Washington would use an even more unusual play to pick up a first down in the red zone on a scoring drive in the second quarter. Quarterback Alex Smith took the snap, shuffled a couple of steps to his right and handed the ball to J.D. McKissic between the running back’s legs. With the Cowboys’ defense — and everyone watching the game on TV — thoroughly confused, McKissic ran for a six-yard gain. Rivera said the play was inspired by “The Annexation of Puerto Rico” from the 1994 film “Little Giants,” which some consider the greatest trick play in football movie history.
“We nicknamed it the ‘Bumerooski,’ but most of these guys don’t understand it so we had to explain to them who Bum Phillips is, and we did it as a tribute to him,” Rivera said.
Rivera has watched “Little Giants” about 100 times. He actually ran the same trick play in 2011, in his first season with the Carolina Panthers, and it resulted in a touchdown by fullback Richie Brockel.
Fail: “The Surrender of Arlington, Texas”
Trailing 20-16 and facing fourth and 10 at its own 24-yard line early in the fourth quarter, Dallas Coach Mike McCarthy dialed up a fake punt. Safety Darian Thompson received the snap, ran to his left and flipped the ball to wide receiver Cedrick Wilson on a reverse. Wilson had nowhere to run and was tackled by Cole Luke and Khaleke Hudson after a loss of one. Washington scored a touchdown on its next play to take a two-score lead and never looked back.
“You won’t get anywhere if you’re thinking about negatives all the time,” McCarthy, who made several head-scratching decisions in the loss, said. “Obviously it was a solid play call. It’s a good play design. Their gunner made a good play, came off of it. … You can never convert them, obviously, if you don’t call them, if you don’t believe in them. So I clearly understood the situation when it was called.”
Hail: Antonio Gibson
Gibson became the first rookie to score three touchdowns on Thanksgiving since Randy Moss in 1998 and the first running back to rush for at least 100 yards and three touchdowns on the holiday since Barry Sanders in 1997. That’s some pretty good company. Gibson, who finished with 136 total yards, iced the game with a pair of touchdown runs in the fourth quarter, giving him 11 scores this season, two shy of Alfred Morris’s rookie franchise record. Eric Dickerson set the NFL record for rushing touchdowns by a rookie with 18 in 1983. That number is suddenly within reach.
Fail: Ezekiel Elliott
“Feed Me” reads the tattoo on Elliott’s stomach, alongside a drawing of a spoon. That’s what the Cowboys did on their first drive of the third quarter after their star running back managed only 15 rushing yards on five carries in the first half. Elliott ran for six yards on first down. He picked up another three yards on the next play, but fumbled as he fell to the turf, and Jonathan Allen recovered for Washington. The turnover, Elliott’s fifth lost fumble of the season, led to a field goal. With 32 yards on Thursday, Elliott finished with 77 in two games against Washington this season. That’s a far cry from the 233 rushing yards he totaled In Dallas’s season sweep of Washington last year.
Hail: Montez Sweat
Washington’s second-year defensive end continued his breakout season with the first interception and touchdown of his career. They came on the same athletic play. After Gibson’s third score of the game, Sweat got into the backfield, tipped Cowboys quarterback Andy Dalton’s pass and grabbed it before running 15 yards untouched into the end zone.
With Sweat’s touchdown, Washington eclipsed 40 points for the first time since Week 16 of the 2016 season. Washington also equaled its record for most points scored against the Cowboys, set in a 41-14 win in 1986.
Fail: Fox’s pregame crew’s predictions
Michael Strahan, who accidentally referred to Washington by its former name multiple times, picked the Cowboys to win, as did his colleagues Howie Long, Jimmy Johnson and Jay Glazer. For what it’s worth, Johnson also said that the winner of the NFC East can reach the Super Bowl. Yeah, and I can avoid that second helping of pumpkin pie.
Hail: Picking up Alex Smith
In a Hallmark moment toward the end of a very good Thanksgiving for the visitors, backup quarterback Dwayne Haskins rushed over to help Smith up after he was shoved to the ground along the Washington sideline on a three-yard scramble in the fourth quarter.
Smith made one crucial mistake in the game, but his teammates were there to pick him up then, too. After Jaylon Smith intercepted Washington’s quarterback near midfield in the third quarter, McLaurin chased down the Cowboys linebacker, DK Metcalf- or Darrell Green-style, and made a diving, touchdown-saving tackle at the Washington 4-yard line. Dallas ultimately settled for a field goal to cut Washington’s lead to 20-16. McLaurin’s hustle play turned out to be the turning point in the game, as Washington scored the final 21 points.
Fail: Production by WFT WRs not named McLaurin
Washington’s offensive game plan worked well enough, so this is nitpicking. But if you happened to roster any WFT wide receivers besides McLaurin in your daily or season-long fantasy leagues this week, expecting Smith to put up big passing numbers against Dallas’s porous defense, well, your Thanksgiving wasn’t quite as happy as it could have been. McLaurin had seven catches for 92 yards to take the NFL lead in receiving yards. Washington’s other wide receivers combined for two catches for 23 yards, with Smith spreading his 11 other completions around to Gibson, McKissic and Thomas.
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