Week 8 game balls: Todd Gurley, Stefon Diggs, Drew Brees, Eli Manning among Sunday's stars

Each week NFL Nation team reporters award a game ball to a player, coach or unit. Here are the game balls for Week 8:


Matt Prater. He hasn’t had much to do this season, but when he’s asked to be on the field, he’s been close to perfect. Prater made another field goal Sunday -- the Lions’ only points when it mattered. He is 8 for 8 this season on field goals, making one a game. -- Mike Rothstein

Andy Reid. Chiefs looked not only dead but devastated a couple of weeks ago. Reid and his staff have found a way to revive the defense and score some points without Jamaal Charles. -- Adam Teicher


Kwon Alexander. The young linebacker had a big day, stripping wide receiver Julio Jones in the first quarter and intercepting quarterback Matt Ryan in the second. Tampa Bay forced four turnovers, and Alexander’s play was an early source of momentum for a defense that was in bend-but-don't-break mode most of the afternoon. The fourth-round pick continues to impress in what is becoming a memorable rookie season. -- Andrew Astleford

Julio Jones. He was targeted 13 times, finishing with 12 catches for 162 yards and a 35-yard TD from Ryan. For the season, Jones now has 70 catches for 799 yards. -- Vaughn McClure


Carson Palmer. He brought Arizona back from a 20-7 deficit. Palmer completed 23 of 38 for 374 yards and four touchdowns, the eighth game of his career with at least four TD passes. -- Josh Weinfuss

Josh McCown. He threw three TD passes in the first half for the first time in his career, and played courageously in the second half as he was in obvious discomfort. McCown cannot be faulted for this loss. -- Pat McManamon

RAMS 27, 49ERS 6 | ANALYSISVideo

Phil Dawson. The veteran placekicker showed his wares in the great indoors, ending the Niners’ first drive with a 54-yard field goal before converting a 26-yarder before halftime. He is 13 of 14 on the season and 2 of 2 on 50-plus-yarders. -- Paul Gutierrez

Todd Gurley. It might be getting repetitive but the Rams are just fine with that as Gurley again carried the day in a winning effort. He finished with 133 yards on 20 carries, including a 71-yard touchdown run and set an NFL record as the most productive runner since the AFL/NFL merger over his first four starts with 566 yards rushing. -- Nick Wagoner


Eli Manning.

He threw for a career-high six touchdowns, passing both Joe Montana and Vinny Testaverde to reach No. 10 on the NFL's all-time list for touchdowns thrown. Manning also completed 30 of 41 passes for 350 yards. The only chance the Giants had today with Drew Brees this hot was for Manning to match him, and he did everything he could -- almost. -- Dan Graziano

Drew Brees. The Saints needed a record-setting day from Brees and he delivered. Brees tied seven other quarterbacks in NFL history with seven TD passes in a game, including two each to Brandin Cooks and Willie Snead. He completed 80 percent (40 of 50) of his passes for 511 yards (Brees threw for 510 in 2006) and a 140.5 quarterback rating. -- Mike Triplett


Stefon Diggs. Every week, the rookie seemingly does something to jumpstart the Vikings passing game. On Sunday, when the Vikings needed a play on third-and-4, Diggs got himself open, made a sublime move after the catch and carried a would-be tackler into the end zone for a game-tying 40-yard touchdown. The Vikings thought they had a steal when they took him in the fifth round. It’s possible they have a star. -- Ben Goessling

Alshon Jeffery. His leaping 21-yard touchdown reception before halftime in the back of the end zone changed momentum. The Bears accomplished almost nothing on offense until Cutler began attacking down field with Jeffery. -- Jeff Dickerson


Malcom Floyd. The veteran receiver finished with four catches for 92 yards, including a 9-yard catch for a score in the first half, and a 70-yard reception for a touchdown that gave the Chargers a 23-16 lead at the end of the third quarter. -- Eric Williams

Joe Flacco. He led a winning drive without his leading receiver (Steve Smith), starting center (Jeremy Zuttah) and starting left tackle (Eugene Monroe). He threw for 319 yards and accounted for two touchdowns (one passing, one rushing). -- Jamison Hensley


Defense. The unit rose up when it counted most Sunday, shouldering the load for a struggling offense. The Bengals forced Ben Roethlisberger into throwing three interceptions, including two in the final six minutes. It was Shawn Williams' interception with about six minutes remaining that gave the Bengals life ahead of their go-ahead score. -- Coley Harvey

Heath Miller. Sacrificed stats for blocking duties the past four weeks while Big Ben was out. But he returned in a big way in a crucial AFC North game with eight catches for 81 yards, several of which he absorbed big hits to secure. -- Jeremy Fowler


Brett Kern. In a dismal performance by the Titans, Kern punted seven times for 349 yards, nearly a 50-yard average. He also stuffed three punts inside the 20-yard line. -- Paul Kuharsky

Whitney Mercilus. He had his second multi-sack game (3.5) of the season today, the seventh such game of his career. Mercilus also had two sacks against the Jacksonville Jaguars when he started in place of Jadeveon Clowney who missed that game. Clowney missed most of Sunday’s game against the Titans with a back injury.-- Tania Ganguli


Brandon Marshall. He was one of the few bright spots for the Jets. Marshall was targeted 18 times, catching nine passes for 108 yards from two different quarterbacks. He went out in the fourth quarter with an ankle injury but returned. -- Rich Cimini

Derek Carr. The second-year player continued with a hot hand. Carr threw four touchdown passes and has thrown seven in the past two games. The Raiders had no problem with the Jets’ vaunted defense and it started with Carr, who calmly picked apart New York’s strong secondary for 333 yards. -- Bill Williamson


Richard Sherman. He’s being asked to shadow opposing number one wide receivers more this year, and Sherman shut down Dez Bryant in this game. Bryant might not have been 100 percent, but Sherman was magnificent. Matt Cassel went 1-for-5 for 15 yards when targeting Bryant against Sherman. Sherman also drew an offensive pass interference penalty and made a tackle for loss on a wide receiver screen. -- Sheil Kapadia

Greg Hardy. For the first time in a Cowboys’ uniform he did not collect a sack, ending his personal streak of a sack in six consecutive games. But he did come up with the first interception of his career, tipping a Russell Wilson pass to himself in the third quarter. It was the first interception of Hardy’s career and the first Cowboys’ takeaway since a Week 2 win at Philadelphia. Unfortunately for the Cowboys, they were unable to convert that turnover into a touchdown after taking over at the Seattle 16. -- Todd Archer


Tim Masthay. How bad is it when your punter is your best player? Masthay was about the only bright spot for the Packers in their first loss of the season. He averaged 46.2 yards on five punts, all of which had hang times of well more than four seconds.-- Rob Demovsky

Peyton Manning. He tied Brett Favre for the most career wins by a quarterback with 186. He’s also 283 yards from tying Favre for most career yards passing in NFL history, and he can break that mark next week against the Colts. Manning threw for 340 yards against the Packers, his second highest pass yard total in a game in which he didn't throw a touchdown.


Andrew Luck. In a battle of No. 1 overall quarterbacks, Luck stole the show from Cam Newton in the fourth quarter leading three scoring drives to help the Colts rally from 17 points down and force overtime. Luck finished 23 of 47 for 231 yards and two touchdowns.-- Mike Wells

Graham Gano. He helped the Panthers improve to 7-0 after missing a key extra point. Gano made a 42-yard field goal to force overtime and then hit a game-winning 52-yarder in the extra session. -- David Newton