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Remember these notable Packers games on Thanksgiving?


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For the first time in a decade, the Green Bay Packers are heading to Detroit for a Thanksgiving Day contest and, for the first time in recent memory, the Lions are the franchise trending upward, with the Packers facing an uncertain future in the midst of an mediocre season.

Green Bay (14-20-2 on Thanksgiving) hasn’t played in Detroit on the holiday since 2013 and hasn’t won since 2011. The last game, an ugly 40-10 setback, came with Matt Flynn at quarterback as Aaron Rodgers worked his way back from injury. The loss left the Packers 5-6-1 and Detroit at 7-5, but in true epic Detroit fashion, the Lions would lose their final four games, finish 7-9, and the Packers would win the division by beating the Chicago Bears on the final day of the season.

The tradition of the Lions hosting a game on Thanksgiving dates to the 1930s but has been a consistent fixture in the NFL calendar every year since 1945. The Lions haven’t hosted the Packers, however, since 2013.

Oddly enough, though the Packers have played plenty of times on the holiday, the Packers’ most weekend Turkey Day challenge was against the Chicago Bears, a 2015 rain-soaked nightmare that marked the triumphant return of Brett Favre alongside Bart Starr.

Here are some Thanksgiving moments that stand out from Packers games of the past:

2011: The Ndamukong Suh stomp

The Packers won the game, 27-15, over Detroit, but the prevailing story line was the violent move by defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh, whose stomping on Packers lineman Evan Dietrich-Smith seemed to confirm Suh’s reputation as a dirty player.

Suh pressed Dietrich-Smith’s helmet to the ground four times after the two tangled on the field, then stomped on Dietrich-Smith’s arm with his right cleat. Suh was suspended two games and later apologized for his action.

The much-maligned rock band Nickelback played at halftime and was booed in another weirdly memorable moment.

2007: Favre’s renaissance

The Packers moved to 10-1 and officially cemented themselves as a team that could win the Super Bowl as Favre’s renaissance continued in a 37-26 win over Detroit. At one point, Favre completed a franchise-record 20 consecutive passes, and he finished with 381 yards passing and three touchdowns. It was the most passing yards he’d rolled up in a game in three years.

2001: A 2-point stop and a sigh of relief

The 0-9 Lions gave the 6-3 Packers a serious scare, scoring with 10 seconds left to pull within 29-27 and needing only a two-point conversion to force overtime. Rookie backup quarterback Mike McMahon took the field with his team trailing by 16 points with 7 minutes left and orchestrated two touchdown drives, but his two-point pass fluttered incomplete in the end zone.

1994: The Jason Garrett Game

Yeah, we don’t talk about this one much, if we can help it.

Backup quarterback Jason Garrett, who of course was a future Dallas Cowboys coach, filled in for Troy Aikman and led the Cowboys to a 42-31 win over Favre and the Packers.

Green Bay had a 24-13 lead after Sterling Sharpe caught his third touchdown pass, but Dallas took it from there, with Garrett passing for two touchdowns.

The loss dropped the Packers to 6-6 and forced them to confront the reality they might not make the playoffs; the Packers also lost the next week at Detroit but won their final three games and rematched with Detroit in the playoffs, famously holding Barry Sanders to negative-1 yards rushing before, yep, Dallas eliminated Green Bay in the division round, 35-9.

The Packers weren’t quite ready for prime time but were on the cusp of a division title in 1995 and Super Bowl run in 1996.

1986: Walter Stanley to the house

Walter Stanley’s 83-yard punt return with 41 seconds left allowed the Packers to rally from a 37-23 deficit and prevail, 44-40, over the Lions. Stanley told teammates on the sidelines that’s just what he was going to do if the defense could force a stop. Did we mention Stanley also caught two touchdowns and accounted for 287 yards (124 receiving yards, 113 punt-return yards, 50 kickoff yards), filling in for injured starter Phillip Epps?

On the winning play, the Packers rushed nearly everyone to try for the block, leaving Stanley facing a sea of Honolulu blue, but he reversed fields and found the right sideline as announcer Pat Summerall declared, “He’s gone! He’s gone!”

It was only Green Bay’s third win of the season, but it was a sweet one.

1962: The only setback in a championship season

The consensus among Vince Lombardi’s players seems to be that the Lions of the early ’60s represented the best challenger in Lombardi’s nine seasons.

That certainly included the 1962 team, which handed the championship Packers their only loss of the season and stopped their bid to become the first NFL team to go undefeated through the title game. Green Bay scored two fourth-quarter touchdowns but it wasn’t enough in a 26-14 setback in which the Lions jumped out to a 23-0 lead at halftime.

“No more pressure,” Lombardi said with a smile afterward. “This loss will make a better team out of us. Look out for us now.”

The Packers won their next four games, including a 16-7 triumph over the New York Giants in the championship game.

“My club wasn’t flat today,” Lombardi added. “We were ready. Detroit just overwhelmed us. Our blockers couldn’t even find their defensive men, they were moving so fast.”

1956: Tobin Rote’s comeback

Quarterback Tobin Rote led the Packers to three fourth-quarter touchdowns, helping the Packers shock the favored Lions, 24-20. His pass to Billy Howton with 1:39 left gave Green Bay the lead at Briggs Stadium. It snapped a six-game losing streak on Thanksgiving, and the Lions came in having won 13 of their last 14 games with Green Bay. Before the fourth, the Lions had held teams without a touchdown for nine straight quarters.

Rote was traded in the offseason to … Detroit … and led the Lions past the Packers and new quarterback Bart Starr the following year. After Bobby Layne was injured the week after Thanksgiving in 1958, Rote rallied the Lions from a 24-7 deficit at halftime to win in the Western Division title game, 31-27, and he then sparkled in the NFC championship, a 59-14 win over Cleveland.

1951: The Green Bay Packers on TV for the first time

The first nationally televised game in Packers history was also the the first of 13 straight years Green Bay played Detroit on Turkey day. The Packers lost, 52-35. According to Packers historian Cliff Christl, the capacity of Briggs Stadium (later Tiger Stadium) was 58,000 people, more than enough to hold the entire city of Green Bay at the time.

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