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NFL: 5 takeaways from Washington's Thanksgiving win over the Cowboys

Washington Football Team v Dallas Cowboys
Washington Football Team v Dallas Cowboys
Suryaraj Jain
ANALYST
Modified 28 Nov 2020, 11:07 IST
Top 5 / Top 10
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Thanksgiving Day in 2020 brought us two instead of three NFL games this year, as the anticipated Ravens vs. Steelers game was postponed due to several Ravens' players and staff members being tested positive for the COVID-19 virus.

Both games were thrillers despite some fans initially calling it a "snooze-fest", as Deshaun Watson and the Houston Texans shot down the Detroit Lions 41-25 and Washington clobbered the Dallas Cowboys 41-16.

Washington and Dallas came into this game with the top spot in the NFC East in the mind, as Philadelphia lost in Week 11 and the New York Giants had a bye week. Now with Washington on top, they have a chance to stay there and win the division.

Here are five takeaways from Thursday's game.


5. Alex Smith does fine, but needs to improve

Since his first start against the Detroit Lions, Smith has now won two of the past three games and Washington seems to want him back for the 2021 season.

While his performance isn't necessary to commend at the highest peak, he has certainly been showing the league that he can still play despite his battle with the horrific injury he suffered over two years ago.

Against the Cowboys, Smith completed 19 of 26 passes for 149 yards with one touchdown and one interception. The run game has certainly been solidified by Washington, but now it is time for offensive coordinator Scott Turner to open things up in the passing game and trust the veteran quarterback.

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4. Washington secondary needs work

The 4-3 defense led by defensive coordinator Jack Del Rio has been proven to be a top-5 defense in the league, but the secondary has a lot to improve on.

Multiple blown coverages by cornerback Ronald Darby and allowing big plays by the Cowboys hurt Washington in the beginning.

After safety Landon Collins was placed on IR, the secondary certainly has not been the same and has to play more consistent games in order to compete for that first place spot.


3. Ezekiel Elliott struggles against Washington's defense

Head coach Ron Rivera and DC Jack Del Rio do not get enough credit for the defensive line that Washington has developed.

Star running back Ezekiel Elliott and the Cowboys' offense struggled plentiful against Washington on Thursday. Elliott was limited to 10 carries for 32 yards, including a fumble that led to an Antonio Gibson touchdown for Washington. Andy Dalton completed 25 of 35 passes for 215 yards with one touchdown and a late pick-six by Washington's Montez Sweat.

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2. The Cowboys need a lot of help

While Dalton has been a decent backup for the Cowboys, there is no chemistry within the Dallas organization currently that the team once had, which is concerning considering they hired head coach Mike McCarthy this past offseason.

Even with Dak Prescott under center, the team struggled and the finger points directly at the coaching and ownership. 

Several questionable plays against Washington included the fake punt on 4th and 10, as well as the failed trick-play after the interception by Jaylon Smith, limiting them to just a field goal.

The Cowboys have certainly had several injuries, but there has not been a spark since the arrival of McCarthy. It wouldn't be a surprise if McCarthy is fired in the offseason.


1. Gibson, McLaurin are the future in Washington

Rookie running back Antonio Gibson has made a statement for himself in the league, but made that statement even bigger against the Cowboys. Gibson had 20 carries for 115 rushing yards and three touchdowns, marking the first time a rookie has scored three touchdowns on Thanksgiving since 1998. (Randy Moss against Dallas coincidentally did the same.)

On the outside, Smith utilized his trusty receiver despite the tight coverage by the Cowboys. Terry McLaurin had 7 receptions for 92 yards and while he didn't score, McLaurin made several key plays in the game and Smith always felt comfortable throwing the ball towards him. Not only that, he was responsible for chasing down Jaylon Smith and prevent a pick-six.

Published 28 Nov 2020, 11:07 IST
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