John Clayton's game balls
The Chris Johnson
showdown was a classic. They are the best big-play runners in football, but Johnson won the day. The Titans' running back rushed for 228 yards on 24 carries and had two touchdowns in a 30-13 victory over the Jaguars. Jones-Drew had 177 yards on only eight attempts and two touchdowns. Johnson's big day made life easy for quarterback Vince Young
, who made his first start of 2009.
Maybe Houston linebacker Brian Cushing
was a little bit more deserving for his 10-tackle, one-sack, one-interception effort in Houston's 31-10 victory over the Bills. But Shawne Merriman
and Shaun Phillips
each had two sacks in the Chargers' 24-16 victory over Raiders, and their performances could have long-term significance. Once considered one of the NFL's better pass-rushing combos, Merriman and Phillips have been invisible men this season. Phillips had two sacks in six games; Merriman had none. Sure, JaMarcus Russell
is a standing target, but the ability of Merriman and Phillips to come off the corner for sacks may spark a defense that has struggled.
• Special teams:
Ted Ginn, the most criticized player in South Florida, turned into a hero with kickoff returns of 100 and 101 yards in the Dolphins' 30-25 win over the Jets. Ginn's dropped passes had Dolphins fans calling talk shows to complain. But he won back some of the fans with six kickoff returns for 299 yards. As a receiver, he was targeted only once and didn't catch a pass.
• The Colts called on RB Joseph Addai to execute their biggest pass play of Week 8. Pasquarelli
• Two Ted Ginn kickoff returns for touchdowns helped Miami stun the Jets. Graham
• The Eagles hit the Giants with everything they had, and New York couldn't stop any of it. Mosley
• Vince Young was steady and efficient in leading his Titans to their first victory of '09. Kuharsky
• By dominating the Broncos, an angry Ravens D quieted talk that it had lost its edge. Walker
• Brett Favre endured "salutes" and heard cheers as he threw 4 TD passes in a 38-26 win. Seifert
• Shawne Merriman loves sacks, and he finally got a couple in S.D.'s win over Oakland. Williamson
Week 8 rundown
• Baltimore 30, Denver 7
The Broncos usually get better as the game progresses. Not on Sunday. A nightmarish second half paved the way for Denver's first loss under Josh McDaniels.
• Houston 31, Buffalo 10
(126 rushing yards, 3 TDs) didn't let a rare opportunity for extended playing time go to waste. It was Moats' first 100-yard game since 2005.
• Chicago 30, Cleveland 6
The Browns' ineptitude on offense is getting comical. With such a poor supporting cast, it really doesn't matter who's playing QB.
Dallas 38, Seattle 17
Is any QB playing as well as Tony Romo
right now? Romo has eight TDs and no interceptions during the Cowboys' three-game winning streak.
St. Louis 17, Detroit 10
This one was far from a classic, but at least the Rams can heave a collective sigh of relief. Their run of futility (17 straight losses) is finally over.
Indianapolis 18, San Francisco 14
How odd was this game? Down by two in the fourth quarter, the Colts relied on the arm of Joseph Addai
-- not Peyton Manning
-- to put them ahead.
Miami 30, N.Y. Jets 25
Verbal sparring. Two nail-biters in less than a month. Yes, it's safe to say the Dolphins-Jets rivalry is alive and well.
Philadelphia 40, N.Y. Giants 17
That 5-0 start has become a distant memory for Giants fans. The past three weeks have exposed many chinks in New York's armor, especially on defense.
Tennessee 30, Jacksonville 13
Is the Vince Young era back on track in Tennessee? Team owner Bud Adams certainly seems to think so.
San Diego 24, Oakland 16
still doesn't have a 100-yard game in 2009, but he always seems to do plenty of damage (two TDs Sunday) against the Raiders.
Minnesota 38, Green Bay 26
(4 TD passes) returned to Lambeau Field and left victorious. Now the Vikings appear to have a clear path to the NFC North title.
Carolina 34, Arizona 21
MONDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL
The enigmatic ways of the Cardinals continue. Of course, it's not easy to win when your quarterback turns the ball over six times.
• Atlanta at New Orleans (ESPN, 8:30 ET)
An early look at next weekend's biggest games:
• Houston (5-3) at Indianapolis (7-0): Maybe the biggest game in Texans history.
• Baltimore (4-3) at Cincinnati (5-2):
The well-rested Bengals will be eyeing a season sweep of the Ravens.
• Dallas (5-2) at Philadelphia (5-2):
NFC East supremacy on the line.
• Pittsburgh (5-2) at Denver (6-1):
Another tough game for the Broncos. How will they bounce back from their first loss?
• Week 9 schedule