Like many of us struggling with tryptophan sleep after Thanksgiving dinner, the Dallas Cowboys came out of the net a bit sluggishly in a celebratory clash against the New York Giants.
But the longer the game went on, the more it seemed that the Cowboys were awakening from their depression. The first half, in which they stumbled on their way to a deficit, eventually saw Dallas surge in the second half to a 28–20 victory over their NFC rivals.
Like the Cowboys themselves, Dak Prescott’s day consisted of two parts. For the first two quarters, he was a 6-of-10 walker for 116 yards with no touchdowns or two interceptions, with a 44.8 passer rating. But he completed 15 of 20 passes for 145 yards, two touchdowns and no interceptions in the second half to end the day with a respectable 91.1 passer rating.
CeeDee Lamb passed the 160-yard receiving mark for the second time this season, scoring several best moments en route to 106 yards. Michael Gallup also had the best game of the year with several strong tackles that led to 63 receiving yards. Tight end Dalton Schultz also jumped in, setting a personal best with two touchdowns in a day.
The Cowboys also did some ground work, gaining 170 rushing yards, their fourth game in a row they surpassed 150. Ezekiel Elliott led with 92 yards on 16 carries, while Tony Pollard gained another 60 yards on 18 tries.
Similarly, Dallas’ defense improved throughout the day. Linebacker Micah Parsons added two more sacks, marking his sixth multi-sack game of the season, while defenseman Dorance Armstrong added to his already high career sack count of eight. Midfielder Leighton Vander Ash led his team with eight tackles.
The Cowboys held off second-best thrower Saquon Barkley for a measly 39 yards while the Giants only allowed 27 percent of their third down opportunities. For the second week in a row, Dallas also led in possession time from 34:09 to 25:51.
The Giants were first on the board thanks to a 57-yard field goal on their second possession. When the Cowboys failed to convert a fourth and a second on their 40-yard line, New York was in excellent position on the field. A 23-yard connection took the Giants to the 17-yard line, and then Dallas caught a break when an apparent touchdown was called off by an illegal penalty to a man in the bottom of the field. Shortly thereafter, the guests had to be content with a field goal.
Some obvious offensive confusion resulted in an interception by Prescott, but a quick three-and-out and a punt got the Cowboys back in action at their own 7-yard line. The third time was charming as this time Dallas launched the attack. Gallup made three catches for 24 yards and Prescott then fired a 25-yard dart at Lamb to put the Cowboys in first place and score a goal at the Giants’ 6-yard line in the last game of the first quarter.
It only took them one click to get into the end zone. Elliot finished 11 games for 93 yards, scoring a midfield for his seventh scoring run of the season. It was the 75th touchdown of Elliott’s career overall, making him with Dez Bryant the fourth-highest scoring touchdown in Cowboy history.
The lead didn’t last long, however, as the Giants responded immediately with 75 yards with nine games to go to the goal line. Wideout Darius Slayton hit hard, jumping high over cornerback Anthony Brown and landing a 44-yard reception at the Cowboys’ 1-yard line. Two plays later, Barkley broke into center to give New York a 10–7 lead.
Then disaster struck again. For the third time in the team’s last four games, Prescott intercepted midway shortly before half time. He tried to cross to Lamb again, but cornerback Darnay Holmes intercepted the ball and defenseman Julian Love came out with an option to pass the ball to the Giants at their own 27-yard line with 1:50 left in the quarter.
Dallas appeared to reciprocate when defenseman Donovan Wilson intercepted Daniel Jones’ offer, but defenseman Trevon Diggs was called out for illegal contact and the transfer was annulled. Their drive is still alive, then the Giants reached the Cowboys’ 29-yard line. It was here that Graham Gano split the post from 47 yards as the clock hit zero and New York went 13-7 at halftime.
After a rather ugly first half, the Cowboys needed to come out and make a name for themselves. They did it by going 75 yards to the end zone in 14 plays in 7:39 of the time. Nine of those games were on the ground, but it was Prescott’s 15-yard pass to Schulz’s tight end in the far left end of the end zone that brought the score.
Just as the Cowboys went for it by finishing fourth in home territory in the first quarter, so did the Giants in the third. And the result was the same: Jones’ pass attempt to Barkley on fourth and first on his own 45-yard line failed.
Only Dallas turned New York’s gift into a touchdown. Schultz got his second score of the day, a 6-yard dash that sent him into the end zone. But the highlight of the program was Lamb. The stellar long-range shot made a spectacular one-handed take on the left touchline while he was thwarted and went for 21 yards to give Dallas the first goal.
The good times continued when the Cowboys scored their third consecutive second-half touchdown on the next possession. This time it was a 10-game 80-yard drive in which rookie tight ends provided highlights. Jake Ferguson made a short pass, spun around and jumped over a potential defender to win 30 yards. The touchdown then came as Peyton Hendershot came into motion before taking the pass and running in untouched from two yards.
All four teams then celebrated the failure, with Schultz, Ferguson and Sean McKeon jumping into the Salvation Army’s red kettle while Hendershot played a quick game of “hit the mole”.
There really was nothing left to do with it but count the clock and head home to the leftovers for Thanksgiving. Brett Mahar got a 46-yard field goal but landed a right hand. Another Giants touchdown followed to close the count, but it was too little and too late.
Now the Cowboys have a long weekend ahead of them, with second place in the division now secured and the Philadelphia Eagles still on their radar.