The Dallas Cowboys entered their Thanksgiving Day game with a lot of eyes on their offense and how they would respond after being shutdown the last two games, and only being able to score 7 points in each game. The offense did respond led by their “number two” receiver Miles Austin who torched the Raiders defense and highly touted corners all game. Austin finished the game with 7 receptions for 145 yards and a touchdown.
The Raiders came in on a high after upsetting the Cincinnati Bengals at home. While Oakland was able to move the ball early, they were unable to score points. The Raiders’ struggles on offense continued and the defense was unable to hold the Cowboys down long.
In the first quarter the Cowboys exploded for a couple of big plays, a 49-yard reception from Miles Austin, and a 68-yard run by Tashard Choice out of the Razorback formation. But, as has been the story for the Cowboys all season, penalties halted the drives and the Cowboys came away with only 3 points.
The Raiders looked like they would be able to run the ball all day on the Cowboys with HBs Justin Fargas and Darren McFadden both breaking off big runs. But, the Cowboys defense tightened up and shutdown any momentum the Raiders may have gained in the first quarter. The Raiders best player in the first half, and possibly the game, had to be punter Shane Lechler who booted a 69 yard punt, had a 46.7 net yard average, and 4 punts downed inside the 20 yard-line.
By time the second quarter rolled around the alarm clocks went off for the Cowboys’ offense and Romo and company took the half over. Running-back Felix Jones scored on a 46-yard touchdown run set up by TE Jason Witten’s key blocking, followed by a 9-yard touchdown catch Romo-Austin setup by RB Marion Barber’s 42-yard reception.
The Cowboys dominated the first-half with big plays, out gaining the Raiders 324 – 119 in yardage and had a commanding 17 – 0 lead heading into the half.
The Cowboys started the second half slowly allowing the Raiders to narrow the lead to 10 on a Bruce Gradkowski touchdown pass to WR Darius Heyward-Bey. Oakland failed to capture any more momentum as the Cowboys drove down the field to ensure Oakland was not able to crawl back into the game. Romo threw his second touchdown pass of the game this time to WR Roy Williams and the Cowboys had a 24 – 7 lead.
After the Cowboys’ defense stepped up and held the Raiders to a three-and-out, RB Marion Barber, who was bottled up most of the day, took over on a Cowboys drive that ate much of the clock and changed the field position drastically. Pinned down at their 10-yard line, Barber took a couple of handoffs or little gain and then popped off a 32 yard run that got the Cowboys out of trouble and allowed them to take more time off the clock.
The Raiders got the ball back and chewed up some more yardage but turned it over on downs when they failed to complete a fourth and six from the Cowboys 18-yard-line. The Cowboys went back to Barber and ran out the clock for the 24-7 win.
The Cowboys finished with a total of 494 yards of offense compared to Oakland’s 305. Miles Austin was easily the player of the game on offense and Cowboys LB Anthony Spencer had to be the player of the game on defense recording 2 sacks (1st & 2nd of the season), and was a headache all day for the Raiders.
For the Raiders there was not a lot of positives in this game. One positive would be their defense and how hard and long they played, but when your offense cannot stay on the field you get worn down and that is what happened to the Raiders. While they gave up a lot of big plays they did not break and they were able to hold the Cowboys to 24 points when it could have been a whole lot worse.
For the Cowboys they will sit down for a Thanksgiving feast that will taste a whole lot better with this win. All was not perfect for the Boys in this game though. While the Cowboys racked up a lot of yards, they still had problems putting points on the board. With the way the dominated the game they should have had 38, or at least 31 points. In the end they will be happy with a win and “thankful” for the next few days off.
Both teams will have 10 days off before they play next Sunday. The Raiders will travel to Pittsburgh for a tough game against the Steelers and the Cowboys will head to New York for a very important divisional game against the Giants. For now, though, both teams will enjoy some serious turkey.
Happy Thanksgiving Everyone!