Deshaun Watson made the most of his first career start on Thanksgiving, tossing four touchdown passes in a 41-25 blowout victory over the Houston Texans. Will Fuller had a monster showing on the holiday, catching six passes for 171 yards and two touchdowns -- becoming just the eighth player with 170+ receiving yards on Thanksgiving. Fuller is just the fourth player to have 170+ receiving yards and two touchdown catches on Thanksgiving.
Watson has the most games with 3+ passing touchdowns in Texans history (13), surpassing Matt Schaub for the honor. His 24 touchdown passes are the most passing touchdowns by a Texans quarterback in the first 11 games of a season. He also is the only quarterback in each of the past two seasons throw for 250+ yards and a touchdown in 10 of the first 11 games of a season.
Fuller joined Mike Evans, Tyreek Hill and D.K. Metcalf as the only players in the NFL in the past two seasons with a receiving touchdown in at least seven of the first 11 games. His eight touchdown receptions are a career-high and is tied for sixth in the league.
Matthew Stafford, who already has the most passing yards on Thanksgiving, tied Tony Romo for the most touchdown passes (18) on the holiday with a 14-yard strike to Mohamed Sanu late in the fourth quarter. Stafford finished 28 of 41 for 295 yards with a touchdown and an interception, becoming the first player to ever throw for 3,000 career yards on Thanksgiving.
Adrian Peterson became the second-oldest player to score a touchdown on Thanksgiving with his 1-yard touchdown run in the first quarter that put the Lions up 7-0, a lead that ended-up being short lived. Peterson, who had two rushing touchdowns on the day, is only the second player over the age of 35 to score a rushing touchdown on Thanksgiving (Marcus Allen is the other). He finished with 15 carries for 55 yards and two scores.
Here are the takeaways from this Thanksgiving matinee. Our live blog below also has highlights from this one.
Why the Texans won
The Texans have righted the ship under Romeo Crennel, whose transition to head coach has been a lot easier thanks to the play of Deshaun Watson. The Texans quarterback was excellent against a putrid Lions secondary, throwing for four touchdowns -- including two backbreaking ones to Will Fuller in the fourth quarter to put the game away. Houston ran for just 77 yards and 33 yards per carry, so it was up to Watson to carry the offense again. All Watson did was throw just eight incomplete passes while averaging 12.7 yards per attempt and finishing with a 150.4 passer rating -- the fourth-highest all-time on Thanksgiving (minimum 20 attempts).
Watson has been having a career year, which has gone unnoticed thanks to the Texans front office and coaching problems. He got to show a national television audience he's one of the game's best quarterbacks on Thanksgiving.
Why the Lions lost
The Lions are a mess, and turnovers were the center of the problems with this Thanksgiving blunder. Detroit had three turnovers in the first half that led to 10 Texans points -- a Stafford interception that resulted in a defensive touchdown (we'll get to that in a bit) and two fumbles. Houston had just five takeaways in 10 games all season, but had three in the first half against a Lions team that just can't get out of its own way. The turnovers kept Detroit from challenging a Texans defense that allowed the most rushing yards and the highest yards per rush attempt in the league.
Detroit's secondary is also abysmal, allowing 11.4 yards per pass attempt to Houston (as a team) -- well above the season average of 7. Watson was able to feast all game.
J.J. Watt changed this game in the Texans' favor with his interception return for a touchdown in the first quarter. Watt was able to steal a Matthew Stafford pass and take it 19 yards the other way for a score, becoming just the third defensive lineman on Thanksgiving to have an interception return for a touchdown.
The Lions were up 7-0 when Watt had the interception that gave all the momentum to the Texans. Stafford faced pressure from Tyrell Adams, but reacted too soon and made an errant throw in Watt's direction. Detroit turned the football over on three straight possessions that led to two Texans touchdowns (13 points). Houston had a lead it wouldn't relinquish.
Play of the game
The Texans had some fun on Thanksgiving with this flea-flicker and the game in their control. On the first play after Detroit turned the ball over on downs, Houston dialed up the trick play as Watson handed the ball off to Duke Johnson -- who actually appeared to run the ball and kill some clock. Once Johnson took a few steps, he tossed the ball back to Watson -- who found Fuller wide open in the end zone for the 24-yard score.
Watson's fourth and final touchdown pass was a beauty and put the Texans up 41-17 with 10:07 to play.
"I should have had two more touchdowns that I missed." -- Deshaun Watson to CBS Sports' Tracy Wolfson after the Texans' win.
Watson had a chance to match Bob Griese (1977) and Peyton Manning (2004) for the most passing touchdowns on Thanksgiving, but missed Jordan Akins on one ball and threw one too hard at Akins as the tight end failed to haul the pass in the end zone. Those were two of his eight incompletions on the day.
The Texans (4-7) have 10 days off before they host the Indianapolis Colts on Sunday, December 6. The Lions (4-7) also will play in 10 days, before a road game against the Chicago Bears.