ARLINGTON, Texas – Where do you even start with a game like this?
Seriously, I host a podcast called StoryLine, and I definitely couldn't pick just one after this game.
Could it be the fact that Dak Prescott is playing out of his mind right now? What about DaRon Bland having just a decent game for three and a half quarters and then … boom, another pick-six to set an NFL single-season record.
Micah Parsons had another 1.5 sacks to close in on a new career high. CeeDee Lamb caught another touchdown pass, Tony Pollard had one of his best games of the season and the offensive line is starting to look rather dominant again.
Those are just the on-field storylines. I don't even know where to fit things such as Dolly Parton sporting the Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders outfit during the halftime show, or the fact the Cowboys placed turkey legs in every one of the Dolly-themed red kettles around the stadium and then dug into them before the end of the game.
A couple of times today I got asked how many Thanksgiving Day games I've been to over the years, and the answer was right around the 30 mark. You'd think when you've been to that many that they might run together in the memory back. But something tells me we'll be talking about this one for a while – and for good reasons.
Wait, I just found the answer to my initial question right off the top about "Where to start?" with a game like this. The answer is … it doesn't matter. This game is proof that it doesn't really matter how it starts, but how it ends.
Because for the second straight game, the Cowboys turned a close third quarter into a rout. When it was 20-10 Cowboys and the Commanders were throwing a deep pass into the end zone, I think everyone had the same feeling that we were getting ready for a nail-biting finish.
Instead, the Cowboys made a big stop there and got a field goal on the next drive, followed by a couple of more stops and touchdowns to follow. Then DaRon Bland does DaRon-Bland-Things with another pick-six that literally had me cursing in the press box. All I could say as Bland was running to the end zone and making people miss on his way to history was something to the effect of, "You've got to be … um … kidding me right now. There's no way he's actually doing this."
But Bland did do that, just like he's done four other times before. And the funny part of all of this was Bland was not really having a good game. The Commanders were throwing the ball right at him, and he was allowing passes underneath him, making sure he didn't get beat deep. But finally, it seemed as if he said enough is enough and jumped one of those short routes, and the rest is history … literally.
Hey, the same can be said about Dak. He missed two deep balls on the first drive of the game and had a few other passes that sailed over his receivers' heads when they were wide open. But at the end of the game, after 60 minutes of football, you look up and Dak finishes with 331 passing yards, four touchdowns and no picks, resulting in a 142.1 QB rating, the fifth highest of his career.
Look at the Cowboys' run defense. It was allowing a few big runs here and there, but by the end, it was that unit that turned the tide of the game by stopping the Commanders on a pair of fourth-down plays in the third and fourth quarters. Washington tried to create a spark to get back in the game, but when it didn't work out, the flood gates were open.
That's just a sign of a good football team – in my opinion. It might not be a complete blowout from the start, but after four full quarters of football, you look up at the scoreboard and it's one-sided. I'll never forget the 2007 Cowboys-Patriots game in a battle of undefeated teams. At one point, the Cowboys actually had a third-quarter lead and it was starting to look as if they might pull off the upset. But by the end, the Cowboys stopped scoring and the Patriots did not, and they won the game by 21 points.
The Cowboys were good that season, finishing 13-3, but the Patriots were on another level, winning 19 straight games before a Super Bowl loss to the Giants.
Yes, I know the narrative that's out there right now – the Cowboys can whip up on the lesser teams but can't beat the top teams.
Cool, that's fair because of the eight wins the Cowboys have, none of them are against teams with winning records.
But if the Cowboys are officially going to be the team they think they are, that will have to change. The next few games include games against Seattle, Philadelphia, Buffalo, Miami and Detroit – and all of them have winning records.
Just another example – kind of like the game Thursday – that how it ends is much more important than how it began.