During a pause in their game on Thursday, FOX broadcasters Troy Aikman and Joe Buck showed viewers the standings in the NFC East — a division where there are no winners.
None of the teams have winning records, and therefore none of them would be good enough to place even runner-up in any of the NFL’s other seven divisions. But a playoff berth is at stake, and it’s still very much up for grabs.
“Somebody is going to emerge and somebody is going to host a playoff game,” Aikman said.
“Those are the rules,” Joe Buck added.
“Those are the rules,” Aikman repeated, as if needing to convince himself.
At the moment, the Washington Football Team (4-7) has emerged after beating the Dallas Cowboys (3-8) during the annual U.S. Thanksgiving Day game at Jerry World.
Washington should be particularly thankful for rookie running back Antonio Gibson, who dominated Dallas with 136 total yards and three touchdowns. He’s the first rookie to find the end zone three times on Thanksgiving since Randy Moss in 1998.
Gibson was the seventh running back selected in the 2020 draft (third round, 66th overall), but his 11 rushing touchdowns dwarf all his peers (James Robinson, undrafted, is second with five).
He completed the hat trick on a 37-yard zone read, bursting through a seam in the defence and never looking back.
Gibson now has eight touchdowns in his past five games. He is a bright spot on a mediocre team in a truly terrible division.
In addition to Gibson’s great game, here’s what else happened during the Thanksgiving doubleheader:
Riverboat … Mike?
Washington head coach Ron Rivera has earned the nickname “Riverboat Ron” after years of risky decisions. But on Thursday, the head coach on the other sideline, Mike McCarthy, tried his luck a few too many times — and paid the price.
McCarthy’s Cowboys went one-for-four on fourth down — including a comically botched fake punt — en route to their worst Thanksgiving loss since 1989.
In the second quarter, they failed a 4th and 1 from their own 34. Washington scored a touchdown five plays later.
In the fourth, they lined up for a punt and tried a reverse — but it seems no one told the guys up front that they needed to block.
Cowboys fake punt
— John Clark (@JClarkNBCS) November 27, 2020
Oh, and it’s important to note it was only a four-point game at that moment. Until Washington scored on the ensuing play, that is.
For good measure, the Cowboys’ final drive of the game stalled on a 4th-and-4 pass that went for three yards. Because why not?
McCarthy — typically a fan of 2nd-and-long draws and playing for the field goal — will likely return to his risk-averse ways after this one.
Watson, Fuller light up Lions’ secondary
Watson threw for 318 yards and four touchdowns, while Fuller had six catches (all first downs) for 171 yards and two touchdowns as the Texans beat the stuffing out of the Detroit Lions.
For Watson, it was his seventh game with a quartet of touchdown passes or more — and that’s more games than all other passers in Texans history combined.
Fuller, meanwhile, became just the fifth receiver since 1970 to secure a pair of touchdowns and surpass the 150-yard mark on Thanksgiving (joining Amari Cooper, 2018; Randy Moss, 1998; Brett Perriman, 1995; and Anthony Carter, 1987).
Injury-related absences for Randall Cob and Kenny Stills, combined with the presence of the Lions’ porous defence (ranked 27th in yards and 28th in points), fuelled the strong connection between Watson and his top target.
It helped that Fuller — who topped his position group with a 4.32 40-yard dash at the 2016 NFL combine — was faster than all the players in Honolulu blue trying to cover him.
— Houston Texans (@HoustonTexans) November 26, 2020
Does this 40-yard bomb from Watson to Fuller look difficult? It would be for you and I, mind you. But for them it really, really wasn’t.
Suddenly, the Texans (4-7) have won three of their past four and have an outside chance to salvage a playoff run. They’ll need a lot more Watson-to-Fuller action to try and make that happen.
Is the Matt Patricia Era over in Motown?
“Ball security is job security,” is a football proverb that usually applies to on-field performance. But for the Lions, it might also be the writing on the wall in head coach Matt Patricia’s office.
Detroit (4-7) committed three turnovers in Thursday’s defeat, its fourth in the past five weeks. Patricia, who became a head coach for the first time when he took over the Lions in 2018, saw his overall record drop to 13-29-1.
Entering Week 12, Patricia dodged questions about his standing in Detroit. Who wants to talk about job performance when they aren’t performing well, right?
But of course, the questions have to be asked. And pretty soon it might be someone else in the coach’s chair who gets to answer.
Before Detroit, Patricia spent 14 years with the New England Patriots, working with various position groups before finishing as the defensive coordinator. He was part of six conference championships and four Super Bowl teams in Foxborough, and he was expected to bring that “Patriot Way” mentality along with him.
For those who are uninformed, the “Patriot Way” is slang for winning at an annoyingly frequent rate. The Lions have absolutely not done that — or come even close.
In the five years preceding Patricia, the Lions went to the playoffs twice and finished no worse than 7-9. They were viewed as a team on the cusp of something, needing the right coach to put it all together.
Now, Detroit is back in the basement of the NFC North — where they finished the two previous seasons as well. Think of the Lions as a half-built sandcastle that Patricia has dumped a bucket of water on.