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NFL scores, Week 8: The Cowboys still don’t have a QB controversy

Everything you need to know about Week 8.

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NFL: Philadelphia Eagles at Dallas Cowboys Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

By the start of the second half, I had braced myself for a week of piping hot Dak/Romo takes. The rookie threw a costly interception near the end of the first half that the Eagles converted into a lead. But Dak had his day, with a late scoring throw to Dez Bryant and finding a wide open Jason Witten in the end zone in overtime.

Great performance, but more importantly ... WE ARE SPARED A WEEK OF DUMB STUFF!

The Cowboys have won six straight now. Dak Prescott has been a part of that, not the only part of it, but a part of it. Even the biggest skeptics would have to concede that he hasn’t done a dang thing to lose the job.

This Dallas defense reminds me a lot of the 2014 version, thematically at least. They’re making plays when they need to, but for the most part, they aren’t being a liability. Rod Marinelli’s unit came up with two big sacks on the Eagles’ last drive of regulation.

Good offense, bad defense

One of the most enjoyable games this week was the Falcons’ 33-32 win over the Packers. If there was a formula that you think of for “good” NFL games, this one had it, lots of scoring, big name players, lead changes and a last-minute win. I know a lot of folks enjoyed the 6-6 tie last week between the Seahawks and Cardinals because those teams played outstanding defense in that one. But this game is probably more what the NFL has in mind when it thinks of selling the game to a broader audience.

It also made me think of something else about these two teams: they have thrilling, productive offenses capable of dropping 30 points any day of the week (now that the Packers seem to have figured out their struggles), but their defenses are not very good.

It’s not just the Packers and Falcons either. Look at the Raiders. They’re 6-2 and have scored more points than any other team in the AFC except the Patriots, but they have a point differential of just 12.

That’s going to set up an interesting scenario later in the season and into the playoffs when these teams square off with teams on the opposite characteristic, a great defense but a so-so offense. The Vikings, who might be the best team in the NFC, have only scored 129 points in six games, fewer than all but two teams in the NFL, but they’ve only surrendered 84 points.

Denver’s offense has produced some big games, but they’re a team powered by their defense. Nobody’s taking the Texans very seriously, myself included, but they have a 5-3 record thanks exclusively to their defense (well, that and the AFC South).

And there are the Patriots

Perfectly balanced, and very nearly dominant in all facets of the game. It’s hard for that defense to get much attention considering what the offense is doing, but they’ve been the stingiest unit in the AFC.

Super Bowl hero Malcolm Butler was been the backbone of a good secondary performance this week. Linebacker Dont’a Hightower had another great game, three stops this week. If there’s one concern here, it’s the pass rush. They’ve got four sacks over their last three games.

But it doesn’t really matter for now, not while Tom Brady is playing this way. This was his 25th career game with four touchdown passes. James White dropped a fifth.

The only player who’s been as impressive, if not more, is Rob Gronkowski. Sure, he scored his 69th touchdown, but he’s been more than one big sex joke this season. He’s got 473 yards in four games, the best stretch of his career. Defenses just don’t seem to have an answer for him, other than being SALTY AF about him after the game.

Bad kickers, long games

Another week, another tie game. This time it was Washington and the Bengals settling for a 24-24 tie in front of a London crowd that finally got to see a quality football game, at least a better one than they’re used to getting from the NFL. It was also the first overtime game in the UK.

This one was pretty exciting mostly because of the A.J. Green-Josh Norman battle we were treated to all morning. Green got the better of him, and Norman let the refs know that he was not very happy with the five flags he got.

Once again, you can pin this tie on the kickers. Washington’s Dustin Hopkins missed two of four field goal attempts. Cincinnati’s Mike Nugent missed his only field goal attempt and an extra point kick ... any of which could’ve been the deciding points in the game.

It was the same thing in the Raiders’ overtime win over the Buccaneers, missed kicks by a pair of highly drafted Florida State products.

Sebastian Janikowski uncharacteristically missed two of three attempts, one of which would have been the game-winner at the end of regulation.

Roberto Aguayo, the Bucs’ second-round pick, made his only field goal attempt, bringing his total for the season to seven of 12 attempts, but he missed an extra point for the second time this year.

It was a bad day for kickers all over.

It was a VERY SEXY WEEK in the NFL

It started with some simple, innocent lovin’, an Earl Thomas hug for a referee (he got a flag).

Things got real sexy real fast in Buffalo when Gronk scored his 69th career touchdown. Nice. Nifty even!

But then, Bills Mafia got down a dirty. They threw a dildo on the field. Yes, a great big ol’ pink, rubber penis. One of the refs kicked it off the field.

The Panthers are back ... eight weeks too late

If there’s one team that looked immune to the dreaded Super Bowl hangover, it was supposed to be the Panthers. Nope. At 1-5 headed into this week’s NFC Championship rematch with the Cardinals, they were dead last in the NFC South, which is only slightly less humiliating than being dead last in the AFC South.

But they won this week, and they were really convincing in how they did it, mostly with their defense. They sacked Carson Palmer eight times.

Because this is the NFC South, they’re not technically out of the running. A few more games like this one, and maybe they can still salvage some of the season. That’s going to depend in part on the offense, particularly the offensive line which has done a terrible job protecting Cam Newton (who’s not getting any help from refs).

This week in the war on fun

Barely 48 hours after fining a player for taking imaginary pictures, one of the refs in the Seahawks-Saints game flagged Earl Thomas for hugging him.

Earl's hug

Why did he do it?

More proof the NFL hates fun.

You’re not allowed to make contact with the refs. And maybe this guy isn’t a hugger (same, tbh), but, jeez, if we can have this much gray area with catches and pass interference penalties, can we not have some leeway with this kind of stuff too?

Do better, PR people

Anyone who’s ever covered the NFL has been cut off by an overly aggressive PR person at some point, but they’re usually nice about it at least. Players and coaches have to get places, especially when they’re on the road and the scheduled is tight. But politeness was too much to ask for Washington’s PR person when a German reporter wanted to interview Dustin Hopkins, the kicker.

That’s not even a new low for the Washington Redacteds PR man. He’s the guy who cut short an interview with Colt McCoy with a “NO MEANS NO” back in 2014.

Dumb. This is akin to the NFL’s war on fun, another example of someone in a suit denying fans the chance to appreciate players. I get that PR people have a tough job to do, but they can’t forget who their customers are.

Complete Week 8 scores and schedule (all times Eastern)

Tennessee Titans 36, Jacksonville Jaguars 22 (Thursday)

Washington 27, Cincinnati Bengals 27 (OT, London)

New England Patriots 41, Buffalo Bills 25

Carolina Panthers 30, Arizona Cardinals 20

New York Jets 31, Cleveland Browns 28

Houston Texans 20, Detroit Lions 13

Kansas City Chiefs 30, Indianapolis Colts 14

New Orleans Saints 25, Seattle Seahawks 20

Oakland Raiders 30, Tampa Bay Buccaneers 24 (OT)

Denver Broncos 27, San Diego Chargers 19

Atlanta Falcons 33, Green Bay Packers 32

Dallas Cowboys 29, Philadelphia Eagles 23 (OT)

Minnesota Vikings at Chicago Bears, Monday, 8:30 p.m., ESPN

Highlights

Not even a blatant hold from Josh Norman could stop A.J. Green from making a spectacular catch.

He was probably (hopefully!) being sarcastic, but Jay Gruden said he didn't know games could end in a tie.

Josh Norman wants the refs reprimanded after he was flagged five times against the Bengals.

Earl Thomas was penalized for hugging a ref. Hugs, not flags!

DeAndre Hopkins is lifting Brock Osweiler's spirits with a sweet one-handed catch.

Gronk scored the 69th touchdown of his career. If only there was a word to describe the occasion ...

Browns fans messed up their sign, so say goodbye to the Dawg Pound and say hello to #GPODAWUND.

Raiders OT Donald Penn scored a FAT GUY TOUCHDOWN agains the team that once cut him.

Bill O'Brien got REAL MAD at his special teams coordinator.

Pete Carroll got REAL MAD at the refs.

Quincy Enunwa might have saved Ryan Fitzpatrick's job all by himself.

Never tweet, Joe Namath.

Yep, someone threw a dildo on the field during the Bills-Patriots game.

We have a solution to the NFL's declining ratings: frisbee dog!

Sunday was not a very kicker-friendly day.

Washington's PR guy shoved a German reporter who tried to interview kicker Dustin Hopkins.

Cam Newton said he "doesn't feel protected" by NFL officials and plans to talk to Roger Goodell about it.

Richard Sherman was on the wrong end of a no call this week, and he didn't like it one bit.

Travis Benjamin's touchdown catch was so mesmerizing it should be an award-winning film.

The Chargers coached themselves to a loss.

The Cowboys' best play against the Eagles was a fake punt.

Did Dez catch it? (Yes, he did.)

Major Injuries

Washington safety Duke Ihenacho left in overtime with a concussion.

Sean Smith did not return for the Raiders due to a shoulder injury.

Alex Smith left to undergo a concussion test early against the Colts and was later cleared and returned. However, after his head was slammed to the ground in the third quarter, Smith exited the game again and was ruled out with a concussion. Nick Foles took over under center both times and might have played better than Smith.

Spencer Ware was also ruled out of the game for the Chiefs with a concussion.

Bryce Petty made his regular season debut after Ryan Fitzpatrick exited to get evaluated for a concussion. Fitzpatrick came back in soon after.

Vontae Davis was evaluated for a concussion.

Shaq Thompson did not return for the Panthers after suffering a knee sprain.

Vince Wilfork left the game against the Lions with a groin injury.

Devontae Booker left with a shoulder injury but later returned. The Broncos, who placed C.J. Anderson on IR earlier in the week, can't really afford any other running back injuries.

In a scary moment, Broncos DC Wade Phillips was carted off the field after Melvin Gordon collided with him. Phillips was taken to the hospital but was alert and moving all his extremities. He was later released and is expected back to work Monday.

Cowboys safety Barry Church was ruled out with an arm injury.