Thanksgiving in the United States is a holiday steeped in tradition, known for its heartwarming family gatherings and feasts. But another time-honored tradition that has become synonymous with Thanksgiving is football. For many, the day wouldn’t be complete without sitting down to watch a thrilling game while digesting their turkey dinner. In this article, we’ll delve into the top 10 Thanksgiving football games that have etched an enduring legacy on this beloved holiday.
1934: The First Thanksgiving Day Game
Thanksgiving and football have been intertwined since 1934, when the Detroit Lions hosted the Chicago Bears for their inaugural Thanksgiving Day game. This matchup began a tradition that continues today, making it an essential part of the holiday celebration. The 1934 Thanksgiving Day matchup between the Detroit Lions and the Chicago Bears was a pioneering event that resonated with fans, cementing football’s place as a beloved Thanksgiving tradition. It’s a testament to the enduring power of sports to unite families and communities during this memorable holiday, creating lasting memories and traditions that continue to enrich the Thanksgiving experience.
1966: The Birth Of The Dallas Cowboys Tradition
In 1966, the Dallas Cowboys initiated their Thanksgiving Day tradition by playing against the Cleveland Browns. The Cowboys have since become synonymous with Thanksgiving football, hosting numerous exciting games that have kept fans glued to their screens throughout the years.
1974: Overtime Thriller – Dallas Vs. Washington
The Dallas Cowboys faced off against the Washington Football Team in 1974 in a game that went into overtime. This thrilling matchup is remembered for its high-stakes drama and exemplifies the intensity of Thanksgiving Day football. The 1974 Thanksgiving clash between the Dallas Cowboys and the Washington Football Team showcased the resilience and determination of both teams as they battled into overtime, captivating viewers with an unforgettable display of football prowess. This historic game serves as a reminder that Thanksgiving Day football is not just a tradition but also a stage for unforgettable moments that define the holiday.
1980: The Miracle At The Silverdome
‘The Detroit Lions’ Silverdome stadium witnessed a Thanksgiving miracle in 1980 when the Lions overcame a 23-point deficit to beat the Minnesota Vikings. This historic comeback game remains a standout moment in Thanksgiving football history.
1993: The Thanksgiving Day “Leon Lett” Blunder
Photo courtesy of YouTube, Leon Lett’s Thanksgiving Blunder
In 1993, the Miami Dolphins visited the Dallas Cowboys for a memorable Thanksgiving game. However, it’s not the victory that is remembered but rather the infamous “Leon Lett” blunder when Lett touched a blocked field goal attempt, allowing the Dolphins another chance to kick the game-winning field goal.
1998: Barry Sanders Vs. Minnesota Vikings
Thanksgiving Day 1998 was all about Barry Sanders, who rushed for 167 yards and three touchdowns, leading the Detroit Lions to a victory over the Minnesota Vikings. Sanders’ dazzling performance remains one of the most remarkable displays of skill in Thanksgiving football history. Barry Sanders’ remarkable Thanksgiving Day performance in 1998 not only thrilled Lions fans but also showcased the incredible talent and dedication of one of the greatest running backs in NFL history. His display of skill and athleticism continues to be celebrated and remembered as a defining moment in the rich tapestry of Thanksgiving football history, leaving an indelible mark on the holiday’s sports tradition.
2012: The Butt Fumble
The 2012 Thanksgiving game between the New York Jets and the New England Patriots is infamous for the “Butt Fumble.” Jets quarterback Mark Sanchez collided with his own teammate’s behind, fumbling the ball, which the Patriots recovered for a touchdown. This comical blunder became an internet sensation and a lasting Thanksgiving memory.
2013: The Snow Bowl – Philadelphia Vs. Detroit
The 2013 Thanksgiving game between the Philadelphia Eagles and the Detroit Lions, also known as the “Snow Bowl,” was played in heavy snowfall. The challenging weather conditions made it a memorable and unique spectacle, where both teams battled the elements along with each other. The “Snow Bowl” of 2013 will forever be etched in football history as a game where the elements played a leading role, transforming the field into a winter wonderland. Despite the challenging conditions, the game showcased the resilience and adaptability of both teams, making it a remarkable display of the true spirit of football.
2016: The “Throw Up The X” Return
In 2016, the Dallas Cowboys faced the Washington Football Team, and it marked the return of Cowboys receiver Dez Bryant. After scoring a touchdown, Bryant celebrated by throwing up the letter “X” in honor of his signature celebration. This moment captured the essence of Thanksgiving Day football’s excitement.
2019: Thanksgiving Day Debut Of The Buffalo Bills
In 2019, the Buffalo Bills made their Thanksgiving Day debut, playing against the Dallas Cowboys. This matchup marked the Bills’ return to the Thanksgiving spotlight, rekindling the tradition of bringing new teams into the fold. The Bills’ Thanksgiving Day debut in 2019 was a significant moment not only for the team but also for fans eager to see fresh faces on the holiday football stage. It’s a testament to the ever-evolving nature of Thanksgiving football, where traditions are honored and new chapters are continually written.