ARLINGTON – It’s a classic cliche that is often applied to a Dallas-Washington meeting: “Throw the records out the window!’’ But in fact, in the history of this epic NFL series, team records are actually very predictive. To wit, coming into last Thursday’s Thanksgiving meeting at AT&T Stadium:
*When it’s the Redskins with a winning record, the Redskins are 23-10
*When it’s both teams with the same records, the series is 14-16-1
*When it’s the Cowboys with a winning record, the Cowboys are 28-17-1
And as Dallas came into the game 9-1 … guess what happened?
“’It’s a helluva ride,’’ Dallas defensive back Orlando Scandrick to me after the Cowboys’ 31-26 win. ‘And it’s just now beginning!’ Dallas is on quite a roll, with its two rookie MVP candidates taking lead roles. QB Dak Prescott accounted for two touchdowns and running back Ezekiel Elliott ran for a pair of scores and the Cowboys now not only run the NFC East with this sweep of a contending Washington team, but also can lay claim to being the best team in the NFC and NFL — and not just record-wise.
This is not a perfect team, despite its franchise-record-extending 10th straight victory. The defense allowed 449 yards passing and three touchdowns to Redskins QB Kirk Cousins — but as he’s the first Washington passer with a pair of 400-yard games in a season, maybe the visitors deserve some credit for being good … but just not good enough. By the way: If a team throws 53 times, as Washington did, it’s likely to rack up some passing yardage.
The Redskins are the defending champs in the division and are now a still-contending 6-4-1. But by getting swept in the season series, they fall 3.5 games behind Dallas with five games to play. Predictive? This is Dallas’ seventh win in the series on Thanksgiving Day in eight meetings, and it was powered by Dak’s resilience, Elliott’s bullishness (he totaled 97 yards to give him 1,199 for the season, extending his NFL-high number) and by Dez Bryant’s feistiness against over-matched Redskins corner Josh Norman.
“Hey, Fish,’’ Bryant yelled at me as he jogged into the winner’s locker room. “Tell Washington it needs to get its money back.’’
Dez’ retaliatory slap resonates from a year ago, when Norman issued the same remark to the media after he’d gotten the best of the then-injured Bryant. The trash talk continued in both locker rooms, Bryant telling me that Norman is “soft’’ and “lucky’’ and adding, “I wanted to beat him up. And if we were somewhere where nobody would find out, I would beat him up!’’
Norman accused Bryant of escalating the arguing beyond that, insisting that Dez said something on the field about “emptying a clip’’ — a gun-related phrase Dez vehemently denies saying. Later, Bryant calmed down, noting on Twitter, “I shouldn’t have even stooped down to (verbally accosting Norman). We have something special here in Dallas.’’
A maturing Dez is predictive. A win over the Redskins is predictive. And know this: In years in which the Cowboys make the playoffs, their record in Thanksgiving games is 22-7-1.
Easy prediction? This “helluva ride’’ Cowboys team is going again.