When was the first Thanksgiving NFL game?
NFL football on Thanksgiving Day has become a tradition, one that continues this week with a slate of three holiday games. Let's go back to when it all began.
In 1934, the NFL played its first Thanksgiving game. The Detroit Lions would welcome the Chicago Bears to a feast on Thanksgiving. The Thanksgiving Day football games began on November 29, 1934, and have been a tradition ever since.
November 29, 1934: Detroit Lions vs Chicago Bears
The Detroit Lions would welcome the Chicago Bears to the University of Detroit Stadium. The 10-2 Detroit Lions and the 12-0 Chicago Bears would play on Thanksgiving Day in front of 26,000 fans. This game will forever go down in history as the first game on Thanksgiving.
The Lions would be led by head coach Potsy Clark and running back Ace Gutowsky. The Chicago Bears would be led by head coach George Halas and quarterback Keith Molesworth. Both the Lions and Bears wanted to engrave their names in the record book as the team to win the first-ever game on Thanksgiving Day.
Lions vs Bears Thanksgiving game recap
The Lions would strike first in the first quarter on a 4-yard touchdown run by running back Ace Gutowsky. This would be the only score in the first quarter. The Bears would come back in the second quarter. Quarterback Keith Molesworth would find Gene Ronzani for a 14-yard touchdown pass to tie the game.
Detroit would control the rest of the second quarter. Glenn Presnell would hit a 34-yard field goal to put the Lions up three points. Gutowsky would find the end zone again on a one-yard rushing touchdown. The Lions would take a 16-7 lead going into halftime.
The Bears would open the second half with a 21-yard field goal from Jack Manders. Manders would strike again for the Bears by hitting a 42-yard field goal to pull the Bears within three points of the Lions. The fourth quarter would be controlled by Chicago. The Bears would score the go-ahead touchdown on a 2-yard pass by Bronko Nagurski to Bill Hewitt.
The Bears would shut out the Detroit Lions in the second half. Chicago would go up by three points and take home the victory over the Lions, 19-16.
The Chicago Bears would engrave their names in the NFL record book twice by winning the first game on Thanksgiving Day and playing in the first game on Thanksgiving Day.