In my opinion, these plays were the most crucial to the success of the Cowboys in this game, contributing greatly to the win.
1. LATE FIRST QUARTER, 0:53 LEFT, 1ST AND 10 FROM THE RAIDERS 6 YARD LINE – After Dallas had fumbled the opening kickoff which was returned for a touchdown, it was the Cowboys time to return the favor. Starting their drive pinned deep in their own territory, the Raiders failed the center-quarterback exchange, fumbling the ball which was recovered by Kyle Wilber on the two yard line. On the very next play, Dallas was able to punch it in the end zone with DeMarco Murray and tie the game at seven all. This ended up being monumental as the Raiders would score the next two touchdowns in the game. Being down three scores would have made this a much different game.
2. LATE SECOND QUARTER, 1:48 LEFT, 1ST AND 10 FROM THE COWBOYS 27 YARD LINE – With the Raiders up 21-7 and having to kickoff to them to start the third quarter, it was imperative that Dallas have something positive going into halftime. Enter Tony Romo. Romo completed five of his seven passes for all but four of the 73 yards of the drive, finding Jason Witten and Dez Bryant twice each to get Dallas into scoring position. DeMarco Murray finished the job, plunging in from four yards out to make it a one score game and give Dallas some momentum going into the half.
3. MID THIRD QUARTER, 8:39 LEFT, 2ND AND 4 FROM THE COWBOYS 30 YARD LINE – On the first possession of the second half, Dallas seemed to be taking two steps forward and one step back. A penalty earlier in the drive negated a first down reception and put the Cowboys back to their own 10 yard line. After converting on a 3rd and 13, Dallas went to seldom used Lance Dunbar for a spark and boy did he deliver. After hitting the Raiders for six yards on first down, Dunbar struck again. This time for 45 yards, changing field position and putting the Cowboys in scoring range. After another 7 yard run from Dunbar, four plays later saw Romo throw his only touchdown pass to Dez Bryant and more importantly, Dallas come all the way back to tie the game at 21-21.
4. MID THIRD QUARTER, 5:11 LEFT, 1ST AND 10 FROM THE RAIDERS 24 YARD LINE – Immediately after the Cowboys score, it was the defense’s turn again to hold the Raiders and they did just that. A first down incompletion on a bad throw followed by two heavy blitzes that disrupted the timing of Oakland’s offense resulted in a three down and out situation for the Raiders which only allowed their defense 31 seconds of game time to rest before having to go back onto the field. When you factor in that Dallas had previously stopped them on their only other drive which lasted less than four minutes, you realize this possession went a long way towards helping Dallas take the lead on their next turn at it.
5. EARLY FOURTH QUARTER, 14:26 LEFT, 1ST AND GOAL FROM THE RAIDERS 7 YARD LINE – Putting the finishing touches on yet another scoring drive was DeMarco Murray. His third rushing touchdown of the game came here after Dallas had possessed the ball for almost the entire third quarter was well into Raiders territory on this drive. A gassed defense saw Murray hit the hole hard off the right tackle and in for the 28-21 lead that would not be lost the rest of the game.
Given the adversity of a short week, the illness of Tony Romo and the horrific start to the game, this was an impressive win for Dallas. While the opponent may not have seemed to be overly difficult, the Raiders were physical and came to play. Dallas once again was able to show mental toughness and find ways to stay in the game until they were able to maximize their advantage in talent and walk away with a win. The win preserves their divisional lead and keeps the vibes of positivity going heading into a Monday Night Football showdown with the high-powered Chicago Bears. A win on the road is always a tough task but the Cowboys will be aided with sufficient rest and the likely return of defensive leader Sean Lee and possibly Morris Claiborne as well. Seemingly, there is a lot to be thankful for right now if you’re a Dallas Cowboys fan.
WEEK 13 PICKS
LAST WEEK 7-7 (.500)
SEASON RECORD 79-96 (.451)
THIS WEEK 2-1 (.667)
Tennessee at INDIANAPOLIS -3.5
-6 Denver at KANSAS CITY
+7 Jacksonville at CLEVELAND
Tampa Bat at CAROLINA -7
+1 Chicago at MINNESOTA
+3.5 Arizona at PHILADELPHIA
Miami at N.Y. JETS -2
Atlanta at BUFFALO -3.5
+7.5 St. Louis at SAN FRANCISCO
-7.5 New England at HOUSTON
+1 Cincinnati at SAN DIEGO
N.Y. Giants at WASHINGTON -1
New Orleans at SEATTLE -4.5