We constantly hear that quarterback play is the biggest factor in the outcome of a game. However, this weekend showed that a team needs some defensive help to consistently win. The best example of this came in the game featuring the Washington Redskins and New York Giants.
Robert Griffin III had another spectacular game, but his defense was unable to keep Eli Manning from orchestrating a late-game touchdown drive.
However, there were still plenty of examples why strong quarterback play is so important. Look through the rest of the article to see which quarterbacks performed the best this past weekend.
Stats: 24/34, 227 yards, one touchdown and zero interceptions
Tony Romo and the Dallas Cowboys pulled off a hard-fought win against the Carolina Panthers. Romo's ability to protect the football was one of the keys to the game. In past weeks, interceptions and fumbles resulted in some disappointing losses.
The negative trend of failing to perform in the clutch was also broken in this game. Romo was able to lead the Cowboys on two fourth-quarter drives that resulted in field goals.
This game should give the Cowboys confidence, which they'll need versus the New York Giants in Week 8.
Stats: 26/40, 337 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions
As is usually the case, Eli Manning played his best football against the Washington Redskins in crunch time. His game-winning 77-yard touchdown pass to Victor Cruz is something we've become accustomed to.
However, the New York Giants have to be a little concerned about Manning's interception total. Turning the ball over is one of the main things that can keep a talented team from succeeding.
This game was the first of many head-to-head matchups between Manning and Robert Griffin III. Hopefully, they all will be this entertaining.
2012 Season Stats: 136/231, 1,632 yards, eight touchdowns, eight interceptions and three fumbles
Michael Vick and the Philadelphia Eagles will be under the microscope when they come off their bye week. This is a team that has severely underperformed and headed into the bye week looking to make some changes, which resulted in the firing of defensive coordinator Juan Castillo.
However, most of the pressure will be placed on Vick and Andy Reid. The Eagles offense has yet to reach its potential, and Vick's 11 turnovers and overall inconsistency are things that need to be corrected. Philadelphia will continue to struggle if Vick struggles.
The offensive line does deserve a lot blame for the offensive issues. However, the game plan doesn't help this unit protect Vick, and neither does Vick's unwillingness to throw the ball away.
Overall, Vick needs to find a way to protect the football and move the offense.
Stats: 20/28, 258 yards, two touchdowns and one interception
Robert Griffin III continued his strong play this weekend against the New York Giants. The Washington Redskins would've gotten a win if not for the poor play of the defense. Griffin's late-game touchdown drive should've been enough to register the victory.
It's important to note that all of Griffin's success is coming without a true No. 1 receiver. He's getting the job done with the likes of Leonard Hankerson, Santana Moss and Josh Morgan. These three are solid targets, but far from elite.
Of course, Griffin also made several plays with his feet. He continues to be a dual threat, while also doing a better job protecting himself.
Stats: 27/35, 225 yards, three touchdowns and one interception
Ryan Fitzpatrick played one of his better games of the season in Week 7, but he still wasn't able to help the Buffalo Bills get a win. His struggles protecting the football played a major role in the outcome of this game. Buffalo's defense isn't capable of overcoming two turnovers.
Things in Buffalo aren't ideal for any quarterback, as the terrible defense creates a lot of pressure on the offense. Fitzpatrick knows that if he doesn't put a lot of points on the board, his team doesn't have a chance to win.
Still, Fitzpatrick needs to do a better job avoiding turnovers.
2012 Season Stats: 118/198, 1,454 yards, four touchdowns and six interceptions
Ryan Tannehill's first six games were filled with a lot of ups and downs. However, he's starting to show signs of progress. In his past two games, Tannehill has led the Miami Dolphins to a victory and avoided throwing an interception.
It's important to keep in mind that Tannehill's success has come despite having to deal with subpar talent at wide receiver. Guys like Brian Hartline and Davone Bess don't consistently generate a ton of separation. This means most of Tannehill's throws must be squeezed into tight spaces.
While Tannehill has been anything but perfect, Miami must feel good that he's developing and showing a ton of potential.
Stats: 26/42, 259 yards, two touchdowns and zero interceptions
Tom Brady continues to put up excellent numbers each and every week. His presence in the lineup gives the New England Patriots great confidence. This is one of the main reasons why it seems that New England typically has an advantage over the New York Jets.
In this game, Brady looked especially good attacking the deep part of the field. The pass he dropped in to Rob Gronkowski was perfectly placed.
However, the most impressive work by Brady was done with less than a minute left in regulation. His ability to drive down the field and put the Patriots in line for the tying field goal shows why he's such a clutch performer.
Stats: 28/41, 328 yards, one touchdown and one interception
With the pressure on, Mark Sanchez stepped up and delivered one of his better performances of the season. He was accurate with the football and worked the ball to several different targets. The fact that Dustin Keller is back in the lineup really helped.
Keller is one of the few reliable pass-catchers on the New York Jets roster. Sanchez went to him in pressure situations, as he just doesn't fully trust the other targets like Stephen Hill.
Jeremy Kerley's emergence as a solid No. 2 option is also important. His ability to find the open holes in the defense gives Sanchez another option.
Despite a solid performance, Sanchez just didn't have enough to pull off an overtime win against the Patriots.
Stats: 25/36, 262 yards, one touchdown and one interception
John Skelton held his own despite being sacked a total of seven times. The Arizona Cardinals offensive line was dominated by the Minnesota Vikings. It's tough for any quarterback to put up good numbers when faced with this type of pressure.
The fact that Skelton was able to move the offense at all is impressive. He isn't very mobile, so dealing with a ferocious pass rush is troublesome.
One positive note is that Skelton was able to find Andre Roberts seven times for 103 yards and a touchdown. Roberts performed well with Kevin Kolb in the lineup, so his continued strong play is noteworthy.
Arizona needs another wide receiver to help take attention away from Larry Fitzgerald.
Stats: 14/23, 140 yards, one touchdown and one interception
The Seattle Seahawks have one of the better secondaries in the entire NFL. This group is very physcial and does a good job disrupting the timing of the offense. So, Alex Smith's lack of impact plays isn't much of a surprise.
However, there were plenty of missed opportunities for Smith and the San Francisco 49ers. On several occasions, Smith was unable to hit an open wide receiver streaking down the field. Kyle Williams was open down the field twice, but Smith missed him both times.
While Smith did enough to win the game, his struggles could be the thing that keeps the 49ers from reaching the Super Bowl. At some point, San Francisco will need him to step up and win a game on his own.
Stats: 9/23, 122 yards, zero touchdowns and one interception
Russell Wilson's numbers are ugly, but they don't paint the whole picture. The Seattle Seahawks pass-catchers had more than a few drops. Because of his inexperience, Wilson will be prone to making some mistakes. Rookie quarterbacks need their surrounding players to step up and make an impact.
With that being said, Wilson had some issues with his ball placement and ability to read the San Francisco 49ers defense. If Seattle has hopes of making a run at the playoffs, it'll need Wilson to improve his efficiency.
Of the most concern was Wilson's inability to take advantage of Marshawn Lynch's big game running the ball. There should've been plenty of one-on-one matchups with Lynch running so well.
Stats: 21/34, 255 yards, one touchdown and one interception
Sam Bradford played a hard-fought game and helped keep things close against the Green Bay Packers. He was able to put up some decent numbers despite being surrounded by less-than-stellar talent. His top receiving threats are players like Chris Givens, Brandon Gibson and Brian Quick.
These receivers dropped more than a few catchable balls against the Packers. Green Bay's explosive offense makes it tough for a team to overcome those types of mistakes.
The one area where Bradford needs to improve is his ability to convert on third down. Against the Packers, St. Louis only converted four of its 11 third-down situations.
2012 Season Stats: 154/227, 1,808 yards, 14 touchdowns and four interceptions
There have been a few bumps in the road with Peyton Manning's move to the Denver Broncos. We've seen a three-interception game, miscommunication with the receivers and some rocky play-calling. However, the come-from-behind win against the San Diego Chargers could serve as a major building block.
It's also important to realize that the bye week is exactly the type of thing that can help smooth out the miscommunication issues.
The one thing that's certain is that Manning is still capable of putting up big numbers and scoring points. Things for this Denver offense will only get better as the season progresses.
Cassel's 2012 Season Stats: 103/176, 1,150 yards, five touchdowns and nine interceptions
Quinn's 2012 Season Stats: 24/40, 212 yards, zero touchdowns and two interceptions
The Kansas City Chiefs' entire season has been a complete disappointment. A lot of its struggles can be blamed on the poor quarterback play. Both Matt Cassel and Brady Quinn have struggled to protect the football and move the offense with efficiency.
Their poor performance is telling, because the Chiefs actually have some talent on the offensive side of the ball. Jamaal Charles possesses the game-breaking ability that forces defenses to pay extra attention to the run. Playmakers like Dwayne Bowe, Steve Breaston, Jon Baldwin and Dexter McCluster all have the potential to win one-on-one matchups.
There's no question that the decision-makers in Kansas City will be looking to the draft to help fix the problems at quarterback.
Stats: 26/46, 298 yards, one touchdown and one interception
Outperforming the duo of Blaine Gabbert and Chad Henne isn't a very impressive accomplishment. However, Carson Palmer was able to help lead the Oakland Raiders to their second win of the season.
Despite the overall lack of talent on the roster, Palmer is playing decent football. He's making the most of a bad situation. The main reason the Raiders are able to keep games close is because of Palmer. Darren McFadden's poor play this season only makes Palmer's play more impressive.
Unfortunately, this is a Raiders team that's going through a rebuilding phase. It's likely that we see Palmer in a different uniform next season.
2012 Season Stats: 109/239, 1,492 yards, 10 touchdowns, nine interceptions and five fumbles
This is now two years in a row in which Philip Rivers has struggled. He is making terrible decisions and not protecting the football. These mistakes have moved him from the verge of elite-quarterback status to someone costing his team games.
The complete collapse against the Denver Broncos is one of those that can impact the entire season. Rivers can either use that performance as motivation or let it derail the year.
Yes, we are going to limit some things we're doing, and I've got to do a better job and make sure we put things in there, and then we're calling things that have less risk. They may not have as big of a reward. We may not be quite the same big-play team, but we're not going to turn the ball over.
It's never a good thing when a coach has to completely adjust the offensive game plan. A lot of factors play into this decision, but Rivers' struggles are absolutely the biggest factor.
Stats: To Be Determined
Jay Cutler and the Chicago Bears take on the Detroit Lions on Monday Night Football. Check back after the game to see what grade Cutler earned.
Stats: To Be Determined
Matthew Stafford and the Detroit Lions take on the Chicago Bears on Monday Night Football. Check back after the game to see what grade Stafford earned.
Stats: 30/37, 342 yards, three touchdowns and zero interceptions
Aaron Rodgers appears to be completely over his minor struggles from early in the season. His performance against the St. Louis Rams was the fourth game in a row in which he topped the three-touchdown mark.
The fact that Rodgers had this type of performance against a talented Rams secondary is even more impressive.
He also appears committed to keeping Randall Cobb involved in the offense. This is important because he has the potential to be one of the game's top playmakers. Young players like Cobb need experience and confidence to fully develop.
Stats: 8/17, 58 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions
This was a very ugly performance by Christian Ponder and the Minnesota Vikings passing offense. The fact that the Vikings were able to get the win over the Arizona Cardinals is shocking. Not many teams get a win when the quarterback only completes eight passes for 58 yards.
Luckily, Minnesota didn't need much production from Ponder because Adrian Peterson was playing so well.
Arizona has a strong defense, but that's not an excuse for such a poor Minnesota passing performance. With how well Peterson was running, Ponder should've had openings in the secondary. His inability to take advantage of this is concerning.
Minnesota feels like it has a good shot at making a run at the playoffs, but the team will need Ponder to play better if it hopes to reach that goal.
Stats: 21/43, 147 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions
Two key mistakes by Joe Flacco are the main reasons the Baltimore Ravens got blown out by the Houston Texans. The safety and interception return for a touchdown put the Ravens in an early hole. This is exactly what Baltimore needed to avoid.
With the injury to Ray Lewis, the Ravens were trying to deal with life without their emotional leader. The entire team was looking to Flacco to pick up the slack. Those early mistakes shook the confidence of the team.
Baltimore could be in a lot of trouble the rest of the season if Flacco can't get his act together. This team needs the offense to pick up the slack from the defense.
Stats: 14/28, 105 yards, one touchdown and one interception
Andy Dalton really struggled on Sunday night against the Pittsburgh Steelers. He was unable to find his rhythm and make plays down the field. The Cincinnati Bengals wanted to establish the run, but that isn't an excuse for such a poor performance.
It's important to note that the Steelers were without Troy Polamalu, who missed the game with an injury. Pittsburgh's secondary isn't the same with Polamalu out of the lineup. Dalton was unable to take advantage of this opportunity.
Stats: 25/41, 264 yards, two touchdowns and zero interceptions
Each week, Brandon Weeden takes a step forward in his development. This game is a good example of how he is learning from his mistakes. He did a good job moving the Cleveland Browns offense while avoiding major mistakes.
His performance is even more impressive because of the limited playmakers on the Browns roster. Weeden is stuck throwing the ball to wide receivers like Josh Gordon, Josh Cooper and Greg Little. These young receivers have talent but are very inconsistent.
Weeden's ability to throw the deep ball continues to be his biggest area of improvement. This is one of the reasons Josh Gordon is starting to make an impact.
Stats: 27/37, 278 yards, one touchdown and one interception
Despite a few injuries along the offensive line, Ben Roethlisberger was able to help lead the Pittsburgh Steelers over the Cincinnati Bengals. His ability to perform in pressure situations is a large part of why the Steelers walked away with a win.
Roethlisberger didn't do everything on his own, as Jonathan Dwyer's success on the ground really helped the passing game. Cincinnati was forced to pay extra attention to the run, which opened some space for Roethlisberger.
Moving forward, the Steelers really need the offensive line to get healthy. This team has a chance to do some damage in the playoffs, but only with a fully healthy offensive line.
2012 Season Stats: 160/236, 1,756 yards, 14 touchdowns and six interceptions
The Atlanta Falcons are the only remaining undefeated team in the NFL, thanks in large part to Matt Ryan. His play has allowed the Falcons to increase the explosiveness of their offensive attack. The combination of Ryan, Roddy White, Julio Jones and Tony Gonzalez might be the most dangerous aerial threat in the league.
Because of Ryan's numbers and the team's success, it's safe to say that Ryan is firmly in the hunt for the MVP award. Not much else can be said about his performance other than it has been spectacular.
There's also no reason to believe his play will drop off at all this season.
Stats: 21/37, 233 yards, one touchdown and one interception
Cam Newton's sophomore season continues to be a major disappointment. The Carolina Panthers weren't able to pull off the win against the Dallas Cowboys because of mistakes made by Newton. His red-zone interception in the second quarter is just one example of the poor decisions he has made all season.
Of course, Newton isn't getting much help from his surrounding cast. Carolina's running backs are unable to get anything going on the ground. This puts a lot of pressure on Newton to move the offense, which does play a role in some of his mistakes.
Stats: 27/37, 377 yards, four touchdowns and one interception
The New Orleans Saints might be the worst team in the NFL if Drew Brees weren't the quarterback. This is a team that can't stop anyone on defense and lacks a productive running game. The Saints need Brees to throw for four touchdowns every game if they hope to win consistently.
One of the main reasons Brees is so effective is because he spreads the ball around to his different targets. Against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, he connected with seven different targets, with three going over the 70-yard mark.
Keep in mind that this performance also came with Jimmy Graham out of the lineup.
Stats: 24/42, 420 yards, three touchdowns and zero interceptions
Josh Freeman did everything he needed to do to lead his team to a victory. However, a controversial late-game penalty and poor defense allowed the New Orleans Saints to squeak out a win.
Freeman's eye-popping numbers came at the expense of a terrible Saints defense. This isn't the type of production we should expect from Freeman moving forward. However, he showed in this game that he can handle the pressure of going head to head with Drew Brees.
An important thing to take from this game is how well Freeman and Vincent Jackson meshed. This duo has the potential to be really productive.
Stats: 23/37, 256 yards, two touchdowns and zero interceptions
Matt Schaub and the Houston Texans offense took advantage of a banged-up Baltimore Ravens defense. Houston's balance between the running game and passing game is what makes its offense so productive. Schaub's ability to play within the game plan is also a major key.
Because of the strong defense and running game, Schaub isn't asked to win games on his own. He does a great job of protecting the football and working off the running attack.
In this game, Schaub knew that it was important to avoid turnovers and control the time of possession. This allowed the Texans to wear down a Ravens defense that was missing several key players.
Stats: 16/29, 186 yards, zero passing touchdowns, two rushing touchdowns and zero interceptions
Andrew Luck's numbers against the Cleveland Browns don't look great. However, his ability to avoid throwing an interception was key to the Indianapolis Colts win. Luck didn't try to do too much in this game and stuck with the game plan.
Indianapolis didn't need him to go out and win the game; they just needed him to avoid mistakes. These are the types of games that serve as a good learning experience for a young quarterback.
It was nice to see Luck spread the ball around to different targets. Reggie Wayne is still his go-to receiver, but Luck got others involved in the passing game.
Blaine Gabbert's Stats: 8/12, 110 yards, one touchdown and zero interception
Chad Henne's Stats: 9/20, 71 yards, zero touchdowns and zero interceptions
Blaine Gabbert had a good start to the game against the Oakland Raiders, but he was forced out of the lineup with an injury. His replacement, Chad Henne, failed to give the type of performance needed to pull off a win. Actually, Henne played a terrible football game.
Despite this being his first action in over a year, Henne's play was a major disappointment. He was wildly inaccurate and failed to move the offense.
This Jacksonville Jaguars team is in a lot of trouble. It doesn't look it has the long-term answer at quarterback on this roster.
Stats: 22/33, 205 yards, one touchdown and zero interceptions
Since Matt Hasselbeck took over for the injured Jake Locker, the Tennessee Titans are playing much better football. His solid play has helped Tennessee get back into the playoff picture. Hasselbeck is making an impact because of his experience and consistency.
Locker has a ton of upside, but his spotty accuracy and questionable decisions impacted the efficiency of the offense.
In the game against the Buffalo Bills, Hasselbeck didn't need to do a whole lot because of Chris Johnson's great performance. However, Tennessee did need him to lead a fourth-quarter drive to pull off the victory.
Tennessee has a decision to make when Locker returns from injury.