In Week 8, a living legend returned home, a winless team finally won a game when their best player put the team on his back, a team fell from the ranks of the unbeaten, the most targeted tight end in the NFL was lost to injury, and a team won a game with 104 total net yards of offense.
There were plenty of storylines that came out of Week 8. Here are six from Sunday:
1. New York teams should thank Yanks
With the Yankees in the World Series and rightfully drawing double and triple coverage from the New York media, fans and media have had less time to study what's been going on with the struggling Jets and Giants. By Week 9, however, the World Series will be over and a lot of questions will be asked about New York's football teams.
The Giants' 40-17 loss to the Philadelphia Eagles puts their losing streak at three. What's more alarming is that they have given up 112 points in those games. The next four games are against San Diego, Atlanta, Denver and Dallas, before facing Philadelphia again. The loss of safety Kenny Phillips was a bad blow to the defense, but Eli Manning has to get back on course on the other side. In the three-game losing streak, he has three touchdown passes, six interceptions, six sacks and a lost fumble.
As for the Jets, they have gone 1-4 in their last five games and their 30-25 loss to Miami on Sunday was tough to watch. They sacked Dolphins quarterback Chad Henne five times and held Miami to 104 total net yards of offense, but they couldn't contain Ted Ginn Jr., who had kickoff returns of 100 and 101 yards in the third quarter. The Jets have some winnable games coming up, but they may need to stop talking and let their play speak for itself.
2. Favre has plenty of help
Brett Favre was brilliant in his return to Lambeau Field, a 38-26 win over the Packers. It's the stuff legends are made of but it is far from the whole story in this game. Vikings coach Brad Childress, his staff and personnel people deserve a lot of credit for their drafts and free-agent moves.
Rookie Percy Harvin has touched the ball 63 times for 1,269 total yards and five touchdowns in eight games, averaging 159 all-purpose yards. He might be the most dangerous return man in the league. Sidney Rice is starting to resemble a young Randy Moss. Rookie tackle Phil Loadholt and second-year center John Sullivan are draft picks that are part of an offensive line that didn't allow a sack to the Packers. The free-agent signings of tackle Steve Hutchinson and tight end Visanthe Shiancoe, and the trade for defensive end Jared Allen are key in what Minnesota has built.
As for Favre, he has never looked better, more in control of his old gunslinger habits. His four-touchdown, no-interception performance against Green Bay's fourth-ranked pass defense on Sunday was impressive. A 40-year-old quarterback with 16 touchdown passes and three interceptions is a tribute to Favre, but also to his teammates, coach and front office.
3. He's a pro's pro
So often, the complainers and loudmouths get all the attention in thE NFL. A rough season usually brings out the worst in certain veterans that want to play for a winner. I prefer to ignore the selfish types and focus on the good guys that just keep putting the best they have to offer on the field.
If there was an award for a pro's pro I'd give it to Rams RB Steven Jackson. As Lions coach Jim Schwartz told me last week, it is hard to be the NFL's third-leading rusher, as Jackson was entering Week 8, when you play for a team without a win, as the Rams were. Teams usually have to abandon the run when they're losing, but Jackson plays like a champion and has my respect as well as the respect of the coaches and players around the league.
There is no mystery in St. Louis about who gets the ball. Jackson now has 165 touches for 784 yards after rushing 22 times against Detroit on Sunday for 149 yards and his first touchdown of the season -- the game-winner. With under two minutes to play and the score tied 10-10, Jackson had a 17-yard carry followed immediately by a 25-yard touchdown run, dragging defenders along the way.
4. Mr. Octobers
Among the great performances on Sunday, some were merely an extension of what has been a solid month of work. Here are some of the players that impressed me over the last four games:
» Receiver Miles Austin had another solid game in Dallas' 38-17 win over Seattle. After having just five catches for 81 yards and zero touchdowns in the Cowboys' first four games, Austin has 21 receptions for 482 yards and five TDs in the last three.
» As for No. 4 in Minnesota ... Favre has 1,088 yards, seven touchdowns and two interceptions in his last four games.
5. The rematch games
Last year, Pittsburgh and Arizona were the only teams in the NFL to sweep all three of their division opponents. Not coincidentally, those teams went to the Super Bowl. Only three teams went 0-6 in the division last year, which leaves 27 teams with some combination of wins and losses. It emphasizes how tough it is to sweep or be swept by division opponents.
This week, there were four rematch games -- and three teams completed season sweeps. The Vikings beat Green Bay for the second time. The Chargers beat the Raiders to stretch their win streak against Oakland to 13 games. The Dolphins beat the Jets for a second time and have an impressive 7-1 division record dating to last season.
6. Notable firsts
It's been a tough start for some of the NFL stars, but my hat's off to Shawne Merriman, who finally got his first two sacks of the year. Panthers receiver Steve Smith got his first touchdown of the year. As mentioned above, the Rams' Jackson got his first score of the year. And Justin Fargas, the Raiders' hard-charging running back, got his first trip to the end zone.