How the Vikings Fared at Thanksgiving Games

The Vikings are playing for the ninth time on Thanksgiving, but Thursday night’s game against New England marks their first time hosting a game on the holiday. The Vikings are 6-2 in Thanksgiving games; the Patriots are 3-2 but haven’t played the holiday, the famous “butt fumble” game against the Jets, since 2012.

27 Nov 1969: Vikings 27, Lions 0

The game was played in a snowstorm at old Tiger Stadium. “You couldn’t even see the other team on the other side of the field,” running back Dave Osborn told the Star Tribune in 2016, adding, “A miserable game, but it’s fun to win.” The game is famous for Jim Marshall’s fourth-quarter interception, which he returned for 30 yards before pitching it to Alan Page, who hit it for a touchdown.

Nov 26, 1987: Vikings 44, Cowboys 38 (OT)

The Vikings go through three Cowboys rallies by 14 points, including six minutes left. Darrin Nelson rushed 24 yards to get the winning touchdown with 7:51 in overtime, a score set up by Danny White, who threw his third interception of the day. The Vikings improved their record to 7-4, which included three losses during the NFL strike when substitutes were used.

Nov 24, 1988: Vikings 23, Lions 0

It was the Vikings’ first shutout in eight years and coach Jerry Burns called it “one of the best defensive plays I’ve ever seen.” The Vikings, who had the best defense in the NFL at the time, held the Lions to 60 net yards and three first downs. Detroit averaged 1.8 yards per game and rushed just 33 games. Alfred Anderson scored two goals on short runs, and Chuck Nelson had three field goals.

November 23, 1995: Lions 44, Vikings 38

“I don’t know if I’ve ever been in a game like this,” said Warren Moon, who threw for a season-high 384 yards and three touchdowns. Detroit quarterback Scott Mitchell threw for 410 yards and fourth touchdowns; Herman Moore, Brett Perriman and Johnnie Morton each had more than 100 yards to receive and Barry Sanders rushed for 138. The Vikings had three shots on a final pass into the end zone, but Moon’s final 38-yard stroke to Cris Carter missed.

November 26, 1998: Vikings 46, Cowboys 36

Randy Moss feasted on the Cowboys at Thanksgiving games. As a rookie, he had touchdowns from 51, 56, and 56 yards as the Vikings improved to 11-1. “He’s a blessing from God,” said quarterback Randall Cunningham. Moss became the first rookie receiver since Sammy White on December 11, 1976 to have three TD receptions in a game. Moss also set a club mark for rookie receiving yards, his 1,014 surpassing White’s 906 in 1976. Moss finished with 1,313 yards that eclipsed Justin Jefferson’s 2020 (1,400 yards).

November 23, 2000: Vikings 27, Cowboys 15

For his next Thanksgiving trick, Moss caught seven passes for 144 yards and two touchdowns in the pouring rain as the Vikings recorded their 10th win of the season. Robert Smith added 148 yards rushing as they turned a 10-9 halftime advantage into a comfortable lead with a 17-0 run in the third quarter. “We’re getting hungry,” said Daunte Culpepper. Like the Vikings of 2022, the 2000 team was close to winning the division title in late November.

November 24, 2016: Lions 16, Vikings 13

Lions cornerback Darius Slay intercepted Sam Bradford with 38 seconds remaining and returned him 13 yards to the Vikings’ 20-yard line, leading to Matt Prater’s successful field goal shortly thereafter. Matthew Stafford rallied the Lions three points down with five minutes to go, starting the tie just outside their 1-yard line. “Such a heartthrob,” said Alex Boone, the Vikings’ left-wing warden, “trust me, it hurts.”

Nov 23, 2017: Vikings 30, lions 23

Slay also played a big part the following year as the Vikings built a 17-point lead and endured another comeback from Stafford. Slay went offside 1:15 left en route to blocking a field goal attempt by Kai Forvath, negating Nevin Lawson’s game-defining 77-yard touchdown return. The Vikings scored 20 points in the first half on two touchdown passes from Case Keenum to Kyle Rudolph and a run from Keenum TD. The win gave the Vikings a 9-2 record, the same record they would have if they beat the Patriots on Thursday.


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