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If it seems like the Detroit Lions always play on Thanksgiving, well, that’s because they do.

The Lions’ annual tradition of playing on the American holiday, which began in 1934, is nearly as old as the franchise itself. In fact, they’re the biggest reason why football and Thanksgiving are synonymous, even if the Lions haven’t enjoyed as much success on the holiday as other franchises.

Here’s a brief history lesson, plus a full list of past games and how to watch the 2021 version while stuffing your face with turkey and pie.

Why do the Lions always play on Thanksgiving?

It all started on Thanksgiving Day in 1934, when owner George A. Richards decided to play on the holiday to attract more fans.

Richards was known for his marketing acumen, and his Thanksgiving plan was an immediate hit. The Lions at the time weren’t attracting much of a crowd because the Detroit Tigers were the city’s main sports attraction. But on that Thanksgiving, the Lions not only sold out the stadium, they also had to turn people away at the gates.

The Lions lost to the Bears, but a new team tradition was born.

Other teams had played on Thanksgiving before 1934, but the Lions were different because Richards owned a radio station that was a major affiliate of the NBC Blue Network. Richards negotiated an agreement with NBC to broadcast his Thanksgiving games on 94 stations across the country.

Since 1978, the Lions and Cowboys have hosted a game on Thanksgiving every year. Detroit always plays the early game, followed by Dallas in the late afternoon and a rotating prime-time matchup added in 2006.

Who do the Lions play on Thanksgiving 2021?

The Lions play the Bears on Thanksgiving in 2021. It is the 17th time these franchises have met head-to-head on the holiday, 34-30, with their most recent a 24-20 Bears win in 2019.

What channel is the Lions vs. Bears game on?

CBS will broadcast Lions vs. Bears this year. Kickoff is scheduled for 12:30 p.m. ET — the first game of the day, as per tradition.

Lions record on Thanksgiving

The Lions are 37-42-2 playing on Thanksgiving in franchise history.

Year
Opponent
Result
1934
Chicago Bears
L, 19-16
1935
Chicago Bears
W, 14-2
1936
Chicago Bears
W, 13-7
1937
Chicago Bears
L, 13-0
1938
Chicago Bears
W, 14-7
1945
Cleveland Rams
L, 28-21
1946
Boston Yanks
L, 34-10
1947
Chicago Bears
L, 34-14
1948
Chicago Cards
L, 28-14
1949
Chicago Bears
L, 28-7
1950
New York Yanks
W, 49-14
1951
Green Bay Packers
W, 52-35
1952
Green Bay Packers
W, 48-24
1953
Green Bay Packers
W, 34-15
1954
Green Bay Packers
W, 28-24
1955
Green Bay Packers
W, 24-10
1956
Green Bay Packers
L, 24-20
1957
Green Bay Packers
W, 18-6
1958
Green Bay Packers
W, 24-14
1959
Green Bay Packers
L, 24-17
1960
Green Bay Packers
W, 23-10
1961
Green Bay Packers
L, 17-9
1962
Green Bay Packers
W, 26-14
1963
Green Bay Packers
T, 13-13
1964
Chicago Bears
L, 27-24
1965
Baltimore Colts
T, 24-24
1966
San Francisco 49ers
L, 41-14
1967
Los Angeles Rams
L, 31-7
1968
Philadelphia Eagles
L, 12-0
1969
Minnesota Vikings
L, 27-0
1970
Oakland Raiders
W, 28-14
1971
Kansas City Chiefs
W, 32-21
1972
New York Jets
W, 37-20
1973
Washington Redskins
L, 20-0
1974
Denver Broncos
L, 31-27
1975
Los Angeles Rams
L, 20-0
1976
Buffalo Bills
W, 27-14
1977
Chicago Bears
L, 31-14
1978
Denver Broncos
W, 17-14
1979
Chicago Bears
W, 20-0
1980
Chicago Bears
L, 23-17 (OT)
1981
Kansas City Chiefs
W, 27-10
1982
New York Giants
L, 13-6
1983
Pittsburgh Steelers
W, 45-3
1984
Green Bay Packers
W, 31-28
1985
New York Jets
W, 31-20
1986
Green Bay Packers
L, 44-40
1987
Kansas City Chiefs
L, 27-20
1988
Minnesota Vikings
L, 23-0
1989
Cleveland Browns
W, 13-10
1990
Denver Broncos
W, 40-27
1991
Chicago Bears
W, 16-6
1992
Houston Texans
L, 24-21
1993
Chicago Bears
L, 10-6
1994
Buffalo Bills
W, 35-21
1995
Minnesota Vikings
W, 44-38
1996
Kansas City Chiefs
L, 28-24
1997
Chicago Bears
W, 55-20
1998
Pittsburgh Steelers
W, 19-16 (OT)
1999
Chicago Bears
W, 21-17
2000
New England Patriots
W, 34-9
2001
Green Bay Packers
L, 29-27
2002
New England Patriots
L, 20-12
2003
Green Bay Packers
W, 22-14
2004
Indianapolis Colts
L, 41-9
2005
Atlanta Falcons
L, 27-7
2006
Miami Dolphins
L, 27-10
2007
Green Bay Packers
L, 37-26
2008
Tennessee Titans
L, 47-10
2009
Green Bay Packers
L, 34-12
2010
New England Patriots
L, 45-24
2011
Green Bay Packers
L, 27-15
2012
Houston Texans
L, 34-31 (OT)
2013
Green Bay Packers
W, 40-10
2014
Chicago Bears
W, 34-17
2015
Philadelphia Eagles
W, 45-14
2016
Minnesota Vikings
W, 16-13
2017
Minnesota Vikings
L, 30-23
2018
Chicago Bears
L, 23-16
2019
Chicago Bears
L, 24-20
2020
Houston Texans
L, 41-25

Notable games:

1962 — The Lions gave the Green Bay Packers their only loss that season. Green Bay finished 13-1 and won its second consecutive NFL championship.

1980 — The Lions and Bears were tied 17-17 at the end of regulation. It was the first Thanksgiving game to go into overtime, and when Bears running back Dave Williams returned the OT kickoff for a touchdown, it also became the shortest overtime at 13 seconds — a regular-season record that stands today.

1986 — The Lions and Packers played the highest-scoring game in Thanksgiving history to date, 44-40, with Green Bay taking the W.

2008 — The 10-1 Titans beat the 0-11 Lions 47-10, one of the biggest point differentials in Thanksgiving history. The Lions finished the season 0-16.

Originally found on Sporting News Read More

Post expires at 2:13pm on Wednesday November 24th, 2021

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By Manatee Herald

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