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Saturday, December 3, 2016

Lions, Cowboys Win To Seize Division Leads

Detroit (AFP) – The Detroit Lions and Dallas Cowboys won their annual U.S. Thanksgiving home games Thursday to seize NFL division leads while reigning Super Bowl champion Baltimore moved into a playoff position.

Detroit’s Matthew Stafford tossed three touchdown passes and the Lions won on Thanksgiving for the first time since 2003, beating Green Bay 40-10 to grab the NFC North lead at 7-5.

At Dallas, DeMarco Murray ran for a career-best three touchdowns to power the Cowboys over Oakland 31-24 and seize the NFC East lead at 7-5.

And Baltimore improved to 6-6 with a 22-20 home victory over Pittsburgh, with Justin Tucker kicking five field goals to push the Ravens into the last American Conference playoff spot with five weeks to go in the regular season.

Detroit’s Stafford completed 22 of 35 passes for 330 yards and, even though he threw two interceptions and lost a fumble that led to a Packer touchdown, the Lions’ defense forced four turnovers and allowed Green Bay only 123 total yards.

“We turned the ball over too much but our defense came through for us,” Stafford said.

Detroit posted seven quarterback sacks, two fumble recoveries, an interception and a safety as the Lions took the first win in their annual Thanksgiving home game since beating the Packers 22-14 a decade ago.

“We understood what they were going to do and tried to take advantage of it,” said Lions defender Ndamukong Suh, whose father is from Cameroon and mother is from Jamaica. “We played well as a unit and stuck together. We went out and made some sacks and had some fun.”

Reggie Bush ran 20 times for 117 yards, caught five passes for 65 yards and scored a touchdown and Calvin Johnson caught six passes for 101 yards and a touchdown.

“It was great day for us,” Bush said. “We fought back and came through adversity and came out with a win. It’s pretty special. It was a big win.”

The Lions, seeking their first division title in 19 years, moved ahead of Chicago, which would join them at 7-5 with a victory Sunday at Minnesota.

At Dallas, Oakland’s Greg Jenkins produced a rare score on a team kicking off the ball when he recovered a fumble and ran it back 24 yards for a touchdown on the opening play of the game for the Raiders.

Murray answered with a 2-yard touchdown run for Dallas set up by an Oakland fumble but the Raiders seized a 21-7 lead on a pair of 1-yard touchdown runs by Rashad Jennings.

But the Raiders did not score again until the dying seconds while Dallas added 4- and 7-yard touchdown runs by Murray and Tony Romo’s 4-yard touchdown pass to Dez Bryant.

The Cowboys moved ahead of Philadelphia atop the NFC East but the Eagles can pull level with Dallas at 7-5 by beating Arizona on Sunday.

At Baltimore, the host Ravens grabbed a 10-0 half-time lead on Joe Flacco’s 7-yard touchdown pass to Torrey Smith and a 43-yard Tucker field goal.

Tucker kicked field goals of 34 and 38 yards around an 8-yard Steelers touchdown pass from Ben Roethlisberger to Emmanuel Sanders to give the Ravens a 16-7 lead entering the fourth quarter.

Tucker added a 45-yard field goal but Pittsburgh answered when rookie LeVeon Bell scored on a 1-yard touchdown run to pull within 19-14 with 9:32 remaining.

Tucker’s fifth field goal of the game and 27th successful attempt in a row was a 48-yarder that gave the Ravens an eight-point lead.

Roethlisberger fired a 1-yard touchdown pass to Jericho Cotchery with 63 seconds remaining to pull the Steelers within 22-20 but Sanders dropped a 2-point conversion pass from “Big Ben” and Pittsburgh botched an onside kick attempt to hand Baltimore the triumph.

Sunday’s games find New England at Houston, Tampa Bay at Carolina, Jacksonville at Cleveland, Miami at the New York Jets, Tennessee at Indianapolis, Atlanta at Buffalo, Cincinnati at San Diego, the New York Giants at Washington, St. Louis at San Francisco and a showdown of 9-2 AFC West co-leaders with Denver at Kansas City.

New Orleans and Seattle, the winningest teams in the National Conference, meet on Monday night.

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