This Thursday kicked off with a Thanksgiving triple-header and saw two of the three games on show producing some stunning football, with the All-NFC battle at AT&T Stadium and a last-gasp kick in the NFC North proving to be a taster ahead of the traditional Sunday games. A couple of blowout wins for the Saints and Falcons were mixed in with some close competitive games throughout the day and included a barnburner of a game in the late game between the Chiefs and Broncos at Mile High Stadium.
DETROIT LIONS 16 – 13 MINNESOTA VIKINGS
The first game of the week came from Ford Field in Detroit and where the Lions and the Vikings met in an All-NFC North match-up and had both teams entering the game with 6-4 records on the season. Detroit led through a Anquan Boldin touchdown after quarterback Matt Stafford threw a pass to the man wide open in the end zone for a 2-yard pass. Minnesota was living a charmed life in the first quarter, with firstly Sam Bradford being sacked and having Detroit recovering the fumble until the umpires deemed it was an incomplete pass. Shortly after it saw the Vikings turning the ball over again and have the Lions going 70+ yards up field, only to see them rule a pass interference against the Lions on the play.
The resulting drive came saw Matt Asiata going in for 5-yards and see the Vikings tying the game up at 7-7. Field goals then came to the forefront with Matt Prater making a successful 29-yard kick for the home side, before Kai Forbath then converted with kicks from 30 and 38-yards to put the Vikings 13-10 up. Prater then got the Lions back on level terms and in the dying seconds of the game it saw him converting on a 40-yard field goal that would condemn Minnesota to defeat and lift Detroit to the top of the NFC North standings.
DALLAS COWBOYS 31 – 26 WASHINGTONS REDSKINS
A grudge match from the NFC East pitted the Washington Redskins against the Dallas Cowboys in a return match from Week 2, where on that occasion Dallas came away victors 26-23 in Washington. To say the sides don’t like one another is a given, but the first half of the contest was predominantly Cowboys driven and saw Ezekiel Elliott getting the Cowboys on the board first with a 4-yard touchdown. Dustin Hopkins then kicked a 24- yard field goal to cut the lead down to four points, after he had missed an earlier kick due to the sun glare from inside the AT&T Stadium which proved to be problematic.
Dan Bailey made a 46-yard kick at goal for the Cowboys before an astonishing catch by Terrance Williams, saw him jumping to make the catch and still have the presence of mind to get both feet down in the end zone for a touchdown before he went out of bounds.
After a scoreless third quarter, it saw Washington coming from nowhere to score 20 points in the final quarter. Firstly Jordan Reed started the comeback for the Redskins with a touchdown from a Kirk Cousins throw on a 2nd & Goal and then soon saw Dallas QB Dak Prescott taking it upon himself to run the ball in for Dallas touchdown and lead by 12. That was until a 67-yard play saw Cousins firing the ball way up the sideline and saw receiver DeSean Jackson going in for the touchdown to bring it closer once again.
Elliott then barged his way over for his second touchdown of the game for Dallas and that looked to have killed off the hopes of their fellow divisional rival. However with 1:55 remaining in the game it saw Washington last signs of defiance, and had Jordan Reed scoring another touchdowns as he made it an uncomfortable couple of minutes for the Cowboys but Dallas held on.
PITTSBURGH STEELERS 28 – 7 INDIANAPOLIS COLTS
Prior to kickoff it saw the game between the Steelers and the Colts being billed as the two most inconsistent sides meeting head to head and it was Pittsburgh who prevailed. Things didn’t start off well for the Colts quarterback Scott Tolzien, as on the opening play of the game as he fumbled the ball and was lucky to recover it. Le’von Bell then put the Steelers in front with a 5-yard run, with Pittsburgh’s quarterback Ben Roethlisberger throwing a pass to Antonio Brown in the corner that saw him spinning away to score a touchdown and put the Steelers 14-0 ahead.
Donte Moncrief then dived his way in to make a catch off Tolzien to complete a 5-yard pass and get the Colts back in the game. Soon after it saw a copy of the Steelers previous touchdown,with Rothlisberger once again finding Antonio Brown and have Pittsburgh lead after the first half.
A scoreless third saw the Colts going for broke with a couple of 4th & Goal attempts, but none of them were successful. Pittsburgh then rubbed salt into the wounds of their opponents late on, as Indianapolis fell to third Brown touchdown catch off Roethlisberger, and this time he completed a 22-yard pass to see the Steelers improving to 6-5 on the season.
NEW ORLEANS SAINTS 49 – 21 LA RAMS
The clash between the Saints and the Rams pitted two quarterbacks very much at the different ends of the spectrum, with Jeff Goff making just his second start for the Rams while Drew Brees was playing in his 16th season in the National Football League. Goff picked up his first ever touchdown pass, when his 24-yard throw connected with Tavon Austin and he gave the Rams the lead early on.
Brandon Coleman then caught a 3-yard pass off Drew Brees in the Rams end zone to see the Saints levelling things up with the added point. New Orleans then fumbled the ball inside their own 10 line line and after Brees was tackled by Mark Barron it led to the Rams scoring a touchdown quickly after through Kenny Britt, who completed a 6-yard play.
New Orleans then stormed right back in the game with three unanswered touchdowns in the game, with firstly Mark Ingram picking up a 10-yard run before Brees then leapt over his blockers to cross the whitewash and put the Saints back in ahead. Michael Thomas then made a good catch in double coverage to pick up another touchdown for the Saints and that moved them out to a 28-14 lead before LA scored a late touchdown with Lance Kendricks making it 28-21.
Second half saw New Orleans completing the job with further touchdowns by Ingram and Thomas again, as a 50-yard play was converted by Tim Hightower for the huge win in the Superdome.
ARIZONA CARDINALS 19 – 38 ATLANTA FALCONS
This was a must win for the Cardinals against the Falcons, as they couldn’t afford another loss or it would be a mountain to climb to make the playoffs. Larry Fitzgerald helped boost their chances with a spectacular one-handed catch to get Arizona in decent field position and following on from that catch it saw the Cardinals scoring a touchdown through Jermaine Gresham, as he made a catch off Carson Palmer.
Justin Hardy then made a stunning catch of his own to take the Falcons up to the Arizona 10 yard line, before Devonta Freeman burst at speed on a 1st & Goal to see the home side tying the game up with the kick and had both kickers nailing their respective field goals for a 10-10 score. Taylor Gabriel then went in for 25-yard run to see the Falcons back ahead, but that was before Chandler Catanzaro brought an end to the scoring in the first half with a 54-yard field goal for the Cardinals.
Tevin Coleman made it a 24-13 game for Atlanta, as he put daylight between them and Arizona. Gabriel then picked up his second touchdown of the game with a 25-yard run, which had the visitors in all sorts of trouble. David Johnson managed to somehow take a pass down by his knees and go over for a score, as he gave the Cardinals some late hope till Devonta Freeman made sure of the win for the Falcons as he completed a 5-yard run to pick up a big win.
MIAMI DOLPHINS 31 – 24 SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS
San Francisco arrived at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami hoping to avoid a tenth straight-loss as they faced an recently in-form Dolphins side. Things started well for the 49ers though, after Carlos Hyde completed an 11-yard touchdown pass to lead after the first quarter. However, Miami who have one of the best home records in the league came right back through British Running-Back Jay Ajayi, as he was given the ball inside the 10-yard line and you can normally predict that it will result in a touchdown and that was just what happened.
Dion Sims then completed a pass in the end zone to put the Dolphins 14-7 up, before Andrew Franks then added to the total with a field goal for Miami. 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick threw a 4-yard pass to Garrett Celek as he claimed a touchdown and see San Francisco not giving up quite yet. Kenyan Drake ran a kick return for 78-yards and got Miami up to the 49ers 20-yard line. Kenny Stills then caught a pass from Ryan Tannehill and he took it to the house for a 43-yard play and with Leonte Carroo getting a scorer later on for the Dolphins , it saw Miami move to 31-14.
San Francisco kept battling away and a stunning one-handed grab by Torrey Smith kept the 49ers in the game as they refused to go away, but had to resort to Phil Dawson striking a 36-yard field goal to move them within one score of levelling the game and proved to late to come back.
BUFFALO BILLS 28 – 21 JACKSONVILLE JAGUARS
Buffalo kept their playoff chances alive with a win against Jacksonville, though it was the visitors who got the better of the early exchanges with Chris Ivory going in for the Jaguars to lead after the first quarter and have the Bills looking to respond in the second. LeSean McCoy then ran in a 7-yard touchdown to tie the game up and Jacksonville’s defence once again sprung a leak as they let McCoy in again, with the Buffalo man punishing them and recording a 75- yard run on the play to see the Bills lead 13-6.
Jaguars Quarterback Blake Bortles threw a 20-yard pass to Marqise Lee as he put the Jags back ahead with a slim one point lead at 14-13, before Tyrod Taylor darted for the end zone with a 7-yard run to temporarily give Buffalo the lead back. However back came Jacksonville again and a diving Allen Hurns effort saw him injured on the play but put his side back ahead. On a night of fantastic catches, it saw Justin Hunter making a grab from nowhere as he claimed the ball in the endzone to give the Buffalo Bills victory in a back and forth contest in Buffalo, New York.
CLEVELAND BROWNS 13 – 27 NEW YORK GIANTS
The Cleveland Browns looked in search of their first win of the year against a tough NY Giants side that had dreams of consolidating their playoffs hopes at the ‘Dawg Pound’. A Surprising scoreless first quarter between the two sides then saw touchdowns by Dwayne Harris and Odell Beckham Jr of the Giants giving them the lead and had the Browns responding with the boot of Cody Parkey, as he was successful with a couple of field goal attempts.
Another scoreless quarter in the third saw it all to play for in the final quarter and had the Giants 14-6 up at the start. Jason Pierre-Paul then took the sting out of the game when Josh McCown saw him having the ball knocked up in the air and ended up in the hands of the Defensive End for a 43-yard fumble return and put the Giants 20-6 ahead. Corey Coleman then caught a 21-yard pass from McCown in the New York end zone to see them trying to rally late on, but Beckham who had missed the previous drive with an injured hand, then saw him returning to the game and grabbing another touchdown to see off the Brown late challenge and keep the Browns imperfect season going at 0-11.
BALTIMORE RAVENS 19 – 14 CINCINNATI BENGALS
In the NFC North clash between the Bengals and the Ravens, it saw Baltimore opening up an 10-0 lead on Cincinnati after Joe Flacco threw a 14-yard pass to Breshad Perriman for a touchdown and then had Justin Tucker finding his range with a 52-yard field goal to see the Ravens taking an early lead. Mike Nugent then kicked the home side on the board with a 23-yard kick before Tucker landed a mammoth 57-yard field goal to move the Ravens 13-3 in front, with another kick just before the half.
The Bengals kept the Ravens quiet in the third and saw Cincinnati picking up a touchdown for their troubles, when Andy Dalton played a quick 3-yard pass out to Tyler Eifert as he made it an 11-point ball game. Justin Tucker then made another kick and that put Baltimore 19-9 up early in the 4th quarter. Nugent would close the gap again on their opponents as he landed a field goal with time coming to an end. Baltimore’s special teams then chewed the clock and conceded a safety with 11 seconds of the game remaining to see out victory.
TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS 14 – 5 SEATTLE SEAHAWKS
Tampa Bay kept their recent form of late going with a win over the Seattle Seahawks at Qualcomm Stadium, as the Buccaneers took an early 10-0 lead after the first quarter through Jameis Winston pass to Mike Evans for the opening touchdown and then a Robert Aguayo field to give them a lead. The combination for Tampa Bay worked again later on as Winston thrown the ball up over the last man and found Evans again on hand to make the catch and pick up the touchdown.
Seattle then forced a safety after Luke Stocker of the Buccaneers grabbed Frank Clark in the end zone and prevented him from making the likely sack on Jameis Winston and saw the Seahawks registering the two-points. Steven Hauschka then kicked a field goal to get the Seahawks chipping away at the scoreboard and Seattle were then given hope late on, when Robert Aguayo pulled his 48-yard kick on goal wide of the target before half-time.
A scoreless second half saw both defences on top and had both sides making an Interception a piece and caused a fumble as well with the offence on both sides being shut down.
HOUSTON TEXANS 13 – 21 SAN DIEGO CHARGERS
A stunning performance by Chargers quarterback Phil Rivers, saw him leading his San Diego side to victory with three touchdowns and making 242 yards in the game. Play was scoreless in the first quarter with the hometown Texans taking the lead through quarterback Brock Osweiler leaping over his blockers and breaking the pane to score first.
Rivers then threw for the first of his touchdowns after Tyrell Williams made the catch and completed a 52-yard play to tie the game up with the added point. Osweiler then had a pass intercepted and was the first of three he would turn over in the game. That interception would lead to the Chargers scoring a second touchdown, with Williams making the grab in the end zone to put San Diego 14-7 up.
Josh Lambo missed a 54-yard kick for the Chargers in the second quarter and despite the home side causing a turnover, it never saw the Texans making the most of their chance. Nick Novak opened up the fourth quarter with a 19-yard field goal and put them four points behind San Diego. Phil Rivers then saw Hunter Henry straying inside the end zone and his 12-yard pass resulted in a touchdown. Houston then had Novak drilling over 45-yard field goal with 18 seconds left and then gambled on an onside kick and saw the Texans recovering to try to steal victory right at the death.
As it was, Osweiler with no time left on the clock took a few steps back and launched the ball downfield into the end zone and had Chargers Dexter McCoil making the clean catch for San Diego and confirming victory.
NEW YORK JETS 17 – 22 NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS
New England left it late in their game against the Jets, as victory moved them to 9-2 on the season with a win at MetLife Stadium. The game started with New York going 10-0 ahead early in the second quarter, with a Nick Folk field goal and a Brandon Marshall touchdown to put the Jets ahead in this AFC East battle. Soon after the Patriots got things going in their favour thanks to a Steven Gostkowski 28-yard field attempt as they began to make their comeback.
Malcolm Butler who was the hero for New England in the Superbowl two years ago, then saw him recovering a loose ball on a Jets play and led to an eventual touchdown for visitors. Tom Brady shown his coolness under pressure when the ball was snapped to him and after the quarterback dropped the ball momentarily, Brady quickly gathered himself and fired towards Malcolm Mitchell for the score in the end zone.
Both teams then failed with field goal attempts, before Gostkowski finally broke the stalemate almost midway through the third quarter as he put the Patriots 13-10 up with a 29-yard kick. Quincey Enunwa then took an extraordinary catch in the deep corner of the end zone from a Ryan Fitzpatrick throw and that put the Jets back in front with a 22-yard pass for a touchdown. Another field goal by New England then saw them move within one point of the Jets with the final few minutes ticking down by.
The winning play then saw Malcolm Mitchell picking up his second touchdown of the game on a 1st & Goal for the Patriots, when Brady found Mitchell to his left and saw him going over for a 8-yard play to see the Patriots stay perfect on the road this year and go 3-1 against divisional teams this season.
CHICAGO BEARS 21 – 27 TENNESSEE TITANS
Chicago Bears coach John Fox gave Matt Barkley a run out as quarterback in what has been a bit of a poisoned chalice at quarterback position so to speak for the Bears this year-after the loss of both Jay Cutler (shoulder) and Brian Hoyer (Arm) through injury. One noticeable thing about the game wasn’t on the field of play, but in the crowd, as over 13,000 empty seats gave a clear sign that Bears fans weren’t happy with their side.
The game itself saw the Bears running game looking useful in the first half of the opening quarter, with Jordan Howard continuing to be the only bright spark on what has been a dismal season for the Windy City outfit this year. Barkley then threw his first touchdown pass to Daniel Brown for a 7-yard play and it put the hosts up 7-0. Tennessee then mounted their comeback at the end of the first quarter through a Derrick Henry run as he ran into the Bears end zone with a 11-yard run.
Delaney Walker then caught a 4-yard pass to register the Titans second touchdown of the game and saw the Chicago defence getting horribly confused and caused the score. More slack marking by the home side allowed Rishard Matthews to make a stunning catch in the Bears end zone for a 29-yard completion to put the visitors 21-7 up at the half. Chicago then fooled the Titans by going for an onside kick at the start of the second and successfully recovered in the process too. Barkley then got the Bears to a 3rd & Goal until the quarterback panicked and threw a turnover in the end zone to see a chance go begging.
Two fields goals by Ryan Succop moved Tennessee even further ahead at 27-7 and the game seemed pretty much dead in the water. That was till Matt Barkley then tried to engineer a stunning comeback for Chicago, with firstly Marquess Wilson completing an 8-yard pass and then Deonte Thompson making a catch on the next drive for successive scores and bring the Bears on the verge of possibly stealing the game.
The killer for Chicago in the game was all the dropped catches they were making or not making-as the case would be, with a total of 12 overall and none that were more important than the one Josh Bellamy dropped in the final minute. With Barkley looking for a man he saw a Tennessee man losing his footing throwing to the Bears wide-receiver available for the winning catch but he somehow managed to drop it and it proved costly as the Bears loss to a heartbreaking defeat.
OAKLAND RAIDERS 35 – 32 CAROLINA PANTHERS
This was a game of two halves for sure, as Oakland dominated their opponents for the whole of the first half and then saw the Panthers role-reversing in the second half. Seth Roberts put the Raiders ahead with a 2-yard grab in the end zone and that until Panthers quarterback Cam Newton dashed in for a 3-yard run to tie the game up. Latavius Murray then ran through the Panthers defence on the goal line to see the Raiders retaking the lead and was followed up by a Sebastian Janikowski field goal to see the Black & Silver 17-7 ahead.
Cam Newton then panicked on his 3-yard line and his intended pass was intercepted by Khalil Mack, who caught the ball to go in for a touchdown and have the Oakland 24-3 up at the break. Newton had gone the whole of the second quarter without a single completion and the Raiders defence had him their collective pockets it seemed. As the third quarter came around it saw the turning point in the game at that point in time, as Derek Carr got the ball snapped to him but in the process the snap came out wrong and saw the quarterback dislocating his ring finger on his throwing hand.
This led to Carr missing the next drive for the home side and in his absence saw Oakland now starting to lose their way as touchdowns for Jonathan Stewart and a 88-yard pass for Ted Ginn, saw the Panthers forcing their way back but failed in their two point conversions and extra point kicks. Carr returned to the field of play wearing a glove on his injured hand, meanwhile Carolina had by now turned the game on its head. Two quick scores by Stewart stretching over for a score late in third and then a Kelvin Benjamin with a 44-yard catch, saw the Panthers going 32-24 ahead with the added point.
Clive Walford then made a good catch from a Derek Carr throw up the middle of the field, as he completed a 12-yard play with Seth Robert then making a catch on a two point conversion to see the Raiders back level with their opponents. Janikowski then kicked the winning points with 1:45 left to go in the game as he slotted over a 23-yard field goal to see Oakland come from behind in a game that they should never have comfortably won at half time.
DENVER BRONCOS 27 – 30 KANSAS CITY CHIEFS
An incredible finish at Mile High Stadium saw the Kansas City Chiefs getting a huge stroke of luck in the dying seconds of overtime to complete a memorable win for the AFC West side. After the sides played out a scoreless first quarter, Offensive Linebacker Justin Houston was having a half to remember and was giving the Broncos offence nightmares. Houston saw Denver conceding a safety in their own end zone, after he sacked the quarterback and luckily for the Broncos had Russell Okung to fall on it and avoid a touchdown against them.
Tyreek Hill then ran back a 86 yard kick off return immediately on the following play, and that put the visitors 9-0 up in a blink of an eye. Brandon McManus struck a 33 yard field goal to get Denver on the scoreboard and had the Broncos trail by six at the half way point. Broncos quarterback Trevor Siemian then dodged a bullet to set up Jordan Taylor for their opening touchdown, as the former Northwestern QB in college had to scramble to avoid the Chiefs defence before running to the far side and finding Taylor for the score.
Hill was back at it late in the third quarter, when he went to the corner for another touchdown to saw the Chiefs back in front. Emmanuel Sanders then caught a 35 yard pass to move the Broncos ahead by a single point and when Bennie Fowler looked to have secured the win for the home side on 76 yard play, it put Denver ahead 24-16 with over two minutes to go. Kansas City though had other ideas and saw Tyreek Hill rolling into the end zone with :11 seconds to go in the game and then saw the Chiefs follow it up with a two point conversion courtesy of Demetrius Harris to send the game to overtime.
Both Brandon McManus and Cairo Carlos nerves were tested to the fullest in the overtime quarter, with both kickers making their kicks to see the game continue on as the scores moved to 27-27 all. McManus then tried to kick a 62 yard effort for the Broncos, but that was no good and with the last play of the contest having Santos the chance to win it on a 34 yard kick, his effort veered left and somehow went in off the post and gave Kansas City victory.
GREEN BAY PACKERS 27 – 13 PHILADELPHIA EAGLES
Green Bay snapped their recent losing streak with a win over the Eagles in the Monday night football game in Philadelphia, while the home have now lost six of their last eight games this season. Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers picked up his first of two touchdowns passes in the game after Davante Adams scored on a 12-yard pass to put Green Bay up in the contest, and that was soon cancelled out by Carson Wentz who run into the end zone to tie the game.
Adams then claimed a superb catch to see the visiting side retaking the lead, after the wide-receiver somehow made a catch for the touchdown. Caleb Sturgis then nailed a 48-yard field goal to see the Eagles move within four points of their opponents. Crosby is a familiar name that has brought misery towards Philadelphia fans for a long time, but that is more Sidney Crosby from their Pennsylvania neighbours the Pittsburgh Penguins in ice hockey, while this Crosby was Mason Crosby and he kicked a 33-yard field goal to move 17-10 ahead in the match.
Sturgis responded within five minutes of the third after he kicked over a 50 yard strike to pull three points back for the Eagles and then had Aaron Ripkowski crashing over to see the Packers lead 23-13, before Crosby put the nail in the coffin for the Eagles with a 32 yard kick to condemn the home side to defeat.