Chops316 Monday Morning Quarterback: 2021 Week 8 Part One
Welcome to Part I of my Monday Morning Quarterback Post for Week 8. Aah Halloween, one of my favorite days of the year. Even better this year as we got a Cowboys game to boot.
Some friends and family came over as I had a small Halloween party to enjoy the holiday. Beer, pizza, Halloween, football. What a great day! I received a ton of trick or treaters, the turnout was insane. I've lived in this house for 16 years now and this was the biggest crowd I've ever hosted. I enjoy seeing all the happy families with their costumes looking for treats. I'm so nice I even give treats out to kids dressed like Philadelphia Eagles! Luckily only a few kids chose that revolting costume.
The games were much better this week, which isn't saying much after last week's horror show. It was a banner day for backup quarterbacks, who took advantage of the holiday and impersonated real starting quarterbacks.
I'll cover half of this weeks slate in this post and Part II will cover the rest in a day or two. Halloween set me back this week. The delicious Yuengling beers I enjoyed at my Halloween party didn't help either.
The Ravens and the Raiders both had a bye this week. Just remember I am a Dallas Cowboys fan and I'm extremely biased. Feel free to agree or disagree about anything mentioned here. All comments are welcome.
The Rush Was On!
Cowboys 20 Vikings 16
The Cowboys really had no business winning this game. Playing it safe, Dallas decided to let Dak Prescott rest his calf injury for another week. Starting in his place was Cooper Rush, undrafted quarterback from Central Michigan who last saw in game action back in 2017 when he threw three passes in garbage time.
To handicap themselves even further stud offensive lineman Tyrone Smith left the game early with an injury, Greg Zuerlein missed another FG attempt, Dallas was flagged for 11 penalties and they lost the turnover battle 2-0. Yet the Cowboys still got a win on the road against a decent Vikings squad. Damn I’m feeling good about this team, these are the kind of games Dallas has lost repeatedly for years. Finally they have taken a real step forward.
So how did Dallas pull it off? To start a strong performance by the defense that has been reborn hardcore kept the score manageable. The Vikings marched right down the field for a TD on their opening possession, it was the last time they saw the endzone all night. Coming off of a bye the defense seemed to need a few plays to wake up. Once they did Minnesota struggled to move the ball, especially on third down as the Vikings only converted 1 out of 13 opportunities. And the defense stopped Minnesota from cashing in on both of their turnovers.
Offensively the Cowboys receivers stepped up to make great plays. Cedric Wilson ran an excellent route that split the Vikings safeties and hauled in a long bomb for a 73-yard TD reception. Amari Cooper kicked off the game-winning TD drive with a 33-yard catch after a pass bounced off of the cornerback and was tipped several times by Cooper.
Zeke Elliott had a quiet night, but when the game was on the line he came up huge. Down 16-13 with a minute left in the game, Dallas faced a 3rd and 11 from the Minnesota 20-yard line. Zeke caught a short pass and then plowed his way through several defenders to gain a 1st down. On the next play Cooper made another nice catch for the winning score.
With no Dak Prescott on the field, the Vikings loaded the box to stunt the Cowboys running game. It worked as Zeke Elliott (16 rushes, 50 yards) and Tony Pollard (7 rushes, 26 yards) struggled to find running lanes. However it opened things up for Cooper Rush (24/40, 325 yards, 2 TDs, 1 INT, 1 fumble), who started slowly but found his groove in the second half. Amari Cooper (8 receptions, 122 yards, 1 TD) and CeeDee Lamb (6 receptions, 112 yards) found plenty of room to make plays.
Weird stat that only a Cowboys fan like myself (super hardcore) can appreciate: Rush’s 325 yards is the second most ever for a Cowboys quarterback in his first start. The record is 343 yards thrown by Gary Hogeboom in 1984. Both Rush and Hogeboom played college ball at Central Michigan.
Defensively Dallas didn’t create any turnovers for the first time this season, but held the Vikings offense in check with solid tackling. Micah Parsons (11 tackles) continues to dominate. Dallas improved to 6-1, first place in the NFC East. They’ll host the Broncos next week.
The Vikings had a golden opportunity to get a win against a backup quarterback and blew it. The defense was burned in the second half as Cooper Rush found his footing. Kirk Cousins (23/35, 184 yards, 1 TD) had to settle for check downs and short passes as his receivers failed to find open space downfield. Dalvin Cook (18 rushes, 78 yards) was contained and couldn’t make any breakthrough runs. The offense lost their rhythm after their opening TD drive, only kicking three field goals in the final three quarters. Minnesota dropped to 3-4, a distant second place in the NFC North. They’ll travel to Baltimore next week.
Packing In The Desert
Packers 24 Cardinals 21
We got a treat to kick of Week 8 with a rare prime time Thursday night matchup that featured two quality teams. Better yet the game lived up to its billing as the Packers knocked off the last undefeated team in the league this season.
Both teams entered this game missing key personnel. Green Bay’s top three wide receivers (Davante Adams, Allen Lazard, Marques Valdes-Scantling) were all out. The Cardinals just found out they’ve lost J.J. Watt for the season and DeAndre Hopkins didn’t practice all week with a gimpy hamstring.
Packers head coach Matt LaFleur had a great game plan for this game. Without all his regular receivers, LaFleur realized Green Bay had little chance of winning a shootout. The Packers leaned heavily on their run game while utilizing short to medium passes to control the clock in order to keep the Cardinals offense off of the field. It worked spectacularly as Green Bay held nearly a two to one advantage in time of possession. That kept the scoring down and the game close.
The Cardinals drew first blood but it came at a cost. A 58-yard pass to DeAndre Hopkins helped set up the score, but Hopkins re-aggravated his hamstring injury. Hopkins was on the bench for most of the game. Still the Cardinals led 7-0 at the end of the 1st quarter.
With their first possession of the 2nd quarter the Packers struck back, marching the ball down the field on the ground to tie the game at 7-7. The teams traded punts before Arizona made one of the three crucial errors that ultimately cost them this game. The Cardinals muffed a punt and the Packers recovered the fumble on the Arizona 3-yard line. The defense stood firm on the goal line stand, but the Packers still came away with a FG and a 10-7 lead they took into the half.
The Cardinals received the opening kickoff of the second half and disaster quickly struck again. Kyler Murray threw an interception and the Packers were set up with another short field with possession on the Arizona 14-yard line. This time the Packers were able to cash in with a TD and increase their lead to 17-7.
A flurry of offense followed with the teams trading TDs back and forth. The Packers held a 24-21 lead in the 4th quarter when they drove deep into Arizona territory again. Facing a 4th and goal on the Arizona 1-yard line, the Packers eschewed the field goal attempt and went for the TD. They failed and the Cardinals took the ball on their one with a little over three minutes left in the game. They needed a FG to force overtime or a TD to win.
Kyler Murray drove Arizona down the field methodically as the Cardinals entered the redzone. With 21 seconds left on the clock Arizona had a 1st and goal on the Packers 8-yard line, prime position to win the game or at least tie. That’s when disaster struck for the third time and Murray threw an interception in the endzone. The Packers needed only one kneel down to kill the clock and escape with the win.
Huge win for Green Bay, taking down the last undefeated team on the road. Aaron Rodgers (22/37, 184 yards, 2 TDs) was limited without all of his main receivers, but still managed to find the endzone without turning the ball over. The running back duo of Aaron Jones (15 rushes, 59 yards, 1 TD) and A.J. Dillon (16 rushes, 78 yards) were the real engineers of the offense this week. Jones (7 receptions, 51 yards) was also the Packers leading receiver.
The Packers improved to 7-1, first place in the NFC North. Green Bay heads to Kansas City next week to face the Chiefs and should have all their receivers back for that game.
The Cardinals losing the turnover battle 3-0 cost them this game. The first two turnovers led to 10 Green Bay points and the third stopped them from tying or even winning the game in the final seconds. Kyler Murray (22/33, 274 yards, 2 INTs) looked lost at times with DeAndre Hopkins on the bench. Hopkins (2 receptions, 66 yards) had the most receiving yards despite barely playing a quarter. That surprised me because the Cards have a lot of good receivers.
Murray got little help from Arizona’s normally solid running attack. Chase Edmonds and James Conner scored three TDs but they were all set up by Kyler. The duo only gained 52 yards on 12 rushes. Maybe they just needed more touches. It’s not the end of the world for Arizona. The offense was off and they had multiple turnovers, still only lost by three points. The Cards fell to 7-1, tied for first place in the NFC West with the Rams. They’ll try to rebound next week in California against the 49ers.
Throw Out The Kool-Aid
Jets 34 Bengals 31
In last week’s MMQB post I said I was drinking the Bengals Kool-aid after they curb stomped the Ravens in Baltimore to take over the #1 seed in the AFC. This week I puked that nasty drink all over myself as Cincinnati lost to a terrible Jets team with a quarterback making his first NFL start. What the hell Cincy?!?
Were the Jets possessed by the ghosts of a good team? It was Halloween after all. I knew something wasn’t right when the Jets received the opening kickoff and drove right down the gridiron for a TD. The Jets don’t do things like that. Their second possession was more Jets-like as Mike White threw an interception that Cincinnati returned to the New York 1-yard line.
This is where the Bengals first shit the bed. Set up with a first and goal on the one, Cincy preceded to lose 14 yards on the next four plays to turn the ball over on downs. Woof. The Bengals offense never found their footing in the first half, but a few more Jets turnovers saved them as they took a slim 17-14 lead into halftime.
The Bengals shaped up in the second half and increased their lead to 31-20 early in the 4th quarter. Then they fell apart. After New York put together a nice 90-yard TD drive (but they missed the extra-point), Joe Burrow threw a pick that set up the Jets on the Cincy 14-yard line. Three plays later White threw his third TD pass of the game to give the Jets a late lead. To top it off White caught a pass to convert the two point play. The Jets were ahead 34-31 with three minutes left on the clock.
The Bengals had time to come back, but they didn’t have the ability. They only gained 15 yards on their next possession and had to punt. They needed a defensive stop and nearly got it when an absolutely horrible unnecessary roughness flag extended the Jets drive. Terrible, terrible call. New York took advantage and bled out the clock for the win.
Jets quarterback Mike White (37/45, 405 yards, 3 TDs, 2 INTs) became the first QB in NFL history to throw for over 400 yards with three TD passes in his first start. Really impressive when you realize the Jets have one of the worst set of receivers in the entire league. New York even managed to put together a ground game as Michael Carter (15 rushes, 77 yards, 1 TD) was able to find traction. The defense wasn’t good, but they made a few key turnovers and did have the one successful goal-line stand. The Jets improved to 2-5, third place in the AFC East. Quick turnaround as they travel to Indianapolis for a Thursday night game.
Horrible Halloween for Bengals fans as the Jets egged their house and toilet papered the yard. The defense surrendered 34 points and 511 yards (both worst for the season) against an awful Jets squad with a quarterback making his first start. Joe Burrow (21/34, 259 yards, 3 TDs, 1 INT) came back from a slow start, but his interception set up the game-winning TD. The running game was practically non-existent as Joe Mixon (14 rushes, 33 yards, 1 TD) couldn’t find room to run.
Sure the Bengals got screwed by an abominable penalty flag at the end, but they still deserved to lose. Who knows if they even would have been able to make a last second comeback if the flag wasn’t thrown. The Bengals fell to 5-3, second place in the AFC North. They’ll host the Browns next week.
Battle For The South
Titans 34 Colts 31 OT
In a game marred by ugly turnovers and penalties, the Titans were able to outlast the Colts in Indianapolis to put a stranglehold on the AFC South. But for Tennessee the cost of this victory was incredibly high.
The Colts had a chance to put this game away early. They scored a TD on their opening possession and then intercepted Ryan Tannehill to set up the offense on the Titans 7-yard line. Carson Wentz took advantage of the short field to throw his second TD pass and give Indy an early 14-0 lead. But then the offense went cold as the Titans finally warmed up in the second quarter. The Titans responded with two TDs of their own before the Colts kicked a FG as time expired. Indy led 17-14 at the half.
The two teams traded points to start the second half as the 4th quarter started with the score tied 24-24. The final period started with a few punts. Then Carson Wentz made one of the ugliest interceptions in NFL history. I can’t do it justice with words, you have to see it to believe it:
Very rarely is it smart for a right-handed quarterback to try to throw a pass with his left hand. The turnover gave Tennessee a 31-24 lead with only a minute and half remaining, but in the spirit of Halloween they gave the Colts a treat in the form of a 43-yard pass interference penalty that set up Indy on the one yard line. Jonathan Taylor plowed into the endzone with seconds left and the game went to overtime tied at 31-31.
Both teams punted on their first possession in OT, then Carson Wentz had another brain fart. Once again video is better than words:
Yep, Wentz tried to force a pass into triple coverage. Tennessee gained a few yards and kicked a field goal for the win.
The Titans certainly didn’t play their best ball, but as they usually seem to do they made enough plays to win. Ryan Tannehill (23/33, 265 yards, 3 TDs, 2 INTs) overcame his early turnovers to bring Tennessee back into the game. A.J. Brown (10 receptions, 155 yards, 1 TD) did most of the dirty work for Tannehill. Derrick Henry (28 rushes, 68 yards) was bottled up all afternoon but the Colts can’t take all the credit there as it turned out Henry broke a bone in his foot sometime in the first half. Tough break (literally) for the Titans as Henry is the main cog of the offense. He might miss the rest of the season.
The Titans improved to 6-2, first place in the AFC South. With a season sweep of the Colts they essentially have a four game lead in the division. Tennessee should still make the playoffs with ease since the AFC South sucks out loud, but they won’t make hay in the playoffs without Henry. They’ll face the Rams in L.A. next week.
The Colts needed this game badly to save their season and Carson Wentz gave it away. Wentz (27/51, 3 TDs, 2 INTs) only had one interception on the year heading into this game. He felt the pressure to perform and tried to force some plays, which backfired both times. That has been the narrative of Wentz’s career. He can be spectacularly good or spectacularly bad, sometimes both in the same game. The Colts fell to 3-5, second place in the horrific AFC South. Short week as they host the Jets on Thursday.
Around The League
Bills 26 Dolphins 11
In a game where all they had to do was show up to win, the Bills almost forgot to show up. This game was tied 3-3 at the half. Somebody must have pumped some candy into Buffalo at halftime since they showed a lot more energy in the second half. This was a trap game for Buffalo and they initially fell in, but were able to climb out later.
Josh Allen was the man for Buffalo as he moved the rock in the air (29/42, 249 yards, 2 TDs) and on the ground (8 rushes, 55 yards, 1 TD). Cole Beasley (10 receptions, 110 yards) accounted for nearly half of Allen’s passing yards. The defense, which shut out the Dolphins earlier this year, was stout again only surrendering 11 points.
The Bills improved to 5-2, first place in the AFC East. They’ll face another patsy next week as they travel to Jacksonville. Buffalo also plays the Buccaneers later this season. They have a great shot at winning the Florida NFL championship this year.
The Dolphins defense made a rare appearance in the first half, but their offense continues to be missing. Tua Tagovailoa (21/39, 205 yards, 1 INT, 1 rushing TD) continues to struggle. Only gaining 205 yards on 39 pass attempts is brutal. Per usual he got very little help from the running back committee that only gained 68 yards on 23 rushes. Ugh, that’s pretty brutal as well.
A few seasons ago the Dolphins had some talent, but they traded it all away to rebuild. That was dumb as they have turned a mediocre team into a dreadful one. Miami fell to 1-7, last place in the AFC East. When you are behind the Jets you know you stink. The Dolphins host the Texans next week. Maybe CBS should show some old Beverly Hillbillies reruns in place of that game.
Eagles 44 Lions 6
I want to congratulate Ford Field for hosting the scariest haunted house in the country on Halloween. No building hosted a greater horror show than this game. When you look at the Lions schedule, you don’t see many winnable games. This was one of the rare ones and Detroit got theirs asses handed to them. 0-17 is calling.
Eagles head coach Nick Sirianni is an enigma wrapped up in a riddle. All season long he has ignored the best player on his offense, running back Miles Sanders, in favor of playing chuck and duck with Jalen Hurts. Sanders rushed the ball 63 times in the Eagles first seven games. This week Sanders was out with an injury, so what does Sirianni do? He sets up a game plan out of the 1930’s.
The Eagles ran the ball 46 times! And what do you know, they had their best game of the year. Those 46 rushes resulted in 236 yards and 4 TDs. Boston Scott (12 rushes, 60 yards, 2 TDs) and Jordan Howard (12 rushes, 57 yards, 2 TDs) led the committee. For the first time this season Jalen Hurts (9/14, 103 yards) didn’t have to carry the offense on his back.
Philly’s defense crushed the Lions. Jared Goff was sacked six times and the Lions didn’t score until the Eagles benched their starters in the 4th quarter. By far the most complete game for the Eagles in 2021. Philadelphia improved to 3-5, second place in the NFC East. They host the Chargers next week. Hmm, the Chargers have one of the worst run defenses in the league. Will Sirianni stick with the ground game? I doubt it.
Detroit put very little effort into this game so I’ll put very little effort into writing about them. They stink, worst team by far. The 0-8 Lions, last place in the NFC North and the NFL, have a bye next week.
Rams 38 Texans 22
This week the Rams laid down a blueprint on how good teams should handle bad teams. The Rams flew into Houston, beat the living hell out of the Texans and took a 38-0 lead before they took the 4th quarter off. Hell I didn’t watch, they might have left after the 3rd quarter and landed in L.A. before the final whistle blew.
The Rams did whatever they wanted on offense and defense. Matthew Stafford (21/32, 305 yards, 3 TDs) put big numbers in only three quarters. Cooper Kupp (7 receptions, 115 yards, 1 TD) continued to be unstoppable. Darrell Henderson (14 rushes, 90 yards, 1 TD) led the way on the ground. The defense forced a turnover and garnered five sacks. Total domination. The Rams improved to 7-1, tied with the Cardinals for first place in the NFC West. They host the Titans next week.
All of the Texans stats came in garbage time. They did nothing on offense or defense until the Rams quit trying. Houston fell to 1-7, last place in the AFC South. They’ll travel to Miami next week to play game that no one wants to watch.
Panthers 19 Falcons 13
Was this game a defensive battle or do these two offenses just stink? I’ll let you be the judge. Oh never mind, it’s my post I’ll be the judge. They both stink. Neither quarterback made any decent plays. It came down to the running attacks. The Panthers rushed the ball well, the Falcons didn’t. That was the difference in the game.
Sam Darnold (13/24, 129 yards) was underwhelming again. At this point the Panthers have to be sick they traded more than a used jockstrap for this stiff. At least he gained some yards on the ground, 66 on eight carries. Chuba Howard (24 rushes, 82 yards, 1 TD) led the committee that totaled 203 yards on the ground. This offense has fallen apart without Christian McCaffrey.
At least the defense showed some life this week. They held the Falcons to 213 yards of total offense, sacking Matt Ryan three times and forcing two picks. The Panthers evened out their record at 4-4. They’ll host the Patriots next week.
With Calvin Ridley leaving the team with mental health issues, which I assume are major depression from realizing he plays for the Falcons, Atlanta’s offense was flat. Matt Ryan (20/27, 146 yards, 1 TD, 2 INTs) had statistically one of the worst games of his career as the Falcons only ran 50 plays on offense. Atlanta is in serious need of a rebuild, but all the dead cap money in Ryan’s contract over the next few seasons will make that difficult. Atlanta fell to 3-4, last place in the NFC South. They’ll head to New Orleans next week.
That's a wrap for Part I. Part II will come out tomorrow, unless I croak. It's always a possibility you know.
Thanks for reading and feel free to leave a comment below.