Series produce thrills

Rich Fyle column

From the drawers of the Top Secret Fyles:

Watching NFL games during a Thanksgiving feast has become an institution in this country — no matter if you eat early or late. The Lions have been hosting games on Thanksgiving since 1934, and the Cowboys since 1966, except for two seasons in the mid-’70s.

Here are my top five best games on Thanksgiving:

n 5. Dolphins 16, Cowboys 14 on Nov. 25, 1993 — After the Dolphins had a 40-yard field goal blocked very late in regulation, the Cowboys’ Leon Lett slipped on the snow, and touched the ball, making it live. Miami recovered at the 2-yard line, got another chance for a field goal attempt, this time much closer, and won the game.

n 4. Bears 23, Lions 17 (OT) on Nov. 27, 1980 — The first overtime game on the holiday was over before the pumpkin pie was served. Chicago running back Dave Williams returned the kickoff 95 yards for a touchdown, ending the then-shortest OT period in NFL history at 13 seconds.

n 3. Lions 27, Bills 14 on Nov. 25, 1976 — Buffalo running back O.J. Simpson sets an NFL record with 273 rushing yards in a loss to the Lions. Simpson’s mark would be broken by Chicago’s Walter Payton nearly one year later.

n 2. Lions 26, Packers 14 on Nov. 22, 1962 — Detroit sacked Green Bay QB Bart Starr 11 times en route to pinning the first loss in 11 games on the defending champion Packers. It was dubbed the “Thanksgiving Day Massacre,” but the Packers later won the NFL title that season.

n 1. Cowboys 24, Redskins 23 on Nov. 28, 1974 — Obscure backup QB Clint Longley replaced an injured Roger Staubach with Dallas down by 13 points. Longley’s two long TD passes, including one to Drew Pearson in the final minute, gave Dallas a surprising win over its chief rival.

n Honorable mention: The Lions beat the Packers, 52-35, in 1951, in the highest-scoring Thanksgiving Day game; the Lions edged the Steelers, 19-16, in OT in 1998, on the botched coin flip between the Steelers’ Jerome Bettis and referee Phil Luckett; the Packers topped the Lions, 44-40, on Walter Stanley’s career day in 1986; the Cowboys won a 42-31 shootout over the Packers in 1994, when third-string QB Jason Garrett started in place of the injured Troy Aikman and outdueled the Packers’ Brett Favre.

n Richie Rich’s Top 10 rankings in the NFL: 1. Patriots; 2. 49ers; 3. Seahawks; 4. Ravens; 5. Saints; 6. Bills; 7. Vikings; 8. Packers; 9. Chiefs; 10. Texans.

Times sports copy editor Richard Fyle can be reached at

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