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The Five Most Memorable NFL Thanksgiving Moments

Thanksgiving means turkey, pie, family — and football. Gathering around the TV to watch the Detroit Lions or Dallas Cowboys play on Turkey Day is a tradition for countless sports fans. Here are some of the most memorable (and notorious) moments from the NFL's annual Thanksgiving games. 

thanksgiving football memorable moments

5. Jonas Brothers Perform

What, you were expecting all football highlights? The Jonas Brothers played the halftime show in Dallas on Thanksgiving 2008, so here's a video for all you Team Jonas kids out there. 

4. Barry's Big Day

The Lions play every Thanksgiving, and nobody was more synonymous with the Lions than Barry Sanders. In 1997, the Lions trounced the Bears, 55-20, with Sanders leading the way. If you skip the video to 6:45, you can see the best runs he made en route to 167 yards and three touchdowns.  

3. Randy Moss Lights Up Cowboys

Rookie Randy Moss opened the scoring on Thanksgiving in 1998 with a huge touchdown reception on the above 51-yard flea flicker play from quarterback Randall Cunningham. Things only got worse from there for Dallas. Moss would go onto catch two touchdowns, both for 56 yards, allowing the Vikings to win a 46-36 shootout. The final touchdown, unlike the first two deep bombs, involved Moss outrunning the Dallas defense after a reception for short yardage.

Moss ended the day with just the three catches, but for an amazing total of 163 yards and three touchdowns.

2. Dave Williams Walks Off

A game between the Bears and Lions on Thanksgiving 1980 featured the shortest overtime period ever (at the time) thanks to the quick work of Chicago running back Dave Williams. After trailing Detroit 17-3 at the start of the fourth quarter, the Bears rallied to tie the game. And as the Lions kicked off to began overtime, the Bears completed their comeback on a game-ending 95-yard touchdown return from Williams. It would be the last of three kick return touchdowns Williams would record in his career.

1. Leon Lett's Big Goof

When Dallas blocked the Dolphins' last second field goal on Thanksgiving 1993, the game should have been over. Cowboys defensive tackle Leon Lett had other plans, however, diving for and kicking the ball, effectively putting it back into play. Miami recovered at the Dallas one yard line and got to try the field goal again, this time from much closer distance. With three seconds left on the clock, Pete Stoyanovich made the chip-shot kick, handing Dallas and Lett one of the most embarrassing defeats ever. 

Amazingly, it was only the second-most embarrassing play for Leon Lett in 1993. In Super BowlXXVII, Lett lost a sure-touchdown by celebrating prematurely on his way to the end zone. All's well that ends well though: Lett ended up with a Super Bowl ring after both seasons.