CeeDee Lamb could only smile when officials upheld an out-of-bounds call on what the Dallas receiver hoped would be a touchdown on his second one-handed catch of the game.
He had to settle for setting up three TDs instead.
Lamb put the Cowboys in position for one of Dak Prescott’s two scoring passes to Dalton Schultz and Ezekiel Elliott’s TD run in a 28-20 victory over the New York Giants on Thanksgiving Day in Arlington, Texas.
The toe-tapping TD Lamb thought he set up for himself instead became rookie Peyton Hendershot running for the 2-yard score, then directing all three of his fellow tight ends into a giant Salvation Army red kettle for a Whac-A-Mole celebration with Dallas an extra point away from a 28-13 lead.
“I definitely thought the CeeDee catch was a touchdown,” Prescott said after his 10th consecutive victory over the Giants (7-4). “I went to the sideline, dropped my helmet and everything.
“The Whac-A-Mole was great. The guys told me about it early in the week. They were worried about getting fined or getting a penalty. We said, ‘Make sure you’re up two touchdowns. We got a couple of guys that can help with the fine. So, go for it.’”
The victory ended a three-game Thanksgiving losing streak for the Cowboys (8-3), who moved a game ahead of the Giants in the NFC East while sweeping the season series. Philadelphia (9-1) leads the division.
Saquon Barkley was held to 39 yards rushing with a 1-yard TD behind a makeshift offensive line missing three starters because of injury in New York’s third loss in the past four games.
Dallas, the NFL leader in sacks coming in, dropped Daniel Jones three times while limiting him to 14 yards rushing after he ran for first downs seven times in the first meeting, a 23-16 Dallas win.
Jones’ TD pass to Richie James in the final seconds was too late for the Giants to take advantage of a 2-0 takeaway edge in the second Thanksgiving meeting out of 122 overall in the storied rivalry.
“It’s a divisional game and we didn’t play our best. That’s always disappointing,” Jones said. “We’ve got a really good opportunity with big games down the stretch. We’ve put ourselves in a good position. We’re still confident.”
The Giants thought they had the game’s first touchdown on Jones’ pass to Isaiah Hodgins, but Tyre Phillips, playing out of position at right tackle, was flagged as an ineligible receiver downfield.
New York coach Brian Daboll screamed in disagreement to one of the officials, and the Giants ended up settling for a field goal.
“You’ll have to ask the officials,” Daboll said when asked about the negated TD, in one of several curt replies to reporters after the game.
Prescott’s TD tosses to Schultz came about five minutes apart in the third quarter, turning a 13-7 deficit into a 21-13 lead. The first was a 15-yarder on third and goal.
The Dallas quarterback’s winning streak against the Giants started after he lost to them twice when the Cowboys went 13-3 his rookie year in 2016.
Lamb, who finished with six catches for 106 yards, had a 25-yard grab over the middle before Elliott’s 6-yard scoring run on the first play of the second quarter.
The first one-handed grab by Lamb was a 15-yarder before Schultz’s second TD. A 23-yarder put Dallas at the 2, and Lamb thought he made another one-handed catch in the back of the end zone.
Mike McCarthy challenged the ruling that the toe-tapper was out of bounds. Referee Scott Novak was quite specific in upholding the call, saying a heel touched the back line before the second foot got down.
The Cowboys — and Lamb — were so confident about it being overturned, they had their PAT unit on the field after seeing the replay.
“I didn’t have a clean view of it, just based off the information, so I really wasn’t sure if he did get the heel down or not,” McCarthy said. “I did know he had the front part of his foot in based off what we saw up top.”
Elliott had a season-high 92 yards rushing, and the Cowboys overcame two interceptions from Prescott, who threw for 261 yards.
TWO MORE AGAIN
Dallas pass-rushing star Micah Parsons had his sixth two-sack game of the season, accounting for all of his team-leading 12. “I said, ‘If you get one, you’ve always got to get seconds,’” Parsons said.
Graham Gano tied the New York record for longest field goal with a 57-yarder in the first quarter. The kick came on fourth and 32 after the negated TD and an intentional grounding penalty on Jones.
Illness sidelined three Cowboys who would have been active in DT Johnathan Hankins, DE Tarell Basham and CB Kelvin Joseph. … Giants CB Cor’Dale Flott left in the third quarter to be evaluated for a concussion.
Giants: Washington visits Dec. 4 in the first of three consecutive NFC East games for the Giants. The third of those is another meeting with the Commanders.
Cowboys: A three-game homestand continues Dec. 4 against Indianapolis. Another AFC South opponent (Houston) follows Dec. 11 to finish that home stretch.
— The Associated Press