McCoy takes the reins as Redskins head to Dallas

Washington Redskins quarterback Colt McCoy (12) celebrates running back Adrian Peterson's touchdown during the second half of an NFL football game against the Houston Texans, Sunday, Nov. 18, 2018 in Landover, Md. (AP Photo/Mark Tenally)

WASHINGTON — The last time Colt McCoy started an NFL game was in 2014.

McCoy started three games that year for the Redskins with the first start coming in Dallas, as the 2-5 Redskins turned to their third string quarterback on Monday Night Football at Jerry World against the first place Cowboys, and he delivered. He finished 25 of 30 for 299 yards and ran for a seven-yard touchdown as the Redskins prevailed in overtime, 20-17.

That snapped the Cowboys’ six-game winning streak and helped Washington win back-to-back games for the first time since the end of the 2012 season.

McCoy gets another shot at the Cowboys on Thursday in a pivotal game, as Dallas is now just one game behind the Washington in the NFC East. He hates to have the opportunity come up this way, but knows that this is the NFL and you have to move on. While he feels horrible for Alex Smith, McCoy is at ease knowing Smith is behind him 100 percent.

“Alex is a true professional,” McCoy said. “He wants the best for everybody and he just told me to go run with it, go have fun, and just be me. That’s what I’ll try to do.”

How much does he remember about that Monday night four years ago, and how similar is the situation Thanksgiving Day?

“Well, I think it’s a lot different,” said McCoy. “I mean, that was several years ago. I think the Cowboys are definitely a different team. They do different things on defense. That was against [Tony] Romo, so it’s been a while.”

The Redskins beat the Cowboys in October, so memories are still somewhat fresh in Washington’s locker room.

“After watching tape of the Cowboys a few weeks ago when we played them and watching them again this week, they have two huge wins on the road and their defense is playing at a really high level,” said McCoy. “You just don’t see a whole lot of guys running open against them and they’re pretty good against the run. They’re well coached. They’re disciplined. You don’t catch them off guard too many times. We’ve got our work cut out for us.”

As he heads back to Texas, close to where he grew up in Tuscola, McCoy knows he has the support of his hometown.

“Everyone there means so much to me and that’s a special part of me,” he said. “Right now, my focus is on this team and how I can help this team this week because I know they’re counting on me.”

McCoy is presented with a great opportunity in front of him. He takes over for a first-place team against its most hated rival on national television. He has prepared his whole career for opportunities like this and his coach has the utmost trust in him.

“I have confidence in Colt, always have,” Jay Gruden said. “I’m a big, firm believer in Colt McCoy’s ability to play football in the National Football League. This is an opportunity of a lifetime for him. I know he would like it in different circumstances, but things happen for a reason. It’s an opportunity for Colt and I think he’ll take advantage of it.”

McCoy just wants to keep it simple on Thursday.

“I’m thankful to get the opportunity to play,” he said. “I just need to get guys the ball, get Adrian Peterson going, spread the field and count on the guys around me. I don’t have to go out there and do anything special.”

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