Backup quarterbacks got here by way of practically en masse in Week 8, with the Cowboys, Jets, Saints, and Seahawks receiving very important contributions from reserves. The Titans additionally claimed a key victory however joined the Saints in doing so at a serious value. Here are the grades from the NFL’s eighth Sunday this season.
1 of 28
Monster day for present, former Dak backups
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The Cowboys’ second- and third-string quarterbacks in 2018 — Cooper Rush and Mike White — grew to become Week 8’s largest winners. Rush, on his second Dallas stint, did so on an even bigger stage. The former undrafted free agent completed with 325 passing yards and shocked the Vikings, who had strolled downfield to take a late lead after a slew of Cowboys private fouls, by hitting Amari Cooper for the clincher. Given the woes the Cowboys skilled with out Dak Prescott final season, Rush’s efficiency continued to showcase the franchise’s fast restore effort. After lacking the previous two playoff brackets, Dallas (6-1) is forward of schedule en route again.
COWBOYS GRADE: A-plus | NEXT: vs. Broncos (Sun.)
2 of 28
Vikings preserve reminding lots of unremarkable standing
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Being basically gifted a primetime win, the Vikings transformed 1 of 13 third downs in a sport that as a substitute proved emblematic of their Kirk Cousins-era standing. Minnesota continues to tread water with Cousins, whose poor outing confirmed why the staff tried to commerce up for Justin Fields in April. With Dalvin Cook, Justin Jefferson, and Adam Thielen wholesome, the Vikings wanted three private fouls to maneuver them into scoring place — and that fourth-quarter alternative nonetheless resulted in a brief area purpose. Missing Patrick Peterson additionally opened the floodgates for Cooper and CeeDee Lamb (234 mixed yards). A disastrous loss forward of a brutal second-half schedule.
VIKINGS GRADE: D-plus | NEXT: at Ravens (Sun.)
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Although A.J. Brown carried the Titans offense with 155 yards and a landing, the AFC South leaders’ assault runs by way of Henry. If Adam Schefter‘s Monday bombshell is correct, a defanged Tennessee staff (6-2) will greet foes for some time. Henry briefly left the Colts contest with a foot harm, one which will find yourself shelving him for the rest of the season (or probably until the playoffs ). Henry leads the NFL in speeding by 292 yards, exiting Week 8 with 937, and has an irresponsible 219 carries (82 greater than Joe Mixon for second-most this season). He moved previous 200 with 28 totes (for 68 yards) Sunday. The Titans dialed up their famous person’s workload over the previous two seasons. The penalties for the AFC-leading staff could possibly be dire.
TITANS GRADE: A-minus | NEXT: at Rams (Sun.)
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Wentz squanders momentum at relatively unhealthy time
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Going 212 makes an attempt with out an interception, Carson Wentz briefly stabilized his rocky profession. Wentz’s post-Week 2 streak went down in flames, along with his safety-preventing left-handed toss producing something much worse and an additional time INT dooming the Colts in a must-win sport. Wentz boasted a 14-1 TD-INT ratio getting into the fourth quarter, however the Colts at the moment are 3-5 and sure achieved with a pipe dream of carrying house blues within the playoffs for the primary time in seven years. In a clause paying homage to the 1994 Jeff George commerce, the Colts should quit their first-round choose if Wentz performs 75% of this yr’s snaps. The Eagles’ potential choice appears higher after Week 8.
COLTS GRADE: C-plus | NEXT: vs. Jets (Thu.)
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Bengals protection buckles amid expectations
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Yes, officers bizarrely denied the Bengals a remaining drive by whistling Mike Hilton for a questionable tackling infraction late within the fourth quarter. But Cincinnati (5-3) allowed 511 yards to a Jets staff lacking its beginning quarterback. Fresh off a dominant close-out of the hovering Ravens, the Bengals blew an 11-point lead with below 5 minutes remaining and misplaced regardless of successful the turnover battle 3-1. Jets rookie again Michael Carter tore aside the Bengals for 172 scrimmage yards, halting an improved Cincy linebacking corps’ momentum. In a aggressive division, this loss shall be pricey.
BENGALS GRADE: D | NEXT: vs. Browns (Sun.)
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Mike White galvanizes Jets upset
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Even on this period of inflated passing yards, no Jet passer had eclipsed 400 yards since Vinny Testaverde in 2000. As backup quarterbacks dominated the day, White led the best way with a stunningly dominant outing. White began 11-for-11 and led the Jets (2-5) again from a number of two-score deficits towards DVOA’s No. 5 protection. Set to relegate Joe Flacco to a Jets backup function but once more, White accomplished probably the most passes (37) by a quarterback in his first begin in NFL historical past and threw for the second-most yards (405) by a first-start participant. This outing actually displays higher on OC Mike LaFleur, whereas concurrently displaying the work forward for Zach Wilson.
JETS GRADE: A | NEXT: at Colts (Thu.)
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A protection bust on special-teamer Cyril Grayson led to the Saints blowing a 16-point lead, however P.J. Williams’ game-sealing pick-six restored the New Orleans protection’s Brady mastery. Yes, Brady bested the Saints in final yr’s divisional spherical, but it surely took the Buccaneers successful the turnover battle 4-0 to raise their offense that day. Brady threw for 375 yards and 4 touchdowns Sunday, however he dedicated three turnovers and is now 1-3 towards the Saints (in comparison with 20-4 vs. everybody else) since becoming a member of the Bucs (6-2). Failing to beat a staff down its prime two QBs appears unhealthy, however the Bucs’ schedule nonetheless units up a practical home-field benefit run.
BUCCANEERS GRADE: C-minus | NEXT: at Washington (Nov. 14)
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Frenzied crowd navigates bittersweet Saints day
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New Orleans’ on-hand fanbase introduced its finest Sunday when the Saints one way or the other beat the defending Super Bowl champions with a third-string quarterback. Trevor Siemian, who misplaced to Brady twice in his former life because the Broncos’ beginning QB, managed to balloon New Orleans’ benefit to 23-7 and lead a game-winning drive to save lots of the Saints after their protection bust. But Jameis Winston’s evidently extreme knee harm clouds this Saints run, which has them at 5-2 and (at worst) atop the NFC’s second tier. Taysom Hill, who missed Sunday’s sport, went 3-1 as New Orleans’ starter final yr and has a powerful protection. Is that sufficient to maintain the Saints afloat?
SAINTS GRADE: A | NEXT: vs. Falcons (Sun.)
9 of 28
Rookie tight finish preserves Steelers’ shorthanded win
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Mike Tomlin‘s fake-field purpose name ended with Chris Boswell concussed, resulting in Steelers fourth-down tries and two-point makes an attempt. With Eric Ebron out, second-round choose Pat Freiermuth rescued Tomlin’s squad in its largest sport of the season to this point. The Penn State product’s juggling fourth-down TD catch ended up the game-winner in a revenge matchup of types after Pittsburgh’s wild-card debacle. With Ebron, JuJu Smith-Schuster, and James Washington on expiring offers, Freiermuth represents a key piece for Pittsburgh’s post-Ben Roethlisberger passing sport. His Week 8 outing proved pivotal for this yr’s Steelers (4-3).
STEELERS GRADE: B-plus | NEXT: vs. Bears (Mon.)
10 of 28
Browns’ costly WR blueprint not including up
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The Browns (4-4) roster an $18 million-per-year wideout and one other making $15M on common. Neither was notably useful in what could possibly be an important defeat. Jarvis Landry misplaced a fourth-quarter fumble and dropped two passes on Cleveland’s remaining drive. But Landry was not less than concerned. Odell Beckham Jr. caught one cross and exits Week 8 having caught greater than two passes in simply two 2021 video games. This clunky Browns match has successfully ruined Beckham’s prime, with accidents intervening. He and Landry aren’t justifying their salaries, with Kevin Stefanski maybe deserving blame right here too for a scenario hurting Baker Mayfield’s growth.
BROWNS GRADE: C-minus | NEXT: at Bengals (Sun.)
11 of 28
Patriots nonetheless have Justin Herbert’s quantity
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Herbert’s Offensive Rookie of the Year season encountered a low level towards the Patriots, who beat the 2020 Chargers 45-0. Bill Belichick‘s troops gained out a yr later, and ex-Charger Adrian Phillips led the best way with two interceptions — which led on to 10 factors within the 4-4 Pats’ three-point win. A special-teamer turned hybrid defender in Los Angeles, Phillips has began for the previous two Patriot groups. The veteran security’s pick-six closed out the Bolts, who ran 45 performs to the Pats’ 74 in yet one more sport that confirmed New England’s protection stays able to retaining the second post-Tom Brady staff in competition.
PATRIOTS GRADE: A-minus | NEXT: at Panthers (Sun.)
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Bolts offense goes quiet in second straight sport
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Mike Williams’ belated breakout has stalled. The contract-year broad receiver amassed 471 yards and 6 landing receptions by way of 5 video games. Against the highest two defensive staffs on the 4-3 Chargers’ schedule, Williams has 4 whole catches for 46 yards. Herbert not missing confirmed weaponry past Keenan Allen damage in his second straight sub-par displaying towards the Patriots. In addition to the 2 INTs, one in every of which that includes a miscommunication with Jared Cook, Herbert accomplished 51% of his passes. The burgeoning star’s two worst completion charges have come towards the Pats, with this yr’s not fairly as unhealthy as 2020’s letdown.
CHARGERS GRADE: C-minus | NEXT: at Eagles (Sun.)
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Garoppolo-Deebo combo keys 49ers rebound
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The caveat of receiving yards being simpler to accrue now than in 1986 applies, however Deebo Samuel‘s 819 by way of seven video games edged Jerry Rice’s through-seven-games whole (781) as the perfect in 49ers historical past. Arbitrary numbers apart, Samuel’s versatile talent set powered a flailing 49ers staff (3-4) to a much-needed win. His 171-yard day included a wonderfully positioned Jimmy Garoppolo deep toss to arrange a first-half-ending area purpose and a third-and-20 display screen — which grew to become an 83-yard dash — that preceded a landing. After being a part of the 49ers’ harm ward in 2020, Samuel has eclipsed his 2019 receiving whole. And he helped Garoppolo in an important spot.
49ERS GRADE: A-minus | NEXT: vs. Cardinals (Sun.)
14 of 28
Bears protection folds on all three ranges
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Apparently granted freer rein to run extra with out Matt Nagy in cost, Justin Fields performed higher in a sport wherein the Bears led within the second half. But Chicago’s protection not solely allowed Samuel to erupt, they might not stress Garoppolo or include Eli Mitchell (137 speeding yards). The Bears (3-5) allowed 13 performs of 15-plus yards, together with three Mitchell 25-plus-yard scurries. Chicago was with out Khalil Mack, however their younger secondary buckled towards a San Francisco staff that has achieved little by way of the air all season. This marked Garoppolo’s largest passing day since December 2019 and one other step again for a sinking Bears staff.
BEARS GRADE: C | NEXT: at Steelers (Mon.)
15 of 28
What precisely occurred at Chris Blewitt’s exercise?
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Last week, Washington (2-6) determined to ditch its seven-year kicker — Dustin Hopkins — for Blewitt, the Pitt Panthers’ kicker within the mid-2010s. Blewitt went 5 years with out kicking in a regular-season sport, and his first two Washington outings ought to immediate inquiries about why Ron Rivera axed Hopkins. Although Blewitt made a 52-yarder, the Broncos blocked two of his kicks. Of Blewitt’s first 5 NFL kicks, three have been blocked. His two unsuccessful choices Sunday have been low-trajectory strikes that didn’t show tough to dam. As Washington’s depressing season rolls on, Hopkins is now with the Chargers.
WASHINGTON GRADE: C | NEXT: vs. Buccaneers (Nov. 14)
16 of 28
Denver’s D-line completes rescue mission
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The Broncos (4-4) started Week 8 with two front-seven starters left — inside linemen Shelby Harris and Dre’Mont Jones. They joined backup edge rushers in stopping a freefall. Jones and Harris mixed for 2 sacks, and every was accountable for one of many Broncos’ Blewitt blocks. Recent commerce acquisition Stephen Weatherly and Von Miller backup Malik Reed added three mixed sacks, every coming towards WFT backup proper sort out Saahdiq Charles. With Denver’s offense sputtering for a lot of the sport, its entrance 4 did sufficient to cease a four-game skid and preserve the staff from being a surefire trade-deadline vendor but once more.
BRONCOS GRADE: B-minus | NEXT: at Cowboys (Sun.)
17 of 28
Miami’s run-game apathy not serving to Tua’s trigger
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After buying and selling Jay Ajayi in 2017 and Kenyan Drake two years later, the Dolphins welcomed the Tua Tagovailoa period by failing to outfit him with a lot at working again. Some failed midlevel investments have given approach to ex-seventh-rounder Myles Gaskin, the de facto face of Miami’s Thirtieth-ranked floor assault. The Dolphins’ protection flummoxed the Bills for practically three quarters, however its one-dimensional offense didn’t again that effort. Miami rushed for 68 yards, marking the sixth time this season the staff completed with fewer than 80. This rebuild’s O-line misfires haven’t helped, and Miami’s run-game struggles have actually stunted Tua’s progress.
DOLPHINS GRADE: C | vs. Texans (Sun.)
18 of 28
Seasoned Bills secondary closes out Dolphins
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The Dolphins managed three factors by way of practically 3 1/2 quarters, permitting the Bills offense adequate time to awaken. Tre’Davious White yielded simply three catches, whereas Jordan Poyer permitted solely eight yards when focused. Poyer’s interception punctuated one other sturdy day for this unit, which is getting high quality manufacturing from slot nook Taron Johnson as nicely. Tagovailoa averaged 5.3 yards per try and threw 18 incompletions. After Buffalo’s cross protection took a step again final season, it’s again in type. The Bills (5-2) exit Week 8 first in each whole protection and factors allowed.
BILLS GRADE: B | NEXT: at Jaguars (Sun.)
19 of 28
Young Rams LB shines in October preseason sport
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The Rams took a 38-0 lead and rested Matthew Stafford all through the fourth quarter. One of the numerous mismatches the Texans’ ineptitude has created this yr allowed for the Rams to see a younger linebacker present progress. The Rams (7-1) traded Kenny Young to the Broncos in an effort to see extra from third-round rookie Ernest Jones, who didn’t let the staff down in his first begin. Jones recorded a Rams-high 9 tackles, intercepted a cross — to arrange one in every of Los Angeles’ 5 TDs — and allowed simply 9 yards on three targets in protection. The Rams’ blueprint requires low-cost starters at many spots, and Jones is signed by way of 2024.
RAMS GRADE: A | NEXT: vs. Titans (Sun.)
20 of 28
Amid QB drama, Texans remind of journey forward
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Two days away from the commerce deadline, the Texans nonetheless make use of Deshaun Watson. They ought to nonetheless achieve this by subsequent weekend, organising a widespread 2022 bidding warfare that arms the staff with full worth for the embattled however gifted passer. Because Houston (1-7) wants assist practically in every single place. The Rams breezed previous the Texans’ protection, which barely examined Los Angeles’ O-line. (Houston’s one sack got here towards John Wolford within the fourth quarter.) The Texans’ QB headlines and odd assortment of offensive items overshadows its protection, which ranks thirty first. Draft capital is desperately wanted.
TEXANS GRADE: F | NEXT: at Dolphins (Sun.)
21 of 28
Panthers floor assault staves off Falcons
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In the newest dirty Panthers offensive effort, Sam Darnold exited with a concussion and Robby Anderson absorbed a throwback hit. Carolina scored only one landing, however the staff managed time of possession and minimized its passing sport’s workload. The Panthers totaled 47 run performs — fourth-most in staff historical past and its most since 2009, within the DeAngelo Williams-Jonathan Stewart halcyon days — and gained 203 yards. Chuba Hubbard misplaced a fumble and is a serious step down from Christian McCaffrey, however the rookie led the offense in its most competent effort since Week 3. A reprieve for a still-embattled Carolina squad.
PANTHERS GRADE: B-minus | NEXT: vs. Patriots (Sun.)
22 of 28
Calvin Ridley choice modifications Atlanta’s outlook
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After lacking a sport for psychological well being causes, Ridley returned to motion in Week 7. Atlanta’s prime wideout practiced all through this week however was a shock scratch Sunday morning, leaving the Falcons passing sport in a susceptible spot. The Panthers held Kyle Pitts to at least one catch, successfully neutralizing Matt Ryan on a 146-yard day. This was a winnable sport for the Falcons (3-4), who confirmed indicators of life — albeit towards unhealthy competitors — in October. But with Ridley stepping away from soccer in the intervening time, in a yr set to finalize his long-term worth, Falcon opponents is not going to have a lot to fret about towards this offense.
FALCONS GRADE: C-minus | NEXT: at Saints (Sun.)
23 of 28
Eagles offensive line mauls Lions
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Although the Eagles have been down Miles Sanders and each beginning guards — Brandon Brooks and Isaac Seumalo — they delivered one in every of their finest speeding outings in years. Granted, the Lions have been concerned, however Philadelphia rushed for 236 yards and had three gamers — Jalen Hurts, Boston Scott, and the indefatigable Jordan Howard — go for 55-plus. The ache this will have precipitated Sanders’ fantasy GMs apart, this was a multifaceted triumph for Philly’s O-line. The Lions didn’t sack and even hit Hurts. Super Bowl LII starters Jason Kelce and Lane Johnson led the best way in serving to the Eagles halt their run of misfortune.
EAGLES GRADE: A-plus | NEXT: vs. Chargers (Sun.)
24 of 28
Philly cross rush clobbers Detroit’s blockers
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Noticeably off the tempo, they set after recovering an onside kick and changing two pretend punts in L.A., the Lions have been out of Sunday’s sport early. Down prime O-linemen Taylor Decker and Frank Ragnow, the remainder of the Lion line made Jared Goff‘s day depressing. After failing to sack Derek Carr and hitting him solely twice final week, the Eagles recorded six sacks and 12 QB hits. One of these sacks denied the Lions factors on a fourth down late within the first half. Though the Lions (0-7) have proven extra indicators of life this season, they head into their bye with a slight lead on the Jaguars (1-6) for a much less thrilling 2022 No. 1 overall pick.
LIONS GRADE: F | NEXT: at Steelers (Nov. 14)
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Back on U.S. soil, Jaguars return to type
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Quite competent on passes touring 9 or fewer yards within the air (29-for-33, 206 yards), Trevor Lawrence was a lot much less efficient on mid-range and deep targets. The No. 1 choose went 3 of 11 for 32 yards on these in a sport not in any other case warranting a lot dialogue on the Jaguars’ finish. Even with the 23-20 London win, Urban Meyer’s squad has been outscored by 80 factors by way of seven video games. The Jags (1-6) are a multitude, and regardless of Meyer’s myriad points in Year 1, possession is back in his corner.
JAGUARS GRADE: F | NEXT: vs. Bills (Sun.)
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While it helped that Smith drew the Jaguars in what could possibly be his remaining begin, he accomplished his first 14 passes. Lockett, who has been largely out of the combo since Smith changed Russell Wilson, boosted the backup by catching eight of these passes. Vexing Jags defenders on quick, intermediate, and deep throws, Lockett totaled 12 receptions for 142 yards. In his earlier nine-plus quarters with Smith, Lockett tallied simply 5 catches. The seventh-year wideout did probably the most to stabilize Smith in a must-win sport. Smith making one other begin would pose a serious drawback for the Seahawks (3-5), however Week 8 not less than confirmed progress.
SEAHAWKS GRADE: A-plus | NEXT: at Packers (Nov. 14)
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Jerry Gray fares nicely in sudden play-caller obligation
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Down their prime three receivers after which Robert Tonyan, the Packers relied on follow squad talent gamers and have been compelled into an embarrassing delay of sport penalty after utilizing their second-half timeouts. Fortunately, Green Bay’s protection purchased time regardless of lacking its play-caller. Joe Barry’s COVID-19 contraction led to DBs coach Jerry Gray calling performs. Without Barry and prime gamers Za’Darius Smith and Jaire Alexander, the Packers constrained the high-flying Cardinals a lot of the approach and restricted them to a season-low 334 yards. The Packers (7-1) are lucky to have Gray, a former DC with the Bills and Titans, as a place coach.
PACKERS GRADE: A-minus | NEXT: at Chiefs (Sun.)
28 of 28
Cardinals’ accidents piling up
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Kyler Murray left State Farm Stadium in a strolling boot, after a sport wherein DeAndre Hopkins missed components of resulting from a lingering hamstring illness. J.J. Watt may nicely be achieved for the yr, and fellow 30-something acquisition Rodney Hudson is on IR. Arizona’s schedule presently options simply two extra video games towards successful groups — the Rams and Cowboys — however the 49ers and Seahawks tilts are considerably deceiving at this level. Those shall be tough. Given Murray’s struggles down the stretch final yr with a shoulder harm, this mini-bye represents a key schedule sector. The 7-1 Cards’ actual bye shouldn’t be till Week 12.
CARDINALS GRADE: C-plus | NEXT: at 49ers (Sun.)