Debuting in 2006, the NFL has been playing games on Thursday nights just long enough to look back at the best Thursday Night Football games of all time.
Rather than only playing Thursday games on Thanksgiving, the NFL started to play Thursday night games in 2006. Back then, it was only about eight weeks per season. But today, there are Thursday Night games in the NFL just about every week of the season.
Best Thursday Night Football games ever
With more than a decade worth of games, what are the greatest Thursday Night Football games ever played?
For whatever reason, Thursday nights have provided some of the best regular-season NFL games of all time. That’s why we had to extend our list to 10 games in order to make sure we included the best Thursday Night Football games in NFL history.
10. Cowboys 37, Packers 27 (2007)
When these two teams get together, there’s always a chance it’ll be a classic, especially when the game is in primetime and both sides enter 10-1.
This was one of our first glimpses at Aaron Rodgers, who was forced into action after Brett Favre got hurt. Rodgers played well, helping the Packers make things close after going down 27-10. But Tony Romo was the star, throwing for over 300 yards and four touchdowns in the heavyweight showdown.
9. Dolphins 22, Bengals 20 (2013)
How many overtime games end on a safety? Well, this Thursday Night Football game did, which is why it remains memorable.
The Dolphins were having a tough season, but their defense came to play on this night. They forced Andy Dalton into three interceptions, including one that Brent Grimes returned 94 yards for a touchdown.
Of course, the Bengals took the lead with a field goal with less than 90 seconds left. But Ryan Tannehill and the Dolphins put together a quick drive to set up the game-tying field goal from Caleb Sturgis. Both teams struggled in overtime with Miami’s Cameron Wake eventually sacking Dalton in the end zone to give the Dolphins a two-point win. To answer our question from before, it was the third time an overtime game ended on a safety.
8. Broncos 31, Chiefs 24 (2015)
This game had the type of ending that reminds fans that anything can happen in football. The Chiefs broke a tie with 2:27 left when Knile Davis found the end zone. But that was plenty of time for Peyton Manning to orchestrate an 80-yard touchdown drive that ended with Emmanuel Sanders catching a touchdown with 36 seconds left.
The Chiefs could have kneeled the ball and gone to overtime but they gave it to Jamaal Charles instead. Charles fumbled and Bradley Roby scooped it up and returned it 21 yards for the game-winning touchdown to steal the game.
7. Chargers 38, 49ers 35 (2014)
The Chargers have had San Francisco’s number during the 21st century, and this overtime win is living proof. The 49ers led 28-7 at halftime, but three Philip Rivers passing touchdowns and a defensive score by the Chargers changed that.
Rivers hit Malcolm Floyd with an 11-yard touchdown with 29 seconds left to complete the comeback and force overtime. Despite throwing three interceptions in the game, Rivers also had 356 yards and four passing touchdowns. He also helped to set up Nick Novak’s 40-yard field goal in overtime to give the Chargers a memorable comeback.
6. Steelers 31, Ravens 27 (2016)
This game didn’t really get going until the fourth quarter, but that made up for an otherwise listless game between these two bitter rivals. After the third quarter, Baltimore led 17-10, but that was before there were 31 points and three lead changes in the fourth quarter Le’Veon Bell had one rushing and one receiving touchdown in the fourth quarter to put the Steelers ahead.
The Ravens responded to re-take the lead with 1:18 left on the clock. But that was enough time for Ben Roethlisberger to lead the game-winning drive. His third touchdown pass of the game went to Antonio Brown, who stretched over the goal line to put the Steelers ahead for good with just nine seconds left on the clock.
5. Chargers 29, Chiefs 28 (2018)
In the midst of his MVP season, Patrick Mahomes threw two touchdown passes in the first quarter to give the Chiefs an early 14-0 lead over their rivals. The deficit was also 14 points midway through the fourth quarter after a Damien Williams touchdown put Kansas City ahead 28-14.
However, Philip Rivers and the Chargers got their act together in the final five minutes. With four seconds left, Rivers threw a touchdown pass to Mike Williams and hit Williams again on the two-point conversion to win the game and make both teams 11-3 in mid-December. Alas, both teams would end up losing to the Patriots in the playoffs.
4. Jets 34, Patriots 31 (2008)
This was surely one of the best games that Brett Favre had during his tenure with the Jets. Favre and a 92-yard kickoff return by Leon Washington helped the Jets jump out to a 24-6 lead. However, Matt Cassell found Jabar Gaffney in the end zone 15 seconds before halftime to begin New England’s comeback.
With literally one second left on the clock in regulation, Cassell’s touchdown pass to Randy Moss tied the game. Fortunately for the Jets, they won the coin toss in overtime, allowing Favre to lead a seven-minute drive that ended with a Jay Feely field goal to give the Jets a win in New England. It was a loss that ended up making a difference with the Patriots falling one win short of going to the playoffs.
3. Raiders 31, Chiefs 30 (2017)
Leave it to rivals like the Raiders and Chiefs to play one of the greatest Thursday Night Football games in NFL history.
Keep in mind this was still when Alex Smith was Kansas City’s starting quarterback. Smith would throw for 342 yards and three touchdowns in this game, including a 64-yard pass to Tyreek Hill and a 63-yard pass to Albert Wilson. But the Chiefs were scoreless in the fourth quarter, allowing the Raiders to overcome a 30-21 deficit.
Of course, the final minute of the game was filled with controversy. Derek Carr’s potential touchdown pass was ruled short of the goal line. That was followed by an offensive pass interference call and two defensive holding penalties. On an untimed down, Carr threw a two-yard touchdown to Michael Crabtree to tie the game. The PAT then gave the Raiders a one-point walk-off win.
2. Rams 41, 49ers 39 (2017)
As the highest-scoring Thursday Night Game to date, this rivalry matchup surely qualifies as one of the most entertaining Thursday Night Football games in NFL history. Todd Gurley scored on a three-yard touchdown run just 12 seconds into the game, and the scoring kept going after that.
While the Rams never trailed in the game, the 49ers always had an answer, even with Brian Hoyer at quarterback.
Despite trailing 34-20 after the third quarter, the 49ers scored three touchdowns in the fourth quarter. However, a failed two-point conversion kept San Francisco from tying the game. Miraculously, the 49ers recovered an onside kick and got one more chance. But the Rams got a defensive stop to secure the two-point win in one of the best Thursday Night Football games ever played.
1. Packers 27, Lions 23 (2015)
Whenever two rivals like the Packers and Lions get together, it’s always going to be a recipe for one of the best Thursday Night Football games, regardless of each team’s record. In this matchup, the Lions were going nowhere during the season but jumped out to a 17-0 lead in the first quarter behind two Matthew Stafford passing touchdowns.
It wasn’t until Green Bay was down 20-0 midway through the third quarter that the Packers got going.
Of course, it took them just 20:34 to score 27 points. That includes one of the most famous Hail Mary throws in recent memory with Aaron Rodgers throwing a 61-yard touchdown pass to Richard Rodgers on the final play of the game to give the Packers an epic comeback win on Thursday night.