Cowboys coach Mike McCarthy will face questions about his decision-making after a two-quarter fall in the face. Washington stopped Dallas on two of its fourth down attempts – one on a pass on fourth-and-one and another on fake punts on fourth-and-10 – setting up touchdown drives of 19 and 23 yards.
He – and Washington receiver Terry McLaurin chasing Cowboys linebacker Jaylon Smith to save a touchdown on an interceptions return – helped Washington to a 41–16 victory in the Cowboys’ annual Thanksgiving game. Washington single-handedly defeated the NFC East with a record of 4-7, with the Eagles leading the half with the Giants 3-7 and the Cowboys 3-8.
Washington scored 21 points in a nine-minute stretch of the fourth quarter – a touchdown run of 23 and 37 yards by Antonio Gibson and a 12-yard interception return by Montez Sweat – to turn the game into a turning point.
Maybe it was a setback anyway, but Washington has three properties in the Dallas area. Ezequiel Elliott scored a Washington field goal in Dallas 33 and two fourth-down calls from McCarthy set up a Washington touchdown.
The game was tied 10–10 when the Cowboys opted to go fourth-and-1 from their own 34, with 5:22 left in the first half. Andy Dalton’s pass was incomplete for Sidi Lamb, who was interfered by Ronald Darby, but no flag was thrown. On top of that, the Cowboys called tight end Dalton Shultes for inconsistent conduct.
Washington took over the Cowboys 19-yard line. After five plays, Logan Thomas caught a 5-yard touchdown pass from Alex Smith.
The Cowboys had a chance to tie late in the third quarter when Smith interrupted a Smith pass for McLaurin. A touchdown should return 47 yards of interception, with no one in front of Smith, but McLaurin caught him from behind on the 4 yards line.
It proved to be big as Dallas got none closer, with 28-yard Greg Zurelin going behind before settling for a field goal. The Cowboys scored three field goals on the Red Zone possessions, reaching Washington 15, 14 and 10.
With Washington leading 20–16, Dallas attempted a fake punt on fourth-10 of its 24. Cedric Wilson was dealt with a 1-yard loss on the reverse, and Gibson scored on the next play.
Gibson finished with 115 yards rushing and three touchdowns on 20 carries. He also caught five passes for 21 yards. Thomas had a run of 3 yards, threw a 28-yard pass to McLaurin and caught four passes for 20 yards and a touchdown.
Washington ran for 182 yards, as he totaled 338 points.
Smith went 19-26 for 149 yards with a touchdown and an interception winning back-to-back starts. McLaurin took seven catches for 92 yards.
Elliott carried 10 carries for 32 yards and lost his fifth bout of the season. He runs into all the parts lost this season. Dalton was 25-35 for 215 yards with one touchdown and one interception, with Amari Cooper catching six passes for 112 yards and one touchdown.