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Best of NFL: Cowboys offense sputters again in loss to Chargers

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Best of NFL: Cowboys offense sputters again in loss to Chargers

ARLINGTON, Texas — Philip Rivers threw for 434 yards and three touchdowns in his first Thanksgiving game in his 14th season and the Los Angeles Chargers beat the fading Dallas Cowboys 28-6 on Thursday.

Desmond King returned an interception 90 yards for the punctuating touchdown as the Chargers (5-6) moved within 1 1/2 games of AFC West-leading Kansas City after starting 0-4 while the Chiefs won their first five.

The defending NFC East champion Cowboys (5-6) lost their third straight by at least 20 points, all without star running back Ezekiel Elliott, in a damaging defeat for their fading playoff hopes.

Dallas, playing its 50th Thanksgiving game, finally ended a touchdown drought at a team-record 10 quarters on Rod Smith's 2-yard run early in the fourth quarter.

Keenan Allen had a career-high 172 yards on 11 catches with a touchdown, giving him 23 grabs for 331 yards and three scores in the past two games (see full recap).

Vikings beat Lions, stay on Eagles' heels
DETROIT — Case Keenum threw for two touchdowns and ran for a score all in the first half to give the Minnesota Vikings a double-digit lead and they went on to beat the Detroit Lions 30-23 Thursday.

The Vikings (9-2) took a huge step toward winning the NFC North, taking a three-game lead over the second-place Lions.

Detroit (6-5) made mistakes in every phase of the game and Minnesota took advantage.

Keenum was 21 of 30 for 282 yards with both TD passes to Kyle Rudolph that gave the Vikings a 20-3 lead late in the second quarter.

The Lions rallied to pull within four points early in the fourth quarter on Matthew Stafford's second TD pass to Marvin Jones.

Xavier Rhodes ended Detroit's comeback hopes with an interception at the Detroit 37 late in the game (see full recap). 

Redskins beat Giants in turkey of a Thanksgiving game
LANDOVER, Md. — Kirk Cousins threw two touchdown passes to compensate for a pick-6, and the Washington Redskins beat the New York Giants 20-10 on Thursday night on a drab field in a drab game between two injury-depleted teams that did not look ready for prime time.

The first half, in particular, was devoid of highlights: The NFC East rivals combined for nine punts and only six points.

But Cousins led Washington (5-6) on two TD drives in the second half, connecting with Jamison Crowder on a 15-yarder in the third quarter that broke a 3-all tie, and with Josh Doctson on a 14-yarder with 3 1/2 minutes remaining in the game.

In between, cornerback Janoris Jenkins intercepted Cousins' pass and returned the ball 53 yards to make it 10-all.

In the second half, the Giants (2-9) had one possession end with an interception by Eli Manning, four end with punts and another when they turned the ball over on downs (see full recap). 

Flyers-Islanders observations: Skid extends to 6 with tough OT loss

Flyers-Islanders observations: Skid extends to 6 with tough OT loss

BOX SCORE

NEW YORK -- The New York Islanders extended the Flyers’ season-high losing streak to six games with a 4-3 overtime win Wednesday night at The Barclays Center.

Josh Bailey rammed home his own rebound just 32 seconds into the OT session as the Flyers fell to 1-5 in overtime this season.

The Flyers finally received some secondary scoring as Taylor Leier and Michael Raffl scored their first goals of the season.

Brian Elliott stopped 35 shots as his record dropped to at 6-6-3.

Once again, the Flyers were buried by their penalty kill as the Islanders converted 2 of 5 power-play opportunities. The Flyers have allowed seven PP goals in their last three games. 

• The Flyers turned it up in the final period of regulation as they outshot the Isles 14-8 with most of those shots coming in the final eight minutes.

• The Flyers penalty kill was considerably better in the opening minutes of the third period. The unit played more aggressively and did not allow the Isles to set up or have several cracks at Elliott. Ivan Provorov had a big block as the Flyers was forced to kill off back-to-back minors. Samuel Morin took a foolish interference penalty.

• There was some big-time pressure from the John Tavares line midway through the third period, but credit the Flyers’ defense as it kept the Islanders’ captain around the perimeter for most of the game. Tavares was one of two Isles player who didn’t have a shot on net.

• In undoubtedly his best game of the season, Raffl was all over the place with his early breakaways and his strong net presence. He led the Flyers with six shots on goal, three hits and even won 3 of 4 faceoffs.

• Elliott stifled a pair of 2-on-1 opportunities for the Islanders in the second period. He came up with a tremendous save when Tavares set up Josh Bailey with a one-timer that Elliott read perfectly and snatched with the glove. Elliott certainly kept the Flyers in this game with timely saves as he faced 29 shots in the first 40 minutes.

• The Flyers got a much-needed power play goal, set up by Wayne Simmonds with a nice and quick cross-ice pass from down low to Jake Voracek in the right circle. The attention Simmonds commands around the crease made that play possible.

• The Flyers lost a key faceoff in the defensive zone in the second, which allowed a pass from Adam Pelech to Josh Ho-Sang to get his stick up and deflect a puck past Elliott. These are the type of goals the Flyers have desperately needed but have failed to get against opposing goalies.

• There was good speed by the Flyers’ third line between Valtteri Filppula and Travis Konecny. However, Filppula was only able to put a weak backhand attempt on net, an easy save for Thomas Greiss. 

• Jordan Eberle picked Provorov’s pocket in the opening seconds of the second period. Sometimes his teammates assume Provy will just skate the puck out of danger or always come away with it when battling along the boards. Tough first six minutes for Provorov, who also took a cheap hooking penalty.

• After Morin flipped the puck into the stands for a delay of game, the Flyers’ PK let them down once again on a 5-on-3 Islanders’ opportunity as Johnny Boychuk found the space just under the crossbar. It was an open lane that doesn’t exist on a 5-on-4 PP, but give Boychuk credit for working his way into the open lane. That made it seven power-play goals surrendered by the Flyers in their last seven periods of action at that point.

• Raffl converted on his second breakaway as he made a move on Greiss just enough for his shot to hit the post and then kicked over the line off the goalie’s skate. The Flyers capitalized on the Islanders’ defensive breakdowns early with three clear breakaways in the first 23 minutes. 

• Dave Hakstol told me Morin was primarily a left-side defenseman, but in the first period we saw him play the right side in a few instances and look comfortable doing so. Morin had a big hit on Eberle late in the first period to dislodge his stick. The Islanders seemed to sense Morin’s length and were reluctant to challenge him in the offensive zone. Overall, it was a solid first period for Morin. 

• There was a very quick read-and-react play from Danick Martel with his takeaway at the point. He then displayed his breakaway speed as he came in on goaltender Greiss, who got enough of his blocker on the shot. Still, that’s precisely the type of offensive jolt the Flyers need from Martel, who said after the first period of his NHL debut, “There was a lot of emotion for sure. Hockey is a simple game and I wanted to keep it simple, play hard and that’s what I did and I had a couple of good scoring chances.”

• Once again, the Flyers’ top line generated an outstanding scoring chance with Sean Couturier and Voracek working in tandem. Voracek’s shot created a big rebound and Couturier failed to elevate the puck or he may have scored his 13th goal of the season. Credit Greiss for being able to extend the right pad and keeping the puck out of the net.

• The Flyers’ penalty kill failed to get the job done once again in the first period as the Islanders’ quick puck movement really backed the PK down low. Matthew Barzal’s shot from the faceoff dot didn’t allow Elliott enough time to react. 

• Raffl, mired in a 42-game stretch without a point, had his best opportunity of the season with a breakaway chance and tried to slide the puck five-hole. I think if Raffl had some confidence in his game he would have made some sort of move on Greiss.

• The Flyers scored the first goal for the fourth straight game as Travis Sanheim unleashed a rocket that created a big rebound and Leier did exactly what the players and Coach Hakstol have been preaching: crash the net and work for those dirty goals. The shot inadvertently deflected off Leier’s skate for a 1-0 lead. I feel that Sanheim has been more active in the offensive zone over the past six to seven games.

• It hasn’t been talked about much, but Sanheim has a heavy shot. If taken from the top of the circles, it can create some second-chance opportunities. 

• Elliott has been solid with rebound control recently, but in the first period he gave some long ones that allowed the Islanders some second-chance opportunities.

Lines, pairings and scratches

Forwards
Claude Giroux-Sean Couturier-Jakub Voracek
Danick Martel-Nolan Patrick-Wayne Simmonds
Michael Raffl-Valtteri Filppula-Travis Konecny
Taylor Leier-Scott Laughton-Jordan Weal

Defensemen
Ivan Provorov-Robert Hagg
Brandon Manning-Travis Sanheim
Samuel Morin-Shayne Gostisbehere

Goalies
Brian Elliott
Michal Neuvirth

Scratched: Jori Lehtera, Dale Weise and Radko Gudas.

Sixers-Trail Blazers observations: Smothering defense in win

Sixers-Trail Blazers observations: Smothering defense in win

BOX SCORE

Any time the Trail Blazers are on the schedule, the main objective is limiting the backcourt duo of Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum. The Sixers held off one, which was enough, in their 101-81 win over the Trail Blazers.

With the victory, the Sixers improved to 10-7 this season and went three games above .500 for the first time since Brett Brown guided the team to a 3-0 start in his first year at the helm. 

• Joel Embiid battled a true center in the 7-foot, 275-pound Jusuf Nurkic. He came up with his eighth double-double of the season: 28 points (11 for 19 from the field), 12 rebounds, and two blocks. Embiid did not get to the free throw line after the first quarter. 

• Lillard scored an unsurprising 30 points, but McCollum netted just five. The pair averaged a combined 47 points heading into the game. McCollum was scoreless in the first half and shot 1 for 14 from the field overall. 

• Ben Simmons finished four seconds shy of a new-career high in playing time. He played 39:03 and neared a triple-double with 16 points (8 for 20 from the field), eight rebounds and nine dimes. Simmons attempted only two free throws. 

• The Sixers took the Blazers out of the game from the start. They ran off with a 16-0 lead and held the Blazers scoreless (0 for 13) for the first seven minutes. (Count the misses here.) The Sixers led 26-14 after one. 

• Lillard scored 12 points in the second quarter to try to get the Blazers back into the game. The Sixers edged them out with balanced scoring among the starters. Even though the Sixers committed 10 turnovers and shot 33.3 percent from three in the first half, their early run was enough to give them a 50-37 lead at halftime. 

• Embiid scored eight points in the third to nearly neutralize Lillard’s nine. The Sixers and Blazers scored 20 points apiece in the quarter. Neither team shot the ball well from three, combining to go 1 for 11. 

• The Blazers’ 81 points were a season low by a Sixers’ opponent and the Trail Blazers’ season-low scoring total. 

• Embiid swatted a Lillard shot attempt all the way back to Portland late in the third. OK, so the ball obviously didn’t go that far, but it was a monster block nonetheless that got me thinking about this moment at shootaround in San Francisco.

• Amir Johnson continued to attack the glass. This time, he balanced his rebounding efforts with five offensive and six defensive boards in 18 minutes off the bench. 

• “Trust the process” took a seat to a new chant late in the game. Fans chanted “We want Okafor” with less than a minute to play and the Sixers up 22. Jahlil Okafor did not get in the game. Furkan Korkmaz, though, played the final 2:09. 

• The Sixers’ turnover problem kept at bay the Trail Blazers’ poor shooting. The Sixers committed 18 turnovers but the Blazers, who shot 33.7 percent from the field, only translated that into 18 points. 

• Injury update: Justin Anderson (left leg), Markelle Fultz (right shoulder) and Nik Stauskas (right ankle) were sidelined for the Sixers. Al-Farouq Aminu (right ankle) was out for Portland. 

• The rosters were filled with former players on either side. The Sixers drafted Turner (2010) and Maurice Harkless (2012). Jerryd Bayless played for the Trail Blazers his first two seasons (2008-10). 

• Speaking of Turner, his days in Philadelphia are long gone but not forgotten. Turner didn’t live up to the expectations of his draft value and so, years later, this happened:

• Rapper Lil Uzi Vert was at the game again.