Thanksgiving weekend has just gone by in the NFL, and this time of the season always proves to be a landmark moment of the year as the final stretch of the season draws close.

I’ll be recapping all three of last Thursday’s games as well as reviewing some of the key games from this past Sunday.

Thanksgiving Recap:

Houston Texans 34-31 Detroit Lions: For the second week in a row, the 10-1 Texans needed overtime to come out on top against stubborn opposition, with Kicker Shayne Graham making a 32-yard field goal to give them the win over Detroit. The Lions had several chances put the game beyond doubt and hand Houston their second loss of the season but failed to capitalise on each occasion. Veteran Kicker Jason Hanson had the chance to win the game but hit the right upright from 47 yards out. The controversial turning point in the game came in the third quarter, with Detroit leading by ten, when Texans Running Back Justin Forsett ran 81 yards for a touchdown even though it appeared he had been brought down at midfield. However, Lions Coach Jim Schwartz threw an illegal challenge flag that negated the after-play review and the score was upheld.

Washington Redskins 38-31 Dallas Cowboys: Rookie sensation Robert Griffin III had arguably the best performance of his young career to date, passing for 311 yards and four touchdowns as the Redskins defeated their NFC East rivals on the road. Griffin single-handedly tore apart the Cowboys defence in the second quarter, building up a 28-3 lead going into the half. The Cowboys made a valiant effort to comeback in the second half but ended up failing just short. Dallas Quarterback Tony Romo threw for a career-high 441 yards and three second- half scores, two of which went to receiver Dez Bryant (8 catches, 145 yards). Despite the strong performance, it was the first loss in six starts for Romo on Thanksgiving.

New England Patriots 49-19 New York Jets:  

The New England Patriots scored 35 points in the second quarter alone, including three touchdowns in a span of 52 seconds, on route to a 49-19 demolition of their AFC East rival New York Jets. The scoring spree got underway when Quarterback Tom Brady completed a screen pass to a wide open Shane Vereen who went untouched for an 83 yard touchdown. On the ensuing drive Jets Quarterback Mark Sanchez made one of the saddest, most pathetic and side-splittingly hilarious plays you will ever see. Sanchez went to hand off the ball to his Running Back…. Who wasn’t there (oops). After realising his mistake, Sanchez panicked and decided to run it himself. He then proceeded to run full speed and face first into the ass of one of his hefty offensive lineman (no seriously, this ACTUALLY happened) and fumbled the ball as a result. Amazingly, instead of pissing himself laughing, Patriots Safety Steve Gregory scooped up the loose ball and returned it for perhaps the easiest score of his entire life. It looked as though things couldn’t get any worse, but this is the Jets we’re talking about. On the very next play, Joe McKnight fumbled the kick-off return and Julian Edelman took advantage for the touchdown. Edelman added a touchdown through the air and the game was effectively over as a contest. Thanks to the win, Bill Belichick became the 8th coach in NFL history to win 200 games.

Sunday Games:

Chicago Bears 28-10 Minnesota Vikings:

The Bears bounced back from last week’s defeat to San Francisco in impressive fashion by easily defeating NFC North rivals Minnesota 28-10. Quarterback Jay Cutler had a decent outing after coming back for a concussion throwing for 188 yards and a touchdown to Tight End Kellen Davis. As has been the case for the majority of the season, Chicago’s defence stepped up with a major contribution, coming away with three takeaways, bringing their total to a league-high 33. The defence also did a great job of containing star Running Back Adrian Peterson for most of the game. The win came at a price however as the Bears lost Wide Receiver/Return specialist Devin Hester to a concussion, while Matt Forte and Charles Tillman picked up ankle injuries. Receiver Brandon Marshall caught 12 passes for 92 yards, becoming the first Bears Receiver since Marty Booker in 2002 to have over 1,000 receiving yards in a season.

San Francisco 49ers 31-21 New Orleans Saints:

Jim Harbaugh’s 49ers were able to end the Saints’ three game winning streak in the Superdome, thanks in large part to the performance of their defence. Ahmad Brooks and Donte Whitner both intercepted Quarterback Drew Brees and returned them for touchdowns, while the 49ers pass rush, led by NFL sack leader Aldon Smith, sacked Brees five times. Second year Quarterback Colin Kaepernick got his second career start in place of Alex Smith and had success, passing for 231 yards and running for a seven yard score. San Francisco completely dominated New Orleans in the running game too, outgaining the Saints in rushings yards, 144 to 59. Drew Brees finished the game with 267 yards, three touchdowns and the two costly interceptions. One of the scores went to Receiver Marques Colston, giving him the franchise record of 56 receiving touchdowns.

New York Giants 38-10 Green Bay Packers:

Eli Manning and the Giants came back from a much needed bye week refreshed and ready to go as they totally outmanned the injury stricken Packers on their way to a decisive 38-10 victory. After suffering a slight slump the last few weeks, the reigning Superbowl MVP Manning was back to his normal self as he threw for three touchdown passes against a weak Packers secondary. The Giants got out to an early lead with Manning finding rookie Receiver Reuben Randle in the back of the endzone on the Giants’ first possession of the game. The Packers answered right back with a 61 yard touchdown pass from Aaron Rodgers to Jordy Nelson and it looked like it was the beginning of an inevitable shootout. However, as the half went on the Giants defence began to impose their will on the porous offensive line of Green Bay. Rodgers saw pressure all night and fumbled the ball after being sacked by Osi Umenyiora, leading to an Ahmad Bradshaw touchdown that effectively ended the game.

Offensive Player of the Week:

Robert Griffin III, Quarterback, Washington Redskins:

The RG3 experience just keeps on getting better every week. The reigning Heisman Trophy winner is having arguably one of the greatest rookie seasons in NFL history and has now passed for four touchdowns in two consecutive games.

Defensive Player of the Week:

Janoris Jenkins, Cornerback, St Louis Rams:

Jenkins, also a rookie, is beginning to prove all those who doubted him during April’s draft and is having a great rookie year under Head Coach Jim Fisher in St Louis. Jenkins became the first player since 1960 to return two interceptions for touchdowns as the Rams defeated the Arizona Cardinals on Sunday.

 

Top Ten Power Rankings:

1.     San Francisco 49ers (8-2-1)

2.     New England Patriots (8-3)

3.     Houston Texans (10-1)

4.     Atlanta Falcons (10-1)

5.     Denver Broncos (8-3)

6.     Baltimore Ravens (9-2)

7.     Chicago Bears (8-3)

8.     New York Giants (7-4)

9.     Green Bay Packers (7-4)

10.  Cincinnati Bengals (6-5)