October 30, 2011
See Sunday's five least valuable players here.
Steven Jackson, Running Back, St. Louis Rams. Watching Jack go nuts on the Saints felt really good. Remember when Steven Jackson used to have days like this pretty regularly, and it was so admirable, because the Rams so clearly had nothing else going for them, and he kept on grinding so hard? I always kind of wanted him to get a signature, come-out-of-nowhere win like this. It never really happened then, but now that we're in the second "the Rams have Steven Jackson but are still awful" era, it finally did, and it feels good.
[Slideshow: Photo highlights of Week 8]
Eli Manning(notes), Quarterback, New York Giants. Without much of a running game to lean on (Ahmad Bradshaw(notes) and Brandon Jacobs(notes) combined for 60 yards on 17 carries), Eli lit up the Dolphins to the tune of 349 yards and both of the Giants touchdowns. Eli was measured, patient, accurate and balanced -- eight different Giants caught balls. If Eli can keep up this level of play, which, admittedly, has not been Eli's strong suit, the Giants are in good shape with their two-game division lead.
Tony Sparano, Head Coach, Miami Dolphins. MJD's mea culpa of the week: I was wrong about the Dolphins. I thought all the "We stink, you stink" nonsense was an indication of an impending mental meltdown for the Dolphins, but nothing could've been further from the truth. No Dolphin, not even Reggie Bush(notes), stunk on Sunday. They played really hard and fought the Giants every step of the way. They may not be great at playing football, but they are competitors. That's not nothing.
LaMarr Woodley(notes), Linebacker, Pittsburgh Steelers. Ben Roethlisberger(notes) was awesome with his 365 yards passing, but I've got to see the Pittsburgh defense as the most important unit of this game. After a bye week, I expected Tom Brady(notes) to come out and have his perverse way with the Steelers secondary, but that wasn't even close. Not only did the Steelers lock up the Patriots ground game, but Brady couldn't do anything, either. The offense keeping the ball for 39 minutes helped, but Woodley was excellent on Sunday, just as he has been every week since James Harrison(notes) went out.
Mike Vick, Quarterback, Philadelphia Eagles. The Week 8 version was the best version of Michael Vick(notes) we've seen all season, and the NFL is a way more interesting place when Vick is at his best. We haven't seen enough of it this year. The Cowboys might disagree, but really, I think Marcus Vick would've beaten them on Sunday night. Vick finished 21 of 28 for 279 yards and two touchdowns, which aren't numbers that blow you away, but then you mix in his 50 rushing yards and consider that he did pretty much all of that in the first half, and it gets more impressive.
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