NFL Week 8 Takeaways: The NFL had a scary movie in Week 8, The Day of the Backup QB, staring Mike White, Trevor Siemian, and Cooper Rush

NFL Week 8 Takeaways: The NFL had a scary movie in Week 8, The Day of the Backup QB, staring Mike White, Trevor Siemian, and Cooper Rush


Trevor Siemian — TREVOR SIEMIAN — outgunned Tom Brady.
Photo: Getty Images

For the average NFL viewer, the true horror didn’t arrive on Halloween, it arrived in Week 7 with six teams on a bye week. Not only were there less games, but the ones that were played were much less entertaining than a Saw movie marathon.

The NFL’s Halloween slate offered much better viewing options, but some horrifying results for a handful of teams on Sunday. They were stalked, hunted and eventually taken out at the end by… backup quarterbacks.

Let’s take a look at the spooky results of Week 8.

Bengals vs. Jets

It has been quite a year for Mike White. The writer of School of Rock scored big with his hit summer series on HBO, The White Lotus.

*Hard record scratch*

Oh, not that Mike White.

He would’ve likely been the first Google result last Sunday, but if you search that name today, what will come up is the New York Jets’ winning quarterback for Week 8. Rookie Zach Wilson sprained his right PCL against the New England Patriots in the Jets’ Week 7 loss, which meant Mike White of Western Kentucky would make his first NFL start.

White marched the Jets down the field for a touchdown in their opening drive against the Cincinnati Bengals, who went into Week 8 sitting atop the AFC North. He completed his first 11 passes, but that 12th attempt was an interception that he threw too hard. The Jets defense responded, however, with a rare goal-line stand. Then, on the second play of the next drive, White was pressured and, again, threw a pass too hard and Cincinnati came up with the pick.

The Bengals scored on the ensuing drive and the Jets followed it up with a missed field goal. Another Bengals touchdown followed and the Jets responded with a lost fumble on the second play of that drive by wide receiver Jamison Crowder.

At this point, it would be reasonable to believe that the Jets had made too many mistakes to beat one of the better teams in the league, but White showed a veteran’s composure. Following the Bengals’ field goal, White led the Jets down the field in a two-minute drill that concluded with a touchdown pass to wide receiver Braxton Berrios.

It appeared the Jets’ good fortune had run out when the Bengals scored a touchdown to go up 31-20 with just under eight minutes remaining in the game. Then White took over. He completed six of seven passes on a touchdown drive that took less than three minutes, and Joe Burrow threw an interception on the Bengals’ next offensive play.

White ended the game with 405 yards passing yards, the second quarterback in NFL history to throw for 400-plus in his first start. He also notched three touchdown passes, the final one coming on the drive following Burrow’s interception, and White put the exclamation point on his legendary (yes, it is technically legendary) performance by catching the two-point conversion.

As much fun as it was to watch those awful people be hilariously awful in The White Lotus, 400 yards passing and a two-point conversion reception might be enough to make that Mike White the “other” Mike White, at least until Zach Wilson comes back.

Buccaneers vs. Saints

The marquee game of the afternoon wasn’t supposed to have a backup quarterback story. That was until New Orleans Saints quarterback Jameis Winston started running around the Superdome like he was Archie Manning. He had four carries for 40 yards until a horse-collar tackle ended his season.

Taysom Hill was inactive with a concussion on Sunday so a familiar face from the past had to lead the Saints: Trevor Siemian.

Siemian was last seen with the New York Jets in 2019, following a short-lived run as the heir apparent to Peyton Manning with the Denver Broncos, and at times he looked even worse than 2015 Manning.

He was not spectacular, going 16/29 for 159 yards and a touchdown. The touchdown was in the second quarter on a nice play action pass, and Siemian threw a bomb to Kevin White to open the third quarter, yes Chicago Bears 2015 seventh-overall pick Kevin White, in a drive that led to a touchdown. However it was the plays Siemian didn’t make that helped lead the Saints to victory.

An interception that he threw in the second quarter was called back due to a roughing the passer penalty. In the second half, he threw the ball away in crucial situations instead of taking a sack or forcing a pass, giving the Saints defense the best chance to succeed.

Succeed they did, forcing Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady into three turnovers. One of those was to seal the game. The Saints kicked a field goal to take the lead with one minute and 41 seconds remaining. That’s a lot of time for Brady with Mike Evans and Chris Godwin on the outside.

The result was Brady throwing possibly his two worst passes of the season. The first was an ugly incompletion in the direction of wide receiver Mike Evans, and the next pass was intercepted by Saints cornerback P.J. Williams, and returned 40 yards for a touchdown.

Siemian took what the defense gave him in his first appearance since 2019, and Tom Brady took the L with some bad turnovers. Spooky stuff.

Cowboys vs. Vikings

Cooper Rush had practiced at quarterback during the week, but there was still hope for the Cowboys that Dak Prescott would be ready to play against the Minnesota Vikings with a bye week providing extra rest for an injured calf. The Cowboys thought it best to be cautious with Prescott and put Rush under center on Sunday Night Football.

The Vikings opened the game with a strong 60-yard touchdown drive, while the Cowboys began with a missed field goal and a bad interception from Rush. While Rush didn’t have much of a rhythm going in the first quarter, the Vikings offense was stuck in neutral for most of the half, keeping the Cowboys in the game. In the second quarter, Rush showed some life with a 29-yard pass to Amari Cooper in a drive that the Cowboys would cap off with a field goal.

The Cowboys were down 10-3 to open the second half when the one player who Rush has consistently practiced with on the scout team, Cedrick Wilson. Rush threw it to Wilson over the middle who housed the Vikings on a 73-yard touchdown score to tie the game.

The rest of the third quarter was a punt fest, which was the story of the whole half for the Vikings. They kicked two field goals the rest of the game and not one of their second-half drives netted even 40 yards of total offense. They even went four-and-out on their ensuing drive after recovering a Rush fumble near midfield in the fourth quarter.

There were just under three minutes remaining in the game after the Cowboys second field goal and that’s when Rush preserved the Cowboys one-loss record. He took them 13 plays for 75 yards, completing five passes, including the touchdown to take the lead on the analytic agnostic goal line fade play.

Rushed closed The Day of the Backup QB with 325 passing and two touchdowns. 



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About the Author

Anthony Barnett
Anthony is the author of the Science & Technology section of ANH.