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NFL Thanksgiving Games: Cowboys vs. Redskins, Lions vs. Bears Produce Classic Holiday Moments

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Detroit Lions quarterback Gus Frerotte (12) and running back Greg Hill (21), acknowledge the crowd after the Lions' 21-17 win over the Chicago Bears at the Silverdome in Pontiac, Mich., Thursday, Nov. 25, 1999.
Detroit Lions quarterback Gus Frerotte (12) and running back Greg Hill (21), acknowledge the crowd after the Lions' 21-17 win over the Chicago Bears at the Silverdome in Pontiac, Mich., Thursday, Nov. 25, 1999.

Turkey. Family. Football. These are three of the most important aspects of Thanksgiving, and not necessarily in that order, especially in Detroit and Dallas.

The NFL has been a part of the Thanksgiving feast for for decades, with Detroit's outfit playing on the fourth Thursday in November 1934. The Cowboys didn't join in until 1966 but they've hardly missed a year since. For context, both teams' holiday playing histories pre-date "A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving." Ever since 2006, NFL fans have been treated to three football games. If we're gluttonous when it comes to sweet potatoes and stuffing then there's no need to draw the line when it comes to going back for thirds when it comes to the pigskin.

Given their extensive history with the annual Thursday games, it comes as no surprise that the Cowboys and Lions have figured in a number of memorable Turkey Day games. Who can forget second-string Cowboys quarterback Clint Longley replacing the injured Roger Staubach and leading the Dallas to an improbable comeback win over the Redskins in 1976? Or how about referee Phil Luckett botching the overtime coin toss and mistakenly giving Detroit the ball (the Lions won)?

But while Dallas and Detroit lead the way, other teams have also produced iconic moments exciting enough to snap anyone out of a tryptophan-induced nap. Buffalo Bills running back O.J. Simpson ran over the Lions back in 1976, rushing for 273 yards which still remains the most in a game on Thanksgiving (Detroit got the last laugh with the win). In 1980, the Chicago Bears rallied from a 14 points down in the fourth quarter to stun the Lions in overtime.

We have compiled a list of some of the most unforgettable NFL games on Thanksgiving. Which Thanksgiving game do you think was the most memorable?

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