32 things we learned from NFL Week 8: Second-year QBs falling flat

The 32 things we learned from Week 8 of the 2022 NFL season:

1. A quarterback class that was widely celebrated going into the 2021 draft has left much to to be desired as the crop slogs through its second NFL season. Take Sunday’s meeting between the New York Jets’ Zach Wilson and New England Patriots’ Mac Jones. Wilson served up three interceptions – and they were brutal picks – that only led directly to six Pats points courtesy of a solid NYJ defense … but were pivotal in a 22-17 loss.

2. The defeat ended the Jets’ four-game win streak, which had happened largely in spite of Wilson. He’s completed 55% of his passes with three TDs, five INTs and a 71.0 QB rating in five starts this season. Sunday was the Jets’ first game of 2022 without injured rookie RB Breece Hall, the real engine of their offense.

3. On the flip side of the Zach and Mac coin, Jones has struggled for most of 2022 and hardly distinguished himself Sunday – but was spared of playing at Gillette Stadium, where the faithful clearly prefer rookie QB Bailey Zappe. Jones has three TD tosses, seven picks and a 73.1 QB rating for the last-place Patriots – and was lucky what might have proved a backbreaking pick-six against the Jets was negated by a ‘roughing’ the passer flag.

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4. The win in New Jersey was the 325th (including playoffs) of Bill Belichick’s career, giving him sole possession of second place among NFL coaches – and 22 shy of Hall of Famer Don Shula’s record.

4a. Imagine if BB got to coach every week against the Jets, a franchise he loathes and resigned his head coaching post with after one day in 2000. He’s now beaten the NYJ 13 times in a row, New England’s last loss to them occurring in 2015.

4b. Sunday’s meeting was the first since 2001 that the Jets entered a matchup with the Patriots sporting a better record. 

5. Over in London, Jacksonville Jaguars QB Trevor Lawrence failed to live up to his No. 1 pick billing once again – and pre-draft comparisons to the likes of John Elway, Peyton Manning and Andrew Luck. His soul-sucking interception on first-and-goal from the 1-yard line in the second quarter was a mistake the Jags never could overcome in a 21-17 loss to the Denver Broncos. Lawrence finished with 133 yards and a pair of picks as his team dropped its fifth straight.

6. The Broncos and Jaguars played in front of 86,215 fans Sunday, the largest attendance for a game in the United Kingdom since the NFL began playing there in 2007.

7. Broncos RB Latavius Murray rushed for the game-winning touchdown at Wembley Stadium four weeks after scoring in Tottenham Stadium as a member of the New Orleans Saints. He became the first player to run for touchdowns in London while with different teams in the same season.

7a. If you didn’t think the Broncos had already looked bad this season, their new uniform combination most certainly didn’t help.

8. Denver-Jacksonville was also the first game streamed exclusively on ESPN+. Anyone else get dropped a few times or encounter multiple load issues? Felt like an ominous warning to dud Monday night matchups in the future.

9. Chicago Bears sophomore QB Justin Fields entered Week 8 averaging 149.7 yards per game through the air, worst among qualified passers. His accuracy (58.5%) and QB rating (81.2) are also near the bottom of the pile. Fields has played better in recent weeks, making more plays with his arm and legs, but had nowhere to go but up for the Bears – now 3-5 following Sunday’s 49-29 spanking from the Dallas Cowboys.

10. The Houston Texans’ Davis Mills submitted another uninspired performance in Sunday’s 17-10 loss to the Tennessee Titans. After a solid rookie season, Mills increasingly looks like a player the Texans might replace atop the 2023 draft.

11. San Francisco 49ers second-year QB Trey Lance is, of course, out for the year after suffering a broken ankle in Week 2. He and Wilson are the only ones in the group who have had the same play caller in both seasons – which probably greatly explains the group’s extensive struggles.

12. The 2021 QB sextet’s combined record is now 34-70-1. Only Jones (12-10) is above .500, but he’s 2-3 this season.

13. QB Sam Ehlinger, a sixth-rounder himself in 2021, made his first start for the Indianapolis Colts on Sunday … and also took an L in a mostly forgettable game that might have been more entertaining if injured Washington Commanders QB Carson Wentz, a Colt in 2021, had played in Indy. Or if owners Jim Irsay and Daniel Snyder had had a steel cage match at midfield – definitely would have paid to see that.

14. The wins by Washington and New England mean neither the AFC East nor NFC East harbor a team with a losing record.

15. As for the slingers drafted in 2022? Chalk up a W for the Titans’ Malik Willis, who made his first start in place of injured Ryan Tannehill. Willis didn’t have to do much (10 passes thrown), but more on that later …

16. Parity principle: Through eight weeks, a record 71 games have been decided by one score.

17. Something had to give, and it wasn’t the Buffalo Bills. They ran their record following the bye week to 6-0 under coach Sean McDermott with Sunday night’s 27-17 defeat of the Green Bay Packers.

17a. On the other side, Pack QB Aaron Rodgers saw his streak of 13 consecutive prime time wins, the longest since the 1970 AFL-NFL merger, come crashing to an end.

17b. Rodgers was also on the losing end for the first time in nine games when Green Bay rushes for at least 200 yards with the four-time MVP under center.

18. For the eighth consecutive game, Bills WR Stefon Diggs hauled in a TD catch against Green Bay. In all of the other instances, he was a member of the Vikings.

19. The Christian McCaffrey dividends are already paying off for the San Francisco 49ers, their new back becoming the 11th player in league annals – but just the third running back since the merger – with a rushing touchdown, a passing touchdown and a receiving touchdown in a single game during Sunday’s 31-14 drubbing of the rival Los Angeles Rams.

20. The Niners have beaten the defending champs eight straight times in the regular season, completing a fourth consecutive season sweep (last year’s playoff loss notwithstanding).

21. The Cowboys will face an interesting dilemma at running back following this season. Playing in place of injured starter Ezekiel Elliott on Sunday, Tony Pollard scored three TDs and racked up 147 yards from scrimmage. Dallas is now 8-0 when Pollard gets at least 15 touches. However, he’s scheduled to hit free agency following the season. Elliott is under contract through the 2026 campaign, but could be a candidate for release in 2023 … which could pave the way to keeping Pollard.

22. Monumental Sunday for Titans RB Derrick Henry, who scored his 75th career TD and became the franchise’s all-time leader, overtaking Eddie George.

22a. Henry rushed for 219 yards and a pair of scores in the win over Houston. His six career games with at least 200 rushing yards and multiple TDs are the most in the Super Bowl era (since 1966) and twice as many as anyone else. Four of those efforts have come against the Texans.

22b. Henry also joined George as the only players to rush for multiple TDs in four consecutive games against one opponent. Henry is the only player to rush for 200 yards in four consecutive games against the same team.

23. If the season ended today – it doesn’t – the first-place Atlanta Falcons (4-4) would represent the NFC South as division champions after beating the Carolina Panthers 37-34 in an overtime thriller. (A Carolina win would have vaulted the Panthers atop the division.) In a frenetic finish, the teams combined for three TDs in the final 3:06 of regulation, including a 62-yard Hail Mary TD to Panthers WR DJ Moore with 12 seconds to go in the fourth quarter … not long after he nearly deflected a drop into an ATL INT. Carolina K Eddy Piñeiro missed a long, go-ahead extra point – due to an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty on Moore – after that score and a 32-yard field-goal try in OT. Fun one to watch.

24. Not so fun? How about the Minnesota Vikings and Arizona Cardinals, both teams committing 10 penalties.

24a. But the Vikes persevered for a 34-26 win, improving to 6-1 for the third time in the past 22 seasons. Only the unbeaten Philadelphia Eagles have a better record this year.

25. Speaking of Philly – high times in the City of Brotherly Love – the Iggles’ 7-0 start matching the best in the franchise’s 90-year history. (Their 7-0 beginning to 2004 propelled them to Super Bowl 39.)

25a. A big reason for the Eagles’ success? They’ve turned the ball over twice this season – only the 2017 Kansas City Chiefs have ever had fewer (1) through seven games.

26. Miami Dolphins WR Tyreek Hill is making a strong push for 2022 Offensive Player of the Year honors. After a 12-catch, 188-yard day in Detroit on Sunday, he’s up to 961 receiving yards this season – the third-highest total in history through eight games. Hill already has four games with at least 150 receiving yards this season, tying Mark Duper’s 38-year-old team record.

26a. Hill and fellow Fins WR Jaylen Waddle have combined for 1,688 receiving yards, the most by a pair of teammates in the Super Bowl era through eight games.

27. RB Alvin Kamara scored three times in the Saints’ 24-0 whitewash of the Las Vegas Raiders. It was his 10th career game with both a rushing and receiving TD, tied with McCaffrey for most ever by a player in his first six seasons. 

27a. Kamara had not scored a TD this season prior to Sunday. However, he now has 71 since being drafted in 2017, most in the NFL over that span.

28. The game marked the first time the Silver and Black were shut out since a 52-0 loss to the St. Louis Rams on Nov. 30, 2014. Derek Carr was also their quarterback that day. Current Saints coach Dennis Allen was fired by the Raiders four games into that season.

29. Despite a recent resurgence, tough Sunday for New York football. Like the Jets, the Giants also lost for the first time this October, falling 27-13 to the Seattle Seahawks. For the G-Men, it was also their first game this season decided by more than one score.

29a. Tough day for Giants WR Richie James, who fumbled on a pair of punt returns, leading to 10 Seahawks points. Worse, James was knocked out of the game with a concussion on the second miscue.

30. How was Tom Brady’s week? Thursday, he suffered his first three-game losing streak since 2002, a stretch that spanned a record 302 consecutive starts. Joe Montana’s 155-game streak without a ‘3L’ is next best. TB12 was also sacked for the 556th time in his career and surpassed Ben Roethlisberger for the most ever suffered in the NFL. The next day, Brady and wife Gisele Bündchen announced their divorce.

31. Unsportsmanlike conduct on referee Jerome Boger, who called a penalty on the Seattle Mariners … as if losing to the Houston Astros wasn’t painful enough for the fine folks of the Pacific Northwest.

32. Last but certainly not least, only former Minnesota pass rusher Jared Allen could go into the Vikings ring of honor on horseback. Cardinals DE J.J. Watt paid tribute to Allen during the game by doing his signature calf-rope celebration after a sack.


Follow USA TODAY Sports’ Nate Davis on Twitter @ByNateDavis.

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