AMARILLO, Texas (KAMR/KCIT) — The Dallas Cowboys are a part of every football fan’s Thanksgiving Day whether you’re cheering for them or not football meshes well with Thanksgiving dinner. The family, turkey, and the Cowboys are all ingredients you need for a good Thanksgiving day. This year brings an interesting match for the Cowboys with facing a divisional opponent. This year the Cowboys take on another divisional opponent the New York Giants who are having a solid season sitting at 7-2 in second place in the division.
Dallas will be looking to add to their Thanksgiving Day win total currently sitting at 31-22-1, coming off an overtime loss to the Las Vegas Raiders last year. That loss also came with a record for the most watched regular season game since 1990 raking in a total of estimated 38.531 million viewers. The last time the Cowboys took on the Giants on a Thanksgiving Day was back in 1922 defeating them 30-3. In the previous game they played the Giants this season they beat them, Dallas has prevailed in 10 of their last 11 meetings against the Giants, and that loss didn’t include Dak Prescott.
The Dallas Cowboys will face the New York Giants at around 4:30 p.m. on Nov. 24 at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas.
When did this Cowboy tradition start and why?
The Cowboy’s played their first Thanksgiving Day game in 1966 when they weren’t the most popular team on the market. The Cowboy’s general manager at the time Tex Schramm was looking to change that and bring more national attention to the Cowboys. Schramm had an idea that it would increase his team’s popularity while the NFL was so worried that no one would show up for the Thanksgiving game due to the Cowboy’s poor record. The NFL guaranteed Dallas a certain revenue if no one showed up for the game. Schramm signed for the holiday game anyway and as a result, 80,000 fans enjoyed the Cowboys beating the Cleveland Browns, 26-14, a franchise record for attendance was broken, and a tradition was born.
After that showing, Dallas was featured on every Thanksgiving Day except for two in the years 1975 and 1977 when the NFL experimented with the St. Louis Cardinals in an attempt to increase their national exposure. The Cardinals didn’t play too well on Thanksgiving losing both games and the Cowboys reclaimed the holiday game spot in 1978. After reclaiming the game spot the Cowboys went on to win eight of their next 10 Thanksgiving day games solidifying the game spot. The NFL added a third game on Thanksgiving in 2006, before the Detroit Lions played the early game and the Cowboys played the late game. The Lions were the first team to start this tradition in 1934 and have a total of 37 wins, the Cowboys only trail them by six wins with 31 following them is the Chicago Bears with 19.
Top Cowboy Thanksgiving games in history
- 1974: Dallas Cowboys vs. Washington Redskins
With the Cowboys trailing Washington 16-3, backup quarterback Clint Longley took over for a concussed Roger Staubach. Longley completed the comeback with a 50-yard touchdown pass to Drew Pearson with 28 seconds remaining, giving Dallas a 24-23 victory over Washington.
- 1989: Dallas Cowboys vs. Philidelphia Eagles
The Eagles beat the Cowboys 27-0, but the story of the game was that allegations had come out that the Eagles had placed a bounty on the Cowboys’ kicker hence fans referring to it as the “Bounty Bowl”.
- 1993: Dallas Cowboys vs. Miami Dolphins
Cowboys defensive tackle Leon Lett inexplicably tried to recover a blocked game-winning field goal attempt. The ball was booted forward by Lett and recovered by the Dolphins at the 2-yard line. Miami connected on its next field goal attempt and won 16-14.
- 1994: Dallas Cowboys vs. Green Bay Packers
Troy Aikman was injured, and third-string quarterback Jason Garrett former Cowboys’ head coach had to start for Dallas against the Green Bay Packers. The Cowboys won in a 42–31 shootout against Packers quarterback Brett Favre.
- 1998: Dallas Cowboys vs. Minnesota Vikings
The Cowboys lose 46-36 to the Vikings, but it was a top Thanksgiving moment with rookie receiver Randy Moss haunting the team that passed him over in the draft with three touchdowns and 163 yards receiving.
- 2006: Dallas Cowboys vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Tony Romo received a lot of flak during his time as a Cowboy, but let’s remember this game and this era of Romo. It was his rookie season, and no one had any idea who he was. He made his Cowboys debut just one month before, against the Giants. He was named starter just two days later and defeated the Panthers four days later. Two weeks later, he defeated Peyton Manning and the Indianapolis Colts. Then came the Thanksgiving day game. Romo made an impression in Dallas by throwing five touchdown passes, two to Terry Glenn, two to Marion Barber, and one to Terrell Owens.
- 2011: Dallas Cowboys vs. Miami Dolphins
The Cowboys win a close one against the Dolphins 20-19, A 10-play drive fueled by Jason Witten and DeMarco Murray eats up the final five minutes and sets up Dan Bailey’s game-winning 28-yard field on the game’s final play.
Thanksgiving Day halftime show
Every Thanksgiving game, the Cowboys kick off the Salvation Army’s Red Kettle Kickoff Campaign at halftime this year feature the Jonas Brothers during the halftime performance. According to ESPN, the Cowboys and the family of Jerry Jones have nearly raised $3 billion since 1997, and assisting the Salvation Army has long been a priority for Cowboys owner Jones. A very memorable moment of the red kettle bucket is after Ezekiel Elliot scored and jumped into the pot himself triggering a string of $21 donations, Dak Prescott later scored and was dumped into the bucket by Elliot. Most years, Cowboys players will visit a Salvation Army shelter in Dallas or Fort Worth and feed early Thanksgiving Day meals to those in need, but due to the pandemic, that practice has been halted for the past two years.
Thanksgiving Day record holders
- Most Passing Yards on Thanksgiving (All-Time)
- Matthew Stafford (Lions) — 3,000
- Tony Romo (Cowboys) — 2,338
- Troy Aikman (Cowboys) — 2,174
- Most Passing TDs on Thanksgiving (All-Time)
- Tony Romo (Cowboys) — 18
- Matthew Stafford (Lions) — 18
- Bobby Layne (Lions) — 14
- Danny White (Cowboys) — 14
- Most Rushing Yards on Thanksgiving (All-Time)
- Emmitt Smith (Cowboys) — 1,178
- Barry Sanders (Lions) — 931
- Tony Dorsett (Cowboys) — 723
- Walter Payton (Bears) — 423
- Most Rushing TD on Thanksgiving (All-Time)
- Emmitt Smith (Cowboys) — 13
- Tony Dorsett (Cowboys) — 9
- Barry Sanders (Lions) — 8
- Most Receiving Yards on Thanksgiving (All-Time)
- Jason Witten (Cowboys) — 903
- Herman Moore (Lions) — 834
- Calvin Johnson (Lions) — 769
- Michael Irvin (Cowboys) — 722
- Most Receiving TD on Thanksgiving (All-Time)
- Calvin Johnson (Lions) —11
- Cloyce Box (Lions) — 7
- Michael Irvin (Cowboys) — 6
- Most Passing Yards on Thanksgiving (Single Game)
- Troy Aikman (Cowboys, 1998) — 455
- Kirk Cousins (Washington, 2016) — 449
- Tony Romo (Cowboys, 2012) — 441
- Matthew Stafford (Lions, 2012) — 441
- Most Passing TD on Thanksgiving (Single Game)
- Peyton Manning (Colts, 2004) — 6
- Bob Griese (Dolphins, 1977) — 6
- Matthew Stafford (Lions, 2015) — 5
- Tony Romo (Cowboys, 2006) — 5
- Most Rushing Yards on Thanksgiving (Single Game)
- O.J. Simpson (Bills, 1976) — 273
- Bob Hoernschemeyer (Lions, 1950) — 198
- Earl Campbell (Oilers, 1979) — 195
- Walter Payton (Bears, 1981) — 179
- Most Receiving Yards on Thanksgiving (Single Game)
- Andre Johnson (Texans, 2012) — 188
- Lance Alworth (Chargers, 1964) — 185
- Anthony Carter (Vikings, 1987) — 184
- Amari Cooper (Cowboys, 2018) — 180
“John Madden Thanksgiving Celebration”
In the football world, this year marks a special Thanksgiving Day as we honor John Madden with a “John Madden Thanksgiving Celebration,” a yearly, multi-faceted celebration of the late great Madden and his legacy.
The first-ever “John Madden Thanksgiving Celebration” will include special broadcast tributes from CBS, FOX, and NBC, each of which will create its own segments honoring the football legend. A recording of Madden, who called 20 Thanksgiving Day NFL games during his broadcasting career, talking about Thanksgiving and the holiday’s special relationship with football will also serve as the lead-in to each of the three games.
Madden was the first to award an MVP in a Thanksgiving Day game with a “Turkey Leg” in 1989; the first MVP to receive the Turkey Leg was Reggie White. Since then, the award has evolved significantly, beginning with the “Galloping Gobbler” in 2002 and later transforming into a bronze-like statue of a Turkey holding a football in 2011, then a clear plaque, that transformed into a Pudding Pie, all the way back to a regular game ball.
This year to honor Madden the NFL will name “Madden Player of the Game” after all three games on Thanksgiving. The selected player will receive a $10,000 donation in their name from the NFL Foundation to the youth or high school football program of their choice, as the topic of youth football was important to Madden.