FRISCO, Texas (AP) — The Dallas Cowboys are cruising through the take-care-of-business part of their schedule.
They have one more before they get back to the prove-it portion.
Dallas (7-3) is set to play Washington on Thanksgiving for the 11th time Thursday after a 33-10 win at Carolina that was the Cowboys' second straight 20-plus-point victory over a double-digit underdog.
Those two wins came after a 28-23 loss to Philadelphia that made any path to the NFC East title difficult. Dallas awaits a rematch with the defending NFC and division champion — the second of five consecutive games after Thanksgiving against teams currently with winning records.
But the Commanders (4-7) come first after they had six turnovers in a 31-19 loss to the New York Giants that damaged, perhaps irreparably, their playoff hopes.
It's a third consecutive game as a double-digit favorite for Dallas, according to FanDuel Sportsbook.
“They may be a wounded animal now, but they’ve still got fangs,” left guard Tyler Smith said Monday. “So you can get bit. That’s just how that is.”
While the final score looked like it was supposed to against the one-win Panthers, Dallas' lead was just 17-10 entering the fourth quarter.
The Cowboys couldn't breathe easy until DaRon Bland tied an NFL record with his fourth interception return for a touchdown this season, giving Dallas TDs just 10 seconds apart for a 30-10 lead.
“A lot of good to come out of this, and frankly, we’re not going to spend a whole lot of time (on it),” coach Mike McCarthy said after the game. “We’ll be watching Washington on the way home. I’m sorry I’m not here to go ticky-tack with you on stats today. I apologize. My mind is already on to the next one.”
Prescott's run of three consecutive 300-yard games ended, along with receiver CeeDee Lamb's three straight games with at least 10 catches and 150 yards, an NFL first.
The offense was efficient, though. Lamb had a touchdown to give him a score in three of the past four games.
Tight end Jake Ferguson's three-game TD streak ended, but his 24-yard catch on third-and-5 on the final play of the third quarter kept things from getting really interesting when Dallas was up just seven.
“Yeah, got the job done,” Prescott said. “To say it was clean and to say that we did exactly what we wanted to do, I can’t say that. Got to go look at the film, but you’ll take the win any way we can get it.”
The Cowboys are rushing the passer and protecting Prescott with equal efficiency.
Micah Parsons tied a career high with 2 1/2 sacks a week after going without a tackle for the first time in his three-year career. He reached 10 sacks to become the first Dallas player with at least that many in each of his first three seasons.
Sam Williams' fourth sack matched the total from his rookie year in 2022 as the Cowboys tied their season high by dropping rookie No. 1 overall pick Bryce Young seven times.
Prescott hasn't been sacked in the past two games after getting dropped at least three times in each of the previous five. It's just the second time Prescott hasn't been sacked in consecutive games. The other was last season.
WHAT NEEDS HELP
Parsons' choice for hydration. He was seen throwing up on the sideline in the first half. McCarthy said he wasn't sick.
“To my understanding, he had an energy drink that I guess hadn’t drank before, but he is fine,” McCarthy said. “Sounds like he had a little stomach reaction to that. I think it worked out for him, though. Maybe he should drink it next week, too.”
RB Tony Pollard finally scored for the first time since Week 1 on a 21-yard run in the fourth quarter. His 61 yards rushing were the most since his only 100-yard game of the season in Week 3.
It's hard to nitpick a defense that scored for the fifth time this season and gave up just 187 yards. But Dallas allowed three fourth-down conversions on a 17-play drive that consumed almost nine minutes as the Panthers pulled within a touchdown late in the third quarter.
TE Peyton Hendershot is close to a return from an ankle injury that has sidelined him for seven games. The Cowboys figure to wait at least another game because of the short week. Hendershot said he has been cleared for all activities.
49 — The final number of consecutive made field goals and extra points for 28-year-old rookie Brandon Aubrey after missing a PAT on his first-ever NFL kick. Aubrey's run ended when he was wide left on the extra point following Bland's latest pick-6. But his NFL record of consecutive made field goals to start a career is intact, and now up to 21.
Three straight games at home, where the Cowboys are unbeaten. After the Thanksgiving game against the Commanders, Seattle visits in another Thursday game. Then the Eagles come in on Dec. 10. This will be the seventh time since 2014 for Dallas to have the Thursday-Thursday pairing with Thanksgiving.
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