The Cowboys' 5 Biggest Thanksgiving Turkeys

Every year, sometime around Thanksgiving, local media will trot out a list or two celebrating the Cowboys' Thanksgiving successes. While remembering Clint Longley's "mad bomber" game or Jason Garrett's win against the Packers in 1994 subbing for an injured Troy Aikman is fun, we're not here to do that. In honor of a Cowboys season that isn't completely dead, just mostly dead, let's take a look at the Cowboys' worst Thanksgiving memories, the ones that really made you regret that second piece of pie.

1. 1993: Leon Lett Gets Weird
Leon Lett could've just walked off the field. He and the Cowboys defense had blocked the Miami Dolphins' last minute field goal attempt on the sleet-covered Texas Stadium turf, seemingly locking up a hard-fought victory and moving the defending Super Bowl champs to 8-3. Lett didn't just walk off the field, though. He inexplicably made a play on a dead ball that would only be live if he touched it, booting it down the field where it was recovered by Miami. Dolphins kicker Pete Stoyanovich knocked down a 19-yard field goal on the next play and the Dolphins won 16-14. Lett gets a pass from eternal infamy because the 1993 Cowboys did not lose another game, reeling off eight straight wins on the way to their second consecutive Super Bowl.
2. 2014: Cowboys Get Roasted by the Eagles
You're supposed to eat the bird on Thanksgiving. Last year, the Cowboys got eaten, losing 33-10 to the Eagles, their primary competition in the division. The Cowboys offensive line, which had played like the best position group in football in the season's first 11 games, was awful, giving up four sacks. It seemed at the time that the Cowboys might end up missing the playoffs, having handed Philadelphia the upper hand in the division, but the Eagles collapsed down the stretch, ensuring that the Cowboys would survive until the divisional round of the playoffs in Green Bay. We all know what happened then. 3. 1989: The Bounty Bowl
The 1989 Cowboys were the worst in franchise history. The were Jimmy Johnson's first Cowboys, and he was building the best team in franchise history, but they weren't there yet. Not even close. They lost 15 games and got absolutely smoked on Thanksgiving in the infamous Bounty Bowl game. After his team got beat 27-0, Johnson told CBS that Eagles head coach Buddy Ryan had placed bounties on two Cowboys, kicker Luis Zendejas and rookie quarterback Troy Aikman.

"I have absolutely no respect for the way they played the game, I would have said something to Buddy, but he wouldn't stand on the field long enough. He put his big, fat rear end into the dressing room," Johnson said.

Ryan denied the claims, and chortled at Johnson's suggestion that he was fat.

"I resent that. I've been on a diet, I lost a couple of pounds, and I thought I was looking good," he said. 4. 2003: Parcells' Best Team Takes It on the Chin
As good of a coach as he was, Bill Parcells still often slips my mind when I'm thinking about the Cowboys' years in the wilderness following Jimmy Johnson's departure. For a brief time in the aughts, Parcells had the rarest of commodities from Jerry Jones: full personnel control and absolutely unwavering commitment from the Cowboys' mercurial owner. In 2003, Parcells had his best Dallas team, but they played like turkeys on Thanksgiving, giving up 30 seconds and third quarter points to immortal Dolphins quarterback Jay Fielder en route to a 40-21 basting. 5. 1998: The Moss Game
Randy Moss could not forgive the Cowboys for not drafting him. Before the 1998 NFL draft, many expected Jerry Jones to take a chance on the guy who was, to that point, the most talented wide receiver to ever play college football. In the end, the issues that forced Moss to attend college-football powerhouse Marshall instead of Notre Dame — which rescinded a scholarship offer to Moss after he was involved in a fight at his high school — or Florida State, which kicked him out for smoking pot, led Jones to pass on the wideout. The Cowboys' loss was the Vikings' gain, as Moss made clear on Thanksgiving day. Moss gained 163 yards on just three catches, all of which were touchdowns. The Vikings never trailed and won 46-36.
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Stephen Young has written about Dallas news for the Observer since 2014. He's a Dallas native and a graduate of the University of North Texas.
Contact: Stephen Young