ARLINGTON, Texas — Antonio Gibson ran for three touchdowns, Alex Smith had a scoring pass and Washington at least temporarily moved into first place in the woeful NFC East with a 41-16 Thanksgiving victory over the Dallas Cowboys on Thursday.
Gibson’s second score was a 23-yard run on the first play after an ill-advised fake punt attempt by Dallas as Washington beat its division rival on Thanksgiving for just the second time in 10 tries, the most frequent visitor for the Cowboys in their annual holiday home game.
Washington (4-7) slides ahead of Philadelphia (3-6-1) in the NFC East and will stay in first place if the Eagles lose to Seattle on Monday night. It was the third win in five games since a five-game losing streak dropped Washington to 1-5.
Dallas (3-8) couldn’t build on a big win at Minnesota, losing for the fifth time in six games since star quarterback Dak Prescott’s season-ending ankle injury. The Cowboys were playing a day after strength coach Markus Paul died at a hospital following a medical emergency at the team’s facility.
The Cowboys trailed 20-16 when they faced a fourth-and-10 from their 24-yard line early in the fourth quarter. Darian Thompson took the snap in front of punter Hunter Niswander and pitched to Cedrick Wilson on a reverse that was stuffed for a 1-yard loss.
On the next play, Gibson easily beat the Dallas defense to the left pylon. After another Dallas punt, Gibson capped a clock-killing drive with a 37-yard score for a 34-16 lead.
Washington made it a blowout when Montez Sweat tipped and intercepted a pass right in the face of Andy Dalton and was free to run 15 yards for a TD.
Gibson, who already was the rookie leader in touchdowns rushing and now has 11, finished with 115 yards on 20 carries.
And two-time rushing champion Ezekiel Elliott of Dallas had just 32 yards while losing his fifth fumble of the season, by far the most of his five-year career.
Smith’s touchdown pass was a 5-yarder to tight end Logan Thomas, who chunked the ball into the second deck of seats not long after his 28-yard pass to receiver Terry McLaurin on a trick play set up Gibson’s first TD.
McLaurin had the defensive play of the game, running down Dallas linebacker Jaylon Smith after an interception and tackling him at the Washington 4. With a chance at the tying touchdown, the Cowboys went 6 yards the wrong direction and had to settle for a short field goal.
Dallas’ last lead was 10-7 in the second quarter after Dalton’s 54-yard touchdown pass to Amari Cooper, who had 112 yards on six catches.