FRISCO, Texas – The Cowboys had just gotten back to the visitor's locker room at Mercedes-Benz Stadium when they learned the stakes for their next game in three days' time:
A potential share of the NFC East lead.
"Good thing we took care of our business the past two weeks," running back Ezekiel Elliott said.
Minutes after the Cowboys (5-5) beat the Falcons 22-19 on Brett Maher's last-second field goal, first-place Washington dropped to 6-4 with a 23-21 loss to Houston.
Suddenly, a season on the brink is brimming with playoff possibilities.
Two weeks ago, the Cowboys were reeling from their first home loss of the season: a deflating 28-14 defeat against a struggling Tennessee Titans team. Dallas dropped to 3-5, unable to build momentum from a busy bye week in which they traded for wide receiver Amari Cooper and promoted Marc Colombo to offensive line coach.
In the last two weeks, they've won their first two road games of the season – at Philadelphia and Atlanta – for their first two-game win streak.
Things change fast in this league. Thursday's opponent, Washington, knows that, too.
The Redskins reportedly lost starting quarterback Alex Smith for the season during Sunday's loss to Houston. Colt McCoy is next in line to start against the Cowboys on Thanksgiving Day. Four years ago, he led the Redskins to an overtime victory at AT&T Stadium, ending Dallas' six-game win streak.
The Cowboys know Washington presents a significant challenge. The Redskins held them to 17 points in a 20-17 victory at FedEx Field on Oct. 21. They also can't spend any time reflecting on their win over Atlanta.
Thursday gets here quickly.
"Anytime you can string together some wins, it's a good thing," linebacker Leighton Vander Esch said Sunday. "But it's a few minutes past the game and we've got a short week. We've got to go get it again."