NFL Thanksgiving Slate Recap


Since 1966, the National Football League has made a tradition of games in Detroit and Dallas on Thanksgiving Day. Only since 2006 has the day also included a third contest with different teams. This year, the matchups were as follows: Chicago Bears @ Detroit Lions, Buffalo Bills @ Dallas Cowboys, and New Orleans Saints @ Atlanta Falcons.

Chicago Bears @ Detroit Lions: 24-20 Chicago Bears

Going into this divisional clash, the formerly 5-6 Bears and 3-7-1 Lions had nothing to play for. Even so, the result was surprisingly entertaining. After jumping out to a 7-0 lead, the Bears allowed two touchdowns to Detroit’s dynamic tandem of Kenny Golladay and Marvin Jones Jr. to end the first quarter scoring at 14-7 Lions. 

A field goal for each team led to halftime where the Lions led 17-10. In the third quarter, Chicago responded with a sustained drive that finished with a touchdown and a tied game at 17 each. Later, Detroit kicked a field goal to put them ahead 20-17 with ten minutes left in the fourth quarter. 

Punts from both teams left the Bears with the ball, a three-point deficit, and seven minutes on the clock. A relatively fast drive through the air ended with a short passing touchdown to David Montegomery. David Blough, the undrafted quarterback forced to start for the Lions, had to score a touchdown to win the game. On fourth down and very long in Chicago territory, Blough threw an interception to Chicago’s Eddie Jackson. Jackson secured the 24-20 victory for his team.

Buffalo Bills @ Dallas Cowboys: 26-15 Buffalo Bills

In contrast with the first two teams that played, both the Bills and Cowboys have playoff hopes. Buffalo looks to secure the top wild card spot in the American Football Conference if they cannot pull off the unlikely upset of the New England Patriots for the division title. Dallas and Philadelphia are in direct competition with each other to win the NFC East and a postseason berth.

Even with a nine point victory for Buffalo, the game was not as close as it appears. It was all downhill following an opening drive touchdown for the Cowboys as the Bills proceeded to score 26 points unanswered afterwards. A meaningless touchdown for Dallas made the final score 26-15 Bills. For the Cowboys, a pair of missed field goals and poor strategy decisions by coach Jason Garrett could have changed the outcome. 

New Orleans Saints @ Atlanta Falcons: 26-18 New Orleans Saints

This matchup appeared to be the most lopsided of the day. New Orleans clinches the number one seed in the NFC if it wins out, but Atlanta has no chance at making the playoffs. Atlanta opened up with a three-and-out before their ensuing punt was blocked. With great field position, New Orleans quickly scored. However, as seen later in the night, the Saints failed to keep Atlanta out of contention.

Fortunately for them, the Falcons failed to convert a fourth-and-one two yards from New Orleans’ endzone. Shortly thereafter, Atlanta did score a touchdown, but the extra point was missed. The Saints responded with a field goal before the Falcons missed one of their own. After the miss, New Orleans scored another touchdown to make the score 17-6. Just before the end of the half, the Falcons finally converted a kick which brought the total to 17-9 Saints. 

The third quarter featured a field goal from the Saints and two interceptions from the Falcons, so the score going into the fourth quarter was 20-9. Two more field goals from New Orleans assisted by an Atlanta fumble left the Saints with a 17 point lead and about 6:30 left in the game. In full desperation mode, the Falcons played their best football. 

A touchdown with a missed two-point conversion and a field goal before one last turnover on downs left them with the final score of 26-18 Saints. Awful special teams play for New Orleans allowed Atlanta to recover two onside kicks in a row to get the opportunities to score. Although they won, the Saints showed some vulnerability in terms of being able to put victories away. Letting a more talented team than Atlanta compete with them could prove to be costly in the playoffs.

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