NFL on Thanksgiving had three entertaining games to make the day interesting from start to finish: Another dramatic win for the Detroit Lions, this time over the Minnesota Vikings; The Dallas Cowboys winning their 10th in a row against an impressive but not-good-enough Washington Redskins; and the Pittsburgh Steelers handling the injured Indianapolis Colts with ease.
Minnesota Vikings (6-5) 13 Detroit Lions (7-4) 16
The unexplicable magic fourth quarter performances and comebacks from the Detroit Lions and Matthew Stafford continue, this time with two field goals by Matt Prater in the final 1:45. What’s worse for the Vikings, who lose their fifth game in the last six and lose their co-hold on the top spot in the NFC North (now belongs to the Lions) was that after Prater tied the game at 13-13, Sam Bradford threw a terrible intercetpion, which allowed the Lions to clinch it with 0:00 left on the clock. The Lions good-bad-good-bad run that has carried on since 2012 is on the right side of the scales again, even without playing great football. The Vikings offense seemed like it was playing not to lose, taking minimal risk, and leaving an opening for the Lions to come back all the time. Their defense is excellent, but with such an uninspiring offensive effort, helped by an O-line that isn’t working well, all their great work early in the season is being undone.
Washington Redskins (6-4-1) 26 Dallas Cowboys (10-1) 31
A 10th straight win for the Cowboys, who took advantage of two field goal misses by Dustin Hopkins in the first half to enter the break with a 17-6 lead. From there, it was about keeping just out of reach for the Redskins, thanks to Dak Prescott and Ezekiel Elliott both rushing for touchdowns behind an offensive line that continues to maul everything in its way. Elliott also ran for a touchdown in the first half, while Prescott found Terrence Williams for an elegant touchdown catch. Dze Bryant and Josh Norman were at each other’s throat the entire game and after it as well. While Bryant didn’t have any TD receptions, he made big plays with 5 receptions for 72 yards. Kirk Cousins finished with 443 yards and 3 touchdowns, but impressive numbers don’t always win football games, not when the other team control the clocks and seems to score at will whenever there’s a need for it. With the win, the Cowboys are closer to clinching the NFC East, while the Redskins will now probably have to settle for the wild card spot at best.
Pittsburgh Steelers (6-5) 28 Indianapolis Colts (5-6) 7
Not a very surprising result considering Andrew Luck was out with a concussion. The win puts the Steelers, at least until Sunday, on top of the AFC North, while the Colts’ chances of catching up with the Houston Texans took a hit. Ben Roethlisberger had plenty of time to throw 3 touchdown passes while completing 14-of-20 passes, finding Antonio Brown on all 3 touchdowns, a first for the All-Pro receiver. Scott Tolzien tried and failed as the Colts quarterback (1 touchdown, 2 interceptions). Pat McAfee completing a 35-yard pass on a fake punt provided the most entertaining moment of the game, celebrating it with the Connor McGregor strut. Not that it helped the Colts come close to winning.