The Las Vegas Raiders traveled to Dallas to face the Cowboys in a pivotal Thanksgiving tilt. Losers of their last three games, the Raiders hoped to right the ship against a short-handed Cowboys team. Dallas would be without star receivers Amari Cooper and CeeDee Lamb, but the Cowboys still boast a formidable offense and a highly opportunistic defense. It would be a tough task for a Raiders team looking to climb back in to playoff contention.
The game could not have started off any better for the Raiders. After forcing a three and out on the Cowboy’s opening possession, the Raiders took over and wasted little time getting on the board. Las Vegas took only three plays to reach the end zone, capped off by a 56-yard catch and run by WR DeSean Jackson for a touchdown to put the Raiders up 7-0.
“I think the packages we saw come to fruition today,” interim head coach Rich Bisaccia said after the game about Jackson’s contributions. “The big thing, I think Derek (Carr) had a lot of time today… you could see DeSean (Jackson) is hopefully getting more and more comfortable with what we’re asking him to do.”
Dallas would respond on their next drive. A four minute, nine-play drive would be capped off by a touchdown reception from TE Sean McKeon. The extra point would be no good to keep the Raiders ahead 7-6.
The teams would trade possesions until the Raiders would break the stalemate. On 3rd and 6 from the Dallas 31, Derek Carr launched a deep pass intended for Jackson that fell incomplete. However, a pass interference call on CB Anthony Brown would bring the Raiders to the Dallas 1 yard line. One play later, RB Josh Jacobs was in the end zone, pushing the Raiders’ lead to 14-6.
A quick possession by Dallas would end in a punt, handing the ball back to the Raiders early in the 2nd quarter. What had the makings of a great looking drive would eventually bog down. Making it all the way to the Dallas seven, the Raiders would only make it three more yards. Carr would miss a pass to TE Daniel Helm in the end zone, bringing up 4th down. Kicker Daniel Carlson’s ensuing kick would be good to give the Raiders a 17-6 advantage.
Dallas looked to add on a field goal of their own, but kicker Greg Zuerlein’s 59-yard attempt would be just a bit wide left. Unfortunately, the Raiders would be unable to take advantage of the tremendous field position gifted to them. A drive that involved a sack-fumble (recovered by Carr) and a crucial holding penalty on third down would force a Raiders punt, pinning Dallas on its own 14.
Needing to conjure up some semblance of momentum before the half, Dallas looked to strike back. QB Dak Prescott did just that, firing off a deep shot to WR Cedrick Wilson for a gain of 51 yards and the Cowboys found themselves at the Raider 33 in a hurry. Dallas would drain the clock until a 1-yard touchdown run by RB Ezekiel Elliot would cut the Raiders’ lead to 17-13 just before the half.
As well as the first half started off, the second half started just as poorly for the Raiders. Facing a 3rd and 1, a short handoff to Josh Jacobs would end up losing four yards, forcing a Las Vegas punt. That ensuing punt would see a rather large scuffle break out between the special teams players of both Dallas and Las Vegas, even resulting in a busted chin for a referee. This would lead to the ejections of Raiders safety Roderic Teamer and Cowboys CB Kelvin Joseph.
The Cowboys would do nothing on their drive and would have to punt the ball back to Las Vegas. The Raiders would make the most of their next possession, which featured a heavy dose of WR Hunter Renfrow. The Clemson product would have two big catches totaling 41 yards. A roughing the passer call on Dallas would aid the Raider drive, which would see QB Marcus Mariota scramble three yards for a touchdown to extend the Las Vegas lead to 24-13.
The momentum wouldn’t be in the favor of Las Vegas for long. Cowboys RB Tony Pollard would take the very next kickoff 100 yards for a touchdown, cutting into the Raiders’ lead. A failed tw0-point conversion attempt would keep the score at 24-19.
The next possession would see the Raiders move quickly downfield, aided by yet another defensive pass interference call on Anthony Brown while covering DeSean Jackson. Las Vegas would advance no further than the Dallas 27, settling for a Carlson field goal to push the Raider lead to eight points.
Following an exchange of punts, the Cowboys would pick up the pace by running no-huddle offense and found themselves in the Raiders red zone in just four plays. That is where the drive would stall. Prescott would overthrow an open receiver in Michael Gallup and TE Dalton Schultz would find the end zone, but an offensive holding call would wipe the touchdown off the board. The Cowboys would settle for a disappointing field goal to creep their score closer, 27-22.
It wouldn’t take long for Hunter Renfrow to remind Dallas that he is a playmaker that should always be accounted for. Renfrow would make a big catch for 54 yards to bring the Raiders to the Dallas 15. As was the case for both teams today, the promising drive would lose steam once they entered the red zone. A frustrating series of events would force the Raiders to match the Cowboys’ field goal and push the Vegas lead back up to eight.
While the Cowboys geared up for what was easily their most important drive of the game so far, the Raiders defense stepped up. On 3rd and 5, DE Yannick Ngakoue registered his eighth sack of the season and forced a critical Dallas three and out.
The Raider offense wasn’t able to capitalize and extend their lead. A holding penalty erased what would have 3rd and short and turned it into 3rd and 16 with the Raiders failing to convert, and the ball was punted right back to the Cowboys.
The Cowboys would not let this opportunity slip by this time around. Coming out hot, Prescott attacked hard down the field, first a 32-yard completion to Michael Gallup and then a 32-yard touchdown pass to Dalton Schultz. A successful two-point conversion to Schultz would tie the game up at 30-30.
The Raiders would find themselves in field goal range thanks to a big 30-yard gain on first down by DeSean Jackson. Vegas would have to settle for a 56-yard field goal just after the two minute to put the Raiders ahead 33-30 in a nail-biting holiday game.
The Raiders defense knew someone had to make a play to win the game. Several defenders had near picks that would somehow end up in the hands of a Cowboy. Despite a promising drive, the Raiders defense would clamp down and force Dallas to settle for a game-tying field goal, which was hit to tie the game at 33-33 with 24 seconds left in regulation.
This thrilling contest would continue in overtime. Following a three and out by Dallas, the Raiders would try to put this game away. Initially moving the ball well, a big sack on 2nd down pushed the Raiders back to their own 43 and staring at a 3rd and 18.
Luckily for Las Vegas, Anthony Brown was flagged for his third pass interference call of the day and moved the Raiders up to the Cowboys’ 24 and a fresh set of downs. After what felt like an unending series of 5-yard penalties, Carlson would drill the game winning field goal to give the Raiders a much needed 36-33 victory.
“We’ve been working really hard. It speaks to the character of our team,” Carslon said after the win. Coming off of a tough loss last week and a season full of distractions, Carlson is not wrong.
When asked what the win meant to the team, interim head coach Rich Bisaccia kept it short and simple: “I’m really excited for the men in there.”
The Raiders will host the Washington Football Team in Week 13 for a second straight tilt with an NFC East opponent. The Football Team has won their last two games, including a victory over the defending Super Bowl champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Despite their 4-6 record, Washington will be a tough test. The Football Team will play their Week 12 matchup on Monday Night Football against the Seattle Seahawks.
The win over Dallas was a much needed boost to the playoffs hopes of Las Vegas. If the team is to make a push to the postseason, however, the penalty issues must be resolved. 14 penalties for 123 yards is not going to do the Raiders any favors and the play has to be cleaned up.
In other notes, TE Darren Waller was injured during the 2nd quarter and did not return. There was no mention of the severity of his injury so that will be a key storyline to monitor going forward.
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