America’s Game was back in London and Drew Brees once again added to the record books. Here is what else we learned from Week 8 in the NFL:
London lights it up
At last. At the sixth time of asking, London finally delivered a game of gridiron worth watching. The Titans and the Chargers played out a nail-biting 20-19 thriller at Wembley, delivering a contest the expectant British crowd had been longing for. The main talking point, however, was Titans coach Mike Vrabel’s decision to go for a two-point attempt after a late touchdown. Had he sent out Ryan Succop for the extra point the game would have gone into overtime — beyond that, who knows? It was a gutsy call, that worked earlier in the month against the Philadelphia Eagles. This time, it did not come off. But it made for great drama and a game the London fans will remember for a long time.
We cannot stop waxing lyrical about Drew Brees. The New Orleans Saints star just keeps getting better with age. Already a colossus of the sport, he joined an elite club of quarterbacks after his side’s exhilarating 24-23 victory over the Baltimore Ravens. After completing 22 of 30 passes for 212 yards and two touchdowns, and becoming the third quarterback in NFL history to defeat all 32 teams, he now has 501 touchdown passes in his career. Brees now ranks alongside Peyton Manning (539), Brett Favre (508) and Tom Brady (504). For some, including me, his legacy may be slightly tarnished owing to him only having one Super Bowl ring, but if he continues on this trajectory, the statistics will silence even his harshest critics.
Those less familiar with gridiron look at kickers and see one of the easiest jobs in sport. Rarely challenged by distance, never challenged with an angled kick — a kick in NFL does appear to be one of sport’s certainties. But this week, we got a reminder that an NFL kick is not quite as certain as death or taxes. First, the Ravens’ Justin Tucker inexplicably missed the first conversion in his career, which meant the Saints gifted Baltimore the win. Then Dallas Cowboys kicker Brett Maher got the raw end of a snap infraction penalty against divisional rivals Washington, which meant his 52-yard kick (that should have been a 47-yard one) struck the post. Two games settled by bad kicks. Who says NFL kicking is easy?
Rams on the charge
We really need to start taking the Los Angeles Rams seriously as Super Bowl contenders. They might have surprised us in the first few weeks, but after their demolition of the San Francisco 49ers at the weekend, Jared Goff and his offense are genuinely the real deal. The Rams are the only 100 percent team left in the league, and unless they have a disastrous second half of the season, the City of Angels might well be celebrating its first Super Bowl success since the Raiders’ win in 1984.