Winners and Losers From Thanksgiving Day Football

Radio On Fire – Jason Garrett’s job security went from bad to worse. Younghoe Koo established himself as an onside-kick genius. And Ole Miss (literally!) pissed away the Egg Bowl.

I know the focus of this post is supposed to be the NFL, and for good reason—Thanksgiving is one of the most important days on the league calendar, with the annual Cowboys and Lions games often ranking among the top five in regular-season viewership. However, the NFL shares the holiday with a college football game, the Egg Bowl rivalry between Ole Miss and Mississippi State, and this year the Egg Bowl stole the show.

Each of Thursday’s three NFL games featured relatively conventional endings: The Saints held off the Falcons 26-18, the Bills defeated the Cowboys 26-15, and the Bears beat the Lions 24-20. Meanwhile, the Egg Bowl delivered a one-of-a-kind finish that made me truly thankful to be a football fan.

Down 21-14 in the closing minutes of the game, Ole Miss put together a ludicrous touchdown drive, successfully converting a fourth-and-24 and later squeezing across the goal line with four seconds to go when backup quarterback Matt Corral completed a pass to wide receiver Elijah Moore. By scoring a game-tying touchdown in the waning moments of the state’s biggest college rivalry, Moore immediately became a hero to about half of Mississippians.

Apparently he felt that he still hadn’t made enough of a mark on the game. Moore celebrated by imitating a peeing dog, crawling on all fours and lifting up his right leg to mock pissing on Mississippi State’s end zone. This was an obvious unsportsmanlike conduct penalty and drew a flag for excessive celebration, pushing the game-tying extra-point attempt back by 15 yards. Ole Miss kicker Luke Logan then promptly missed the longer PAT, and the Rebels lost 21-20.

Loser: Coaches on the Hot Seat

Did you know that the Cowboys could soon fire Jason Garrett? It’s only the biggest and loudest talking point in the entire state of Texas. Such a move is probably overdue: Garrett is the longest-tenured NFL head coach who hasn’t won a Super Bowl—and he hasn’t even made a Super Bowl or an NFC championship game. But he always seems like he’s doing well, because he’s always clapping, and people usually clap when good things happen.

Garrett may have clapped Thursday, but his team didn’t deserve it. Dallas was throttled by a Bills team that would have scored on six straight drives if not for a pesky missed field goal. Heading into Week 13, Buffalo, now 9-3, had zero wins against teams with winning records. Dallas, now 6-6, will head into Week 14 still lacking a win against an above-.500 team.

Winner: Onside Kicks

Entering Week 13, NFL teams were 2-of-36 (5.5 percent) at recovering onside kicks this season. Successful onside kick recoveries have always been rare and random, but since the league introduced safety-oriented changes to the kickoff play in 2018, they have seemed damn near impossible.

Until Thursday, that is, when teams recovered three onside kicks. In three Thanksgiving games, there were more successful recoveries than in the first 12 weeks of the season combined.

Loser: The Brothers Osborne

Winner: The Debut of David Blough

Loser: Matt Ryan’s Ideal Version of the Holiday

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