The Baltimore Ravens survived a ferocious comeback from the Pittsburgh Steelers to win 22-20 on Thursday and get the defense of their Super Bowl title back on track.
The Ravens registered their second win in a row to improve to 6-6 and get back in the hunt to make the playoffs, but only after withstanding a late fightback from their American Football Conference North rivals.
The Steelers trailed 10-0 at halftime and 19-7 early in the final quarter, but fought back to give themselves a chance to tie the game when wide receiver Jerricho Cotchery scored a touchdown with a minute to go.
However, the Steelers missed their two-point conversion attempt and fell to 5-7 in the final game of a Thanksgiving Day triple-header.
The Ravens gave up three touchdowns and scored just one, a seven-yard reception from wide receiver Torrey Smith in the first quarter, but rode home on the unerring boot of Justin Tucker, who kicked five field goals.
“I like to come through for my team when I need to, I’m happy to do it,” Tucker told NBC.
Baltimore quarterback Joe Flacco completed 24 of 35 passes for 251 yards, while Pittsburgh signal caller Ben Roethlisberger connected with 28 of 44 for 257 yards and two touchdowns — an eight-yard pass to Emmanuel Sanders in the third quarter, then a one-yard pass to Cotchery for the final score.
Steelers running back Le’Veon Bell also rushed for a fourth-quarter touchdown and the rookie almost scored a second, only to leave the field with a suspected concussion when his helmet was knocked off as he crashed over the line.
In Arlington, DeMarco Murray ran for three touchdowns to spearhead the Dallas Cowboys to a 31-24 Thanksgiving Day comeback win over the Oakland Raiders.
Trailing 21-7 in the second quarter, the Cowboys (7-5) rallied behind 24 straight points to remain in control of the National Football Conference East and put the pressure on the second-placed Philadelphia Eagles (6-5), who play tomorrow.
Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo completed 23 passes for 225 yards and one touchdown, but it was Murray who did much of the heavy lifting, with 17 carries for 63 yards and a career-high three scores.
The Raiders’ Matt McGloin, an undrafted free agent, had looked like an All-Pro quarterback in the first half as Oakland surprised the Cowboys, but he could not maintain his form after the break, completing 18 passes for 255 yards and one interception.
The Cowboys immediately found themselves in a hole when Terrance Williams fumbled the opening kickoff and Raiders rookie Greg Jenkins scooped up the loose ball and returned 23 yards for the score.
The home team’s opening score also came as a result of a turnover, with McGloin fumbling the snap and the Cowboys recovering on the two with Murray waltzing in untouched for his first touchdown.
Oakland (4-8) reclaimed the lead in the second quarter on a pair of one-yard touchdown plunges from Rashad Jennings to go up 21-7.
However, with less than two minutes left in the half, the Cowboys went to work, with Murray charging in for his second touchdown to send the home side into the break down seven.
The Cowboys continued their fightback in the third quarter, with Romo hitting Dez Bryant for a four-yard touchdown before Murray powered his way seven yards for another score to give Dallas their first lead of the game.
Dan Bailey, of the Cowboys, and Raiders kicker Sebastian Janikowski traded field goals to close out the scoring.
In Detroit, Matthew Stafford made up for some mistakes with three touchdown passes, including one to Calvin Johnson, to help the Detroit Lions score 37 straight points after an awful start to beat the Green Bay Packers 40-10 on Thursday.
The Lions (7-5) had lost their past two games, five consecutive against Green Bay and a franchise-record nine straight in their annual showcase on Thanksgiving.
The Packers (5-6-1) have a five-game winless streak for the first time since 2008, showing how valuable Aaron Rodgers is for the franchise. Rodgers has missed four-plus games since fracturing his left collarbone.
Matt Flynn became the fourth starting quarterback for Green Bay this year and was sacked seven times, once by Ndamukong Suh for a safety.