There were definitely some exciting matchups to follow going into Week 8 action in the NFL's East Divisions. Arguably the two biggest games of the week — New England versus Pittsburgh and Philadelphia versus Dallas — involved either AFC or NFC East teams….and the week was not to disappoint.
Miami Dolphins 17
New York Giants 20
It wasn't a pretty victory for the Giants, but it was a victory. The Miami Dolphins, in the end, were left wondering why yet again. For the second consecutive week, the Dolphins had a lead going into the fourth quarter and couldn't hold on.
Eli Manning along with the Giants defense played brilliantly in the second half as Manning now holds the best fourth quarter passer rating in the NFC. Manning went 31-45 for 349 yards and two touchdown passes and did not throw an interception. He may have looked even better if it weren't for a couple of dropped passes that were thrown near perfectly by the quarterback.
On defense, the Giants once again proved that they were one of the best pass-rushing teams in the entire league. Their use of as much as a seven-man rotation throughout the defensive line once again proved to be the difference in a close game. In total, the Giants compiled 5 sacks on Dolphins quarterback Matt Moore and tallied seven tackles-for-loss.
The Dolphins came out very strong and with a decisive game plan. They scored on their first two drives (a 66-yard drive and a 90-yard drive) and looked to be heading towards their first victory of the season. Reggie Bush looked like the explosive back that he should be, rushing for 103 yards on just 15 carries. But in the end, head coach Tony Sparano and the Dolphins remained winless, falling to 0-7. It is just the second time in franchise history that a Dolphins team has been 0-7 and coach Sparano's seat continues to be very warm, indeed.
Washington Redskins 0
Buffalo Bills 23
What initially looked to be a pretty good matchup heading into this weekend turned out to be the Halloween party at which the Buffalo Bills won the "Best Costume" Award and the Washington Redskins didn't even bother to dress up.
The Bills continued their impressive start to the 2011 season as they man-handled a Redskins squad that managed to put up just 26 yards of rushing in the game. It became obvious just how much Washington was truly missing their new steadfast running back, Tim Hightower. The Redskins must have absolutely regretted ever crossing the border into Toronto, where the game was held. The injury-riddled team put up just 178 total yards of offense and managed just 10 first downs on the day.
Meanwhile, the Bills were so busy piling up 9 sacks and hitting Redskins quarterback John Beck from every angle possible angle that it seemed like they didn't even notice there was an offensive line on the other end trying to protect him. Rookie defensive tackle Marcell Dareus, an Alabama alum, tallied 2.5 sacks himself on the day pushing him to 3.5 for the year in an impressive rookie campaign.
Quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick and the Buffalo offense continued their steady and ultra-efficient ways on their side of the ball. Fitzpatrick had a 116.4 quarterback rating for the game and running back Fred Jackson rushed for over 100 yards yet again, totaling 120 for the day. The Bills now hold the lead in the AFC East due to their win earlier this season against the New England Patriots.
New England Patriots 17
Pittsburgh Steelers 25
The New England Patriots have had the Pittsburgh Steelers number for years under quarterback Tom Brady, but today it was the Steeler's turn to draw some blood as they beat the Patriots for just the second time with Tom Brady at the helm.
The Steelers and quarterback Ben Roethlisberger chewed up the game clock drive after drive and held off a late-attempted Patriots rally for a fairly easy 25-17 win. Roethlisberger ended the game with 365 yards passing and two touchdowns to vault the Steelers to 6-2 to remain atop the AFC North standings.
Tom Brady threw for two touchdowns, including a late score to tight end Aaron Hernandez with 2:35 remaining in the game to pull the Patriots within six points, but could not overcome a season-low 198 yards passing and just 43 yards from the rushing attack. The Patriots had three players record double-digits in tackles, further proving just how much clock time the Steelers offense spent on the field.
The time of possession in the game was dominated by the Steelers, 39:22 to 20:38. The loss drops the Patriots to second in the AFC East.
Dallas Cowboys 7
Philadelphia Eagles 34
It was almost as if nothing could stop the Philadelphia Eagles on offense in this one. The Eagles flew out to a 24-0 halftime lead and never looked back on their way to a 34-7 victory.
Running back LeSean McCoy led the way for the Eagles, accounting for 200 of the Eagles 495 total yards on offense. The Eagles offensive line was dominating the Cowboys defensive line all night long as McCoy averaged over six yards per carry (6.2). Michael Vick was also sensational, accounting for 329 yards of offense himself and throwing two touchdowns.
Defensive lineman DeMarcus Ware was the lone bright spot for a Cowboys team that looked over-matched and desperate to get anything at all going on either side of the ball all evening. Ware accounted for all four of the Cowboys sacks and five of their seven tackles for loss. He now has 8 sacks on the year.
Game of the Week
Dallas Cowboys 7
Philadelphia Eagles 34
Sure, this game wasn't even close as the Eagles completely shut down the Dallas Cowboys in every way possible, but this game was enormous for the Eagles who now are on the proper side of momentum as we near the half-way point of the season. The Eagles, after starting the year in a disarray of sorts have begun to gel as more of a cohesive unit and are looking better and better with each passing weekend. Teams should start fearing this squad once again just as they were during the off-season. They remain a dark-horse Super Bowl contender.
Offensive Player of the Week
LeSean McCoy (RB, Eagles) – 30 carries, 185 rush yards, 2 TD…..15 rec yards
Defensive Player of the Week
DeMarcus Ware (LB, Cowboys) – 11 tackles, 4 sacks, 5 tackles for loss
Buffalo Bills 5-2
New England Patriots 5-2
New York Jets 4-3
Miami Dolphins 0-7
New York Giants 5-2
Dallas Cowboys 3-4
Washington Redskins 3-4
Philadelphia Eagles 3-4
Photo Credit: ASSOCIATED PRESS