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Detroit Lions — Ten things you should know about Thanksgiving games

Ten things you should know about the annual Lions’ Thanksgiving game which will celebrate its 75th anniversary on Thursday:

1. One of the Lions’ best Thanksgiving games ever was in 1962 when the Lions beat the Packers who had been undefeated going into the game. It was a defensive game for the ages. The Lions sacked quarterback Bart Starr 11 times in the 26-14 win. Defensive tackle Roger Brown had seven of those sacks which would still stand as an NFL record except sacks weren’t an official stat in 1962.

2. The Lions are 34-38-2 in the Thanksgiving Day contests with just a 2-10 record at Ford Field. When they beat the Packers last year on Turkey Day, they snapped a nine-game Thanksgiving losing streak.

3. The Green Bay Packers have been the most common opponent with 21 games on Thanksgiving. The Lions own a 12-9-1 record in those games. For a 13-year stretch (1951-1963) the Packers and Lions met on Thanksgiving. The Bears are the second most common opponent.

4. Calvin Johnson has caught a touchdown in five straight Thanksgiving games and six total, but Herman Moore holds the receiving yards single-game record at 169.

5. Ndamukong Suh stomped Packers’ Evan Dietrich-Smith in the 2011 game which was won by the Packers 27-15. Suh pushed Dietrich-Smith’s head into the turf three times then stomped on his arm after the whistle. He was penalized for unnecessary roughness and ejected from the game. He was suspended for two games by the league.

6. Matthew Stafford owns the passing yards (441), attempts (61) and completions (31) Thanksgiving records. But Bobby Layne, Eric Hipple and Scott Mitchell are tied for four touchdown passes in the traditional game.

7. One of the worst Thanksgiving results was a 34-31 loss in overtime to Houston in 2012. It was the game where everything went wrong for the Lions. Coach Jim Schwartz threw a challenge flag that was costly and Jason Hanson missed a rare field goal.

8. Lions Bob Hoemschemeyer set the rushing yards record at 198 in 1950 and it still stands. The opponent with the most rushing yards was O.J. Simpson (photo) who ran for a blistering 273 yards in 1976 when the Lions beat the Bills 27-14. The Bills gave up on winning and just let Simpson run to set a record.

9. Peyton Manning set an opponent record with six touchdown passes in 2004 when the Colts beat the Lions 41-9. The Colts quarterbacks coach that day was present-day Lions coach Jim Caldwell. No wonder he said he’s had pleasant experiences coaching on Thanksgiving. 

10. The most points the Lions have scored on Thanksgiving was in a 55-20 win over the Bears in 1997. Barry Sanders had three rushing touchdowns that day. Also Scott Mitchell connected with Herman Moore and Johnnie Morton; Ron Rivers had a rushing touchdown; Tracy Scroggins returned a fumble for a touchdown; and Jason Hanson kicked a pair of field goals.


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