For the longest time, the NFL had only two football games scheduled (in Detroit and Dallas) during the Thanksgiving Day holiday. The first two turkey day games during this year’s version were hard fought, enjoyable, and had plenty of drama with the Houston Texans and Washington Redskins winning their respective games. The games were a very nice compliment to the turkey feast. So far, so good.
Going into the third game of the day, could we get a third competitive game on a short week and make it a clean sweep? Unfortunately for the NFL, someone in the scheduling office had a brain fart to pencil in the New York Jets against the New England Patriots in the nightcap. After that big delicious meal, it was time to pass the Pepto Bismol, as this game would quickly become abysmal.
In the past, the Jets have saved some of their more embarrassing performances of the season for prime time. And this year, once again, they would stick to their historic script. This one would rival some of those most forgetful efforts.
A 35-point second half by the somewhat banged up Patriots sent the Jets into the blackest of Fridays several hours early. One can only imagine what this game would have looked like if the Pats were healthy, and not missing key players such as TE Rob Gronkowski.
While New England glides into cruise control to yet another AFC East Division title, one can expect wholesale changes to the Gang Green once this season comes to a merciful end. Even if the Jets were to run the table and win their last five games against weak opponents, it is highly unlikely this will do much to save jobs.
Getting back to the NFL scheduling, it may be time to dump the third game of turkey day due to football overload during this holiday weekend. After two excellent day games, the Jets-Pats debacle was really not necessary, as it highlighted the potential damage which can be done by overexposure.
The game at MetLife Stadium was 10,000 fans short of selling out and deep into the third, half the stadium, if not more, was probably empty. Ahhh yes, brings back memories of the Jets at Shea Stadium, when they never sold out and would get blown into Flushing Bay early during games. The two-game Thanksgiving Day tradition is one the NFL should have remained with and should consider returning to.
Whether it was New York Giants LB Lawrence Taylor playing one of the most dominating defensive games ever in 1982 at the Silverdome, or the Chicago Bears winning in OT with a kickoff return in the 1980 game against the Detroit Lions or Dallas Cowboys QB Clint Longley playing unlikely hero in 1974, these memories have remained untainted.
Having two excellent games during such a short week of preparation is difficult enough; expecting three is really pushing your odds. Especially when your money is riding on a lame entry like the Jets.