DALLAS — Former Dallas Cowboys coach Bill Parcells used to say that you never know what a team is until Thanksgiving. Well, for the 2022 Cowboys, that season marker came and went with a win over the New York Giants.
The victory puts the Cowboys at 8-3 for the season and gave them a firm hold on second place in the NFC East with a season sweep of the rivals from New York. Quarterback Dak Prescott led the way in the win and has now beaten the Giants 10 consecutive times after dropping his first two as a rookie in 2016.
All of the Thanksgiving leftovers have probably been cleared out of the refrigerator, but before moving on to Week 13, here’s what we learned about the Cowboys in their win over the Giants:
Cowboys thankful for win
It used to be that Dallas would easily handle any team they hosted on the holiday. There were exceptions, but the Cowboys always felt good about their chances in the annual Thanksgiving Day game.
That hasn’t been the case recently as the Cowboys were just 3-7 in their last 10 Thanksgiving contests and had lost three straight. A sloppy first half of play against the Giants had observers thinking “here we go again.”
After the blowout win against the Minnesota Vikings in Week 11, it felt like the Cowboys had turned a corner, but the poor showing early against New York was a head scratcher.
The second half showed that the Cowboys were only giving fans a mild case of indigestion as they turned it on and buried the Giants. Dallas scored 21 unanswered points in the third and fourth quarters to put the game away after trailing 13-7 at halftime.
Dallas fans were sweating in the first half but the team woke up in the second half to ensure another holiday wouldn’t be ruined.
Tight ends played a huge role
The Cowboys have four tight ends on their roster, and they continue to utilize them all. It’s a deep position that compliments each other and produces every week. Dalton Schultz is the starting tight end, but rookie Peyton Hendershot and Jake Ferguson see plenty of snaps and all three made an impression in the win over the Giants.
Schultz and Ferguson combined for seven catches, 88 yards and two touchdowns. The scores belonged to Schultz, but Ferguson had the highlight of the game when he hurdled a Giants defender on a 30-yard gain in the fourth quarter.
Hendershot finished the drive with a two-yard rushing score that also led to the unforgettable whack-a-mole celebration in the Salvation Army’s red kettle. All four tight ends – which included Sean McKeon – were on the field for the touchdown.
The merriment was welcomed as the Cowboys enjoyed serious production from their tight ends in the win.
Top wideouts come through
Both wide receivers at the top of the depth chart had solid games against the Giants. CeeDee Lamb might’ve had the better statistics, but it was Michael Gallup who came up clutch early.
Finishing the game with five catches and 63 yards, all in the first half, Gallup collected two third down catches to move the chains when the offense was struggling. The balls Gallup caught were tight window throws where the receiver had to have strong hands to make the reception.
However, in the second half, Lamb took over and helped the offense move the ball. Lamb finished with his second 100-yard outing in his last three games and looks to be getting into rhythm with Prescott.
Zeke still has juice
For a few weeks, all the talk was about how Tony Pollard was the best running back in Dallas. While that might be the case, Elliott showed that there was plenty left in the tank with one of his best outings on Thanksgiving.
Elliott led the Cowboys in rushing with 92 yards and a score, while averaging 5.8 yards per carry. The veteran running back outpaced Pollard despite having two less carries and looked like the fresher back. Elliott had four runs of 10-plus yards, and an impressive six-yard touchdown scamper.
There isn’t a better running back tandem in the NFL right now with Pollard and Elliott dominating every week. Against the Giants, it just happened to be Elliott who had the better game.
The demise of Elliott has been exaggerated because of Pollard’s ability to be a more explosive running back. However, Elliott’s performance on Thanksgiving showed that he still has some tread on the tires, some gas in the tank, or some juice in his legs. Pick your favorite saying, because Ezekiel Elliott can still play at a high level and that was evident against the Giants.
Do you think the Cowboys will be able to run down the Eagles in the NFC East? Share your thoughts with Ben on Twitter @BenGrimaldi.
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