In a tradition that has folks in Texas thoroughly excited each November, their Dallas Cowboys suited up Thursday to host the Oakland Raiders in a Thanksgiving Day clash. For Dallas, this was a huge opportunity to keep pace in the NFC East and take another step toward a potential playoff berth. With the Philadelphia Eagles tied record-wise, the Cowboys couldn’t afford to slip up.
This was a game that Dallas absolutely did not want to lose. It was the type of game that could have been labeled a potential trap game — one in which they did not want to get off to a slow start in.
So much for that idea.
Dallas came out of the gate and shot that premise down as rookie Terrance Williams fumbled the kickoff, watching Raiders rookie Greg Jenkins return it for a touchdown just seconds into the game. Late in the first quarter, though, Dallas evened the momentum after recovering a Matt McGloin fumble inside the 3-yard line. DeMarco Murray took it in for a touchdown just a play later, tying the game at seven.
Behind McGloin and his receivers, the Raiders’ offense looked great in the first half. Andre Holmes and Rod Streater each had a few incredible catches to keep drives going and Rashad Jennings scored a pair of touchdowns before halftime. Fortunately for Dallas, Tony Romo led the Boys on a touchdown drive before half and brought it within seven.
Although it was a pretty one-sided half for the most part, Dallas owned Oakland in the second act. The Raiders had a hard time moving the ball and Dallas dominated the total yardage in the third and also kept it going in the fourth. Between a Dez Bryant touchdown in the third and a Murray hat-trick topped off in the fourth, the Cowboys sparked their way to a 31-21 lead.
Oakland drove down to kick a field goal with under a minute to go and failed to recover an onside kick, thus ending the game.
As Romo typically does, he stepped up in the third and fourth quarter when the game mattered most. But, so did the defense. Dallas needed this win, like I said before, to stay atop the NFC East and make sure they continue on the road to the playoffs. It is pretty incredible how the Cowboys battled back especially because of the disastrous start in the first quarter.
If anything, Dallas really showed brilliant resiliency in the second half while being out-played in the first half by a mediocre Oakland team. Many people criticize Romo for making mistakes in crucial games, but Thursday he was efficient and did not turn it over once. Now, the Cowboys can look forward to a nice 10 days rest before they take on the Chicago Bears and their depleted defense. As of right now, Dallas is looking like a solid bet for the postseason.