February 27, 2024

Top Thanksgiving NFL Moments In History


Since its founding in 1920, the NFL has held games every thanksgiving day. This is following a tradition of people playing football games on thanksgiving day since it was one of the few days they had off work.


These games include one hosted by the Detroit Lions (this has been since 1934), one hosted by the Dallas Cowboys (this has been since 1966), and a third prime-time game with no host which has been around since 2006.


When it comes to NFL betting spreads, the thanksgiving games have been known to be unpredictable and produce iconic moments that will forever go do in NFL history. Below we have listed some of our favorites.

1929, Chicago Cardinals Vs Chicago Bears

In the 1929 game against the Chicago Bears, the Cardinal’s Ernie Nevers scored all 40 points for his team. This was 6 rushing touchdowns and 4 extra points.


While they may not have known it at the time, this was an NFL record that still stands to this day.

1974, Washington Redskins Vs Dallas Cowboys

In this thanksgiving game, Cowboys star quarterback Roger Staubach got injured causing him to be sidelined. In his place, they put in Clint Longley, a relatively unknown rookie backup. By the time he got in the Cowboys were down 16-3.


Longley began making moves as soon as he was out on the field scoring a 50-yard touchdown pass and helping the Cowboys beat the Redskins 24-23 with two deep passes.


After this incredible performance, Longley had little success and was traded off the Dallas Cowboys team after sucker-punching Roger Staubach in the lockers.

1980, Detroit Lions Vs Green Bay Pakers

This game is the first time overtime has happened during a thanksgiving game. This was after overtime was added to the NFL regular season in 1974.


The overtime match became the shortest in NFL history at the time only lasting 13 seconds with the Bears winning.

1993, Miami Dolphins Vs Dallas Cowboys

This game is unfortunately known for a blunder that happened. 10 months prior at the Super Bowl, Leon Lett held the ball out as he was approaching the goal line but the other team’s wide receiver knocked it out of his hands. Fortunately, this fumble didn’t cost them the game.


At an unusually snowy thanksgiving game, Lett fumbled again, this time costing the game. Lett attempted to recover a ball when he didn’t have to, he slipped and landed on it making it a live ball. This gave the Dolphins the opportunity to recover it in the end-zone and kick it on the 1-yard line. Fortunately, the Cowboys did go on to win the next Super Bowl.

1997, Detroit Lions vs Chicago Bears

Barry Sanders the running back of the Detroit Lions brought one of the most entertaining games in 1997. He managed to do an impressive 167 yards on 19 carries and led the lions to a 55-20 victory.

1998, Pittsburgh Steelers Vs Detroit Lions

This game is memorable as it changed the rules of the NFL.


During an overtime coin flip, Steeler’s Jerome Bettis called tails on a coin flip mid-air. However, the referee stated he said heads first and changed his mind. Although the flip landed on tails, it was given to the Lions because of the original call.


The Lions went on to win the game after a field goal on the first possession.


This led to a change in the rules where a coin flip must be called before the flip starts. A team also cannot automatically win with a field goal on the first possession after this game.

2004, Indianapolis Colts Vs Detroit Lions

This game showed how talented Payton Manning is. In total, he scored 6 touchdown passes during the game.


All these scores were more than enough to win the game with the Colts already dominating by the fourth touchdown at 41-9.

2012, New England Patriots Vs New York Jets

This moment is also known as the infamous ‘butt fumble’. New York Jets quarterback Mark Sanchez ended up running full speed into the butt of one of his team members. In the end, the New England Patriots won 49-19.


Honestly, the main reason this moment is so memorable is because of the funny name and the fact that Jets fans constantly mention it.

2017, Minnesota Vikings Vs Detroit Lions

This game marked the first time the Detroit Lions lost a thanksgiving game since 2012. The Vikings managed to beat them 30-23.


In typical Vikings fashion, their touchdown celebration is what makes this game super memorable. They have previously been known to play leapfrog and duck duck goose, but on this day they chose to have a thanksgiving meal right in the Lions’ end zone.


The thanksgiving games have been annually held (bar 5 years during WWII) for almost a century, so there are many more memorable moments that we haven’t included on our list.


So next time you are stuffed from a delicious turkey meal, turn on the TV and enjoy some of the best games in the NFL.

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