It was quite the short list for this week's Ballers which might lead some to believe the Buster list would be weighted in the other direction. That isn't always the case but this week, you might be correct. You be the judge.
You can sum up his day in three plays. He gave up a 22-yard catch on the Cowboys first actual touchdown drive (the first touchdown was score on one play; a 2-yard run). He missed a tackle on the Cowboys next drive to allow a 45-yard run. Not only did he miss the tackle but in the process he took out Sio Moore to keep him from having a shot at making the tackle. This set up their second touchdown. The Cowboys' next touchdown drive should have been stopped with a three and out but on third and six, Jason Witten took a pass in the right flat and Ross and Kevin Burnett BOTH lost containment and Witten made one cut and took it for 19 yards. That play was the back breaker for the Raiders in this game. The Cowboys would score the go-ahead touchdown and closed out the game with a long drive and a field goal to ice it. All told, Ross contributed to 112 yards of offense for the Cowboys; most of which came on scoring drives. This team has really missed Tyvon Branch over the last 10 games.
Lamarr Houston, Sio Moore
These two were supposed to provide the pass rush for the Raiders and they failed pretty miserably. They managed to generate just one pressure between them in this game and the lack of pressure allowed Tony Romo to pick the Raiders apart. In addition to their lack of pressure, they gave up plays in the run game as well.
Houston was blocked to allow the Cowboys first touchdown. Moore didn't keep containment on the outside to give up the Cowboys' second touchdown. They both gave up 7-yard runs on the Cowboys' third touchdown drive. Then on their fourth touchdown drive, Houston had himself a run stuff for a short gain but Moore got into it with Cowboys' left tackle, Doug Free, and stupidly took a swing at his head. He was called for unnecessary roughness and the Cowboys were set up in first and goal at the 7-yard line. They would score a touchdown on the next play. Houston would add an offsides penalty on the Cowboys' final drive for a field goal to put them up two scores.
These two were supposed to provide the run stopping for the Raiders and they failed pretty miserably. Both of the Cowboys running backs had pretty good days, running for 144 yards combined with 4.8 yards per carry. A good portion of those runs went right up the gut. Things looked pretty good in the first half with DeMarco Murray totaling just 12 yards on 7 carries (1.7 yards per carry). But in the second half things really ran away from the Raiders big linemen.
The first big chunk of yardage came on the Cowboys' first drive of the second half. It went for 45 yards and it all started with Pat Sims who fell down, leaving a huge gap for Cowboys' running back Lance Dunbar to shoot through with a full head of steam. He was into the secondary in no time with Raiders defenders flying around him unable to bring him down until he was at the Raiders' 25 yards line. Two plays later, Sims was blocked for a 7-yard run that set them up at the 8-yard line.
On the following drive, both Walker and Sims were blocked on a 9-yard run. Walker would give up three more runs which resulted in 23 yards of offense. All told, the Cowboys gained 99 of their 144 yards on the ground through either Walker, Sims, or both.
These two were supposed to provide the run blocking for the Raiders and they failed pretty miserably. You might be sensing a theme here. In Gurode and Barnes' defense, both were filling in for this game. But that doesn't change their performance. Rashad Jennings averaged 2.1 yards per carry Thursday after averaging 4.6 yards per carry coming in and having averaged over 100 yards rushing per game over the previous four game stretch. While the Cowboys were focusing on stopping the run, these guys weren't getting any push either. Barnes gave up three run stuffs all his own in this game.
Gurode gave up a big tackle for loss followed immediately by a false start which put the Raiders in a third and 18 on their first drive of the second half. They couldn't pick it up and had to punt it away. Gurode had a real false start problem in this game. He had three of them to be exact - on three consecutive drives. The first one came early in the second quarter with the Raiders in first and goal at the 8-yard line and it nearly derailed their chance at a touchdown. Then he had another on their next drive and the one to start out the second half that really sent things spiraling downward for the Raiders' offense.
Dennis Allen, Jason Tarver
Another game, another collapse by the Raiders defense. Usually the collapse begins in the second half and sometimes in the fourth quarter. This time things got started earlier. Last week the defense gave up a long drive and a touchdown at the end of the game. This week, they gave up a long drive and a touchdown to end the first half. Some teams would right the ship at halftime and come out knowing what they need to do to hold the other team. The Raiders were ahead 21-14 even after the last second first half scoring drive. But instead, the Cowboys didn't skip a beat, scoring touchdowns on their first two possessions of the second half. Second half adjustments? Psh.
The offense didn't do the defense any favors when they went three and out but that doesn't explain why they gave up the lead on the first drive of the second half. Can't say they were tired because they had just had all of half time and the Raiders first possession to be well rested.
On the second touchdown drive, discipline was the major problem. The two key plays were the missed tackle by Ross and Burnett on third down to give up the 19-yard catch and run to Witten and the unnecessary roughness penalty called on Moore for taking a swing at Doug Free. The Cowboys needed 65 yards on that drive and those two disciplinary lapses contributed 26 yards and two first downs.
These second half letdowns have been happening all season long. It isn't how you start but how you finish. And in that vein the Raiders have lost 4 of their last 5 games with four tough games to finish out the season (Jets, Chiefs, Chargers, Broncos).
Adams gave up the first big conversion of the Cowboys second half run. The Cowboys were in third and 13 and a stop would have meant a three and out. Adams gave up the catch for a 14-yard gain to keep the drive alive then he later gave up a 5-yard catch en route to the game tying touchdown. Where things really went off the rails for Adams was the Cowboys' final drive. He gave up almost most of the yards on the drive single handedly. First he gave up a catch and then missed the tackle for a 14-yard gain. A couple plays later, he gave up a 9-yard catch to put the Cowboys in the red zone and on the next play he missed a tackle in the backfield that resulted in an 8-yard run to set the Cowboys up in first and goal at the 10-yard line. All told he gave up three catches on the drive and a total of 34 yards. The Cowboys only really needed the field goal to go up two scores with under 2:00 left and they got that thanks to Adams.