Washington takes over first place in NFC East with blowout of Cowboys

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Cowboys coach Mike McCarthy will face questions about his decision-making after two fourth-down attempts blew up in his face. Washington stopped Dallas on its two fourth-down tries — one on a pass on fourth-and-one and another on a fake punt on fourth-and-10 — setting up touchdown drives of 19 and 23 yards.

That — and Washington receiver Terry McLaurin chasing down Cowboys linebacker Jaylon Smith to save a touchdown on an interception return — helped Washington to a 41-16 victory in the Cowboys’ annual Thanksgiving game. It has Washington alone atop the NFC East with a 4-7 record, a half game ahead of the Eagles with the Giants 3-7 and the Cowboys now 3-8.

Washington scored 21 points in a nine-minute stretch of the fourth quarter — touchdown runs of 23 and 37 yards by Antonio Gibson and a 12-yard interception return by Montez Sweat — to turn the game into a rout.

Maybe it would have turned out a blowout anyway, but Washington had three possessions start deep in Dallas territory. An Ezekiel Elliott fumble at the Dallas 33 led to a Washington field goal and McCarthy’s two fourth-down calls set up Washington touchdowns.

The game was tied 10-10 when the Cowboys opted to go for it on fourth-and-1 from their own 34 with 5:22 left in the first half. Andy Dalton‘s pass was incomplete to CeeDee Lamb, who appeared to be interfered with by Ronald Darby, but no flag was thrown. On top of that, Cowboys tight end Dalton Schultz was called for unsportsmanlike conduct.

Washington took over on the Cowboys 19-yard line. Five plays later, Logan Thomas caught a 5-yard touchdown pass from Alex Smith.

The Cowboys had a chance to tie it late in the third quarter when Smith intercepted a Smith pass intended for McLaurin. Smith had nobody in front of him for what should have been a 47-yard interception return for a touchdown, but McLaurin caught him from behind at the 4-yard line.

It proved large as Dallas never got any closer, going backward before settling for a 28-yard Greg Zuerlein field goal. The Cowboys kicked three field goals on red zone possessions that reached the Washington 15, 14 and 10.

With Washington clinging to a 20-16 lead, Dallas attempted a fake punt on fourth-and-10 from its own 24. Cedrick Wilson was tackled for a 1-yard loss on a 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 it gained 338 total.

Smith went 19-of-26 for 149 yards with a touchdown and an interception in winning back-to-back starts. McLaurin had seven catches for 92 yards.

Elliott had 10 carries for 32 yards and lost his fifth fumble of the season. He leads all running backs in fumbles lost this season. Dalton was 25-of-35 for 215 yards with a touchdown and an interception, with Amari Cooper catching six passes for 112 yards and a touchdown.

67 responses to “Washington takes over first place in NFC East with blowout of Cowboys

  1. If Carson wentz had jerry rice and randy moss and bill Belichick coaching him in their prime he would still be under 500 and have zero playoff wins he can’t even hit a wide open reciever 5 yards away from him . Just look at 2018 the eagles coming off a super bowl that NICK FOLES won were 5-6 with wentz vs easiest part of schedule than Nick foles takes over and vs hardest part of schedule wins all the remaining games of the regular season and gets team to playoffs and wins in playoffs

  2. Remember when wentz was losing week after week In 2018 and Everyone blamed everyone except wentz and they said foles wouldn’t fix the problems? Then foles takes over and wins with same team that sucked with wentz

  3. Wow. Fake punt on your own 24 with plenty of time left and only down 4.

    That’s a special kind of… something.

  4. Carson Yutz continues to prove he is the dumbest athlete to ever play Sports. He must have someone dress him so he can put on his pants. 0 playoff wins
    60 fumbles
    started 5-6 in 4 of his first 5 Years
    7-25 vs teams over 500
    hated by teamates. he has no desire To win

  5. If your QB
    has 0 playoff wins
    60 fumbles
    Is 7-25 vs teams over 500
    has no heart no desire to win
    started 5-6 in 4 of his first 5 seasons
    Never upset after loses
    hated by teammates
    makes everyone near him worse
    holds ball too long
    ignores open receivers
    Your QB is Carson Wentz

  6. What a game for Gibson, 3 TDs. McLaurin catching up on the interception return to prevent the tying score ended up being huge. Great winning play.

  7. Buck said Redskins once.
    Troy 1.5x.
    HTTR! Great game. Dallas lost this with horrible pay calling.

  8. cumhyy57 says:
    November 26, 2020 at 7:58 pm
    Remember when wentz was losing week after week In 2018 and Everyone blamed everyone except wentz and they said foles wouldn’t fix the problems? Then foles takes over and wins with same team that sucked with wentz
    And Nick Foles has proven that other than that hot postseason run, he is nothing more than a mediocre QB.

  9. Tbe worst coached game I may have ever seen in my life. Head coach and offensive coordinator should be fired immediately.

  10. What a pathetic performance by Dallas. MM has been awful. The boy genius OC is close behind him. Zeke is shot.

  11. Nick foles is 24-6 last 30 games as an eagle nice try though wentz is 15-21 last 36 and has never won a playoff game worst Decision in history getting rid of foles

  12. Guess no one is in the mood to accept the reality of the Cowboys game….. Michael Irvin predicted pregame that their Lamb would torch the WFT for 170 yards. Well almost.

  13. This was a Dallas/Washington game.

    Carson Wentz doesn’t play for either of these teams. Most of us know this, of course, but for the benefit of the one that apparently doesn’t.

  14. First off Dallas was poorly coached today. Washington had no fear of Elliot, the pass game is where Washington gets beat and Dalton stunk, but what killed Dallas was their “improved” defense and bad calls. Never ever pass on 4th and inches at your own 30, that’s quarterback sneak 99% of the time. Never do a fake punt reverse type of play on the 25 yard line, it’s too risky. They did both and Smith didn’t have to do much to win.
    As for Washington, their defense was here to play today and the running game stepped up. Smith is worth keeping (if he wants to stay) in 2021, BUT a quarterback being drafted in round one is a MUST. Smith can’t play forever, Rivera is done with Haskins and Kyle Allen is NO team’s future.

  15. I can blame coaching because Moore and McCarthy have been terrible calling these plays, but at the same time they lost their starting left tackle their back up left tackle and were on the 3rd string. They lost their starting center and went back to Looney for these last two games. They are on their back up RG. They lost their starting RT, benched their back up RT, moved their perennial RG to RT and lost him so went back to their benched RT. They lost their starting QB. They lost their starting TE. And all that is just on offense, won’t even bother mentioning defense. I been saying this. Call it a lost season and get ready for next year. The did themselves no good winning last week

  16. Cowboys look atrocious in all phases of the game.

    Zeke got fat and lazy once he got paid. The o line has been decimated as well, but his running and ball handling has been looking really bad for the last season and a half. Even with Dak healthy, Zeke looked mediocre.

    Time to go cheaper at position and rebuild the o line.

  17. Congratulations to Washington from a Cowboys fan.
    Your D Line is elite and Alex Smith is the most competent Quarterback you’ve
    had under center for a long time.
    Don’t let those putting down the NFC East get you down.
    Your team, my team and the Giants changed coaches this past year but never
    got a proper offseason to implement their systems.
    All had to make changes on the fly but your team looks like they are all together now.
    The Eagles have no excuse.
    Good luck as it looks like the no names will take the East and make noise in the playoffs.

  18. I thought the Cowboys were going to play inspired football in light of this weeks tragic events….

  19. Well I suppose that means WFT will be leading the NFC LEast as soon as the Eagles blow their game on Sunday. Who would have thought the WFT would be leading after the Thanksgiving game. They could be tied with the Giants at 4-7. Ironic that both of those teams started the season in embarrassing fashion.

  20. Strange how everyone thinks Zeke is cooked. Take a look at the history of RB’s with M. McCarthy as coach. I firmly believe McCarthy could turn Jim Brown, Gayle Sayers and/or Barry Sanders into time share RB’s.

  21. and let’s hope the eagles beat the cowboys week 17 or his is the game nbc will have week 17 giants cowboys as it will be for a playoff spot and watching paint dry would be more enetertaining

  22. In the INT return, Vander Esch pulled up instead of trying to make a block on McLauren which allowed Terry to run Smith down. He was probably afraid to be penalized but he cost his team a TD by not making an effort.

  23. 25 Years of football with no more than a few Wildcard wins… that is the team we are talking about. Just saying….

  24. Mike McCarthy and Jerry Jones are a match made in heaven. I hope he’s the Cowboys’ coach for the next ten years. Jerry has his 3 rings, and he couldn’t care less if they ever win another game.

  25. Appreciate the random kudos to WTF – they played well, but this was a close game until the two tackles for DAL went down. I also noticed no one mentioning NYG who’ve beaten us twice and seem to be getting their feet under them, so any anointing is premature. Oh, and I don’t have any realistic thought that whoever wins NFCE has a prayer in PS.

  26. Mr. Lurie,

    The Football Team just made me happier than the Eagles have all year, by embarassing the Dallas Cowboys on Thanksgiving.

    Just saying.

  27. I’m amazed how much this Dallas team was hyped and how terrible it really is. Let’s not even make the Prescott excuse. They were bad with him.
    Elliott is heading downwards. McCarthy is a terrible coach that got lucky with Rodgers. I think Jones boys are crying for their decisions tonight. Hahahaha!

  28. I so want the NFCE winner to have a 6-10 record.
    I mean 6-10 and making the playoffs?
    What a joke of a playoff system that is. I understand division rivalries, but you have to earn a spot as well.

  29. mwcarolina says:
    November 26, 2020 at 8:23 pm
    First off Dallas was poorly coached today. Washington had no fear of Elliot, the pass game is where Washington gets beat and Dalton stunk, but what killed Dallas was their “improved” defense and bad calls. Never ever pass on 4th and inches at your own 30, that’s quarterback sneak 99% of the time. Never do a fake punt reverse type of play on the 25 yard line, it’s too risky. They did both and Smith didn’t have to do much to win.
    As for Washington, their defense was here to play today and the running game stepped up. Smith is worth keeping (if he wants to stay) in 2021, BUT a quarterback being drafted in round one is a MUST. Smith can’t play forever, Rivera is done with Haskins and Kyle Allen is NO team’s future.
    Spot on!

  30. 4th and inches….Throw a pass? Kellen Moore, you’re fired
    On your own 25, down 4, plenty of time left, 4th and 10…..a fake punt? Fassel Jr needs to get fired as well. Football is still about basics, and Dallas stunk at the basics in this game. The coaching was atrocious.

    Personally, I thought it was great :))

  31. Mike McCarthy should be fired. And he should be forced to give whatever is left of his career earnings to Aaron Rodgers. It’s clear McCarthy would have been out of the league a decade ago if not for Aaron.

  32. Seriously, how bad are the Cowboys? They can’t even compete in the worst division in the NFL ever?

    Well Jerruh, money may buy you a billion dollar stadium, your super yacht, your Gulf Stream Jets, your many country club memberships……but it doesn’t buy you wins, does it?

  33. tremoluxman says:
    November 26, 2020 at 9:04 pm
    I still can’t believe the Vikings lost to the Dallas Clown Company.

    I can.

  34. The NFL needs to shake up the NFC East. It’s a joke of a division. Putting sub 500 teams into the playoffs just about every other year. 4-7 and leading the division. Cmon

  35. I hate to blame one person, because I know McCarthy was so desperate for this win. But those decisions to go for it, and the fake punt deep in their own territory were terrible.

    McCarthy was just giving the Football Team free points.

  36. I want to take a look at your division. Zeke has been terrible for 2 years. TERRIBLE. Nobody fears Zeke.

    Dak has won nothing! Don’t give me regular season stats boys, you’re on here talking about how other QB’s haven’t won anything. Neither has Dak.

    Saquan can’t stay on the field, and when he does he has one run per game that beefs up his stats. Look it up that’s a fact. Daniel Jones is a below average QB who will be a backup in a year or two.

    As for the Eagles, if you want to talk injuries, that squad has been absolutely decimated. They have a terrible GM, the defensive coordinator is awful, and the head coach has lost his way.

    This division will be up for grabs until Washington gets a QB. New York is going to be bad for years, and Dallas will be the super bowl winner as they are every august. Dallas won’t win again until Jerry sells the team. Get your heads out of your behinds.

  37. Cowboys are a dumpster fire that would have lost to the Falcons had they just known the rules and arguably even the Giants at home. Should be 1-10.

  38. Stop throwing Carson Wentz under the Bus for the Eagles Problems. The Problem is the Pass Happy Head Coach who should not be calling the plays Doug Pederson the guy who just blamed everyone else on the team for the losses except himself. The NFC East Problem is Jekyl and Hyde Play calling. one week a team has a balanced attack and they win. The next week they pass way too much turn the ball over and lose. The Cowboys need to throw quick passes, and Run the ball. 18 Carries and you expect to beat a team with a Good Pass Rush and one of the best pass Defenses in the league Washington. Kellen Moore and Scott Turner usually call a game like they are Mike Leach. Washington has 3 very good Running backs, Dallas has 2. The Eagles have a couple good guys but pretty much the whole NFC East is woefully unbalanced on offense on the season. Every NFC Team is right at 60% pass plays or above. Most of them are throwing it more then 40 times a game or close to it. The Giants are at 36.6 pass plays a game which is Pass attempts plus Sacks. The Cowboys are at 44.4 pass attempts, with that line you should be at least 50/50. The Eagles are 4th in the league 41.9. The Eagles average 24.1 rush attempts. The Bills, Seahawks, Chiefs, are close to 40 pass attempts a game. The Bucs are over that. All of those teams could easily have more losses on their record. The Steelers are close to it as well and are due to lose because of it. The Steelers should be playing defense and running the ball a lot more then they do. The Rams have 385 pass plays but 300 rushes. you have a couple games when you throw 50 times a game your offense is going to look off kilter.
    I can look right now at the Rams 3 losses 1 of them they ran the ball, the other 2 they probably did not. In the 4 Wins Washington has tried to run the ball, the losses not so much.
    Here is the NFC East
    Philly in the 3 wins 57.7 % Pass in the 6 losses and 1 Tie 65.8% pass
    in the Giants game they should have 100% lost 46 pass 26 Runs
    and 3 games of less then 20 rush attempts also

    in their 4 wins 44.9% pass more rushes then pass attempts in all 4 games
    in their 7 losses 68.6% pass which includes 9 rushes in a winnable game against
    the Giants

    3 Ins 56.4% pass which includes the miracle against the Falcons 50 pass 31 run.
    the other 2 wins balanced. in the losses 64.6% pass

    Giants 3 wins 48.1% pass 2 of the 3 games more runs then passes.
    in the 7 losses 64.6% pass.

    the NFC East is the most pass happy Division in Football
    Even Sean Payton is learning this yr to run the ball after in a couple losses
    his team was running effectively and he went away from it against the Packers, and
    the Raiders. Teams are now 9-39-1 after today when they run less then 20 times.
    I have only found evidence of one team winning a game in NFL History running less then 10 times. the Patriots in 2007 against the Steelers. These pass happy offenses like the Chiefs, the Bucs, the Bills, you run the ball against them and control time of possession you tire out their defense and keep their offenses off the field. That is how the Giants beat the Bills in the Superbowl. you also defeat these pass happy teams by limiting YAC. And as Al Davis once said the QB must go down , and must go down hard.
    Teams throwing the ball too much are getting their QBS hurt. Washington wanted to blame Dwayne Haskins for their troubles. Yet when he was in especially against the Browns they stopped running the ball. Bad Game management and lack of rushing the ball doomed the Cowboys. The 2 turnovers and the stupid fake punt did not help either.

  39. Our record could have been different because we had a strong chance to win both Giants games and the Lions which would have put us at 7-4
    Alex Smith won’t wow you with stats but he’s a great game manager,,, watching Dwayne haskins pick up Smith as he fell outta bounds was a good look for Dwayne haskins

  40. Kellen Moore should not have been retained as OC and playcaller, and Mike McCarthy was a Pass Happy Hire. Only one team throws the ball more then the Cowboys and their Franchise QB is also out for the year. The Bears apparently need an offensive line coach, Offensive lines that get used to pass blocking every down forget how to run block. The Running game builds toughness in a team. If you can go out and get the tough yards it also helps the play action pass game. No one Fears Zeke Elliott because he has not really gotten the ball the last 2 yrs under Kellen Moore. Garrett was doing the same things with the Giants that Pat Shurmur was passing too much. Wayne Gallman is a good back he did not get the ball enough under Shurmur and was not getting the ball under Garrett. Shurmur was another guy who never should have gotten that Giants job. Will Denver get a 5th or 6th win to finish the yr. You lose to a Pat Shurmur offense you should get fired. just like the 2 teams that Tampa finally beat at the end of 1977 their coaches got canned at the end of the yr. Washingtons biggest problem is Jekyl and Hyde Scott Turner. Cowboys play the Ravens on Thursday night even if half the team is out with Covid the Ravens still win. Washington plays the Steelers if the Steelers pass every down they will lose but if Washington runs it 9 times again they will get blown out. Gibson and Barber need to get more touches as Runners and Washington needs to find someone other then Mclaurin and the Running backs to make plays consistently in the passing game. The Steelers have one of the top defenses in the league. The Giants should win this week but you never know. While the Eagles at home will probably get smacked Because Doug Pederson will not run the ball enough. The Eagles then play the Packers who hopefully won’t keep the Eagles in it like they did the Colts. Plus hopefully Lafleur is smart enough to run the ball from the Eagles 1 yard line this yr. Meanwhile also next week the Giants face the Seahawks.
    Eagles chances are dwindling while everyone else still is in the Hunt.
    The Eagles next three games Seahawks, Packers, Saints. The weakest team left on the Eagles Schedule is the Cowboys who the Eagles struggled to defeat the 1st time
    with a guy making his 1st NFL start out of the FCS ranks. Washington has winnable games
    against the 49ers and Panthers if Scott Turner stays with the Run.
    Then another chance to beat the Eagles. Dallas has Cinci, S.F. and another matchup
    with the Giants as well as another game with the Eagles.

    Giants best Chances are against Cinci and Dallas
    So 5-11 or 5-10-1 most likely wins this division.
    I can see 6-10 winning it as well.

    While it would appear 10 wins should get you a playoff birth
    around the rest of the league.
    If the AFC ends up with 8 teams 10-6 or better
    or even a 9-7
    the NFC East should be eliminated.
    Sort of what the CFL does with its playoffs
    the Western Division
    always seems to end up with a team
    in the Eastern Division playoffs
    and supposedly if games are canceled
    and you have to go by winning percentage
    putting 8 teams from each conference
    the NFC East would probably not get in.
    Or if they did they would be the 8 seed playing the #1 seed.

  41. All future Cowboys articles need to focus on the 1st round of the NFL draft.

    Also, Zeke was the 4th best running back in this game.

  42. Vanderjagt’s attempted block on the Jaylon Smith INT return was pathetic. May have cost them the game.

  43. This was an instructional game. Washington gave the rest of the league the blueprint for how to beat Dallas. Play physical football, and these Cowboys will collapse.

    Washington won because they were motivated. Dallas lost because they were poorly coached.

  44. mccarthy is not a rb friendly coach. zeke is being wasted here. rbs need to get in a groove, need to be given the ball 25 times. once you start subbing them out the running game is lost.its no coincidence that when teams platoon rbs they struggle to run the ball.

  45. Kingmeren – I appreciate all your research and detail…that takes work! The one response I have is that when a team is losing, they pass the ball trying to catch up. The run game becomes an afterthought. All NFCE teams are losing at an historic pace and therefore will see their pass #s increase. Of course their wins show a different pattern. Game situation determines balance. Balance goes out the window when you’re behind…especially 4th Q.

  46. McCarthy took a year off, but the same old problems in Green Bay have followed him to Dallas. Now the rest of the league can have the enjoyment of watching a team do about half of what it should do.
    The new coaching staff put in a different set of disciplines. But they still play soft like McCarthy’s teams did.

  47. Two teams headed in different directions. Ron Rivera: GREAT hire. Mike McCarthy: hmmm…not so much.

  48. As a Packers fan, the one thing I wonder is how many more championships they might have won had they gotten rid of Mike McCarthy sooner.
    McCarthy made his reputation because he had Aaron Rodgers as his QB.
    He is not a great head coach. He is a good head coach who has always been a lousy game day head coach.
    I realize he’s had an inordinate amount of injuries this year, but it doesn’t change the fact that he is not the great head coach everyone thought he was.
    The Cowboys went from the frying pan to the fire when they fired Jason Garrett and hired Mike McCarthy.
    Jerry Jones just doesn’t understand how to run a football team, and that’s the real problem with the Cowboys.

  49. cumhyy57 says:
    November 26, 2020 at 7:58 pm
    Remember when wentz was losing week after week In 2018 and Everyone blamed everyone except wentz and they said foles wouldn’t fix the problems? Then foles takes over and wins with same team that sucked with wentz
    Nick Foles? Tell me about his record as a starter outside of the Eagles.

  50. Believe it or not, this team has the right ingredients to run the table, or at the very least win 8 games and should the fifth seed not be either the Hawks or the Rams, Washington may have a chance to win that game as well.

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