Clarence Hill: 5 things from Dallas Cowboys’ 28-20 Thanksgiving win over New York Giants

The Dallas Cowboys are officially rolling now.

And a questionable call by the officials couldn’t stop the Thanksgiving Day party in a 28-20 victory against the New York Giants at AT&T Stadium.

A slow start and a 13-7 halftime deficit turned into whack-a-mole in the fourth quarter as the Cowboys (8-3) are firmly entrenched in second place in the NFC East and a prime contender for a Super Bowl run with six games to go in the season.

Late in the fourth quarter with the Cowboys ahead 21-13, a touchdown pass to CeeDee Lamb was ruled incomplete even though he seemingly got both feet down in bounds. Mike McCarthy challenged the call but the officials’ call was upheld on replay.

On the next play, quarterback Dak Prescott handed the ball off to tight end Peyton Henderhot on and end around and he ran into the end zone. The extra point gave the Cowboys a 28-13 lead with 8:53 left.

The other tight ends, Jake Ferguson, Dalton Schultz and Sean McKeon jumped into the giant Salvation Army red kettle in the back of the end zone.

They crouched down and popped up and down as Hendershot whacked them on the head with the football in what was arguably the best end zone celebration in Thanksgiving Day history.

The victory wasn’t pretty or dominant as last week’s 40-3 drubbing of the Minnesota Vikings. But it was the Cowboys second straight win, while giving them a season sweep of the Giants.

The Cowboys now have 10 days off before they face the Indianapolis Colts on Dec. 4

5 things from the Cowboys 28-20 win over the Giants

Dak Prescott battles back for two early picks, Cowboys make it count

For the second time in three week, quarterback Dak Prescott rallied the Cowboys to a double-digit lead after throwing two first-half interceptions.

Unlike the Packers game when the Cowboys blew a 28-14 lead in the fourth quarter in a 31-28 overtime loss, they made it count against the Giants.

Dallas Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott throws the ball during the first half against the New York Giants at AT&T Stadium in Arlington on Thursday, Nov. 24, 2022.
Dallas Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott throws the ball during the first half against the New York Giants at AT&T Stadium in Arlington on Thursday, Nov. 24, 2022.

Prescott, who completed 21 of 30 passes in the game for 261 yards, was brilliant in the second half, leading the team back from a 13-7 halftime deficit with three touchdown drives, including two touchdown passes to tight end Dalton Schultz.

And the defense made the lead stand up, just as linebacker Micah Parsons promised when he said the defense would not blow a fourth-quarter lead again.

Parsons had two sacks in the game, including a fourth quarter sack to kill any hopes of a Giants comeback.

Throw back day for Ezekiel Elliott

Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott had an omen when he tweeted out the team’s throwback helmet for the Thursday’s Thanksgiving Day battle against the Giants. He later took it down after being called out by the team’s social media account.

Elliott, however, did have a throw back performance, while letting world know rumors of his demise were greatly exaggerated.

Elliott led the Cowboys with 92 yards on 16 carries and a touchdown in what was his best game of the season.

Tony Pollard, who leads the team in rushing, added 60 rushing yards on 18 carries in a supportive role on Sunday.

Dallas Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott runs the ball against the New York Giants during the first half on Thursday, November 24, 2022, at AT&T Stadium in Arlington.
Dallas Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott runs the ball against the New York Giants during the first half on Thursday, November 24, 2022, at AT&T Stadium in Arlington.

Too many penalties, turnovers

That the Cowboys trailed at halftime is no one’s fault but their own.

Blame play calling. Blame two first half interceptions by quarterback Dak Prescott.

Blame stupid penalties.

They also proved to be consequential in what should have been an easy victory.

After getting a stop on the Giants on the opening drive of the, a Cowboys team that rushed for 170 yards last week against the Giants came out throwing.

Two passes to CeeDee Lamb was followed by a drop by Lamb. On third and 1, quarterback Dak Prescott threw incomplete to Michael Gallup.

On fourth and 1, Ezekiel Elliott was stopped for no gain, setting up a Giants field goal.

On the next drive, a run for 10 yards by Ezekiel Elliott was followed by a holding call on Pro Bowl guard Zack Martin.

The Cowboys overcame that with passes to Jake Fergusion and Elliott. But a four-yard run by Tony Pollard, putting them in Giants territory, was followed by a Prescott interception to Rodarius Williams.

The defense held and the Cowboys followed with a 11-play, 93-yard scoring drive to go up 10-3.

The Cowboys had a chance to build on the momentum with a defensive stop.

And they were off the field on third down but the Giants got new life with a defensive holding call on defensive tackle Carlos Watkins. A 44-yard pass to Darius Slayton and 1-yard run by Saquon Barkley made the score 10-7 with 9:28 to go in the second quarter.

The Cowboys had a chance to tie or take the lead later in the quarter. But a potential scoring drive deep in Giants territory was thwarted by penalties for holding and false start on tackle Tyler Smith and a third down interception from Dak Prescott on a tipped pass to CeeDee Lamb.

And the Giants moved in position to get a field goal before the end of the half thanks to penalties against the Cowboys for hands to face on cornerback DeRon Bland and illegal contact on Trevon Diggs, which nullified an interception from Donovan Wilson.

The Cowboys committed 13 penalties for 86 yards in the win.

Will winner get Odell Beckham?

Thursday’s Thanksgiving Day battle could have been essentially dubbed the Odell Beckham bowl.

Both team are considered the front runners to sign the free agent receiver for the stretch run. He will begin taking visits after Thanksgiving and a trip to Dallas is on the list.

Beckham is looking for a forever home but he is looking to play for a contender.

And both the Giants and the Cowboys have a huge need at the position.

The Cowboys let him know Sunday he could potentially a more potent and varied attack in Dallas as part of a threesome with CeeDee Lamb and Michael Gallup.

Lamb had six catches for 106 yards, including a ridiculous one-handed catch in the third quarter to set up a touchdown.

Gallup had his best game of the season with five catches for 63 yards. And tight end Dalton Schultz added four catches for 31 yards, including his two touchdown receptions.

10 day layoff to rest, get well and rejuvenate

Win or lose, the Cowboys were looking forward to the end of Thursday’s game against the Giants because it was the beginning of a much-needed 10-day layoff before they return to play against the Indianapolis Colts on Dec. 4 at AT&T Stadium.

It’s a much needed time of rest after playing three games in 12 days, starting with a 31-28 overtime loss at the Green Bay Packers on Nov. 13. They followed with their best game of the season a 40-3 bounce back victory against the Minnesota Vikings on Nov. 4 before Thursday’s battle against the Giants.

Three defensive players, including Kelvin Joseph, Jonathan Hankins and Tarell Basham, were inactive for the game due a flu bug that had run rampant through locker room. Defensive end DeMarcus Lawrence and defensive end Dante Fowler played despite missing practice with the illness. Defensive tackle Quinton Bohanna missed the Vikings game with the bug.

The Cowboys should also get linebacker Anthony Barr back for the Colts. He missed the last three game with a hamstring injury.