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The New England Patriots are quickly back in action after Sunday’s game with the New York Jets. The Pats hit the road to face the Minnesota Vikings in the third of three Thanksgiving Day matchups.

The Patriots remain in the hunt for a playoff berth, while the Vikings are running away with the NFC North. The Patriots/Vikings matchup caps off a Thanksgiving Day football menu that includes the Buffalo Bills at the Detroit Lions and the New York Gants at the Dallas Cowboys. While the Lions and Cowboys are staples on Thanksgiving, have the Patriots ever played on the holiday before?

The New England Patriots are 3-2 on Thanksgiving

Rhamondre Stevenson celebrates with Kendrick Bourne of the New England Patriots after scoring a touchdown during a game against the Indianapolis Colts at Gillette Stadium on November 6, 2022, in Foxborough, Massachusetts. | Kathryn Riley/Getty Images.

Thursday’s game will mark the sixth time the Patriots have played on Thanksgiving. They enter with a 3-2 holiday record, but they come in with a three-game Turkey Day win streak.

The last time New England appeared on Thanksgiving was a memorable one for Patriots fans. It came on Nov. 22, 2012, at MetLife Stadium against the Jets. The Patriots exploded for 35 second-quarter points to take a 35-3 halftime lead.

New England scored three touchdowns in a span of 32 seconds. Shane Vereen caught an 83-yard touchdown pass from Tom Brady to give the Pats a 14-0 lead. Steve Gregory then scooped up a fumble and ran it back 32 yards for a score. On the ensuing kickoff, special teamer Julian Edelman picked up another fumble and brought it back 22 yards for a score. The Patriots went on to win 49-19.

Two years before, the Patriots played at the Lions and lit it up in the second half. New England turned a 17-10 halftime deficit into a 45-24 win by outscoring Detroit 35-7 in the second half. Brady threw four touchdown passes in the second half.

New England’s first Thanksgiving Day win came on Nov. 28, 2002, at the Lions in a game where the Patriots defense took full control. The Lions finished with four field goals by Jason Hanson, one in each quarter. Tedy Bruschi returned an interception 27 yards for a touchdown, and Antowain Smith added a 1-yard run in New England’s 20-12 win.

Tom Brady made his first appearance on Thanksgiving


When Did the NFL Add a Third Game to the Thanksgiving Day Menu?

New England lost its first-ever Thanksgiving Day game. That came on Nov. 22, 1984, against the Cowboys. Quarterback Tony Eason threw a touchdown pass and rushed for another score, but it wasn’t enough. Cowboys kicker Rafael Septien booted a late field goal to give Dallas a 20-17 win.

On Nov. 23, 2000, the Patriots were crushed in the Silverdome, losing 34-9 to the Lions. The significance of that game was Brady coming in to relieve Drew Bledsoe and completing the first pass of his career.

That pass came in garbage time when Brady connected with tight end Rod Rutledge for a short gain. Years later, Rutledge admitted he remembers very little about that play.

“I get this question all time,” Rutledge said to NBC Sports in 2019. “‘What do you remember about the play?’ My answer is always the same: Not very much. The moment was insignificant. Nothing to look at. I remember Tom being calm and cool in the huddle, but it was just a regular football play. I caught it, and onto the next play.”

There you have it. Yes, the Patriots have played on Thanksgiving, and there was a little history made 22 years ago.