The good news about that game was, the Raiders showed a ton of heart and fight, far more than they displayed in their debacle at Kansas City a week ago. It was surely a game that will live in infamy, and one that will spawn a thousand index card memes and paper jokes. The Raiders are usually on the winning end of meme games, but tonight they were not, despite their best efforts.
So who gave us a good show, and who did nothing but blow?
1) Sean Smith
This may have been Smith’s best game as a Raider. He played tight defense on WR Dez Bryant and picked off Dak Prescott twice in the game. For all the flak we give Smith, he was a big part of the reason the Raiders were in position to win this game rather than being blown out at home on national television. Let’s hope he builds on this performance.
2) Michael Crabtree
While Crabs didn’t get much yardage in this game, catching seven balls for 39 yards, he was Derek Carr’s preferred target in the end zone with two short-yardage touchdowns. On a night without Amari Cooper for the Raiders, Crabtree was clutch when it counted.
3) Both offensive lines
Oakland and Dallas combined to rush for 248 yards- 122 from Oakland and 126 from the Cowboys. The offensive fronts lived up to their billings and dominated the defensive lines, with the exception of Khalil Mack, who sacked Dak Prescott twice. Holding Mack to only two sacks feels like a win for Dallas’ line. Derek Carr was not sacked at all, even with Donald Penn leaving the game with injury.
4) Sean Lee
Lee has missed a ton of time in his career with injury, which makes him seriously underrated. When he is healthy, there may be no better middle linebacker in football. He had ten tackles tonight, two of them for loss, and his greatness needs to be recognized outside of the Metroplex. He was key to Dallas’ bottling up of Oakland’s offense tonight.
1) Derek Carr
I have Carr here in the interest of fairness. He did a lot of good things, including finally displaying some confidence in his wheels and rushing for 47 yards. He also threw for 171 yards and two scores. But it was the very last yard that was the problem, in addition to his erratic at best passing all night. He stretched out for a possible game winning touchdown, only to fumble the ball through the corner of the end zone, losing the game, a game Oakland should have won. It was a play that will launch a thousand funny pictures of index cards and fumbles, in a game that will go down in Cowboys and Raiders lore. And when we laud Carr for all he has done for this franchise, we will remember this game, and shake our heads with dismay, knowing what might have been.
2) Dak Prescott
People were outraged and alarmed at the NFL Top 100 list, putting Prescott in the the top 20. It turns out, we were all right, because Prescott is a bum, and Dallas is better off with Tony Romo, the desiccated corpse of Roger Staubach or the lifeless husk of Quincy Carter than Prescott.
He threw two picks against the Raiders, a feat nigh impossible to do, and virtually ignored Dez Bryant, targeting him only four times with two catches. Captain Coachspeak ought to have been on the losing end of his press conference, but Derek Carr bailed him out.
3) A Literal Index Card
In the fourth quarter, the Cowboys went for it on fourth down and were short. That point is not up for debate. What is in question here is the heretofore unseen method of testing just how short the Cowboys were. The refs, in their infinite wisdom, somehow procured an index card from the bowels of the Oakland Coliseum and stuck it between the football and the yardage marker to see if there was a gap.
Trouble was, the index card was folded, producing a gap of at least a centimeter. A first down was awarded, and the Cowboys went on to kick a field goal which accounted for their ultimate three-point victory. I expect the good people of the Black Hole to find this index card, burn it, and then possibly violate it before eating it. I have faith in them, as they are nothing if not resourceful. I also expect at least one dillweed at AT&T Stadium to dress as an index card for the Cowboys’ Christmas Eve game next week against Seattle.
4) Las Vegas
This is not what the city of Las Vegas signed up for. They are building a palatial stadium for a team they were told would be a Super Bowl contender, not a team that loses meme games to the Cowboys in December that make everyone forget about what a dumbass Ben Roethlisberger was mere hours previous. They were sold a bill of goods. It’s possible the Raiders get their act together by the time they move to Vegas, but it’s also possible that the Raiders are cursed and will never find true love again.