After spotting the Raiders 7 points on a kickoff fumble, the Cowboys came from behind to earn a 31-24 win. Some things from this game were just hard to see coming.
1. Cowboys offense had a solid run game:
Coming into this game, the Cowboys had usually struggled to run the ball and the Raiders actually had a solid run defense. But Dunbar and Murray combined for 145 rushing yards on Thursday. I thought they complimented each other nicely with Murray providing the power by running thru tacklers and stiff arming would be tacklers. And then Dunbar provided the quickness with nice cut back moves and quick bursts through the line.
Provided Dunbar’s injured knee is OK, Dallas needs to be sure to include him in the run game going forward to help set up Murray and to keep Murray fresh.
Having an effective run game, makes it less likely Romo gets sacked or intercepted in the pass game. It could serve them well going down the stretch.
2. Cowboys defense stopped the Raiders run game:
The often criticised Dallas defense came into the game known for allowing a lot of yards rushing and passing. But in this game, they held a good Raider run attack to just 50 yards. With Sean Lee not playing, it makes it even more of a surprise. They actually held the Raiders to only 2 yards per run.
In Lee’s absence, I thought safeties Barry Church and Jeff Heath did a good job in run support. They combined to make 11 solo tackles and 3 assisted tackles. Also Kyle Wilbur has played well lately and is strong in run defense.
3. Raiders QB McGloin had success going after Scandrick:
Coming into the game, most any Cowboys writer would have named Orlando Scandrick as the Cowboys most consistent defensive back this season. But the Raiders came after him and they had a lot of success passing in the first half. Andre Holmes, who Dallas let go last season, had a huge game with 7 catches for 136 yards.
After watching this film, will future opponents decide to go after Scandrick too? Most the time I thought Scandrick had pretty good position but was just out fought for the ball.
4. Lackluster Start for Dallas
The Cowboys came out playing with a very lackluster effort on both offense and defense. With it being a home game on Thanksgiving Day, and in front of a large TV audience, I would expect Jason Garrett to have these guys a little more fired up.
They started with a fumble for a TD on the opening kickoff and soon found themselves in a 21-7 hole. They over came the bad start playing well enough in the 2nd half to win the game, but this kind of start needs to be avoided in the next 4 games.