American football on Thanksgiving. It’s a tradition that actually dates back over 100 years ago to the original NFL; a measly three-team league based solely in Pennsylvania. (It only lasted one season in 1902.) In the years since the leatherheads, the holiday ritual has grown into its modern-day incarnation, consisting of annual games hosted by both the Detroit Lions (since 1934) and Dallas Cowboys (1966). In 2006, a third night game was added to the Turkey Day bill, with rotating home and away teams. This week, the Lions will host the Green Bay Packers in a highly anticipated NFC North matchup, while the Cowboys welcome the suddenly hot (winners of three straight) Miami Dolphins. During the nightcap, the surprisingly 9-1 San Francisco 49ers will be in Baltimore to face the Ravens, in a battle of brother head coaches, Jim Harbaugh of the 49ers and John Harbaugh of the Ravens. In honor of this annual institution, here are 10 of the most memorable plays from Thanksgiving Day games, throughout the years. Perhaps this list will hype you up enough to get off the coach and outside for your own personal Turkey Bowl, with family and friends, to work off some of the calories that come with America’s most acceptable day of binge eating. Enjoy!
DALLAS COWBOYS VS. NEW ORLEANS SAINTS (2010) Miles Austin turns reverse into 60-yard touchdown Starting off with a few entries from last year’s games, including this nifty play by the Dallas Cowboys (an obvious recurring team on this list). After faking the handoff to Felix Jones, Tony Romo dishes the ball of to a swinging Austin, who takes a big turn down the sideline for the long reverse touchdown. Note that Jones ending up making the final block on the play. Teamwork!
NEW YORK JETS VS. CINCINNATI BENGALS (2010) Brad Smith’s (shoeless) kickoff return touchdown Known as the “Swiss-Army Knife” for his wide array of pigskin skills, Brad Smith (college quarterback turned receiver, wildcat back and kick returner) added a new element to his game last Thanksgiving – scoring a TD with one damn shoe. Smith took a 4th quarter kickoff to the house for 89 yards; actually losing his left shoe exactly on the 50-yard line. The sock scamper would have made “Shoeless” Joe Jackson very proud.
WASHINGTON REDSKINS VS. DALLAS COWBOYS (1974) Clint Longley’s game winning touchdown Taking it all the way back to 1974; the Cowboys were hosting their bitter rivals, the Washington Redskins, when future Hall of Fame quarterback Roger Staubach went down with an injury (with the Cowboys down 16-3). In came rookie backup Clint Longley, who capped a fourth quarter comeback with this 50-yard touchdown pass to Drew Pearson, pulling the Cowboys ahead 24-23. Longley went on to have very little success in the NFL, but will always have this memory to make Thanksgiving Day easier to digest.