Week 8 in the NFL season was short on thrills on Oct. 27. In fact, there were only a handful of games truly in doubt in the final moments. However, the one that went down to the wire made up for it, as the Dallas Cowboys snatched defeat from the jaws of victory against the Detroit Lions, thanks to Matthew Stafford and Calvin Johnson completing career defining days.
The Lions’ 31-30 victory technically shouldn’t have been that hard, since Detroit had over 600 yards of total offense and Johnson had a near-record 329 receiving yards by himself. Yet four Lions turnovers paved the way for the Cowboys to hold a 30-24 lead with a minute left. It was still too much time for Stafford, who drove the Lions down the field in four plays despite having no timeouts.
Johnson’s final reception brought the Lions to the 1-yard line, but there were under 20 seconds left and counting. Stafford signaled for a spike — and then in a move he could have been crucified over if he failed, he dove over the goal line instead.
The gamble worked and improved the Lions to 5-3, whereas a third straight loss and a 4-4 record could have sent them into a tailspin. The Cowboys could have all but wrapped up the NFC East then and there, yet their 4-4 record still leaves them only one game ahead of the lowly Philadelphia Eagles. Regardless, their path to the postseason is still easier than that of the Lions, although Detroit is certainly breathing easier now.
While Stafford, Johnson and Tony Romo dueled to the death, others had a much easier time. Here is a list of the best to worst games in Week 8, despite how there were more worst games than best.
Stafford shocks Cowboys
No. 1: Detroit Lions 31, Dallas Cowboys 30
The Cowboys had yet another chance to build a cushion and prove they have elite potential, only to squander it yet again with poor defense and last-minute decisions. With Johnson fully recovered from a recent injury, will the Lions prove ready for a step up in the second half?
Broncos wake up in second half
No. 2: Denver Broncos 45, Washington Redskins 21
The Broncos only had seven points in the first half and gave up two touchdowns in nine seconds to start the second. With a 21-7 lead, the Redskins could have gone to 3-4 and become the new team to beat in the NFC East — but the Broncos restored order with the next 38 points.
No. 3: Kansas City Chiefs 23, Cleveland Browns 17
The Broncos merely kept pace in the AFC West with Dexter McCluster and the 8-0 Chiefs, although Kansas City hardly looked dominant against Jason Campbell and Cleveland. Still, the Chiefs only have one more game before their true selves are revealed in Denver.
Belichick befuddled for a half
No. 4: New England Patriots 27, Miami Dolphins 17
Bill Belichick and the Patriots were close to a full on meltdown when they fell behind by 14-0 and 17-3. Yet 17 third-quarter points made up for just 116 passing yards from Tom Brady — who did get a touchdown pass for the second time in four weeks.
Pryor runs to history
No. 5: Oakland Raiders 21, Pittsburgh Steelers 18
Pittsburgh was starting to see the light after two straight wins, until Oakland turned it right back off. Terrelle Pryor did most of his damage with a Raiders record 93-yard touchdown run, which helped the Raiders build a 21-3 lead and keep it late.
Rodgers outduels Vikings
No. 6: Green Bay Packers 44, Minnesota Vikings 31
The Vikings had absolutely no offense last Monday night in New York, and then kept up with the Packers for a full half of a Sunday night game. But Christian Ponder could only do so much, while the Packers racked up over 460 yards and Aaron Rodgers only had five incompletions.
Brees rolls on
No. 7: New Orleans Saints 35, Buffalo Bills 17
Drew Brees erased the memories of the Saints’ last game in New England with five touchdown passes back home.
No. 8: Arizona Cardinals 27, Atlanta Falcons 13
The Falcons fell into a 2-5 hole thanks to four Matt Ryan interceptions and Andre Ellington’s 154 rushing yards, including an 80-yard touchdown dash.
Kaepernick runs over Jaguars
No. 9: San Francisco 49ers 42, Jacksonville Jaguars 10
London spared America from having to host the Jaguars’ latest blowout loss, as Colin Kaepernick used his legs again for two touchdown runs and Frank Gore matched him.
Dalton’s career day
No. 10: Cincinnati Bengals 49, New York Jets 9
The Jets came into Cincinnati at 4-3, but showed how misleading their record really was. Andy Dalton had a career day with five touchdown passes, four of which went to Marvin Jones.
Giants sack all Eagles’ QBs
No. 11: New York Giants 15, Philadelphia Eagles 7
Michael Vick failed to finish a game against the Giants for the second time in four weeks. No one else on the Eagles offense played too much either, as the Giants only needed five field goals to get to 2-6 — which gives them as big a shot at the NFC East as anyone.