What NFL games have been played on Christmas Day in history?
The National Football League holds fixtures on Christmas Day, but unlike the Thanksgiving Day games which are held annually, they only take place once in a while.
NFL fans are entertained every year by Thanksgiving games as they enjoy their turkey dinners, but the league’s Christmas Day matches are only an occasional treat.
The first Christmas Day games were held in 1971 with two Divisional Playoff clashes. The Dallas Cowboys beat the Minnesota Vikings 20-12 and moved on to the NFC Championship in the very first NFL Christmas Day game.
Longest NFL game
The Miami Dolphins defeated the Kansas Chiefs 27-24 in the second game of the day in 1971 to advance to the AFC Championship. It also turned out to be the longest in NFL history, coming to an end after 82 minutes and 40 seconds of game time.
The length of that record-setting match threw some fans off having games on Christmas, as it reportedly affected their festivities for the day. Others protested NFL holding games on a religious and family holiday. Because of all this, the league didn’t have Christmas Day games until 18 years later.
The return of the NFL games
The NFL resumed having Christmas games in 1989. It has been more difficult for the NFL to schedule for Christmas though, as the holiday falls on different days each year, as opposed to Thanksgiving, which is always celebrated on a Thursday.
Football fans have reason to rejoice this year, as there will be Christmas Day games to watch with family and friends.
NFL’s first Christmas Day triple-header
This year is the first year that the NFL will have three games on Christmas Day. Six teams will play, including four playoff contenders from 2021, and the 2021 and 2020 Super Bowl champions.
All Christmas Day NFL games
1971 – Dallas Cowboys 20, MINNESOTA VIKINGS 12
1971 – Miami Dolphins 27, KANSAS CITY CHIEFS, 24 (2 OT - longest game in NFL)
1989 – MINNESOTA VIKINGS 29, Cincinnati Bengals 21
1993 – Houston Oilers 10, SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS 7
1994 – MIAMI DOLPHINS 27, Detroit Lions 20
1995 – Dallas Cowboys 37, ARIZONA CARDINALS 13
1999 – Denver Broncos 17, DETROIT LIONS 7
2000 – TENNESSEE TITANS 31, Dallas Cowboys 0
2004 – KANSAS CITY CHIEFS 31, Oakland Raiders 30
2004 – Denver Broncos 37, TENNESSEE TITANS 16
2005 – Chicago Bears 24, GREEN BAY PACKERS 17
2005 – BALTIMORE RAVENS 30, Minnesota Vikings 23
2006 – Philadelphia Eagles 23, DALLAS COWBOYS 7
2006 – New York Jets 13, MIAMI DOLPHINS 10
2009 – San Diego Chargers 42, TENNESSEE TITANS 17
2010 – ARIZONA CARDINALS 27, Dallas Cowboys 26
2011 – GREEN BAY PACKERS 35, Chicago Bears 21
2016 - PITTSBURGH STEELERS 31, Baltimore Ravens 27
2016 - KANSAS CITY CHIEFS 33, Denver Broncos 10
2017 - Pittsburgh Steelers 34, HOUSTON TEXANS 6
2017 - PHILADELPHIA EAGLES 19, Oakland Raiders 10
2020- Minnesota Vikings 33, New Orleans Saints 52
2021- Cleveland Browns vs. Green Bay Packers
2021- Indianapolis Colts vs. Arizona Cardinals