STAR: Ranking Top 10 Thanksgiving Day Games In Dallas Cowboys History

This story originally appeared in Dallas Cowboys Star Magazine. For subscription information, please click *here.*

Turkey, dressing … and the Cowboys.

America's Team has been a part of many family traditions for nearly five decades, playing 45 games on Thanksgiving Day since 1966.

Whether it's the pageantry of the event, the national TV coverage or a combination of everything, many of the greatest games in franchise history have occurred on Thanksgiving.

So as the Cowboys face the Eagles for this year's marquee matchup, let's go through the Top-10 memorable games played by the team on Thanksgiving Day.

*10) 2010 – New Orleans 30, Cowboys 27 *

The defending Super Bowl champion Saints, the only titleholders to ever play Dallas the next season on Thanksgiving, came into the game with tons of offensive firepower, led by Drew Brees. And while the quarterback was stymied at times in the game, he came through in the end for New Orleans, thanks to a last-minute drive and touchdown toss that proved to be the game-winner.

Although the Saints led 17-0 after the first quarter and 20-6 at halftime, the Cowboys mounted a second-half comeback, the big blow coming when Miles Austin

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went on a 60-yard reverse for a touchdown. Marion Barber and Tashard Choice each had 1-yard scoring runs as well to give Dallas a 27-23 advantage.

And it appeared the Cowboys were in a position to put the game away after a 47-yard pass from Jon Kitna to Roy Williams. But just before being tackled, Williams was stripped of the ball by Malcom Jenkins, giving the Saints possession at their own 11 with 3:31 to play. Brees promptly marched down the field and won the game with a 12-yard touchdown pass to Lance Moore. Cowboys kicker David Buehler just missed a 59-yard field goal attempt with 30 seconds remaining that would've tied the game.

*9) 1990 – Cowboys 27, Redskins 17 *

The Cowboys had taken their lumps the last few years, not just on Thanksgiving, but seemingly every week. Against the Redskins in 1990, though, the team put it all together to beat Washington for their first Turkey Day win in four seasons.

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Emmitt Smith secured the game with a 48-yard run in the fourth quarter after breaking a tackle from Hall of Fame cornerback Darrell Green near the goal line. The rookie tailback had 132 yards and two touchdowns.

Troy Aikman led the Cowboys to a 10-0 lead before watching the Redskins score 17 unanswered points over the next two quarters. But Smith's 1-yard run tied the score in the third quarter and Dallas then added 10 more in the fourth to produce their first Thanksgiving Day win over the Redskins in 12 years.

8) 1979 – Oilers 30, Cowboys 24

From the very start, this one had the makings of a Texas shootout.

Drew Pearson caught a 56-yard touchdown from Roger Staubach in the second minute of the game. Houston retaliated with a 61-yard run by bruising tailback Earl Campbell on Oilers' the next possession.

The Cowboys led 21-17 at the half, but Houston regained the lead on Mike Renfro's 47-yard touchdown in the third quarter. The missed extra point gave the Oilers a two-point edge, but Dallas grabbed the

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lead on Rafael Septien's 44-yard field goal early in the fourth.

Unfortunately, it proved to be Houston's day as Dan Pastorini hit Kenny Burrough on a 32-yard touchdown with 7:52 left that would be the game-winning score. Campbell rushed for 195 yards for the Oilers while Staubach, playing in his final Thanksgiving Day game, passed for 287 yards with two touchdowns and two interceptions.

*7) 1966 – Cowboys 26, Browns 14 *

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The first Thanksgiving Day game played in Cowboys history saw Dallas rally from a 14-13 halftime deficit to score 13 points after the break, upending the Cleveland Browns, 26-14, in front of 80,259 fans at the Cotton Bowl.

Running back Don Perkins rushed for 111 yards, including a 10-yard touchdown in the fourth quarter to put the game away, while Danny Villanueva booted four field goals for the Cowboys, who sacked the Browns five times on defense.

6) 2006 – Cowboys 38, Buccaneers 10

Romo-mentum. The Cowboys had it and without a doubt the struggling Buccaneers weren't going to take it away on this Thanksgiving Day.

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About a month after being named the team's quarterback, Tony Romo gave Dallas new hope after winning three of his first four starts, including a 21-14 victory over the unbeaten Colts and Peyton Manning. Four days later, Romo lit up the Bucs secondary for a career-high five touchdown passes, as the Cowboys were too much for Tampa Bay.

Although the Buccaneers reached the end zone first, the Cowboys responded with two touchdown passes to Terry Glenn. Romo found Barber for two short touchdown throws as well before a final scoring strike to Terrell Owens.

*5) 1989 – Eagles 27, Cowboys 0 *

The game was as one-sided as any Thanksgiving affair has been, as the Cowboys had no shot of beating the Eagles. The relevance of the day was the accusations that followed the 27-0 loss to Philadelphia, as Cowboys players and coaches learned of a possible "bounty" from Eagles head coach Buddy Ryan placed on Aikman,

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kicker Luis Zendejas, who had recently been cut by the Eagles, and anyone else the Philly headhunters could knock out of the game.

Aikman was roughed up all day with two separate late hits while Zendejas was sidelined on the second-half kickoff when an Eagles linebacker darted toward him and blasted the defenseless kicker.

First-year head coach Jimmy Johnson didn't hold back in the postgame press conference, telling reporters he would've confronted Ryan, but "he put his big, fat, rear end in the dressing room."

The game only ignited a brewing rivalry. While it took a few tries to get to Philadelphia's level, the Cowboys eventually caught up, and then cruised by en route to three Super Bowls in four years.

4) 1998 – Vikings 46, Cowboys 36

Just a few months earlier at the NFL Draft, the Cowboys nearly pulled the trigger on drafting Randy Moss, a super-talented wide receiver from Marshall who also had plenty of off-the-field baggage that ultimately scared Dallas, as well as half the league, from selecting him.

But in his first game against the Cowboys, Moss made them pay for not taking him. He caught three passes, each of which went for at least 50 yards and resulted in a touchdown.

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Moss torched a Deion Sanders-less secondary, although who knows if his presence would've mattered. Minnesota quarterback Randall Cunningham threw four touchdown passes and racked up 359 yards as the Vikings jumped out to a 21-6 first quarter lead. The Cowboys got to within 24-19 early in the third, but the visitors added 15 more and never looked back.

Aikman passed for 455 yards but had just one touchdown, with Smith scoring three times but only producing 44 yards rushing.

Not just a message by Moss, the game was a foreshadowing as he crucified the Cowboys over the years. He never lost to Dallas in his career, winning all eight meetings, including once in the playoffs.

*3) 1994 – Cowboys 42, Packers 31 *

As a head coach, Jason Garrett has been associated with several games that have had his stamp on the final outcome. But ask any fan to pinpoint a game with him as a player, and just one will come to mind.

The "Jason Garrett Game" in 1994 is not only one of the best Thanksgiving Day memories of all time, but one of the best games overall in team history.

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With the Cowboys down to their third quarterback because of injuries to Aikman and Rodney Peete, Garrett made his second career start against Brett Favre and the Packers. And for a half, it looked like it was going to be a long Thanksgiving Day for the Cowboys. Green Bay led 17-6 at the break, as the offense couldn't find a rhythm with Garrett under center.

But things changed in the second half. The Cowboys exploded for 36 points over the final two quarters. Garrett went up top for a 45-yard touchdown to Alvin Harper, which was then followed by a 36-yarder to Michael Irvin. In addition, the quarterback also hooked up with Smith on a 63-yard reception that led to another touchdown.

While Favre passed for 257 yards and four touchdowns, the story belonged to Garrett, who completed just 15 of his 26 passes, but totaled 311 yards and hit paydirt twice. He engineered scoring drives on the Cowboys' first five possessions of the second half.

*2) 1993 – Dolphins 16, Cowboys 14 *

Snow. Ice. Drama. Controversy. Confusion.

This game had it all and might go down as the strangest game in Cowboys history – not just on Thanksgiving but maybe of any game.

For starters, a rare winter storm hit the Dallas area, covering the Texas Stadium field with a layer of ice. The players were slipping and sliding all over the place. Cowboys rookie Kevin Williams had an impromptu slide into the end zone on a punt return score, while Dolphins running back Keith Byars made a snow angel after a 77-yard

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touchdown.

In the final seconds, however, the Cowboys led 14-13 and appeared to have won the game on a blocked field goal attempt. But with the ball rolling toward the end zone, Cowboys defensive lineman Leon Lett attempted to pick up the ball around the 10-yard line. Instead, he slipped before he could recover it, and kicked the ball forward, even closer to the goal line. The Dolphins were then able to fall on the prize at the 1 with just 15 seconds remaining.

Amidst the confusion of why Lett would try to touch the ball when leaving it alone would have given the Cowboys the win, the Dolphins brought kicker Pete Stoyanovich out again and this time he made the 19-yarder – his third of the second half.

Despite the defeat, the Cowboys would not lose another game in that 1993 season, as they rallied to repeat as champions in Super Bowl XXVIII. It also proved to be Jimmy Johnson's final loss as the head coach of the team.

1) 1974 – Cowboys 24, Redskins 23

Garrett had a game. Lett had a game. So of course, No. 1 on the list would be the "Clint Longley Game."

Unlike the others, this was really Longley's only moment in the sun. But it was certainly a memorable one, if not completely improbable.

The Redskins had knocked out Staubach with a concussion early in the game, forcing the Cowboys to use

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little-known Longley at quarterback. He not only threw a touchdown pass to tight end Billy Joe DuPree to get the Cowboys back in the game after trailing 16-3, but then provided the original "Hail Mary" in the final minutes.

With Dallas trailing 23-17, the Cowboys seemingly had little hope, especially with "Captain Comeback" on the bench and unavailable. But Longley knew who to go to.

As time was running out in the final minute, Longley heaved a 50-yard bomb to Pearson, who had slipped behind the defense to haul in the touchdown pass, giving Dallas a dramatic 24-23 win that still stands as the greatest Thanksgiving moment in Cowboys history.

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