Melissa’s Thanksgiving Day Musings: The Good, the Bad and the Bizarre

After Thursday’s slate of games the Philadelphia Eagles can confidently down their Thanksgiving leftovers with some celebratory champagne. There will be no late season challengers in the NFC East. The same can be said for the surging Minnesota Vikings who are the bonafide kings of the (NFC) North. All told, Thursday’s games were more like canned cranberry sauce than heavenly mashed potatoes. Still, there were plenty of positive moments, along with even more bad one. We run through the gamut of revelry and football in this special slightly abbreviated version of my Monday Musings column.

The Good

– My love for Adam Thielen is reaching irrational levels. Thielen put on another clinic Thursday in Detroit showcasing his jack-of-all-trades skillset as a receiver, and topping 1,000 yards for the season in the process. Thielen is the first Vikings receiver to cross the 1,000-yard threshold in eight years. Case Keenum has clearly improved in several facets, including an ability to scan the field and get the ball out quick, but having a reliable, physical wideout like Thielen has been of innumerable value. Sorry Antonio Brown, but there’s no receiver I’d rather watch more right now.

Thielen’s backstory, which he detailed last month in The Player’s Tribune, makes him even more likable. … A\as if that were possible! An undrafted rookie out of Minnesota State–Mankato in 2013, Thielen was prepared to take an internship in a dental office if his rookie tryout with the Vikings went awry. The Vikings were his pot of gold considering that Thielen grew up in Minnesota with posters of Cris Carter and Randy Moss lining his bedroom walls. He impressed enough to get a roster spot. Four years and a boatload of hard work later we have the pleasure of witnessing a true breakout season.

– Kudos to the Vikes’ offensive line that has massively improved as the year has evolved. Keenum was sacked twice Thursday but mostly had more than enough time to executive, while Latavius Murray ran for 4.2 yards per carry (80 yards and a score).

– The national anthems by the sax player in Detroit and the Cowboys trumpeter were simply chilling. All anthems should be played with a single musical instrument.

– The Chargers are so sneaky. With a stout defense and Philip Rivers playing so well, they seem to be the only team these days that actually wants to win the AFC West. When you think of teams that potentially match up well against New England in the playoffs (the only thing that matters in the AFC), the Chargers have to be up there.

– This beautifully produced feature on why former Chargers’ PR head Bill Johnston quit his job is simultaneously gut-wrenching and inspiring. Get tissues.

– This Vikings TD celebration is gold. Love the celebration rivalry they are forming with the Steelers.

The Bad

– Usually the NFL zeitgeist overreacts to bad officiating. Not so in the atrocious refereeing during the Vikings-Lions game. On the Lions side of things, Detroit scored a touchdown that they were apparently told was confirmed and thus took their time to kick a PAT. Turns out it was reversed upon review.

But mostly the bad officiating slanted in the direction of the Vikings. From an obvious pass interference non=call on a ball destined for Stefon Diggs that would have extended the lead to a ridiculous taunting call on Case Keenum for flipping the football near Lions DE Ziggy Ansah, the officials seemed keen on keeping the Lions in it. An all out embarrassment.

– Washington beat the hapless Giants 20-10 but let us not forget this terrible sequence that occurred when the game was tied 10-10 in the fourth quarter: Washington had 4th and less a yard on the Vikings 40. They stunningly sent out the punt team, then called a timeout, then sent out the offense who didn’t snap the ball in time. Delay of game. Punt. So many dunce caps to pass out for this one.

– The Giants are somewhat baffling but mostly bad. Either their offense or defense is stellar but never both.

– Really thought Tyron Smith’s return would do wonders for Dak Prescott, but the struggles continued in the 28-6 loss to the Chargers. The Cowboys have scored just two touchdowns in the last three games and Prescott has been held to under 200 yards per game in this stretch. Fans, as they like to do, are labeling Prescott a bust and some are calling for backup QB Cooper Rush. I think that’s a bit premature but it is baffling that this team could be so offensively inept when they are fielding players like Dez Bryant and Jason Witten. Guess Ezekiel Elliott really is that important.

– I get the quest to speed up football games but no thanks on the ads in between plays.

The Bizarre

– During pregame warmups most players stretch or run thought drills. Vikings DE Everson Griffen watched his third son being born via FaceTime. To celebrate he sacked Matthew Stafford for a five-yard loss and then took to crowdsourcing on a very important matter.

– Just when you get used to Tony Romo in the booth he calls a Thanksgiving Cowboys game in Dallas in which his successor put up a stinker. C’mon, you know you wanted to see Romo bungee jump out of the CBS broadcast suite onto the field and take over for Prescott.