Dallas gets shorter-than-usual Thanksgiving turn
IRVING, Texas (AP) — George Selvie rushed out of Dallas’ locker room, already prepared for some down time on a short week even by the standards of the Thanksgiving-trained Cowboys.
The defensive end was wearing Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle pajama pants.
“Oh yeah man,” Selvie said when asked if he had gotten some rest. “Why do you think I came up here in pajamas?”
The Cowboys landed around 5 a.m. local time Monday after a 31-28 victory over the New York Giants pulled them even with Philadelphia atop the NFC East at 8-3. That game ended about 90 hours before they kick off against the Eagles at home on Thanksgiving.
Dallas players were home for only a few hours Monday morning, which was more time than coach Jason Garrett spent in his own bed. He didn’t go home, catching a short nap at the end of the flight and another one in his office.
Not that the rare Sunday-night-Thursday-afternoon turnaround changed much for the process-oriented Garrett.
“Regular Thanksgiving Monday,” he said. “Back to work, clean up the game as quickly as you can and get on to the next one.”
And it’s a big one, but in a different way for the Cowboys. They are used to high-stakes division games because they have finished each of the past three seasons with a loss to an NFC East foe with a playoff berth on the line.
Dallas’ postseason fate won’t be sealed in the first of two meetings with the Eagles over 18 days. The Cowboys have a little flexibility after Tony Romo’s second touchdown pass to Dez Bryant with 1:01 remaining forced the Giants to settle for the thrill of Odell Beckham Jr.’s spectacular one-handed scoring catch in the first half.
Had New York ended a five-game losing streak, Dallas might have needed a sweep of the Eagles to end a four-year playoff drought, despite a 6-1 start. Instead, the Cowboys have answered a two-game skid with consecutive wins, and can put themselves in prime position by winning on the same field where the Eagles grabbed a postseason spot last season.
“I think the excitement and adrenaline can override how tired you are,” tight end Jason Witten said. “It’s a great opportunity for us. You can’t worry about anything else. Just get through it and move forward.”
Defensive end Jeremy Mincey said “not at all” when asked how much sleep he got before Monday’s meetings and light walkthrough practice. Then he glanced at a clock in the locker room.
“It’s 5:23 now?” Mincey asked. “So I’ll be asleep by 7:30 and catch up.”
And Mincey’s not worried. He says the bye week before beating the Giants means the Cowboys are a little fresher than normal this late in the season.
“Sometimes it’s good to play games closer to games,” Mincey said. “Your experience is closer. Your wind is up because you just played a game. We look forward to the challenge.”
Garrett said the coaches graded the New York film on the plane and “didn’t spend a long time on it” with the players a few hours later Monday.
“We really emphasized to them that it’s Wednesday morning,” Garrett said. “Start thinking that way. It’s first- and second-down day for us. Tomorrow we are going to wake up and it’s Thursday. It will be a third-down day and the same kind of thing.”
Witten, who has more catches than anyone on Thanksgiving as he gets ready for his 12th game, says the slightly quicker turnaround does feel different.
“But you are tired regardless,” he said. “You have to be able to move on quickly. Evaluate that one and move on to the next one. That is the focus.”
NOTES: S Jeff Heath and DT Jack Crawford have broken thumbs that will require surgery. Heath said he hopes to play Thursday, but Garrett didn’t offer a timetable on their returns. ... WR Terrance Williams has a broken index finger but is likely to play with a splint. ... DT Davon Coleman cleared waivers and was added to the practice squad.
Follow Schuyler Dixon on Twitter at https://twitter.com/apschuyler