The Top 5 Thanksgiving Moments in NFL History

November 20, 2018

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The holidays can be a wonderful time of year. Festive joy in abundance, a licence to eat whatever you want and, of course, one of the busiest times in the sporting calendar. Who’ll be heading into this holiday season with one eye on the NFL playoffs and who’ll be stuffing their heads in the turkey?

At the top of charts are the Los Angeles Rams who’ve been exceptional all season. They have a 10-1 record but need to add a little youth to the side if they want this success to be sustainable. The defence is probably the main area of concern for immediate improvement but overall the squad is excellent and expectations should be high.

The Pittsburgh Steelers are also in the mix but might need a few improvements if they wish to challenge fully. Their defence hasn’t been playing to the max and the offence has struggled during their most recent matches. However, the general standard of play has been very good and they should still be up there come playoff time.

Chins up fans of the San Francisco 49ers. Despite a disappointing loss to the New York Giants, the Niners are in a good position heading into the 2019 draft position. They’ve suffered after losing star man Jimmy Garoppolo but once he’s healed, plus the addition of a couple draft picks, they will be a stronger side. Coming in on the second pick are the Oakland Raiders. They’re in need of signings across the park, but the priority should be a replacement for Khalil Mack. With the 49ers having a winnable fixture before the season end, the Raiders might be the ones finish in the top spot for the draft. And, to be honest, they might quite like that. They’re also favourite in the NFL odds to do just that.

Now that you’re all caught up on the winners and losers this season, over the years, Thanksgiving football has given us some of the most entertaining moments the sport has seen. Laughs, tears and victorious roars are a regular occurrence in the holidays. So, without further ado, let’s have a look at the top 5 NFL moments we’re thankful for this holiday season.

The Butt Fumble


Sometimes plays go wrong. Somebody’s out of position or a run hasn’t been executed correctly, it happens. Rarely though are these instances so calamitous, so farcical, that they are given their own title and are made to live on in infamy. Enter the ‘Butt Fumble.

When New York Jets quarterback Mark Sanchez got the ball from centre in the 2012 fixture, he quickly found himself in a spot of bother. The plan was to hand it off to his fullback, only he was nowhere to be found. Stranded in defence with no discernible escape route and the seconds ticking down, Sanchez needed to do something fast. So, he turned back around and bolted.

Whilst this piece of action was in play, linesman Brandon Moore was locked in a wrestling match with one of the opposition. While the two were grappling, Sanchez aimlessly sprinted forward hoping to make run beyond the defence. As Sanchez darted behind the battling behemoths, Moore was knocked back slightly.

Sanchez, running at full force, collided with his linesman’s backside and was completely floored. Steve Gregory, a member of the Patriot’s backline, grabbed the ball and ran 32 yards to score one of the most comical touchdowns in the history of the game. While it might not have been the Thanksgiving gift the Jets duo had in mind, plenty of fans who saw the incident would’ve been thankful to see one of Football’s funniest goofs.

Leon Lett’s Slip


In England, we’re no strangers to iconic sporting slips (just ask the city of Liverpool) and NFL fans will surely remember the sad tale of Leon Lett. It was the Dallas Cowboys versus the Miami Dolphins and the former were winning. Dolphins player Stoyanovich attempted a desperate 40-yard, game-winning field goal, but the effort was blocked. The ball rolled on as the commentator announced that the Cowboys had won the game.

Except they hadn’t. The ball wasn’t dead as it had passed the line of scrimmage. Lett popped up to cover for what should have been an easy bit of play. What ended up happening though was nothing short of a farce. Lett slipped up and accidentally punted the ball forward. The Dolphin players rushed to the loose ball and gained possession back. Stoyanovitch had another attempt at the kick and sealed it to win the game for the Dolphins 16-14.

Joy for them spelt misery for Lett and the Cowboys. He would go on to describe the incident as the worst day in his NFL career. Probably should’ve left it, mate.

The Jim Schwartz Rule


Sometimes, the most difficult position on the pitch isn’t with any of the players, it’s being one of the officials. They can catch the ire of both sets at fans in a match, be blamed for both success and failure. Even when they make the right call, there’s still a pretty good chance that half the stadium will hate them! This is the case for our second entry on the list, an incident that led to one rule being changed forever.

The game in question involved the Detroit Lions and the Houston Texans. The latter had just scored a touchdown thanks to running back Justin Forsett’s 81-yard run, but one man wasn’t having any of it. Lions coach Jim Schwartz immediately threw his challenge flag and claimed that Forsett’s knee was down before the run. He was right.

The only problem was that, at the time, coaches were not allowed to challenge any play that would be automatically reviewed, which includes scoring plays. As such, the coach was given a penalty and the touchdown stood. His team would go on to lose the game 34-31 in overtime. Replays after the match, however, showed that Forrest had indeed been down.

Despite the ref acting in accordance with the laws of the game, a national outcry ensued. People labelled the officials as incompetent and blasted the rules for allowing such an error. The NFL were forced to act and amended the rule so that a review could take place, though coaches would still incur a penalty. It might have been a bad day for Schwartz, but the error led to the reforming of a terrible rule. Silver linings and all that.

Ndamukong Suh’s Early Bath


It’s not all fun and games at Thanksgiving, sometimes the players can get a little too excited. Ndamukong Suh has a bit of a reputation for this and he certainly wasn’t in the mood for a happy holiday meal with his opposite numbers.

The Detroit Lions man made a tackle but decided that wasn’t quite enough. He proceeded to slam the other players head against the turf three times after. He then, while being dragged away both by Packers players and teammates, proceeded to stomp right into the player’s stomach. Unsurprisingly that was the end of Ndamukong’s game. He was also given a further two-match ban.

Nothing like that festive spirit, right?

The Bounty Bowls


One for the fans of yesteryear, the two Bounty Bowls games of 1989 have gone down in NFL history. The story starts with legendary coach Buddy Ryan and his apparent feud with ex-player Luis Zendejas, who had been let go by the Philadelphia Eagles. Buddy has reportedly placed a $200 bounty on Zendejas as well as another Cowboy’s player Troy Aikman.

While neither were injured during the match, there was definitely a lot of rough play from the Eagles. Buddy refuted the claims and asked why he would tell his players to target a rookie and a ‘kicker who’s been in a six-week slump.’

This wasn’t a universal opinion. After being on the end of a thrashing in more ways than one, Cowboy’s coach Jimmy Johnson wasn’t too happy. After the match, when asked if he said anything to Buddy Ryan he replied: “I would have said something to Buddy, but he wouldn’t stand on the field long enough. He put his big, fat rear end into the dressing room.”

Wow. Tell us what you really think Jimmy.

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Author: Cyrus

Cyrus has been writing about sports and many other topics for major publications over the past five years. Now working in digital marketing, he spends his days arguing over football and dreaming of his beloved Manchester City winning the champions league.

Twitter @CBulsara


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