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🏈 Football Five
The Eagles moved to an NFL-best 7-1 with a 38-31 comeback victory over the Commanders. A.J. Brown had his sixth straight game with 125+ yards receiving — the longest streak in NFL history — while catching a pair of touchdowns. Washington, meanwhile, has lost five of six and is expected to sell at the trade deadline as another lost season looms.
The Chiefs dropped a shocker, 24-9, at the Broncos. Russell Wilson threw three touchdowns with Justin Simmons and Ja’Quan McMillian picking off Patrick Mahomes, who had been 12-0 against the Broncos. Mahomes had the first zero-touchdown, three-turnover game of his career.
Will Levis joined Marcus Mariota and Fran Tarkenton as the only players with four touchdown passes in their NFL debuts, leading the Titans to a 28-23 win over the Falcons. Cody Benjamin named Levis one of this week’s big winners.
What a weekend in the Pac-12: Washington survived another scare, Arizona upset Oregon State and UCLA handed Colorado its fourth loss in five games.
Ohio State’s defense impressed again in a 24-10 win over Wisconsin.
🐅 Good morning to everyone but especially … THE CINCINNATI BENGALS
Sometimes, the measure of a team is how it fares when things aren’t going well. Other times, it’s how the team fares when things are rolling. The Bengals stayed afloat during the early part of their season, through Joe Burrow’s injury struggles, and now they’re back among the NFL’s best. Burrow showed his patented pinpoint accuracy and some recently rediscovered scrambling ability as Cincinnati walloped the 49ers, 31-17. Burrow completed 28 of 32 passes — a Bengals record 87.5% — and threw three touchdown passes. He also had six carries for 43 yards; his prior season highs were four carries and 7 yards. Seems like that calf is feeling better!
Perhaps just as importantly, the Cincinnati defense showed up. Brock Purdy threw two interceptions — to Logan Wilson and Germaine Pratt — and lost a fumble.
The Bengals earned an “A” in our Week 8 grades via Tyler Sullivan. Sullivan: “Cincinnati is starting to look like the team that we’ve come to know under Joe Burrow in recent seasons, and that’s largely because the quarterback’s health is moving in a positive direction in recent weeks. … He had an answer for anything that the 49ers defense was throwing his way and picked the secondary apart. The offense also carried the baton nicely from the defense which was able to create several turnovers.”
As for San Francisco, I said I wasn’t too concerned after the loss to the Vikings. I’m a little concerned now. Purdy was a risk taker (and mistake maker) at Iowa State, and that tendency is rearing its ugly head. He has five turnovers over the last two weeks. Christian McCaffrey can keep breaking records, but until Purdy starts taking care of the ball again, the 49ers will struggle.
👍 Honorable mentions
😯 And not such a good morning for …
Getty Images THE NEW YORK GIANTS
Jeff Kerr called it the worst game of the season. And it’s not hard to see why. The Jets’ wet, wild, so-bad-you-want-to-laugh 13-10 win over the Giants featured …
24 combined punts, most in a game since 1998
16 combined three-and-outs, tied for most in a game since 2000
-9 yards passing by the Giants — fewest by a team in a game since 2000 — after Tyrod Taylor (ribs) was injured, leaving Tommy DeVito (who?) to quarterback
And yet the Giants still had a great chance to win, leading 10-7 with 28 seconds left in regulation. Until …
Graham Gano missed a 35-yard field goal, his second miss of the day
Zach Wilson — awful all game — drove the Jets 58 yards in 27 seconds (with no timeouts) to set up Greg Zuerlein’s game-tying kick
The Giants went backwards 11 yards on their overtime drive, punted, committed a horrible pass interference and lost
Listen, it might be harsh to put the Giants here. It’s hard enough to have a competent starting quarterback, much less a competent third-stringer. But this was team-wide incompetency — starting from the top — and yet another embarrassing loss.
🤕 Kirk Cousins (Achilles) among several injured NFL QBs
Getty Images Just as the Vikings seemed to be back on track, they’ve lost the player who led that turnaround: Kirk Cousins reportedly tore his Achilles late in Minnesota’s 24-10 win over Green Bay. Cousins, 35, who has missed just one game due to health reasons in his NFL career (COVID-19 in 2021), is in the midst of arguably the best season of his career. He is tied for the league lead in touchdown passes, second in yards passing and third in both passer rating and touchdown-to-interception ratio this season. I’ve generally been pretty high on Cousins, and this year he’s deserved the praise — especially when things have gone poorly around him. Justin Jefferson remains out, but the Vikings are 3-0 without J.J. Minnesota ranks in the bottom five in most rushing stats and hadn’t scored a touchdown on the ground until this week. The offensive line and the defense have been inconsistent. Through it all, Cousins had been terrific. It’s hard to imagine the Vikings can overcome this one. Fifth-round rookie Jaren Hall — the presumed starter until Nick Mullens (back) returns — lost a fumble on his second career dropback. Cody has a dozen outside options for the Vikings. This, naturally, brings up whether Cousins has played his last snap for the team. The two sides tabled talks about a contract extension this past offseason, and it’s unclear whether an expensive, aging quarterback coming off a major injury would fit Minnesota’s “competitive rebuild,” as termed by general manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah last year. Cousins was far from the only notable injury for signal callers around the league: Matthew Stafford (thumb) left and did not return for the Rams. Brett Rypien took over. Desmond Ridder was checked for a concussion (later cleared) and replaced by Taylor Heinicke for the Falcons. Kenny Pickett (ribs) left the Steelers’ 20-10 loss to the Jaguars and did not return. Mitch Trubisky took over. Quick aside: Jacksonville went 5-0 this month, the only team to do so. I’m really impressed. As mentioned earlier, Tyrod Taylor (ribs) left the Giants’ game and didn’t return. Will Brinson broke down the quarterback carnage, and here’s our full injury roundup.
⚾ World Series tied 1-1; Game 3 preview
Getty Images The World Series is now a best of five after the Rangers and Diamondbacks split Games 1-2 in Texas. The Rangers desperately need Max Scherzer — pitching through a cut on his thumb — to throw well after Nathan Eovaldi and Jordan Montgomery both struggled. Scherzer posted a 9.45 ERA across 6 2/3 innings in two ALCS appearances, and while it’s remarkable he’s pitching at all given his late-season shoulder injury, the World Series is the time for results, not good stories. Rookie Brandon Pfaadt will get the ball for Arizona. Here’s R.J. Anderson’s Game 3 preview.
🏈 Georgia, Oregon dominate as Oklahoma gets upset
USATSI No Brock Bowers, no problem for No. 1 Georgia. The Bulldogs were the toast of the World’s Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party, beating Florida 43-20 in Jacksonville. Dennis Dodd says Kirby Smart’s team sent a message ahead of a big week. Dodd: “The result reverberated all the way from here at the World’s Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party to the College Football Playoff Selection Committee meeting room in Irving, Texas. That’s where the first CFP Rankings will emanate from Tuesday. On Saturday, Georgia made a statement: The Dawgs deserve to be No. 1 in that first poll.”
Meanwhile, Oregon strengthened its playoff resume with an astonishing 35-6 rout at Utah, which hadn’t lost at home since 2020. As for a top team going the wrong direction, Oklahoma’s dream season came to a halt in a 38-33 loss at Kansas. The Sooners earned a “D” in Barrett Sallee’s weekly grades, and Shehan Jeyarajah declared them one of the week’s biggest losers. Perhaps the only thing feeling worse than the Oklahoma defense are the Kansas goalposts, which ended up in Potter Lake.