NFL: Thanksgiving Day round-up
Houston Texans (10-1-0) 34-31 Detroit Lions (4-7-0)
A feast of Thanksgiving Day football began at Ford Field in Detroit where the Lions narrowly missed out against the Texans who won the game in overtime and moved on to 10-1 as they look to seal the number one seed in the AFC for the playoffs.
The game started well for the Lions when Mikel Leshoure scored on a 2-yard touchdown run just over five minutes into the first quarter to put Detroit 7-0 up.
The Texans scored on a running play of their own when the explosive Arian Foster ran into the end zone from 6 yards out to tie the game up. Foster rushed for 102 yards on the day from 20 carries and, with his two scores on the day, he now has 12 rushing touchdowns on the season.
The rest of the second quarter was a passing battle between Matt Schaub and Matthew Stafford, with Stafford putting the Lions 14-7 ahead with six minutes to go until halftime when he found Mike Thomas at the back of the end zone on 3rd & goal.
Houston levelled it up again on a third down of their own when Schaub threw to Owen Daniels on a 9-yard touchdown play which made it 14 each, but Detroit went into half time ahead by seven after Stafford found the uncoverable Calvin Johnson giving Megatron the touchdown reception from his quarterbacks’ 22-yard pass.
A 46-yard field goal from Jason Handson made it a two possession game but then Justin Forsett scored an 81-yard rushing touchdown although he appeared to be down, but with the whistle not being blown, he was allowed to run down the field and score.
Nevertheless, the touchdown stood and with Shayne Graham making a 45-yard field goal for the Texans the 10 point deficit was wiped out meaning that the teams went into the fourth quarter tied at 24 apiece.
This young, talented Lions team looked like they were going to pull off an upset by fighting hard all day, when it took until 1.55 remaining for Arian Foster to cancel out Joique Bell’s touchdown for Detroit earlier in the fourth. Stafford and co. had a shot to get down the field and win it, but couldn’t convert on third down meaning that this one did indeed go to overtime.
Overtime was just as exciting as the fourth quarters of regulation, with both kickers missing an opportunity to win the game for their teams, and with the extra period nearing a two-minute warning, it looked like it could end up finishing as a tie, but it was Houston who ended up with a win on the road and their second overtime win in less than a week when Shayne Graham kicked the winning 32-yard field goal.
Young Stafford edged the quarterback battle on the day, but sadly it was his opposite numbers’ team who got the win which effectively ended any chances of Detroit reaching the post-season. Stafford threw for 441 yards, two touchdowns and no interceptions on the day, whereas Matt Schaub threw for 315 yards, one touchdown and one interception for Houston.
The Texans are sitting pretty at the top of the AFC South as they look to hold on to the number one seed in the AFC ahead of the playoffs and seek home-field advantage; they play divisional rivals the Tennessee Titans (4-6-0) in week 13. Meanwhile, the Lions are bottom of the NFC North after 11 games with a 4-7 record and will still hope to finish the season strongly starting with a week 13 match-up against Andrew Luck and the Colts (6-4-0).
Washington Redskins (5-6-0)38-31 Dallas Cowboys (5-6-0)
A few weeks ago, with the Redskins at 3-6, head coach Mike Shanahan said he was disappointed and gave off the impression that his team’s season was over in regards to a shot at the playoffs. Washington’s bye week came after their sixth defeat and, when they returned to the field, they battered NFC East rivals the Eagles 31-6.
This week they took on another NFC East rival when they went on the road to Texas to take on Dallas, where rookie quarterback Robert Griffin III threw for 311 yards and four touchdowns in his first Thanksgiving Day game to lead the Redskins to a 38-31 victory over the Cowboys. With the four touchdown passes, Griffin became the first Washington quarterback to throw four TD passes in successive games.
The game started off quietly, with the Cowboys leading 3-0 at the end of the first but then the start of the RG3 show began when the QB fired a 68-yard touchdown pass to Aldrick Robinson, giving the game its first touchdown.
That touchdown send the Washington offense into overdrive as they then put up another three touchdowns in the quarter, with the first coming midway through the period when Alfred Morris rushed into the end zone from a yard out to put the Redskins up by 11 following a Dallas turnover leading to this subsequent scoring drive.
With just over two minutes to go until halftime, Griffin threw a perfect pass to Pierre Garcon who outpaced the trailing defenders as he sprinted down the field for the 59-yard score. Then Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo threw an interception, his first in three games, to DeAngelo Hall whose return set up great field position for Washington and lead to their fourth touchdown of the quarter when Griffin threw another perfectly accurate pass; this time to Santana Moss to put the Redskins 28-3 up at the break.
In recent weeks it looked like Romo and co. had saved Dallas’ season and they didn’t give up as they rallied back in the third quarter with a Dan Bailey field goal and a great pass out of the pocket by Romo late in the quarter, which found Dez Bryant who made his way into the end zone for the 85-yard touchdown.
So going into the fourth, the Cowboys trailed 28-13. RG3 looked to kill off any hopes of a comeback when he found tight end Niles Paul on a 3rd & inches play for a 29-yard score on which Paul was so uncovered he had time to fall over and pretty much roll into the end zone.
But as usual Dallas wouldn’t die and despite throwing two picks in the game in the fourth he almost helped his team pull of the unlikely as he threw two touchdown passes to Felix Jones and Dez Bryant midway through the quarter with Bryant’s reception coming on a crucial 4th & 4 play in the red zone. That left the Cowboys down by a touchdown with the score 35-28 to Washington.
Following a field goal by the Redskins they lead by 10 and Dallas went down the field but had to settle for a field goal of their own, as Dez Bryant catch was broken up in the end zone as the Cowboys looked to cut the lead further. Following kicker Dan Bailey’s 51-yard field goal, they went for the onside kick but were unsuccessful meaning that Mike Shannahan’s Redskins picked up the win on the road.
The win leaves both teams at 5-6 in their division as they cross their fingers in hope of Green Bay doing a job over NFC East leaders the Giants who, with a defeat on Sunday Night, would be only a game ahead of the two teams at 6-5.
Tony Romo and the Cowboys shot themselves in the foot once again early on and, despite some second half heroics, they couldn’t pull out the win. They’ll now look ahead to week 13 where they take on the division’s bottom placed side, the Philadelphia Eagles, who are 3-7 but will still want to put one over their rivals. A win for Dallas will put them back on track as they hope to sneak into the post-season.
The Redskins will play a third successive divisional matchup in week 13 when they host the Giants at FedExField. If, as mentioned previously, the Giants lose to the Packers, then a win for Washington over New York would leave both teams at 6-6 with 4 games to play, as the intensity heats up in the NFC East.
Even more mouth-watering is that if Dallas defeats the Eagles then all three teams will hold a 6-6 record and with more divisional games to come the end of the regular season looks very interesting for the Redskins, Giants and the Cowboys as they all dream of reaching the post-season.
New England Patriots (8-3-0) 49-19 New York Jets (4-7-0)
Gone in 60 seconds; 53 to be exact, is the only way to describe this one as the New York Jets crumbled in the second quarter giving up 35 points and three touchdowns in less than a minute. Tom Brady and the New England Patriots pounded the sloppy Jets who watched any glimmer of hope for their season vanish in front of their own eyes, leaving them with not much to celebrate on Thanksgiving.
The Patriots will be giving thanks to Rex Ryan’s team for performing so badly as New England won convincingly in this 30-point blowout. Despite losing superstar tight end Rob Gronkowski to a broken forearm only a few days prior to the game in their Sunday night win over the Colts, the Patriots offense was on fire.
The embarrassment on the Jets was perfectly orchestrated by Tom Brady, who threw three touchdown passes and ran for a score in the teams’ win. The first score of the game came six seconds into the second quarter when Brady found Wes Welker in the corner of the end zone on a 3-yard touchdown play.
On 4th & 1, the Jets fumbled the football leaving Patriots’ safety Steve Gregory to recover the ball; he also picked off Jets QB Mark Sanchez in the first quarter. On the next play, New England got their second touchdown when Brady found Shane Vereen on a quick slant and, with room to run, the running back sprinted past the New York secondary for the 83-yard touchdown.
So 14-0 down the Jets looked to come out and cut the lead, but Mark Sanchez was floored by his own lineman as Patriots’ defensive tackle Vince Wilfork helped cause the chaos leading to the QB dropping the football which fell to Steve Gregory to pick up and return the fumble for a 32-yard touchdown.
Things got even better for the Patriots when, on the resulting kick off, Devin McCourty hit Joe McKnight hard leading to another Jets turnover and the football fell out of McKnight’s hands into those of Julian Edelman, who returned the fumble for New England’s third touchdown in 53 seconds.
The Jets did manage to get on the scoreboard just before halftime when Nick Folk converted a 32-yard field goal, but that was minutes after another Patriots touchdown when Tom Brady aired it out for Edelman for a 56-yard touchdown on 3rd & 5.
Brady completed 18/28 passes for 323 yards and three scores on Thursday night’s game, meaning that he now has 27 touchdown passes on the season, has thrown for 3299 yards with a passer rating of 105.0 and has only thrown three interceptions in the team’s 11 games.
The Patriots were scoreless in the third as the Jets cut the deficit to 23 following a safety midway through the quarter and a 4-yard touchdown run by Bilal Powell, but the defense put up a brilliant goal-line stand on four plays by New York leaving them scoreless on that particular drive.
So going into the fourth, the Patriots were up by a score of 35-12 and within minutes of the final quarter beginning Brady’s 1-yard touchdown run rubbed salt into the wounds of the wounded Jets. A minute later, Stevan Ridley rushed into the end zone from 9 yards out making it 49-12.
Sanchez eventually got his touchdown pass late in the quarter when he found Dustin Keller, but it was meaningless with the defeat leaving the Jets bottom of the division at 4-7. Tim Tebow was being called for by the home fans, but it was revealed he had broken his ribs. Nevertheless Sanchez should have been replaced weeks ago, but Rex Ryan refuses to admit when he is wrong which now leaves the Jets looking ahead to next season.
As for the Patriots, well, offensively they got it going nearly every time they were on the field and a particular highlight was Aaron Hernandez returning to help ease the pain of losing Gronk for the foreseeable future. New England’s defense continues to improve with another impressive performance and they lead the AFC in turnovers as they look to step up to the standards set by those on offense and those expected by head coach Bill Belichick.
The big win for the Patriots moves them on to 8-3 and effectively wraps up the AFC East for them. New England is now looking to rack up the wins in hope of securing a bye week when the playoffs come around. If history is anything to go by, then that looks indeed possible as Bill Belichick is 8-0 in the second half of the season over the last two years. Their week 13 opponents are divisional rivals the Miami Dolphins at Sun Life Stadium.
Skye Pank, NFL Correspondent