Saints Clinch, Cowboys Fizzle on Reasonably Entertaining Thanksgiving

The Saints became the first playoff team of 2019 behind a dominating defensive performance

saints cowboys nfl thanksgiving games
The Saints recorded nine sacks en route to a 26-18 victory
Carmen Mandato/Getty

While Cowboys owner Jerry Jones says he’s not yet ready to can beleaguered head coach Jason Garrett, it’s clear that something needs to change in Dallas.

America’s Team lost its annual Thanksgiving game in lopsided fashion to the Buffalo Bills yesterday. The final score of 26-15 flattered the Cowboys, with the Bills reeling off 26 consecutive points after an early Jason Witten touchdown catch. Dak Prescott threw a garbage-time touchdown to Ventell Bryant to save the Cowboys further blushes.

The win moved the upstart Bills to 9-3, now in commanding position in the AFC Wild Card standings and just a game-and-a-half back of the Patriots in the AFC East, whom they visit in Week 16 in what could prove a pivotal game. Now 6-6, the Cowboys retained a half-game lead in the NFC East, but have now lost three of their last four games.

In the day’s early kickoff, Mitchell Trubisky had his best game of the season (338 yard, 3 TDs) to lead the Bears to a 24-20 victory over the Detroit Lions. The Bears (6-6) are alive again in the playoff race after winning three of their last four, though the team will face an absolute gauntlet over the final quarter of the season, with away games to division rivals Green Bay and Minnesota along with two home games against other playoff hopefuls in Kansas City and Dallas.

In the night game, the Saints had to rely on a last-minute defensive stop to fend off the Falcons, who roared back to life in the dying minutes thanks to back-to-back onside kick recoveries. (They  actually recovered three of the kicks, though the first was called back for a dubious penalty.)

Note kicker Younghoe Koo’s curiously effective kicking style, which involved placing the ball horizontally across the tee, rather than upright:

Ultimately the Saints’ defense proved too much, though, sacking Matt Ryan nine times en route to a 26-18 victory. With the win, the Saints won the NFC South crown, becoming the first NFL team to clinch a playoff spot on the season.

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