Nov 24, 2022; Arlington, Texas, USA; Dallas Cowboys wide receiver CeeDee Lamb (88) catches a pass for a first down as New York Giants cornerback Darnay Holmes (30) defends during the second half of the game between the Cowboys and the Giants at AT&T Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

Giants-Cowboys most watched regular-season game in NFL history

The NFL said Friday that the Thanksgiving Day game between the host Dallas Cowboys and the New York Giants set a regular-season viewership record.

The FOX broadcast averaged 42 million viewers, according to the league.

Dallas has played on Thanksgiving for 45 straight seasons and 55 times overall. This year was the first time since 1992 that it played its division rival from New York, the largest media market in the country, on the holiday. Both teams entered the game 7-3, adding to the interest.

The Cowboys beat the Giants 28-20.

The league said it also set a record for its Thanksgiving Day “total unduplicated audience” of 138 million.

The Buffalo Bills, one of the AFC’s best teams, beat the host Detroit Lions 28-25 on a late field goal in the early game. The host Minnesota Vikings topped the New England Patriots 33-26 in the nightcap.

The average viewership across the tripleheader was 33.5 million viewers per game.

The news comes as the NFL and Amazon plan to begin staging a single Black Friday game beginning in 2023.

–Field Level Media

Nov 24, 2022; Arlington, Texas, USA; Dallas Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott (21) runs for a touchdown  against the New York Giants during the first quarter at AT&T Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

Cowboys outpace Giants to win NFC East showdown

Dak Prescott tossed two touchdown passes to Dalton Schultz and Ezekiel Elliott added a rushing score to help the Dallas Cowboys notch a 28-20 victory over the visiting New York Giants on Thursday at Arlington, Texas.

Prescott completed 21 of 30 passes for 261 yards and overcame two interceptions for Dallas (8-3), which moved into sole possession of second place in the NFC East. The Philadelphia Eagles (9-1) lead the division.

Peyton Hendershot added a rushing score to help the Cowboys defeat New York for the 11th time in the past 12 meetings. CeeDee Lamb caught six passes for 106 yards, Elliott rushed for 92 yards on 16 carries and Micah Parsons registered two sacks to raise his season total to 12.

Daniel Jones completed 21 of 35 passes for 228 yards and one touchdown for the Giants (7-4), who lost for the third time in four games. Saquon Barkley rushed for a touchdown but had just 52 scrimmage yards (39 rushing, 13 receiving).

The Cowboys outgained New York 430 to 300 while playing their 45th consecutive Thanksgiving Day home game.

Dallas received the ball to start the third quarter and moved 75 yards on 14 plays. Prescott concluded the march with a 15-yard scoring pass to Schultz to give the Cowboys a 14-13 lead with 7:21 left in the third quarter.

The Giants failed to convert on fourth-and-1 on their next drive when Barkley couldn’t handle a low pass from Jones.

Dallas took advantage of the short field with a six-play, 44-yard drive. Prescott and Schultz again hooked up, this time for a 6-yard touchdown, to increase the Cowboys’ lead to eight with 2:02 remaining in the period.

Hendershot, a tight end, went in motion to his left and took a handoff from Prescott to score from the 2-yard line to make it 28-13 with 8:53 left in the contest.

Jones tossed a 1-yard touchdown pass to Richie James with eight seconds left.

The Giants led 13-7 at halftime on Barkley’s scoring run and Graham Gano’s two field goals.

Gano booted a season-high 57-yard field goal with 9:44 left in the first quarter before Dallas recovered to take a 7-3 lead. Elliott scored on a 6-yard run on the initial play of the second quarter to cap a 11-play, 93-yard drive.

New York moved back ahead on Barkley’s 1-yard run with 9:28 left in the half. Gano tacked on a 47-yard field goal on the final play of the half.

–Field Level Media

Nov 20, 2022; Detroit, Michigan, USA; Buffalo Bills quarterback Josh Allen (17) runs during the fourth quarter against the Cleveland Browns at Ford Field. Mandatory Credit: Tim Fuller-USA TODAY Sports

Streaking Lions chase four in a row, brace for Bills

Heading into November, the Detroit Lions resembled a train wreck. Entering their traditional Thanksgiving Day game, the Lions are suddenly on the fast track to playing meaningful games in December.

Their hopes of entering the playoff picture could quickly be derailed when they host the powerful Buffalo Bills (7-3).

Detroit (4-6) comes into the game with a three-game winning streak, including a convincing 31-18 road triumph over the New York Giants on Sunday. The Lions will be seeking to string together four consecutive wins for the first time since 2016, when they had five victories in a row.

“It’s huge. I think just getting a win against a good team on the road is always a good boost,” quarterback Jared Goff said. “We came into that game, all we heard about was how good they were in the red zone, how good they were on third down. And we said, ‘Well, we’re pretty good in the red zone too, and we’re pretty good on third down.’ And being able to prove that against a good team on the road is a lot of fun, and hopefully that carries over.”

The Lions have a razor-thin margin for error, but an upset Thursday would put them in the NFC wildcard race.

“None of it matters in my opinion if we don’t win this next one,” coach Dan Campbell said. “We’re in a good place, the guys understand the things that we’re doing that are allowing us to win. And we’ve got to continue to do that, and I know we can’t start thinking other things and get ourselves out of the mold of what we’ve been the last three weeks. We’ve got to stay the course.”

Protecting the ball has been a key component to the turnaround. They’ve committed just one turnover in the past three games.

In an ironic twist, the Bills have spent more time in Detroit’s Ford Field lately than the home team. A massive snowstorm in the Buffalo area forced a relocation of the Cleveland-Buffalo game to Detroit last week, and the Bills snapped a two-game losing streak with a 31-23 victory.

Quarterback Josh Allen was held to a modest 197 yards passing but connected with Stefon Diggs for a touchdown in the closing seconds of the first half. Allen led them on five scoring drives in the second half, four of which ended with Tyler Bass field goals.

“Everyone expects him to be Superman every game all the time, every throw,” coach Sean McDermott said. “I just love the fact that A, he’s human, and B, that he was able to work himself through (a slow start). That says way more about him than probably most people give him credit for in terms of his performance.”

Buffalo is familiar with playing in Detroit and no stranger to Thanksgiving Day games. The Bills defeated the New Orleans Saints 31-6 last Thanksgiving and recorded a 26-15 victory over Dallas in 2019.

“For the players and coaches who have never done it before, I think it’s an honor and fun to be a part of a tradition like that, especially playing at Detroit, who has traditionally played on Thanksgiving,” McDermott said.

Detroit’s top cover corner, Jeff Okudah, is expected to miss the game due to a concussion.

Center Mitch Morse (elbow, ankle) was among the Bills who didn’t practice on Tuesday.

–Field Level Media

Nov 20, 2022; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Dallas Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott (4) and running back Ezekiel Elliott (21) celebrate a touchdown during the third quarter against the Minnesota Vikings at U.S. Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports

Cowboys set table for East run as Giants come knocking

Winning the NFC East becomes a longshot with a loss on Thanksgiving Day, hiking the stakes for the Dallas Cowboys and New York Giants.

Dallas has won 10 of the past 11 over their rivals, who meet for the second time this season following a 23-16 Cowboys’ victory on Sept. 26 at East Rutherford, N.J.

The rematch arrives as the Cowboys host a game on Thanksgiving for the 45th consecutive season. Dallas has lost three straight on Turkey Day and look to end the slide at Arlington, Texas.

The Cowboys (7-3) enter against New York (7-3) on a high note after steamrolling the host Minnesota Vikings 40-3 on Sunday, but both teams are well off the pace set by division-leading Philadelphia (9-1).

Tony Pollard had a career-best 189 yards from scrimmage (80 rushing, 109 receiving) and caught two touchdown passes in the stunningly easy victory.

Star linebacker Micah Parsons and defensive end Dorance Armstrong each had two of Dallas’ seven sacks against Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins. The Cowboys lead the NFL in sacks (42) and scoring defense (16.7 points per game) and rank ninth in total defense (310.6 yards per game).

Parsons, who ranks second in the NFL with 10 sacks, injured his left knee and ankle against the Vikings. He maintains he will be ready to play against the Giants but his status is something to watch during a short week.

“I just got rolled up. I felt like everyone on the line just kind of fell on my leg,” Parsons said. “It was a quick shot — I’ve never had that (pain) before. But my health is great. The knee is cool, definitely in a positive manner.”

Dallas sacked New York quarterback Daniel Jones five times during the September victory with defensive end DeMarcus Lawrence registering three of them.

But Jones also rushed for 79 yards and recorded first downs on seven of his nine rushing attempts, passing for 196 yards with one interception.

“Daniel Jones is a phenomenal quarterback when it comes down to things breaking down and him using his legs,” Cowboys safety Jayron Kearse said. “He’s a pretty mobile quarterback when it comes to that. Everything coming from me boils down to guys just doing their jobs.”

The Giants had a disappointing 31-18 home loss to the Detroit Lions last week. Jones passed for 341 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions and ran for a score.

Star running back Saquon Barkley was limited to 22 yards on 15 carries. Barkley is second in the NFL in rushing yardage (953) and fourth in scrimmage yards (1,163). The setback was the second in three games following New York’s surprising 6-1 start.

“We’re not going to panic. We’re not going to worry. We’re not going to waver at all,” Barkley said.

Giants coach Brian Daboll is expecting a turnaround against the Cowboys.

“They’ll respond,” Daboll said. “… We’re in an outcome, results-oriented business. We all understand that. But the things that we do during the week, the work we put in, how we study, that’s what’s important to me. Obviously, we want to win every game. But I think you stay consistent. We’re going to go through our preparation. And then we’re going to go out and try to play the best we can play Thursday.”

Prescott did not play in the first meeting this season due to a thumb injury. He has thrown 21 touchdown passes against five interceptions in 11 career games against the Giants.

New York lost wide receiver Wan’Dale Robinson to a season-ending ACL tear in his right knee against the Lions and cornerback Adoree’ Jackson (knee) is expected to miss at least four weeks with a sprained MCL.

Cowboys linebacker Anthony Barr (hamstring) will miss his third straight game. Running back Ezekiel Elliott (knee) will be watched closely during the short week. He rushed for two touchdowns against the Vikings after missing the previous two games.

–Field Level Media

Nov 13, 2022; Green Bay, Wisconsin, USA;  Dallas Cowboys linebacker Micah Parsons (11) during the game against the Green Bay Packers at Lambeau Field. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

Mike McCarthy: Cowboys hit by illness, taking precautions

Masks are back in full force in the Dallas Cowboys’ locker room after a second day with multiple players reporting to work sick.

The Cowboys excused multiple players from their walkthrough on Monday due to illness, including defensive linemen Johnathan Hankins, Dante Fowler and Tarell Basham. Cornerback Kelvin Joseph left the game at Minnesota on Sunday with an illness. Punter Brian Anger and nose tackle Quinton Bohanna were listed as questionable entering Week 11 due to illness.

Head coach Mike McCarthy said the team would take precautions to prevent further spread of the non-COVID illness and some players checked into the team facility in Frisco, Texas, in protection masks.

Dallas has a 4:25 p.m. ET kickoff on Thanksgiving Day with the New York Giants.

Cowboys owner Jerry Jones, speaking Tuesday morning to 105.3 FM The Fan in Dallas, said linebacker Micah Parsons (knee, ankle) did not have an MRI exam but plans to be on the field this week. He will be limited during light practices this week.

Jones said left tackle Tyron Smith is not ready to be activated from August surgery but, when he is, the owner declared Smith the left tackle over rookie Tyler Smith.

Tyler Smith moved to left guard late in the Week 11 win to get in-game reps at the position.

–Field Level Media

Nov 1, 2020; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA; Dallas Cowboys head coach Mike McCarthy during the first quarter against the Philadelphia Eagles at Lincoln Financial Field. Mandatory Credit: Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

Cowboys host Raiders, Bills face Saints on Thanksgiving

Dallas draws the Las Vegas Raiders in the mid-afternoon game on Thanksgiving Day.

The Cowboys’ traditional holiday home date is the middle game following the Chicago Bears at Detroit Lions and Buffalo Bills at New Orleans Saints.

The NFL schedule will be released in full on Wednesday night.

Dallas lost 41-16 to the Washington Football Team on Thanksgiving Day in 2020 and enters with a two-game losing streak on Turkey Day. The Bills beat the Cowboys in 2019.

The Bears and Lions are meeting for the third time in four years on Thanksgiving. Chicago won games in Detroit in 2018 and 2019.

–Field Level Media

Nov 1, 2020; Cleveland, Ohio, USA; Cleveland Browns linebacker Sione Takitaki (44) reacts after Las Vegas Raiders kicker Daniel Carlson (not pictured) missed a field goal during the first quarter at FirstEnergy Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports

Another Browns’ player positive; team has work-from-home Thursday

Another player was confirmed to have tested positive for COVID-19 on Thursday, leading the Cleveland Browns to another work-from-home day.

Tackle Jedrick Wills and safety Jovante Moffatt were excused on Wednesday, and the Browns are unlikely to practice at the facility at all before the scheduled Week 12 matchup with the Jacksonville Jaguars. Linebacker Sione Takitaki was placed on the reserve/COVID-19 list Wednesday.

“The Cleveland Browns were informed this morning that a player has tested positive for COVID-19,” the team said in a press release Thursday. “The facility is currently closed and meetings will take place remotely while contact tracing is conducted to identify any high-risk close contacts. The team will continue to consult with the league and medical experts on the appropriate next steps as the health and safety of our players, coaches, staff and the entire community remains our highest priority.”

The Browns have won back-to-back games entering Week 12 while Jacksonville is sputtering and plans to start Mike Glennon at quarterback, a third No. 1 at the position this season.

Defensive end Myles Garrett, fullback Andy Janovich and backup defensive end Joe Jackson are also on the reserve/COVID-19 list, and coach Kevin Stefanski said Wednesday afternoon they would not be available for the Browns (7-3) when they visit the Jaguars (1-9). Offensive lineman Chris Hubbard is also on the list, but Stefanski said he “has a chance” to return.

–Field Level Media

Nov 1, 2020; Baltimore, Maryland, USA;  Pittsburgh Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin looks onto the field during the first half against the Baltimore Ravens at M&T Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

Ravens-Steelers Thanksgiving game shifted to Sunday

Due to a number of COVID-19 cases and related contact tracing, there will be no primetime Thanksgiving game on Thursday.

The NFL announced Wednesday that the scheduled game between the Pittsburgh Steelers and Baltimore Ravens was postponed to Sunday.

The Ravens were discussing travel modifications, including flying to Pittsburgh on Thursday, as they considered how to pull off what was scheduled to be the third game of an NFL tripleheader Thursday.

The Ravens placed three players on the reserve/COVID-19 list this week and head coach John Harbaugh said the roster was thinned to a troublesome degree entering the AFC North rivalry game.

The NFL hoped to avoid postponing games the rest of the season.

Pittsburgh enters the week 10-0 and the Ravens are 6-4 and coming off a 30-24 overtime loss to the Tennessee Titans on Sunday. The Steelers, the NFL’s lone unbeaten team, routed the Jacksonville Jaguars 27-3 last weekend.

Baltimore started the season 5-1 before dropping three of their past four games.

The remaining Thanksgiving Day lineup features the Houston Texans at the Detroit Lions at 12:30 p.m. ET, followed by the Washington Football Team at the Dallas Cowboys at 4:30 p.m. ET.

–Field Level Media

Sep 15, 2019; Landover, MD, USA; Washington Redskins wide receiver Terry McLaurin (17) is congratulated by offensive guard Brandon Scherff (75) after scoring a touchdown against the Dallas Cowboys during the second half at FedExField. Mandatory Credit: Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports

Least of these: WFT, Cowboys fight for first in East

Cynics call it the NFC Least.

But Thursday’s annual Thanksgiving Day game featuring the Dallas Cowboys and Washington Football Team carries a feast of a prize: the winner will own first place in the ragtag division for at least a few days.

Yep, the winner of a game matching two 3-7 teams sits atop this heap of mediocrity. And while a 4-7 first place team might get more than its share of scorn, they’re also in line for a playoff spot with five games remaining.

So for veterans like Washington defensive end Ryan Kerrigan, this is a chance to show younger teammates what it’s like to prepare for – and maybe win – a big game.

“As weird as that is to say at 3-7, we’re still very much in it,” Kerrigan said after practice on Monday. “Hopefully, we can make it happen down the stretch here.”

Washington appears to have a sunny future for the first time in a while.

New coach Ron Rivera can boast of a solid defensive line, one that has shown it can protect a lead. Once Washington took the lead in the third quarter Sunday against Cincinnati, the line notched four sacks in a 20-9 decision.

Washington has found a running game with rookie Antonio Gibson, a wide receiver at Memphis who has a team-high 530 rushing yards. Last week, he went for 94 against Cincinnati, including his eighth touchdown of the year. Terry McLaurin is on a pace for close to 100 catches, and veteran quarterback Alex Smith scored his first win in more than two years on Sunday. In his first 24 games, McLaurin has the numbers of a No. 1 receiver no matter the offense. His 1,790 receiving yards to date are 12th most all-time through 24 games and ahead of the likes of Jerry Rice (1,757).

“If you systematically run the ball and grind the clock and control it, you can control the tempo,” Rivera said. “If you’re shutting down the run and you get pressure on the quarterback, you’re allowing the defensive backs to make plays. There are different ways to win.”

Consistency? McLaurin nails it. He has 11 games with 80-plus receiving yards despite a revolving door at quarterback in his two seasons.

Cornerback play has been a concern for Dallas, and the Cowboys’ pass rush is not exactly consistent.

Dallas erased two fourth-quarter deficits and won 31-28 at Minnesota on Sunday. Andy Dalton’s 2-yard touchdown pass to Dalton Schultz with 1:37 left in the game helped Dallas snap a four-game losing streak.

It was Dalton’s first game since Oct. 25, when Washington linebacker Jon Bostic knocked him out of a 25-3 loss in the third quarter with a late hit to the helmet as Dalton slid to end a scramble. A battle with COVID-19 kept Dalton on the sidelines as Dallas continued to cycle through third and fourth-string quarterbacks with little success.

A Cowboys offense that shriveled up and died when Dak Prescott ended his season with a frightening leg injury in Week 5 finally displayed its trademark balance with almost 400 total yards. Their four touchdowns were twice as many as they produced in the prior four games.

“Everything’s in front of us. It doesn’t matter what we’ve done up to this point,” Dalton said. “It’s all about these next seven games.”

One recurring problem Dallas must confront on a short week is a lack of healthy bodies at cornerback. Starter Anthony Brown (ribs) left Sunday’s game in the fourth quarter, and rookie starter Trevon Diggs (foot) is on injured reserve.

Coach Mike McCarthy said on Monday that Brown would give it a shot at practice on Tuesday, but isn’t sure if he’ll be ready to go. The Cowboys dug deep into their depth chart Sunday to activate Rashard Robinson for his first game of the year in Diggs’ place.

The Cowboys did not practice Tuesday after head strength and conditioning coach Markus Paul was rushed to the hospital suddenly Tuesday morning at the age of 54. Paul’s family said he was undergoing treatment Tuesday morning, denying a report from Sports Illustrated stating Paul had died.

–Field Level Media