Here are five things to love about the NFL from Week 8:
One. Any given Sunday. Not the movie. But the cliché. On this given Sunday, the Rams leaped from the ranks of the winless by pinning a 31-21 loss on the Saints, while the one-win Cardinals gave the 5-2 Ravens everything they could handle in a three-point game and the still-winless Dolphins threw a giant-sized scare into the 5-2 Giants before also falling by three.
Two. Any give Sunday, part II – or the player version. Last week, the Saints’ Drew Brees had more touchdown passes (five) than incompletions (four) in a 62-7 romp over the Colts. On this given Sunday, the Rams intercepted Brees twice, returning one 27 yards for a touchdown in their 10-point victory, and sacked him six times – including three from Howie’s kid, Rams’ defensive end Chris Long. Nothing against Brees, mind you, but the Rams deserve some love for finally picking up a victory with the members of the freshly crowned World Series Champion Cardinals in attendance.
Three. Big men, big hands. The 49ers won again, which is not so good for the Seahawks. But in their 20-10 victory over the Browns, Alex Smith completed passes to Joe Staley and Isaac Sopoaga. That’s 315-pound tackle Joe Staley and 330-pound defensive tackle Isaac Sopoaga. Staley lined up as a tight end, took a short pass and turned it into a 17-yard gain on a first-quarter drive to a field goal. Sopoaga did the same in the fourth quarter, taking another short pass and taking it for an 18-yard gain on another drive that ended in a field goal. Sopoaga also was in on Frank Gore’s 4-yard touchdown run in the first quarter.
Four. Terrell Suggs. This goes back to No. 1, because the Ravens likely would not have escaped with their three-point win over the Cardinals without the efforts of their “other” linebacker. The Cardinals had only 57 offensive plays in the game, but Suggs came up with 13 tackles, a sack, four tackles for losses and two more hits on Arizona QB Kevin Kolb.
Five. Brandon Tate. Sorry to go here, but Tate’s performance against the Seahawks seemed like one big return after another. He finished with 186 return yards – 113 on four kickoff returns, 73 on three punt returns. So, you might ask. The Seahawks’ Leon Washington had 180 combined return yards. But with Tate, it was all about the timing. After the Seahawks cut the Bengals’ lead to 17-12, Tate had a 45-yard return on the ensuing kickoff to set up a field goal and then ran a punt back 56 yards for a TD. All this from a guy the Bengals picked up off waivers from the Patriots.