The Halloween slate set up a horror story for some NFL teams, as the Arizona Cardinals, Cleveland Browns, Indianapolis Colts, Cincinnati Bengals, Los Angeles Chargers, Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Minnesota Vikings all lost outright as favorites in Week 8.
Now that the first run of PFF analysis has been finalized and made available in PFF's Premium Stats, it’s time to highlight Week 8’s top performers. Here, we present PFF’s Team of the Week and player awards from Week 8 of the 2021 NFL season.
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PFF TEAM OF THE WEEK
QB: Matthew Stafford, Los Angeles Rams
RB: Jonathan Taylor, Indianapolis Colts
WR: Tyler Lockett, Seattle Seahawks
WR: A.J. Brown, Tennessee Titans
TE: Dallas Goedert, Philadelphia Eagles
Flex: Tyreek Hill, Kansas City Chiefs
LT: Trent Williams, San Francisco 49ers
LG: Andrew Norwell, Jacksonville Jaguars
C: Creed Humphrey, Kansas City Chiefs
RG: Nate Herbig, Philadelphia Eagles
RT: Terence Steele, Dallas Cowboys
DI: Aaron Donald, Los Angeles Rams
DI: Justin Hamilton, Dallas Cowboys
Edge: Myles Garrett, Cleveland Browns
Edge: Randy Gregory, Dallas Cowboys
LB: Shaq Thompson, Carolina Panthers
LB: Jordan Hicks, Arizona Cardinals
CB: Tre’Davious White, Buffalo Bills
CB: Stephon Gilmore, Carolina Panthers
S: Jordan Poyer, Buffalo Bills
S: P.J. Williams, New Orleans Saints
Flex: Jourdan Lewis, Dallas Cowboys
Offensive Player of the Week: WR Tyler Lockett, Seattle Seahawks
Lockett was Geno Smith‘s go-to target on the day, as the ball was thrown his way on 54.2% of his routes — the second-highest target rate by any pass-catcher in the 2021 season.
Lockett made the most of that large workload, hauling in every catchable target en route to a 91.2 PFF grade and 142 receiving yards. His 5.92 yards per route run marked the second-most productive game on a per-route basis of his entire NFL career.
Defensive Player of the Week: Edge Myles Garrett, Cleveland Browns
It's no secret that Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger is no longer the force he once was. The high-volume deep-passing attack is gone, replaced by an offense that relies on short, quick throws to get the ball out to its playmakers.
This playstyle can go a long way toward mitigating the pass rush because it doesn't offer much in the way of true pass set opportunities to feast on — the dropback is short, the release is quick, and the ball is out before the pass-rusher gets a chance to reach his mark. In fact, less than half of Big Ben's dropbacks in Week 8 featured a straight drop with no play action, quick throw or rollout.
That didn’t stop Browns edge defender Myles Garrett from posting eye-popping numbers, though. Garrett earned a career-high 94.3 pass-rush grade against the Steelers, recording a sack, a hit and two hurries across 30 pass-rush snaps. His 46.7% pass-rush win rate led all edge defenders for the week and was the highest of the season among those with 25 pass-rushes in a game.
Garrett terrorized Dan Moore all game, as the fourth-round pick ended with a 0.0 pass-block grade. Garrett fired off the ball, won the edge with his dip-and-rip and rocked the rookie with his bull-rush on a few occasions.
The former No. 1 overall pick now owns a 92.5 pass-rush grade through Week 8. Not only does that lead all NFL edge defenders for 2021, but it’s also on pace to be one of the five highest by an edge defender in a single season in the PFF era (since 2006). Garrett is amid a Defensive Player of the Year kind of season.
Co-Rookie of the Week: C Creed Humphrey, Kansas City Chiefs
Humphrey looked like an All-Pro veteran against the New York Giants on Monday Night Football. The 2021 No. 63 overall pick earned an astounding 94.2 PFF grade, the highest by a rookie in a single game in over seven years. Humphrey now is the highest-graded center in the league by over four grading points, with a 90.7 mark for the year. The more we see him play, the more it looks like he is one of the biggest steals of the 2021 NFL Draft.
Co-Rookie of the Week: QB Justin Fields, Chicago Bears
San Francisco may have beaten Chicago, but at least the Bears got a high-quality performance from quarterback Justin Fields.
The rookie signal-caller earned a career-best 76.7 PFF grade against the Niners, and his performance on the ground played a huge role in that. Fields took five of his 10 carries — two designed and eight scrambles — for a gain of 10 or more yards, which was the most of any quarterback this season. He broke four tackles in total and racked up 83 yards after contact.
One of those big runs turned out to be one of the plays of the week. Down by a touchdown and facing a critical fourth-and-1 near the red zone in the fourth quarter, Chicago gave Fields a designed rollout with the hopes of an easy completion. The play was blown up immediately, but instead of settling for a loss, Fields evaded multiple defenders and took the play into the end zone for a touchdown that boosted Chicago’s win probability by 18.7 percentage points.
Play of the Week: Justin Fields' incredible escape act
Most 10+ yard runs in a game by a QB in 2021:
Justin Fields (W8 vs SF) – 5pic.twitter.com/GG5IjhbfQf
— Anthony Treash (@PFF_Anthony) October 31, 2021
Unfortunately, Cairos Santos missed the extra point attempt, and the 49ers went on to add another touchdown to win the game. Still, it doesn’t take away from this amazing play. Fields was contacted seven yards behind the line of scrimmage there, which is the furthest a ball-carrier has been touched behind the line of scrimmage and still managed to escape for a touchdown in the 2021 season.
Offensive Line of the Week: San Francisco 49ers
The Niners’ offensive line benefited from facing a pass rush that was without Khalil Mack, but that doesn’t take away from the group's stout performance.
San Francisco’s offensive line was the only unit in Week 8 to earn a grade above 80.0 as a group in both pass protection and run blocking. That led them to an 88.6 overall mark for the game — the highest in the league by over five grading points.
They weren’t responsible for a single sack or hit on quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo and lost five total reps in pass protection on the day. Left tackle Trent Williams and center Alex Mack were the group's top performers, earning 92.7 and 89.9 PFF grades, respectively.
Secret Superstar of the Week: DI Justin Hamilton, Dallas Cowboys
A week ago, Hamilton was a member of the Cowboys' practice squad and had played only 56 regular-season snaps on the season. Still, he was elevated to the active roster and played a prominent role for Dallas on Sunday — and he enjoyed a career night.
Hamilton earned a 91.2 PFF grade against the Vikings as he notched a couple of run stops and four pass-rush wins across 29 snaps. This was just the seventh time Hamilton played more than 25 snaps in a regular-season game in his NFL career. Before this, his career-high PFF grade in a game with 25 snaps sat at 64.7 — a 2017 Week 17 game with the Chiefs.
Biggest Game-Changing Moment: Bashaud Breeland’s missed interception
The Dak Prescott-less Dallas Cowboys emerged unscathed Sunday night to extend their win streak to six games. However, the Cowboys found themselves in comeback mode for most of the night. They were always within a score, but moving the ball downfield proved difficult without their star quarterback.
When backup QB Cooper Rush and the offense got the ball back with the score at 16-13 and 2:46 left on the clock, Dallas' win probability hovered around 20%. Then, that all changed when Rush tossed an interceptable ball that clanked off cornerback Bashaud Breeland and into Amari Cooper‘s hands for a 33 yard gain.
Cowboys Win Probability
Before this play: 20.5%
After the play: 39.6%
Had that ball been picked off like it should have, the Cowboys’ win probability would have tanked to 3.4%. pic.twitter.com/gOKhRtndx9
— Anthony Treash (@PFF_Anthony) November 1, 2021