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Patriots-Vikings Thanksgiving night news, notes, and fun facts

FOXBORO -- Family. Turkey. Football. That is Thanksgiving in a nutshell. And this year, the New England Patriots will help you close out the evening.

The Patriots are playing on Thanksgiving for the first time in a decade, with a matchup against the 8-2 Vikings in Minnesota set for Thursday evening. The last time that New England played on Thanksgiving night, we were treated to one of the greatest mishaps to ever grace an NFL field: The Butt Fumble

Chances are we won't be seeing another fumble caused by a rear end on Thursday night. That was a once-in-a-lifetime occurrence. The Patriots are riding a three-game win streak and slowly finding some solid ground in the AFC playoff picture, while the Vikings are looking to bounce back after a 40-3 loss to the Cowboys. Football on Thursday night isn't always the best product, but we should get a serving of good football following our Thanksgiving feast.

Here is everything you need to know about New England's Week 12 tilt on Thanksgiving night.

Week 12 Notes

  • This marks the sixth time that the Patriots will play on Thanksgiving, with New England sporting a 3-2 record in their previous Turkey Day appearances. The Pats have won three straight on Thanksgiving.
  • The last time the Patriots played on Thanksgiving night, they crushed the Jets 49-19 in the aforementioned Butt Fumble game in 2012.  
  • The Patriots are 9-4 against the Vikings, including a 3-2 record in Minnesota.
  • This will be New England's first regular season game at U.S. Bank Stadium. They have played there before, losing Super Bowl LII to the Philadelphia Eagles.
  • Bill Belichick has won a regular season game in a record 50 different NFL stadiums. He can add another to the list with a win at U.S. Bank Stadium on Thursday.
  • Belichick is 5-3 overall against the Vikings, including 5-1 as head coach of the Patriots.
  • Belichick has spent eight of his Thanksgivings on an NFL sideline: Two as an assistant coach with the Lions (1976, 77), once with the Broncos (1978), once with the New York Giants (1982), and four times as head coach of the Patriots (2000, 2002, 2010, and 2012). He is 5-3 in those games.
  • The Patriots haven't allowed a touchdown in two straight games. The last time that New England had a three-game stretch without allowing a touchdown was the first three weeks of the 2019 season.
  • The Patriots are second in the NFL with 36 sacks on the season, trailing only the 42 sacks by the Cowboys. New England is on pace for 61 sacks, which would be the second-most in franchise history (66 sacks in 1963) and the most in a single season under Belichick.

Player Notes

  • Matthew Judon and his career-high 13 sacks lead the NFL, and he's on pace to finish with 22 sacks for the season. No Patriots player has finished with the league-lead in sacks.
  • Week 11 hero Marcus Jones ranks first in the NFL with 623 total return yards: 283 punt return yards and 340 kickoff return yards.
  • Jones' 84-yard punt return touchdown with five seconds left led New England to a 10-3 victory over the Jets, and he can become the first NFL player to return a punt for a touchdown in consecutive weeks since Patrick Peterson did it with Arizona in 2011. Like Jones, Peterson was a rookie when he accomplished that feat.
  • If Jones returns a punt for a touchdown against the Vikings, he'll become the fourth Patriots player to return two punts for a touchdown in the same season. The rookie would join Troy Brown (2001), Irving Fryar (1985), and Mike Haynes (1976) on that exclusive list.
  • Kicker Nick Folk needs four field goals to become the fifth Patriots player with 100 field goals.  
  • Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins is 10-18 in prime-time games throughout his career.
  • Minnesota receiver Justin Jefferson ranks second in the NFL with 1,093 receiving yards and fourth with 72 receptions. He has six games this season with over 100 receiving yards, including a 10-catch, 193-yard explosion against the Bills two weeks ago.
  • Vikings running back Dalvin Cook ranks sixth in the NFL with 799 rushing yards, averaging 5.1 yards on his 156 carries.


  • Vikings head coach Kevin O'Connell was a third-round pick by the Patriots in 2008, and served as a backup quarterback for the team that season. He threw the only six passes of his NFL career with the Patriots, completing four of them for 66 yards over two games in 2008. He also spent time with the Lions, Jets (twice), Dolphins, and Chargers, before getting his first coaching job with the Browns in 2015 (quarterbacks coach). He earned a Super Bowl ring last season as the offensive coordinator of the Rams.
  • Vikings tight end James O'Shaughnessy spent a few months with the Patriots in 2017. He was acquired from the Chiefs in April, but released before the start of the season. He spent the last three seasons with the Jaguars before signing with the Bears last April. O'Shaughnessy was released by the Bears in August, and was signed to the Minnesota practice squad last week.

WBZ-TV has everything to get you ready for Thursday night's Patriots-Vikings clash! Coverage begins Wednesday at 7 p.m. with Patriots All Access, and continues at 9:30 p.m. on TV38 with Patriots 1st Down. We set the table Thursday night with Patriots GameDay at 5:30 p.m., and after the game switch back to WBZ-TV for full reaction and analysis on Patriots 5th Quarter!  

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