If Thanksgiving isn’t the greatest holiday in the world, then I don’t know what is? What could be better than incredible food cooked by a mother or grandmother, family and friends and getting to watch football all day? Happy Thanksgiving.
The Lions kicked off Week 12 on Thursday afternoon in their 68th straight annual Thanksgiving Day game. They hosted the AFC-leading Texans, fresh off of their 43-point performance against the Jaguars just four days earlier. It was Detroit, however, who got out to a fast start at home as Mikel Leshoure scored a rushing touchdown on their first drive. It was the first 1st quarter rushing TD for the Lions since 2010 and just their second offensive touchdown in the 1st quarter this year. It was also the first rushing touchdown the Texans had allowed all season and the first time Detroit scored an opening-drive TD all year. So they had that to be thankful for.
The lead would not remain, however, and the Lions lost their ninth straight Thanksgiving Day game, 34-31, in overtime. That is good for the longest losing streak on Thanksgiving all-time. Entering the game, teams playing four days after an overtime game since 1987 were 4-13, but the Texans won anyway. Calvin Johnson became the seventh player in NFL history with 7,000 receiving yards in his first six seasons. With a Joique Bell touchdown run in the 4th quarter, the Lions now lead the league with 16 offensive 4th quarter touchdowns this season. With wins in their last two, the Texans improved to 3-7 all-time in overtime games after starting 1-7 in their short history. With 188 yards on Thursday, Andre Johnson now has 461 in his past two contests, the most in consecutive games in NFL history, according to Elias. The overtime period featured two turnovers and two missed field goals before Houston won it. The winning field goal was the first time they led all day. The Texans became the first team ever to win two overtime games in a five-day span.
The other yearly participant, the Cowboys hosted the Redskins in their annual Thanksgiving Day game. Like the Lions, Dallas dropped their annual contest to the Redskins 38-31. They did, however, come back from down 35-13 in the 4th quarter to make it close. With the loss, Dallas fell to 0-14 in their history when trailing by 25 points or more at the half. It was Tony Romo‘s first career home loss in the month of November (14-1) and his first ever loss on Thanksgiving (5-1). Washington was victorious on Thanksgiving Day for the first time since 1973 and won their first ever game against their division rivals on Turkey Day. Robert Griffin III threw four touchdowns in his first career Thanksgiving Day game.
On Thanksgiving Night, the Jets hosted the Patriots and were thankful when it ended as their division rivals hammered them 49-19. Julian Edelman scored two more touchdowns to bring his total to four in his past two games, which equals his total in his first 45 career games. He became the fourth player in NFL history with a receiving TD, punt return TD and fumble return TD in the same season. In the 2nd quarter, New England scored three touchdowns in 53 seconds, becoming the third team since 1970 to accomplish that, according to Elias. In their past two games, the Patriots have combined for 108 points, which is good for the third-highest two-game stretch in history. Also, the win guaranteed that the 8-3 Pats would be the only team to finish .500 or better in each of the last 12 seasons. Tom Brady threw three TD passes, extending his streak to 43 straight games with at least one.
With a chance to win their sixth straight, the Bucs took on the NFC-leading Falcons at home. Despite three Connor Barth field goals and two Atlanta turnovers, Tampa fell to their NFC South rivals, 24-23. The Bucs had a chance to win six straight games for the first time since their championship season in 2002. In the loss, rookie running back Doug Martin became the first Buccaneers player with 1,000 rushing yards and 9+ rushing touchdowns since 1995. Though they are 9-1, seven of those wins for Atlanta have come by seven points or less.
The Jaguars finally won their second game of the season, beating the Titans, 24-19 as Chad Henne replaced the injured Blaine Gabbert at quarterback. He threw for 261 yards and two touchdowns. Cecil Shorts caught his fifth touchdown pass of the season of at least 35 yards in this game between the two bottom teams in the AFC South. Rob Bironas connected on four field goals for Tennessee, who fell to 4-7.
The Dolphins came back from two seven-point deficits including one on the final six minutes and Dan Carpenter kicked the winning field goal as time expired to beat the Seahawks 24-21 in Miami. The slow start featured just nine completed passes and eight punts in the first 20 minutes. Russell Wilson fell to 1-5 on the road this year, but did throw two touchdowns to no interceptions. With a 98-yard kickoff return for a touchdown, Seattle’s Leon Washington tied Josh Cribbs for the most career kickoff return touchdowns all-time with eight. Ryan Tannehill broke Dan Marino‘s Dolphins record for the most passing yards by a rookie. He has 2,373 through just 11 games.
Denver won its sixth straight game with a 17-9 win over the last-place Chiefs in Kansas City. Peyton Manning now stands alone in second-place for all-tiime wins, as he picked up the 149th of his career. He also passed the 3000-yard mark for the 14th time in his career – second all-time behind Brett Favre, who had 18 when he retired. Kansas City held the potent Broncos offense scoreless for the first 29:42 of the game until Manning threw a touchdown pass to Jacob Tamme just before the half. The Chiefs continued to present a lackluster passing attack as Brady Quinn threw for just 126 yards in their eighth straight loss. They haven’t scored more than 16 points since Week 4 – the beginning of their losing streak.
Indy won for the seventh time this year, more than tripling their win total from 2011, as they beat the Bills 20-13. The Colts have now won five in a row at home against Buffalo with their last loss coming in 1998. Reggie Wayne set an all-time NFL record by recording three or more receptions in 59 straight games. T.Y. Hilton became the first Colt ever to record a receiving TD and a punt return TD in the same game as he was the only player for Indy to find the endzone on Sunday. With five games to go, Andrew Luck tied Sam Bradford for the most wins by a rookie quarterback drafted No. 1 overall with seven. If the season were to end today, the Broncos, led by Peyton Manning, would host the Colts in the first round of the playoffs.
In Cleveland, the perennial playoff contending Steelers are looking like anything but as they dropped their second straight without Ben Roethlisberger, 20-14, to the lowly Browns. With third-string quarterback Charlie Batch forced into the starting role, the Steelers committed a staggering eight turnovers in the loss. It was the first time a team has turned the ball over eight times since the Rams did so in 2001 and the first time Pittsburgh has done it since 1989, coincidentally against the Browns as well. Batch threw three interceptions and five different players coughed the ball up for Pittsburgh. They fumbled three additional times that they were able to recover. Will Johnson was the only running back on the Steelers roster not to fumble. Pittsburgh had won 16 of 17 games against Cleveland before the loss on Sunday. The loss was only the second for the Steelers against a rookie QB since 2004. This marked the most points that the Browns have scored against their division rivals since 2007.
Elsewhere, Carson Palmer returned to Cincinnati and judging by the result, it’s no wonder he wanted out so badly. His Raiders were crushed 34-10 at the hands of the Bengals as Andy Dalton threw three more touchdown passes, bringing his total to nine with no interceptions in the last three weeks. A.J. Green had a chance to become the third player in NFL history with touchdown catches in 10 straight games, but was not on the receiving end of any of Dalton’s touchdown passes. At one point, Cincy was outgaining Oakland 254-36. BenJarvus Green-Ellis ran for 100 yards in two straight games for the first time in his career. The Raiders have allowed 169 points in their last four games – that’s good for the second-most in a four-game span since 1970.
The Bears defense forced three more turnovers and Michael Bush connected on a pair of 1-yard TD runs as the Bears remained atop the NFC North with a 28-10 win over the once-promising Vikings. Jay Culter returned after missing the team’s last game, a loss to the 49ers, with a concussion. He went 15-17 in the first half – completing 80 percent of his 1st half passes for the first time in his career. Adrian Peterson ran for 100 yards in his fifth straight game, tying the Vikings record. Chicago has won six straight against Minnesota for the first time since 1983-86.
The Ravens escaped with a 16-13 overtime win against the Chargers in which Ray Rice rushed for 97 yards and converted on a 4th & 29 in the final minutes to help set up the tying field goal from Justin Tucker as time expired. Tucker would go on to win it in overtime from 38 yards out. Baltimore sacked Philip Rivers six times in the 1st half, but didn’t score a single point. The 4th & 29 conversion was the longest non-penalty conversion since the Bills converted on a 4th & 34 in 2001.
In a shocking turn of events, the Cardinals lost their seventh straight after their 4-0 start, falling to the Rams 31-17 at home. Ryan Lindley threw four interceptions on the day – two of which were returned by Janoris Jenkins for touchdowns. He became the first rookie with two interception returns for touchdowns in a game since 1960 and the first player to ever do it for the Rams. Somewhere, even John Skelton is saying how he can’t believe he was benched for someone who threw four interceptions.
The 5-6 Saints hit a bump in the road, falling by 10 to the NFC West-leading 49ers, 31-21. Drew Brees did throw a touchdown pass in his record 54th straight game and also enjoyed his 51st career game with three or more TD passes. Marques Colston caught his 56th career touchdown and passed Deuce McAllister for the most touchdowns in Saints history. Colin Kaepernick scored his fourth rushing touchdown of the season. That’s the most for a 49ers quarterback since 2003. Like the Rams, San Fran returned two interceptions for touchdowns in the game. Ahmad Brooks recorded his first career touchdown on their first interception return, the first two for the Niners D this season. Aldon Smith had another 1.5 sacks, bringing his career total to 30.5. The record for a player in his first two seasons is 31.
The Giants came out with a chip on their shoulders on Sunday night after having lost their last two games and blasted the Packers 38-10 at home in a matchup of the last two Super Bowl champions. Eli Manning threw a touchdown pass for the first time since Week 7 and finished with three total (first multi-TD game since Week 5). He passed Phil Simms for the most touchdown passes in Giants history with the 200th of his career. The Packers gave up points on their opponent’s first drive of the game for the first time this year. The Giants ended a five-game losing streak in November and scored 30 points in a half for the third time in the last four years. The last time New York beat Green Bay by 28 or more points was in 1986. They won the Super Bowl that year.
Monday night featured a matchup between teams with the third lowest combined win percentage in Monday Night Football history. The 2-8 Panthers took on the 3-7 Eagles and let’s just say the Eagles lost again. For the seventh straight game. They were 3-1 at one point, people. A bright spot for them, if we can call it that, was that rookie running back Bryce Brown ran for 178 yards and two touchdowns, shattering the previous Philadelphia rookie rushing record. Cam Newton won his Monday Night Football debut and in the process, became the only player to accumulate 6,000+ pass yards, 30+ pass touchdowns, 1,000+ rush yards & 15+ rush touchdowns in his first two NFL seasons. The Eagles turnover differential since the start of last season is -31 as they committed three more and forced none two nights ago. If losing Michael Vick and LeSean McCoy to injuries this year wasn’t enough, now Desean Jackson is out for the year for Philly too. It might just now be safe to say this is Andy Reid‘s last year.
On a side note, this is the first time since Week 16 of 2007 that five teams have held division leads of three games or more at the same time: they are the Patriots, Texans, Broncos, Ravens (all AFC) and the Falcons.
Some information was taken from ESPN Stats & Info.
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