ARLINGTON, Texas (AP) — That hurdle on a defender in the open was just a gut move for Jake Ferguson. That unique party with the other three The Dallas Cowboys tight end after a touchdown a few plays later was a scheme he had concocted in advance.
And it was Ferguson who was hit over the head in a live version of the Whac-A-Mole celebration in the Cowboys’ 28-20 Thanksgiving victory, in another hit for the New York Giants in a once-promising season that looks to be unraveled with three defeats in their last four games.
After rookie Peyton Hendershot scored on a 2-yard fly sweep, cutting behind blocks from two other tight ends to get into the end zone, he immediately motioned the rest of his group to one of Army’s big red kettles of Salvation in the back of the end zone.
“We just saw the kettle and were just brainstorming in the narrow room, like what can we do,” Ferguson said. “What if all three of us were in there and played Whac-A-Mole. Because we knew Peyton had been acting for a couple of weeks, and we knew she was going to get in there and we’d have an opportunity.”
Dalton Schultz, Sean McKeon and Ferguson all jumped into the kettle then started bouncing up and down before Hendershot used the football like a club, holding it with both hands hitting Ferguson on the top of the head.
“If all four tight ends are there, we’re going to score a touchdown, we have to do something special,” Hendershot said. “When they called (the show), we knew it was time to go.”
Schultz said he honestly didn’t know if three tight ends would go into the kettle together.
“I didn’t even know it was fluffy, so I was kind of happy about it,” Schultz said.
That was the last score for the Cowboys in their annual Thanksgiving game that doubles as the kickoff for the Salvation Army’s holiday fundraiser.
While tight ends weren’t the first to use kettles as part of a touchdown celebration, they did so as a group. Running back Ezekiel Elliott once dropped money and himself in the big red bucket, and another time he grabbed Dak Prescott and put the quarterback in one.
“They overtook me. They’ve outgrown my kettle celebrations,” Elliott said. “I’m a little jealous. You know they didn’t let me in, but I love those tight ends.”
It was a celebration that wouldn’t have even happened if the Cowboys had won the game on the previous play, when CeeDee Lamb made an incredible catch in the back of the end zone. Head coach Mike McCarthy contested after Lamb was called out of bounds, and that call was upheld upon replay review.
A few plays earlier, Ferguson leapt into the air to make a two-handed catch on what turned into a 30-yard gain for the Giants 24. After the open field catch near the 45, he took off and went into hurdles over 6-foot safe Jason Pinnock near 30, then gained a few more yards before digging his shoulder into cornerback Rodarius Williams.
“Deleted someone? Never,” Ferguson said of the hurdle. “It will probably be the last time I jump this year because now the guys are going to the top, it prepares them a bit. But yeah, I really don’t know how to explain it.”
Regarding the head ducking and bullying of Williams, Ferguson said: “My legs may have been a little tired.”
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Stephen Hawkins, Associated Press