December 13, 2017

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THANKSGIVING DAY – A TRADITION OF FRIENDS, FAMILY AND FOOTBALL

Turkey Football Player

For generations of Americans, the tradition of Thanksgiving Day and NFL football are historically intertwined.

On Thanksgiving in 1925, a crowd of 36,000 – then the largest in professional football history – watched the Chicago Bears play the Chicago Cardinals to a scoreless tie at Wrigley Field. In 1934, the Detroit Lions and the defending world champion Bears squared off on Thanksgiving in the first NFL game nationally broadcast, with NBC radio on the call. This year, the three holiday games will be played inside stadiums with a combined capacity of over 230,000 and will be aired to millions across the country and around the world.

The 2017 installment of Thanksgiving Day football will feature a tripleheader for the 12th consecutive season.

The first game showcases a battle of NFC North rivals as the Minnesota Vikings travel to Detroit to face the Lions (12:30 PM ET, FOX). The late afternoon game marks the 40th consecutive Thanksgiving Day contest hosted in Dallas as the Cowboys welcome the Los Angeles Chargers to AT&T Stadium (4:30 PM ET, CBS). The holiday concludes at FedExField with the 169th regular-season meeting between the NFC East rivals Washington Redskins and New York Giants (8:30 PM ET, NBC).

GAME NETWORK LOCAL TIME EASTERN TIME
Minnesota Vikings (8-2) at Detroit Lions (6-4) FOX 12:30 PM ET 12:30 PM
Los Angeles Chargers (4-6) at Dallas Cowboys (5-5) CBS

3:30 PM CT

4:30 PM
New York Giants (2-8) at Washington Redskins (4-6) NBC

8:30 PM ET

8:30 PM

The Lions will play their 78th Thanksgiving Day game dating back to 1934, while the Cowboys will play in their 50th since 1966. The Giants and Redskins will play in their 15th and 10th games, respectively, on the holiday. The Vikings will play in their eighth and the Chargers will play in their fifth Thanksgiving game.

The Thanksgiving Day records of the teams playing this Thursday:

TEAM WON LOST TIED
Dallas Cowboys 30

18

1
Detroit Lions 37

38

2
Los Angeles Chargers 2

1

1
Minnesota Vikings 5

2

0
New York Giants 7

4

3
Washington Redskins 2 7 0

 

MINNESOTA (8-2) at DETROIT (6-4): Thursday’s matchup marks the second consecutive Thanksgiving meeting between the Vikings and Lions, and the fifth overall meeting on the holiday. Last season, Detroit cornerback DARIUS SLAY intercepted a pass with 30 seconds remaining in the fourth quarter and kicker MATT PRATER converted the game-winning 40-yard field goal as time expired in the Lions’ 16-13 win.

The Vikings lead the NFC North with an 8-2 record and have won six consecutive games. Detroit, who has won three in a row and is 6-4 on the season, trails Minnesota by two games in the division. The Lions defeated Minnesota 14-7 in Week 4 and have won each of the past three meetings.

Detroit enters Week 12 following a 27-24 win at Chicago last week. Lions quarterback MATTHEW STAFFORD passed for 299 yards with two touchdowns and no interceptions for a 120.2 passer rating and Prater converted the game-winning 52-yard field goal with 1:35 remaining in the fourth quarter in the team’s win. Prater has converted three career game-winning field goals of at least 50 yards with under two minutes remaining in the fourth quarter or overtime, tied with five others for the most such field goals in NFL history.

The Lions have won their past four Thanksgiving Day games by a combined score of 135-54. With a win on Thursday, Detroit will tie the Tennessee Titans/Houston Oilers (five consecutive wins, 1979-present) and Chicago Bears (five, 1930-34) for the fourth-longest winning streak on Thanksgiving Day.

The most consecutive wins on Thanksgiving:

TEAM SEASONS CONSECUTIVE WINS
Philadelphia Eagles 1939-2014 6
Dallas Cowboys 1980-85 6
Detroit Lions 1950-55 6
Houston Oilers/Tennessee Titans 1979-present  5*
Chicago Bears 1930-34 5
Detroit Lions 2013-present 4*
*Active streak

In seven career games on Thanksgiving Day, Stafford has passed for 2,219 yards (317 per game) and 15 touchdowns, both the second-most in NFL history.

The players with the most career passing yards and touchdown passes on Thanksgiving:

PASSING YARDS
PLAYER TEAM GAMES PASSING YARDS
Tony Romo Dallas 10 2,338
Matthew Stafford* Detroit 7 2,219
Troy Aikman^ Dallas 10 2,174
Danny White Dallas 10 1,545
Bart Starr^ Green Bay 8 1,345
*Active

^Pro Football Hall of Famer

TOUCHDOWN PASSES
PLAYER TEAM GAMES TOUCHDOWN PASSES
Tony Romo Dallas 10 18
Matthew Stafford* Detroit 7 15
Bobby Layne^ Detroit 8 14
Danny White Dallas 10 14
Troy Aikman^ Dallas 10 11
Brett Favre^ Green Bay 4 11
*Active

^Pro Football Hall of Famer

In Week 11, the Vikings held the Los Angeles Rams to 254 total yards in the team’s 24-7 victory. Minnesota wide receiver ADAM THIELEN recorded six catches for 123 yards with a touchdown and running back LATAVIUS MURRAY rushed for two touchdowns in the win. Thielen, who has 62 catches for 916 yards this season, joined RANDY MOSS (2003) as the only players in franchise history to have at least 60 catches and 900 receiving yards in the team’s first 10 games of a season.

Minnesota has won five of its seven games on Thanksgiving Day and ties for the second-highest winning percentage (.714) on the holiday (minimum five games).

The active franchises with the highest winning percentages on Thanksgiving (minimum five games):

TEAM WON LOST TIED WINNING PCT.
Philadelphia Eagles 6 1 0 .857
Houston Oilers/Tennessee Titans 5

2

0 .714
Miami Dolphins 5

2

0 .714
Minnesota Vikings 5

2

0 .714
New York Giants 7

4

3 .636
Note: tie games prior to 1972 do not count in winning percentage

LOS ANGELES CHARGERS (4-6) at DALLAS (5-5): The Chargers and Cowboys meet for the 11th time in series history, with Dallas holding a 6-4 advantage. Thursday marks the first Thanksgiving Day meeting between the two teams.

Los Angeles had five interceptions – all in the first half – in the team’s 54-24 win over Buffalo last week. The Chargers are the first team with five interceptions in the first half of a game since the 1973 Miami Dolphins (December 3 vs. Pittsburgh).

The Chargers are making their fifth appearance on Thanksgiving Day and the first since defeating the Houston Oilers 21-17 at the Astrodome on November 27, 1969. In that contest, the Chargers overcame a 10-point second-half deficit, punctuated by a fourth-quarter interception-return touchdown by defensive back KENNY GRAHAM.

The Chargers’ 48-year gap between Thanksgiving Day appearances is the longest in NFL history.

TEAM SEASONS YEARS BETWEEN THANKSGIVING DAY APPEARANCES
San Diego/Los Angeles Chargers 1969-2017 48
New York Giants 1938-1982 44
San Francisco 49ers 1972-2011 39
Los Angeles/Oakland Raiders 1970-2009 39
Baltimore/Indianapolis Colts 1965-2004 39

The Cowboys look to rebound in Week 12 following a loss to Philadelphia last week. Dallas defensive end DEMARCUS LAWRENCE ties for the NFL lead with 11.5 sacks and quarterback DAK PRESCOTT is one of two quarterbacks in NFL history (CAM NEWTON) with at least 35 passing touchdowns (39) and 10 rushing touchdowns (11) in their first two seasons.

Last season, Prescott passed for a touchdown and rushed for a score in the Cowboys’ 31-26 win over the Redskins on Thanksgiving Day.

Cowboys tight end JASON WITTEN, who will play in his 15th Thanksgiving Day game this week, has 73 catches on the holiday, the most all-time. His 809 receiving yards trail only HERMAN MOORE (834) for the most on Thanksgiving.

The most career receptions and receiving yards on Thanksgiving:

RECEPTIONS
PLAYER TEAM GAMES RECEPTIONS
Jason Witten* Dallas 14 73
Calvin Johnson Detroit 9 55
Herman Moore Detroit 10 51
Michael Irvin^ Dallas 10 49
Emmitt Smith^ Dallas 13 42
*Active

^Pro Football Hall of Famer

RECEIVING YARDS
PLAYER TEAM GAMES RECEIVING YARDS
Herman Moore Detroit 10 834
Jason Witten* Dallas 14 809
Calvin Johnson Detroit 9 769
Michael Irvin^ Dallas 10 722
Tony Hill Dallas 9 622
*Active

^Pro Football Hall of Famer

NEW YORK GIANTS (2-8) at WASHINGTON (4-6): The Redskins and Giants close out an all-day spread of Thanksgiving football with a meeting of two NFC East rivals. Washington and New York face off for the 171st time in series history (including the postseason), with the Giants holding a 99-67-4 advantage.

New York wide receiver ROGER LEWIS, JR. made an acrobatic 34-yard reception in overtime and kicker ALDRICK ROSAS converted the game-winning 23-yard field goal two plays later in the Giants’ 12-9 victory over Kansas City in Week 11. Giants safety LANDON COLLINS recorded a career-high 14 tackles and an interception in the win.

The Giants will play on Thanksgiving for the first time since 2009 and the 15th time overall. The Giants made their first appearance on Thanksgiving Day in 1926, when they defeated the Brooklyn Lions 17-0 at Ebbets Field, and were one of the earliest teams featured on Thanksgiving, playing 11 games on the holiday prior to 1939.

Last week, Washington quarterback KIRK COUSINS passed for 322 yards with three touchdowns and no interceptions for a 132.6 rating in the Redskins’ overtime loss at New Orleans. Cousins has nine career games with at least three touchdown passes and no interceptions, tied with Pro Football Hall of Famer SONNY JURGENSEN and JOE THEISMANN for the most such games in franchise history.

Washington plays on Thanksgiving for the second consecutive season and will host a game on the holiday for the first time in franchise history. Last season, Cousins completed a franchise-record 41 passes for 449 yards with three touchdowns and no interceptions for a 120.7 passer rating in Washington’s loss to Dallas.

Cousins’ 449 passing yards are the second-most in a single game on Thanksgiving, trailing only Pro Football Hall of Famer TROY AIKMAN, who passed for 455 yards on November 26, 1998.

The most passing yards in a game on Thanksgiving:

PLAYER TEAM DATE PASSING YARDS
Troy Aikman^ Dallas November 26, 1998 455
Kirk Cousins Washington November 24, 2016 449
Tony Romo Dallas November 22, 2012 441
Matthew Stafford Detroit November 22, 2012 441
^Pro Football Hall of Famer (NFL.com release)