Heroes & Zeroes
Heroes & Zeroes
Dallas Cowboys 24 Oakland Raiders 7
Okay, I'm going to start with the fact that I predicted the final score to be 24-6 and since I am almost always wrong, I'm going to gloat. With that said, this was the kind of game that gives you no clear idea what to think. If the Cowboys would have squeaked by (or lost), then we'd know they are really in serious trouble. If they won big, then we could say that it was only the Raiders and meaningless. Instead, the score was relatively pedestrian, but the offense rolled up almost 500 yards (494 to be exact).
Big plays were the theme of the day, as Dallas had 10 of them (plays covering at least 20 yards). That was the most they have had all season long. But in reality, the defense deserves a great deal of credit today, as well. Even though Oakland is far from being a powerhouse, they did defeat the (probably) playoff-bound Bengals last week and they have a strong rushing offense.
Tony Romo, Quarterback -- Once again, Romo was the catalyst for the offense. He started off slowly, and had a few drops along the way, but after that slow start was on target most of the day. His uncanny ability to avoid sacks and throw on the run puts his in the upper echelon of NFL quarterbacks.
Anthony Spencer, Outside Linebacker -- For the third week in a row, Anthony Spencer stood out from the crowd. He is fast becoming one of the most valuable players on defense. Of course, having DeMarcus Ware on the other side helps quite a bit. But Spencer finally got a sack, and then in one Oakland drive, late in the game, got another. Plus, he made two additional plays on that drive to finish the Raiders last gasp.
Miles Austin, Wide Receiver -- Austin had been relatively quiet the past two weeks, after catching over 470 yards in passes the two weeks prior. But today, against a top-notch cornerback (Nnamdi Asomugha), Austin caught seven passes for 145 yards, and a touchdown. Plus, he had a TD catch called back when he was ruled the side of his foot touched the ground. He is clearly Romo's #1 receiver. But it was nice to see Roy Williams make a couple of nice grabs, which will hopefully take some coverage pressure off of Austin.
Marcus Spears, Defensive End --It has long been proven that Spears is not a very good pass rusher. However, he does succeed in run defense. Yet today, the Raiders ran for 124 yards - 5.2 yards per carry. The fact that they are inept in the passing game is regardless. The run defense was soft all the way through and while you can get away with that against the Raiders and Redskins, the Giants and Saints (two teams coming up on the schedule) will eat you alive.
Nick Folk, Kicker -- I am very concerned about Nick Folk. Granted, his miss was from 49 yards out. But he also has missed 3 out of his last 4 kicks. Confidence is a very tricky thing with kickers and I have seen Richie Cunningham (not the Happy Days one) and Mike Vanderjagt lose theirs, only to lose their jobs soon after. I don't think Folk is in jeopardy to be released. But with December coming up, he needs to get his groove back, and soon.
Kevin Ogletree, Wide Reciever -- Really, not a lot of "bad" came out of this game and my placing Ogletree here says more about how well the team played than anything the rookie receiver did. However, he did make the one fumble today and although it was recovered by Dallas, it could have been costly. I guess I could give him the "Leon Lett" award - named so because like in Super Bowl 27, his blunder was excused because it made no difference in the game.
For the second week in a row, the Cows held a bad team to just 7 points. In fact, Phil Simms pointed out that it has been 12 years since the Cowboys have let up a 4th quarter TD on Thanksgiving. So Dallas is used to dominating on Turkey Day. Even though the Raiders are a weak team, it is still an NFL team, and gaining 500 yards against anyone is an accomplishment. But though they gained so many yards, they only had 24 points to show for it. An improvement, yes. But still a lot of work to do. Now they have 10 days to heal and rest before their rematch against the Giants.