ARLINGTON, Texas (AP) — That hurdle over an open field defender was just an instinctive move for Jake Ferguson. That unique celebration with the other three Dallas Cowboys after a touchdown a few games later was a plan he hatched in advance.
And it was Ferguson who got hit on the head during a live version of the Whac-A-Mole celebration in the Cowboys’ 28-20 Thanksgiving Day win, in another blow for the New York Giants in what was once a promising season who seem to be doing that break up with three losses in their last four games.
After rookie Peyton Hendershot scored on a 2-yard sweep and got behind the blocks of two other tight ends to get into the end zone, he immediately waved the rest of his group over to one of the Salvation Army’s oversized red cauldrons in the background end zone.
“We just saw the kettle and in the tight end room we were thinking about what we can do,” Ferguson said. “What if all three of us were in there and just played Whac-A-Mole? Because we knew Peyton had that game for a couple of weeks, and we knew he was going to get in there and we were going to have an opportunity.
Dalton Schultz, Sean McKeon and Ferguson all jumped into the cauldron and then started banging up and down before Hendershot used the football like a hammer and held it with both hands to hit Ferguson in the head.
“If all four tight ends are in, we’re going to get a touchdown, we’ve got to do something special,” Hendershot said. “When they (the play) called, we knew it was time to go.”
Schultz said he honestly didn’t know if three solid ends would fit in the cauldron together.
“I didn’t know it was muddy either, so I was a little bit happy about that,” Schultz said.
That was the final score for the Cowboys at their annual Thanksgiving game, which also serves as a kick-off for the Salvation Army’s holiday fundraiser.
While the tight ends weren’t the first to use the kettles as part of a touchdown celebration, they did as a group. Running back Ezekiel Elliott once dropped money and himself into the big red bucket, and another time he picked up Dak Prescott and put the quarterback in one.
“You have surpassed me. They capped my kettle celebrations,” Elliott said. “I’m a little jealous. You know they didn’t let me share it, but I love those tight ends.”
It was a celebration that wouldn’t have happened even if the Cowboys had won their previous game challenge, as CeeDee Lamb made an incredible catch from the back of the end zone. Coach Mike McCarthy called out after Lamb was ruled out and that call was upheld after the retest.
A few games before that, Ferguson leapt in the air to make a two-handed catch that turned into a 30-yard gain for the Giants 24. After catching in the open field near the 45, he took off and went over 6 hurdles—foot safety Jason Pinnock near the 30, then got a few more yards before sinking his shoulder into cornerback Rodarius Williams.
“Deleted someone? Never,” Ferguson said of the hurdle. “That will probably be the last time I jump this year because now the guys are going to go high, raise them up a bit. But yeah, I don’t really know how to explain that.”
As he lowered his head and entered Williams, Ferguson said, “My legs were maybe a little tired.”
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