 yard scoring drive late in the 4th quarter to tie the game. And then he did it again in overtime, driving another 80 yards and watching as fellow rookie Vick Ballard pulled off one of the most amazing touchdowns of the year leaping and twisting in the air to get the ball across the goal line as he was being knocked out of bounds.
Not a great game for the Colts, but good enough for a tough win.
Raiders Pick On The Chiefs
Oakland Raiders (3-4 after Win vs Kansas City Chiefs: 26-16)
The Raiders went to Arrowhead and did what they needed to do against division rival Kansas City. Carson Palmer threw for over 200 yards and two scores, and although Darren McFadden was bottled up for most of the game, he broke loose in the 4th and ended the game with 114 yards.
The win keeps the Raiders sniffing around the AFC West and with the second half of the season ahead of them, this game could go a long ways towards Oakland contending for a playoff spot.
Detroit Wins Close One
Detroit Lions (3-4 following Win vs Seattle Seahawks: 28-24)
Detroit had something to cheer about when they watched the Lions quarterback play as though it were 2011. The only difference was, he connected with Calvin Johnson just 3 times for 46 yards, and none of them were for a score.
Lions fans should find this encouraging considering how Mathew Stafford threw for 3 touchdowns and ran in a 4th against a very good Seattle defense.
Buccaneers Rough Up The Vikings Up North
Tampa Bay Buccaneers (3-4 after Win vs Minnesota Vikings: 36-17)
Tampa Bay went up to the northern midwest and went off on a Vikings team that had lost just twice all season. The Buccaneers played what may have been the best game of the season, with Josh Freeman throwing for over 250 yards and 3 touchdowns. The real story of the game, though, was Doug Martin, who had over 200 total yards and 2 scores.
The defense could have played better, giving up 369 yards and a touchdown to both Adrian Peterson and Percy Harvin, but the offense more than made up for the defensive inefficiency.
Atlanta Still Unbeaten
Atlanta Falcons (7-0 after Win vs Philadelphia Eagles: 30-17)
Atlanta went into Philadelphia and won yet another game the pundits all thought they might lose. While the defense was unable to get Vick to hand them the ball, they did harass, hit, and hurry the struggling quarterback, and the offense made mincemeat of the Eagles high priced secondary.
Matt Ryan continues to make a strong case for this season’s MVP, and the Falcons look like they are for real
Miami Dolphins Dominate The Jets
Miami Dolphins (4-3 following Win vs New York Jets: 30-9)
The Dolphins have become the greatest surprise in the NFL, and on Sunday they dominated the New York Jets in every phase of the game. Matt Moore came into the game in the first quarter after starting quarterback Ryan Tannehill was injured, and the Jets had no answer for the back-up. The defense held the Jets offense to 3 points through 3 quarters, and the the special teams scored a touchdown of their own, on a blocked punt.
Miami’s performance on the road and against a division rival could have warranted an A+, but the quality of opponent has to be considered, and the Jets are simply a bad team right now.
Ugly Uniforms Don't Stop The Steelers From Getting Big Win
Pittsburgh Steelers (4-3 after Win vs Washington Redskins: 12-27)
The Steelers are another team that put forth a dominant effort against a Redskin offense that has been incredible all season long. Ben Rothlisberger played what may have been hi best game of the season, and Jonathan Dwyer topped a hundred yards for the second straight game. The emergence of the running game, with a third string running back at that, has given the offense the balance it had been desperately needing.
The defense was able to do what no other D had done yet this year; slow down the Washington rushing attack. They were able to contain the explosive RGIII, and minimized the production from Alfred Morris, which more than any other team has been able to do.
Patriots Represent In London
New England Patriots (5-3 following Win vs St Louis Rams: 45-7)
The Patriots put on a show for the people of London. Outside of the 50 yard touchdown they gave up in the first quarter, the Patriots were near perfect in every phase of the game. St. Louis is not the greatest team in the NFL, but with Jeff Fisher coaching them, they are not just a push over, and they have a respectable defense. The way that New England dismantled them is a testament to how good the Patriots can be when they are playing well.
During his weekly radio show Tom Brady said that this was the first time all season where he felt that all three phases of the team were not just playing well, but actually complimenting each other, giving them a complete team performance.
If the Patriots can keep playing in this manner, it will be hard to see anyone in the AFC taking their place in this year’s Super Bowl.
Niners Shine On Monday Night
San Francisco 49ers (6-2 after Win vs Arizona Cardinals: 24-3)
San Francisco were the definition of a dominant football team on Monday night. They gave up a field goal in the second half, but it came at a point where teams would typically go for it on 4th down. The Cardinals must have really wanted to not get shut out, and instead kicked a meaningless field goal. That is how thoroughly the 49ers owned the field that night.
Alex Smith was nearly perfect missing just one pass as he went 18 of 19 for 232 and 3 touchdowns. 2 of those touchdowns went to Michael Crabtree, who may finally be emerging as the threat in the passing game they thought he would be when they drafted him in the first round of the 2009 NFL Draft.
The most telling stat to come from the defensive side of the ball is the total amount of yards they allowed on the ground...7. That was a professional team they played on Monday night, and as such, they have professional grade backs on their roster. For any defense to limit an offense to just 7 yards rushing is unbelievable, and as stated earlier, it is the definition of dominance.
Rocky Mountain Thunder Rolls Over Saints
Denver Broncos (4-3 following Win vs New Orleans Saints: 14-34)
The Broncos get the final A+ of the week due to the defensive effort they put up against an explosive New Orleans offense on Sunday night. The Saints may be struggling this season, but much of that has fallen on their defense. They still have Drew Brees throwing the ball all over the field, and are capable of running up the score at any point and time. The fact that Denver shut down the New Orleans offense, limiting them to just 7 points until late in the 4th quarter, is very impressive.
On the opposite side of the ball, the Peyton Manning led offense was everything a person would expect it to be against a defense that ranks last in the league against both the pass and the run. Manning threw for just over 300 yards and 3 scores, and the rushing game accumulated over 200 yards on the ground.
This was the most complete showing we have seen from the Broncos this season, seeming to click from the start, rather than waiting until they were in a deep hole to get it going as they have been in the past.
The way Denver looked on Sunday night makes it so a rematch with the Patriots cannot come soon enough. They get the best grade of the week.