Football on Thanksgiving Day has been customary and ever since its inception in 1920, NFL has always kept the best of matches for this day. With the best teams in contention, the authority tries to gift the supporters an action-packed line-up. On a day of get-together, it doesn’t hurt to get your family together and watch your favourite teams play.
In this story, we will try and narrate the stories of the top ten games that have been played on Thanksgiving Day and it can be for various other reasons. It isn’t simply driven by numbers but sudden moments of pride, joy, impossibility coming true and a sequence of countless events that kept the fans hooked to their seats.
#10 Colts 41, Lions 9, 2004
NFL legend, Peyton Manning threw a staggering six touchdown passes that also turned out to be his career-best performance and all of these feats were racked up on his first Thanksgiving game. Brandon Stokley and Marvin Harrison would come up with three touchdowns on the day while Edgerrin James contributed a staggering 105 yards on the ground. This game turned out to be a trail-blazer of Manning’s brilliance.
#9 Detroit 55 Chicago 20, 1997
The 1997 Thanksgiving Day was brought to life by Hall of Famer, Barry Sanders. The HOF running back surged for a screaming 167 yards and completed three TD’s to rally from behind to walk away with the bragging rights. Sanders scampered for overwhelming yardage of 40, 25 and 15 yards that led the Lions to 9-7 overall that saw them making the cut for the play-offs.
#8 Detroit Lions 27, Bills 14, 1976
This was a vintage classic as two stalwarts of their respective eras came forth to entertain the masses. Bills running back took his team on his burly shoulder as he forged a then-NFL record of 273 rushing yards with two touchdown runs. Simpson’s scintillating runs couldn’t see them through as the Bills quarterback couldn’t get the worth for his money. Lions rookie receiver, David Hill sealed the deal for Detroit.
#7 Green Bay Packers 44, Detroit Lions 40, 1986
This has so far been the highest-scoring game in the antiquity of the NFL as the two teams continued jousting for supremacy and surprisingly both the sides were in the respective league’s two worst contenders. Green Bay overcame a 10-point fourth-quarter deficit and bagged the game riding on the heroics of Walter Stanley who pinned a punt of 83 yards for a touchdown.
#6 Bears 23, Lions 17, 1980
This was one of the most remarkable turnarounds in the history of the sport as Vince Evans accounted for two touchdowns as the Bears racked up 14 unrivalled points to plug a deficit of 17-3. The turnaround started on the back of a 20-yard belter from Evans to Bob Fisher and then managed to compel overtime through a four-yard run by Evans. His return touchdown became one of two NFL history’s OT dramatics.
#5 New Orleans 30, Dallas 27, 2010
Despite taking a whopping 17-points lead in the opening quarter, the Saints were held back in the second quarter as the Cowboys would only concede three points while scoring three of their own. Leaving the Saints startled they staged an extraordinary comeback as touchdowns from Miles Austin and Marion Barber saw them coming with inches of the mammoth lead posted by the Saints. Sadly, their defence switched off allowing the legendary Drew Brees to weave his magic late in the game.
#4 Vikings 44, Cowboys 38, 1987
This is a story of another turnaround and it was left too late in the game as the fourth quarter saw the pyrotechnics light up. It was the Cowboys quarterback, Danny White who led the charge for an extraordinary comeback. His bullet throw to Mike Renfro forced OT in the game that saw the Cowboys boiling with momentum. Sadly, a blistering run from Darrin Nelson sealed the deal for the Vikings.
#3 Lions 19, Steelers 16, 1998
If the flip of a coin isn’t already disputable enough, to amp up the spice in the game, Jerome Bettis claimed that he had called tails in the toss wherein the referee Phil Luckett heard heads. It was later revealed that the first call of Bettis was heads and then he changed his mind to call heads. Going by the rules of the NFL, Luckett did the right thing as he accepted the opening call. Detroit would go on to take the ball down the field and eventually lash a 42-yard field goal by Jason Hanson.
#2 Cowboys 24, Redskins 23, 1974
This was a story of the rise of a backup quarterback as an injured Roger Staubach made way for Clint Longley. A rookie Longley threw a 50-yard touchdown to Drew Pearson that helped them bag the game with 28 seconds remaining on the clock. This victory acted as a catalyst for the Cowboys who lost to Washington a couple of weeks back.
#1 Dolphins 16, Cowboys 14, 1993
Dallas is unaccustomed to snow but in this particular game, the field was neck-deep in snow. Both the teams were eyeing playoff spots as Dallas was nestled at 7-3 while Miami was soaring at 8-2. The game came ablaze with the extraordinary drama and a comedy of errors from Leon Lett. Dolphins kicker Pete Stoyanovich would deliver the telling blow to the aspirations of Dallas through a 19-yard surge.