Happy Thanksgiving Everyone! Today is a day Americans gather to give thanks with their friends and family and fellowship together with the ultimate feast. Thanksgiving is known for many things: turkey, pumpkins, pilgrims and most importantly football. The tradition of the NFL playing games on Thanksgiving day goes as far back as 1920. Today I want to take a look at one of the greatest, most unique Thanksgiving Day performances in NFL history.
Ask any NFL football fan who had the best rookie season of all-time more than likely they might say Randy Moss. Moss was drafted by the Minnesota Vikings with the 21st overall pick in the 1998 NFL draft. Along with Moss, this draft featured future all-time greats quarterback and first overall pick Peyton Manning and defensive back Charles Woodson. In addition, other great players drafted in 1998 included: fellow receiver Hines Ward; running backs Fred Taylor and Ahman Green; guard Alan Faneca; and quarterbacks Matt Hassleback, and Ryan Leaf (just kidding LOL).
In his first season, Moss overshadowed everyone in his draft class by leading the Minnesota Vikings to a franchise and then league best 15-1 record. He led the league with 17 receiving touchdowns, was third in the league with 1,313 receiving yards and 69 receptions on his way to winning Offensive Rookie of the Year. Moss had a number of incredible performances in his rookie season but none were more impressive or unique than his Thanksgiving Day performance against the Dallas Cowboys.
The Vikings came into the game with a 10-1 record on a three-game win streak after suffering their first and only loss of the season while the Cowboys were 8-3 on a four-game win streak. This game was significant as it was tagged a revenge as the Dallas Cowboys were one of many teams that passed on Moss in the NFL draft. At the time, the Cowboys were coming off a season where they missed the playoffs for the first time in six seasons. Their offensive big three were at the end of the line.
Their star receiver Michael Irvin would retire after the following season, Troy Aikman would retire two seasons later, and Emmitt Smith would head to the Arizona Cardinals four seasons later. The Cowboys drafting Moss could have been a huge first step in the team maintaining its place as a championship contender. Instead, the Cowboys would push forward slowly fading away from the glory days of their championship success obtained in the 1990s. Ok enough background let’s talk about Randy Moss’ Thanksgiving day performance.
Randy Moss ended the game with three catches for 163 yards and three receiving touchdowns. He is the only player with more than three catches in a game to score a touchdown on each catch and finish with at least 160 yards. All three of his touchdown catches went for 50+ yards. This was one of Randy Moss’ breakout performances that put the league on notice that he was the future of the NFL and the best receiver in the league. Here are the highlights from Moss’ performance: