In a close game full of injuries and mistakes, the Dallas Cowboys found a way to outlast the Oakland Raiders on Sunday night and keep their playoff hopes alive.
Although the Dallas Cowboys technically defeated the Oakland Raiders Sunday night in a pivotal Week 15 win, a better term might be survived. The Cowboys “survived” the Raiders, 20-17. The fact is both teams struggled with consistency in this game and neither club looked “playoff ready”.
Fortunately, Dallas’ defense dominated the first half, keeping the Raiders offense scoreless through the first two quarters. Leading by 10 after halftime, the Cowboys allowed Oakland to score a touchdown on their first offensive series in the third quarter. Then a Dak Prescott-interception allowed the Raiders to tie the game at 10.
Both teams swapped touchdowns into the final frame, when a 19-yard Dan Bailey field goal gave Dallas the three-point lead, 20-17, with 1:47 left in the contest. In the waning seconds of the game, Raiders quarterback Derek Carr fumbled the ball out of Dallas’ endzone due to a Jeff Heath tackle that resulted in a game-winning touchback for the Cowboys.
The victory puts Dallas’ record at 8-6, tied with the Detroit Lions and the Seattle Seahawks. The 8-5 Atlanta Falcons play the Tampa Buccaneers on Monday night. If the Bucs can find a way to win, there will be four NFC teams vying for the final Wild Card slot in the playoffs with two games to go.
Against the Raiders, Prescott had a mediocre day as a passer. He completed 18 of his 27 passes for 212 yards and threw two interceptions. But Dak also ran for 32 yards and a score.
Tight end Jason Witten led the Cowboys with four receptions for 47 yards. Wide receiver Dez Bryant finished the day with two catches for 59 yards. But his 40-yard catch late in the fourth quarter set up the go-ahead field goal.
Defensively, it was once again linebacker Sean Lee who led the Cowboys with 10 total tackles. To go along with the game-sealing forced fumble, safety Jeff Heath also recorded six solo tackles.
The Dallas Cowboys will now head back home to face the Seattle Seahawks at AT&T Stadium, Sunday, December 24th at 3:25 p.m. CST. And the Cowboys will also welcome back star running back Ezekiel Elliott, who should get the starting nod following his return from a six-game suspension.