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NFL Week 8: Grading the rookies

By Josh Katzowitz | NFL Writer
Luck celebrates after his team's overtime win. (US Presswire)

Here are some of the best (and worst) rookie performances of Week 8.

Andrew Luck, Colts QB/Vick Ballard, Colts RB: I'm putting these two together, because while Luck had a decent game in leading Indianapolis to an overtime win vs. the Titans, Ballard's amazing catch-and-run touchdown at the end of the contest was one of the more amazing game-winning plays I've seen in quite some time. Luck went 26 of 38 for 297 yards, a touchdown and an interception, but once again, the running game was key for the Colts, who got 135 combined rushing yards from Ballard and Donald Brown. And it was Brown who shined in overtime, rushing five times for 35 yards, before Luck made his most-important throw of the day -- a 20-yard completion to Reggie Wayne on third-and-eight. Then, that led to this from Ballard:

Overall, Luck was better than average, and Ballard's leap was amazing. And the Colts are now, gulp, 4-3. Grades (for both players): A-

Russell Wilson, Seahawks QB: Seattle got snookered by yet another Lions fourth-quarter comeback, but Wilson played well, completing 25 of 35 passes for 236 yards, two touchdowns and an interception. Previously, in Seattle's best road appearance, the Seahawks had scored 16 points, but, behind Wilson and Marshawn Lynch, they managed 17 points just 19 minutes into the game. But Wilson also threw his eighth interception of the season (all on the road), and Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford ended up outdueling him. Still, if you're a Seahawks fan, Wilson continues to inspire plenty of optimism. Grade: B

Robert Griffin III, Redskins QB: Clearly, Griffin was badly hindered by his no-catch receivers -- who, by one estimate, dropped at least 10 passes Sunday -- and he finished 16 of 34 for 177 yards and a touchdown. But Washington was out of this game for most of the day, and while Griffin deserves some of the blame I suppose, he wasn't really the reason the Redskins lost. Blame it on a shoddy defense and receivers who couldn't catch. Grade: C

Brandon Weeden, Browns QB: It was an ugly game for everybody involved, but somehow, Cleveland pulled off the 7-6 upset against the Chargers. You can thank Browns running back Trent Richardson for the only touchdown of the day, and Weeden's stat line (11 of 27 for 129 yards) was not pretty. Hey, a win is a win, but that doesn't mean you're going to get a good grade while doing so. Grade: C-

Ryan Tannehill, Dolphins QB: Early in the first quarter, Tannehill was sacked by Jets linebacker Calvin Pace, and he had to leave the game with a hyperextended knee and a deep thigh bruise. He'll have an MRI on Monday, but the team expects him to be OK. As such, we can't give him a grade, though backup Matt Moore probably would receive a B. Grade: Incomplete.

Other notable performances:

Chris Givens, Rams WR. In what was basically the only highlight for St. Louis in its 45-7 loss to the Patriots, Givens hauled in a 50-yard TD catch from Sam Bradford to give the Rams an early lead. It didn't last long.

Trent Richardson, Browns RB: After missing the second half of last week with a rib injury, Richardson ran 24 times for 122 yards and the only touchdown in Cleveland's win against the Chargers. Afterward, he said that being benched last week motivated him for this week.

Stephen Hill, Jets WR: For the second-straight game, Hill dropped what should been a touchdown pass. Not that it would have mattered much today, but still, not good for Hill.

Dontari Poe, Chiefs NT: He's had a quiet start to this career, making just nine tackles in the first seven games of the season, but vs. the Raiders, Poe finished with four stops.

For more NFL news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnNFL on Twitter, and subscribe to our Pick-6 Podcast and NFL newsletter. You can follow Josh Katzowitz on Twitter here: @joshkatzowitz.

 
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