For the first time in more than a decade, an undefeated team playing past its fourth game of the season, went into a game as an underdog. Matt Ryan thought that was silly.
Ryan threw touchdown passes on his first three possessions as the Atlanta Falcons went into Franklin Field in Philadelphia and whipped the Philadelphia Eagles 30-17.
A Philly boy, Ryan won in his hometown for the first time in his career and he was quite pleased with his performance:
“I’ve been up here twice before professionally,” Ryan said in the post-game news conference. “And going out to see my family afterwards hasn’t been the same after a loss. But it will be good to see them. It’s always good to be back in Philadelphia. I’m just happy we won. Then, of courtse, I think we scored on our first six or seven possessions. When that happens, you’re going to have a good day.”
Indeed, it was also a good day for Peyton and Eli Manning, Matthew Stafford, Aaron Rodgers, young Andrew Luck and, of course, Tom Brady who scored on his first five possessions and lit up London.
It was not a good day for coaches Romeo Crennel, Ron Rivera, Norv Turner and Andy Reid – two of them will be gone soon – and it was just as bad for QBs Cam Newton, Tony Romo, Michael Vick and Philip Rivers.
It was Week 8 in the National Football League, the middle of the season will arrive on about Wednesday of this week. There were 12 games on Sunday and Matty Ice and the Atlanta Falcons are still undefeated. Let’s take a close look at another wonderful Sunday in The League:
Atlanta 30 Philadelphia 17
The Eagles played in front of at least 12,000 empty seats at Franklin Field. Matt Ryan threw touchdown passes on Atlanta’s first three possessions and finished 22-for-29 for 262 yards and three TDs. Julio Jones caught five passes for 123 yards and a touchdown. Michael Vick went 21-for-35 for 191 yards and a TD. The Falcons scored on their first six possessions of the game.
New England 45 St. Louis 7
Playing at Wembley Stadium in London, England, the St. Louis Rams built a quick 7-0 lead and were never heard from again. Tom Brady went 23-for-35 for 304 yards and four touchdowns as the Patriots exceeded 350 yards of total offence for the 17th consecutive game. Stevan Ridley carried 15 times for 127 yards and a TD for the Pats. Rob Gronkowski caught eight passes for 146 yards and two majors. The 5-3 Pats are still in first-place in the AFC East.
Miami 30 New York Jets 9
Matt Moore took over for the injured rookie, Ryan Tannehill and went 11-for-19 for 131 yards and a touchdown as 4-3 Miami won its third straight. All the gnashing of teeth will be on the Jets side as poor Mark Sanchez went 28-for-54 for 283 yards, a touchdown and an interception. The 3-5 Jets have no real talent around Sanchez and looked like a lost cause at home again on Sunday.
Chicago 23 Carolina 22
Robbie Gould kicked a 41-yard field goal with no time remaining as the Bears had to come back in their building to improve to 6-1 against a team that is now 1-6. The Panthers had the Bears 19-7 in the fourth quarter and couldn’t hold on. Carolina led 22-20 with 2:27 remaining. The Panthers have lost five straight while the unimpressive Bears have barely won two straight at home over Detroit (13-7) and Carolina (23-22).
Green Bay 24 Jacksonville 15
Aaron Rodgers hit Donald Driver on a foyr-yard touchdown pass in the fourth quarter to put an exclamation point as the Packers improved to 5-3. Rodgers went 22-for-35 for 186 yards and two TDs. With his final TD pass of the day he passed Bart Starr for second place on Green Bay’s all-time touchdown pass list. The Packers beat a lousy Jags unit despite playing without their top receivers, Greg Jennings and Jordy Nelson. The Pack is Back.
Pittsburgh 27 Washington 12
The Steelers wore their bumble bee uniforms from 1930s, but they certainly played a lot better than they looked. Ben Roethlisberger completed 24-of-33 passes for 222 yards and three TDs while the Steelers defense turned the highly-touted Robert Griffin III into your average rookie quarterback. Washington is now 3-5 on the season while the Steelers joined Indianapolis, Denver and Miami at 4-3 in the AFC.
Cleveland 7 San Diego 6
Playing in a tremendous rainstorm, the Browns (2-6) used rookie runningback Trent Richardson as much as possible. Richardson carried 24 times for 122 yards while quarterback Brandon Weeden completed only 11-of-27 passes for a mere 129 yards as the Browns won their second straight at home. Philip Rivers completed 18-of-34 passes for 154 yards for the Chargers who fell to 3-4 on the season. Norv Turner’s days have to be numbered in San Diego.
Detroit 28 Seattle 24
Matt Stafford overcame a slow start and went 34-for 49 for 352 yards, three touchdowns and one interception. Titus Young caught nine passes for 100 yards and two TDs including a spectacular 46-yarder for Detroit’s first score. Russell Wilson went 25-for-35 for 236 yards, two touchdowns and one interception. The Lions trailed 24-21 in the fourth quarter but Stafford led a late 16-play drive that started at his own 20 with 5:27 left and ended on a one-yard touchdown pass to Titus Young with just 20 seconds left to play.
Indianapolis 19 Tennessee 13
Rookie Andrew Luck threw a 16-yard TD pass to Vick Ballard at 4:49 of overtime to surprise everyone including the Titans. The surprising Colts are now 4-3 on the season and have won two more games than they won all of last season. Luck finished 26-of-38 for 297 yards, a touchdown and an interception. Matt Hasselbeck was a solid 22-for-29 for 236 yards, one TD and no interceptions and Chris Johnson ran for 99 yards on 21 carries, but obviously stats are for losers.
Oakland 26 Kansas City 16
In a battle of losers, Oakland survived. Carson Palmer went 14-of-28 for 209 yards and two touchdowns while Darren McFadden rushed for 114 yards as Oakland improved to 3-4 while Kansas City dropped to 1-6. You have to figure Chiefs coach Romeo Crennel won’t last much longer. On Sunday, starting QB Brady Quinn got hurt and Matt Cassels finished 20-for-30 for 218 yards, one touchdown and one interception. The Chiefs have lost four straight and haven’t led in regulation time this season.
New York Giants 29 Dallas 24
When the game was on the line, Tony Romo did what he does best: he turtled. The Giants trailed midway through the fourth quarter, but Romo threw four interceptions in the game – one returned by Jason Pierre-Paul for a touchdown – and Lawrence Tynes kicked two of his five field goals late in the game as the Eli Manning-led Giants remained undefeated in Cowboys Stadium. Of course, thanks to Romo’s turnovers, the Giants were able to build a 23-0 lead. In the end, the Giants overcame a fourth-quarter deficit for the 20th time in Manning’s career, but it didn’t hurt that the Cowboys had six turnovers in total and Dez Bryant’s remarkable “touchdown” catch in the dying seconds was out of bounds. Romo finished 36-for-62 for 437 yards, one TD and four INTs. Jason Witten caught 18 passes for 167 yards. The Giants are now 6-2 while the Cowboys fall to 3-4.
Denver 34 New Orleans 14
What a performance by Peyton Manning. He went 22-for-30 for 305 yards, three touchdowns and no interceptions as he led the Broncos to their fourth win of the year and sole possession of first place in the AFC West. Willis McGahee carried 23 times for 122 yards and a touchdown while Demaryius Thomas caught seven passes for 137 yards and one TD and Eric Decker caught four passes for 43 yards and two TDs. The Broncos have won two straight and three of their last four. The Saints fell to 2-5.
San Francisco 24 Arizona 3
Niners quarterback Alex Smith completed 18-of-19 passes for 232 yards and three touchdowns as the 49ers beat the Arizona Cardinals 24-3. Michael Crabtree caught two of the touchdown passes while Randy Moss had the other. Moss ran through the Cards defensive secondary as if he was wearing a Vikings uniform in 1998. The Niners are now 6-2. Arizona is 4-4 and has lost four straight. Reality has returned to the desert.