Giants-Cowboys most-watched NFL game in league history

Thanksgiving and football are perfect together. On Friday, the NFL announced that the Giants-Cowboys showdown was the most-watched NFL regular season game in league history.

The late afternoon game on FOX between the Giants and Cowboys averaged 42.0 million viewers(TV+Digital).

According to the league, The total unduplicated audience across all three games – Buffalo Bills vs. Detroit Lions, New York Giants vs. Dallas Cowboys and New England Patriots vs. Minnesota Vikings – was 138 million – the highest Thanksgiving total audience on record. The 138 million total unduplicated audience number surpasses the previous high of 126 million in 2016 and is up +34% vs. 2021 (103 million).

The average viewership (TV+Digital) across the three games was 33.5 million – the highest Thanksgiving Day NFL average on record. The 33.5 million average viewers surpass the previous high of 32.9 million in 1993 (two games) and is up +6% vs. 2021 (31.6 million).

Giants’ Barkley after loss to Lions: ‘We’re not going to panic’

The New York Giants(7-3) played their worst game of the season on Sunday against the Detroit Lions(4-6), which cost them.

New York was thoroughly beaten by Detroit 31-18 at MetLife Stadium.

The Giants allowed a season-high 31 points, and the defense had neither a sack nor a takeaway for the second time this season.

Not only did the defense struggle, but the offense was not much better as New York turned the ball over three times, including two Daniel Jones interceptions. The three turnovers led to 14 points for the Lions. Jones, who had been protecting the ball this season, had a streak of 153 passes without an interception, which was the NFL’s longest active streak.

Jones completed 27 of 44 passes for 341 yards, all season highs, but he had to throw the ball maybe more than the team wanted him to because of New York’s inability to run the ball. Running back Saquon Barkley came into this game leading the league in rushing, but on Sunday, he was held to 22 yards on 15 carries.

“They did a good job up front,’ Giants head coach Brian Daboll said after the loss. “They won up front. (They) made tackles in space. You know, bottled up the run game pretty good. That’s obviously a big part of what we do. We had some plays. We executed in the red zone some; third down probably wasn’t good enough – five of 13. (Quarterback) Daniel (Jones) threw for a lot of yards, but that doesn’t really matter relative to (the fact that) we had two interceptions there. What was it, 17 points off of turnovers? If you have three turnovers and the other team has zero, you’re probably going to lose every game.”

Barkley added: “If you’re not running the ball well, you’re going to pass the ball. I guess that’s just the answer there. If the run game is not going, you’re kind of tied with one hand behind your back; you’ve got to pass the ball, so that’s why it’s important for myself to get this run game back on track and the best way to do that is moving on and getting ready for Thursday.”

Fortunately for New York, they get back at it on Thanksgiving(Thursday) when they travel to Dallas to face the Cowboys, and Jones hopes to get back to winning against Dallas.

“I think we’re all already anxious to get this taste out of our mouths and come back and play a much better football game,” he said.

Despite the bad loss to the Lions, Barkley is not going to panic.

“I mean, at the end of the day, it’s the NFL; every team is a great team,” he said. “They came out here; they played great. We’re not going to panic. We’re not going to worry. We’re not going to waver at all. That’s for you guys to go out there and say what you want to say about us. At the end of the day, the only focus we have is the men and women in the locker room and the facility.”

New York came out of this game banged up as several Giants left the game with injuries, including wide receiver Wan’dale Robinson (knee), and starting cornerbacks Adoree’ Jackson (knee), and Fabian Moreau (ribs). With a short week, that could be a problem. 

Furthermore, the next four games(Commanders twice), all against NFC East opponents, may tell us a lot about the Giants. Philly is 9-1, Dallas(7-3) just routed the Vikings, and the Commanders have won five of their last six, so it won’t be easy for New York to get right.

Vikings acquire Hockenson from Lions

The 6-1 Minnesota Vikings are off to a great start, and before the NFL trade deadline, they added another piece to their roster.

Minnesota traded a second-round pick in the 2023 NFL Draft and a third-round pick in the 2024 NFL Draft to the Detroit Lions in exchange for TE T.J. Hockenson, a fourth-round pick in the 2023 NFL Draft, and a conditional fourth-round pick in the 2024 NFL Draft, the teams announced Tuesday. 

After placing tight end Irv Smith Jr(ankle) on injured reserve, the Vikings needed a tight end, and Hockenson fits the bill.

Hockenson has 26 receptions for 395 yards, the most receiving yards in his career through the first seven games of a season, and three touchdowns. Among tight ends, the 25-year-old Hockenson is first in yards per receptions, first in yards in a game, and fifth in receiving yards.

In Week 4 vs. Seattle, Hockenson set a career-high with 179 receiving yards (the most by a tight end this season and the most ever by a Lions tight end), including a career-long 81-yard reception, the second-longest play from scrimmage in the NFL this season. In the contest vs. Seattle, Hockenson totaled 109 yards after the catch, the most in a single game in the NFL in 2022 and the most for a tight end since 49ers TE George Kittle had 136 vs. Denver on Dec. 9, 2018.

The fourth-year tight end spent his entire career in Detroit. The eighth overall pick in the 2019 NFL Draft, Hockenson has appeared in 47 career games with 42 starts, collecting 2,068 receiving yards and 15 touchdowns on 186 receptions in his career. After a career-high 67 catches for 723 yards and six touchdowns in 2020, Hockenson earned Pro Bowl honors.

Minnesota added Hockenson to an offense with many weapons, including Justin Jefferson, Adam Thielen, and Dalvin Cook. The Vikings are trying to win now, and adding Hockenson will help.

The Great, Not So Great, & Bottom Line of Eagles’ win in Detroit

The Philadelphia Eagles(1-0) started slow but revved things up in the second and third quarters and held on to defeat the Detroit Lions(0-1) 38-35 at Ford Field in the season-opener. 

After being down 7-0 early, the Eagles scored 24 second-quarter points to take a 24-14 lead at halftime. Philadelphia would take a 38-21 lead into the fourth and got the win as Jalen Hurts converted on 4th-and-inches with just over a minute left in regulation.

Here’s the Great, Not So Great, and Bottom Line of the Eagles’ win over the Lions.

The Great:

Run Game: Philadelphia, who led the league in rushing last season, ran for 216 yards and four touchdowns. Hurts rushed for 90 yards and one touchdown on 17 carries; Miles Sanders had 96 yards and one touchdown, including a big 24-yard run on third down with 2:21 left in the fourth quarter to continue the Eagles’ attempt to run out the clock. The running game was big in 2021, and it looks like they will have similar success in 2022.

A.J. Brown: In his Eagles’ debut, Brown had 10 catches for a career-high tying 155 yards. Brown had 128 yards at halftime, including a big 54-yard reception in the second quarter. According to Elias Sports, Brown finished with the most receiving yards ever by a player in their Eagles debut. Brown’s debut felt like Terrell Owens’ debut with the Eagles in 2004. Hurts and Brown are close off the field and seem to have a connection on the field.

Jalen Hurts: After starting the game 0/5, Jalen Hurts picked up his play and led the Eagles on three scoring drives in the first half. Hurts combined for 256 offensive yards (189 passing, 67 rushing) in the first half. That is the most offensive yards he has produced in the first half of a game in his career, and he finished with a combined 333 yards(90 yards rushing) and threw for 243 yards on 18-of-32 passing.  

Not So Great:

Rushing defense: Detroit ran for 181 yards against Philadelphia. D’Andre Swift had a career-high 144 yards on the ground, including a touchdown, and Jamaal Williams had two rushing touchdowns. 

Second-half defense: Philadelphia had difficulty slowing down the Lions in the second half. Detroit scored three touchdowns on their four second-half drives. Goff was able to carve up the secondary and had a clean pocket for most of the game. The way things were going, Detroit might have scored again if they had gotten the ball back.

Bottom Line: 

The Eagles won a game they were supposed to win. While they almost blew a 17-point fourth-quarter lead, they were able to hold on. Philadelphia must do a better job of getting after the quarterback and stopping the run. Brown is a weapon, but going forward, the Eagles have to get others involved, including DeVonta Smith(no catches). It appears the offense is going to put up a lot of points, but Hurts did a lot of running, and not sure he can keep that up for 16 more games, but again, they’re 1-0.

What’s Next:

Eagles battle the Vikings on Monday Night in their home-opener at Lincoln Financial Field. 

Best of the Rest:

In his Eagles’ debut, James Bradberry reached the end zone for the first time in his career on a 27-yard interception return in the second quarter. The play was set up by a tip by LB Kyzir White, who was also making his Eagles’ debut.

-Philadelphia leads the league in season-opening wins since 2011, posting a 10-2 record in its last 12 season openers.

-Head Coach Nick Sirianni improves his season opener record to 2-0.

Detroit Lions to be showcased on ‘Hard Knocks’

The Detroit Lions will be on HBO’s Hard Knocks this summer, the league announced Monday.

The five-episode season debuts on August 9 with additional hour-long episodes debuting subsequent Tuesdays at the same time, culminating in the September 6 season finale. The first sports-based reality series, and one of the fastest-turnaround programs on TV, will debut on HBO and be available to stream on HBO Max.

This will mark the 17th edition of the 18-time Sports Emmy®-winning series and the most acclaimed serialized sports series on television.

“We are excited about the opportunity to showcase the City of Detroit and the amazing culture we are building at the Lions,” said Detroit Lions Team President and CEO, Rod Wood. “HBO Sports and NFL Films are the best of the best and we know they will be excellent partners in sharing our story with football fans around the world.”

Camera crews will head to the Lions’ training camp in Allen Park, Michigan in the next few months to begin filming, with the action heating up in August when the cinema verité show focuses on the daily lives and routines of players and coaches. HARD KNOCKS: TRAINING CAMP WITH THE DETROIT LIONS will chronicle head coach Dan Campbell entering his second season leading the team and an intriguing mix of young emerging stars, established veterans, free agent additions and highly regarded rookie hopefuls throughout training camp and the preseason. HARD KNOCKS: TRAINING CAMP WITH THE DETROIT LIONS will be narrated by Liev Schreiber, marking his 16th season with the show.

A 30-person NFL Films crew will be at Lions’ training camp in Allen Park, shooting more than 1,750 hours of footage over the course of the series. Camera and sound crews will have unencumbered access to players’ and coaches’ meeting rooms, training rooms, living quarters and practice fields.

Winner of 18 Sports Emmy® Awards to date, HARD KNOCKS launched with the Baltimore Ravens in 2001, followed by the Dallas Cowboys in 2002, and resumed in 2007 with the Kansas City Chiefs, subsequently spotlighting the Cowboys (2008), Cincinnati Bengals (2009), New York Jets (2010), Miami Dolphins (2012), Bengals (2013), Atlanta Falcons (2014), Houston Texans (2015) and Los Angeles Rams (2016). The 2017 edition chronicled the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and captured the Sports Emmy® for Outstanding Serialized Documentary.

The widely acclaimed 2018 series with the Cleveland Browns earned two Sports Emmy® Awards for production excellence. The 2019 series spotlighted the Oakland Raiders as they played their final season in the Bay area before moving the franchise to Las Vegas. In an unprecedented programming move, the 2020 edition of the venerable series spotlighted both Los Angeles NFL teams: The Los Angeles Chargers and the Los Angeles Rams. Last year featured “America’s Team”, the Dallas Cowboys, marking their third appearance on the series.

Giants’ Gettleman, Abrams talk free agency

NFL free agency has evolved into a mix of blind dates and musical chairs. 

 Teams often commit millions of dollars to players without meeting face to face – a practice conducted even before the pandemic – at the risk of being the last one standing. The Giants, however, did it differently this year. Their relatively long courtship of free agents like Kenny Golladay, regarded as the top wide receiver on the market, was well-documented as they wined, dined, and ultimately signed.

“We had them in here and it was an old-school free agency,” general manager Dave Gettleman said Tuesday. “We got to talk, a chance to visit with them, they went out to dinner with various people in the organization, they were here a couple of nights, our doctors were able to put their hands on them. It was an old-fashioned free agency.”

 “It wasn’t just our decision, the players wanted to come in as well,” vice president of football operations and assistant general manager Kevin Abrams said. “Both parties wanted to have the visit.”

The result was a free-agent class that surprised everyone but the people in the building. 

“We got a pretty good understanding of what they’re about and that, to me, was a big advantage,” team president and chief executive officer John Mara said a few weeks ago when the dust settled after the first wave of free agency. “It’s much more difficult to do this when you can’t get the guys in the building and you have to make a commitment to a large amount of money without getting a chance to eye them up and talk to them and get a feel for them. I was happy that we were able to do that this year. It made it easier to give the final okay to say, ‘Yeah, go ahead, get the thing signed.’”

Mara described the approach as “thorough” in the recruiting cycle, stemming from the philosophy that fit supersedes skill when building a team. There was also a tangible reason to bring prospective players in for a visit: medical examination.

In 2020, Golladay missed Weeks 2 and 3 with a hamstring injury and the final nine games with a hip flexor strain.

“Well, you bring him in because you want to get a physical on him,” Gettleman said. “That was the biggest reason, get a physical on him. But it was nice for a change to get to know a guy and have that opportunity to do that. Like I said, it was like the old days. The biggest reason was the physical.”

Meanwhile, a medical check of Kyle Rudolph, who signed with the Giants after a decade in Minnesota, revealed the need for the two-time Pro Bowl tight end to undergo a procedure to repair a foot injury stemming from last season.

Despite the discovery coming after he had agreed to terms, the Giants felt confident to follow through with the signing. “Once he went through all the medical evaluations, we didn’t think that it was necessary [to adjust the contract],” Abrams said.

 “We are the Giants, we’re going to do everything with class,” Gettleman said. “We had an agreement, [head athletic trainer] Ronnie [Barnes] signed off on it, [head team physician] Doc [Scott] Rodeo signed off on it, so we were fine.”

While people like to count the dollars spent, how does the front office quantify how much they improved in free agency?

 “From my opinion, and I think Dave would agree, I think our roster is a lot better now than it was at the end of the season,” Abrams said. “And the offseason is not over yet, so we’ll still have more opportunities to add players. So, I think we feel good with what we’ve done. I think we’re a deeper, more talented team.”

“You know, you can’t quantify it,” Gettleman said. “It’s not going to be quantified until the fall and we start playing in September. But we feel very good about what we’ve done, we feel very good about the direction the team is taking with getting Kenny signed and Kyle Rudolph and Devontae Booker and Adoree’ Jackson and Leo. We feel really great about that and we really feel we’re building a solid football team that the fans can be proud of.”

And they’re not done yet. The Giants hold six picks in next week’s draft, starting with the No. 11 overall selection.

Courtesy: Dan Salomone/Giants

Giants’ Golladay: ‘This team is going to get a competitor’

The New York Giants got their number one receiver on Saturday when the team announced they signed free agent wide receiver Kenny Golladay.

According to the NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport, it’s a four-year deal worth $72 million deal with a max of $76 million with $40 million guaranteed.

The 27-year-old Golladay spent the first four seasons of his career with the Detroit Lions. In 2020, Golladay missed Week 2-3 games with a hamstring injury and the final nine games with a hip flexor strain, but in 2018 and 2019, Golladay totaled 135 receptions, 2,253 yards – exceeding 1,000 yards in each season – and 16 touchdowns. He led the NFL with 11 touchdown receptions in 2019.

Golladay had 20 receptions for 338 yards and two scores in his injury-shortened 2020 season.

When asked what made the Giants an ideal destination for him, Golladay said the following:

“Just the pieces on offense,” he said. “Those guys actually kind of reached out to me, and I liked the vision that [Head] Coach Joe Judge had and [Offensive Coordinator] Jason Garrett, as far as the offense, and I was all the way in.”

Obviously, when you give a player the type of money New York gave Golladay, you’re going to expect a lot in return, and according to Golladay, the Giants are getting a playmaker.

“I know just as far as me, this team is going to get a competitor, a guy who’s going to come in, work, he’s going to try to push other guys and have fun with it,” he said. “I want to have fun while I’m doing this; that’s what I’m doing it for. Just a playmaker.”

The Giants are trying to give their quarterback Daniel Jones everything he needs to succeed, and adding a big-time wideout like Golladay will help him immensely. Now, let’s see if Jones has what it takes to be the team’s franchise quarterback.

Watch as Golladay meets the media: