EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. – On Nov. 24, 1938, the Giants and Brooklyn Dodgers played a 7-7 tie in front of 17,400 fans in Ebbetts Field. After trailing much of the game, the Giants knotted the score in the fourth quarter on a 12-yard pass from Ed Danowski to Dale Burnett.
That score 84 years ago tomorrow remains the Giants' most recent offensive touchdown on Thanksgiving Day.
In fairness, the Giants have seldom played on Turkey Day since then. But they will try to break that streak tomorrow it AT&T Stadium, where they face their NFC East rivals, the Dallas Cowboys. Both teams are 7-3. Dallas won the first meeting on Sept. 26 in MetLife Stadium, 23-16.
"This is the sixth time that I've been part of this game, not necessarily against Dallas – third time against Dallas, I think," coach Brian Daboll said. "It's great, it's a great tribute. You remember when you're a kid, sitting down and watching television and the games and (John) Madden and turducken and all those types of things. We got a big challenge ahead of us in Dallas and that's where we've got to keep it."
The Giants are coming off a 31-18 loss Sunday to the Detroit Lions, while Dallas routed the Vikings in Minnesota, 40-3.
"I think it's a huge opportunity for us," quarterback Daniel Jones said. "It's a divisional game against a rival and on Thanksgiving. Huge game, huge opportunity for us, and we've got to go out and play our best ball, play as well as we can and see how it goes."
The Cowboys present all kinds of challenges. Since returning from a five-week absence with a thumb injury, quarterback Dak Prescott – who did not play in the first Giants game - has led Dallas to a 3-1 record, completing 72 percent of his passes. The Cowboys have averaged 39 points and 440 yards the last three weeks. Against Minnesota, they gained 458 total yards and scored points on their first seven possessions.
Running backs Tony Pollard and Ezekiel Elliott have combined for 1,186 rushing yards and 12 touchdowns, CeeDee Lamb's 58 receptions are twice as many as any of his teammates, and Dallas has one of the NFL's best offensive lines.
The Cowboys have the NFL's No. 1 scoring defense (16.7 points per game) and passing defense (174.5 yards per game), and they lead the league with 42 sacks for minus-274 yards. Micah Parsons is second in the NFL with 10.0 sacks. Dallas has yet to allow a first quarter touchdown this season and has given up a league-low 18 points in the quarter.
Oh, and kicker Brett Maher has kicked seven field goals of 50+ yards, including a 60-yarder in Minnesota, and is third in the NFL in scoring with 83 points.
"I think they've always been a good offense," Daboll said. "They have a lot of good skill players. I think their roster construction has been really good with really offense, defense and the kicking game. This is a dynamic team, I'd say, in every area. They've got great skill players. When I say skill players, I also include defensive ends, who are skill players. Explosive – scored a lot of points, obviously, last week. (They had) seven sacks, 40 points against an 8-1 team at their place. It will be a huge challenge."
View rare photos from the historic rivalry between the New York Giants and Dallas Cowboys.
One made more difficult because of the number of players the Giants could miss due to injury. The group includes cornerback Adoree' Jackson and tght end Daniel Bellinger. They could be joined by cornerback Fabian Moreau and offensive linemen Jon Feliciano, Shane Lemieux, Josh Ezeudu and Evan Neal, among others. Rookie Wan'Dale Robinson was placed on injured reserve this week with a torn ACL he suffered at the end of his nine-catch, 100-yard performance vs. Detroit. Safety Xavier McKinney remains sidelined with fractured fingers.
"It certainly is a challenge, but I think it's also a great opportunity for us to show who we are, show what we can do, our toughness," Jones said. "We're looking forward to going out there and playing really good football. That's where our focus is."
This is the Giants' 16th Thanksgiving game, the sixth-highest total in the NFL. Every one of them was played on the road. They are 7-5-3 all-time on Thanksgiving. The Giants have lost their last three Turkey Day games, in 1992, 2009 and 2017.
In the 1920s and 1930s, the Giants were regular Thanksgiving participants. But after that tie in Brooklyn in 1938, they didn't play on the holiday again until 1982.
When they face the Cowboys tomorrow, it will be just their fifth Thanksgiving Day game since Danowski connected with Burnett in '38. They are 1-3 in the Super Bowl era and their only touchdowns in those four games were on a pair of interception returns.
The Giants haven't won on Thanksgiving since 1982 in Detroit, where Hall of Fame linebacker Lawrence Taylor picked off a Gary Danielson pass in the fourth quarter and returned it 97 yards for the only touchdown in the Giants' 13-6 victory. It is still the third-longest interception return in Giants history.
The Giants waited 10 years for their next Thanksgiving Day game. On Nov. 26, 1992, they faced the Cowboys in Dallas. Quarterback Jeff Hostetler was hurt in a loss to Philadelphia four days earlier, forcing rookie Kent Graham, an eighth-round draft choice, to start. The result was a 30-3 victory for a Cowboys team that started three Hall of Famers (Troy Aikman, Emmitt Smith and Michael Irvin) and two months later won Super Bowl XXVII. Matt Bahr scored the Giants' only points on a 42-yard field goal.
The Giants' first prime time Thanksgiving game was in Denver exactly 17 years after the game in Dallas. The time change did not improve their fortunes as two Lawrence Tynes field goals accounted for all their scoring in a 26-6 loss to the Broncos.
Their next Thanksgiving appearance was also a night game, in Washington on Nov. 23, 2017. And the Giants did score a touchdown; indeed, Janoris Jenkins' 53-yard interception return tied the score in the third quarter, 10-10. But Washington scored 10 unanswered points in fourth quarter to send the Giants to their third straight Turkey Day loss.
They hope to end that streak tomorrow, but not for historical reasons. A victory would put them a game ahead of the Cowboys, while a loss would essentially leave them two games behind, because Dallas would own the tiebreaker.
"I think it's extremely important (to bounce back)," Jones said. "Throughout the year, we've shown ourselves as a resilient group, a tough group mentally and physically – this is an opportunity to show that for us. We're excited for it and we're looking forward to getting down there."
*Dallas has won 10 of the last 11 games played between the teams, including five in a row in AT&T Stadium, where the Giants are 5-8. They are 20-39-1 in Dallas.
*The Cowboys are hosting a Thanksgiving Day game for the 45th consecutive year. They are 31-22-1 on Thanksgiving.