[Originally Posted: Thursday, November 26, 2009: 4:44 p.m. PT]
I bet Snoopy cooks a mean bird. [via www.kairoschaos.com]
For the first time in 39 years, the Oakland Raiders played a football game on Thanksgiving. Coming off of a big win against the Cincinnati Bengals, the Raiders looked to carry their momentum into Dallas on a short week against the struggling Cowboys. It was their second straight game against a team in first place with seven wins; however, this time, Oakland came up short. The Cowboys had a 17-0 lead at one point and the Raiders never quite got back into it and lost the game, 24-7. It was Oakland's first lost in Dallas all-time, falling to 3-1 there. Let's go deeper into the game.
First Quarter: The first five possessions that the teams combined for featured five punts, three by Oakland's Shane Lechler and two by Dallas' Mat McBriar. The Raiders came out strong with their rushing attack led by Justin Fargas, who had already racked up 56 yards in the first half. We saw lot of Darren McFadden, but not in the backfield. Head coach Tom Cable said he wanted to get McFadden about 20 touches and he was spread out as a wide receiver. The Cowboys got on the board led by a long 66-yard run by Tashard Choice. A Nick Folk field goal gave them a 3-0 lead. The Raiders couldn't sustain a drive of 30 yards despite good success on the ground. Bruce Gradkowski struggled early on. The Cowboys did a great job of bringing pressure.
Second Quarter: On their first drive, Oakland had to punt yet again. It was already their sixth of the game in six possessions. In case you're wondering, no, Shane Lechler didn't hit the video board just yet. Dallas was able to get into the end zone, capping off a great 89-yard drive on a big-time 46-yard touchdown run by Felix Jones. Surprisingly, Marion Barber was the most ineffective running back in the first half. As the quarter went on, the less successful the Raiders offense became. A three-and-out punt gave the ball back to the Cowboys, but this time, Nick Folk couldn't hit a 49-yard field goal. A sack by Trevor Scott on third down apparently put Folk just out of range; however, they wouldn't be denied the next time they got the ball. Miles Austin, who had 130 yards in the first half alone, finished scorching the Raiders in the first half with a touchdown to give Dallas a big 17-0 lead heading into the half. The passing "attack" was very poor in the first half, thanks to a great Cowboys pass rush. Gradkowski was 5-for-15 and Louis Murphy made the lone catch among the wide receiver group, and it came with four seconds to go before the half. Just to note, the group Daughtry was the halftime show. My mom likes them.
Welcome to the NFL, Darrius. [via a.espncdn.com]
Third Quarter: The defense came out and got us a stop, thanks in part to Trevor Scott once again and Richard Seymour getting into the action. Then, the Raiders marched down the field in their best drive of the day. Initially using Michael Bush, Darren McFadden and Zach Miller to get into Dallas territory, Oakland was able to get into the end zone. Out of a shot gun, Gradkowski found Darrius Heyward-Bey on a four-yard touchdown pass. For Heyward-Bey, it was his first career touchdown reception. The drive wasn't easy, though, as Robert Gallery was called for a chop block on a sweet made by Louis Murphy. Nonetheless, the lead was cut to 17-7 with 5:37 to play in the third quarter. It was an impressive 11-play, 88-yard touchdown drive by the Raiders. The defense was able to force a punt after a sweet third down tackle by linebacker Kirk Morrison on Jason Witten. Another special teams penalty, though, forced Oakland to start their drive at around the five yard line. Three plays later, the punting unit was on the field as the quarter came to a close.
Tony Romo improved to 35-15 as a starter. [via d.yimg.com]
Fourth Quarter: A rare not-so-good punt by Shane Lechler kicked off the fourth quarter, and it put the Cowboys in good field position. It's not like they needed it. A big play by Jason Witten, who I benched in one of my fantasy football leagues because you care so much, put the Cowboys at the Raiders' eight yard line. A play fake to Marion Barber set up Roy Williams for his first touchdown grab of the day. Chris Johnson was trying to cover him, but it didn't appear as though he had much help on the play. Down 24-7, the Raiders had to dig themselves out of a seemingly impossible hole with just over 13 minutes to go in regulation. The offense couldn't get going yet again, and Shane Lechler was back out there. A booming punt gave Dallas the ball back and a chance to seriously put the nail in the coffin. The Cowboys had to punt after taking some minutes off the clock. The Raiders got the ball back with a chance to become the first team since 1998 to score a fourth quarter touchdown against the Cowboys on Thanksgiving. Gradkowski moved the ball down the field, particularly finding Zach Miller, Chaz Schilens and Darren McFadden. The drive, however, stalled as the Raiders failed to convert on fourth down. That effectively officially ended the game. Unlike the six-man Warriors in Dallas on Tuesday night against the Mavericks, the Raiders could not come away with a win against the Cowboys. Your final score is Dallas, 24-7.
"I hope mom and dad don't see this one!" [via nnhs.newton.k12.ma.us]
The Report Card: I'll give grades to the pass offense, rush offense, pass defense, rush defense and special teams. Of course, you're welcome to give your own grades in the comments.
- Pass Offense: D -- The passing offense struggled early and never really found much of a rhythm until the second half, particularly in that final drive of the game when the game was already decided. The protection was below average, for one, and the ball just wasn't getting into the hands of any targets. Gradkowski completed just 53 percent of his passes while throwing for an even 200 yards with a touchdown and no picks. It could've been a lot better early on when the game was competitive with a good rushing attack, but it wasn't and thus the "D" grade.
- Rush Offense: C+ -- The rushing game was there early with Justin Fargas and even Darren McFadden had a somewhat decent day in a small sample size. I wrestled between "C+" and "B-" for this aspect, but I think the solidness would have continued throughout the day with that 5.2 yards per carry average had it been for a more balanced attack. With that said, Gradkowski did have 30 yards himself. I'll go with "C+" over here. No one fumbled the ball on the ground this week (I'm looking at you, Michael Bush), so that's good.
- Pass Defense: D+ -- Tony Romo had 304 yards for a pair of scores. Miles Austin had a huge day, Roy Williams caught a touchdown pass and Jason Witten broke in the second half. Marion Barber even caught a 42-yard pass. The pressure was there on Romo sometimes even if we didn't get to him, so it went from "D" to "D+" for that effort. Still, it pretty much wasn't good at all.
- Rush Defense: D -- Take away a few big runs, the rush defense wasn't that bad. Still, the big plays count and you have to limit those against a pretty good offense. Felix Jones and Tashard Choice only carried it 10 times, but they ran for a wild 135 yards and each of their big runs set up points. Later on in the fourth quarter, Marion Barber ripped off a huge run of this own.
- Special Teams: D+ -- Shane Lechler was, as usual, great except for the punt to start the fourth quarter and Sebastian Janikowski never even attempted a field goal. The team did a pretty decent job limiting Patrick Crayton. On returns, the kick returns were bad and the punt returns weren't a whole lot better. Plus, committing a lot of penalties doesn't help. I have to go with "D+" with this category, making the report card full of the letter "D" and that's not good nor is it even average.
My Thoughts and Tidbits: I change my mind. I don't want to play on Thanksgiving ever again. I just don't. I don't really have much to say, but I can't say I'm surprised by the outcome. In 10 days, we have the 6-4 Pittsburgh Steelers at Heinz Field after they take on the Baltimore Ravens this Sunday. It's sure to be another tough road game for our guys. I hope this game didn't ruin your Thanksgiving. Enjoy the rest of your day and all of the football action yet to come during this long four-day holiday. Be safe and have a good one, guys.
- San Francisco Chronicle: No country for these men [David White]
- San Francisco Chronicle: Return to Dallas doesn't satisfy [David White]
- Inside Bay Area: Oakland Raiders get stuffed by Cowboys, 24-7 [Steve Corkran]
- Inside Bay Area: Raiders victimized by big plays in loss to Cowboys [Steve Corkran]
- Inside Bay Area: Jerry McDonald: Raiders' shortcoming on full display [Jerry McDonald]
- Inside Bay Area: Raiders notebook: Trevor Scott excels against Cowboys in his new position [Steve Corkran]
- ESPN: Cowboys roll up Raiders, grab sixth win in last seven games [Jaime Aron]