Jets, Patriots Tie for Season’s Best NFL Record; Saints Win

Brad Smith scored two touchdowns, including an 89-yard kickoff return, to lead the New York Jets to a 26-10 win over the Cincinnati Bengals.

The victory sets up a match Dec. 6 between the Jets and the New England Patriots who are tied at 9-2 for the best record this season in the National Football League. The Jets share the top spot with the Patriots, who defeated the Detroit Lions 45-24, in the American Football Conference East Division.

“We have the big one coming up Monday night against New England. They look like the best team in football,” said Jets coach Rex Ryan in a televised interview. “We know they’ll outcoach us but we have to overcome that. We always say we know we’re going to win, we just don’t know how. Our goal is to win the whole thing.”

In another Thanksgiving Day game yesterday, the New Orleans Saints defeated the Dallas Cowboys 30-27.

Smith ran 53 yards for a touchdown 47 seconds into the third quarter to give the Jets the lead, 10-7, at the New Meadowlands Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey. Santonio Holmes ended the quarter with a score on a 13-yard pass from Mark Sanchez.

Sanchez completed 16 of 28 pass attempts for 166 yards, one touchdown and one interception for the Jets, who have won four straight games.

Saints Win

Carson Palmer connected on a 5-yard pass to Jordan Shipley in the second quarter to give the Bengals (2-9) a 7-3 lead. New York’s Trevor Pryce tackled Palmer in the end zone in the final quarter for a safety. The quarterback completed 17 of 38 passing attempts for 135 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions.

At Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, Texas, Drew Brees’s 12- yard touchdown pass to Lance Moore with 1:55 left lifted the New Orleans Saints to a 30-27 win over the Dallas Cowboys, handing Jason Garrett his first loss in three games since taking over as coach.

The Cowboys, who trailed 17-0 after the first quarter, had gone ahead 27-23 on Tashard Choice’s touchdown run with 5:51 remaining. Dallas kicker David Buehler missed a chance to tie it with a 59-yard field goal attempt in the final 30 seconds.

The Thanksgiving Day win improves the defending Super Bowl- champion Saints’ record to 8-3, leaving them a half-game behind the Atlanta Falcons (8-2) in the National Football Conference’s South Division.

‘Gut-Check Win’

“It was kind of a gut-check win,” New Orleans coach Sean Payton said.

The defeat is the first for Garrett since he took over as the Cowboys’ interim coach on Nov. 8. following the firing of Wade Phillips after a 1-7 start. At 3-8 and with five games left to play, Dallas is 4 1/2 games behind the division-leading Philadelphia Eagles (7-3) in the NFC East.

“I think we demonstrated again what we’ve done the last few weeks -- battle and fight,” Garrett said. “There were a lot of things to be proud of. Guys played with a lot of passion, energy and enthusiasm. But you’ve got to get the bottom line right. We didn’t get it done.”

Dallas has hosted a Thanksgiving holiday game every year since 1966 except for 1975 and 1977, when the St. Louis Cardinals were hosts. The Cowboys are 27-14-1 in those games, while the Saints made their Thanksgiving debut yesterday.

Tom Brady earlier threw for four second-half touchdowns and 341 yards as the Patriots defeated the Lions in Detroit’s 71st Thanksgiving Day game.

New England was losing 17-10 at halftime in Detroit before Brady found Wes Welker with a five-yard touchdown pass to end a four-play drive at the start of the second half. Brady also hit Deion Branch with a 79-yard pass in the quarter. Both receivers also caught touchdowns in the fourth quarter, when the Patriots broke the game open. BenJarvus Green-Ellis ran for two.

“We showed some resiliency, coming out in the second half and playing the way we did when the crowd was into it,” Brady said.

Lions quarterback Shaun Hill threw two interceptions, both made by rookie cornerback Devin McCourty, and had one touchdown pass. Detroit got two rushing touchdowns from Maurice Morris. The Lions dropped to 2-9, keeping the team in last place in the National Football Conference North Division.

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