We don't often lead the MVPs with a player on a losing team, but in this case, we must make an exception. When you set a fairly significant NFL record despite the fact that your quarterback can't stop pouring hot lava all over himself, you lead the pack when we speak of the most valuable for Week 8.
Jason Witten, TE, Dallas Cowboys: It's been a generation now that tight ends have become more important parts of their teams' passing games, but no tight end has ever done what Jason Witten did on Sunday afternoon. In the Cowboys' 29-24 loss to the New York Giants, Witten set a league record with 18 catches, the most for any tight end ever. Only Brandon Marshall, Terrell Owens and Tom Fears have ever caught as many or more passes at any position, and it was especially impressive for a guy recovering from a lacerated spleen and a slow start to the 2012 season -- Witten had just 33 catches coming into this game, and eight total in the first three weeks. However, Witten didn't get a single touchdown pass among all those catches, which kinda tells you how Tony Romo's day went. Statistically, Dallas' quarterback had a lot of empty calories.
Tom Brady, QB, New England Patriots: It doesn't really matter which country he's in, what offense he's running, or what weapons he does or does not have. If you give Tom Brady enough opportunities, he will wax your cute little defense and go home. So it was with the St. Louis Rams, who have actually fielded quite an impressive defense so far this season. Brady picked that Jeff Fisher-assembled unit apart across the pond at London's Wembley Stadium despite the subtraction of tight end Aaron Hernandez. He finished his day with 23 completions in 35 attempts for 304 yards, four touchdowns, and no interceptions as the Pats brutalized the Rams, 45-7. Sometimes, as much as we'd like to put lesser-known names in these spots, Brady makes it impossible -- he's just too good to "ignore."
Matt Ryan, QB, Atlanta Falcons: OK, folks -- it's time to stop ignoring the Falcons. No, they're not buzzy at all -- they're kind of like the old San Antonio Spurs, in that their ruthless efficiency tends to go overlooked. None of their players are getting arrested, they're not throwing each other under the bus, and they dare to not play in a top-five market. But this team is 7-0, they're straight balling out on offense and defense, and it all starts with Ryan. Formerly an "in-the-box" quarterback who got balky when things went wrong, Ryan is now the complete player the Falcons hoped he'd be when they selected him with the third-overall pick in the 2008 NFL draft. In Atlanta's 30-17 cruise over the Philadelphia Eagles, Ryan completed 22 passes in 29 attempts for 263 yards and three touchdowns. That's an indoor quarterback, taking apart a supposedly good defense on hostile ground at Philly's Lincoln Financial Field. Pretty impressive, and worth more attention that it's getting.
Lawrence Tynes, K, New York Giants: A KICKER!?!?!? Yes, Deacon Jones would give us a head-slap for including a kicker on this list, but without Tynes' efforts, the Giants would not have taken the aforementioned game away from the Cowboys. The G-Men converted just three of 15 third-down attempts, and Eli Manning completed just 15 of 29 passes and threw for no touchdowns, which left Tynes to lead the Giants' scoring charge with five successful field goal tries in five attempts. His two field goals in the fourth quarter marked the only scores for either team.
Matt Moore, QB, Miami Dolphins: When Ryan Tannehill was taken out of the Dolphins' eventual 30-9 win over the New York Jets with a leg injury, Moore came in and gave a very credible performance against what's supposed to be a high-quality defense. The team's current backup and former starter didn't set the world on fire, but he handled the game well and threw a touchdown pass. Tannehill has impressed through his first half-season, and it's a relief for head coach Joe Philbin to know that even when the face of the franchise can't go, he's got a guy who can come in and keep that offense humming. And with all the stuff you generally hear about dissatisfied signal-callers who lose their starting spots, we'd like to give kudos to Moore, who started 12 games for the Dolphins in 2011 and was the quarterback for all six of the team's wins.
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