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My Quick Thoughts on Raiders at Cowboys 2013

November 28, 2013

(Matthew Emmons/USA Today)

  • It only took 12 seconds to realize just how few Cowboys are more important than Dwayne Harris.  Terrance Williams, filling in on kickoff returns for the injured Harris, foolishly chose not to take a knee on the opening kickoff and instead ran it out from nine yards deep in his own end zone.  He only made it three yards further than if he had taken the touchback, then coughed up a fumble that the Raiders’ Greg Jenkins immediately returned for a shockingly quick touchdown.  Cole Beasley’s first attempt replacing Harris on punt returns was just slightly less catastrophic, as he simply took a four-yard loss to pin his offense back at its own 7.  Fortunately for Dallas, those first returns were the worst Williams and Beasley would have on the day, but let’s all hope Harris is back ASAP to prevent any future ugliness in the return game.
  • When Dallas fell behind 21-7 to Oakland late in the first half, so many former Cowboys had contributed to the Raiders’ effort that it started leaving one to wonder whether Jerry Jones had gotten rid of the wrong players.  But eventually, guys like Mike Jenkins and Andre Gurode started playing like they did when they were (rightfully) sent packing from Valley Ranch.
  • DeMarco Murray became the first running back to score three rushing touchdowns for the Cowboys in almost a decade, though he was often put in position to do so by the much more effective running of Lance Dunbar.  Murray’s 3.7 yard-per-carry average was nearly doubled by Dunbar, who averaged 6.8 YPC on the afternoon.  Unfortunately, Dunbar went down late in the game with a knee injury.  Hopefully, that won’t keep him out of action too long, as the Dallas rushing attack is much more effective with both Murray and Dunbar working in tandem.
  • Tony Romo (a.k.a. “America’s Whipping Boy”) avoided the Sports Illustrated cover jinx with another solid, if relatively unspectacular, performance.  After the game, it was announced that Romo is currently suffering from the flu, and had actually spent much of the night before throwing up.  But if his army of detractors refused to give him credit for previously gutting it out through cracked ribs and a punctured lung, they certainly aren’t going to do so for fighting through the flu.  That really sucks, because as the SI cover story went to great lengths to point out, Romo deserves infinitely more respect and appreciation than he gets.
  • After playing a forgettable first half bordering on abysmal, Brandon Carr atoned by making a fantastic end zone interception of a Matt McGloin pass that kept the Raiders from tying the score (assuming a successful extra point) in the fourth quarter.  Also worthy of kudos on the otherwise beleagured Dallas defense was Kyle Wilbur, whose recovery of a Raider fumble at their own two yard line positioned the Cowboys to score their first touchdown of the game.  Wilbur’s played well just about all season, especially considering the fact that he’s been asked to switch positions.  I really like the cut of this kid’s jib.  The other Cowboy defender who deserves recognition is Barry Church, who’s just always solid, and is the best tackler in the secondary (if not the entire team).
  • I don’t want to end on a negative note, since the Cowboys won, so I’ll mention Dez Bryant’s fumble before getting to his touchdown grab.  As spectacularly talented a football player as Dez is, his ball security has officially become troubling.  Can he not even get through an entire game anymore without fumbling?  OK, now that we’ve got that out of the way, kudos to Dez on the six other catches he made in this game without fumbling – especially the one he caught for a touchdown.
  • As ugly as that game looked at times, the Cowboys deserve credit for rallying from a 21-7 deficit to score 24 unanswered points en route to a much-needed 31-24 victory over Oakland, finally earning a win against the AFC West for the first time this season after failing in their previous three attempts.  They now get a mini-bye, with 11 days until their next game, a Monday night road trip to Chicago to take on the Bears.  Being 7-5 at this point is infinitely better than being 6-6 would be, so let’s hope they can maintain the momentum gained by their first two-game winning streak in more than a month.  With just four games left in the regular season, each win brings them closer to a division title and playoff berth.
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