Thursday's NFL: Prescott, TEs help Cowboys to Thanksgiving win over Giants
Arlington, Texas — Dak Prescott threw two touchdown passes to tight end Dalton Schultz, Ezekiel Elliott ran for a score and the Dallas Cowboys beat the New York Giants 28-20 on Thanksgiving Day.
Rookie Peyton Hendershot ran for a 2-yard TD before directing all three of his fellow tight ends into a giant Salvation Army red kettle for a Whack-A-Mole celebration.
The victory ended a three-game losing streak on the holiday for the Cowboys (8-3), who moved a game ahead of the Giants in the NFC East while sweeping the season series.
Prescott's TD tosses to Schultz came about five minutes apart in the third quarter, turning a 13-7 deficit into a 21-13 lead. The first was a 15-yarder on third-and-goal.
The Dallas quarterback has 10 consecutive victories over the Giants since losing to them twice when the Cowboys went 13-3 his rookie year in 2016.
Saquon Barkley was held to 39 yards rushing with a 1-yard TD behind a makeshift offensive line missing three starters because of injury in the third loss in the past four games for the Giants (7-4).
Dallas, the NFL leader in sacks coming in, dropped Daniel Jones three times while limiting him to 14 yards rushing after he ran for first downs seven times in the first meeting, a 23-16 Dallas win.
Jones' TD pass to Richie James in the final seconds was too late for the Giants to take advantage of a 2-0 takeaway edge in the second Thanksgiving meeting out of 122 overall in the storied rivalry.
CeeDee Lamb had six catches for 106 yards and set up three Dallas touchdowns, starting with a 25-yard catch before Elliott's 6-yard run.
Lamb's one-handed grab for 15 yards came before Schultz's second TD. A 23-yarder put Dallas at the 2, and Lamb thought he made another one-handed catch in the back of the end zone.
Mike McCarthy challenged the ruling that the toe-tapping catch was out of bounds. It was upheld on review, despite the Cowboys being so confident they sent the PAT unit out after seeing the replay.
The Dallas offense came back out with all four tight ends, and Hendershot took a handoff on a sweep left for the easy 2-yard score.
The rookie waved Schultz, fellow rookie Jake Ferguson and Sean McKeon into the red kettle, holding the ball with both hands while they popped up. Ferguson got tapped on the helmet.
Elliott had a season-high 92 yards rushing, and the Cowboys overcame two interceptions from Prescott, who threw for 261 yards.
(At) Minnesota 33, Patriots 26: Kirk Cousins threw for 299 yards and three touchdowns, the last a go-ahead score to Adam Thielen in the fourth quarter to push the Minnesota Vikings past the New England Patriots 33-26 on Thursday night.
Justin Jefferson had 139 yards and one of the touchdown passes from Cousins, who delivered precisely the clutch performance against a formidable defense the Vikings (9-2) needed to bounce back from a blowout loss to Dallas. That gave rookie coach Kevin O'Connell a win over Bill Belichick, who drafted him with the Patriots in 2008.
Mac Jones passed for a career-high 382 yards and two scores to snap a lagging offense to life for the Patriots (6-5), but they ran out of steam down the stretch. Their fourth quarter included two three-and-out punts, a turnover on downs at the Minnesota 39 and a desperation last drive that went nowhere.
Jones found Hunter Henry for a wide-open 37-yard touchdown pass to start the second half for a 23-16 lead. Kene Nwangwu scored on a 97-yard kickoff return to strike right back for the Vikings.
Jones — who went 23 for 27 last week for a career-high completion rate — appeared to hit his tight end for a second score with a twisting catch at the goal line that was ruled a touchdown on the field. The replay reversal — Henry's bottom hand appeared to be under the ball as it bobbled briefly — forced the Patriots to settle for Nick Folk's fourth field goal of the game late in the third quarter.
Another vital call went the Vikings way a few minutes later when Pierre Strong Jr. was called for running into punter Ryan Wright. With a fresh set of downs, Cousins and the Vikings cruised up the field for the go-ahead touchdown.
The Patriots allowed just three points in each of their last two games and brought the NFL sack leader Matt Judon to the stadium where the Vikings were decimated by Dallas just four days earlier while Cousins took a career-high seven sacks.
With standout left tackle Christian Darrisaw sidelined by a concussion, the Vikings gave backup Blake Brandel plenty of extra help and put Cousins in far more favorable situations with shorter drops and quicker throws. The Vikings had 231 yards in the first half, more than the Patriots allowed in the previous two games combined.
Jefferson had his footprints all over this game from the start, when his 3-yard reception on a crossing route in the end zone capped the opening drive. He made catch after improbable catch in tight coverage, including a 36-yard grab on a go route right before he was sandwiched by Jones and Devin McCourty to set up Thielen's touchdown.
Jefferson set the NFL record for most receiving yards in a player's first three seasons to pass Randy Moss. Jefferson has hit the 100-yard mark in 21 of 44 career games.