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The Grueling Truth - Where Legends Speak / NFL News / Top 10 Thanksgiving Day performances in NFL history

Top 10 Thanksgiving Day performances in NFL history

Publish Date: 11/24/2022
Fact checked by: Mark Lewis

Top 11 Turkey day performances

We get three games on Thanksgiving, but we got two games back in the day. A game featuring the Lions and, most years, a game featuring the Dallas Cowboys. Today we will look at the top 10 Thanksgiving performances in NFL history.

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10) Tony Romo, QB, Cowboys (vs Buccaneers, 2006)

Theย Cowboys knew they had something special in the undrafted Romo pretty quickly in his first half-season as a starter. In only his sixth career start, Romo ripped Tampa Bay’s defense in a 38-10 rout.

Romo had the first of two five-TD games in his career, going 22-of-29 for 306 yards. Two went to the late Terry Glenn, two to Marion Barber III and the last to Terrell Owens.

9) Robert Griffin III, QB, Redskins (vs Cowboys, 2012)

Two weeks prior to this game, Mike Shanahan had already called Washington’s season at 3-6, over. While trying to keep the hope alive, Griffin made a virtual return home.

It came alive unexpectedly. Griffin threw three touchdown passes during a 28-0 stampede at the end of the second quarter, which helped to stop a furious Cowboys comeback. Washington won 38-31. This was the second win in the seven-game season-ending streak that earned them the NFC East title. Check out the top football odds for betting on the NFL.

8) Roger Brown, DE, Lions (vs Packers, 1962)

Before the Rams stole the nickname “Fearsome Foursome”, The Detroit Lions had a Fearsome Foursome led by Roger Brown, Darris McCord, Alex Karras and Sam Williams sacked Bart Starr eleven times. This was in addition to a safety. Detroit beat Vince Lombardiโ€™s 10-0 defending champion Packers 26-14. Roger Brown was involved in seven of the sacks.

7) Barry Sanders, RB, Lions (vs Bears, 1997)

Sanders was the Thanksgiving appetizer for a decade. His best show was this: 167 yards, three touchdowns, including one of 40 yards, and humiliation on almost every play against the Bears defense.

The Lions won 55-20. Sanders moved up to second on the all-time rushing list… and retired the following season, still No. 2.

6) O.J. Simpson, RB, Bills (vs Lions, 1976)

Simpson kept the national television audience watching long after the Bills had lost to the Lions.ย O.J. won the day but the Lions won the game 27-14.ย O.J. rushed for 273 yards for a single-game record, breaking his own 250-yard record set three years ago during his 2,000-yard season.

Walter Payton surpassed that number a year later, but nobody had topped them until 2000.

5) Randy Moss, WR, Vikings (vs Cowboys, 1998)

Moss took revenge on the Cowboys for not drafting him in the draft that year, one of the most memorable revenge games, ever. Three passes were caught by the rookie — all of them touchdowns of more than 50 yards. He also caught a flea flicker just two minutes in and a bomb while being heavily guarded.

The Vikings won the game 46 to 36 and were one goal short of reaching the Super Bowl that season.

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4) Peyton Manning, QB, Colts (vs Lions, 2004)

Manning was almost certain to break Dan Marinoโ€™s single-season record for touchdown passes of 48 after this game. Manning finished the game with 41 TDs, with five games remaining, and ended up with 49. Manning also did it in three quarters. He threw his first three touchdown passes to Brandon Stokley, and the last three to Marvin Harrison.

Barry Sanders also received his Hall of Fame Ring on that day.

3) Tom Brady, QB Patriots (vs Lions, 2010)

It was obvious that Brady would be on this list. In a matchup between two teams headed in different directions, he turned Detroit’s defense into hopeless turkeys. Brady finished 21 of 27 passes for 341 yards and 4 touchdowns in New England’s victory 45-24. This was a perfect passer rating of 158.3.

2) Bob Griese, QB Dolphins (vs Cardinals, 1977)

How is it possible that a Thanksgiving day with six touchdowns is forgotten? It was a rare holiday match in St. Louis back when Dallas was not allowed to dominate the day. Griese threw all six of them in just three quarters on 23 attempts. The Dolphins defeated the Cards 55-14.

Since then, Dallas has hosted a Thanksgiving match every year; Manning is the only one to have thrown as many touchdowns. Check out our top football betting strategies.

1) Clint Longley, QB, Cowboys (vs Redskins, 1974)

No Thanksgiving performance has ever been more shocking, even after almost 50 years.ย Washington was knocked out Roger Staubach in the third quarter of this Thanksgiving matchup. Dallas had to play backup Clint Longley. The Boys trailed 16-3 when Longley entered and became a hero.

Drew Pearson’s 50-yard touchdown pass from Longley with 28 seconds remaining won the game for the Cowboys, 24/23. Longley threw 3 touchdown passes in the second half.

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