The Thrill and the Agony This week in sports by Chas Walker

Giving thanks for touchdowns

In many households, football is as much a part of the Thanksgiving tradition as is turkey. Sitting down to watch Thursday’s games gives us the chance to bond with (or in some cases, escape from) our families and to cheer on our favorite team. Here is how the games panned out.

Detroit sends Green Bay packing

Hanson has five field goals in 22-14 victory

Detroit’s defense sure was hungry this Thanksgiving. They ate up the Packers’ running game, the best in the NFL, holding the normally stellar Ahman Green to 57 yards on 13 attempts. They literally feasted on Green Bay QB Brett Favre, sacking him four times, and forcing him to fumble once and to throw three interceptions.

And yet the Lions’ offense did not rack up huge numbers. Their only touchdown came in the first half on a short scooting run by Shawn Bryson; the remainder of their points were scored by kicker Jason Hanson – from significant distances (42, 28, 49, 46, and 32 yards).

Entering the fourth quarter, the Packers held on to a slim lead, 14-13. But Detroit cornerback Dre Bly, who grabbed two of the interceptions, short-circuited another Packers’ drive early in the quarter. Bly knocked the ball loose from Javon Walker’s hands, which set up the Lions’ go-ahead scoring situation – Hanson’s longest field goal of the day.

“I can’t remember the last time I kicked a field goal where it felt like ‘well, this one really doesn’t matter,’” he said. “Every kick it feels like it’s to get us in it, it’s to put us up by a couple, it’s to extend the lead just enough.”

Despite their losing record, Detroit showed a national audience that they still know how to win.



Dolphins knock Cowboys off their horse

Fielder throws three touchdowns for Miami in 40-21 win

In Thursday’s second game, the Miami Dolphins made a turkey of the Dallas Cowboys, demolishing them with nearly double their total points. The Cowboys’ number one ranked defense played as if it were hung over, allowing Ricky Williams to become just the second player this season to rush for more than 100 yards. It was the Cowboys’ first game this year in which they allowed more than 40 points, and their third loss in six games.

The Dolphins were on the attack from the get-go. In their first drive of the game, they marched 67 yards in 7 plays – down to the 1 yard line. Quarterback Jay Fielder, in top form after missing several weeks with a sprained knee and returning triumphantly for a mid-game comeback against Washington last week, took the ball into the end zone himself.

In the second quarter, the Dolphins scored a field goal, and the Cowboys struck back with a touchdown, a 4-yard run by Richie Anderson. On their next possession, Miami drove 72 yards in 4 plays, and Fielder connected with receiver Chris Chambers for a 39-yard TD pass to finish the drive. The two would team up for touchdowns twice more in the game, from 6 yards and 35 yards, respectively.

Richie Anderson added another touchdown for the Cowboys on a 27-yard pass from Quincy Carter, as did Antonio Bryant later in the game from 18 yards. But these points hardly mattered, as a fumble recovery in the third quarter by Dolphins defender Jason Taylor was returned for a touchdown. Kicker Olindo Mare padded the Dolphins’ scoreboard with a pair of field goals.

Cowboys coach Bill Parcells was not pleased. “We had no chance to win today. ... We played poorly all around. We were just awful. It’s just embarrassing to come out here on Thanksgiving, on a national broadcast and play like that. It was a wakeup call for our defense. They were riding pretty high. But everyone played poorly.”

The author can be reached at pww@pww.org