Family, food and football. Three of the best things in life came together on Thanksgiving with the NFL’s triple-header slate on Thursday. As everyone came together to watch football, the NFL delivered a satisfying day we’ll never forget.
Sports fans sat down with their families expecting the Chicago Bears-Detroit Lions clash to be the green bean casserole of the NFL’s Thanksgiving slate. Instead, it delivered plenty of entertainment and only increased everyone’s appetite for more great football with a close contest that came down to the final minute.
The matchup between the Buffalo Bills and Dallas Cowboys served as the side dish for Thursday’s slate. The Bills catered some exciting plays and incredible performances for everyone to enjoy. Meanwhile, the Cowboys fell flat in front of another national audience and left everyone questioning their future.
NFL fans then received quite the dessert to end Thursday night. A battle between the New Orleans Saints and Atlanta Falcons, two rivals with an extensive history and plenty of hatred between both fan bases, served as a fitting end to the NFL action.
Here are the winners and losers from an entertaining and filling slate of games from the NFL’s Thanksgiving action.
Winner: Mitchell Trubisky, quarterback, Chicago Bears
There was a point in the third quarter when it looked like it might be time for Chicago to pull Trubisky from the game with a “hip injury”. Just when the criticism of his play grew loudest, the 25-year-old cooked up an epic comeback.
Trubisky led Chicago’s offense on an 84-yard drive and capped it off with a perfect throw for the game-tying score. He then took the ball back with six minutes left and unleashed a series of dimes downfield before throwing the go-ahead touchdown with two minutes left. Trubisky’s incredible second half, in which he threw only two incompletions and racked up 192 passing yards, played a deciding role in Chicago’s pivotal win on Thursday.
Loser: Matt Patricia, head coach, Detroit Lions
The Lions hired Patricia away from the New England Patriots hooping he could bring a sharp defensive mind and a winning culture to Detroit. At this point, we’ve yet to seen signs of either happening under his leadership. Facing one of the league’s worst offenses, Detroit let Trubisky move down the field with ease on Thursday.
Of course, we can’t ignore Patricia’s decision to not challenge Anthony Miller’s catch down the sideline before the two-minute warning. It’s just another piece of the puzzle that shows the egregious job he is doing as head coach. The Lions are on their way to another sub-.500 season and the team is worse than last year. If the defense doesn’t show improvement, there’s no sound reasoning for Patricia to stay in 2020.
Winner: Cole Beasley, wide receiver, Buffalo Bills
Beasley circled this game on his calendar the moment the 2019 NFL schedule came out. After signing with Buffalo this offseason, he made sure to throw shade at the Cowboys. Now with a shot at revenge against a front office that reportedly didn’t believe in him, Beasley proved them wrong in an epic performance.
It didn’t take long for Beasley to get the sweet taste of revenge. He burned the Cowboys’ secondary for 73 yards and a touchdown in the first half, then kept his season-best performance rolling in the second half. Beasley finished Thursday’s game with 110 receiving yards, a win and might have sealed the fate of his former coach.
Loser: Dak Prescott, quarterback, Dallas Cowboys
Coming off a rough performance in the loss to the New England Patriots, Prescott needed to rebound on Thanksgiving to maintain Dallas’ one-game lead in the NFC East. Instead, Prescott made the Cowboys’ offense as bland and dry as an overcooked turkey.
He looked impressive on the opening drive then got exposed to far too much heat from Buffalo’s pass rush. He was sacked four times, including a strip-sack turnover, and threw an awful interception to a defensive lineman. Of course, no moment made Prescott look worse than the atrocious throw on fourth down that cost the Cowboys a touchdown. Once viewed as a potential MVP candidate a few weeks ago, Prescott is quickly pushing this team away from a playoff spot.
Winner: Taysom Hill, quarterback, New Orleans Saints
Listing Hill as a quarterback doesn’t do justice to his contributions to New Orleans. He is the Saints’ Swiss Army Knife on offense and special teams, which we saw better than ever on Thursday.
Hill’s plate of big plays started with a blocked punt to put the offense in great field position. He then hauled in a touchdown a few plays later and returned to the end zone on a 30-yard run before halftime. He became the first player in nearly a century to record a blocked punt, receiving touchdown and a rushing touchdown in a single game. Hill deserves three turkey legs for this incredible performance.
Loser: Jason Garrett, head coach, Dallas Cowboys
There was no better sign of Garrett’s desperation than his shocking call to go for it on fourth down at Dallas’ 19-yard line. While it’s a move that would seemingly show growth, instead, it is a minor point in continued failures by Garrett.
The Cowboys don’t lack in impact talent at key positions. While Prescott struggled and Ezekiel Elliott seemingly disappeared after the first drive, this team is capable of winning the division. The problem is, this team crumbles at any hint of adversity with missed assignments, throws and decisions in crucial moments. All of that reflects on Garrett, especially the team’s recent horrific play designs on crucial fourth downs. While Garrett will finish the season as head coach, this game proved he shouldn’t.
Winner: Saints’ defensive line
While an individual player’s performance is usually highlighted on nights like this, credit must go for New Orleans’ entire defensive line for this defensive clinic. Between turnovers, quarterback pressures and sacks, they did it all against Matt Ryan.
Defensive ends Cameron Jordan and Marcus Davenport combined for six sacks, with Davenport also forcing two fumbles. Atlanta couldn’t contain them nor situational pass rusher Trey Hendrickson. When you add in rookie defensive tackle Shy Tuttle’s eye-popping interception and jaw-dropping stiff arm, it’s easy to see how the entire defensive line decided this game and they deserve a whole turkey.