ARLINGTON, Texas - The Cowboys rookie tight ends have let their big personalities shine through during the first 11 games of this season. Both Jake Ferguson and Peyton Hendershot have not only become fan favorites, but their ability to produce on the field has also helped.
Both of those things came to fruition on Thursday. And it's starting to rub off on the rest of the position.
After veteran Dalton Schultz caught two touchdowns on back-to-back drives, it was Ferguson and Hendershot who stole the show during the second half of the Cowboys' 28-20 win over the Giants' on Thanksgiving Day. And the best part of their signature acts was that they both came on the same drive.
With the Cowboys finding their footing in the second half after a lackluster first half offensively where they only put up seven points on Ezekiel Elliott's touchdown run, the tight ends came in to save the day. And here's a hint - 'Whack-A-Mole.'
After he found the endzone on a two-yard run (Yes, a run) Hendershot rallied the rest of his positional commades. From Ferguson and Schultz, to Sean McKeon, one by one they all assembled into the Salvation Army kettle for one of the most unique celebrations you'll ever see.
So who's idea was it?
"Ferguson," Hendershot said. "Jake Ferguson put it together. All the tight ends were going to be in there. We knew the Salvation Army bucket was going to be there. So that's what we came up with."
"I think we just saw the kettle and we were just brainstorming in the tight end room," Ferguson said. 'Like what can we do? What about if all three of us are in there and we just play whack-a-mole.'"
But according to Dak Prescott, it was him that gave the all-clear after hearing about the plan earlier in the week.
"The guys told me about it earlier in the week," Prescott said. "They were worried about getting fined or getting a penalty. We said make sure you're up two touchdowns and we have a couple guys that can help with the fines."
Hendershot's touchdown came on a sweep play from right to left across the formation from the Giants' two-yard line, becoming the fourth Cowboys' tight end to rush for a touchdown. The other three? Billy Joe DuPree, Eric Bjornson, and Jay Novacek.
However if you go a few plays before Hendershot's touchdown, you'd find an outstanding play from Ferguson. After tweaking his knee earlier in the game, Ferguson returned a few plays later. Prescott rolled right and found Ferguson.
In turn, Ferguson found Giants' safety Jason Pinnock and promptly leaped over him before bulldozing cornerback Rodarius Williams in what seemed like one fell swoop.
"Never," Ferguson said when asked if he'd ever hurdled someone. "Cleared somebody? Never… It probably will be the last time I jump this year because now guys will be going high. But I don't really know how to explain that one."
Not to be lost in the fun of it all was the tight end who started the party on Thursday afternoon – Schultz was the catalyst with his two scores, thus setting off the chain of events that his younger teammates would partake in.
As the elder statesman of the position room, while they do have their fun and have become fan favorites, the work that goes in behind the scenes is what allows them to come out and be themselves.
"Our meetings are always engaging, always fun," Schultz said. "We're always learning something new. And I think we have a group that complements each other's skill set really well. So to come out and have the production that we did today, that's awesome."
Prescott acknowledged both Hendershot and Ferguson's increased roles in the Cowboys' offense, and it's not by accident. For Prescott, it started way back in training camp and has only grown as the two have continued to produce.
"Seeing those young guys take on the responsibility of their roles," Prescott said, "And do it with such confidence and eager to give them more and want to make more plays… We've got to keep continuing to get those guys involved."
The more the Cowboys get the tight ends involved, the more fun they're going to have. Just like they did on Thanksgiving.