NFL Week 8 Recap: NFC South

The Carolina Panthers continue their unbeaten streak as they defeated the Indianapolis Colts while the Atlanta Falcons trip over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Meanwhile, the New Orleans Saints win a shoot out against the New York Giants.

The Carolina Panthers continue their unbeaten streak as they defeated the Indianapolis Colts.

The Carolina Panthers continue their unbeaten streak as they defeated the Indianapolis Colts.

It’s easy to figure out that the Panthers are served best by this scenario because they sit atop the division still undefeated. On the other hand, the Falcons find themselves looking up at first rather than occupying it and they now have two losses, thus putting them two games behind the surging Panthers.

The Falcons sitting at 6-2 does not mean by any sense of the imagination that they should forget about winning the division. But they need to consider a new threat coming from behind them and not just worry about who’s ahead.

After a bad start during which they lost their first three games, the Saints have proven that they can’t be ignored if for no other reason then the recent success of Drew Brees. That shoot out with the Giants should show both the Falcons and the Panthers that the Saints are not at all dead, but a major threat.

In professional football terms Brees is considered an old man. Most former NFL players who are 36 or older are sitting at home watching the games, not playing in them. Brees seems to prove time and time again that he belongs on the field.

In the matchup with the Giants the old timer threw seven touchdown passes and collected 505 yards throwing the ball. The accomplishment allowed Brees to tie an NFL record for the most touchdown passes in one game.

Giants quarterback Eli Manning threw six touchdown passes and the two teams combined for a total of 101 points and 1,030 yards. This game was the third highest scoring contest in NFL history.

The Saints have won four of their last five games. Saints’ receivers Brandin Cooks and Willie Snead each caught two touchdown passes and Marques Colston, Ben Watson and C.J. Spiller caught one touchdown pass each. The completion to Spiller resulted in the Saints tying the score at 49 with 36 seconds remaining.

With 20 seconds left the Saints forced the Giants to punt from their 25-yard line and Marcus Murphy returned it 24-yards and fumbled. Snead recovered for the Saints. A Giants’ penalty then set up a Kai Forbath field goal to win it. Forbath had been kicking for the Washington Redskins at the beginning of the season, but the Redskins cut him to sign placekicker Dustin Hopkins. The kick tied Forbath’s career long.

The last second kick came after the Giants battled back from a 42-28 deficit.

The Giants’ come back started with a Manning to Dwayne Harris touchdown pass on a fourth and five play. Manning completed a 20-yard pass to Harris for a score, which tied the game. SAINTS 52 GIANTS 49

The Panthers had somewhat of a scare in this game because the Colts came back and had the lead 26-23 after kicker Adam Vinatieri’s field goal in overtime. That meant that the Panthers had to get at least a field goal in their next series or the game was over. First there was disappointment when Panthers’ receiver Ted Ginn Jr. dropped a 56-yard touchdown pass. However, there was jubilation after Panthers’ tight end Greg Olsen made a spectacular one-handed catch to help set up a Graham Gano field goal to tie the game.

Gano’s winning field goal came after Panthers’ strong safety Roman Harper deflected a pass from Andrew Luck and linebacker Luke Kuechly intercepted it. Gano’s kick was from 52-yards out.

Luck had his problems collecting only 40 yards passing in the first three quarters. However, he came back with two touchdown passes in the final 7:11 of regulation that resulted in Vinatieri’s tying field goal in the final seconds.

Luck finished with 231 yards passing, two touchdowns and three interceptions. The TD passes were to Andre Johnson and Coby Fleener. He has an NFL-high of 12 picks so far this season. Luck’s number of interceptions has led some to believe that he’s been playing with fractured ribs, but Luck has neither confirmed nor denied the reports.

Cam Newton finished with 16 completions on 23 attempts for 248 yards, two touchdowns and one interception. He also ran for 41 yards. The touchdown passes went to Olsen and Philly Brown. PANTHERS 29 COLTS 26

Now if you had to predict the outcome of a game in which one team was 6-1 and the other was 2-4 you’re probably going to pick the team that’s 6-1, right? Think again. The 6-1 team, the Atlanta Falcons, lost to the 2-4 team, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

A deeper look at the performances of the Falcons in the previous two games may be a better indicator that they could lose. In week six they lost to the New Orleans Saints 31-21 and beat the Washington Redskins in week five 25-19 in overtime after the Redskins came back to tie the game with a field goal at the end of regulation.

There’s an old proverb in football: The better team plays down to their competition.

That could be what’s happening to the Falcons. In this game they turned the ball over four times and the Bucs were up by 17 points before the Falcons came back forcing the game into overtime.

Falcons’ wide receiver Julio Jones contributed one of those four turnovers when rookie linebacker Kwon Alexander stripped the ball. That led to a Conner Barth field goal. Another turnover occurred during a bad snap on second-and-goal at the Buccaneers’ four-yard line. Jacquies Smith pounced on that misstep and that set up a 73-yard drive ending with another field goal. Later Alexander intercepted a pass from Falcons’ QB Matt Ryan and that set up a touchdown pass from Jameis Winston to Cameron Brate with 30 seconds remaining. The fourth turnover occurred on the Falcons’ first possession of the third quarter when Ryan fumbled a fake handoff and Bucs’ defensive end Henry Melton recovered. The Falcons drove 76 yards and scored on Winston’s 4-yard run.

The Falcons had to rally back from a deficit of 20-3. They were helped by a bad decision by Buccaneers’ head coach Lovie Smith to go for a first down on fourth-and-one at their own 40-yard line with two minutes remaining. Bucs’ quarterback Jameis Winston was thinking pass, then tried to run and was stopped by Falcons’ safety Ricardo Allen.

As a result, the Falcons had a shorter field than they would have had if the Bucs’ punted. That gave Falcons’ quarterback Matt Ryan the opportunity to hit Jones for the tying touchdown that forced overtime.

The Buccaneers had the first possession of overtime and Winston engineered a drive that included third down conversions three times. Barth capped the drive with his third field goal of the game.

The Falcons had one more chance. They had to get a field goal to continue overtime or a touchdown to win. However, the offense couldn’t make it passed midfield.

Ryan finished with 37 completions on 45 attempts for 397 yards, two touchdowns, a fumble and an interception. Winston completed 16 passes on 29 attempts and one touchdown.

Falcons’ running back Devonta Freeman rushed for 88 yards on 21 carries and Bucs’ running back Doug Martin gained 71 yards on 23 carries.

Jones finished with 12 catches for 162 yards and a touchdown. Falcons’ tight end Jacob Tamme caught 10 passes for 103 yards and a touchdown.



NFC SOUTH STANDINGS                     Overall                     Division 
CAROLINA PANTHERS                            7-0                             2-0
ATLANTA FALCONS                                  6-2                             0-2
NEW ORLEANS SAINTS                           4-4                             1-2
TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS                    3-4                             2-1


PACKERS @ PANTHERS                      SUNDAY, NOVEMBER 8, 2015
TITANS @ SAINTS                                  SUNDAY, NOVEMBER 8, 2015
GIANTS @ BUCCANEERS                     SUNDAY, NOVEMBER 8, 2015
FALCONS @ 49ERS                                SUNDAY, NOVEMBER 8, 2015
Courtesy of Bleacher Report

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