Bears

Ranking the best Thursday Night Football games in NFL history

Bears

Since debuting in 2006, Thursday Night Football has delivered some memorable moments for football fans.

There have been plenty of stinkers, too, most notably when the Jacksonville Jaguars and Tennessee Titans used to meet in what felt like a yearly date. The quality of games has improved in recent years, though, as networks vied for broadcasting rights.

In Week 8 of the 2021 NFL season, viewers will be treated to one of the best TNF matchups in history. Kyler Murray and the undefeated Arizona Cardinals will play host to Aaron Rodgers and the 6-1 Green Bay Packers in an NFC showdown. The game will likely have postseason implications and could very well be an NFC Championship Game preview.

Will Cardinals-Packers be the greatest TNF game of all-time? That remains to be seen. In the meantime, here’s a look at the 10 best TNF games in league history.

10. Bears 27, Saints 24 | 2008 Week 15

In a matchup between two 7-6 teams fighting for playoff positioning, the Chicago Bears edged the New Orleans Saints in overtime 27-24. Drew Brees and the Saints scored 17 unanswered after trailing by 14 at halftime before Bears kicker Robbie Gould tied it in the final seconds of regulation. A pass interference call on the Saints in overtime moved the Bears down the field to set up Gould’s game-winning 35-yarder.

 

9. Dolphins 22, Bengals 20 | 2013 Week 9

The 6-2 Cincinnati Bengals visited the 3-4 Miami Dolphins, likely expecting an easy win. Instead, Miami’s defense forced four Andy Dalton turnovers and sent the game to overtime after the teams traded field goals in the final two minutes of regulation. The first three overtime possessions ended in punts before Cincy got the ball at its own 8-yard line. After two incomplete passes, Cameron Wake sacked Dalton in the endzone to end the game. It was just the third overtime safety in NFL history.

8. Broncos 31, Chiefs 24 | 2015 Week 2

This early-season divisional game was decided in the final minute, as the Denver Broncos scored 14 points in the final 36 seconds to beat the Kansas City Chiefs. The Chiefs pulled ahead on a Knile Davis touchdown run with 2:27 remaining, but Denver responded with a game-tying 10-play, 80-yard drive capped by a Peyton Manning touchdown pass to Emmanuel Sanders with 36 seconds left. On the first play of the Chiefs’ next drive, Jamaal Charles fumbled and Bradley Roby returned it 21 yards to steal the win.

7. Browns 21 Jets 17 | 2018 Week 3

It’s fair to call this game a fever dream, seeing as it involved two rookie quarterbacks and two downtrodden franchises. The Cleveland Browns entered this game riding a 19-game winless streak dating back to 2016 and the New York Jets were, well, the Jets. Browns starter Tyrod Taylor left with an injury in the second quarter and No. 1 overall pick Baker Mayfield stepped in. He completed 17 of 23 passes for 201 yards in relief as the Browns edged Sam Darnold’s Jets. Famously, the city of Cleveland was rewarded with free beer from locked refrigerators when the Browns won their first game in 635 days.

6. Jets 34, Patriots 31 | 2008 Week 11

Led by quarterback Brett Favre, the Jets flipped the script in this game against the New England Patriots. New York raced out to a 24-6 lead over Matt Cassel’s squad before the Pats stormed back to tie it early in the fourth quarter. Later, with the Jets ahead 31-24, Cassel hit Randy Moss for a game-tying score with just one second remaining to force the first overtime in TNF history. The Jets won the coin toss and used a near eight-minute drive and 34-yard field goal to win the game. New England ended up missing the playoffs on a tiebreaker to the Dolphins, which makes this one sting a little extra in hindsight.

 

5. Raiders 31, Chiefs 30 | 2017 Week 7

The then-Oakland Raiders overcame a 10-point fourth quarter deficit to defeat Alex Smith and the Chiefs on the final play of this divisional battle. Derek Carr led Oakland down the field and a potential game-winning touchdown with 18 seconds left was overturned and ruled short. A second potential score was wiped away on an offensive pass interference on the next play. Following two holds on the Chiefs, the Raiders had an untimed final play with no time on the clock, and Carr hit Michael Crabtree for the tying touchdown. Giorgio Tavecchio made the extra point and the Raiders walked off with the improbable victory.

4. Cowboys 37, Packers 27 | 2007 Week 13

Even though it ended with a 10-point victory, the Dallas Cowboys-Green Bay Packers game in 2007 was everything you can ask for on TNF. Both teams entered the game 10-1 and were battling for playoff home-field advantage. Favre was injured in the second quarter and replaced by young Packers backup Aaron Rodgers, who completed 18 of 26 passes for 201 yards and a touchdown. It wasn’t enough to beat Tony Romo’s four-touchdown performance, as the Cowboys clinched the win on a field goal with just over a minute remaining. Favre started the rest of the season for Green Bay, but it was another sign of things to come for Rodgers.

3. Chargers 29, Chiefs 28 | 2018 Week 15

Down 28-14 late in the fourth quarter, victory seemed impossible for the Los Angeles Chargers. Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs had no trouble scoring all night, and Philip Rivers’ offense just couldn’t get it going. Both of those narratives flipped on the final three drives of the game, with the Chargers scoring twice and the Chiefs going three-and-out. With just four seconds left, Rivers found Mike Williams for a touchdown. Instead of kicking an extra point to tie it, L.A. went for it and the Rivers-Williams connection delivered again for the victory. It felt eerily similar to the Chiefs-Raiders TNF game one year prior, but the walk-off two-point conversion and the fact that both teams were 11-3 made this one even better.

 

2. Rams 41, 49ers 39 | 2017 Week 3

The highest-scoring game in TNF history started off with an interception, and there wasn’t much defense played after that. Both teams scored at least six points in every quarter, and the Los Angeles Rams entered the fourth ahead 34-20. Two touchdowns in the final frame from 49ers QB Brian Hoyer brought San Francisco within 41-33, then a Carlos Hyde score got it to 41-39 with just over two minutes to play. The two-point conversion failed, but the game didn’t end there. The 49ers recovered the onside kick and had a chance to go win the game before turning it over on downs.

1. Packers 27, Lions 23 | 2015 Week 13

Remember that young backup from TNF in 2007? He returned to the stage in 2015 and performed magnificently, completing 24 of 36 passes for 273 yards and three total touchdowns. Matthew Stafford and the Detroit Lions grabbed a 17-0 lead in the first quarter and led 20-0 early in the third. Rodgers and the Pack scored 27 points over the final 20:34, including a 61-yard Hail Mary at the buzzer to win the game. It was the longest game-ending touchdown in NFL history at the time. Dubbed the “Miracle in Motown,” it is right near the top of Rodgers’ most impressive throws ever.