The 5 best Thanksgiving Day performances in NFL history

Profile Picture: Robert Criscola

November 21st, 2021

Football has long been synonymous with Thanksgiving Day, and the NFL is cooking up another memorable three-course meal for this coming Thursday.

With Turkey Day just around the corner, we decided to take a look back at the five greatest individual Thanksgiving performances in NFL history.

Honorable mention: Matt Stafford (2015)

Matt Stafford – currently in the NFL MVP discussion with the Los Angeles Rams – delivered an MVP-like performance when he was with the Detroit Lions on Thanksgiving Day of 2015.

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Allen, Josh


Brady, Tom


Prescott, Dak


Murray, Kyler


Stafford, Matthew


Rodgers, Aaron


Jackson, Lamar


Mahomes, Patrick


Herbert, Justin


Tannehill, Ryan


Stafford went 27-for-38 through the air against the Eagles, racking up 337 yards and five touchdowns in a 45-14 thrashing of Philadelphia. Hall of Famer Calvin “Megatron” Johnson hauled in three of those touchdown passes.

5. Roger Brown (1962)

Vince Lombardi and the Green Bay Packers went into Detroit on Thanksgiving Day 1962 as the defending champions of football with a 10-0 record, but left with egg on their faces.

Roger Brown and the rest of the Lions’ “Fearsome Foursome” terrorized quarterback Bart Starr to the tune of 11 sacks, with Brown accounting for seven on his own. Detroit won the game 26-14.

4. Tom Brady (2010)

Our first two picks in this column featured the Lions delivering a Turkey Day trouncing. But it 2010, it was Tom Brady who made Detroit look like a bunch of turkeys in a 45-24 blowout at Ford Field.

Then a member of the New England Patriots, Brady produced a perfect passer rating (158.3), going 21-for-27 with 341 yards and four touchdowns. The Pats would go 14-2 in the regular season before losing to the New York Jets in a divisional round shocker.

3. Tony Romo (2006)

Tony Romo had one of his best games as a professional football player in just his fifth NFL start, when his Dallas Cowboys hosted the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Thanksgiving Day 2006.

Romo went 22-of-29 through the air for 306 yards and five touchdowns. The Bucs barely stood a chance in a 38-10 slaughter.

2. O.J. Simpson (1976)

It’s easy to forget just how great a running back O.J. Simpson was in the wake of his highly-controversial post-career. But he delivered a performance for the ages on the ground when his Buffalo Bills took on the Lions on Turkey Day 1976.

Simpson broke his own 250-yard single-game rushing record when he went for 273 yards on the ground against Detroit’s defense. However, Buffalo managed to lose the game 27-14.

1. Peyton Manning (2004)

Peyton Manning needed just three quarters to carve up the Lions in a 41-9 blowout on Thanksgiving Day 2004.

Manning went 23-for-28 with 236 passing yards and an eye-popping six touchdowns, three of which went to Marvin Harrison. He went on to break Dan Marino’s record of 48 touchdown passes in a season, recording 49. Brady (50) surpassed that mark three years later, but Manning would have the last laugh in 2013, throwing for 55 scores, which remains the NFL record.