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5 most memorable NFL games played on Thanksgiving

Fan vote used to determine top 5
Terry Kirby, Brock Marion, Bill Bates, Leon Lett, Miami Dolphins at Dallas Cowboys on Thanksgiving in 1993
Posted at 9:25 AM, Nov 26, 2020
and last updated 2020-11-26 09:25:19-05

Nothing says Thanksgiving like turkeys, stuffing and pigskin.

Yes, a football tradition since 1945 continues this Thanksgiving with the annual slate of NFL games.

What was supposed to be a trio of games will instead be a doubleheader after the game between the Baltimore Ravens and undefeated Pittsburgh Steelers has been postponed until Sunday after some Baltimore players tested positive for the coronavirus.

Nevertheless, the greatest game on turf must go on, so here are the five most memorable NFL games played on Thanksgiving as voted upon by you, the fans.

No. 5: New England Patriots 49, New York Jets 19
Nov. 22, 2012
MetLife Stadium | East Rutherford, N.J.

New York Jets QB Mark Sanchez hit by New England Patriots on Thanksgiving in 2012
New York Jets quarterback Mark Sanchez is hit by New England Patriots defensive end Jermaine Cunningham (96) and Justin Francis (94) during the second half Thursday, Nov. 22, 2012 in East Rutherford, N.J. The Jets lost the game 49-19.

This Thanksgiving battle of AFC East Division teams shall forever be known as the "butt fumble" game. After a scoreless first quarter, Jets quarterback Mark Sanchez collided with the gluteus maximus of offensive lineman Brandon Moore, causing him to fumble the football. It was recovered by Patriots safety Steve Gregory and returned for a touchdown. The mishap was the centerpiece of a calamitous series of events for the Jets in the second quarter, during which time they lost three fumbles and the Patriots found the end zone three times -- one each on offense, defense and special teams -- in a span of 52 seconds. New England outscored the Jets 35-3 that quarter on the way to a 49-19 victory in the first Thanksgiving prime-time game on a broadcast network.

No. 4: Philadelphia Eagles 27, Dallas Cowboys 0
Nov. 23, 1989
Texas Stadium | Irving, Texas

Dallas Cowboys QB Troy Aikman tackled by Philadelphia Eagles defensive end Reggie White in December 1989 with 'Bounty Bowl' banner in background
Dallas Cowboys quarterback Troy Aikman is unable to get a pass off as he is tackled by Philadelphia Eagles defensive end Reggie White during the first half as a "Bounty Bowl" banner is displayed in the background, Dec. 10, 1989, in Philadelphia.

This game has been dubbed the "Bounty Bowl" because of allegations that Eagles head coach Buddy Ryan had placed bounties on Cowboys kicker Luis Zendejas and rookie quarterback Troy Aikman. First-year Dallas head coach Jimmy Johnson claimed that there was a $200 bounty on Zendejas, who had been cut by Philadelphia earlier in the season, and a $500 bounty on Aikman. "I have absolutely no respect for the way they played the game," Johnson told reporters after the lopsided loss. "I would have said something to Buddy, but he wouldn't stand on the field long enough. He put his big, fat rear end into the dressing room." Ryan denied the accusation. "I resent that," he said. "I've been on a diet, lost a couple of pounds. I thought I was looking good."

No. 3: Chicago Bears 23, Detroit Lions 17 (OT)
Nov. 27, 1980
Pontiac Silverdome | Pontiac, Mich.

The Lions led the Bears 17-3 headed into the fourth quarter of the first Thanksgiving overtime game. Chicago outscored Detroit 14-0 in the final quarter and forced overtime when quarterback Vince Evans scrambled and dove into the end zone on the last play of regulation. But it didn't last long. Bears running back Dave Williams returned the opening kickoff 95 yards for the game-winning touchdown in an overtime that lasted just 13 seconds -- the shortest in NFL history.

No. 2: Detroit Lions 19, Pittsburgh Steelers 16 (OT)
Nov. 26, 1998
Pontiac Silverdome | Pontiac, Mich.

Detroit Lions kicker Chris Hanson after kicking game-winning FG vs. Pittsburgh Steelers on Thanksgiving in 1998
Detroit Lions kicker Jason Hanson watches his game-winning field goal in overtime as Pittsburgh Steelers cornerback Carnell Lake looks on Thursday, Nov. 26, 1998, in Pontiac, Mich. Pittsburgh won 19-16.

This game is perhaps best remembered for what happened during the coin toss to determine whether Detroit or Pittsburgh got the ball first in sudden-death overtime. Steelers running back Jerome Bettis claimed he called "tails," but referee Phil Luckett insisted that Bettis had called "heads-tails." NFL rules dictate that a team's first call must be used, so Luckett awarded the ball to the Lions, who won on a 42-yard field goal on their first possession in overtime. As a result, the NFL now requires that the team captain call heads or tails before the coin toss.

No. 1: Miami Dolphins 16, Dallas Cowboys 14
Nov. 25, 1993
Texas Stadium | Irving, Texas

Miami Dolphins and Dallas Cowboys meet on snow-covered field at Texas Stadium on Thanksgiving in 1993
The Dallas Cowboys and Miami Dolphins meet on the icy field of Texas Stadium on Thanksgiving Day, Nov. 25, 1993, in Irving, Texas.

The defending Super Bowl champions were facing the Dan Marino-less Dolphins on a snow-covered field in what has since become a Thanksgiving classic. Trailing 14-13 with 15 seconds remaining, Dolphins head coach Don Shula sent kicker Pete Stoyanovich onto the field to attempt a 41-yard field goal. The kick was blocked by Dallas defensive tackle Jimmie Jones, but while his teammates were celebrating, fellow lineman Leon Lett ran toward the football, past a few Dolphins players, slipped on the frozen turf and kicked the ball. The Dolphins recovered the loose ball and Stoyanovich made a 19-yard field goal with three seconds left to give Miami a 16-14 victory. It was the final loss for Jimmy Johnson as head coach of the Cowboys, who won out on their way to back-to-back Super Bowl trophies. The Dolphins didn't win again for the rest of the season.

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