Thanksgiving Day means turkey, family, giving thanks for what we have, and football (though the Pilgrims probably never foresaw that last part). Every year since Detroit Lions owner George Richards took over the fledgling team from Portsmouth, Ohio and petitioned to have a game scheduled on Thanksgiving Day to boost attendance, the Lions have played on Thanksgiving Day.
The gimmick worked. For a team that was drawing a paltry 10,000 fans out on a Sunday, the Thanksgiving crowd numbered 26,000. That was in 1934. By 1966, the NFL was looking to add a second game on Thanksgiving. The Cowboys jumped at the chance, and on a day when they worried no one would come, 80,000-plus fans turned out at the Cotton Bowl to watch the Cowboys beat the Browns.
Today, in a rivalry as timeless as Detroit Lions and Thanksgiving Day, the Cowboys will play the Washington Redskins. Dallas is fighting for a 6-5 record, while Washington is looking to claw their way to 5-6. Either team knows that if they want a shot at a wild card berth or division title, two things have to happen first: New York Giants must continue their slump, and this is a must-win game for both teams.
This is the sixth meeting of the two teams on Thanksgiving, and Dallas has won all of them. Both teams' QBs are coming off big wins, Dallas's Tony Romo has won his last three games, no thanks to his offensive line. Cleveland managed to sack him seven times last Sunday in an overtime nail-biter. With two starting centers out of the lineup (Ryan Cook and Phil Costa) and LT Tyron Smith questionable, Romo had better hustle. Because his corps of running backs are depleted – Felix Jones is questionable, and DeMarco Murray is doubtful.
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But wait, it's not like the Redskins are a stone wall. More like a sieve. Their defense, among the worst in the league, is giving up 384 ypg. Their safety Brandon Merriweather, two-time Pro Bowler, went out with a torn ACL last week against Dallas (after playing his first game with Washington and garnering an interception and two deflections). QB Robert Griffin may be without his favorite long-range target, Pierre Garcon.
If Romo can settle back and throw the ball well, I see no reason why the cowboys can't go 9-0 in their Thanksgiving matchup record against the Redskins. Griffin is too erratic to put the team's hopes on him, and the old adage “There's no 'I' in team” never rang truer.