Best Thanksgiving Day QB of All Time Is Probably Not Who You Think It Is

The Dallas Cowboys and Detroit Lions each play separate games every Thanksgiving Day, going back several decades. The Lions have hosted a Thanksgiving Day game every year since 1945, and the Cowboys have hosted them every year since 1978.

Now, the Lions always play the first game on Thanksgiving Day, and the Cowboys get the afternoon time slot. The NFL added a third game in a prime-time night slot in 2006, which means more teams have enjoyed the opportunity of playing in front of a national TV audience.

With guaranteed games on those days, it's not a surprise that Thanksgiving Day records are mostly held by players that had long careers with the Cowboys and Lions.

Tony Romo
Tony Romo #9 of the Dallas Cowboys looks for an open receiver under pressure from Chris Baker #92 of the Washington Redskins on Thanksgiving Day at Cowboys Stadium on November 22, 2012 in Arlington, Texas. The Washington Redskins beat the Dallas Cowboys 38-31. Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images

On Thursday, Detroit Lions quarterback Matt Stafford can add a second all-time Thanksgiving Day record to his resume. If Stafford throws two touchdown passes, he'll pass Tony Romo for the most TD passes ever thrown on turkey day.

Here are the top four players with touchdown passes on Thanksgiving Day (entering 2020):
18 — Tony Romo (Dallas Cowboys)
17 — Matt Stafford (Detroit Lions)
14 — Bobby Layne (Detroit Lions)
14 — Danny White (Dallas Cowboys)

Stafford, who grew up in Dallas and played high school football at the famed Highland Park High, already holds another career record ahead of two Dallas Cowboys legends for Thanksgiving Day performances.

Here are the top three all-time passing yards leaders on Thanksgiving Day (entering 2020):
2,705 — Matt Stafford (Detroit Lions)
2,338 — Tony Romo (Dallas Cowboys)
2,174 — Troy Aikman (Dallas Cowboys)

Here are the single-game passing records for yards and touchdowns all-time on Thanksgiving Day (entering 2020):

Most Passing Yards in One Game
455 — Troy Aikman (Dallas Cowboys, 1998)
449 — Kirk Cousins (Washington Redskins, 2016)
441 — Tony Romo (Dallas Cowboys, 2012)
441 — Matt Stafford (Detroit Lions, 2012)
434 — Philip Rivers (San Diego Chargers, 2017)

Most Passing TDs in One Game
6 — Peyton Manning (Indianapolis Colts, 2004)
6 — Bob Griese (Miami Dolphins, 1977)
5 — Matt Stafford (Detroit Lions, 2015)
5 — Tony Romo (Dallas Cowboys, 2006)

Here are the top rushing and receiving performances all-time on Thanksgiving Day.

Most Rushing TDs All Time on Thanksgiving
13 — Emmitt Smith (Dallas Cowboys)
9 — Tony Dorsett (Dallas Cowboys)

Most Rushing Yards All Time on Thanksgiving
1,178 — Emmitt Smith (Dallas Cowboys)
931 — Barry Sanders (Detroit Lions)

Most Rushing Yards on Thanksgiving Day Single-Game
273 — O.J. Simpson (Buffalo Bills, 1976)
198 — Bob Hoernschemeyer (Detroit Lions, 1950)

Most Receiving Yards All Time on Thanksgiving
903 — Jason Witten (Dallas Cowboys)
834 — Herman Moore (Detroit Lions)

Most Receiving TDs All Time on Thanksgiving
11 — Calvin Johnson (Detroit Lions)
7 — Cloyce Box (Detroit Lions)

Most Receiving Yards on Thanksgiving Day Single-Game
188 — Andre Johnson (Houston Texans, 2012)
185 — Lance Alworth (San Diego Chargers, 1964)

Correction (11/26/2020, 3:05 a.m.): This article originally misspelled Jason Whitten's name. Newsweek regrets the error.