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Christmas Day NFL Games Since 2005: NFL Fan’s Flashback
The Green Bay Packers and Chicago Bears will headline the Week 16 schedule as the only game on Christmas Day for the 2011-12 NFL season. 14 of the 16 games will be played on Christmas Eve while the Monday Night Football finale between the Atlanta Falcons and New Orleans Saints will be played on December 26, 2011.
The Bears and Packers aren't strangers to playing on Christmas Day. The NFL often schedules one or two games on the cherished holiday. Here were a few outcomes from Christmas Day contests since 2005.
2005: Chicago Bears at Green Bay Packers
The Packers and Bears last played on Christmas Day in 2005. The Bears had beaten the Packers 19-7 just three weeks prior to this on December 4. The Packers were 3-11 and suffering from a plethora of injuries. They were relying on players like Samkon Gado and Noah Herron.
Brett Favre had one of his "Unforgettable" performances here. Favre went 30-of-51 for 317 yards and four interceptions. One of those interceptions included a 10-yard return from Lance Briggs that gave the Bears a 24-7 lead. The Bears eventually won 24-17.
The Detroit Lions were the only NFC North team who didn't play on Christmas Day in 2005. The Minnesota Vikings were trying to avoid playoff elimination as they were 8-6 heading into their Week 16 meeting with the Baltimore Ravens. The Ravens were 5-9 and having a down season.The Vikings need a win to remain with the New York Giants (10-5) in the NFC wild-card race.
Quarterbacks Brad Johnson and Kyle Boller were both effective in this game. The Vikings had a 20-17 lead heading into the fourth quarter. That normally would've been enough as the Vikings hadn't surrendered more than 23 points in two months. However, the Ravens scored 13 unanswered points in the final quarter en route to a 30-23 win.
The Philadelphia Eagles and Dallas Cowboys played in one of two divisional rivalry games during Christmas Day in 2006. The Cowboys had an opportunity to win the NFC East and not have to play a wild-card road game against the Seattle Seahawks in Seattle.
The Cowboys played one of their worst games of the season. Led by Jeff Garcia, the Eagles pulled off a 23-7 victory. The Cowboys were out-gained by the Eagles 426-201 in offensive yardage. Tony Romo went 14-of-29 for 142 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions. Cowboys owner Jerry Jones stated, "I was stunned" after the loss.
The New York Jets and Miami Dolphins played to a scoreless first half in their Christmas Day Game in 2006. At 8-6, the Jets needed a victory to keep their playoff hopes alive. They were dealing with rainy weather conditions and a divisional opponent on the road who was eager to end the Jets' season.
The first points of the game occurred when Mike Nugent nailed a 22-yard field goal with fewer than three minutes left in the third quarter. The Jets would eventually win 13-10 as Nugent converted on a 30-yard field goal with 10 seconds remaining. Cleo Lemon and Joey Harrington were the Dolphins' quarterbacks. They combined to go 18-of-31 for 146 yards and one touchdown. Chad Pennington was 14-of-29 for 237 yards and one touchdown for the Jets.
The Tennessee Titans had won seven of their past eight games following a 0-6 start under the leadership of Kerry Collins. Titans head coach Jeff Fisher was relying on the late-game heroics of Vince Young and a remarkable season from second-year running back Chris Johnson. Johnson would finish the season with over 2,000 rushing yards.
That wouldn't mean much against a San Diego Chargers team who was playing for a first-round bye and putting themselves in the best position to have an opportunity to knock off an Indianapolis Colts team that, at that time, was 14-0. After Titans kicker Rob Bironas nailed a 46-yard field goal to give them a 3-0 lead, the Chargers would score 42 of the next 49 points en route to a 42-17 victory. Young finished the game 8-of-21 for 89 yards and two interceptions.
The Titans finished 8-8. The Chargers were eliminated by the New York Jets in the divisional round of the playoffs.
The Arizona Cardinals and Dallas Cowboys both had rough seasons heading into this Christmas Night special. The Cardinals' experiment with Derek Anderson had failed and they had given the starting job to John Skelton. The Cowboys were relying on third-string quarterback Stephen McGee after injuries had sidelined Tony Romo and Jon Kitna. Kitna's injury occurred in this game.
The Cardinals jumped out to a 21-3 lead after two interception returns for touchdowns in the first quarter. The Cowboys rallied to take the lead with fewer than two minutes remaining following a 37-yard touchdown reception from Miles Austin. However, David Buehler would miss an extra point after converting on a 53-yard field-goal attempt in the third quarter.
That missed extra point would doom the Cowboys. The Cardinals would drive on the next possession and the Cardinals would pull off a 27-26 victory after Jay Feely converted on a 48-yard field goal with five seconds remaining. The Cardinals won despite having the football for fewer than 22 minutes. They also had 111 fewer offensive yards and 14 fewer first downs than the Cowboys.
2011: Chicago Bears at Green Bay Packers
To be determined as of this writing.
Joshua Huffman grew up in Michigan's Upper Peninsula as a Green Bay Packers and Chicago Cubs enthusiast. His favorite Packer moments include Super Bowl XXXI, XLV, and Al Harris interception return following Matt Hasselbeck's "We're gonna score" comments. As a Packers and Cubs fan, he suffered through Steve Bartman and "4th & 26" in a span of three months.
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