Cowboys, Giants meet as playoff contenders on Thanksgiving
Arlington, Texas — Dak Prescott and the Dallas Cowboys channeled the anger from a collapse one week into the biggest road rout in club history the next.
Now they're thinking about building on all the things that went right while the opponent tries to figure out what went wrong.
The New York Giants visit the Cowboys on Thanksgiving with the NFC East rivals sharing 7-3 records, two games behind division-leading Philadelphia.
Not much else is similar for this pair of playoff contenders, the Cowboys are healthy and appearing primed to get on a roll, the Giants sputtering and dealing with injuries.
Dallas blew a 14-point lead entering the fourth quarter for the first time in franchise history in an overtime loss at Green Bay before one of its most dominant performances in a long time in a 40-3 victory at Minnesota.
Prescott is finding a rhythm after missing five games with a fractured thumb on his throwing hand, surrounded by a mostly healthy roster with plenty of playmakers on defense, too.
"I think coach (Mike) McCarthy said it best," Prescott said. "Take a picture of what it felt like, of what it looked like when we were at our best. And when you're not, remind yourself or do the things that are necessary to get back to that."
The Giants just gave up season highs in points and turnovers (three) in a 31-18 loss to Detroit that dropped them into a tie with the Cowboys.
Since Dallas won 23-16 at New York in Week 3, the Giants would essentially fall two games behind the defending NFC East champions with another loss to them.
This is where the short week could come in handy for New York. It's just the second Thanksgiving meeting out of 122 overall in the storied rivalry.
"I think it makes it easier because we have no choice, but to quickly move on to the next opponent," Giants defensive end Leonard Williams said. "Regardless of win or lose, every week we talk about flushing the last game and moving on to the next one."
New York quarterback Daniel Jones has four rushing touchdowns, more than in any of his first three seasons. He probably doesn't want to be reminded of one he didn't get last season.
Jones returns to the field where he was taken off on a cart last year after stumbling and almost falling from a hit by Dallas linebacker Jabril Cox.
The helmet-to-helmet contact came near a pylon with Jones trying to get across the goal line.
That play didn't come up in Jones' meeting with reporters, but injuries at receiver and in the offensive line did.
"It certainly is a challenge," said Jones, who is making his Thanksgiving debut. "But I think it's also a great opportunity for us to show who we are, show what we can do, our toughness."
Speaking of NY receivers
Jones seemingly has been playing a game of musical chairs with his wide receivers and tight ends all season.
Sterling Shepard and rookie Wan'Dale Robinson are out for the season with ACL injuries. Veteran Kenny Golladay has been in and out of the doghouse.
Kadarius Toney was shipped to the Chiefs. Rookie tight end Daniel Bellinger (eye) will miss a fourth straight game.
Jones' options will be Darius Slayton, Golladay, Isaiah Hodgins and tight end Lawrence Cager, a practice squad promotion.
No big heads here
Asked if it was good to get back on the field so quickly after a dominating victory, Prescott said he'd play every other day if he had to.
Ezekiel Elliott said he liked the quick turnaround because it meant less practice and more playing. But the star running back doesn't see it as a way to avoid spending too long resting on their laurels.
"I just really think we don't have the type of locker room to even get big-headed," Elliott said. "I think we've all got a lot to prove. We know what the bigger plan is, the bigger goal, and we're not even close to it yet."
Tale of two backs
Elliott's tandem partner, Tony Pollard, is coming off a career game with 189 scrimmage yards and two receiving touchdowns, including a 68-yarder.
New York star Saquon Barkley ran for a season-low 22 yards against the Lions. The week before, though, he bounced from a then-season worst 53 with 152 yards.
Giants offensive line coach Bobby Johnson has been trying a lot of combinations with his line facing a good Dallas front. More shuffling is in order because of injuries.
Three starters won't make the trip in center Jon Feliciano (neck), right tackle Evan Neal (knee) and left guard Josh Ezeudu (neck).
Nick Gates will replace Feliciano, Matt Peart is the likely choice to fill in for Ezeudu and Tyre Phillips, who has been dealing with a neck issue, will slide over from the left side to Neal's spot.
Rush and contain
While the Cowboys sacked Jones five times in the first meeting, he ran nine times for 79 yards. Seven of those runs resulted in first downs.
Parsons, the sacks leader for Dallas with 10, will have a role in trying to keep that from happening again. He has five games with two sacks. One of the five games without a sack came against Jones.
"We're making those adjustments as we speak and we've got to account for him and (Barkley) all game," Parsons said.
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