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Touchdowns & Turduckens: Vikings Thanksgiving Games


The Vikings are hosting a game on Thanksgiving for the first time in team history, but this isn't the franchise's first seat at the table.

Minnesota has played eight times, going 6-2 on the holiday that often centers on football and food with family and friends.

The previous appearance included a gathering "around the table" with nearly the entire offense sitting together in the end zone after a 9-yard touchdown run by Case Keenum in an eventual 30-23 victory at Detroit on Nov. 23, 2017.

Five years and a day later, the feast remains near the top of the best Vikings team celebrations because of great attention to details — from the passing of side dishes, to Stefon Diggs retrieving the football and sitting as a centerpiece, to Keenum gnawing on a turkey leg.

Although not every game has featured such festivities, there have been numerous notable performances over the years as Minnesota has gone 3-2 at Detroit and 3-0 at Dallas on Thanksgiving. Here's a look back.

Nov. 27, 1969

Vikings 27, Lions 0

The Purple People Eaters dominated their only Thanksgiving game as heavy snow fell at Tiger Stadium.

The Vikings sacked Greg Landry seven times (Carl Eller recorded 3.5) and intercepted him twice for their 10th consecutive win on the way to a 12-2 regular season, the NFL Championship and an appearance in Super Bowl IV.

Iconic play by Ironman: Vikings Ring of Honor defensive end Jim Marshall recorded the lone interception of his storied career and returned the ball 30 yards. With a Lions player closing in, Marshall completed an amazing no-look lateral to Alan Page, who ran the final 15 yards for a touchdown. It was Marshall's 130th regular-season start, but not even his midpoint. He started another 147 in a row through 1979.

Nov. 26, 1987

Vikings 44, Cowboys 38, OT

Burns_Doleman_at Dallas_87

Anthony Carter racked up 184 receiving yards — his second-highest total in a regular-season game — and caught two touchdowns from Texas-bred Tommy Kramer, helping the Vikings build two of their three 14-point leads before the Cowboys rallied to force overtime.

Scott Studwell, Issiac Holt and Wymon Henderson recorded interceptions, and Chris Doleman totaled 3.0 of Minnesota's seven sacks.

Go, Nellie: Darrin Nelson closed out the game with a 24-yard touchdown run to cap his hallmark holiday showing with 161 scrimmage yards, which also included a 52-yard touchdown run in the third quarter.

Nov. 24, 1988

Vikings 23, Lions 0

Anthony Carter (84 receiving) finished with more yards than Detroit netted as a team. So did Hassan Jones (68 receiving) and Allen Rice (66 scrimmage). Chuck Nelson outscored the Lions with his first extra point of the day and went on to kick three short field goals.

Carl Lee and Najee Mustafaa (born Reggie Rutland) each recorded interceptions, and Al Baker and Henry Thomas tabbed sacks as Minnesota allowed just 60 yards and kept the ball for 44:57.

Turkey Trot: The Vikings rushed 51 — not a misprint! — times for 181 yards. Alfred Anderson scored both of the game's touchdowns (distances of 2 and 1) as the Lions took the fast track to drafting Barry Sanders at No. 3 overall the following spring.

Nov. 23, 1995

Lions 44, Vikings 38

Minnesota got a 55-yard touchdown catch from Jake Reed, a 74-yard punt return TD from David Palmer, a 17-yard fumble return touchdown from Orlando Thomas and two touchdown catches by Cris Carter, 384 passing yards from Warren Moon — and still lost.

Detroit built 14-0 and 21-7 leads before finding itself down 31-24 in the third quarter before the Lions ripped off 17 consecutive points capped by Sanders' 50-yard touchdown in the fourth quarter.

Triple trifecta: Brett Perriman (12 catches, 153 yards and two scores), Herman Moore (8-127-1) and Johnnie Morton (7-102-1) each recorded more than 100 receiving yards, helping Scott Mitchell total 410 yards.

Nov. 26, 1998

Vikings 46, Cowboys 36

Hoard_Moss_1998 Thanksgiving at Dallas

The Vikings scored a 50-yard touchdown for every point in the Cowboys star logo, building leads of 15, 13 and 17 at different points of the game.

Randall Cunningham threw for 359 yards and four touchdowns of 50-plus yards (51 to Randy Moss, 54 to Cris Carter, 56 to Moss, 56 to Moss), and Leroy Hoard ran for scores of 12 and 50 yards on his way to netting 58 yards for the game.

The "other TD": The stat line for Moss — three receptions, 163 yards, three touchdowns — still rolls off the tongue and helped Moss and teammates get a taste of Turducken, made famous by John Madden, who will be recognized today. For those unaware, Madden described it as a "deboned duck stuffed in a deboned chicken stuffed in a deboned turkey."

Nov. 23, 2000

Vikings 27, Cowboys 15

TurkeyLeg 2000 (1)

For the second time in three years, Moss deep fried the Cowboys to a crisp. This time, he caught seven passes for 144 yards and two scores from Daunte Culpepper, who finished 15-of-22 passing with 205 yards and a passer rating of 128.0.

Robert Smith rushed 21 times for 148 yards, including a 15-yard touchdown that put Minnesota up 10-6 with 1:52 left in the first half.

Griffith taketh: Vikings safety Robert Griffith forced a fumble recovered by Talance Sawyer to end Dallas' first possession of the third quarter and intercepted Troy Aikman at the Minnesota 15-yard line with more than eight minutes left in the game to corral the Cowboys.

Nov. 24, 2016

Lions 16, Vikings 13

View behind-the-scene photos of the Vikings during the 2016 Thanksgiving matchup vs. the Lions at Ford Field.

Detroit grinded this NFC North meetup and patted it into a turkeyburger that proved to be a serviceable — and pivotal for playoff standings — victory by kicking a 48-yard field goal with 1:45 remaining.

Darius Slay intercepted Sam Bradford on a third-and-7 from the Minnesota 28 and returned the game's only turnover 13 yards to the 20 — well within Matt Prater's range. Matthew Stafford kneeled the ball to run the clock down to four seconds, and Prater's 40-yarder improved Detroit to 7-4 on the season.

Bad aftertaste: The win was Detroit's second over Minnesota in a span of 18 days. The Lions had become the first road team to defeat the Vikings at U.S. Bank Stadium, 22-16 in overtime. Detroit won two more games but then lost its final three games of the regular season and bowed out in the Wild Card round of the playoffs. After starting 5-0, this was part of a four-game skid by Minnesota, which went 3-8 after its Week 6 bye.

Nov. 23, 2017

Vikings 30, Lions 23

Minnesota never trailed on the way to its seventh consecutive victory. Keenum ran for a score and passed for 282 yards and two touchdowns to Kyle Rudolph, who totaled 63 yards on four catches. Adam Thielen (eight catches for 89 yards) and Stefon Diggs (five for 66) rounded out a balanced passing attack.

Latavius Murray rushed for 84 yards and put the Vikings up 27-10 early in the third quarter with a 2-yard touchdown run, and Jerick McKinnon added 54 scrimmage yards.

Rhodes closed: After Kai Forbath put the Vikings up 30-23 with 3:42 remaining, Xavier Rhodes helped close the game with an interception of Stafford on a pass to Marvin Jones, Jr. Rhodes caught the ball at the Detroit 37 and returned it 21 yards. The Vikings lined up for one more Forbath field goal, but Slay committed an offsides penalty in trying to block the field goal. The fresh set of downs sent Minnesota into the victory formation for the final minute.

View behind-the-scene photos during the 2017 Vikings vs. Lions matchup at Ford Field.

Vikings Single-Game Thanksgiving Records

Rushing Attempts — 21

Robert Smith (2000)

Rushing Yards — 148

Robert Smith (2000)

Rushing TDs — 2

Darrin Nelson (1987), Alfred Anderson (1988) and Leroy Hoard (1998)

Longest Rush — 52

Darrin Nelson (1987)

Passing Attempts — 47

Warren Moon (1995)

Completions — 31

Sam Bradford (2016)

Passer Rating — 128.0

Daunte Culpepper (2000)

Passing Yards — 384

Warren Moon (1995)

Passing TDs — 4

Randall Cunningham (1998)

Receptions — 9

Amp Lee (1995) and Kyle Rudolph (2016)

Receiving Yards — 184

Antony Carter (1987)

Receiving TDs — 3

Randy Moss (1998)

Longest Reception — 56

Randy Moss twice (1998)

Longest FG — 49

Fuad Reveiz (1995) and Gary Anderson (2000)

Most FGs — 3

Chuck Nelson (1988)

Longest Kickoff Return — 44

David Palmer (1998)

Longest Punt Return — 74

David Palmer (1995)

Sacks — 3.5

Carl Eller (1969)

Interceptions — 1

18 Players

Longest INT Return—30

Jim Marshall (1969)

Tackles — 14

Joey Browner (1987) and Ed McDaniel (1998 and 2000)