Cowboys hope to produce worthy encore in NFC East showdown

By ROY LANG III, Journal Sports

The NFL is a strange beast. Teams look like Super Bowl contenders one week and lose to an afterthought the next. Thursday, the Dallas Cowboys will attempt to avoid providing the latest head-scratching moment in what’s been a wacky season.

“It’s the NFL and that’s what can happen,” Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott said.

Fresh off a stunning road destruction of the Minnesota Vikings, the Cowboys host the New York Giants in the annual Thanksgiving affair at AT&T Stadium. It’s a battle of 7-3 squads and will determine who keeps the pressure on the Philadelphia Eagles at the top of the NFC East.

“Knowing how good of a team that is, and this being a division game, it says enough,” Prescott said. “These guys are locked in and we’re just trying to continue building on our focus from the game last week, and the way we prepared last week.”

The Cowboys played their best game of the season, perhaps multiple seasons in Minnesota on Sunday. The defense shut down the Vikings and the offense did what it wanted when it wanted en route to a 40-3 triumph.

Following the victory, giddy owner Jerry Jones was “unequivocally” confident his team could make a run at a Super Bowl appearance. 

Dallas head coach Mike McCarthy immediately returned the focus to the present.

“Talking about anything other than the Giants is a waste of time,” McCarthy said. “This is about beating the Giants.”

Dallas, with Cooper Rush under center, beat the Giants, 23-16, in Week 3.

The Cowboys will aim to exploit a Giants’ defense that’s been below average against the run. Last week, Tony Pollard and Ezekiel Elliott helped Dallas pile up more than 150 yards on Minnesota. Both running backs scored twice (Elliott two on the ground, Pollard two through the air).

The Giants, armed with Saquon Barkley and the No. 4 rushing offense in the league (157 yards per game) will face a Cowboys defense that has often struggled against the run.

The Cowboys have lost three straight Thanksgiving games at AT&T Stadium – 36-33 to Las Vegas, 2021; 41-16 to Washington in 2020; 26-15 to Buffalo in 2019. The last Turkey Day win for the Blue Stars was a 31-23 defeat of Washington in 2018.

Prescott has six touchdown passes and just one interception in his past three Thanksgiving appearances. 

Dak on Turkey Day

Former Haughton star Dak Prescott has lost three of his five Thanksgiving Day starts.

2016: W, 31-26 vs. Washington, 17-of-24 passing for 195 yards, 1 TD, 0 INT.

2017: L, 28-6 vs. Los Angeles Chargers, 20-27 for 179 yards, 0 TD, 2 INT.

2018: W, 31-23 vs. Washington, 22-31 for 289 yards, 2 TD, 0 INT

2019: L, 26-15 vs. Buffalo, 32-49 for 395 yards, 2 TD, 1 INT

2021: L, 36-33 vs. Las Vegas, 32-47 for 375 yards, 2 TD, 0 INT 

Totals: Record, 2-3, 123-of-178 passing for 1,433 yards, 7 TD, 3 INT

Contact Roy at roylangiii@yahoo.com