Week 8 of the 2014 NFL season officially marks the half-way point for a good majority of NFL teams. With the playoffs quickly approaching and every team’s postseason hopes on the line, this week’s play brought no lack of drama. Sunday provided football fans with a number of nail biters and high scoring match-ups across the board to continue the excitement.
For Thursday night football, Week 8 kicked off with a showdown between two potential MVP candidates. While San Diego tends find success in the Mile High City, it was Peyton Manning and the Broncos that ended up on top, defeating Philip Rivers and the Chargers by a score of 35-21. Down in Florida, the Miami Dolphins rolled in to Jacksonville fresh off a big win and produced another stellar defensive performance. Jaguars’ quarterback Blake Bortles threw two interceptions for touchdowns against Miami as the Phins won big at 27-13. The St. Louis Rams couldn’t quite follow up their upset of Seattle with another victory, as the Kansas City Chiefs dominated the game and won by double digits. Arian Foster and the Houston Texans offense we’re too much for the Tennessee Titans with the debut of rookie quarterback Zach Mettenberger. The battle for the AFC North is bound to be a good one, as the Cincinnati Bengals defeated the otherwise dominant Ravens for the second time this year with a last minute touchdown run from Andy Dalton. Despite a rough start to the season, Tom Brady looks to be in peak form at just the right time, firing five touchdown passes with three of which to Rob Gronkowski in a 51-23 Patriots win over the Bears. In an AFC match-up, neither Geno Smith nor Michael Vick could get the job done under center for the New York Jets as they were destroyed by a solid Buffalo Bills defense. The Cleveland Browns easily shook off an embarrassing loss last week to the Jaguars with a 23-13 victory over the winless Oakland Raiders. Despite the fact that Indianapolis was beginning to look like the team to beat in the AFC, the Pittsburgh Steelers crushed the Colts 51-34 behind Ben Roethlisberger’s franchise record for 522 passing yards.
Across the pond in London, Atlanta’s 21-0 halftime lead disappeared in 30 quick minutes as the Detroit Lions scored 22 unanswered points capped off by a game winning field goal from Matt Prater as time expired. Two of the league’s youngest quarterbacks squared off in Tampa Bay as Teddy Bridgewater and the Minnesota Vikings took down the Buccaneers with a game winning fumble return for a touchdown in overtime. After two straight losses and a week of locker room troubles, the Seattle Seahawks found themselves in a must win game against the Carolina Panthers. With just minutes left to play in the game, Russell Wilson led Seattle on an 80-yard drive that resulted in a game winning touchdown thrown to Luke Willson. The Arizona Cardinals have proven themselves as the team to beat in the NFC West as they took down the previously 5-1 Philadelphia Eagles with a 24-20 win in the desert. Despite all of the thrilling match-ups over the course of the weekend, Sunday Night Football brought the best quarterback battle of the weekend as Drew Brees and the Saints hosted Aaron Rodgers and the streaking Packers. Brees came out on top of this one with a little help from running back Mark Ingram who ran for 172 yards and a touchdown to lead New Orleans to 44-23 victory. Then on Monday night, in what had all the makings of a blow out win at home, the smoking hot Dallas Cowboys were cooled down by not RG3, or even Kirk Cousins, but Colt McCoy and the Washington Redskins in a shocking overtime upset.
The coming weeks are time for many teams that are battling for a playoff spot to prove themselves and Week 9 will give rise to many key victories. The two best teams in the NFC will face each other as Arizona travels to Dallas, meanwhile, the two best quarterbacks of this generation will meet each other as Brady and the Patriots take on Manning and the Broncos.
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