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Instant Analysis: Washington Takes First Place By Sweeping The Cowboys

Antonio Gibson celebrates after a rushing touchdown. (Sam Hodde/NFL)
Antonio Gibson celebrates after a rushing touchdown. (Sam Hodde/NFL)

Antonio Gibson has only been a full-time running back for 11 games, but no one would have guessed that as he was carving up the Dallas Cowboys' defense on Thanksgiving night.

The spotlight was on the Washington Football Team as it traveled to Texas to take on the Cowboys at AT&T Stadium. First place in the NFC East was on the line, and Washington had only beaten Dallas once on Turkey Day. But thankfully, the former Memphis Tiger delivered an ovation-worthy performance with 136 total yards and three rushing touchdowns, as Washington drubbed Dallas, 41-16.

Washington made a point to get the ball to Gibson early, and it paid off as he averaged 5.8 yards per carry. As a result, Washington hung 338 yards on the Cowboys -- the fifth-straight game in which the team has amassed at least 325 yards.

The win gives Washington sole possession of first place in the NFC East with five games to play this season.

Washington came up scoreless on its opening drive, but it quickly made up for it with a 12-play, 75-yard drive that was kept alive by a wild trick play where Logan Thomas dropped back for a pass and delivered a 28-yard strike to Terry McLaurin that put Washington at Dallas' 36-yard line. From there, Washington needed eight plays to find the end zone on a five-yard run from Gibson to take a 7-3 lead

After quarterback Andy Dalton hit Amari Cooper on a 54-yard catch-and-run touchdown to make the score 10-7, Washington responded with another long drive, this time marching downfield 67 yards on 14 plays. Offensive coordinator Scott Turner was back in his bag of tricks once again with an even more innovative play; Alex Smith handed the ball off to J.D. McKissic, who was lined up behind right guard Brandon Scherff, and scampered to the left for a six-yard gain. Four plays later, Dustin Hopkins tied the game with a 23-yard field goal.

After giving up 132 yards in Dallas' first two drives, Washington's defense was in need of a stop, and it finally got it when Ronald Darby broke up a pass to CeeDee Lamb on a 4th-and-inches at the Cowboys' 34-yard line. That gave Washington the chance to dink and dunk down the field to the five-yard line. Smith then finished off the possession with a strike to Thomas.

From there, the teams exchanged field goals. After Greg Zuerlein kicked a 32-yarder to make a 17-13 halftime lead, Hopkins responded with a 36-yard field goal of his own. Then, after McLaurin hawked down Jaylon Smith on an interception return and the defense forced a fourth down at its own four-yard line, Zuerlein was forced out to kick another field goal, this time from 28 yards out.

About six minutes later, Gibson found the end zone once again. Washington's defense forced another turnover on downs after sniffing out a fake punt, and all Gibson needed was one play to sprint past the Dallas defenders for a 23-yard score.

Washington's points from that moment on were just gravy; Gibson ended a 10-play drive with a 37-yard untouched touchdown run, and Montez Sweat took a Dalton interception back for a 25-yard score.

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