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Week 8 Reactions and Takeaways

Updated: Nov 3, 2021

Just like that, Week 8 has gone as quickly as it got here. At least TRO is here to reflect on all that went down, break down major headlines, and hand out its weekly superlatives. Check out our thoughts following Week 8's action as the season continues to fly past us:

via BucsWire / USA Today


Another week gone, another wild slate of games. TRO is launching its rapid reactions following the conclusion of the games from the Week prior. With Week 8 in the books, it's time to fire off TRO's immediate reactions following all of the action. We're here, again, to elaborate on the biggest headlines that stuck with us and to hand out weekly superlatives. Look for TRO to award the Game of the Week to the most exciting matchup, and the Surprise Performance of the Week to the most deserving team that exceeded our expectations, in addition to individual player superlatives. Players whose team won their game will be eligible to be selected in the following categories: Passer of the Week, Pass Catcher of the Week, Tailback of the Week, Defensive Lineman of the Week, Linebacker of the Week, Defensive Back of the Week, and Special Teamer of the Week.


1) RAPID FIRE - WEEK EIGHT HEADLINES:

via John McCoy / AP Photo


The Week of the Backup

Week 8 featured 3 backup quarterbacks that either started or played significant portions of their games. Not only were all 3 of them victorious, but they played impressively well in the process.

The Jets started Mike White, a former practice squad player, in his first career regular season NFL game in place of injured Zach Wilson. White not only led the Jets to what was only their second victory this season, but he did so in a game where his team was a HEAVY underdog to the 5-2 Cincinnati Bengals - the top rated team in the AFC at the time. White went nuts for 405 passing yards, becoming the first NFL player to crack 400 passing yards in his first career start since Cam Newton in 2011, threw 3 touchdowns, and caught the ball on a key 2-point conversion.

The Saints were locked in a tight battle between the division leader Buccaneers when Jameis Winston suffered a season-ending injury early in the second quarter. With Taysom Hill still sidelined due to a concussion, third string Trevor Siemian entered the game, throwing for 159 yards and a touchdown. He kept a steady hand as he did not turn over the football, and was instrumental in his team's victory over the defending champions.

On Sunday night, out of an abundance of caution, the Cowboys sat Dak Prescott due to a minor calf issue. In came Cooper Rush, on the road, in a primetime game, against a scrappy Minnesota Vikings team - touting a very solid defense. In his first start, Rush threw for 325 yards and 2 touchdowns, including a game-winner with 55 seconds left on the clock. He was impressive and proved to be clutch, helping keep Dallas among the top of the NFC.


The Patriots are Officially Scary

The Patriots really have hit their stride at this point in the season. Over the past 3 weeks, they lost a nail-biter in overtime to the Cowboys, stomped the Jets winning 54-13, and upset the Chargers in Los Angeles with a gritty performance. Mac Jones is playing like an experienced professional, and this team has seemed to gel at the right time. They are trending upward, and will be a problem for anyone on their schedule. New England is set for another fun matchup in Week 9 against a talented Carolina Panthers team.


Calm Down Cincinnati

The Bengals suffered the "worst" loss of the week, there's no question about it. They got out-played by a team they were 2 possession favorites over. While some might want to blame the weak helmet-to-helmet call that aided the Jets to running the clock down to zero, here's our response: if you have the Jets running their 4-minute offense to ice the game, after allowing them to score points on their last 5 consecutive possessions, you don't deserve to win that game. Great teams do not let matchups, especially ones against significantly inferior opponents, come down to 1 penalty call. Instead, they play well enough to account for and overcome those natural occurrences that are just a part of the game.

That being said, there's no need to panic in Cincinnati. The Bengals are not frauds. We still think they are one of the better teams in the AFC. They suffered an uncharacteristically bad loss, but this is the type of loss that they can learn from and use as firepower to improve, which is exactly what we think they will do.


Trade Deadline Recap

The trade deadline seemed to feature more headlines from teams releasing statements, or leaking news that they were not making players available. This deadline did not live up to the hype, and was rather uneventful. Unfortunately, the tragic news surrounding the poor decisions of Henry Ruggs stole the show. On a lighter note, part of what makes the NFL so great is the cohesiveness of teams and how long key players tend to stick around with their organizations. It makes for a far better viewing experience as a fan (and easier to justify jersey purchases). In any event, here's what did go down on Tuesday:

The Steelers traded pass-rusher Melvin Ingram to Kansas City for a 6th round pick. The headline was a bit shocking as Ingram seemed to fit in with Pittsburgh's scheme. However, Mike Tomlin stated that the team wanted "volunteers and not hostages," so it appears Ingram wanted out. This helps fill a need for Kansas City as they desperately need assistance on the defensive side of the ball. Adding another guy to take pressure off of Frank Clark and Chris Jones on the defensive line, could go a long way.

The Texans traded pass-rusher Charles Omenihu to the 49ers in exchange for for a future late-rounder. This move won't turn many heads, but playing in San Francisco, on the same line as Nick Bosa will give Omenihu the best opportunity to make a career for himself.

The Chiefs traded offensive guard Laurent Duvernay-Tardif to the Jets in exchange for backup tight-end Daniel Brown. This was an interesting move because the Chiefs offensive line has not been great this year, and Duvernay-Tardif, their routine starter (notably in their 2019 Super Bowl-winning season)(opted out for 2020 to work the front lines of the pandemic as he is a medical school graduate) had just returned to action prior to Monday Night's game for the first time since 2019, as he dealt with a hand injury. It's a bit of a head scratcher for Kansas City to part ways with a key piece of a struggling line for a special teams player. This was a victorious trade for the Jets.

Deshaun Watson was not traded, and the biggest reason was because his civil lawsuits have not been settled or resolved.

The Rams cut veteran speedster DeSean Jackson, who remains a Free Agent.

Lastly, while the Browns did not trade Odell Beckham, Jr., today, they did tell him not to report to practice. Kevin Stefanski later said that Beckham was "essentially not on the team right now." It seems that his time in Cleveland has come to an end, as he is on the verge of being released and will also be set to hit Free Agency. Look for the Patriots, Chiefs, Packers, Raiders, and/or 49ers to pick up the phone.


2) GAME OF THE WEEK: Tennessee Titans @ Indianapolis Colts

via ColtsWire / USA Today


This division showdown featured quite the battle between rivals. Indianapolis looked to continue their impressive play as they jumped out to a 14-0 lead in the first quarter. The Titans rallied back and the two teams traded blows until the final moments of the game. There were turnovers, big plays over the top, and multiple possessions in overtime until the Titans nailed a walk-off field goal to move to 6-2. Unfortunately, this game cost them Derrick Henry, who had to undergo foot surgery, for the next 6-10 weeks. All eyes will be on Adrian Peterson to see if he's drinking from the same fountain of youth Tom Brady is.


3) SURPRISE PERFORMANCE OF THE WEEK: New York Jets

via Getty Images


We covered this a little above. The Jets stuck it to the Bengals. Robert Saleh had his team prepared as the moved the ball with success early and often. Mike White was phenomenal, and the Jets look like they finally have figured out how to best use Michael Carter, who appears to finally be living up to the hype of the dual-threat player he was drafted to be. New York was coming off of some demoralizing losses, and had just let New England hang 54 on them the week before. Despite losing their stating quarterback, and squaring off with a red-hot Bengals team, the Jets stood tall and pulled off arguably the biggest upset of the season.


4) PLAYER SUPERLATIVES:


PASSER OF THE WEEK: Matthew Stafford - Los Angeles Rams

via Justin Rex / AP Photo


Matthew Stafford is finally on a stage big enough to showcase his talents where he will get the recognition he deserves. This week, he lit up the Texans for 305 yards and 3 touchdowns as they walked out of Houston with a dominant win.


PASS CATCHER OF THE WEEK: Amari Cooper - Dallas Cowboys

via Tom Fox / Dallas News


Amari Cooper completed the other half of "Cooper Squared" (Cooper Rush). He was essential to help Rush establish confidence and move the chains when it mattered most. Cooper had 8 catches for 122 yards, and scored the game-winning touchdown, as he Moss'ed Cameron Dantzler in the back of the end zone.


TAILBACK OF THE WEEK: Elijah Mitchell - San Francisco 49ers

via 49erswebzone


The sixth-round Draft pick ran wild over the Chicago Bears, totaling 137 yards on 8 carries (a whopping 7.6 yards per carry), and 1 touchdown as the Niners pulled out an 11 point win at Soldier Field.


DEFENSIVE LINEMEN OF THE WEEK: T.J. Watt - Pittsburgh Steelers

via Scott Galvin / USA Today


The perennial Defensive Player of the Year candidate finds his way onto this list for the second time (Week 6), for his menacing performance against the Cleveland Browns. Watt notched 6 tackles, 1 tackle for loss, 3 quarterback hits, 1.5 sacks, and 1 fumble recovery. He had continued to frustrate Baker Mayfield and this Browns offense, as the Steelers won a defensive slugfest.


LINEBACKER OF THE WEEK: Shaq Thompson - Carolina Panthers

via the Athletic


After missing the last 3 games due to a foot injury, Shaq Thompson returned to action against Atlanta, and also returned here to earn this honor for the second time (Week 1). Thompson reminded everyone that he is the heart and soul of this fierce Panthers' defense. He was everywhere, totaling 10 tackles, 1 tackle for loss, and 1 crucial interception that swung the entire momentum flow of the game wide open as it halted a Falcons drive deep into Panthers' territory.


DEFENSIVE BACK OF THE WEEK: Justin Simmons - Denver Broncos

via Getty Images


Justin Simmons reminded everyone of the difference-maker he can be. The Broncos were in desperate need for a win, and Simmons delivered, flying around for 7 tackles, and snagging not 1, but 2 interceptions off of Taylor Heinicke.


SPECIAL TEAMER OF THE WEEK: Zane Gonzalez - Carolina Panthers

via PanthersWire / USA Today


The Panthers have struggled to find an answer at the kicker position early this year. Zane Gonzalez proved he could be the answer as he accounted for 13 of the Panthers' 19 points. He delivered on all 4 of his field goals, including a career-long 57-yarder to end the first half, and made his only extra point.



COME BACK NEXT WEEK FOR WEEK 9'S REACTIONS AND TAKEAWAYS!

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