Thanksgiving Day Football

James Costello
Sports Editor

Thanksgiving Day Football 11/27/14
Detroit (8-4) 34 vs
Chicago (5-7) 17
As they do every year, Detroit played a home game on Thanksgiving Day. This time they were matched up against divisional rival Chicago. Chicago QB Jay Cutler came out firing the ball all over the field. Cutler through 2 touchdown passes to WR Alshon Jeffery in the first quarter to jump out to a 14-3 lead. The lead wouldn’t last long as Detroit responded with 3 touchdown drives in the second quarter. Detroit WR Calvin “Megatron” Johnson scored 2 of those touchdowns. Detroit took a 24-14 lead into half time and never looked back as Chicago never cut the lead to single digits after half time.
Philadelphia (9-3) 33
Dallas (8-4) 10
Philadelphia came into Dallas for a battle for 1st place in the NFC East. Philadelphia opened the game with an 80 yard touchdown drive capped by a 2 yard QB Mark Sanchez run. Sanchez was able to send the lead to 14-0 on a 27 yard touchdown pass to WR Jordan Matthews. At the beginning of the 2nd quarter Dallas was able to cut the lead to 7 when Demarco Murray scored a touchdown from 1 yard out. Philadelphia responded by getting 3 short field goals by Cody Parkey to end the half with the score 23-7. The 2nd half of the game saw the Philadelphia defense flex its muscles as they only gave up a field goal the rest of the way. Philadelphia RB LeSean McCoy had a strong game running the football as he had 25 carries for 159 yards and a 38 yard touchdown to go up 30-10. Dallas QB Tony Romo was ineffective as he passed for under 200 yards and was intercepted twice.
Seattle (8-4) 19 @
San Francisco (7-5) 3
Seattle and San Francisco came into this game tied for second place in the NFC West and battling for a wild card playoff spot. Seattle came up big in their first trip Levi’s Stadium. The much acclaimed Seattle defense was able to hold the San Francisco offense to 164 yards of total offense and forced 3 turnovers to make quick work of the home team. Seattle CB Richard Sherman intercepted Colin Kaepernick twice. San Francisco did not put points on the board until there was a minute left in the 3rd quarter.  On offense, Seattle controlled the ball on the ground as they ran for 157 yards. Marshawn Lynch accounted for 104 of those yards alone.  Seattle has now won 5 of their last 6 games after a 3-3 start.
Sunday 11/30/14
Buffalo (7-5) 26 vs
Cleveland (7-5) 10
Buffalo returned to Ralph Wilson Stadium a week after snow pelted the area and forced the team to move last week’s home game to Detroit’s Ford Field. Buffalo’s vaunted defensive line harassed Cleveland QB Brian Hoyer early and often. They hit him repeatedly and picked him off twice. The Cleveland defense was just as tough early on as they took a 3-0 lead into half time. After the half, Buffalo QB Kyle Orton connected on a 3 yard touchdown pass to Chris Hogan to take the lead. After the ensuing kickoff, Jerry Hughes returned a Terrance West fumble for a touchdown to make it 14-3. Brian Hoyer proved to be ineffective as Cleveland turned to the much hyped rookie QB Johnny Manziel. Manziel’s touchdown cut the lead to 20-10. On Cleveland’s next drive, they turned it over on downs when Manziel connected with Miles Austin for 5 yards on a 4th and 6. Buffalo added 2 late field goals to increase the margin of victory.
Indianapolis (8-4) 49 vs
Washington (3-9) 27
Indianapolis scored early and often as QB Andrew Luck accounted for 5 passing touchdowns. He is building rapport with rookie WR Donte Moncrief. The 2 hooked up for 134 yards and 2 touchdowns. Meanwhile Washington is looking for answers at the quarterback position. In 2012, Indianapolis took QB Andrew Luck with the first picked of the draft. Washington traded up for the second pick and selected QB Robert Griffin III. Although Griffin won the Offensive Rookie of the Year in 2012, injuries and inconsistent play forced Washington to bench him in favor of Colt McCoy this week. McCoy filled in admirably passing for 392 yards and 3 touchdowns. However, the score was never close as the Washington defense simply could not stop Indy from hanging 49 points on the board.
Houston (6-6) 45
Tennessee (2-10) 21
Houston got career days out of QB Ryan Fitzpatrick and WR DeAndre Hopkins as Houston controlled the game from the opening whistle. Fitzpatrick threw for 358 yards and 6 touchdowns. Hopkins caught 9 passes for 238 yards and 2 touchdowns. Houston DE JJ Watt controlled the defensive side of the ball early. He had 2 sacks, another tackle for loss, a forced fumble and a fumble recovery. He was rewarded for his defensive efforts by getting inserted into the offense on the goal line where he caught a touchdown pass from Fitzpatrick. Watt also injured Tennessee QB Zach Mettenberger’s shoulder in the third quarter. Jake Locker came in and finished the game. He was completely ineffective as he went 6-12 with 2 interceptions. This reminded many why he was benched to begin with.
St. Louis (5-7) 52 vs
Oakland (1-11) 0
St. Louis scored early and often as they crushed Oakland who were coming off their first win of the season. Tre Mason opened the scoring on the first drive for St. Louis on a 35 yard touchdown catch. St. Louis piled it on as they scored 2 more touchdowns before the end of the 1st quarter. Tre Mason once again opened the scoring the in the 2nd quarter when he took a handoff and ran 89 yards for a touchdown. By half time, the score had reached 38-0. St. Louis scored 2 more touchdowns in the second half to complete the blow out.
San Diego (8-4) 34 @
Baltimore (7-5) 33
San Diego came to the East Coast where they have struggled in the past, to pull off an exciting come-back victory.  Baltimore jumped out to a 10-0 lead behind an opening touchdown drive that was capped by a 16 yard Torrey Smith TD catch and a field goal by Justin Tucker. On the ensuing drive, Philip Rivers led San Diego down the field for an 80 yard 13 play drive that ended on a 12 yard TD pass to Keenan Allen. Baltimore kicked 2 more field goals to make the score 16-7 before San Diego kicker Nick Novak kicked a 52 yard field goal to end the half at 16-10 Baltimore. With the score 23-13 after 3, San Diego rode a 21 point 4th quarter to a last second one point victory when Philip Rivers connected with Eddie Royal for 1 yard touchdown with 38 seconds left to give them the 1 point win.
Jacksonville (2-10) 25
NYG (3-9) 24
NYG won the first half of this game as they jumped out to a 21-0 lead behind 2 Rashad Jennings TD runs and an Eli Manning touchdown pass. Jacksonville got on the board just before half time on a 70 yard drive capped by a Josh Scobee 28 yard field goal. Jacksonville opened the scoring in the second half when JT Thomas recovered an Eli Manning fumble in the end zone for a touchdown. At the end of the quarter, Jacksonville put together another scoring drive capped by a Blake Bortles 30 yard TD pass to Marquis Lee. They failed to convert a 2 point try after to make the score 21-16. Jacksonville’s defense struck again after they stripped NYG TE Larry Donnell and Aaron Colvin returned the fumble 41 yards for the touchdown to take the lead 22-21. The last few minutes saw NYG take the lead again on a Josh Brown field goal. Jacksonville showed resilience as they responded with a game winning field goal with less than 30 seconds to play. The win snaps and 4 game losing streak for Jacksonville, while NYG has now lost 7 straight.
Cincinnati (8-3-1) 14 @
Tampa Bay (2-10)
In South Florida, neither team’s offense could move the ball with any consistency. Tampa Bay opened the scoring with a 32 yard Patrick Murray field goal. The score came after a Cincinnati turnover deep in their own territory. Doug Martin would later score a 7 yard TD to cap a 71 yard drive. Just before the half, Cincinnati was able to put together a 64 yard drive with a rare QB Andy Dalton touchdown run to cut the lead to 10-7 going into the half. Cincinnati took the lead late in the 3rd quarter on an AJ Green TD catch. Tampa Bay got a field goal to cut the lead to 1 in the 4th. Tampa Bay drove it down the field and got into field goal range at the end of the game. Tampa Bay got a 21 yard completion overturned after they reviewed the play to discover they had 12 men on the field. The penalty took them out of field goal range and turned the ball over on downs on a 4th and long.
New Orleans (5-7) 35 @
Pittsburgh (7-5) 32
New Orleans and Pittsburgh both needed a win to keep fighting for their divisional crowns. New Orleans responded well as they handled Pittsburgh on the road at Heinz Field.  Drew Brees helped New Orleans build a 35-16 lead behind his 5 touchdown passes. Running Back Mark Ingram also chipped in with 122 yards on the ground. Pittsburgh scored 2 touchdowns and converted 2 2 point tries in the last 3 minutes. The second score came with no time left on the clock. The game was not as close as the score would indicate.
Minnesota (5-7) 31 vs
Carolina (3-8-1) 13
Minnesota’s special teams came up large against Carolina. They blocked 2 first half punts and returned both for touchdowns. Carolina QB Cam Newton also turned the ball over early giving Minnesota a short field to work with that resulted in the game’s first score on a 4 yard TD catch by Kyle Rudolph. Minnesota took a 28-3 lead into half time. Carolina cut the lead to 28-13 early in the third quarter, but never seriously threatened Minnesota.
Atlanta (5-7) 29 vs
Arizona (9-3) 18
Atlanta was able to jump out to 17-0 lead in the first quarter. The first drive of the game featured a 55 yard Steven Jackson run that set up a 1 yard Levine Toilolo 1 yard TD reception. After stopping Arizona, Devin Hester returned a punt 70 yards for a touchdown; however he was called for an offensive face mask penalty at the goal line. They settled for a field goal after the called back touchdown.  After an interception, Atlanta scored another touchdown on a 32 yard pass to Julio Jones. Jones caught 10 passes for 189 yards and a touchdown. Atlanta kicker Matt Bryant went 5-5 kicking field goals as Atlanta blew out Arizona who has not lost 2 straight. Atlanta maintains a tie in first place in the NFC South with New Orleans. Arizona is now only one game ahead of Seattle in the NFC West.
Denver (9-3) 29 @
Kansas City (7-5) 16
Denver was able to make quick work of Kansas City as Peyton Manning threw 2 first quarter touchdown passes and got a solid effort out of RB CJ Anderson. Anderson rushed the ball 32 times for 168 yards. He also caught a touchdown pass. Kansas City did not record a first down until late in the second quarter. They were never able to cut the lead to less than 10 as Denver had possession of the ball for almost two-thirds of the game.
Game of the Week
Green Bay (9-3) 26 vs
New England (9-3) 21
The game of the week featured the two hottest teams in the league in what could be a potential Super Bowl preview. Green Bay came out strong for the fans at Lambeau field as they jumped out to a 13-0 lead in the first quarter behind a couple Mason Crosby field goals and an Aaron Rodgers to Richard Rodgers 32 yard pass completion. New England battled back as Brandon Bolden recorded a 6 yard TD run and Brandon LaFell got a TD pass from Tom Brady to make it 16-14 Green Bay. With the half winding down, Rodgers put together a quick scoring driving. He moved Green Bay 81 yards in 55 seconds to score a touchdown. Rodgers found Jordy Nelson sprinting down the field for a 45 yard score with 14 seconds left in the half to make it 23-14. The second half was a defensive struggle as no one scored a point in the 3rd quarter. Tom Brady opened up the second half scoring early in the 4th with a TD pass to Brandon LaFell again. Green Bay responded by getting a field goal with 8:41 left in the game to make it 26-21. New England took the ball and drove it into Green Bay territory. On a 3rd and 9, Green Bay sacked Brady for a 9 yard loss that forced New England to kick a 47 yard field goal. Stephen Gostkowski missed it with 2:40 left in the game. Green Bay took possession after the missed field goal and converted a crucial 3rd and 4 with 2:28 left to seal the game.
Monday Night Football (12/1)
Miami (7-5) 16 @
NYJ (2-10) 13
Miami stepped into this game needing a win to stay in playoff contention. NYJ needed a win to soften the blow of a lost season. NYJ started the year with Geno Smith as their starting QB, proving ineffective they inserted Michael Vick. They went back to Geno Smith last week after a terrible stint by Vick. This week, they tried to keep the ball out of starting QB Geno Smith’s hands as much as possible and decided to run the ball 49 times. It proved to be quite effective as they turned those 49 rushes into 277 yards and jumped out to a 10-0 lead. After halftime, Miami adjusted to NYJ’s running scheme and began to stymie it. The NYJ special teams did not help much as kicker Nick Folk missed 2 field goals and Miami blocked a punt. The blocked punt set up a short field as they took over on NYJ’s 39 yard line. They finally broke through to tie the game at 13-13 with 10 minutes left. They would later take the lead on a 26 yard field goal with 1:57 left. NYJ was now forced to pass and Geno Smith tossed an interception to seal the game for Miami. With the win, Miami now holds the last playoff position in the AFC.
Stats of the Week
·         With New Orleans and Atlanta winning on Sunday, the NFC South is still only 8-25-1 against non-divisional opponents. Atlanta currently holds the tie breaker for the division lead with a week 1 head to head win over New Orleans.
·         Geno Smith had 13 passing attempts this week. That was the lowest amount of passing attempts for a starting QB who also finished the game.
·         Rookie starting QB’s have a combined 7-27 record for the year.
·         360- # of consecutive passing attempts Aaron Rodgers has taken since his last interception at home. During that time he has thrown 31 touchdowns. His last home interception at home was in 2012.