NFL players of the week: Calvin Johnson almost breaks record

Gregory Shamus

Week 8 in the NFL wasn't the most competitive, but several players had big games.

Week 8 is in the books, and the halfway point of the season gave some of the best offensive performances of the year. Not every game was exciting, but individual performances made this a week to remember.

Passer of the week: Drew Brees, 26/34 (76.5-percent), 332 yards, 5 TD, 0 INT, 146.1 passer rating

New Orleans quarterback Drew Brees was overshadowed by the breakout performance of Andy Dalton, but he was the best quarterback in Week 8. A weak Buffalo secondary became his playground, as Brees found 10 different receivers.

It's a testament to how good he is that this game was the ninth best of his career based on quarterback rating, and the eighth game he threw five touchdowns or more. This was a game New Orleans should have won, and his passing game allowed them to coast over the Bills on Sunday.

Rusher of the week: Andre Ellington, 15 carries, 154 yards, 1 TD

Week 8 was unkind to running backs, as only Arizona's Andre Ellington was able to eclipse the 100-yard mark. He was joined by Oakland Raiders quarterback Terrelle Pryor, but ultimately ruled the day, gashing the Falcons' defense for over 10-yards per carry.

Ellington has been poised for a big game all season and finally showed the ability coaches were touting during training camp. He began the season as the team's third down back and now it's impossible to see head coach Bruce Arians go in another direction.

He'll be a player to watch as this team builds with a new quarterback in 2014.

Receiver of the week: Calvin Johnson, 14 receptions, 329 yards, 1 TD

It's hard to quantify just how impressive Lions wide receiver Calvin Johnson's 329-yard day was, but we'll try. In one single game, he had more receiving yards that Dwayne Bowe has this season. With another 6 yards, he would have eclipsed Steve Smith of the Carolina Panthers.

In receiving for more than three football fields, Johnson didn't just cement himself as the league-leader in yards; he started the conversation whether he's the best receiver of all time. There's a long way to go before Johnson is regarded more highly than Jerry Rice, but now there will be LeBron vs. Jordan discussions about two of the league's best ever receivers.

Rice had 22,895 receiving yards over his 21-year career. If Johnson can keep up this pace, he will be right on his heels.

Defender of the week: Sean Lee, 10 tackles, two interceptions

Week 8 wasn't full of great pass defensive performances, but Cowboys linebacker Sean Lee set himself apart from the rest of the Dallas defense on a day filled with struggles.

Lee intercepted two passes, and was the only player able to stop Reggie Bush in run defense. The secondary had no hope of stopping Calvin Johnson, but Lee did everything he could to keep the Cowboys in the game.

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