The NFL's Top Five Thanksgiving Day Games

Samantha CookeCorrespondent INovember 25, 2008

Thanksgiving Day games have long been a tradition in the National Football League.  Detroit and Dallas always host a game and a third has been added in recent years on the NFL Network.

The Thanksgiving Day tradition began when the first owner of the Lions hosted a game on Thanksgiving as a gimmick to get people to come to Lions' games.

There have been some memorable and not-so-memorable Thanksgiving games. 

Some games tear people away from their dinner and family; others make people change the channel.

Here is a look at the top five most memorable Thanksgiving Day games.


5. An old classic: In 1965, the first color television broadcast of an NFL game occurred when the game between the Detroit Lions and the Baltimore Colts was broadcasted. The game ended in a 24-24 tie. 

The Colts went on to make the playoffs where they lost to the Green Bay Packers in overtime. The Packers went on to win the NFL Championship.


4. 2006: After much lobbying from the Kansas City Chiefs owner Lamar Hunt, the Chiefs were awarded a Thanksgiving Day game to be broadcast on the NFL Network.  Hunt wanted the Thanksgiving Day game to be rotated and not just hosted by Detroit and Dallas. The Chiefs beat the Denver Broncos 19-10. The Chiefs made their first playoff appearance in three seasons.


3. 1976: Unknown Cowboys backup quarterback Clint Longley took over for an injured Roger Staubach. The Cowboys were down 16-3. Longley used two deep passes to propel the Cowboys over the St. Louis Cardinals 19-16. The Cowboys made the playoffs, going 11-3 with the Cardinals just missing at 10-4.


2. The Coin Toss Game, 1998: The Detroit Lions and Pittsburgh Steelers were headed to overtime, tied at 16. Jerome Bettis called the coin toss for overtime. The referee and the Steelers claim to have different opinions on the call for the coin toss.

The Lions won the toss, took the ball, and went right down and scored a field goal. The Steelers missed the playoffs that season and a new rule came in to place. The coin toss is now called before the coin is tossed.


1. He Didn't Run?!, 2001:  The Detroit Lions came back after going down 29-13 with backup quarterback Mike McMahon to the Green Bay Packers. With little time on the clock left, McMahon led his team down the field.

They had to convert the two-point conversion to send the game in to overtime.  McMahon took the ball, rolled out, and overthrew his wide receiver, leading to the Packers win.

The most memorable part of this play—McMahon had at least five yards of open field while looking for a receiver from the two-yard line. He should have run it in and that would have sent the game to overtime. The Packers made the playoffs, losing to the eventual NFC Champions St. Louis Rams.

With Thanksgiving just around the corner, who knows what kind of games will be played on Thanksgiving?

The Detroit Lions face off against the Tennessee Titans at 12:30 PM. The Dallas Cowboys and Seattle Seahawks will follow at 4:15. The Arizona Cardinals and Philadelphia Eagles will finish the day at 8:15.