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The New York Week That Was (Thanksgiving Edition)

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Ok, this week isn't really over, as it's only Wednesday, but with Thanksgiving one day away, this is kind of like the end of the week with Wednesday sort of resembling Friday, so here's an abbreviated edition of the New York Week That Was. And who knows what shape I'll wake up in on Friday, as I may have my head stuck inside a turkey carcass with no way out, or there's a very good chance that I'll be trapped in a pie and beer coma, so Wednesday it is. Just to make things more confusing, things are so askew that we don't even have a New York Jets game to talk about since they played this week's game last week.

Football and Thanksgiving go together like chicken and waffles or New Jersey Transit and 25-minute train delays, and playing games on this holiday began more than a hundred years ago, predating the NFL. We can go all the way back to 1892, when the Lehigh Mountain Hawks defeated the Pittsburgh Athletic Club, 21-0 (and, yes, John Madden was there to award the player of the game one of those eight-legged turkeys he used to give out). Though many NFL teams played on Thanksgiving in the twenties and thirties, it was the Detroit Lions who began the tradition in order to entice fans into attending their games. The New York Giants first played on that day in 1926 (beating the Brooklyn Lions, 17-0), and played either the Staten Island Stapletons or Brooklyn Dodgers every year from 1929 to 1938. It wasn't until 1945, after the great Franksgiving controversy, that it was Detroit alone who was scheduled on that holiday (and from 1951 to 1963 they played only the Packers). In 1966, the Cowboys volunteered to play in a second game, and for the whole life of the AFL that league also had a Thanksgiving-day game (with two played from 1967 to '69). The Jets (actually Titans) had the best overall AFL record, with a 3-0 mark, winning from 1960 to '62. In their inaugural Thanksgiving game, they defeated the Dallas Texans (later the Kansas City Chiefs), 41-35, with Don Maynard starring, catching 10 passes for 179 yards and scoring a touchdown. In 2006, the NFL added a third game, which was the brainchild of AFL founder/Chiefs owner Lamar Hunt, though his plan of having Kansas City host the game every year was nixed.

Since those early-days-of-the-NFL games, the Giants have only played on Thanksgiving three times. They beat the Lions 13-6 in 1982 (with the winning points coming on a 97-yard Lawrence Taylor interception return), lost to the Cowboys 30-3 in 1992 (the Kent Graham era) and lost to the Broncos 26-6 in 2009. They have an overall 7-4-3 record. The Jets have played four games since they joined the NFL, losing to Detroit 37-20 in 1972 (though John Riggins and Cliff McClain both rushed for over 100 yards), again losing to the Lions, 31-20, in 1985 (but Mark Gastineau got to do his sack dance, when he brought down Eric Hipple), losing to the Cowboys 34-3 in 2007 (Kellen Clemens was the QB, and the Jets only mustered up 180 total yards) and beating the Bengals 26-10 last season. Their overall Thanksgiving record is 4-3.

And now on to the top stories of the week in the world of New York sports.

Not Again: What was that? The Giants put in a lifeless, desultory performance on Sunday night, foiling their chance to stay ahead of the Cowboys and put the Eagles out of their misery. Giving Steve Weatherford one chance after another to practice his punting skills was most likely not the game plan that was drawn up. The offensive line couldn't open any holes, couldn't give Eli Manning time to throw and committed far too many penalties. Brandon Jacobs gained all of 21 yards. The receivers dropped passes left and right. And Manning threw a bad interception (though in his defense he was running for his life for much of the game). Though the defense did a good job most of the night, they whiffed on a handful of tackles, and couldn't stop Vince Young on the last drive. There were a few bright spots, with Prince Amukamara intercepting his first pass in his first game, along with Aaron Ross and Kenny Phillips coming up with picks, Chris Canty made a number of tackles behind the line of scrimmage as did Mathias Kiwanuka, and Victor Cruz starred on offense, but it was a disappointing game all around, or as Tom Coughlin put it, "This was the biggest disappointment we've had around here in a long time." The Giants are now 1-2 in the brutal portion of their schedule that everyone is harping on, and since the official start to the second half of their season, they're 0-2, which is no way to quiet all the collapse talk. But the Giants themselves were not quiet in the days following the game. Antrel Rolle had the strongest opinion: "In order for us to go where we want to go, things are definitely going to have to change. I'm talking about the Giants, the organization, everyone who's affiliated with the Giants. Things need to change."

18: The New York Islanders threw a party on Saturday night (no, not the 6-0 loss to the Bruins) when they inducted Ed Westfall into the team's Hall of Fame. The franchise's first-ever captain, Westfall was poached from the roster of the Boston Bruins in the 1972 expansion draft. He won two Stanley Cups in Boston and earned an assist on the series-winning overtime goal, when Bobby Orr famously soared through the air in celebration. Westfall scored the first goal in Islanders history, in their first game on October 7, 1972, against their expansion brother, the Atlanta Flames. No. 18 was brought in as a veteran presence to help guide the youth-filled team until they blossomed, which didn't take long, as the Isles earned a playoff berth in only their third season. Westfall exploded for 15 points (five goals, 10 assists) in 17 games in the 1975 playoffs, helping knock off the rival New York Rangers along the way, and in the next round he scored the winning goal in Game 7 when the Islanders overcame a three-games-to-none deficit to defeat the Pittsburgh Penguins. One of the best defensive forwards and penalty killers in the league, he made four All-Star teams (three with the Islanders) and won the Masterton Trophy in 1977. After retiring in 1979, and just missing out on the Stanley Cup years, Westfall became the voice of the team, calling their games with Jiggs McDonald. He was the Ed Kranepool and Ralph Kiner of the Islanders all rolled into one. Oh yeah, the Islanders played a couple of games this week, too. After getting shellacked by Boston in their worst performance of the year (with Westfall and McDonald calling the action during the second period being the lone highlight of the game), they were the unlucky opponent in Sidney Crosby's return on Monday, and lost to the Penguins, 5-0. The Islanders once had too many goalies but now they may be running out of netminders, and Jack Capuano has to be running out of patience.

All Good Things Come to an End: Saturday night saw a battle of two seven-game streaks. The Rangers came into the game winners of seven straight, but in their previous seven games in Montreal, they had a woeful 1-4-2 mark. It was their record in the Canadiens' home arena that won out, though, with the Blueshirts' winning streak coming to a crashing halt, as they were a step behind the speedy Canadiens all night long, never had control of the puck and were flat-out dominated. There were some dubious calls by the officials (who may possibly have been Serge Savard and Henri Richard in disguise), but the Rangers were so bad it wouldn't have made a difference anyway. The streak had to come to an end at some point, but hopefully for their sake, their poor play was just an aberration and not an omen of things to come.

Another New Jersey Team Collapses: After notching their sixth win in eight games on Saturday, a 4-2 victory over the trapping Tampa Bay Lightning (highlighted by Dainius Zubrus' goal one game after getting leveled by Buffalo's Tyler Myer), and second consecutive with more than three goals, the New Jersey Devils turned a should-have-been-certain-win in the Revenge of Pete DeBoer into a disastrous loss, blowing a three-goal lead and falling 4-3 to their coach's former team, the Florida Panthers (though they played most of the game with only five defenseman, as Anton Volchenkov had to leave after suffering facial lacerations). The Devils' trend of sitting on a big lead only to see it disintegrate finally did them in this time. It seems the Giants and Jets don't have the market cornered on collapses.

An Expensive Retort: They may not have had a game this week, but there was a bit of Jets news, as Rex Ryan was fined $75,000 for his crude outburst directed at a fan last week. At least he'll learn his lesson this time, won't he? Ok, probably not. Ryan is who he is and he makes no apologies for that. Though he does seem to put himself in a position where he has had to apologize to fans on numerous occasions. After writing out a check to the league, Ryan sent a message to his starting quarterback, Mark Sanchez, when he gave backup Mark Brunell a handful of snaps with the first team in practice on Tuesday. It worked last year, before the Steelers game, so why not give it another shot? This was the year Sanchez was supposed to break out and thrive but the Jets are still waiting.

Canton Bound? Bill Parcells and Curtis Martin may both be headed to the Football Hall of Fame, as they made it onto the list of semifinalists, which you can read about here.

The Hot Stove Is Cold: There's been very little action in the world of the New York Yankees and New York Mets lately, save for a Jair Jurrjens rumor here and a Joe Nathan signing with Texas there (cross off one potential Met closer). And as much as Bud Selig attempts to ruin the sport he runs (a 30-team postseason will be here before you know it), there will be five more years of labor peace for baseball, after both sides came to an agreement this week, and there will finally be testing for HGH.

And that's the New York week that was. Happy Thanksgiving -- and don't forget to watch March of the Wooden Soldiers on WPIX-Channel 11 on Thursday morning at 9:00, which has been a Thanksgiving-day tradition in the New York area for decades, right along with watching football and eating turducken.