Reviewing the Dallas Cowboys last five Thanksgiving Day games

Thanksgiving Day losses sting more than the wins, but it hasn’t been that long since the Dallas Cowboys tasted victory.

Sep 18, 2016; Landover, MD, USA; Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Dez Bryant (88) talks to Washington Redskins cornerback Josh Norman (24) on the field in the first quarter at FedEx Field. Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

Sep 18, 2016; Landover, MD, USA; Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Dez Bryant (88) talks to Washington Redskins cornerback Josh Norman (24) on the field in the first quarter at FedEx Field. Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

I decided to change things up last week by going to a sports bar / restaurant to watch the Dallas Cowboys defeat the Baltimore Ravens. The venue was The Ale House in Pensacola, FL. I was happy to find that Cowboy Nation is strong there. It was fun interacting, which means friendly trash talking, with the really small amount of Baltimore Ravens fan base.

During a conversation with a divided couple – she was a die-hard New Orleans Saints fan and her husband, firmly Cowboy Nation – he mentioned that he has been waiting six years for a Cowboys victory on Thanksgiving.

This year should be different – the food should be delicious and the Tito’s vodka colder. In 2016, our 9 – 1 Cowboys will face the 6 – 3 – 1 Washington Redskins.

While the Cowboys 3rd ranked offense has always been prolific, it’s the defense exceeding expectations by being ranked 5th in points allowed. I enter every game being cautiously optimistic, but it hasn’t reduced my amount of trash talking – I mean “interaction”.

In the back of my mind, I have been wondering – Has it been that long since a Thanksgiving victory? Our conversation inspired this review, so thank you!

Apparently, the losses always sting more than the victories. The review will show that it hasn’t been that long since a Thanksgiving day victory – but I’ll admit, it does seem like it. Fire up the time machine!

Oct 4, 2015; New Orleans, LA, USA; New Orleans Saints cornerback Brandon Browner (39) and defensive end Bobby Richardson (78) tackle Dallas Cowboys running back Christine Michael (30) during the fourth quarter at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. The Saints won 26-20 in overtime. Mandatory Credit: Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

2010 – The Dallas Cowboys (3-7) faced the New Orleans Saints (7-3)

Head coach Wade Phillips was fired after the loss to the Green Bay Packers in Week 9.

I’ll never forget that night – we left Lambeau Field in the fourth quarter and he was fired before we reached the hotel room. I guess that’s why it seems like yesterday. It was Jason Garrett’s third game as head coach after two wins.

The Saints jumped out to an early 17 – 0 lead before the Cowboys kicked a field goal to get on the board. Slowly, quarterback Tony Romo led the team back and the Cowboys took the lead 27 – 23 with 5:51 remaining in the fourth.

With less than two minutes in the game, wide receiver Lance Moore scored on a 12 yard reception from quarterback Drew Brees. That gave the Saints the lead for good as they won 30 – 27.

I wonder how many people realize that Romo wasn’t the quarterback for that game. It was Jon Kitna. It wasn’t a good year. Our Cowboys finished with a 6 – 10 record. Despite our horrific defense, but we put up incredible offensive stats. In a loss against the Tennessee Titans, Romo threw for 406 yards.

Running back Marion Barber led a rushing attack for 141 yards and they dominated the time of possession with 36 minutes. The Cowboys finished with the 7th best scoring offense – 24.6 points per game, but finished with the 31st worst scoring defense – 27.3 points per game.

Aug 19, 2016; Arlington, TX, USA; Dallas Cowboys defensive end Mike McAdoo (66) and defensive back Isaiah Frey (23) tackle Miami Dolphins running back Isaiah Pead (22) during the second half at AT&T Stadium. The Cowboys defeat the Dolphins 41-14. Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

2011 – The Dallas Cowboys (6-4) faced the Miami Dolphins (3-7)

The beginning of the rebuilding years that general manager and owner Jerry Jones refuses to acknowledge. This time, the Cowboys faced the Miami Dolphins on Thanksgiving. The battle featured quarterbacks Tony Romo against his former understudy Matt Moore.

It was a close game with the Cowboys leading at the half 10 – 9. Wide receiver Brandon Marshall scored on a 35 yard pass reception. That was answered by an 18 yard touchdown pass to receiver Laurent Robinson. With the score 17 – 16, in favor of the Cowboys, the Dolphins’ Shayne Graham made a 23 yard field goal.

The Dolphins had scored on three straight drives of 70+ yards. It didn’t look good, but the Cowboys defense forced a three and out. Receiver Dez Bryant fielded the 56 yard punt and returned it 20 yards.

The ball was back in Romo’s hands with 2:59 seconds remaining. In 10 plays, Romo and running back DeMarco Murray moved the offense 54 yards to set up a game winning 28 yard field goal by Dan Bailey with 3 seconds on the clock. Ball game.

The Cowboys stumbled down the stretch that year and finished 8 – 8. They lost to the Arizona Cardinals, the Philadelphia Eagles and twice to the New York Giants. Romo finished the year with 4,184 yards, 31 touchdowns and 10 interceptions.

Under defensive coordinator Rob Ryan, the defense improved, but had nowhere to go but up. We finished 15th in scoring offense and 16th in scoring defense.

Dec 28, 2014; Landover, MD, USA; Washington Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III (10) throws the ball against the Dallas Cowboys in the first quarter at FedEx Field. Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

2012 – The Dallas Cowboys (5-5) faced the Washington Redskins (4-6)

In a game that seems more recent than 2012, quarterback Robert Griffin III and running back Alfred Morris had the Redskins up 28 – 3 by halftime.

I’ll never forget seeing safety Danny McCray getting roasted like a … like a … well, I’ll go with the obvious – roasted like a thanksgiving day turkey.

It wasn’t a good day for me personally because I’m from Washington, DC – the demon seed of two diehard Redskins fans. Whatever game plan the Cowboys had went out the window.

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They finished with 11 rushing attempts for 35 yards and asked Tony Romo to throw 62 times. He finished with 37 completions, 441 yards, 3 touchdowns and 2 interceptions. Romo finished the season with 4,903 passing yards, 28 touchdowns and 19 interceptions.

To conclude, the Cowboys scored a few touchdowns late and eventually cut the lead to seven points (35 – 28). The Redskins sealed it with a field goal and the final score was 38 – 31.

Somehow, it still feels like the Cowboys lost by twenty million billion points. I wouldn’t call the upcoming game in 2016 a “revenge” game – but a dominant performance by our offense would be an effective form of mouthwash.

Oct 23, 2016; Jacksonville, FL, USA; The Oakland Raiders emerge from the tunnel led byOakland Raiders quarterback Derek Carr (4) before a football game against the Jacksonville Jaguars at EverBank Field. Mandatory Credit: Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports

2013 – The Dallas Cowboys (6-5) faced the Oakland Raiders (4-7)

The second year of 8-8 under head coach Jason Garrett. In another one of those forgotten memories, the Dallas Cowboys (6 – 5) faced the Oakland Raiders (4 – 7). Anybody else remember this game?

The Cowboys played catch up for three quarters as the Raiders scored first with receiver Greg Jenkins returning a fumble by receiver Terrance Williams for a touchdown on the opening kickoff.

After tying the game, the Raiders jumped to a 21 – 7 lead. A 4 yard score by DeMarco Murray cut the lead to 7 and gave them momentum heading into the half.

Dez Bryant and Murray added Cowboys touchdowns and they finally led 28 – 21 in the beginning of the 4th quarter. Kicker Dan Bailey added a 19 yard field goal to make it a ten point lead.

The Raiders’ kicker, Sebastian Janikowski made a 45 yard field goal in with 35 seconds remaining and the game ended with a 31 – 24 Cowboys victory.

Murray gained 144 yards and 3 touchdowns on 30 carries. Romo went 23 – 32 passing for 225 yards and a touchdown. The Cowboys couldn’t build on the victory and went 1 – 3 to finish the season. The offense was ranked 5th in scoring with 27.4 points per game.

For the year, Romo had 31 touchdowns, 10 interceptions and 3,828 yards. The defense, coordinated by Monte Kiffin was ranked 26th and allowed 27 points per game.

Nov 8, 2015; Arlington, TX, USA; Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver Jordan Matthews (81) goes in for the game winning as he shakes Dallas Cowboys free safety J.J. Wilcox (27) touchdown during the overtime of a game at AT&T Stadium. Eagles won 33-27. Mandatory Credit: Ray Carlin-USA TODAY Sports

2014 –Dallas Cowboys (8-3) faced the Philadelphia Eagles (8-3)

This was our year to finally get over the hump. Cowboy Nation was tired of three straight seasons of 8 – 8 and Garrett was reportedly on the hot seat entering the season. Somehow, he discovered the benefits of running the football. The 8-3 Cowboys were facing the 8-3 Philadelphia Eagles.

The Eagles were being led by Mark Sanchez, but this game could be summed up in one stat. The Eagles rushing attack was dominant with 45 rushing attempts resulting in 256 yards and 2 touchdowns.

The Eagles had a 14 – 0 lead before DeMarco Murray scored on a 1 yard touchdown run. The Eagles then added four field goals and a 38 yard touchdown run by running back LeSean McCoy added to their lead.

The Cowboys lost 33 – 10 in a game that was never close. It was probably Romo’s worst performance of the season as he finished 18 – 29, 199 yards and 2 interceptions. Murray finished with 93 rushing yards and one touchdown on 25 attempts.

It was one of the few games that Murray didn’t gain 100 yards that season, but he did finish as the NFL’s leading rusher with 1,845 yards.

The Cowboys didn’t stumble down the home stretch that year. Romo finished the year with 3,705 yards, 34 touchdowns and 9 interceptions. The Cowboys offense ranked 5th in scoring with 29.2 points per game.

Defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli guided his squad to a 15th place ranking as they surrendered 22 points per game. The season ended with a loss in Green Bay where we probably needed the 10th place defense.

Nov 26, 2015; Arlington, TX, USA; Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton (1) signals for a first down against the Dallas Cowboys during the fourth quarter of a NFL game on Thanksgiving at AT&T Stadium. Carolina won 33-14. Mandatory Credit: Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

2015 – The Dallas Cowboys (3-7) faced the Carolina Panthers (10-0)

This was a painful season and a tough Thanksgiving game to watch. With our season in a nosedive after a 7 game losing streak, Romo returned early from injury to lead the team over the Miami Dolphins. Unfortunately, his 3-7 Cowboys had to face the red hot 10-0 Carolina Panthers three days later.

My fork sat motionless on my plate as I watched Romo get reinjured. He wasn’t sharp, but with Romo at the helm, I never felt that the Cowboys were out of it even after he had thrown three interceptions. He finished the day 11 of 21 for 106 yards. Quarterback Matt Cassel stepped in and went 13 of 19 for 93 yards.

The Panthers stopped the Cowboys rushing attack as they managed to gain 31 yards on 14 carries. The Panthers ballooned their lead and made the score 33 – 6. Cassel, in relief, added a late touchdown. The final score was 33 – 14 and I finished my food while hiding in the laundry room with a bottle of Tito’s vodka.

The Cowboys offense finished 31st in scoring with 17.2 points per game. The defense was ranked 16th and allowed 23.4 points per game. The team went 1 – 4 down the stretch. We all learned the importance of a quality backup quarterback.

That brings us to 2016 and you should be armed with facts when the family starts teasing you about losing on Thanksgiving. It’s our “friends and family” that cause us to forget the victories. Mention the Raiders and the Dolphins and watch them confirm it on their smart phones. This year though, I hope we won’t have to talk about the past. We’ll be able to point to the television and do some interacting.




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