The Dallas Cowboys earned a huge divisional win on Thanksgiving with a dominant second-half performance that led to a 28-20 victory at AT&T Stadium over the New York Giants. The Cowboys overcame a 17-13 deficit at halftime using a combination of running backs Tony Pollard and Ezekiel Elliott that opened up opportunities for quarterback Dak Prescott to make up for two first-half turnovers.
The second-half performance was enough to earn Prescott the honor of being named the John Madden Player of the Game. For the first time, the NFL has rebranded the slate of games in honor of the late former coach and broadcaster who also lent his name to one of the best-selling video game franchises of all time.
WHAT TO KNOW
The Giants’ defense got off to a hot start with a fourth-down stop on the Cowboys’ first drive that prevented Elliott from picking up the first down on fourth-and-two. The turnover on downs turned into a successful field goal to take a 3-0 lead early.
The damage could have been worse but for an untimely penalty against the Giants that erased a touchdown pass on the drive. Prescott would throw two interceptions in the first half, one of which led to a field goal before the half.
Out of the half, the Cowboys’ offense caught fire, and the defense held New York to just a touchdown in the entire half. The Cowboys got two touchdowns from tight end Dalton Schultz and another from tight end Peyton Hendershot on a jet sweep. Hendershot and the rest of the tight end group played “Whack-a-Mole” in the Salvation Army pot in celebration, a throwback to Elliott, who jumped into the pot years earlier on Thanksgiving.
BY THE NUMBERS
The Dallas offense racked up a total of 430 yards against the Giants, with 169 yards coming on the ground. Elliott led the ground attack with 92 yards on 16 carries, while Pollard carried 18 times for 60 yards. Prescott completed 21 passes for 261 yards, two touchdowns, and two interceptions.
On defense, linebacker Micah Parsons recorded his 11th and 12th sacks of the season, while Dorance Armstrong added another. The Cowboys have gotten a reputation as a team that is weak against the run, but the defense stepped up against one of the league’s most dynamic runners in Saquon Barkley. After being held to only 22 yards last week, Barkley was held to a mere 39 yards on 11 carries.
The defense did not record a turnover, though Trevon Diggs nearly intercepted a pass from Giants quarterback Daniel Jones that was nullified by a holding penalty.
On special teams, Brett Maher missed a 46-yard field goal attempt, just his third miss of the season but was perfect on point after attempts.
WHAT THEY SAID
“We have to clean up some stuff, especially those penalties. Have a great thanksgiving,” head coach Mike McCarthy told his team in the locker room after the emotional win.
“It’s humbling. It’s a real honor,” Prescott said postgame of being named the Player of the Game. “Some of my first football memories are Thanksgiving games, listening to his voice,” Prescott said, referring to John Madden.
“We got off our own feet and played to our expectations,” Prescott said. “That’s what this team can do when we tighten our focus. Our defense can win a lot of games. Those guys played well tonight. We took over the game, and that’s what we can do.”
After a short week, the Cowboys get a long break and will not play again until hosting the Indianapolis Colts on December 4 at AT&T Stadium.