Yes, we all always gather around to watch the Cowboys host a game on Thanksgiving and this year they welcomed the Redskins to AT&T Stadium.
But, this time around the divisional matchup had a unique twist with the usual outcome.
Despite quarterback Colt McCoy’s familiarity with Redskins coach Jay Gruden and the Cowboys, Dallas won the second game of Thursday’s tripleheader 31-23.
McCoy was starting in place of an injured Alex Smith for the first time since 2014, which was the same season he used a short red-zone rush at the beginning of the fourth quarter to put the Redskins back in the game and they eventually won in overtime during “Monday Night Football.”
On Thursday, another quick rushing touchdown by a quarterback gave the winning team a comfortable lead, but it wasn’t McCoy. Dak Prescott held the ball for a 5-yard score in the first series of the final quarter to all but secure the Cowboys’ victory.
Just ridiculous, @Dak.
Another #DallasCowboys touchdown!
— NFL (@NFL) November 23, 2018
That and more from the Thanksgiving contest between the Cowboys and Redskins.
The Cowboys looked back to form with the deep ball
We were all patiently waiting, and waiting, and waiting for Prescott to send the ball flying down the field. Sure, there have been some highlights as the Cowboys have steadily worked their way up the NFC East standings — they now sit tied with Washington after Thursday’s win — but it wasn’t consistent.
Then, Dallas added Amari Cooper to their roster and Prescott let it rip.
He <a href="http://
Dak Prescott is the first Cowboys QB with two 40-yard TD passes in a single quarter since Tony Romo had 2 in 2013 Week 8 at the Lions.
— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) November 23, 2018
” target=”_blank”>became the first Cowboys QB with multiple 40-yard touchdown passes in a single quarter since Tony Romo had two in Week 8 of the 2013 season. Both touchdowns came in the third quarter when Dallas took back its lead after McCoy’s second scoring drive. But, these lanes weren’t always open.
The Redskins defense did a good job of pressuring Prescott in the first half. They tallied four sacks, which should have favored the visiting Washington squad. The third-year quarterback doesn’t have the best record under that much pressure, and is 1-4 when he’s sacked four or more times in a single game. Prescott later managed to overcome the pass rush and find just enough time to find, you guessed it, Cooper.
Prescott finished 22-of-31 passing for a season-high 289 yards and two touchdowns. He also had six carries for 18 yards, including the rushing score.
Amari Cooper effects more than just the passing game
A few weeks ago, we talked about the Cooper effect in his debut with the Cowboys. Now, with a couple of games as Prescott’s top target, that effect is extending beyond the air raid.
The two-time Pro-Bowl player is drawing defenders away, and has opened up lanes for running back Ezekiel Elliott and other targets including tight end Blake Jarwin, who had his best game of the season.
While Cooper still had the most targets of any route runner (9), Prescott looked to eight other receivers to help move the ball down the field — and all of their efforts proved successful.
With Cooper, the offense has opened up and all Dallas has to do is continue to take advantage, like they did here:
— NFL (@NFL) November 22, 2018
AMARI COOPER GOES BACK FOR SECONDS.
90-YARD #DALLASCOWBOYS TOUCHDOWN!
— NFL (@NFL) November 22, 2018
Whether they like it or not, Washington is stuck with Colt McCoy
Now, he’s not bad. But, he’s not great. The backup turned starter signed a two-year contract with the Redskins before the season started, so no matter what, Washington controls his rights for 2019.
Next year, McCoy could make up to $3.5 million and if he can end the season strong — as Alex Smith will remain out for the rest of 2018 recovering from a broken leg sustained in Sunday’s game — McCoy could garner the attention of other teams heading into his 10th season.
But first, he has to make an impact in Washington.
Thursday was McCoy’s first start since 2014, and with the quick turnaround he didn’t get the regular amount of practice reps a full week would allow. However, somehow on the biggest stage, he managed to go toe-to-toe with the Cowboys until he couldn’t.
A few mistakes stopped any momentum McCoy was bringing into this matchup, and stalled the Redskins’ offense late in the game.
He completed 24 of his 38 pass attempts for 268 yards and two touchdown, but his three interceptions can’t be overlooked. If the Redskins wish to stay atop the divisional standings, McCoy has some cleaning up to do.