Three Lessons from the Three Thanksgiving Football Games

What were the takeaways from T-Day football?

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Patrick Semansky/AP

Baltimore Ravens head coach John Harbaugh,foreground, hugs his brother, San Francisco 49ers head coach Jim Harbaugh, after their NFL football game in Baltimore on Thursday, Nov. 24, 2011. Baltimore won 16-6

What were the takeaways from T-Day football?

1. Brothers in Arms – The historic first ever matchup of head-coaching brothers in NFL history went the way of John Harbaugh’s Baltimore Ravens. They scored the final 10 points in a 16-6 victory which consigned Jim Harbaugh’s San Francisco 49ers to only their second defeat of the season. Excuse the obvious cliché but, despite the loss, Jim was thankful for the opportunity to coach against John. “I was proud to be part of it, proud to be part of the family,” Jim told the AP. “I was thankful on Thanksgiving. It was a wonderful thing.”

And older brother John (he’s 49 to Jim’s 47) was equally gushing. “I felt really humble, just thankful,” John said. “Running across the field to my brother — he’s my best friend, along with Mom and Dad and my wife. You don’t put yourself in many other coaches’ shoes, but you can put yourself in your brother’s shoes. I’m really proud of him.”

As for the game itself, the Ravens managed to sack 49ers quarterback Alex Smith nine times, tying a franchise record, and that was with their iconic linebacker Ray Lewis missing for a second straight game. San Francisco was also held without a touchdown for the first time this season as the Ravens moved a half-game ahead of the Pittsburgh Steelers in the AFC North. But when all’s said and done this season, will there be a more emotional moment than the brothers meeting in the middle after the game to hug, express their love before moving off in different directions? Only one thing springs to mind: if they end up playing each other in the Super Bowl, it will put the HarBowl on a whole new level.

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2. Packers Look PerfectHow did you do when carving up that turkey yesterday? If you’re Aaron Rodgers of the Green Bay Packers, the answer was “pretty good.” The Packers remain on the pursuit of perfection after stuffing the Detroit Lions on the road 27-15 in a game some thought would prove a stumbling block for the Super Bowl champions. Rodgers threw another two touchdown passes and was 22 of 32 for 307 yards. A disappointing Detroit tried the same tactic as last year of knocking the star QB out of the game (to be fair, that resulted in a win and nine-game winning streak). But Rodgers rose above it (the Lions would be penalized for late hits) meaning that the Pack are 11-0 for the first time in franchise history and have won a team-record 17 straight, which includes the playoffs. As for Detroit, they’ve now lost a franchise-record eight consecutive T-Day games and are in serious danger of tossing away their early season work. And worse could be to come: a watching nation surely spat out their turkey upon seeing Ndamukong Suh pound the head of Packers guard Evan Dietrich-Smith into the ground and then proceed to stomp on him. His third-quarter ejection didn’t help the Lions. Any subsequent suspension could end their year for good.

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3. Notable in November, Disastrous in December – Hands up those of you who truly trust Tony Romo to deliver the goods for his Dallas Cowboys come December and the playoffs? Dallas might have won its fourth straight game by squeaking past an improving Miami Dolphins 20-19 with a field goal that sailed through the posts as time expired but Dallas QB Romo didn’t look hugely comfortable. He threw two interceptions in the Cowboys’ first three possessions, which will lead some fans to ask if he’s headed for another late-season meltdown. They’re a half-game ahead of the New York Giants in the NFC East but you get the feeling the fate of the Cowboys rests on his shoulders, despite an impressive showing by his teammates Laurent Robinson and DeMarco Murray.

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