ARLINGTON, Texas – You're not imagining things. This Dallas Cowboys team does in fact feel different.
If you need confirmation, look no further than the guys who comprise the roster. For all the promising rookies that might be contributing to the Cowboys' success, the established veterans around them all say they haven't seen anything like it.
"Right now, this is the best locker room I've ever been a part of – not even close," Dez Bryant said. "The most fun I've ever had."
That much should be evident from watching this team over the course of the year. They play laundry bin basketball and interrupt each other's interviews in the locker room. They troll each other on Snapchat and various other social mediums. They go to dinner and just generally have a ball.
Obviously, most important is the fact that they rack up wins on the field. But Bryant said that's only a piece of the puzzle.
"Of course it's the winning, but let's scratch that real quick. It's just the guys in this locker room," he said. "All these guys are phenomenal. I'm pretty sure it's not like this around other locker rooms. We actually give a damn about on another. We actually have fun outside of the locker room. We have a great time, and I think that has a lot to do with it."
It plays out on the field, as well, and Thursday's game was a prime example.
Dak Prescott's 195 passing yards was his lowest total of the 2016 season. It was also his best rushing effort of the year, as he carried eight times for 39 yards and a touchdown on the night. Despite that, he still managed to spread the ball around to six different receivers, leading Dallas to 30 or more points for the fifth time in 11 games.
"We're just having fun, as I said a minute ago. We're not waiting for someone to make a play. Wherever the ball goes, that person is ready to make a play," Prescott said. "They want to be the one who goes and scores, and we expect to score a touchdown every play. Nothing we do surprises us."
The fun is so evident it jumps off the field. Plenty of people will chalk it up to the youthful exuberance of the rookies, who have reveled in every minute of the Cowboys' unprecedented success.
But for all the attention that might go to Prescott, he was quick to turn the credit right back on a team full of veterans who have helped him along the way.
"The guys come in a let us be ourselves every day," he said. "I don't have to do anything or try to be something extra, whatever it may. We can just be ourselves and have fun, but when it's time to lock in, our guys lock in. We're prepared."
It's hard to argue with that, given that the Cowboys just improved their record to 10-1 with a win over a division rival. Elliott rushed for 97 yards and two touchdowns, while Prescott finished off his ninth game without an interception.
And with December football looming, it seems that the rookie narrative is wearing a little thin.
"I don't think this football team really views them as rookies," said Jason Witten. "The growth that they've had and the responsibilities we've put on them. They're big time players in the way they are playing and execution in critical time throughout games."
Added Bryant: "Those rookies are leaders. We're behind them 100 percent. They are phenomenal players, and they are extremely blessed. We just want to be there for them. They're damn great."
Bryant didn't need to say that. He need only point toward the scoreboard, or the stat sheet, or the standings. But it's just another example of how, all the way through to Thanksgiving, things just continue to click.