The early set of games in Week 8 of the 2011 NFL season was full of big plays for the highlight reels. Cam Newton makes a couple of appearances, as he continues his impressive rookie campaign. It has also been a big day for special teams, with a couple of block punts and a long punt return TD making the cut for best plays of the day. Click through the slideshow to view the 13 best plays of the NFL Week 8 early games.
Reggie Bush, contrary to what his teammates might think, did not stink on this play. Here, Bush shows off the kind of speed and power that tantalizes offensive coaches despite the fact that he rarely show it.
Titans no-name linebacker Patrick Bailey comes bursting through the middle of the Colts punting formation and blocks Pat McAfee's punt in the end zone. Jason McCourty recovers the ball in the endzone for a touchdown. This play never would have happened if Peyton Manning hadn't been injured.
You would be hard pressed to find a better individual effort on a punt return. While the blocking is good, Patrick Peterson breaks a half dozen tackles on his way to the end zone for an 82 yard TD. A truly beautiful return by Peterson.
Steve Smith is having a career renaissance on the arm of Cam Newton. This 27 yard catch didn't quite make it into the end zone, but it's a great catch nonetheless. It's plays like this that make you wonder what kind of career Steve Smith might have had if he had been paired with better quarterbacks over the years.
When a team as bad as the Rams beats a team as good as the Saints, there's usually a big special teams play in there somewhere. Today, Robert Quinn provided the big play, blocking the Saints punt to give the Rams excellent field position.
In the waning moments of the Giants and Dolphins game, the Giants and Eli Manning were faced with a 3rd and 12 deep in Dolphins territory. Manning hit Victor Cruz over the middle and the wide receiver did the rest. Cruz showed off some phenomenal balance on this play, as he put the Giants in the lead for good.
A rugby match briefly broke out in the middle of the Jaguars and Texans game. Clint Sessions came up with the strip sack, and then a trio of Jaguars combined to return the ball inside the Texans 10 yard line. The band was not out on the field.
In the shocker of the day, the winless Rams dismantled the New Orleans Saints. Darian Stewart put the final nail in the coffin with a great break on a Drew Brees pass. After the great diving interception, Stewart gets up and sprints for a game-sealing TD.
It's hard to imagine how Joe Flacco can struggle so much with a guy like Anquan Boldin out on the field. There are a couple dozen quarterbacks in this league who would kill for a guy who can turn an off throw into a beautiful completion. Here, Boldin erases Flacco's errant throw with a great one-handed grab.
Larry Fitzgerald continues to succeed in spite of Arizona's struggles on offense. Here he shows exactly why he is one the best, if not the best, WR in the NFL. Fitzgerald makes a great catch in traffic and weaves through the Baltimore a secondary and come sup just short of the end zone.
Greg Olsen continue to look like a brilliant pick up for the potent Panthers offense. On this play he races up the seam through the Vikings defense and quarterback Cam Newton makes a beautiful pass to make it look like an easy score.
Curtis Painter tried to fit a pass into a window that even elite quarterbacks would have difficulty hitting. Cornerback Jason McCourty deflects the pass right into the path of the oncoming safety, Michael Griffin, who scoops it up for the interception.
Steven Jackson may very well be the best running back of the past decade. No one has done more on a worse team over that period. Give him a better o-line and a competent passing game and who knows what numbers he might have put up. Here here cruises for the first down and a whole lot more on fourth down.