Monday, October 28, 2013

2013-14 NFL Season Week 8 Review

The only game that I was actually able to catch any of this weekend was the Giants at the Eagles.

The Giants basically dominated the game, frustrating Philly all day, and actually pitching a shut out against them, until fairly late in the fourth quarter when, of all things, De Ossie overthrew a snap over the head of the punter Steve Weatherhead deep in their own territory, which went into the end zone, and was recovered by Philadelphia for a touchdown that ruined the shut out, and a chance to ruin a solid overall effort by the Giants, giving Philly a chance late to steal the win away. Ultimately, however, the Giants were able to secure the win.

The G-Men did not themselves get any touchdowns, and had to settle for field goals all day. But a solid defensive effort for the second week in a row gave them the road victory anyway.

It was an important win for the Giants, in a week that was, overall, good news for them. They were the only team in the NFC East to win, as the Eagles, Cowboys, and Washington all lost. More on those later. New York now raised their record to 2-6 and, despite the poor record overall, only find themselves two games behind the division leaders, the Cowboys, at 4-4. Not bad for a team that was 0-6 only a week ago as I write this.

Another team, this one a division leader, found itself in a tight divisional game, and also found itself being the only winner in the division this weekend. That would be the New England Patriots, who were hosting Miami, and absolutely getting crushed early on. Brady's throwing hand was swollen and injured, and the visiting Dolphins were dominating, having jumped out to a 17-3 lead. If Miami would go on to win, they would pull within a half game of New England, with the 4-3 Jets having a chance to pull even, if they managed a victory against Cincinnati.

But New England pulled themselves together and dominated the rest of the way, going on a 24-point run and ultimately shutting out the Dolphins the rest of the way.

It helped quite a bit that Buffalo got walloped in New Orleans, and the Jets got absolutely spanked, 49-9, at Cincinnati, in a result that you could see coming a mile away. The Bengals have been hot all season, while the Jets, despite seemingly being more competitive than many expected, still tend to struggle on the road. But they did nothing right on this day, and the Bengals just buried them, beating them in almost every way that one beat could beat another. Dalton connected with Marvin Jones for four touchdown passes, on a day when the Jets did nothing right, and Cincy nothing wrong. It was as demoralizing a loss as the Jets could realistically have suffered at this point. Dalton threw five touchdowns, the most by any quarterback against the Jets since Dan Marino did it in 1988.

The Bengals victory allowed them to be the only AFC North team to win this weekend as well, as Cleveland lost a tough one at Kansas City, who remained undefeated at 8-0 now, and the Pittsburgh Steelers were surprised at Oakland. Cincy now has some cushion in their divisional lead.

I am impressed with the Bengals, and it is easy to forget that this team qualified for the playoffs three of the previous four seasons, and look well on their way to their fourth in five seasons, and three seasons in a row, in particular. Maybe they have finally turned the corner, and are enjoying some real success - although they need to end their drought of playoff wins. So far, they look good with four wins in a row, and at least appear to be enjoying their finest season since at least 2005, if not even 1988, their last Super Bowl season.

For the Jets, in the meanwhile, this was an embarrassing loss. it continues the trend so far of win one game, lose the next. But it is also their most lopsided defeat since the loss at New England in 2010 by a final score of 45-3.

In Detroit, there was a showdown between the two perennial hosts of Thanksgiving Day games, as the Cowboys visited the Lions. And what a game it was!

Dallas seemed to have the edge for a good part of the game, and seemed to be winning all day, particularly in the second half.

But they left just a little breathing room, and that proved to be just enough for the Lions to squeeze one out on this day, as Matthew Stafford led his team to an impressive, and very quick, march down the field with little time left on the clock, and no timeouts, to pull off an unbelievable fourth quarter comeback.

The Lions put up some incredible numbers, with the Lions' Calvin Johnson ("Megatron") alone grabbing 14 passes for 329 yards and a touchdown.

The win for Detroit kept them nipping at the heels of the Green Bay Packers, who were in a tight game at Minnesota last night, before they pulled away in the second half and ultimately dominated to stay ahead in the NFC North.

A very long time ago, in Super Bowl XXII, the Denver Broncos met Washington for the title, and jumped out to a 10-0 lead in the first quarter, before Washington buried them in an avalanche of 35 unanswered points in the second quarter alone, which I believe is still a league record for any game, not just the Super Bowl, ultimately winning 42-10. The Broncos, a team that themselves are not unfamiliar with records and record performances, returned the favor yesterday.

It looked like Washington had a real chance. After allowing Denver to score a touchdown in the first five minutes of the game, they were remarkably successful at stopped the red hot Broncos offense. They were able to get a touchdown, then two, then three. Towards the end of the third quarter, Washington held a commanding 21-7 lead.

Then came the Rocky Mountain avalanche. It began when Montee Ball got a rushing touchdown of four yards late in the third.

But the real damage came in the fourth quarter, when Denver really got going. Manning got not one, but two touchdowns passes within the first minute of play in that quarter, giving the Broncos a 28-21 lead. They got a field goal not too much later on, and fairly late in the fourth, Denver iced it with another Manning pass in the end zone, as he found Demaryus Thomas on a 35-yard strike, putting the game out of reach for Washington, at 38-21.

The final points of the game came when Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie intercepted Kirk Cousins and ran it back 75 yards for a pick six, the final points on a Denver 45-21 thrashing of Washington.

Denver might no longer be perfect, but at 7-1, they still look pretty dominant. And in beating Washington in a game that was, in it's way, reminiscent of the Super Bowl clash between these two teams more than a quarter of a century ago, the Broncos reminded everyone of why they have realistic Super Bowl expectations this year, as well.

In London, the 49ers put on a clinic and took apart the lowly Jaguars, 42-10. The Jaguars remain one of two remaining winless teams in the league. The other winless team would be Tampa Bay, who lost to Carolina on Thursday Night in a blowout. Finally, the Arizona Cardinals were able to knock off the Atlanta Falcons, 27-13, at home.

Tonight, the Seahawks will visit the Rams in St. Louis. I expect the Rams to play well, but the Seahawks, I believe, will still win - barely. Let's see how it goes....

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