DALLAS — Thanksgiving naps are a holiday pleasure. For the Dallas Cowboys Thursday, their slumber was not enjoyable, but it was relatively short-lived, and not costly.
The longer their game against NFC East rival New York went on, the more the Cowboys (8-3) seemingly awoke from their doldrums. A first half that saw them stumble into a deficit was overcome when Dallas surged in the second half to earn a 28-20 victory over the Giants (7-4), and a sweep of the regular-season series.
“Yeah, we had to come out and fight,” Cowboys linebacker Micah Parsons said. “Definitely not a pretty first round. Definitely not the way you want to start but, for the most part we came out in that second half and dominated.”
Even though it wasn’t his finest performance, Haughton native Dak Prescott was named the John Madden Player of the Game, a new Thanksgiving tradition instituted by the NFL. The Cowboys’ quarterback tipped his cap to the Dallas defense.
“Our defense can win a lot of games, we just have to lean on them. Those guys played well, only allowed that late touchdown.”
As for the offense, things got a lot better after halftime.
“We got up (on) our own feet, got things rolling, and played to our standard, our expectations,” said Prescott. “(We) pretty much scored on every drive in the second half except the last one, and that’s what we can do when we play to our capabilities.”
Through the first two quarters, he was a pedestrian 6-for-10 for 116 yards with no touchdowns and two interceptions for a 44.8 passer rating. But afterwards, Prescott completed 15-of-20 passes for 145 yards, two touchdowns and no interceptions in the second half to finish the day with a respectable 91.1 passer rating.
CeeDee Lamb topped the century mark in receiving yards for the second time this season, mixing in some highlight-reel catches on his way to 106-yard effort. Michael Gallup also had his best game of the year with some strong grabs that led to 63 receiving yards. Tight end Dalton Schultz got in on the act as well, equaling a personal best with two touchdowns.
The Cowboys did some work on the ground as well, totaling 170 rushing yards, the fourth straight game they’ve surpassed 150. Ezekiel Elliott led the way with 92 yards on 16 carries while Tony Pollard chipped in 60 more on 18 attempts.
Similarly, the Dallas defense improved as the day went along. Parsons added another two sacks, his sixth multi-sack game of the season, with defensive end Dorance Armstrong adding to his already career high in sacks, now totaling eight. Linebacker Leighton Vander Esch led his side with eight tackles.
The Cowboys held Saquon Barkley, who came into the game ranked second in the NFL in rushing, to a paltry 39 yards on 11 carries, while allowing the Giants to convert only 27 percent of their third-down opportunities.
“I thought we did pretty good,” Parsons said. “He might have had one, maybe two explosive runs. But, for the most part, we contained him and made sure everything was short. They passed way more than we expected.”
For the second straight week, Dallas also dominated the time of possession, 34:09 to 25:51.
“Just getting off the field (is important),” said Parsons following eight-point win that was not as close as the final score indicated. “I think that is the key: the more we can get the ball back to the offense, it’s better for things to get going. The more drives we can get them, the more they can perfect their rhythm, the more they can put points on the board as you can see towards the end of the game.”