Scott Mitchell

Scott Mitchell (19) was unstoppable in 1995, passing for 410 yards (Mark Brettingen)

Some of the NFL’s most memorable characters and unforgettable plays are associated with Thanksgiving Day, and the list of holiday classics begins with November 28, 1929. That’s when Chicago Cardinals fullback Ernie Nevers wrote his name into the NFL record book by scoring all of the Cardinals’ points in a 40-6 victory over their crosstown rivals, the Chicago Bears. How monumental was the feat? It has not been equaled in 71 NFL seasons.

“There never was a better player than Ernie Nevers -- not as far as I’m concerned,” said legendary halfback Harold (Red) Grange, who was on the field for the Bears that day.

But Nevers is in good company when it comes to Thanksgiving memories. Here is a sampler of some of the best:

Lions Sack the Pack (1962)

Detroit had eyed this game since dropping a 9-7 heartbreaker in the final minute to the defending NFL champions in October. Green Bay entered the rematch with a 10-0 record, but the Lions’ defense had Packers quarterback Bart Starr under siege from the start in a 26-14 victory. It would be the only blemish in another championship season for Vince Lombardi’s Green Bay team.

Starr was dropped for a 15-yard loss the first time he tried to pass, and it snowballed from there. If it wasn’t tackle Alex Karras coming from one side or tackle Roger Brown coming from the other, it was Pro Football Hall of Fame linebacker Joe Schmidt. The Lions posted 11 sacks (12 is the NFL record), sending the Packers’ vaunted offense backward for a staggering 110 yards in losses.

Lions quarterback Milt Plum passed for a pair of touchdowns to Gail Cogdill, but the real story was the defense.

“I’ve never seen anything like it,” Schmidt said.

The Tyler Rose (1979)

Future Houston Oilers running back Earl Campbell was a teenager in Tyler, Texas, when Texas Stadium opened about 100 miles away in Irving. As a member of the Oilers, the Pro Football Hall of Fame running back played only one regular-season game in the new stadium -- and he made the most of it.

It was on Thanksgiving Day, 1979, and the Oilers and Cowboys met in a rare clash of intrastate rivals.

“That game sure was big around the state,” then-Houston coach Bum Phillips says.

Phillips’s star running back, who was en route to a 1,697-yard, 19-touchdown performance in only his second NFL season, was oblivious to the hoopla surrounding the matchup.

“It’s just another football game,” Campbell said before the game. “It’s nothing personal.”

But the fury with which Campbell ran belied his nonchalance. He blistered the Cowboys for 195 rushing yards to key the Oilers’ 30-24 victory. Campbell carried 33 times and scored on runs of 61 and 27 yards.

Two weeks later, Houston beat Pittsburgh to secure a wild-card berth in the playoffs. The Oilers reached the AFC Championship Game before losing to the eventual Super Bowl-champion Steelers.

Wild One (1987)

There was little to indicate that the Thanksgiving Day game between Minnesota and Dallas in 1987 would be a classic. The Vikings were just 6-4, the Cowboys 5-5. Still, both teams remained in the chase for a wild-card playoff spot -- and both played as if there were no tomorrow.

Minnesota jumped out to a 14-0 lead, and held advantages of 28-14 and 38-24. But Dallas rallied each time behind embattled quarterback Danny White, who did not know he would be starting (instead of Steve Pelleur) until pregame warmups. White passed for 341 yards and 4 touchdowns (including 3 in the second half to Mike Renfro), but it was the interception he threw in overtime that led to the Vikings’ winning touchdown.