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NFL Thanksgiving Day Greatest Players of All Time by Numbers: Tony Romo, Barry Sanders, etc.

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The NFL has a long tradition of Thanksgiving Day football, a folklore that’s been played every year since 1945 (the tradition actually began in 1920, but was halted in 1941. until 1944 due to World War II). NS Detroit Lion and Dallas Cowboys has hosted the Thanksgiving Day game for more than 40 seasons, with the Lions hosting the Thanksgiving Day game every year since 1945 and the Cowboys since 1978. Detroit actually started hosting the Thanksgiving Day game in 1934, but halted the tradition from 1939 to 1945 due to World War II. Cowboys started in 1966.

Since the Lions and the Cowboys have hosted Thanksgiving block games every year since 1978, it’s no surprise that their players own Thanksgiving all-time records at one item number. NS NFL added a Thanksgiving night game in 2006 and typically pinned the holiday game to prime time, so a number of standout performances emerged from the nighttime leaderboard.

In this week’s “By The Numbers,” we thank the league’s all-time leaders on Thanksgiving Day.

Most Passed Places on Thanksgiving (All Time)

  1. Matthew Stafford (Lion) – 3,000
  2. Tony Romo (Cowboy) – 2,338
  3. Troy Aikman (Cowboy) – 2.174

TD Passes Most on Thanksgiving (All Time)

  1. Tony Romo (Cowboy) – 18
  2. Matthew Stafford (Lion) – 18
  3. Bobby Layne (Lion) – 14
  4. Danny White (Cowboy) – 14

Flock to the Most Courtyards on Thanksgiving (Everytime)

  1. Emmitt Smith (Cowboy) – 1.178
  2. Barry Sanders (Lion) – 931
  3. Tony Dorsett (Cowboy) – 723
  4. Walter Payton (Bear) – 423

Most Rushed TD on Thanksgiving (Everytime)

  1. Emmitt Smith (Cowboy) – 13
  2. Tony Dorsett (Cowboy) – 9
  3. Barry Sanders (Lion) – 8
  4. Joique Bell (Lion) – 5

The Most Received Cards on Thanksgiving (All Time)

  1. Jason Witten (Cowboy) – 903
  2. Herman Moore (Lion) – 834
  3. Calvin Johnson (Lion) – 769
  4. Michael Irvin (Cowboy) – 722

TD gets the most on thanksgiving day (all the time)

  1. Calvin Johnson (Lion) –11
  2. Cloyce Box (Lion) – 7
  3. Michael Irvin (Cowboy) – 6

It’s no surprise that the Cowboys and Lions players dominate this list – as both teams play the holiday season every year – although it’s a good look at the players who played a lot of games on Holiday. Thanks. Tony Romo had plenty of standout performances on Thanksgiving, having three games with three touchdown passes on the holiday. Romo has hit 18 touchdown passes and 11 interceptions in 10 Thanksgiving starts.

Barry Sanders has four performances over 130 yards on Thanksgiving, saving his best games for the holiday. Although Sanders averaged 4.47 yards per shot over Thanksgiving, the Lions won 7-3 in his 10 played games. Smith had eight more than 100-yard sprints on Thanksgiving in 12 games, most notably when he ran 144 yards on 23 carries in the final Thanksgiving Day game for the Cowboys in 2002 – at the age of 33.

Johnson had only one game on Thanksgiving where he didn’t have a touchdown — in nine starts. Moore has three receptions of more than 125 yards on the holiday, most notably seven catch-ups, a 169-yard performance before Buffalo Bills in 1994.

Let’s take a look at the best single-game performances on Thanksgiving Day.

Most Parking on Thanksgiving (Single Game)

  1. Troy Aikman (Cowboy, 1998) – 455
  2. Kirk Cousin (Washington, 2016) – 449
  3. Tony Romo (Cowboys, 2012) – 441
  4. Matthew Stafford (Lion, 2012) – 441
  5. Philip Rivers (Charger, 2017) – 434

Most Passing TD on Thanksgiving (Single Game)

  1. Peyton Manning (Colts, 2004) – 6
  2. Bob Griese (Dolphin, 1977) – 6
  3. Matthew Stafford (Lion, 2015) – 5
  4. Tony Romo (Cowboys, 2006) – 5

The Most Crowded Courts on Thanksgiving (Single Game)

  1. OJ Simpson (Bills, 1976) – 273
  2. Bob Hoernchemeyer (The Lion, 1950) – 198
  3. Earl Campbell (Oilers, 1979) – 195
  4. Walter Payton (Bears, 1981) – 179
  5. Barry Sanders (Lion, 1997) – 167

Thanksgiving Top Picks (Single Game)

  1. Andre Johnson (Texans, 2012) – 188
  2. Lance Alworth (Charger, 1964) – 185
  3. Anthony Carter (Vikings, 1987) – 184
  4. Amari Cooper (Cowboys, 2018) – 180
  5. Don Maynard (New York) Titan, 1960) – 179

Some more nuggets from Thanksgiving Day highlights:

  • Sterling Sharpe has the most touchdowns received on Thanksgiving with 4, he finished Green Bay Packers in 1994.
  • Cameron Jordan had the most sacks on Thanksgiving with four, achieved in 2018 when New Orleans Saints faced to Atlanta Falcons.
  • No player has scored three interceptions on Thanksgiving yet.
  • Five players rushed to make three touchdowns on Thanksgiving: Jim Braxton (Quantity), DeMarco Murray (Cowboy), Ed Podolak (Chief), Barry Sanders (Lion), and Emmitt Smith (Cowboy) – Smith achieved the feat twice (1996 and 1998).
  • brave cat (Patriots) and Dave Krieg (Lions) are the only two starting quarterbacks with a perfect passer rating of 158.3 on Thanksgiving (minimum 20 attempts). Krieg did it in 1994 and Brady in 2010.
  • Simpson’s 273 yard dash was an NFL record at the time. He also won two points in a loss to the Lions in 1976.
  • Randy Moss (21 years, 286 days) was the youngest player to score a touchdown on Thanksgiving (1998). Donald Driver (34 years, 297 days), is the oldest. Ezekiel Elliott (21 years, 125 days) is the youngest player to run for election on Thanksgiving (2016) while Marcus Allen (36 years, 247 days) is the oldest (1996).
  • Drew Brees (39 years, 311 days) is the oldest player to throw a pass that hits the ground on Thanksgiving (2018) while Robert Griffin III (22 years, 284 days) is the youngest (2012).

The NFL has plenty of Thanksgiving traditions, with more records set in the years to come (some possibly in 2021). Let’s enjoy football and have a happy Thanksgiving!

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