NFL: DEC 25 Vikings at Saints
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The NFL doesn't have a storied history on Christmas Day, as the league has typically avoided playing games on the holiday unless it falls on a Saturday, Sunday, or Monday. The league actually avoided playing on the holiday for 18 years after having a pair of Christmas Day games in 1971, not playing another Christmas game until 1989 (the Christmas Day games in 1971 were playoff games). 

The NFL has made playing on the Christmas a sporadic event once a scheduled game on the holiday entered the fold. The league initially pushed the regular season back a week in 1989, meaning the regular season would coincide on Christmas for the first time. For the first time in NFL history, a bye week was added to the schedule in 1990 -- ensuring Christmas would fall during the regular season.

When the NFL did play games on Christmas, they were typically late-afternoon events. There have just been five doubleheaders since regular-season Christmas Day games were added -- with all those doubleheaders taking place on Saturday, Sunday, or Monday, as the late game typically coincided with the "Sunday Night Football" or "Monday Night Football" package. 

This year, the NFL returned to Christmas with a rare Friday game -- just the 11th game on that day since the merger in 1970 and second on Christmas (the last Friday game was on Christmas in 2009). The league has played just 19 games on Christmas Day, which leaves a rather interesting history on the holiday. New Orleans Saints running back Alvin Kamara added to that history with his 155-yard, six-touchdown performance on Christmas. 

In this week's edition of "By The Numbers," we take a look at the best performances and the all-time statistical leaders on Christmas (regular season games only). We'll even take a look at the best NFL players to play on Friday:  

NFL passing yards leaders on Christmas

  1. Ben Roethlisberger (Steelers) -- 505*
  2. Boomer Esiason (Bengals) -- 367
  3. Dave Krieg (Seahawks/Cardinals) -- 363*
  4. Trent Green (Chiefs) -- 358
  5. Troy Aikman (Cowboys) -- 350

*Played more than one game on Christmas

NFL passing TD leaders on Christmas

  1. Aaron Rodgers (Packers) -- 5
  2. Ben Roethlisberger (Steelers) -- 5*
  3. Boomer Esiason (Bengals) -- 3
  4. Kyle Boller (Ravens) --3

*Played more than one game on Christmas

NFL rushing yards leaders on Christmas

  1. Le'Veon Bell (Steelers) -- 191*
  2. Orlandis Gary (Broncos) -- 185
  3. Alvin Kamara (Saints) -- 155
  4. Chris Johnson (Titans) -- 142
  5. Brian Westbrook (Eagles) -- 122

*Played more than one game on Christmas

NFL receiving yards leaders on Christmas

  1. Derrick Mason (Ravens/Titans) -- 263*
  2. Kevin Williams (Cowboys) -- 203
  3. Larry Centers (Cardinals) -- 172
  4. Travis Kelce (Chiefs) -- 160
  5. Tony Gonzalez (Chiefs) -- 124

*Played more than one game on Christmas

Ben Roethlisberger and Le'Veon Bell actually played consecutive years on Christmas in 2016 and 2017, which is how they ended up on the holiday leaderboard (it's rare for players to get one game on Christmas, yet alone two). Derrick Mason was fortunate enough to play in three Christmas games -- 2000 and 2004 with the Tennessee Titans, and 2015 with the Baltimore Ravens. 

The Dallas Cowboys and Tennessee Titans have played four Christmas Day games, the most in the NFL (regular season). The Denver Broncos are second on the list with three, which the Minnesota Vikings will match when they play Friday. The Philadelphia Eagles, Pittsburgh Steelers, Los Angeles Chargers, and New York Jets have never lost a game on Christmas (Eagles and Steelers have played twice on the holiday). 

The best performance for quarterbacks on Christmas belongs to Aaron Rodgers, who completed 21 of 29 passes for 283 yards and five touchdowns in a 35-21 victory over the Chicago Bears in 2011. No quarterback has ever thrown for more passing touchdowns in a single game on Christmas. 

Olandis Gary had the best rushing performance on Christmas, recording 29 carries for 185 yards and two touchdowns in Denver's 17-7 win over the Detroit Lions -- until Kamara's standout performance in 2020. Kamara tied the NFL record with six rushing touchdowns in the Saints' 52-33 win over the Vikings, matching the record for rushing touchdowns in a game (1929). Kamara finished with 22 carries for 155 yards and six touchdowns, breaking Bernie Parmalee's record for rushing touchdowns on Christmas (three in 1994). 

Kevin Williams had nine catches for 203 yards and two touchdowns for the Cowboys in their 37-13 victory over the Arizona Cardinals in 1995. Cardinals fullback Larry Centers had a Christmas Day record 12 receptions for 172 yards in the loss. The performance by Williams was his only 100-yard receiving game in his NFL career. Travis Kelce had 11 catches for 160 yards and a touchdown in the Kansas City Chiefs' 33-10 win over the Broncos on Christmas in 2016. 

NFL passing yards leaders on Fridays (since 1970)

  1. Joe Montana (49ers) -- 457*
  2. John Elway (Broncos) -- 432
  3. Brett Favre (Packers) -- 365
  4. Drew Brees (Saints) -- 311
  5. Trent Green (Chiefs) -- 289

*Played more than one game on Friday

NFL rushing yards leaders on Fridays (since 1970)

  1. Eric Dickerson (Rams) -- 166*
  2. Alvin Kamara (Saints) -- 155
  3. Chris Johnson (Titans) -- 142
  4. Roger Craig (49ers) -- 139*
  5. Emmitt Smith (Cowboys) -- 110

*Played more than one game on Friday

NFL receiving yards leaders on Fridays (since 1970)

  1. Donald Driver (Packers) -- 162
  2. John Gilliam (Cardinals) -- 133
  3. Jason Tucker (Cowboys) -- 128
  4. Eddie Kennison (Saints/Chiefs) -- 119*
  5. Cris Carter (Vikings) -- 113

*Played more than one game on Friday

NFL yards from scrimmage leaders on Fridays (since 1970)

  1. Roger Craig (49ers) -- 205*
  2. Chris Johnson (Titans) -- 179
  3. Alvin Kamara (Saints) -- 172
  4. Eric Dickerson (Rams) -- 172*
  5. Donald Driver (Packers) -- 162

*Played more than one game on Friday

NFL games on a Friday is rarer than a Christmas Day game, which made Friday's Christmas matchup between the Minnesota Vikings and New Orleans Saints a special occasion. Only four games have been played on Friday since 1999, two of which occurring on Christmas Eve. One Christmas Day game has been played on a Friday, when the San Diego Chargers squared off against the Tennessee Titans in 2009. 

Roger Craig has played an astonishing three Friday games, two with the San Francisco 49ers (1984 and 1986) and one with the Minnesota Vikings (1993). Chris Johnson has the best performance for a running back on a Friday, rushing for 142 yards and a touchdown while finishing with 179 yards from scrimmage (even though the Titans lost 42-17 to the Chargers). Eric Dickerson, Priest Holmes, LaDainian Tomlinson and Darren Sproles have each rushed for two touchdowns on Friday, with Dickerson playing in two games. Kamara shattered that record with his six-touchdown performance, a record that may never be topped -- on a Friday on any day of the week. 

Donald Driver had 11 catches for 162 yards and a touchdown on Christmas Eve in 2004 as the Green Bay Packers defeated the Minnesota Vikings 34-31. CBS NFL Today analyst Nate Burleson had two catches for 110 yards for Minnesota in that game. 

Joe Montana has the most passing touchdowns on Friday (four), but he also played two games. John Elway went 24 for 42 for 432 yards with a touchdown in the Denver Broncos' 27-24 win over the Seattle Seahawks. Brett Favre finished 30 for 43 for 365 yards and three touchdowns and an interception in Green Bay's win over Minnesota in 2004, the second-best passing performance on a Friday ever. 

NFL fans were for a rare treat with this year's Christmas Day game thanks to Kamara. We don't know when another Friday game will be on the calendar -- or another record-tying performance from a running back. 

As for Christmas? Good bet the NFL will have games on that day the next three years, as the holiday falls on a Saturday (2021), Sunday (2022), and Monday (2023).