Significance Of Thanksgiving Game Not Lost On Patricia: "Such A Rich Tradition In This City"

He wants to make sure "everybody's happy here" come Thursday afternoon.

Will Burchfield
November 19, 2018 - 6:14 pm

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Matt Patricia has coached in two Thanksgiving Day games during his time in the NFL, including once in Detroit when the Patriots whacked the Lions back in 2010. He'll be on the other sideline on Thursday, coaching the Lions in an annual tradition that dates back to 1934. 

The significance of this isn't lost on the first-year head coach. 

"It's obviously a huge honor for us to play in this game and be a part of this. Again, this is such a rich tradition in this city and this organization, so it's a great week for us," Patricia said on Monday. "We just have to do a great job of preparing and getting ready to go and obviously go execute on Thursday." 

In addition to New England's 45-24 win over the Lions in 2010, Patricia took part in the Patriots' 49-19 destruction of the Jets in 2012, his first year as defensive coordinator. (The infamous Mark Sanchez butt fumble game.) It's likely those games rank among his favorite Thanksgiving memories. 

As for the very best one, be it related to football or not, Patricia couldn't say. He'd rather look forward than back. 

"That's a good question, I don't know. Right now hopefully we'll make one this weekend. Just real excited to be a part of all this here, so just want to make sure I try to do my part to the best of my ability so everybody's happy here come afternoon on Thursday," he said. 

While Patricia will be making his Lions Thanksgiving debut, Matthew Stafford will be suiting up for the ninth time. He's 4-4 in his career, with all four wins coming in the past five years. His second victory came against the Bears, the same opponent he'll face on Thursday. 

Having grown up a fan of the Cowboys, who became a Thanksgiving fixture themselves in 1966, Stafford appreciates the history behind the event. 

"It's awesome. I grew up watching it as a Cowboys fan, been a part of it now for 10 years here. It's cool that the city and the fans and really our team, we embrace this game. We love playing in it every year, so it's just a great tradition to be a part of and obviously a lot of fun when you win it," he said. 

Which game so far has been his favorite? 

"I would imagine all the ones we won are my favorite," Stafford said with a laugh. "Philly was fun a couple years ago. Calvin had a big one, that was a fun one." 

Johnson indeed feasted in the Lions' 45-14 win over the Eagles in 2015, racking up 93 yards and three touchdowns. It was part of a five-touchdown for Stafford, which still marks a career high. 

Afterward, it's safe to say Stafford feasted himself. His postgame tradition is the same every year. 

"Just eat a ton of food, like everybody else. Eat a bunch of food and relax a little bit," he said. "It's kind of a nice little couple days off there for us." 

It will be even nicer if the Lions take down the Bears for their second win in a row.