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The Washington Football Team left Dallas with a lot to be grateful for on Thanksgiving Day. They locked down their first back-to-back win of the season, convincingly beat their biggest division rival, and secured the number one spot in the NFC East, to name a few.
The 41-16 win over the Dallas Cowboys also marked the first time Washington has won back-to-back games this season.
“It’s important that we keep growing and developing, and I really think we’re finding our identity and getting better as the weeks have gone on,” quarterback Alex Smith said. “Wins only help encourage that and fuel that, so I think it’s important to keep that going.”
In a dominating performance, the Football Team executed one of their most complete games of the season. Washington’s 338 total yards nearly broke even on the ground and through the air with 182 yards rushing and 156 yards passing. Smith also completed 19 of 26 passes and had one interception in the third quarter. Fortunately, that mistake did not cost them the game.
The only reason that interception did not hurt Washington can be explained with two words: Terry McLaurin. Jaylon Smith was on his way to the end zone from the 47-yard line where he picked off the ball, when he was chased down by McLaurin who tripped him up at the four-yard line. It was reminiscent of D.K. Metcalf’s run down of Budda Baker a few weeks ago when the Seattle Seahawks faced the Arizona Cardinals.
“It’s a huge play, because all it did was give us a chance,” head coach Ron Rivera said after the game. “Terry gave our defense a chance, the defense bowed its neck and forced the field goal.”
“That’s what you gotta do when you’re a leader on the team,” he said. “You just gotta…never give up on any plays because you never know what can happen. That ended up being a big play for us. We preach that in our wide receiver room to play through every single play, and you never know what’s going to happen.”
Running back Antonio Gibson also had a big day, rushing for 136 yards and three touchdowns. His performance makes him the first rookie to score three touchdowns on Thanksgiving since Randy Moss in 1998.
“Honestly, it’s the story of my life,” Gibson said. “Every time the spotlight comes on, it seems like God is always watching down on me. And to be able to come out on national TV and do this is an amazing feeling.”
Washington’s defense clicked just as much as the offense. They limited Dallas to 115 yards of total offense, sacked Andy Dalton three times, and forced two turnovers. A little bit of everyone had a hand in the impressive defensive performance, from Chase Young and Tim Settle to Jonathan Allen and Daron Payne. The secondary also stepped up with key plays from Jeremy Reaves, Kam Curl, and Ronald Darby.
“The biggest thing we’ve done differently is just trusting each other,” Young said. “When we trust each other, that’s what you see out there on the field today.”
When Ron Rivera moved on to Kyle Allen and then Alex Smith, he made it known that he felt strongly that the division was in grasp. Now at 4-7, Washington is in sole possession of first place and Rivera’s risk suddenly seems worth it.