THE GAMES THAT SHAPED THE 2019 SEASON: WEEK 8
The 2019 season began on September 5th 2019 and culminated at Super Bowl LIV on February 5th 2020. However, in between those games at Soldier Field in Chicago and Hard Rock Stadium in Miami, the season took a number of twists, all of which impacted the path to Super Bowl LIV for many teams. In this series we will take a look back at the games that shaped the 2019 NFL season, with this article focusing on Week 8.
Week 8 was a somewhat quieter week in the NFL with zero divisional clashes as the middle of the season was in full swing. However, it was still an exciting week with seven of the 15 games decided by one score or less. With teams either trying to perform damage control, keep building on a good start, or step themselves out of mediocrity, these mid-season games are always fascinating viewing. In 2019 we had three games in Week 8 which had lasting effects on the way the season progressed, including some controversy in the first of our three!
Tampa Bay Buccaneers 23 - 27 Tennessee Titans
This was a tremendous game of football between two very good teams that ended in controversy. It was also a tremendously important game for both teams, with the Titans sitting at 3-4 entering Week 8 and the Buccaneers at 2-4. A win for either team would give their playoff shots a tremendous boost, while a loss would leave them gasping for air.
The Titans would lead the majority of the first half and entered half time leading 17-15 after a Jameis Winston two-point conversion attempt was thwarted in the dying seconds of the half. The Buccaneers would take and retain the lead until seven minutes remained on the clock, with A.J. Brown giving the Titans a 27-23 lead.
However, the game would end on a sour note, with 3:47 on the clock the Titans attempted a fake field goal. Devin White stopped the play short of a first down, forcing Brett Kern to fumble in the process. The Buccaneers returned the ball to the house for the game-winning field goal. Unfortunately, the referee’s had blown the play dead at the point of the tackle, claiming Kern was down by contact. Replay’s demonstrated he was not, and it was in fact a fumble. However, because the play had been blown dead the touchdown would not stand and instead the Buccaneers would get the ball on their own 28-yard line.
Winston drove the Buccaneers to the Titans 32-yard line, but on a fourth-and-1 Peyton Barber was stopped for a one yard loss by Jurrell Casey. Tampa would get the ball back with 42 second remaining but Winston was intercepted by Logan Ryan going deep in search of the game-winning touchdown.
What was the games significance?
When your season hangs in the balance, losing in a cloud of controversy is devastating. This may not be a high profile as other refereeing blunders we have seen, but its ramifications were huge. A win would have put the Buccaneers at 3-4, a position 19% of teams have made the playoffs from. However, the 2-5 record they had instead left them looking at just a 4% chance of making the playoffs entering Week 9.
Similarly, for the Titans they went from looking at a 3-5 record to entering Week 9 at 4-4. The difference between those two records is a 10% chance of making the playoffs at 3-5, compared to a 30% chance at 4-4. This victory gave the Titans the opportunity to launch their campaign for the playoffs in 2019, and also meant Ryan Tannehill started his career as a Titan 2-0.
Oakland Raiders 24 - 27 Houston Texans
Entering the season, not many people would have had a Week 8 game between the Texans and Raiders circled as crucial on their calendars. However, with the Texans entering at 4-3 and the Raiders 3-3 both teams desperately needed a win.
The Raiders seemed to be in control of the game, leading 14-10 at the half and 21-13 entering the fourth quarter. The Texans would score on the first play of the fourth-quarter, before the Raiders would extend their lead to four points with a 44-yard field goal. However, with just over six minutes remaining Deshaun Watson would steal the show finding Darren Fells in the end zone for the second time with a simply incredible touchdown.
What was the games significance?
With the Chiefs faltering slightly at 5-2 entering Week 8 this was a chance for the Raiders to close the gap and put themselves in striking distance. However, after an embarrassing loss to the Green Bay Packers in Week 7, this was another lost opportunity for a Raiders team that needed to regain some of the good feeling they had entering the bye in Week 6. At 3-4 their chances of making the playoffs sat at just 19%, compared to a 47% chance had they left Houston with a win.
The Texans needed this win after slipping up against division rivals the Indianapolis Colts the week before. With some tough games in the second half of the schedule, getting to their Week 9 game against Jacksonville over .500 was important. At 5-3 the Texans had a 63% chance of making the playoffs, compared to 30% had they entered Week 9 at 4-4.
Green Bay Packers 31 - 24 Kansas City Chiefs
We were robbed of the blockbuster Aaron Rodgers – Patrick Mahomes clash that we were all hoping for by Mahomes Week 7 injury. However, with the Chiefs offense still having flourished the Week before after losing Mahomes an entertaining game was still on the cards.
That is exactly what we got. The Packers jumped out to a 14-0 lead before the Chiefs came flying back to lead 17-14 at half time. The Packers would get to 24-17 early in the fourth quarter but the Chiefs would level it up with nine minutes remaining in the game. However, two offensive plays later and Aaron Jones would give the Packers the lead with a 67-yard touchdown on a reception from an Aaron Rodgers pass.
With eight minutes remaining the Chiefs would have expected two more opportunities at least. However, when they punted the ball back the Packers with 5:13 remaining, they would not see the ball again, as Jones ground them into the turf with six carries for 28 yards and one reception for 8 yards to just do enough to allow Rodgers to kneel until the clock hit zero.
What was the games significance?
In terms of making the playoffs this game did not have a major effect. However, it put the Packers at 7-1 and firmly in the race for both a bye and the number one seed in the AFC.
For the Chiefs, this game was a worrying sign of what might be to come if they were without Mahomes for an extended period of time. At 5-3, they still had their playoff futures firmly in their hands, but any more losses would likely leave them needing help if they were to get that all-important bye.
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