Hello, Amari Cooper.
And hello to a working Cowboys offense, a defense that creates turnovers and Ezekiel Elliott in rookie form.
Three touchdowns in 7 minutes and 36 seconds and three interceptions were among the highlights on an explosive Thanksgiving Day for Dallas in a 31-23 victory over Washington.
A Cowboys offense so broken in the NFC East rivals’ October game appears fixed. Credit, in part, the trade for Cooper that the Cowboys pulled off a day after that loss to Washington.
Here are three things we learned during Cooper and Dallas’ big day:
About that Amari Cooper trade: Dallas moves to 3-1 since trading its 2019 first-round pick to the Raiders for Cooper. Cooper was key to Dallas scoring on its opening drive of the game, twice converting on third down. But he did more than just move the chains and aid his teammates. In the third quarter, Cooper capitalized on a tripped defender to gain 35 yards after catch on a 40-yard touchdown. The next drive he did it again – racing 69 yards after catch for a 90-yard score, the longest touchdown pass of Dak Prescott’s career. Per NFL research, Cooper’s 180 yards on eight catches were the most for a Dallas receiver since Dec. 23, 2012 (Dez Bryant, 224 vs. the Saints).
Colt McCoy’s first start this season: Redskins quarterback Colt McCoy is Washington’s man behind center after Alex Smith suffered season-ending tibia and fibula breaks last week vs. the Texans. The Cowboys pass rush disrupted McCoy, first forcing a fumble Washington ultimately recovered and then intercepting him three times. McCoy still kept Washington in the game throughout, completing 24-of-38 passes for 268 yards and two touchdowns. Washington needed that production on a day when Dallas’ run defense limited Adrian Peterson to just 35 rushing yards. McCoy’s best throw was a 53-yard bomb to tight end Vernon Davis, on the first play of a second-quarter drive. McCoy also scrambled effectively at times. But in addition to the three interceptions, he also lost a fumble.
That holiday spirit, though: The Cowboys touchdown celebrations started early with Ezekiel Elliott donating $21 – his number – to the Salvation Army red kettle, two seasons after his celebratory jump into a kettle raised more than $200,000 in donations. Cooper followed next, lining his teammates up and mocking 76ers guard Markelle Fultz’s free-throw routine. Cap it off with Elliott throwing quarterback Dak Prescott into the kettle after Prescott shed two tackles to tumble his way into the endzone. To say the Cowboys were in the holiday spirit, a year after the Chargers beat them 28-6 on Thanksgiving at AT&T Stadium, would be an understatement. With its third consecutive win, Dallas returns to the top of the NFC East in a tie with the Redskins, though the Cowboys own the tiebreaker. Both are 6-5.
SOURCE: USA Today, by Jori Epstein