The race was on.
Smith appeared destined for pay dirt and a tie ballgame.
The wideout took off after Smith, evaded a poor block attempt by the Cowboys' Leighton Vander Esch, and was able to clip the linebacker before he hit the end zone.
The tackle saved Washington four points as the defense held Dallas to a field goal. McLaurin's club then reeled off a 21-0 run from there to close out the blowout Thanksgiving win 41-16.
"It's a different type of mentality," McLaurin said, via the team's official website. "You can't quit on any type of play, and I just wanted to fight until the whistle blew."
The play helped vault Washington into the lead in the NFC East at 4-7.
"It's a huge play, because all it did was give us a chance," coach Ron Rivera said. "Terry gave our defense a chance, the defense bowed its neck and forced the field goal."
McLaurin has been Washington's go-to playmaker on offense. The second-year wideout sits at 1,882 yards for his young career, joining Charlie Brown (1,975) as the only Washington players since at least 1970 to have 1,800-plus receiving yards in their first 25 career games, per NFL Research.
The hustle to track down Smith and prevent a game-tying touchdown was the type of game-altering play McLaurin has come to expect from himself.
"That's what you gotta do when you're a leader on the team," he said. "You just gotta ... never give up on any plays because you never know what can happen. That ended up being a big play for us. We preach that in our wide receiver room to play through every single play, and you never know what's going to happen. I'm glad it worked out for us."