With annual traditions come memorable moments and an opportunity to improve upon past festivities. For NFL quarterbacks, playing on Thanksgiving Day can have a similar effect. But instead of fine-tuning recipes and better decorating homes, QBs would much rather put together a record-breaking performance during one of America’s biggest days for football.

It was 1869 when the first widely known football game was played on Thanksgiving Day. For the next 50 years, the holiday would host many marquee matchups at the professional level of the sport. Then, in 1920, the NFL was founded and there have been games played on the fourth Thursday of November nearly every year since. 

Of the more than 200 “Turkey Bowl” games played between professional football teams throughout the NFL’s existence, many outstanding performances have been bestowed upon us – most notably, quarterbacks. 


Like dinner itself, Thursday will serve its classic staple of turkey, or in this case, the Detroit Lions. For a century and throughout NFL history, the Lions have been the “meat” in “meat and potatoes” for Thanksgiving Day games. So it’s no surprise that our first QB record on the cutting board directly correlates with the pride of Detroit.

NFL QB records thanksgiving day
Photo by Morry Gash, Associated Press

It was 1994 and the Lions, ironically, called upon their reserve signal-caller after starting quarterback Scott Mitchell was lost to injury. He would not disappoint.

During a 35-21 victory over the visiting Buffalo Bills, backup passer, Dave Krieg completed 20 of 25 attempts for 351 passing yards and three scores. Krieg finished the game with a perfect passer rating of 158.3. Since then, only one NFL quarterback has been able to match Krieg’s highly efficient holiday. Any guesses?

New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady matched Krieg’s Thanksgiving record in 2010 with a perfect passer rating of his own. His numbers, while comparable (21/27 for 341yds), were more impressive in that he tossed four touchdowns in a come-from-behind victory against the Lions. Talk about coming full circle.

So, of the six (or possibly more) NFL QBs to take the field this Thanksgiving Day, which ones have the best chance of tying Krieg and Brady’s QB rating record?

The Buffalo Bills defense would be a tough team to be perfect against for even the best quarterbacks. However, the Cowboys offense may very well benefit from short and quick pass concepts while relying heavily on the run game. This would be the perfect recipe for Dak Prescott to record an excellent or near-perfect quarterback rating.