Terry McLaurin, Antonio Gibson, and offensive coordinator Scott Turner were all crucial components to the Washington Football Team's 41-16 victory over the Dallas Cowboys on Thursday. Here's how they performed during the Week 12 matchup.
Game Ball No. 1: Wide Receiver Terry McLaurin
Throughout the entire season, head coach Ron Rivera and multiple teammates have mentioned that McLaurin is the example of a leader and model for other players to follow. The second-year wide receiver showed that to the nation during the Thanksgiving matchup with seven receptions for 92 yards. McLaurin now leads the NFL with 963 yards on 69 catches.
McLaurin's reliance and determination showed itself in the third quarter. After Alex Smith threw an interception to Jaylon Smith, he was moments away from tying the game when McLaurin tracked him down at Washington's 4-yard line. Rivera said after the game that McLaurin's effort gave the defense a chance. Four plays after McLaurin's touchdown-saving play, Dallas was forced to settle for a field goal to pull within 20-16.
"I feel like everybody has to know what type of guy Terry is now," defensive end Chase Young said of McLaurin. "High character, he's going to give it everything he has every time he steps on the field. Terry's one of those guys that you just know is gonna go every time he touches the field -- every time -- and he doesn't stop until the whistle is blown. You saw that today."
Game Ball No. 2: Running Back Antonio Gibson
If someone didn't know Gibson's name before, they will now after seeing him carve up Dallas' defense. The rookie running back led the team in rushing once again with 115 yards on 20 carries and three touchdowns. Gibson was the first rookie since Randy Moss in 1998 to score three touchdowns on Thanksgiving.
Washington was holding on to a 20-16 lead in the fourth quarter when Gibson found a hole in Dallas' defense at the 23-yard line and sprinted past defenders. The rookie knew that he had a clear path into the end zone, so as he approached the goal line, he turned and gave a quick wave to Donovan Wilson before stepping into the end zone.
Gibson then went for the hat trick with a 37-yard touchdown run that put Washington up 34-16. Gibson now has 645 rushing yards and 11 touchdowns. He is only two behind Alfred Morris for the franchise's rookie record.
"Honestly, it's the story of my life," Gibson said. "Every time the spotlight comes on, it seems like God is always watching down on me. If you can think back to the SMU game, I feel like that right there put me on the map to get where I am now. And to be able to come out on national TV and do this is an amazing feeling."
Game Ball No. 3: Offensive Coordinator Scott Turner
Turner has shown in the past that he is not afraid to get creative with his play-calling, and that was on full display against the Cowboys. Not only did his offense put up at least 325 yards for the sixth straight game, but he also showed off two plays that helped keep the chains moving.
The first came on Washington's second drive of the first quarter; tight end Logan Thomas took a reverse handoff, dropped back and completed a 28-yard pass to McLaurin. That put Washington at Dallas' 36-yard line, which helped Gibson finish off the 75-yard drive with a five-yard touchdown.
The next play came on Washington's ensuing drive when it was trailing, 10-7. Smith took the snap and handed the ball off to J.D. McKissic between the running back's legs. Before the Cowboys knew what was happening, McKissic was already running for a six-yard gain. Washington was able to tie the score with a 23-yard field goal four plays later.
"Scott's got some innovation," Rivera said. "When you watch some of the things that we do, some of the things that we work on in practice, you can see the potential for big plays. Using the guys and getting them opportunities to use their skills -- that's huge. Doing what he did with Logan, that was big. Again, those are the things that we have players with specific skillsets, which we need to take advantage of."