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Cowboys 100: Facts and stats for Thanksgiving matchup against Washington

The Dallas Cowboys will take on Washington on Thanksgiving for the 10th time in franchise history as they look to go 9-1 against their NFC East rivals on turkey day.
Credit: AP
Dallas Cowboys quarterback Andy Dalton (14) drops back to pass in the second half of an NFL football game against the New York Giants in Arlington, Texas, Sunday, Oct. 11, 2020. (AP Photo/Michael Ainsworth)

The Dallas Cowboys were finally able to break the losing streak with a 31-28 victory over the Minnesota Vikings in Week 11. 

As is tradition, the Cowboys will have a short week here at the end of November as they will play the franchise’s 53rd game on Thanksgiving. 

Dallas will take on Washington in a matchup between two teams who still remain in the race in the NFC East despite both being at 3-7 on the year.

Here are 100 more facts and stats as Dallas looks for a 10th all-time Thanksgiving win against their rivals from Washington:

Series facts

1. The Cowboys are 3-7 for the seventh time in franchise history. None of those previous teams made the playoffs.

2. Washington is 3-7 for the 12th time in franchise history. None of those previous teams made the playoffs.

3. Since 1990, the last time playoff formats were last tinkered with, 0 of 135 teams that started 4-7 made the playoffs.

4. Since 1990, 0 of 87 teams that started 3-8 made the playoffs.

5. One cliché thrown around heading into a Dallas-Washington game is how the respective records need to be thrown out. However, team records are still very predictive:

  • Dallas with winning record: 31-19-1
  • Washington with winning record: 22-14
  • Both teams with same records (Dallas perspective): 19-13-1

6. Washington is going for their sixth sweep of the Cowboys in series history. Dallas has 19.

7. The Cowboys are 29-9-1 against Washington in November with a 17-2-1 record at home.

8. Dallas is 40-16-2 against Washington at home. Here is the breakdown by venue:

  • Cotton Bowl: 6-3-2
  • Texas Stadium: 26-10
  • AT&T Stadium: 7-4

9. Since 1970, the Cowboys are 170-127 in late afternoon games with a 110-59 record at home.

10. Since 1970, Washington is 93-97 in late afternoon games with a 54-72 record on the road.

11. Washington is 7-14 all-time on Thursdays with a 3-13 record as the visiting team.

Andy Dalton facts

12. The last time Dalton put together a winning streak as a starter was from Weeks 4-5 of the 2018 season with the Cincinnati Bengals.

13. Dalton’s 131.0 passing yards per game are the third-lowest among starting quarterbacks this year.

14. Dalton is 1 of 13 quarterbacks this season with at least two fourth quarter comebacks and two game-winning drives.

15. Dalton is 4-5-1 against the NFC East with a 2-1-1 record at home.

16. Dalton has never played on Thanksgiving in the NFL.

Alex Smith facts

17. Smith is tied with Patrick Mahomes for the 24th-most sacks in 2020 with 12.

18. Smith’s 8.5 sack percentage is tied with Daniel Jones for the third-highest in the league.

19. The last time Smith put together a winning streak was in 2018 from Weeks 6-8 with Washington.

20. Smith is 0-1 on Thanksgiving. His lone outing was in 2011 with the San Francisco 49ers, who lost 16-6 at the Baltimore Ravens.

21. What should have been Smith’s second Thanksgiving start came in 2018 against the Cowboys. However, he broke his leg the Sunday prior on Nov. 18 in a 23-21 loss to the Houston Texans.

Ezekiel Elliott facts

22. Elliott has the sixth-most rushing yards in the NFL at 675.

23. Elliott gains 346 rushing yards before contact, the 10th-most in the NFL.

24. Elliott’s 329 yards after contact are the seventh-most in the NFL.

25. Elliott has the fifth-most scrimmage yards with 924.

26. Elliott has the fourth-most touches this season with 209.

27. Elliott has gathered the fourth-most first downs on the ground with 45.

28. Elliott’s 11 first downs on the ground collected on first down are the fourth-most in the league.

29. Elliott is tied with Myles Gaskins for the ninth-fewest yards per carry among rushers with at least 100 attempts at 3.9.

30. Elliott still leads the NFL with five fumbles. However, Melvin Gordon is trailing with four.

31. Elliott’s five rushing touchdowns have all come in the red zone, and are tied for the ninth-most red zone rushing touchdowns this season.

32. Elliott’s 29 carries inside the red zone represent 72.5% of the team’s red zone rushes, the fourth-most in the league.

Mike McCarthy facts

33. McCarthy is 54-25-2 in division games with a 29-9-2 record at home.

34. McCarthy is 14-11 against the NFC East with a 1-0 record at home.

35. McCarthy is 3-4 against Washington with a 2-0 record at home.

36. McCarthy is 6-10 at staving off a series sweep with a 3 for 5 rate at home.

37. McCarthy is 3-2 on Thanksgiving with an 0-1 record at home.

38. McCarthy is 65-51-1 against playoff-winning coaches with a 25-37 record on the road.

Ron Rivera facts

39. If Washington wins, Rivera would be the first ever coach in franchise history to do so on Thanksgiving in his first year.

40. The last time Rivera coached on Thanksgiving was in 2015 when he was with the Carolina Panthers, who beat the Cowboys 33-14.

41. Rivera is 3-6 on Thursdays with a 2-2 record on the road.

42. Rivera is 3-7 for the first time in his career.

43. Rivera is 2-1 against the Cowboys with a 1-0 record at AT&T Stadium.

Thanksgiving facts

44. Since 2006, when Thursday NFL games ramped up, home teams are 106-84 on Thursdays, including Thanksgiving games.

45. Only the Detroit Lions have played more Thursday games (80) than the Dallas Cowboys (58). The Lions are 37-41-2 while the Cowboys are 31-20-1.

46. The Dallas Cowboys are 31-20-1 on Thanksgiving. Here is a breakdown by decade:

  • 1960s: 3-0-1
  • 1970s: 5-3
  • 1980s: 6-4
  • 1990s: 7-3
  • 2000s: 6-4
  • 2010s: 4-6

47. Washington is 4-8 on Thanksgiving with all eight losses coming against Dallas.

48. Here’s a list of Cowboys quarterback Thanksgiving records:

  • Most Touchdowns: 5 (Romo, ’06)
  • Most Passing Yards: 455 (Aikman, ’98)
  • Most Completions: 37 (Romo, ’12)
  • Most Attempts: 62 (Romo, ’12)
  • Best Completion Percentage: 77.4 (White, ’83)
  • Most INTs: 3 (Morton, ‘69; White, ’87; Aikman, ’89; Carter, ’03; Romo, ‘15)
  • Best Passer Rating: Tony Romo, 148.9
  • Worst Passer Rating: Roger Staubach, 1.7
  • Youngest Starter: Troy Aikman, 23 years, 2 days
  • Oldest Starter: Jon Kitna, 38 years, 65 days

49. Here’s a list of the Top 10 Cowboys Passer Ratings on Thanksgiving:

  1. Tony Romo — 148.9 (2006)
  2. Roger Staubach — 141.4 (1971)
  3. Dak Prescott — 121.6 (2018)
  4. Tony Romo — 121.2 (2009)
  5. Tony Romo — 113.7 (2008)
  6. Troy Aikman — 113.0 (1995)
  7. Don Meredith — 110.0 (1967)
  8. Jason Garrett — 109.6 (1994)
  9. Danny White — 109.2 (1983)
  10. Dak Prescott — 108.9 (2016)

50. In 1975 and 1977, the St. Louis Cardinals replaced the Cowboys as a Thanksgiving game host with unfavorable results. Even St. Louis-area high school football was a bigger draw than the Cardinals on Thanksgiving, thus moving the game back to Dallas.

51. The longest Thanksgiving winning streak the Cowboys had was from 1980 to 1985. Their longest losing streak is from 1986 to 1989.

52. The Cowboys’ biggest Thanksgiving win was a 51-7 victory over the Seattle Seahawks in 1980.

53.The Cowboys were shutout by the Philadelphia Eagles in 1989 and then pitched their own against the Miami Dolphins in 1999. Aikman started both contests.

Broadcast facts

54. This is the 10th time FOX will broadcast every game in the series in a season.

55. Dallas against Washington has been played on 5 of 7 possible broadcast networks. Here is a breakdown of the Cowboys’ record against their arch rival by network:

  • CBS: 32-24-2
  • FOX: 25-11
  • NBC: 4-2
  • ABC: 7-7
  • ESPN: 4-1

56. The Cowboys are 8-5 on FOX on Thanksgiving. Here is how they fare on all networks involved since 1966:

  • CBS: 18-9-1
  • FOX: 8-5
  • NBC: 5-6

57. The Detroit Lions are the other Thanksgiving staple. They are 5-7 on FOX on Thanksgiving. Here is how they have performed on all networks involved:

  • NBC: 11-4
  • Dumont: 2-0
  • ABC: 1-0
  • FOX: 5-7
  • CBS: 11-23-2

58. Dallas is 143-130 all-time on FOX, including the postseason.

59. Washington is 130-181-1 all-time on FOX, including the postseason.

60. The Cowboys are 42-47 when Buck does play-by-play for their games.

61. Dallas is 48-53 when Aikman does color commentary for their games.

62. Troy Aikman was the first former Cowboys player to cover a Thanksgiving game on Nov. 28, 2002 when he was with FOX. Dallas beat Washington 27-20.

63. This is the 46th late afternoon game in the series. Dallas holds a 29-16 advantage.

64. Cowboys players have taken home the network’s player of the game honors 15 times, the most since 1990:

  • 1990 – Troy Aikman & Emmitt Smith (CBS Madden Turkey Leg)
  • 1992 – Emmitt Smith & Cowboys OL (CBS Madden Turkey Leg)
  • 1994 – Emmitt Smith & Jason Garrett (FOX Madden Turkey Leg)
  • 1996 – Emmitt Smith (FOX Madden Turkey Leg)
  • 1999 – Dexter Coakley (CBS All-Iron Award)
  • 2002 – Emmitt Smith (FOX Galloping Gobbler Award)
  • 2004 – Julius Jones (FOX Galloping Gobbler Award)
  • 2006 – Tony Romo (FOX Galloping Gobbler Award)
  • 2007 – Tony Romo & Cowboys defense (CBS All-Iron Award)
  • 2008 – DeMarcus Ware (FOX Galloping Gobbler)
  • 2009 – Tony Romo, Miles Austin, Jason Witten (CBS All-Iron Award)
  • 2011 – DeMarcus Ware (CBS All-Iron Award)
  • 2013 – Tony Romo, DeMarcus Ware, Lance Dunbar (CBS All-Iron Award)
  • 2016 – Dak Prescott & Ezekiel Elliott (FOX Galloping Gobbler)
  • 2018 – Amari Cooper (FOX Game Ball)

Clay Martin facts

65. This week’s referee is Clay Martin. The Cowboys are 2-1 with Martin at the helm. Here are the results:

  • 2018 – @NYG, 36-35 – W
  • 2019 – @NYG, 37-18 – W
  • 2020 – CLE, 38-49 – L

66. The Cowboys have had fewer penalties 1 of 3 times with Martin:

  • 2018 – NYG: 11/78; DAL: 6/46
  • 2019 – NYG: 8/71; DAL: 10/104
  • 2020 – CLE: 5/40; DAL: 6/65

67. Martin is tied for the fourth-lowest home team winning percentage at .444.

68. Martin is tied for the sixth-highest percentage of home teams having fewer penalties at 56%.

69. Washington is 1-2 with Martin:

  • 2018 – CAR, 23-17 – W
  • 2019 – NE, 7-33 – L
  • 2019 – @GB, 15-20 – L

70. Washington has had fewer penalties 2 of 3 times with Martin:

  • 2018 – CAR: 8/55; WAS: 5/43
  • 2019 – NE: 7/55; WAS: 6/72
  • 2019 – GB: 5/34; WAS: 3/25

71. Martin’s games have the seventh-highest number of sacks per game at 4.7.

72. Martin is tied for the fifth-fewest offensive holding calls per game at 1.4.

73. The Cowboys have yet to challenge Martin. Opponents are 0 for 1. Replay Assistant has not challenged Martin.

74. Washington is 1 for 2 challenging Martin. Opponents have yet to challenge him, and Replay Assistant has not been a factor.

75. Martin is tied for the highest challenge overturn rate this season at 1.000 (1 for 1).

Miscellaneous facts

76. The Cowboys have the seventh-lowest red zone conversion rate in the NFL at 54.8%.

77. Dallas is tied with the Jacksonville Jaguars and Cleveland Browns for the seventh-fewest red zone trips with 31.

78. Washington is tied with the New England Patriots for the 10th-fewest red zone trips with 32.

79. Washington has the seventh-lowest third down conversion rate at 38.3%.

80. 18.6% of the Cowboys’ drives end in turnovers, the second-highest rate in the NFL.

81. Washington turns the ball over on 13.4% of their drives, the eighth-highest in the league.

82. Dallas possesses the ball for 2:31 per drive, the fourth-shortest duration in the league.

83. Washington possesses the ball for 2:39 per drive, tied with the Jaguars for the eighth-shortest in the NFL.

84. The Cowboys give up 153.8 rushing yards per game, the second-highest in the NFL.

85. Dallas gives up 4.9 yards per carry, the third-highest in the league.

86. Washington is tied for the third-most sacks in the NFL with 32.

87. Opposing quarterbacks have compiled an 88.9 passer rating against Washington’s defense, the seventh-lowest in the NFL.

88. Opposing quarterbacks have compiled a 106.6 passer rating against the Cowboys defense, the second-highest in the league.

89. Washington is tied with the Detroit Lions for the fifth-most missed tackles with 83.

90. Washington’s defense has given up 966 yards after the catch, the third-fewest in the league.

91. The Cowboys defense has given up 1,074 yards after the catch, the ninth-fewest in the NFL.

92. Dallas has generated just nine takeaways, tied with the Los Angeles Chargers and Green Bay Packers for the second-fewest in the NFL.

93. Washington’s defense is tied for the ninth-fewest takeaways this season with 11.

94. Washington receiver Terry McLaurin has generated 871 receiving yards, the fourth-most in the league.

95. Dallas receiver Michael Gallup has the eighth-highest yards per reception this season at 16.0.

96. Opposing quarterbacks have compiled a 145.1 passer rating against Cowboys safety Darian Thompson, the fifth-highest in the NFL.

97. Dallas linebacker Jaylon Smith is tied with Roquan Smith, Blake Martinez, and Bobby Wagner for the third-most combined tackles with 96.

98. Dallas holds a 4-4 record on Nov. 26. Here are the results:

  • 1961 – @PHI, 13-35 – L
  • 1970 – GB, 16-3 – W
  • 1981 – CHI, 10-9 – W
  • 1987 – MIN, 38-44 – L-OT
  • 1992 – NYG, 30-3 – W
  • 1998 – MIN, 36-46 – L
  • 2009 – RAI, 24-7 – W
  • 2015 – CAR, 14-33 – L

99. Washington is 6-5 on Nov. 26. Here are the results:

  • 1933 – @Brooklyn Dodgers, 0-14 – L
  • 1939 – DET, 31-7 – W
  • 1944 – Boston Yanks, 14-7 – W
  • 1950 – Baltimore Colts, 38-28 – W
  • 1961 – CLT, 6-27 – L
  • 1967 – @CLE, 37-42 – L
  • 1972 – GB, 21-16 – W
  • 1989 – CHI, 38-14 – W
  • 1995 – PHI, 7-14 – L
  • 2000 – PHI, 20-23 – L
  • 2006 – CAR, 17-13 – W

100. The Cowboys have only one birthday to celebrate on Nov. 26: kicker Martin Gramatica, who is famous for replacing a cut Mike Vanderjagt for the last six games of 2006, including playoffs.

Did you know that Dallas vs. Washington is the fourth most frequent matchup on Thanksgiving in NFL history? Share your favorite facts with Mark on Twitter @therealmarklane.