For NFL fans, the Dallas Cowboys are just as much a part of Thanksgiving as the turkey.
So, for the Cowboys organization, from owner Jerry Jones on down to the folks who sell concessions at AT&T Stadium, the fourth Thursday in November has a routine the same as any other week.
Dallas coach Jason Garrett held his follow-up press conference on Monday evening, a time when he would normally mostly review the Cowboys’ 22-19 victory over the Falcons. But it wasn’t Monday in Cowboys world, so Garrett jumped into assessing Dallas’s next opponent — the rival Washington Redskins.
“Our team did a good job today of coming in, executing a Wednesday practice this afternoon,” Garrett said. “Tomorrow morning, we come in, it’ll be Thursday. So, you’ve just got to get your mind right to do that. Guys that have been around typically do that better than others.”
The short turnaround could be a challenge for Dallas workhorse running back Ezekiel Elliott.
In the Cowboys road wins the last two weeks, Elliott has touched the ball 55 times, 42 rushes and 13 receptions. But it figures the more times Elliott has the ball in his hands, the better chance the Cowboys have to win.
So, Elliott is going to have to absorb more hits than most and keep churning for Dallas to have a chance to make the playoffs.
“He loves to play and wants to be out there on every play and every situation,” Garrett said. “But we have to have a plan for him. We try to spot him throughout the game.”
Elliott’s trademark gesture — miming pulling a spoon toward his mouth — tells everyone that he’s always hungry for more chances to gouge the opposing defense. That doesn’t mean that he doesn’t get fatigued. But Garrett said overcoming those moments is part of what makes Elliott an elite running back.
“If you’re in a critical part of the game, you have to play through being a little bit tired,” Garrett said. “(Elliott) certainly understands that. He’s been doing that his whole life.”
–RB Ezekiel Elliott rushed for 122 yards and a TD and caught seven passes for 79 yards in the Cowboys’ win over Atlanta. It marked the third time this season Elliott has gone for more than 180 combined rushing and receiving yards, all Dallas victories.
–LB Leighton Vander Esch intercepted a pass for the second-straight week and also posted eight tackles and three pass deflections against Atlanta. In the five games that Vander Esch has started in place of injured LB Sean Lee, the Cowboys have won four and lost just once.
–QB Dak Prescott passed for more than 200 yards for the third straight game in the win over the Falcons. Although his passer rating of 86.5 was his lowest of the past five games, he did plenty to help Dallas win. Prescott’s four-yard touchdown run early in the fourth quarter put the Cowboys in front 12-6 and they didn’t trail again in the contest.
–DE DeMarcus Lawrence was credited with 1.5 sacks against Atlanta, bringing his season total to 8. He’s a little behind the pace he set a year ago when he led the NFL with 14.5 sacks. But Lawrence has fought through a shoulder injury and the thinning of the Dallas defensive line as a whole due to injury. If Lawrence and the rest of the Cowboys front start to heal up, he could still make a move to be the league’s sack king.
–WR Cole Beasley had five catches for 51 yards against the Falcons. If he averages five catches per game the rest of the way, he’ll match his career-high of 75 receptions in 2016.