It may not be the 1970’s any longer, but the Cowboys still have a perpetual Thanksgiving Day appointment. Before they take on the Oakland Raiders this Thursday, let’s look back at the top 5 performances that ruined Dallas’ appetite during this annual tradition.
Ron Dayne, Denver Broncos (2005)
If you’ve ever stumbled out of Jordan’s Big Ten Pub in Madison, Wisc., after a Saturday of college football and Milwaukee’s Best Ice-inspired bender, then you remember Ron Dayne as a Hesiman-winning star.
If your hometown was mentioned on The Sopranos, you remember him as one of the most disappointing draft picks in New York Giants history.
But if you’re a fan of the Dallas Cowboys, the name “Ron Dayne” brings back memories of a disappointing Turkey Day matchup against Denver and a missed opportunity to move forward in a tight NFC East race.
Dayne stepped out of a reserve role following an injury to the Broncos’ Mike Bell and turned seven carries into a 98-yard performance. The hefty back notched one TD in regulation and a 55-yard field-reversing rumble in overtime to set the stage for the game-clinching field goal.
We attempted to find highlights of Ron Dayne in the NFL, but even the information super highway has limits. Here’s some big plays from Wisconsin.
Drew Brees, New Orleans Saints (2010)
It’s no secret that Drew Brees and the Saints’ aerial attack is one of the most dangerous in all of football. But an 89-yard drive in just over 60 seconds of the game’s final two minutes helped Brees seal the finale of his holiday matchup in Dallas.
The drive was highlighted by a 55-yard bomb to Robert Meachem and capped with a 12-yard toss to Lance Moore for the touchdown that would put the Saints in the lead for good.
The Cowboys drove into field goal range, but couldn’t circle the wagons as the potential game-tying kick sailed wide of its mark.
Leon Lett, Dallas Cowboys (1993)
Dallas defenders have already been put through the ringer this week for bone-headed stupidity. But in 1993, the “Leon Lettdown” (came up with that all by myself) cost “America’s Team” a Thanksgiving Day victory.
On a snowy Texas day (because those apparently exist), Dallas and Miami battled it out in a classic. The Dolphins lined up for a 40-yard field goal attempt that could either win or lose the contest.
The home crowd erupted in celebration when the kick was blocked, but the good cheer was premature. Cowboys defensive lineman Leon Lett surged towards the football before it completely rolled to a stop near the goal line. He made contact but failed to recover it, which meant the ball was technically live again and could be recovered by either the Dolphins or the Cowboys.
The former would retain possession and Miami got another opportunity at a game-winner—this time from chip-shot distance.
RGII, Washington Redskins (2012)
RGIII has been distracted lately, putting a large chunk of his effort behind his poster boy campaign for sophomore slumps. But in his rookie season, he torched the entire NFC East with his dual-threat arsenal of tricks.
On last year’s Day of Thanks, Griffin stole the show. The Baylor alum threw for three touchdown passes in the second quarter, including a 59-yarder and a whopping 68-yard toss. He did not throw an incompletion throughout the entire period.
RGIII wasn’t done and he continued to thwart a Dallas offense that made a valiant effort to keep pace.
A 29-yard TD pass to Washington’s Niles Paul answered a big Dez Bryant TD in short order. The Redskins prevailed 38-31.
We could show you a clip from that game, but we know you’d rather just see Monday night’s infamous nutshot instead.
Randy Moss, Minnesota Vikings (1998)
The Vikings didn’t wait for the stuffing to cool on Thanksgiving Day 1998 before tossing a flea-flicker TD pass to Randy Moss deep down field in the game’s opening two minutes.
The rookie wasn’t done. After his appetizer 51-yard TD, Moss made the most of his two other receptions producing a 56-yard TD on both of them. His 18 points and 163 yards sent the Cowboys into the holidays with their tails between their legs.