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The Bills on Thanksgiving: A look at the team's holiday history

Bills Cowboys Football
Posted at 9:00 AM, Nov 25, 2021

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WKBW) — The Buffalo Bills will take on the New Orleans Saints Thursday evening in the final of three games set to be played on Thanksgiving. The Bills are no stranger to playing on the national holiday, most recently back in 2019.

Here's a look back at the team's Thanksgiving Day history.

November 23, 1961: Buffalo Bills at New York Titans (AFL)

In the team's first ever Thanksgiving Day game the Bills fell to the New York Titans 21-14, despite the Bills totaling more first downs, passing yards, and rushing yards on the day. M.C. Reynolds and Johnny Green combined to complete 22-of-46 passes for 292 yards, one touchdown, and two interceptions. The team fumbled four times, losing one.

The Bills would finish the season with a 6-8 record.

November 26, 1964: Buffalo Bills at San Diego Chargers (AFL)

The Bills finally picked up their first Thanksgiving Day victory with a 27-24 win over the San Diego Chargers. The Bills found themselves in a 10-0 hole after the 1st quarter, before scoring 14 unanswered to take a halftime lead. The Bills relied on the run game with 44 total carries for 140 yards and three touchdowns. It was their defense though who came up big, forcing seven turnovers.

The Bills would finish the season with a 12-2 record.

November 25, 1965: Buffalo Bills at San Diego Chargers (AFL)

In a rematch of the 1964 Thanksgiving Day game, this one ended in a 20-20 tie following a back-and-forth-game. Unlike the year prior, the Bills relied more on the pass game with Jack Kemp and Daryle Lamonica combining to complete 18-of-38 passes for 215 yards and a touchdown. Pete Goglak hit a 22-yard field goal to seal the tie.

The Bills would finish the season with a 10-3-1 record.

November 24, 1966: Buffalo Bills at Oakland Raiders (AFL)

Playing in their third straight Thanksgiving Day game the Bills had their biggest holiday performance yet with a 31-10 win over the Oakland Raiders, which consisted of 21 unanswered points in the second half. The Bills had a pretty even offensive plan with Kemp throwing for 241 yards and the Bills ground game combining for 226 yards, a season-high.

The Bills would finish the season with a 9-4-1 record.

November 28, 1968: Buffalo Bills at Oakland Raiders (AFL)

After a year hiatus, the Bills were back in the national holiday spotlight but this time, the Raiders got the better of the Bills with a 13-10 win. Bruce Alford's late 42-yard field goal attempt came up short as the Bills suffered their 7th straight loss in what would become eight losses to end the season.

The Bills would finish the season with a 1-12-1 record.

November 27, 1975: Buffalo Bills at St. Louis Cardinals (NFL)

Playing in their first Thanksgiving Day game as a team in the NFL, the Bills came up with a big 32-14 win over the St. Louis Cardinals. Jim Braxton had a career night in which he rushed for 160 yards and three touchdowns to lead the ground game. O.J. Simpson, who was drafted by the Bills in 1969, had 23 carries for 85 yards and a touchdown.

The Bills would finish the season with a 8-6 record.

November 25, 1976: Buffalo Bills at Detroit Lions (NFL)

Once again playing in back-to-back Thanksgiving Day games, the Bills were on the other side of things, falling to the Detroit Lions 27-14. Simpson, who was the team's 2nd leading rusher in the Thanksgiving Day game the year before, took center stage this time around. He had his 5th career 200-yard game, finishing with 273 total rushing yards which set an NFL record. It was the team's 8th straight loss in what would be ten losses to wrap up the season.

The Bills would finish the season with a 2-12 record.

November 24, 1994: Buffalo Bills at Detroit Lions (NFL)

After a nearly two decade-long break, the Bills were the four-time defending AFC Champions and back on the Thanksgiving Day stage. The Bills though suffered a 35-21 loss to the Detroit Lions and later missed the playoffs for the first time since 1987. Jim Kelly completed 29-of-35 passes for 273 yards, three total touchdowns, and two interceptions. Thurman Thomas finished with 58 yards on the ground.

The Bills would finish the season with a 7-9 record.

November 28, 2019: Buffalo Bills at Dallas Cowboys (NFL)

With Josh Allen under center, the Bills were welcomed back to the Thanksgiving Day stage and wound up turning heads with their 26-15 win over the Dallas Cowboys. Allen finished the day going 19-of-24 for 231 yards and two total touchdowns. Cole Beasley, playing against his former team, had six receptions for 110 yards and a touchdown. The Bills would go on to improve to 9-3 on the season and make the playoffs for the second time in three seasons.

The Bills would finish the season with a 10-6 record.

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