Cowboys Roll Over Raiders
It was a good news/bad news kind of day for the Cowboys. Bad news – Tony Romo said he caught a virus the day before Thanksgiving so he wasn’t at his sharpest. The good news is that DeMarco Murray, Lance Dunbar and the Cowboys offensive line were feeling good. Good news – that Murray scored three touchdowns and ran for 63 yards and Dunbar–the free agent from North Texas–picked up a career-high 82 yards and averaged 6.8 yards per carry, which is about his average this season. Cowboys win, 31-24, and improve to 7-5–the first time in a year that they’ve been two games above .500. As we’ve mentioned right here in the past, Dunbar is a real weapon for Dallas and always seems to make something happen when the ball is in his hands. Bad news is that Dunbar sprained his knee near the end of the game and will be evaluated by the doctor’s. Good news is that having played two games in five days, the Cowboys will now have 11 days until they travel to Chicago for their next game and Dunbar has time to heal.
After Terrance Williams had the opening kickoff return stripped out of his arms and returned for a very quick touchdown the Cowboys once again had to dig themselves out of a hole. The second quarter was one of the worst quarters for Dallas all season. Oakland controlled the ball for all but 2:05 of the quarter and converted almost every third down play. The Raiders led 21-7 with just under 2:00 to play before halftime but Romo somehow got his very cold offense heated up and went 73 yards in 8 plays–ending with a Murray 4 yard touchdown–to cut the Raiders lead to 21-14.
The second half was more and more good news. Romo either received a vitamin-B shot in the locker room or really enjoyed Selena Gomez’ halftime performance, because he played with a lot more energy and focus after the intermission.
Romo went 7 for 7 on the Cowboys first possession of the third quarter, capped off with a 4 yard touchdown pass to Dez Bryant. Murray added another score in the final quarter but the real dagger in the heart of the Raiders was the Cowboys ability to control the ball and run the clock down in the final quarter. Romo led Dallas on a 16 play drive that ate up more than half of the quarter, and resulted in a Dan Bailey field goal to give Dallas a 31-21 cushion before letting Oakland get the ball back with under 2 minutes to go.
If you’re one of those who loves the balanced offense that we rarely see, the Cowboys ran the ball 30 times for 144 yards and threw it 32 times for 208 yards. Unfortunately the Cowboys defense continues to have a hard time getting teams off the field and letting virtual unknown Oakland quarterback Matt McGloin pass for 255 yards is about the same as Drew Brees passing for 400. If this Cowboy team can make it into the playoffs, one has to wonder if this defense can hold up against a lot more Brees-like QB’s and not McGloin-like ones.
Cowboys lead the NFC East–at least now–at 7-5, the Eagles are 6-5 but have to play a tough Arizona team on Sunday in Phily where the Eagles are just 1-4 this season. If the Eagles stumble, the Cowboys will have the breathing room they need to just maybe push their way to a division title.