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Alex Ferguson names 10 Thanksgiving greats - and turkeys

Alex Ferguson Posted 27th November 2013 view comments

There's always something nice to say about the US Thanksgiving weekend.

Maybe it's the cheer in the air. Maybe it's the fact that it's the curtain raiser preceding Christmas. Or maybe it's because Sky Sports is showing three (live!) NFL games in a row on Thursday - enough to gorge ourselves on!

The Harbaugh brothers enjoyed a Thanksgiving clash

The Harbaugh brothers enjoyed a Thanksgiving clash

Anyway, Alex Ferguson - who's actually been in the USA for his fair share of Thanksgiving celebrations - previews the Top Ten best NFL Thanksgiving Games in (relatively recent) history. If we've missed any out, please let us know.

Yes, we know there are nine here, but the 'one' is Mark Sanchez's 'butt-fumble' for the Jets against the Patriots. And the less said about that one the better!

1) 1934: Chicago Bears vs Detroit Lions - The First Thanksgiving Game Of Them All

The Bears and the Lions were pitted together on Thanksgiving Day after Lions owner George Richards realized that he'd have to compete with the local baseball teams, the Tigers, so he opted to avoid that bullet and instead go for a headline-grabbing Thanksgiving Day clash. It worked. As the blurb from the Pro Football Hall of Fame blurb goes: "The 26,000 tickets for the Turkey Day clash in the University of Detroit Stadium were sold out two weeks in advance of the game. It was estimated that another 25,000 would have attended had there been seats available." The Bears won 19-16 in a brutal clash, by the way.

2) 1993: "The Cowboys Will Not Lose"

Of course, they did. Legendary NBC Commentator Dick Enberg had to eat his words after making the pronouncement in the Thanksgiving Game between the Dolphins and Cowboys. A botched Dolphins field goal was recovered by the, erm, Dolphins (after the ball scooted off Leon Lett, who was trying to recover the ball while the rest of his team were celebrating in the rare Texas Stadium snow), and they won with the second try.

3) 1976: "He Did Once Play Football. And He Was Really Good"

Without wanting to expand on this, we'll read you the statline for OJ Simpson, the then-running back for the Buffalo Bills: 29 attempts, 273 yards, 2 TDs. The Bills lost 27-14 to Detroit.

4) 2011: "Brother Meet Brother"

In 2011 Jim and John Harbaugh met each other as coaches, with Jim taking on responsibility of the San Francisco 49ers and John the Baltimore Ravens. The Ravens won 16-6 and sacked San Francisco QB Alex Smith six times. In 2013 they would meet again in the Super Bowl... also won by John. What is it about brotherly love?

5) "Free Football on Thanksgiving Day!"

Probably the last thing the families making Thanksgiving Dinner wanted, but in 1980, 1987, 1998 and 2005 Thanksgiving games were settled by overtime. Dallas is 0-2 in Thanksgiving Day overtimes. Detroit is 1-1. Minnesota is 1-0, and Denver is 1-0. Pittsburgh Steelers are fans are still grousing about the 1998 overtime coin-toss which inadvertently gave Detroit the ball despite Pittsburgh winning the toss. This has never happened again. Fun fact: The 1980 game was the first game in the Detroit Silverdome EVER to go into overtime.

6) 1974: "The Replacements!"

Ever heard of Jason Garrett and Clint Longley? Well, in 1974 Longley took over the reigns of the Cowboys from injured Hall of Famer Roger Staubach, and 1994 Garrett took over the huddle from a hurt Troy Aikman. Both replacements played really well, and came out with the 'Ws'.

7) 2008: "On the way to awful"

Like we did with OJ Simpson's running results, we'll just leave you the score: Tennessee Titans 47, Detroit Lions 10. Lions went to 0-12, and finished the season 0-16. The Lions - unlike the Motor City - have recovered since then.

8) 1962: "Detroit Wrecks Green Bay's Party"

When it rolled into Detroit, Green Bay fans couldn't help but keep the grin off their faces. In 1961 under Vince Lombardi, they won the Super Bowl, and in 1962, they were unbeaten and ready to win this one, too. Well, Detroit had other plans, beating the Packers 10-0, sacking the Green Bay QB 11 times in the process. Green Bay won the title that year, by the way.

9) 1986: "Packers-Lions Shoot-Out!"

The meeting of these both abject teams wasn't meant to be anything exciting, so imagine the smiles on the general public's faces when there were 84 total points scored, 705 total yards and a lot of Thanksgiving fun! The Lions beat the Packers 44-40 in a great game, which featured a two-TD day from Green Bay's Walter Stanley. Pity the rest of the team didn't have the cutting edge.

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