Everything the Dallas Cowboys said after beating the New York Giants 28-20

Madeleine Cook/mcook@star-telegram.com

Everything the Dallas Cowboys players and coaches said after losing to the New York Giants 28-20 at AT&T Stadium on Thanksgiving.

All quotes are courtesy of the Dallas Cowboys and New York Giants media relations departments.

Coach Mike McCarthy

On the three games in 12 days stretch and the response after losing the game against Green Bay

“Obviously three different opportunities, the first one you lose it in overtime. Probably played our best game of the year last week or four days ago. Getting ready for this game was a challenge. Obviously New York, it sounds like a number of guys they left at home. We had a half-dozen or so guys that were fighting through an illness. It’s important for us to get healthy over the weekend and really all the way up until Wednesday. We’ll look at some Zoom calls and things like that for next week because it’s the flu and cold season. We were hit pretty good the last couple days. Obviously proud of the team for getting it done today, you know a division game, a lot of back and forth. To win a game when you have two to one penalties on your opponent, that’s obviously not where we want to be. I think it speaks to our ability or our capability as a team. The penalties, particularly you had the holdings, on both sides of the ball, you just go back through it. I thought the halftime was good as far as the adjustments. I liked the way we came out of halftime. The self-inflicted wounds we need to minimize, you obviously want to eliminate them, first thing is we got to lose cut at half, we’ve played the Giants twice, we had 11 penalties the first game, 13 today. We’ll take a hard look at it as a staff, excellent division win, game we had to have. I love the fight of the team. One of the things I’ll talk about is controlling the ball was a big focus for us today. I thought Kellen (Moore) did a really good job staying patient, I thought Dan (Quinn) stayed aggressive. A lot of good things, just the self-inflicted wounds we got to get improved and learn from today’s mistakes.”

On the success of the three tight end sets today

“I love the multiple tight end sets because it gives you the ability to play two back, one back or no backs offense and that’s really how I look at offense. Just the wrinkles that we are able to do off of that too, obviously the jet sweep to (Peyton) Hendershot there was a good play, especially after they packed it in on us on the early fourth down on the 93 ISO. It gives you flexibility, if you go back to earlier in the season, we were playing with 21, got 21 players on offense, we only had three tight ends up so, really getting Sean McKeon up every week has been huge for us. As you know the body type for special teams that’s what you’re looking for. You can’t have enough 6’4, 250-pound men on your football team. It creates favorable matchups on special teams too. I’m a big fan of the tight end position, frankly next to the quarterback, it’s the most demanding position as far as job responsibility, there’s involvement in the run, the protection and the pass. It’s been very useful for us this past month.”

On Jake Ferguson jumping over the safety

“I was just teasing him in the locker, I had a great view of it. I said the only reason he didn’t try to jump over the second guy is because he was so damn tired from jumping over the first guy. But you can get away with it once or twice, he needs to drop his pads more.”

On having the extra time at halftime and having guys fight through illness

“I thought the rotation was really good. The ability to know, we knew they were going through challenges too with their numbers and their players coming into it. So, time of possession was a real vocal point, they had been very good in that area. You look at their production throughout the season. They’ve done an excellent job of holding the ball and controlling the clock, winning tight games in the fourth quarter. We’re comfortable slugging it out until the fourth quarter, you have to be if you’re going to play that kind of game. We just felt time of possession was going to be a key characteristic to this victory today.”

On Dalton Schultz and CeeDee Lamb today

“Obviously with the attention we’re getting in the run game, we knew we were going to have some opportunities to have one on ones. CeeDee made some huge, huge plays down the field, you know had people all over him. I think it shows his athleticism, I thought it was a tremendous effort on the no-catch that we challenged for a possible touchdown. 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. I did know he had the front part of his foot in based off what we saw up top. Dalton he’s just steady and consistent, you can see the connection between him and Dak (Prescott). Both of those guys had a nice game today.”

On how big of an alteration was there today on the defensive side of the ball

“We’re just trying to roll those guys and keep them fresh. We had a couple decisions where we went up to the 90, so until every player arrived here, they did a great job of getting here a little extra early today. Just to make sure the medical staff, that they had the chance for IVs and all those things. But yeah, the rotation, going back to time of possession with the offense controlling the ball in the run game. I think it definitely, really helped us in the rotation, particularly in the defensive line.”

On Dak Prescott in the second half versus the first half

“Yeah, I mean we had some opportunities there early, if you look at that first series, had the two big play opportunities that we didn’t hit. The thing I always talk about to the team is big play opportunities. If you look at every game just based off the variables that we look at, as far of what determines a big play, there’s usually around 30 opportunities for big plays in a game. Right at halftime they were eight and we were at seven. So, we were minus one in that area, so you give them credit, they had the big long ball catch there, was a hell of a play, it was good coverage and that’s the NFL. I just think our ability to run the football, stay focused and keep taking our shots in all three phases. We felt confident that we were going to come out on the right end of this thing. I think our players do a great job of staying present, staying in the moment, just really focusing on, I mean we talked a lot about focus and discipline because it’s a you know division game, it was chippy up there in a Monday night game, the last time we played these guys and it obviously was there at the end. Really thrilled with the victory, so proud of the team and everything. We have a clear view of the things we need to work on, that’s definitely winning the penalties.”

On having 10 days before having to play again

“That’s super big, that was really the message after the game. We got to make sure you know take care of yourselves, your families. Get your environment, we need to learn from this pandemic. That’s why we’ll look at some Zoom opportunities for next week, we need to tackle this challenge. It’s going to be a challenge obviously here the next couple of weeks.”

Running Back, Ezekiel Elliot

On the running game being effective

I think it was a combination of everything. We had a great plan. Kellen (Moore) and Coach Philbin put together a great gameplan. The offensive line did a hell of a job executing the plan. Even on one of the plays, I got a little extra help from my quarterback. It’s funny because he’s been telling me the past couple of weeks, he’s like “Yeah on that play… you bring it all the way back, you just know that you have a lead blocker in me.”

On Dak beating the Giants 10 straight times

Wow. I mean it makes a lot of sense; we’ve had a lot of success in our division in our career but right now we’re a couple of games behind the Eagles. Today definitely helped with one step forward trying to challenge for the division title but we still have a lot of work to do.

On the tight ends Thanksgiving celebration in the kettle after the touchdown

I definitely have to give them their props. They topped me. They topped my kettle celebrations. I’m a little jealous they didn’t let me in on it. But I love those tight ends, we’ve got a hell of a tight end room. All four of them are playing great ball.

On the mood at halftime

It was all very focused. We knew that we didn’t play our best ball in the first half. We played alright but we knew we had to clean a lot of stuff up and just be better. We made our adjustments, and we came out and we scored on what, our first two or three drives in the second half on offense. And our defense got after the quarterback.

On the new uniforms today

Man, the uniforms are sick. We finally got to throw on the Thanksgiving uniforms and put those white helmets on. There’s no way we could lose looking as fresh as we did.

Tight End, Jake Ferguson

On the inspiration for the kettle celebration

I think we just saw the kettle and we were brainstorming in the tight end room like what can we do? I think we can pop up and down. I was like what about if all three of us are in there we just play whack-a-mole. Because we knew Peyton (Hendershot) had that play in for a couple of weeks and we knew he was going to get in there and have an opportunity.

On the last time he jumped over someone

Never. Cleared somebody? Never. I don’t even know.

Was it instincts?

Yeah, but it probably shouldn’t be instincts anymore. That will probably be the last time I jump this year because now guys will be going high, and it sets people up a little bit. But I don’t really know how to explain that one.

On if he was worried about his knee when he was on the field

A little bit yeah but we’ve got a great training staff. They let me know all the stuff, everything. I said Hey, this is a divisional game I want to play, do whatever we have to do. So, sleeve and back in there and then we’ve got a long weekend. A little Tylenol helped too.

On how successful the offense is with the 13 and 14 personnel group

It’s hard to stop. I mean I’m not on the defensive side, but I can only imagine you see three tight ends come out, most every other team is going to think run and sometimes we split out and run a pass. It’s just mixing up personnel and plays so it keeps them on their toes. Coach Moore is always thinking about stuff like that. Sometimes you do get out there and its like oh they’re thinking run and then all of a sudden you split out and we’re in three by one formation pass formation and you can see everybody’s eyes and they’re like what do we do? That’s kind of a good feeling. It’s a good switch-up and in the tight end room they call us the four horsemen. Me, Sean (McKeon), Dalton (Schultz) and Peyton (Hendershot). If they call our numbers in that room, we make sure we call it.

Wide Receiver, CeeDee Lamb

On the offense’s response in the second half

We were preaching on resilience. I feel like that’s our motto this year and then everything about this season has been revealing itself. Just understanding that we’re always coming to battle, ready for whatever.

On the rhythm and momentum building every week

Most definitely. We still feel that. I understand how late it is in the season, but I didn’t have the first half. We still have a couple of mishaps. We still came out victorious, got a couple of completions in the clutch. It’s just understanding that there’s going to be a couple of incompletions and we’ll get it back next drive.

On the one-handed catch down the sideline

To be honest I had been getting held all night. They were holding one arm, it was the same arm, the left one so I only had the right hand and had to start using it.

On Jake Ferguson leaping over the defender

I mean I loved it. I loved it, I loved it. Don’t get me wrong… He’s got to stay on the ground. My man just messed up his knee, he’ll be alright but good play by him.

On winning the game despite 13 penalties

Man, I don’t know that’s self-inflicted. We have to fix that. Honestly, I feel like the situations we were in and where we’re going to be, 13 penalties are not going to cut it, so we know we have to fix that. As far as playing and playing style, we were very physical, and we did what we had to come out victorious.

On the uniforms

Come on man, you know boy gotta stay fly.

*laughter*

But I for sure loved the fit. That was my first time actually wearing the throwback uni’s and it felt good to represent the ’Boys.

Tight End Dalton Schultz

On the opportunity to score today

Honestly, I was just doing my job. When my number is called, I treat it like every other paly. It just felt good to execute the way we did in the second half.

On the relationships with the tight end room

Yeah, that’s what it is. It helps set the tempo in our room, our meetings are always engaging, always fun. We’re always learning something new. We have a group that compliments each other’s skillset really well. To come out and have the production like we did today, that was awesome.

On what happened in the second half

We just started playing together. We came in, not a whole lot changed, just a couple minute adjustments. Honestly, we kept calling basically the same stuff that we called in the first half, but we were just executing and mixing it up. I’ve said this from day one I feel like we’re at our most dangerous when we run the ball and I think we did a good job of executing.

On the depth on offense

I’ll just say, as a whole, it’s a selfless group. Nobody cares who’s really getting the credit right now and you’ve got a dangerous football team when that happens. A lot of guys playing for each other and again I think the execution coming out in the second half was just at an all-time high and that’s selfless football.

On being 8-3

“I feel real good where we are. I think the one thing you do know here in this league, there’s so much football that’s left. I think to the earlier question about Green Bay, Minnesota and then here, the disappointment of not winning definitely is gut wrenching, but you do know in one week’s time or in seven days, or 11 days you know things can flip pretty quickly. There’s a lot of football to be played. The nice part about where we are is you know we control our own destiny. I really don’t count numbers, you guys laugh when I first said it, but until you get to 11 wins it’s great reading the paper for-we don’t get the paper anymore but it’s good read. It’s on the internet. I used to deliver papers, I have great respect for your industry, Pittsburgh Press.”

LB Micah Parsons

On stopping Saquon Barkley

Micah Parsons: I thought we did a pretty good. He might have had one, maybe two explosive runs. But, for the most part, contained him and made sure everything was short. They passed way more than we expected. I think we did a pretty good job for the way he’s been playing this year.

On showing more resilience during the second half

MP: Yeah, we had to come out and fight. Definitely not a pretty first round. Definitely not the way you want to start but, for the most part we came out in that second half and dominated.

On the importance of execution on third down

MP: Just getting off the field. I think that is the key, the more we can get the ball back to the offense, it’s better for things to get going. The more drives we can get them, the more they can perfect their rhythm, the more they can put points on the board as you can see towards the end of the game.

On playing well and getting the win on a day like this

MP: I mean, not just for the organization but in general. We just got to count our blessings and be thankful and having gratitude, we were able to be healthy enough to come out here and play. Healthy enough to leave the field. Just gratitude that we made it to another day, another Thanksgiving. That’s what it is really all about. It’s so special here because I think everyone is here, thankful to be here, representing the cause, and just thankful overall.

On what does it say about the team playing back-to-back

MP: It just says that we are building in the right direction so that we can fight through anything within a short week. The Vikings are playing a home game through injuries and so forth to come back four days later and pull off that win. It’s a huge momentum booster. This is leading towards next week for that Sunday night game.

On guys getting sick during the week and keeping a positive mentality

MP: I’m pretty sure everyone stayed positive. I think it’s just the flu bug going around. Everyone is catching it. Even the Giants caught it, it’s obviously going around. But, just staying positive knowing that if someone goes down we know that we’re so deep over here. Just knowing that the next guy can cover the play no matter what.

CB Trevon Diggs

On what does this mean for the division, kind of jumped them

Trevon Diggs: Did we? Where are we at?

Reporter: Second place

TD: Second place. That sound good. So what we got to do now, beat Philly?

R: Beat Philly on Christmas eve

On getting a win on Thanksgiving

TD: It feels good. It feels really good to be back home. The fans came and showed out for us.

S Jayron Kearse

On trusting each other and staying to gaps, what does it say about the direction of defense

Jayron Kearse: We’re definitely going in the right direction. When it comes to just being sound in our task and our fundamentals when it comes to our job. Just handling our responsibility. You definitely saw that tonight, holding a phenomenal back, like Saquon to the yards that he had. It’s a statement for the things to come if we continue to do the right thing.

On three games in 12 days, being closer to sequence after Green Bay

JK: That thing that happened in Green Bay, you know it’s just a part of our journey. If that doesn’t happen then who knows if we’re here. We just continue to fight and just learn from our mistakes.

On any defensive play that stood out to you

JK: There’s not really one that stood out to me. It was a play that stood out to me and that was when Saquon breaks Donovan [Wilson] out of the middle of the field and sticks. That’s a playback, that stood out to me. Saquon is a load, and the way Donovan hit him, he won that matchup. He won that matchup one-on-one, mano-to-mano and [number six] came out on top.