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DAL 20, OAK 17: Cowboys and Playoff Hopes Survive Wild Game

On a night when almost everything seemed to bounce the Raiders' way, the final crucial play went in Dallas' favor. That proved to be all the difference, allowing the Cowboys to improve to 8-6 and keep their playoff hopes alive in a pivotal road game in Oakland.

After a 55-yard pass interference on moved Oakland 15 yards from the endzone, Oakland had a few shots at a game-winning touchdown before they'd attempt a tying field goal. On 3rd-and-3, Derek Carr scrambled and went for the score. He dived along the sideline and stretched the ball out toward the pylon, only to lose control. The ball left his hands, crossed the goal line, and went out the side of the endzone.

Cowboys ball. Cowboys win.

That fumble was Oakland's fourth of the night. Cordarrelle Patterson fumbled on two of his kick returns but both times the ball rolled out of bounds. Michael Crabtree also fumbled after a catch, but Dallas failed to recover it before the receiver could get back on top of the ball.

Both teams were playing for their playoff lives. When the game was tied 10-10 in the 3rd quarter, Dallas faked a punt from their own 24-yard-line as kept the ball and ran 24 yards. The very next play, the Cowboys attempted a flea-flicker to that was incomplete. It was perhaps the most aggressive series of calls we've seen from Dallas all year.

It was a tough, ugly game. There were 21 total , 14 of which surprisingly belonged to the Raiders. Oakland's executed more consistently while the Cowboys still made crucial stops when needed.

In the end, Dallas survived and advanced in their efforts to sneak back into the .

Other Notes

  • had a rough night with two interceptions and no passing touchdowns. One of those picks was due to contact on the throw, but he also missed some opportunities with errant throws and bad reads. He did run one in, though, and had 32 rushing yards total for the game.
  • and combined for a woeful 74 yards on 23 carries. After a few weeks of big production, this was a good reminder of why we're so happy to have returning next week.
  • While Dallas was unable to sack Derek Carr tonight, they applied a lot of pressure and forced several bad throws. Carr only completed 55% of his passes thanks to consistent heat from , , and even on a few plays.
  • It was another solid night from the Cowboys' young cornerbacks. Despite the big penalty on Oakland's final drive, Lewis had a solid night all around along with . also showed up, having a few nice deflections in crunch time.
  • The Cowboys will head back to Dallas to reunite with Ezekiel Elliott and prepare a welcoming party for the next Sunday. Seattle was humiliated at home today, losing 42-7 to the visiting Rams. With the Cowboys and Seahawks now tied at 8-6, Dallas can bury them next week with a victory.
Jess Haynie
Jess Haynie
Cowboys fan since 1992, blogger since 2011. Bringing you the objectivity of an outside perspective with the passion of a die-hard fan. I love to talk to my readers, so please comment on any article and I'll be sure to respond!

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Ronald Dulaney

The first part of this season, Dak was playing well, but then his confidence and production seemed to fall off dramatically when they changed backup QBs.
Is it just me or can the backup’s input or lack thereof, be a factor in this fall off?

Jess Haynie

Cooper Rush became backup QB in Week 7, which was the start of a three-game winning streak. Prescott’s stats didn’t go bad until Week 10, which was when they lost Ezekiel Elliott. That’s your culprit.

Ronald Dulaney

Good points.
Happy holidays!

Jess Haynie

No problem. Thanks for reading and especially for commenting!


The Garrett call to run the fake punt is IMO the single best game decision he has made in 7 years. The Cowboys were deep in their end, 4th and 11 and nobody expected it. He knew he needed a big play and went for it with chips on the table for the season. I get the idea of immediately following with a flea-flicker, but would rather save that play for when Butler is in the game.

The Cowboys played hard but were lucky to win. Anthony Brown could have iced the game earlier on the drive Carr fumbled on at the goal line. Pick 6 right through his hands. Heath seems to be playing better with Frazier angling for his job. Lewis at CB while Byron Jones sits on some downs, don’t see it yet. Awuzie – do see it. It was thought he was 1st round value that fell into the 2nd, and that is what he looks like to me.

Elliott is back next week, and presumably Irving and Scandrick. So that is a needed boost for the Seattle game. The biggest variable right now isn’t Sean Lee IMO, but Tyron Smith. If he can’t finish the year, there’s a lot less chance of advancement.


I think with the Cowboys being in the playoff hunt, it will be needle time. Smith is tough. I see him continue to play, like his counterpart Collins on the right side. Not guaranteed that the Cowboys will make the playoffs next season, so most NFL players play for the now, for the team.

Jess Haynie

I’m with you on Awuzie. When you consider how much time he’s missed this year with injury, his level of play right now is fantastic. What’s more, Jourdan Lewis was projected as a late first-round talent who only fell because of the uncertainty with his legal issue.

For the first time in a long time, Dallas appears loaded with young talent in the secondary.

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