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How the West Was Won Week 8: More of the same in the NFC West

Arizona Cardinals quarterback Carson Palmer (3) passes under pressure from Cleveland Browns linebacker Paul Kruger (99) in the first half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Nov. 1, 2015, in Cleveland. (AP Photo/David Richard)

Week 8 in the NFC West was a carbon copy of Week 7 — the Arizona Cardinals, St. Louis Rams and Seattle Seahawks all found ways to win while the San Francisco 49ers floundered again in another ugly loss.

Here’s a closer look at what went down in the NFC West this week.


Arizona Cardinals 34, Cleveland Browns 20

Arizona Cardinals tight end Troy Niklas (87) scores after an 11-yard touchdown pass in the first half of an NFL football game against the Cleveland Browns, Sunday, Nov. 1, 2015, in Cleveland. (AP Photo/Ron Schwane)

Arizona Cardinals tight end Troy Niklas (87) scores after an 11-yard touchdown pass in the first half of an NFL football game against the Cleveland Browns, Sunday, Nov. 1, 2015, in Cleveland. (AP Photo/Ron Schwane)

It was a strange one, but a win is a win for the Cardinals. It looked like Arizona would blow by Cleveland in a cake walk — they scored a touchdown on their first possession with Carson Palmer hitting tight end Troy Niklas on an 11-yard touchdown pass. The defense forced a Browns punt, and the Cards were on the move again, but Chris Johnson fumbled after a 13-yard gain and Cleveland recovered.

That sparked a run of 20 straight points by the Browns. Whatever Bruce Arians told the Cardinals at halftime worked — Arizona outscored the Browns 24-0 in the second half and cruised to a two-touchdown victory for their third road win of the season.

Palmer finished with four touchdown passes and Johnson topped the 100-yard plateau for the fourth time on the season, becoming the first Cardinals running back to do that since Stump Mitchell in 1985.

Arizona Money Quote: “(Bruce Arians) was on fire. That was hands-down the best called game I’ve ever been around at any level any year I’ve been playing football, since I was seven. He just kept having the right call versus the right coverage.” — Carson Palmer on his head coach’s play calling.

Stat of the Game: Arizona was a mind-boggling 13-of-16 on third-down conversions — the most in the league so far in a single game in 2015. Not suprisingly, the Cardinals held a big advantage in time of possession (34:23 to 25:37).


St. Louis Rams 27, San Francisco 49ers 6

St. Louis Rams running back Todd Gurley, right, runs with the ball as San Francisco 49ers outside linebacker Aaron Lynch defends during the third quarter of an NFL football game Sunday, Nov. 1, 2015, in St. Louis. (AP Photo/Tom Gannam)

St. Louis Rams running back Todd Gurley, right, runs with the ball as San Francisco 49ers outside linebacker Aaron Lynch defends during the third quarter of an NFL football game Sunday, Nov. 1, 2015, in St. Louis. (AP Photo/Tom Gannam)

The 49ers scored first, so there’s that.

Phil Dawson’s 54-yard field goal with 10:29 left in the first quarter gave San Francisco a short-lived lead. The Rams would score 27 of the game’s remaining 30 points en route to an easy victory.

Rookie running back Todd Gurley had another big day, running for 133 yards on 20 carries, including a 71-yard touchdown in the second quarter. The Rams also hit a big play in the passing game, with Nick Foles hooking up with Tavon Austin on a 66-yard touchdown to close the scoring.

On the flip side, the 49ers offense was pathetic (again). San Francisco was 3-for-17 on third down conversions and managed only 189 yards of offense. It was their fourth game of the season scoring seven or less points.

With the win, the Rams move to 4-3 — the latest they’ve been above .500 in a season since 2006. And they’ve already defeated every other team in the NFC West.

St. Louis Money Quote: “I expected to be here in years past; things didn’t work out. I’m not satisfied at all, and that has to carry over to the players as well.” — Rams head coach Jeff Fisher

San Francisco Money Quote: “We come to work every single day and we put the hours in. It’s not like we’re sitting on our behinds.” — 49ers linebacker NaVorro Bowman

Stat of the Game: Gurley has rushed for 566 yards in his first four starts. That is the most by any rookie running back in the Super Bowl era.


Seattle Seahawks 13, Dallas Cowboys 12

Seattle Seahawks kicker Steven Hauschka (4) boots a field goal as Jon Ryan (9) holds in the first half of an NFL football game against the Dallas Cowboys, Sunday, Nov. 1, 2015, in Arlington, Texas. (AP Photo/Michael Ainsworth)

Seattle Seahawks kicker Steven Hauschka (4) boots a field goal as Jon Ryan (9) holds in the first half of an NFL football game against the Dallas Cowboys, Sunday, Nov. 1, 2015, in Arlington, Texas. (AP Photo/Michael Ainsworth)

Steven Hauschka booted a 24-yard field goal with 1:06 left and the Seattle defense hung on for a hard-fought win over the Cowboys at AT&T Stadium.

Needing just a field goal to win, the Cowboys could advance only as far as their own 35-yard line. Quarterback Matt Cassel was 0-for-4 on the last Dallas possession and was sacked twice.

That was kind of the Cowboys’ day in a nutshell. Seattle allowed Dallas only 220 total yards and the Cowboys managed just four field goals from Dan Bailey. It was the lowest yardage total for a Dallas team since Week 10 of the 2013 season, when they mustered only 193 in an ugly 49-17 loss to the New Orleans Saints.

With the win, the Seahawks reached .500 for the first time this season.

Seattle Money Quote: “We made it back to even. I don’t think it feels much different than it did last year. It was very similar. It’s unfortunate that it takes us a while. We’re working our way through it. If we’re able to put the second half together like we plan on, then we’ll be really proud of that. Where we are right now, I feel like we’re OK. I know nobody else probably does, but I feel like we’re OK right now, and we’re ready to work.” — Seahawks coach Pete Carroll

Stat of the Game: Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman shadowed Dallas’ Dez Bryant, who was back on the field for the first time since Week 1. Bryant finished with two catches for 12 yards. He was targeted six times in the game.


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Week 8 Award Winners

Carson PalmerOffensive Player of the Week: Carson Palmer, QB, Arizona – Palmer played another great game against Cleveland. The veteran threw four touchdown passes against only one interception, and that probably shouldn’t have counted as Tramon Williams should have been called for holding or defensive pass interference or illegal contact (or something). Palmer is tied with New England’s Tom Brady for the league lead in touchdown passes with 20 and finished with 374 yards on the day.
Honorable Mention: St. Louis RB Todd Gurley, Arizona TE Troy Niklas, Arizona RB Chris Johnson, St. Louis WR Tavon Austin


Dez Bryant, Richard ShermanDefensive Player of the Week: Richard Sherman, CB, Seattle – Sherman put the clamps on Dez Bryant Sunday and finished with a tackle for loss and four passes defensed. Not bad for a day’s work.
Honorable Mention: Arizona S Rashad Johnson, St. Louis S Mark Barron, St. Louis DL Michael Brockers, San Francisco LB NaVorro Bowman


St. Louis Rams v Seattle SeahawksSpecial Teams Player of the Week: Johnny Hekker, P, St. Louis – Hekker averaged 54.5 yards per punt and pinned the 49ers inside their own 20-yard line on four different occasions.
Honorable Mention: Seattle K Steven Hauschka, Arizona PR Patrick Peterson

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