With Thanksgiving only a day away I know we are all thankful for family, friends, roofs over our head and food on the table. But as fans of the Dallas Cowboys we are also thankful that our team plays on this day every year. The Cowboys first Thanksgiving Day game was back in 1966 thanks to Tex Schramm who came up with the idea for the NFL. They have played every season except 1975 and 1977 when the St. Louis Cardinals replaced them.
As a fan I can really only remember back to 1980 as far as Thanksgiving games, but have heard the stories and seen the highlights of games before then. The Cowboys have had their share of great games on this day as well as boring games and ugly games. But through it all they have compiled a 26-14-1 record on turkey day. They have also won the last three years.
I came up with a list of the Thanksgiving games that stand out. Here they starting with the very first game in 1966.
1966 vs Cleveland. Dallas won 26-14 as Don Perkins ran for 111 yards.
1974 vs Washington. Dallas won 24-23. In what could be their most famous game backup QB Clint Longley comes off the bench for the injured Roger Staubach. Losing 16-3, Longley brought them back to a 17-16 lead. Then down once again 23-17 Longley connected with Drew Pearson for the game winning touchdown with 10 seconds left in the game. Pearson had 108 receiving yards.
1979 vs Houston. Dallas lost 30-24. This game was the Earl Campbell show as he ran 33 times for 195 yards and two touchdowns. Roger Staubach did what he could as he threw for 287 yards and two touchdowns. Drew Pearson had 118 yards receiving.
1980 vs Seattle. Dallas won 51-7. The Cowboys built a 30-0 halftime lead and never looked back. Tony Dorsett ran for 107 yards and two touchdowns.
1981 vs Chicago. Dallas won 10-9. With the score tied 3-3 in the 4th quarter the Bears scored, but missed the extra point. The Cowboys scored late in the game on a Ron Springs touchdown run. The extra point was good and Dallas took a 10-9 lead. The Bears attempted a last second field goal that was no good. Walter Payton ran for 179 yards for the Bears.
1986 vs Seattle. Dallas lost 31-14. The Seahawks get their revenge after their 51-7 loss six years earlier. Curt Warner ran for 122 yards and one touchdown for the Seahawks.
1987 vs Minnesota. Dallas lost 44-38 in overtime. With both teams taking the lead at different times during the game. It finally went into overtime and the Vikings won it with a Darrin Nelson 24 yard touchdown run. Vikings wide receiver Anthony Carter also collected 184 yards receiving and two touchdowns. For Dallas Danny White threw for 341 yards and four touchdowns, but also threw three interceptions. Dallas receiver Mike Renfro had 100 yards and three touchdowns. The name Darrin Nelson may sound familiar to many. Two years after this game he would be part of the Herschel Walker trade to Minnesota.
1989 vs Philadelphia. Dallas lost 27-0. In a game that became known as the “Bounty Bowl”. It was said that Eagles coach Buddy Ryan put a $200 bounty on Dallas kicker Luis Zendejas and $500 bounty on Troy Aikman. Dallas could only gain 191 yards of offense as Aikman threw for only 54 yards and 3 interceptions.
1992 vs Giants. Dallas won 30-3. Great win over a hated division team as Emmitt Smith ran wild for 120 yards and two touchdowns which included a 68 yard touchdown run in the third quarter.
1993 vs Miami. Dallas lost 16-14. In all my years as a Dallas fan this was the first time I had ever remembered snow at Texas Stadium during a game. It was also the game that Leon Lett tried to recover the blocked field goal attempt by Miami, but ended up kicking it and Miami recovered. This allowed them to kick the field goal again and won the game.
1994 vs Green Bay. Dallas won 42-31. With Troy Aikman injured along with backup Rodney Peete. Dallas turned to third string QB Jason Garrett. The Cowboys were behind at halftime 17-6 and then scored 36 second half points. Garrett threw for 311 yards and two touchdowns. Emmitt Smith ran for 133 yards and two touchdowns along with 95 yards receiving.
1998 vs Minnesota. Dallas lost 46-36. This would be the rookie Randy Moss show. He caught three passes for 163 yards and three touchdowns (2 from 56 yards and 1 from 51 yards). Troy Aikman threw for 455 yards and one touchdown while Michael Irvin caught 10 passes for 137 yards.
2006 vs Tampa Bay. Dallas won 38-10. This would be Tony Romo’s first ever Thanksgiving start. He did not disappoint as he threw for 306 yards and 5 touchdowns.
These are just some of the games that stand out to me. I’m sure that some of you have your own favorite Thanksgiving games. Feel free to share them. As our Cowboys get ready for their match-up with the Raiders I hope for more offensive production that will vault us into the rest of the season and into the playoffs.
Happy Thanksgiving to everyone!!