On Sunday afternoon at Ford Field, Donovan McNabb(notes) suffered what must be the ultimate humiliation for an NFL quarterback: He was benched in favor of Rex Grossman(notes) in the closing minutes of a winnable game.
If that isn't rock bottom, it's close.
Washington trailed Detroit by six points with 1:45 remaining in the fourth quarter, and Rex — not Donovan — trotted onto the field for the Redskins.
"I thought [Grossman] gave us the best chance to win," said head coach Mike Shanahan.
"He makes the decisions," said McNabb. "I just continue to go with it and just cheer for my team."
In Shanahan's postgame comments, he actually suggested that Grossman was more comfortable in the two-minute offense. Rex quickly demonstrated his comfort level by fumbling on his first snap, after being sacked by Kyle Vanden Bosch(notes). The ball was recovered by Ndamukong Suh(notes), who strolled into the end zone for a game-clinching score. (Suh was very nearly Leon Lett'd, but he somehow held on. Highlight here).
No reasonable person expects Grossman to challenge McNabb for starting duties following Washington's bye, but the late-game substitution highlights the offense's ineptitude. McNabb finished with 210 passing yards, one TD and one interception against the Lions; he still hasn't thrown for more than one score in any game this season. Washington's receiving corps is a perfectly ordinary group, and the offensive line was destroyed in Week 8.
These next two weeks should produce some absolutely delightful sports radio in DC. Enjoy it, 'Skins fans. If you don't get through on your first try, please keep dialing.
• Brett Favre(notes) entered Week 8 with a much-discussed ankle problem and a largely forgotten right elbow injury. He exited after taking a brutal shot to the jaw from Patriots lineman Myron Pryor(notes). The initial report from the team was that he'd suffered a "laceration," but the issue clearly has the potential to be something worse. Favre was carted to the locker room, eyes closed, pressure applied to his chin. Adam Schefter tweets that Favre needed eight stitches but may have avoided a concussion; the ancient quarterback was reportedly "woozy" following the hit. (Brad Childress' words). Whatever else you think of Brett — and we all think something — you have to appreciate his inhuman streak of consecutive games. Let's hope he's not badly damaged.
In relief of Favre, Tarvaris Jackson(notes) immediately threw a 1-yard score to fullback Naufahu Tahi(notes), then connected with Percy Harvin(notes) on a two-point conversion. (Excellent catch by Percy). But per their usual, the Vikings played just well enough to lose a tight game. Minnesota has a home match-up with Arizona in Week 9, so whoever is under center will be a viable fantasy option.
• Matthew Stafford(notes) returned from his shoulder injury on Sunday, and he clearly remembered where to throw the football. Stafford connected with Calvin Johnson(notes) nine times, as Megatron finished with 101 receiving yards and three TDs. Here's the third touchdown. That was a dart into coverage, well thrown. You'll note that Johnson was willing to possess the ball until every ref acknowledged the score.
• OK, this thing right here is the run of the year. I'm calling it right now. No one's going to compete with that. Chris Johnson is absurd. That play was designed to go right and was thoroughly stopped, yet CJ2K somehow reversed field, shook everyone, and found the end zone. He finished with just 59 rushing yards at San Diego, but those 29 were the day's most impressive.
• Kenny Britt(notes) and Vince Young(notes) both checked out of Tennessee's loss to the Chargers with leg injuries. Britt pulled a hamstring in the first half while dropping a long bomb from his QB; Young suffered a non-contact injury to his left foot or ankle, and was replaced by veteran Kerry Collins(notes). Fortunately for the Titans, the team has a 5-3 record and a bye in Week 9.
• Fantasy experts across the industry spent much of the week pleading with you to add Tampa Bay running back LeGarrette Blount(notes) — or, as Chris Myers calls him, "LeGarrious." The rookie back justified the pick-up hype, rushing for 120 yards and two scores on 22 carries. Highlights here, including the day's second-best run. Blount lost a fumble that was returned for a TD late in the third quarter, but he rebounded brilliantly from the mistake. If Blount is still available in your league, it's well past time to make the add. He's a 247-pound bruiser who clearly has the featured role, even though the coaching staff will continue to say nice things about Carnell Williams(notes). Cadillac finished with just four carries for 10 yards against the user-friendly Cardinals D.
• Darren McFadden(notes) punished a Seattle defense that began the week ranked No. 2 against the run. He ran for 111 yards on 21 carries, and Michael Bush(notes) added 51 on nine attempts. Oakland suddenly appears unstoppable; they gained 545 total net yards against the Seahawks. Even Darrius Heyward-Bey(notes) was factor, catching five balls for 105 yards and a long score. Every time you flipped to that game, some member of the Raiders seemed to make a semi-miraculous play — like this one, for example.
The lone bit of bad news for Oakland is that Nnamdi Asomugha(notes) — the shutdowniest of all shutdown corners — exited with a potentially serious right ankle injury. If he's going to miss time, we'll need to re-think the Raiders pass D as a fantasy match-up.
• Quarterback Max Hall(notes) proved to be a difference maker for Arizona, and not in a good way. Hall was pulled in favor of Derek Anderson(notes) after throwing two pick-sixes. Let's hope you started the Tampa Bay defense on Sunday, per the position ranks. If you typically stream defenses, you probably won't be able to pick on Hall going forward. But Anderson is a turnover machine, too. He'll do. He also threw a pair of interceptions to the Bucs. Larry Fitzgerald(notes) had his first multi-TD effort of the season, opening a small window for those looking to sell all remaining shares of the Cards offense.
• In case you missed it, the on-air talent at Fantasy Football Live was in full costume on Sunday, in keeping with the season (except for the soulless Chris Liss). Funston attempted to dress as Marshawn Lynch(notes)…
…and in the process, was an absolute dead-ringer for Oldman's character in True Romance:
I'd love to give you a quote from the film, but can't think of anything clean. And this is obviously an all-ages blog. We should note that Lynch outgained Drexl Spivey by just seven yards on Sunday.
• In the final minute of overtime in Kansas City, the Chiefs relied exclusively on the 2009 Iowa Hawkeyes playbook: A few runs, a few incompletions, and just enough Tony Moeaki(notes). KCHea narrowly escaped with a 13-10 win, as Jamaal Charles(notes) managed to gain 238 yards from scrimmage without scoring (no easy feat). Ryan Fitzpatrick(notes) and Steve Johnson(notes) connected on a score, because that's what they do, even on a bad day.
• David Garrard(notes) was a fiend on Sunday, passing for four scores and rushing for another. Heading into the late game, Garrard was your Week 8 scoring leader. Dallas' offense may not have quit on the season just yet, but the defense clearly has. Mike Sims-Walker(notes) had eight receptions for 153 yards and a TD for the Jags, and tight end Marcedes Lewis(notes) caught two scores. That's seven touchdowns on the year for Lewis; entering the season, he had just seven TDs in his four-year NFL career.
• Jon Kitna(notes) demonstrated that his 38-year-old arm still has life, as he passed for 379 yards. Interceptions remain part of the Kitna story, though, as he threw four picks on the day. At least two of the INTs can be blamed on Dallas receivers, however. The Cowboys travel to face the Packers and Giants in the weeks ahead, so there's no starting Kitna again anytime soon.
• The London match-up was as ugly as everyone feared through three quarters. Thankfully, the final 15 minutes produced 30 points. Troy Smith(notes) was just good enough for the Niners; he ran for a 1-yard TD early in the fourth quarter, then later found Michael Crabtree(notes) for a 28-yard score. It was a decent day for the Big Ten at Wembley, as both Kyle Orton(notes) (Purdue) and Brandon Lloyd(notes) (Illinois) continued their unimaginably huge seasons. Orton passed for 369 yards, and 169 of them belonged to Lloyd.
• Incredibly (or perhaps not), the Chargers had yet another punt blocked on Sunday. This time, the play merely resulted in a safety, not a TD. So that's clear improvement.
• We discussed the day's best challenge flag below, so we should probably mention the day's worst. Brad Childress burned a first half challenge on a long completion to New England's Brandon Tate(notes) that was … well, it was plainly a completion. Not sure what Childress could have been thinking. Maybe he just couldn't believe that Madieu Williams(notes) didn't pick off the throw.
• In each of New England's last four games (all wins), Tom Brady(notes) has thrown just one TD pass. This is clearly a problem. With Moss in Minnesota (and not sounding so thrilled about it), the Pats offense seems to have turned back the clock to the title years — might be good for them, but it's lousy in the imaginary game. BenJarvus Green-Ellis(notes) and Danny Woodhead(notes) combined for 181 total yards and three scores on Sunday. Brady attempted only 27 throws. (9:23 pm ET)
Early waiver plays for Week 9…
QB Ryan Fitzpatrick vs. CHI (55 percent owned)
QB Josh Freeman(notes) at ATL (35 percent)
QB Matt Cassel(notes) at OAK (48 percent)
RB LeGarrette Blount at ATL (29 percent)
RB Keiland Williams(notes), bye (2 percent)
WR Steve Breaston(notes) at MIN (40 percent)
WR Darrius Heyward-Bey vs. KC (3 percent)
WR Roscoe Parrish(notes) vs. CHI (3 percent)
WR Jordy Nelson(notes) vs. DAL (3 percent)
TE Greg Olsen(notes) at BUF (42 percent)
As expected, Brett Favre (ankle) is active for Minnesota, so he'll make his millionth consecutive start. Use him as needed. Favre is currently the No. 28 per-game fantasy scorer at his position, however, and he's hardly a lock to finish Sunday's game. Nonetheless, this is clearly decent news for Randy Moss(notes) and Percy Harvin owners. (3:40 pm ET)
• Entering the week, Terrell Owens(notes) ranked second in the NFL in year-to-date targets (73), so we should never be surprised when he delivers a big week. His colleagues apparently consider him overrated, but fantasy owners do not. Owens caught a pair of first-half TDs against the Dolphins, giving him the early scoring lead in Week 8. T.O.'s second score was an absolute gift, a ball that hit Miami safety Chris Clemons in the hands, but didn't stick. Check the tape. That's awful.
• Jon Kitna had a sketchy first half, piling up passing yards against Jacksonville's miserable secondary (193), but throwing two picks. Dallas trailed at half, 14-3. Both of Kitna's interceptions were deflected, so there's some bad luck involved. He had a legit INT negated by a penalty, however. Near the end of the second quarter, it appeared that Kitna was going to break the plane on a run, but he was stopped just short of the goal line. Marion Barber(notes) was then stuffed on a pair of carries, once because Kitna ran into him in the backfield. All things considered, not a pretty half. Kitna has completed throws outside the numbers, though, and he's giving Miles Austin(notes) and Dez Bryant(notes) all the work they can handle. (Roy Williams, not so much).
Meanwhile, the Cowboys defense picked up right where it left off in Week 7, offering little resistance. On the Jaguars' opening possession, they needed just five plays to reach the end zone. Maurice Jones-Drew(notes) and Mike Sims-Walker accounted for all the yardage on the drive, punctuated by an easy receiving TD for MSW.
• It didn't take DeAngelo Hall(notes) long to demonstrate that he can pick off passers who aren't Jay Cutler(notes). Hall was perfectly positioned on an early end zone interception. However, Megatron later shrugged off Hall on this 13-yard second quarter TD. Johnson should receive a degree-of-difficulty bonus there. But with all due respect to Calvin, the most dominant player on the field in Detroit might just be rookie DT Ndamukong Suh. That guy has been tossing aside Washington linemen as if they were inflatable dolls. Total monster.
• Early favorite for Best Challenge Flag of the Day: Mike McCarthy challenged the spot of the football after the Jets apparently picked up a first down on a high-risk fake punt, deep in their own territory. Upon review, the officials sided with Green Bay. Jets punter Steve Weatherford(notes) didn't quite get the necessary yardage, although he ran his li'l heart out. Watch the play here. When you have a defense like New York's, you can get away with a few crazy decisions (and this one was legitimately insane). The Jets held the Packers to a field goal.
• Knowshon Moreno(notes) has looked lively for the Broncos (in a dog of a game at Wembley), but Tim Tebow(notes) poached a 1-yard rushing score. Tebow is clearly going to be an irritant throughout the final weeks, Knowshon Knation. This is painful.
• Donald Driver(notes) is reportedly doubtful to return after aggravating his quad injury. We've already had this fire-drill, of course; James Jones(notes) and Jordy Nelson gain value when Driver is sidelined. Tight end Andrew Quarless(notes) managed to get his usual drive-killing drop out of the way early on Sunday.
• Ryan Torain(notes) checked out of the Washington-Detroit tilt with a hamstring injury of unknown severity. Keiland Williams is next up in the backfield hierarchy. Torain accomplished little on the ground prior to the injury (nine carries, 10 yards), but a receiving score saved his fantasy day. (3:30 pm ET)
Welcome to Week 8, ghouls. I'll be right here throughout the day, reacting to actionable fantasy news, dressed as a zombified Jim Zorn. CREEPY.
If you're looking for start/sit advice, check out the chat window over at Fantasy Football Live. We open for business at noon ET, with costume contest at 12:30. Please stop by. Everyone gets a goodie bag.
Programming note: This week, Sunday Scene won't have the typical quarter-by-quarter structure, due to unusual blogging circumstances. Have a safe Halloween, gamers. Watch out for flesh-eating Craig Mortons and Billy Thompsons (pictured above).
Photos via AP Images (McNabb), US Presswire (Favre, Owens) and Getty Images (Broncos fans)