The Detroit Lions and Dallas Cowboys are the two NFL teams synonymous with Thanksgiving Day football. However, in recent years, there has been another team that is becoming a Turkey Day fixture. In 2022, the Buffalo Bills will take on the Lions in the early Thanksgiving Day game, marking the third time in the last four years the Bills are involved in the Thanksgiving slate. With that in mind, the question becomes, what is the Bills’ Thanksgiving record?
What is the Bills’ Thanksgiving record?
Against the Lions on Thursday, Josh Allen and the Bills are looking to stay undefeated in their recent Thanksgiving Day matchups. In 2019, the Bills beat the Cowboys 25-15, and in 2021, Buffalo took down the New Orleans Saints 31-6.
The Bills actually have a relatively long history of playing on Thanksgiving Day, though, going back to 1961. Buffalo has played 10 times on Turkey Day, and the Bills’ Thanksgiving record is 5-4-1. Here is how Buffalo reached this record:
1961: Titans 21, Bills 14
This Bills-Titans game was Buffalo’s first Thanksgiving Day game, but it wasn’t against those Titans. Back in 1961, the Tennessee Titans were still the Houston Oilers, the team we now know as the Jets was the New York Titans, and all three teams (Bills, Titans, Oilers) were rivals in the AFL’s East division. Unfortunately for Buffalo, this trip to Manhattan’s Polo Grounds didn’t end with a W.
1964: Bills 27, Chargers 24
This game started a run of four Thanksgiving Day games in five seasons for the Bills. It was also a preview of the eventual 1964 AFL Championship Game. The Bills, led by future (now former) Congressman Jack Kemp at quarterback, kicked a last-second field goal to win this game. They also went on to beat the Chargers 20-7 exactly one month later to win the AFL championship.
1965: Bills 20, Chargers 20
A season after their Thanksgiving Day and championship battle, Buffalo and San Diego once again went at it on Turkey Day. The Bills again kicked a last-second field goal in regulation, but this time it was to tie the game at 20. In those days, there was no overtime in the NFL, so the game ended deadlocked.
1966: Bills 31, Raiders 10
In 1966, the Bills had a decent season coming off their back-to-back AFL championships, going 9-4-1. One of the highlights of the season was this 31-10 drubbing of the Oakland Raiders. The Bills had 239 yards on the ground and 465 yards of offense overall as they won their Thanksgiving Day game with ease.
1968: Raiders 13, Bills 10
A year after the Bills-Raiders Thanksgiving Day massacre, the Raiders returned the favor and beat the Bills by three. This was a down season for the Bills, who finished, while the Raiders ended the regular season 12-2 and eventually lost to the New York Jets in the AFL Championship.
1975: Bills 32, Cardinals 14
After the Bills’ Thanksgiving record in the 1960s of 2-2-1, Buffalo kicked off their two-game 1970s Thanksgiving Day run with an easy win over the St. Louis Cardinals. The Bills stopped a six-game Cardinals winning streak y pounding it 59 times on the ground for 264 yards and four rushing touchdowns, three from Jim Braxton and one from O.J. Simpson.
1976: Lions 27, Bills 14
This game was yet another loss in an abysmal 2-12 season for the Bills, but it was notable for one major reason. Bills superstar running back O.J. Simpson had a massive game, rushing for 273 yards and two touchdowns. That was a Thanksgiving Day rushing record that still stands to this day.
1994: Lions 35, Bills 21
In the year following the Bills’ four consecutive Super Bowls losses, the team went 7-9, including a Thanksgiving Day loss to the Lions. In Jim Kelly’s only Turkey Day appearance, he couldn’t pull out the win, but his 82.85% completion rate (29-of-35) that day was a team record and the best percentage of his career.
2019: Bills 26, Cowboys 15
Twenty-five years after the Bills’ last Turkey Day showdown, Josh Allen and company visited Dak Prescott and the Cowboys on Thanksgiving. Prescott had a great fantasy day, going 32-of-49 for 355 yards with two touchdowns. However, an interception and four sacks doomed the ‘Boys as Allen was an efficient 19-of-24 for 231 yards, a touchdown, and the win.
2021: Bills 31, Saints 6
In the recently padded Thanksgiving night game, the Bills traveled to New Orleans in 2020 to take on the Saints. With Drew Brees retired and Jameis Winston out, Allen and the Bills trounced Trevor Siemian and the Saints in this tryptophan-aided snoozer. The most notable thing to happen was the Bills losing All-Pro cornerback Tre’Davious White to a knee injury. Heading into the Bills 2022 Thanksgiving matchup with the Lions, White hasn’t played since.