NFL week eight round-up: New England Patriots wins in London
As always, it was another eventful weekend in the National Football League with close match-ups and exciting games. We take a look at the annual game from London and a big divisional rival game in the NFC as the NFL heats up with most teams now halfway through their regular season schedule.
New England Patriots (5-3-0) 45-7 St. Louis Rams (3-5-0)
London was the setting for this one as Tom Brady and co. proved to be too powerful for the St Louis Rams’ defense despite them going up by a touchdown within the opening three minutes of the game.
Sam Bradford’s 50-yard touchdown pass to Chris Givens was the Rams’ only highlight of the day as, after this score, they barely got near to getting on the board again.
The Rams were the so-called home team but the Patriots were clearly well backed by the 84,004 sell-out crowd in England. Tom Brady and the Patriots delighted their fans as the team engineered a fantastic all round performance in the blowout win.
Brandon Lloyd was the first to be on the receiving end of a Brady touchdown pass when the two hooked up on a 19-yard play to give Lloyd the reception against his former team. New England scored three more touchdowns before the break, including two one-yard rushes by Shane Vereen and Steven Ridley respectively.
The other touchdown, which came between the two mentioned previously, was when Brady hooked up with Gronkowski on a seven-yard pass to bring Wembley to its feet as Gronk mimicked a royal guard before spiking the ball following his reception.
The Patriots’ offense was in full-force and seemed to learn from recent mistakes following a one point loss to the Seahawks two weeks ago and a narrow win over the Jets the week before. New England reached the end zone on each of its first five possessions and set an NFL record by accumulating more than 350 yards of offense for the 17th consecutive game.
Despite the score being 28-7 at the break, the Patriots pushed on in the second half with Brady adding two more touchdown passes on the day giving him 4 overall and 18 for the season. The three-time Super Bowl champion had 304 yards and connected on 23 of 35 throws, with eight being caught by Rob Gronkowski, who ended with 146 yards and two touchdowns.
Gronkowski’s second touchdown was the last on the day, with the other one coming in the third quarter when Brady passed to an open Brandon Lloyd on a nine-yard touchdown play to hook up with him for the second time on the day for a score.
Danny Woodhead and Wes Welker also came up big on the day as the two produced big plays with them racking up over 100 receiving yards between them, but it was thanks to the Patriots’ productive running game which got their aerial attack going.
Steven Ridley carried the ball 15 times for 127 yards and Shane Vereen carried 7 times for 22 yards with the pair scoring one each as mentioned previously, with Vereen’s proving crucial as well as arguably being the start of the Patriots offensive hurricane as he converted on a 4th and goal when the score was tied at 7 each in the first half.
Overall, it was a very satisfying trip for the Patriots and for all their fans on this side of the pond. The win means they have won their last two in a row and that they have won on both of their trips to London, with both being blowouts following their 35-7 win over Tampa Bay in 2009.
Bill Belichick and his team will have travelled back to Foxboro in high spirits following this big win as they head in to their bye week. New England’s trip to old England could well have been the win that will now kick-start their season, as the team moves to 5-3 on the season whilst sitting pretty comfortable in first place at the top of the AFC East.
As for the Rams, well, they will be glad that they are not returning to London next year as they will not have fond memories of the trip. The defeat means they sit bottom of the NFC West Division with a 3-5 record and now have an extra week to prepare for a divisional match up against the 6-2 49ers.
New York Giants (6-2-0) 29-24 Dallas Cowboys (3-4-0)
In a game which was definitely a tale of two halves, the New York Giants came out of Cowboys Stadium in Texas with the win to give them control of the NFC East as they took the next step towards defending their Super Bowl crown.
While it’s still early days, this Giants team have already proved some of the doubters wrong by moving to 6-2 on the season following this close victory.
After all, this team was probably one of if not the most underappreciated Super Bowl winning sides of all time and after a week 1 defeat to the Cowboys many believed New York had no chance of making the playoffs, let alone retaining the Lombardi Trophy.
Now Tom Coughlin’s team have one eye on the post-season as they have, for the time being, knocked the Cowboys out of the race for the divisional crown by leaving them joint second on 3-4 with the Philadelphia Eagles.
The Cowboys fell 23-0 behind in the first half but showed resilience as they fought back to give themselves a chance of winning the game on the final play, before falling just short after putting in so much spirit to almost pull off the comeback.
If the Cowboys continue to show the heart they showed in the second half of this game throughout the season, they could still reach the playoffs and possibly still give the Giants a run for their money for the divisional crown.
Falling short was an understatement in this game as Tony Romo connected with Dez Bryant in the end zone for a touchdown which was overturned on a review as Bryant’s fingertips hit the white, leaving Dallas still down by five with only seconds remaining.
Romo threw a few more hopeful balls towards the end zone but the Giants managed to hold out for the win. Overall, it was the Dallas quarterbacks’ four interceptions which proved costly as he only completed 50 percent of his passes – 36/62 attempts – whilst going for 437 yards and one TD pass as well as one rushing touchdown, which at the time game his team real momentum.
Eli Manning has been reliable this season, but on this particular day he didn’t throw a touchdown pass and was picked off once. He managed to throw for 192 yards and completed 15 of out 29 passing attempts, but did his main job of ensuring his team got points on the board as good field positions meant that kicker Lawrence time racked up 15 points from five kicks.
On the ground, the Giants weren’t great either as their running backs only totalled 100 yards between the three of them. This lack of production on offense almost cost them the game, especially when they gave the ball back to Dallas for that one final drive which gave them a chance to win.
In the end, it was the Giants’ defense that got them this road win by forcing the Cowboys to turn the ball over six times on the day and managed to force the late stop to come out of Arlington with the win under their belts.
This rivalry produced another nail-biter as New York levelled the season series to one a piece. It was one of the games of the seasons as the NFL reaches its halfway point. The Giants will now host the Steelers at MetLife stadium in week nine, whereas Dallas face a tough trip to Atlanta to take on the unbeaten 7-0 Falcons.
The other NFL games
Tampa Bay Buccaneers (3-4-0) 36-17 Minnesota Vikings (5-3-0) – The Bucs’ 19-point win over the Vikings meant that they halted Minnesota’s impressive start to the season as Quarterback Josh Freeman led Tampa Bay to the win by throwing three touchdown passes on the day.
Carolina Panthers (1-6-0) 22-23 Chicago Bears (6-1-0) – After a slow start a 16-point fourth quarter rally by the Bears meant that they came out of Solider Field with the win as Jay Cutler and co. took control of the NFC North by moving to 6-1 on the season following this victory.
San Diego Chargers (3-4-0) 6-7 Cleveland Browns (2-6-0) – In a dull low-scoring affair the Browns managed to win at home to record their second victory of the season, with Trent Richardson scoring the game’s winning touchdown in the first quarter of this one.
Seattle Seahawks (4-4-0) 24-28 Detroit Lions (3-4-0) – There was some renewed hope in Detroit this week as the Lions managed to sneak a late win over Seattle when Matthew Stafford hit Titus Young on a one-yard touchdown play with 20 seconds to go in the fourth.
Jacksonville Jaguars (1-6-0) 15-24 Green Bay Packers (5-3-0) – The Packers are tied for second in the NFC North and are still 1.5 games behind on the Bears, put with this home win at Lambeau Field, Green Bay is hot on the divisional leaders’ heels as the season reaches its halfway point.
Miami Dolphins (4-3-0) 30-9 New York Jets (3-5-0) – The Jets almost beat the Patriots in week 7 but this week saw them lose another AFC East divisional matchup as they slid to third in the division, whilst the Dolphins moved to a winning record so far on the season and now hold second spot.
Atlanta Falcons (7-0-0) 30-17 Philadelphia Eagles (3-4-0) – The Eagles’ quarterback/head coach duo of Michael Vick and Andy Reid are now under serious pressure following a defeat which leaves them at 3-4, whereas the Falcons steam train continued with another win to keep them perfect on the season, with Matt Ryan putting in another impressive performance, which included three touchdown passes.
Washington Redskins (3-5-0) 12-27 Pittsburgh Steelers (4-3-0) – The Steelers have got their knack for winning back and grinding out results but in this game drop catches by Washington’s receivers was what effectively lost them it as RGIII and this young Redskins team will just have to mark this one down as a learning curve following the 15-point road defeat.
Indianapolis Colts (4-3-0) 19-13 Tennessee Titans (3-5-0) – This one went to overtime as the Colts tied it up late in the fourth then Andrew Luck completed a 16-yard touchdown pass to fellow rookie Vick Ballard, who spectacular found his way in to the end zone to give Indianapolis a big win.
Oakland Raiders (3-4-0) 26-16 Kansas City Chiefs (1-7-0) – The Raiders managed to win on the road by 10 and confine the Chiefs to their sixth defeat of the season.
New Orleans Saints (2-5-0) 14-34 Denver Broncos (4-3-0) – The Saints’ season is pretty much over, whereas Peyton Manning and the Broncos are just getting better week by week. This Sunday night clash saw two of the league’s best quarterbacks go head-to-head, but in the end another efficient performance by Manning and Denver saw them move to 4-3 in this 20-point margin win.
San Francisco 49ers (6-2-0) 24-3 Arizona Cardinals (4-4-0) – Monday night football saw an NFC West matchup take place and the 49ers won convincingly following another stellar defensive performance, with Alex Smith was almost literally perfect in the air as he threw three touchdown passes whilst completing 18 out of 19 passing attempts.
Skye Pank, NFL correspondent