ARLINGTON, Texas (AP) — Washington Commanders coach Ron Rivera has a pleasant Thanksgiving memory against the Dallas Cowboys.
So much has changed since then.
A lopsided holiday victory at Dallas three years ago in Rivera’s first season with Washington came in the midst of a four-game winning streak, with the team on the way to its first playoff berth in five seasons.
Now, after the Commanders’ 45-10 loss Thursday in their 11th Thanksgiving Day game against Dallas, the first since that 25-point victory in 2020, there will only be more questions about Rivera’s future in Washington.
The biggest is, will he even make it to their next holiday game, a Christmas Eve matchup at the New York Jets?
“I’ve told you before, I’m not worried about it,” Rivera said. “I’m going to just do my job and see how things go. That’s the only thing I can do.”
The Commanders (4-8) have lost eight of 10 since a promising start for the club’s new ownership group in September, when they won their first two games.
“This is the league, this is this business. It’s a brutal business, so whatever happens, happens,” tackle Charles Leno Jr. said.
“We’re just going to roll with the punches, whatever comes our way, and just try to come back next week,” receiver Terry McLaurin said. “Players don’t make those decisions. Our job is to go out there and practice hard and perform better than we did. So we didn’t hold up our end of the bargain on that.”
A late playoff run certainly seems unlikely for the Commanders. They would have to win their final five games just to avoid a seventh consecutive non-winning season — after going 8-8-1 last year, and making the playoffs at 7-9 in Rivera’s debut.
AFC East leader Miami visits next week and Washington then gets its bye week before playing at the Los Angeles Rams and Jets. The regular season wraps up at home against NFC West leader San Francisco and then versus the Cowboys in the finale.
When quarterback Sam Howell scored on a 1-yard run with 1:51 left in the first half, the Commanders were within 14-10. But they trailed 20-10 at halftime after allowing Dallas to quickly go 75 yards in five plays for a touchdown.
That was still the score going into the fourth quarter before the Cowboys broke loose for 25 points.
“We were in the game and were fighting and scratching, and basically lost control of it in the latter part of the third quarter,” Rivera said.
The last Dallas points came on DaRon Bland’s single-season NFL record fifth interception return for a touchdown after he stepped in front of Howell’s pass intended for Jahan Dotson and ran free up the Cowboys sideline before having to cut back inside to avoid the pursuing Washington quarterback.
McLaurin and running back Brian Robinson Jr. were the last hope for a tackle just outside the 10-yard line, but Bland sidestepped both for the 63-yard score.
Four days earlier, Washington committed six turnovers in a 31-19 loss to the Giants, who were coming off a 49-17 loss at Dallas. New York (3-8) is the only team below the Commanders in the NFC East standings.
“At the end of the day in the NFL, you have to do your job. And as players, we’re not getting the job done, as coaches we’re not getting the job done,” veteran defensive tackle Johnathan Allen said. “So I don’t think anyone’s getting the job done.”
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