Week thirteen-Thanksgiving Day (Nov. 28, 2013)

Detroit Lions 40 vs. Green Bay Packers 10

The Detroit Lions began their Thanksgiving football tradition in 1934, their inaugural season in the Motor City. In 1929, the Lions were originally founded as the Portsmouth Spartans. Although they enjoyed some success in the National Football League, the team could not survive in the tiny Ohio town. Once they were sold, the franchise eventually moved to Detroit. In their first Thanksgiving Day game, they played the Chicago Bears and lost, 19-16. From 1935-2003, the Lions have posted a record of 33 wins, 28 losses, and two ties in games that have been played on Thanksgiving. However, Detroit has suffered a string of nine consecutive Thanksgiving Day losses and they hoped to end the streak with the Green Bay Packers coming to Ford Field.

The defense held Green Bay scoreless for the remainder of the game after a defensive touchdown, as the Packers managed only seven first downs and 126-yards of total offense. Meanwhile, the Lions offense recorded 30 first downs, 561 total yards, and a string of 37 unanswered points to bury Green Bay. Detroit rushed for a total of 241-yards as Reggie Bush gained 117 on 20 carries with a touchdown and his performance earned him the Galloping Gobbler award. Matthew Stafford completed 22 of 35 passes for 330-yards and three touchdowns. One of his scoring strikes went to Calvin Johnson, who made six receptions for 101-yards.

In the end, the Lions won their first Thanksgiving Day game since 2003, where they coincidentally defeated the Packers, 22-14.

Dallas Cowboys 31 vs. Oakland Raiders 24

            The Dallas Cowboys came into the league in 1960, but they did not play their first Thanksgiving Day game until 1966, when they beat the Cleveland Browns 26-14. Unlike the Lions, the Cowboys have enjoyed a little more success on this holiday by compiling an overall record of 28-16-1. Along the way, Dallas has enjoyed their fair share of memorable Thanksgiving Day moments from unlikely heroes.

Notable games

  • In 1974, backup Clint Longley came off the bench for an injured Roger Staubach and led a comeback by throwing for over 200-yards and two touchdown passes, including the game winning touchdown to Drew Pearson with 28 seconds to provide the Cowboys with a 24-23 win.
  • In 1994, current Dallas Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett got the start in place of an injured Troy Aikman. Garrett brought Dallas back from a 17-6 halftime deficit by passing for 311-yards and a pair of touchdown passes. Running back Emmitt Smith also added 133-yards on 32 carries while scoring twice in the 42-31 comeback victory.
  • In 2006, a young Tony Romo torched the Tampa Bay Buccaneers by completing 22 of 29 passes for 306-yards and a Cowboy record five touchdown passes. Dallas defeated the Bucs in a blowout, 38-10.

Against the Raiders, Dallas came out flat as Terrence Williams fumbled the opening kickoff which Oakland ran in for a touchdown. Rashad Jennings also scored a pair of touchdowns to help the Raiders build a 21-7 lead. The Cowboys mounted a comeback as Tony Romo completed 23 of 32 passes for 225-yards and a touchdown pass while De’Marco Murray rushed for 63-yards on 17 carries along with his trio of scores. Murray also won the Phil Simms All-Iron award and his power running was complemented by backfield mate Lance Dunbar, who gained 82-yards on 12 carries. Scranton native Matt McGloin completed 18 of 30 passes for 255-yards as his passing helped keep the Raiders in the game. McGloin’s leading receiver was Andre Holmes, who caught seven passes for 136-yards.

Baltimore Ravens 22 vs. Pittsburgh Steelers 20

            The Pittsburgh Steelers and the Baltimore Ravens have been divisional rivals since 1996, but neither team faced each other on Thanksgiving before. In fact, both teams have made one appearance on this holiday and they were indeed noteworthy. The last time Pittsburgh was in a Thanksgiving Day Game was in 1998, when they lost an overtime game to the Detroit Lions in controversial fashion by a score of 19-16.

Meanwhile, the Baltimore Ravens played a game on Thanksgiving Day, 2011 against the San Francisco 49ers. That game was dubbed “The Har-Bowl” in reference to the head coaches of both teams. John Harbaugh, the head coach of the Ravens, was facing his brother, Jim, who is the head coach of the 49ers. John is the older brother and he had no problem showing a few tricks to Jim, who was a first year coach out of Stanford at the time. With the game tied at six entering the fourth quarter, Baltimore put San Francisco away with ten unanswered points, which included Joe Flacco throwing a touchdown pass to tight end Dennis Pitta. The Ravens won the game, 16-6.

There was a lot on the line for Baltimore and Pittsburgh. In yet another chapter of this storied rivalry, both teams needed a win in order to stay in the race for the AFC playoffs. Joe Flacco completed 24 of 35 passes for 251-yards and threw for Baltimore’s only touchdown to Torrey Smith. Jacoby Jones accounted for 176 all-purpose yards while Justin Tucker accounted for the rest of the Ravens points with five field goals. Ben Roethlisberger completed 28 of 44 passes for 257-yards and a pair of touchdown passes. After allowing the Steelers to score with 1:03 remaining in the game, Baltimore’s defense rose to the occasion by preventing Pittsburgh to tie the score on a two-point conversion.