The Oakland Raiders traveled to Dallas to play the Cowboys coming off of a big win over the Bengals, and once again could not get any momentum going. The Raiders were simply beat both offensively and defensively on their way to their eighth defeat in eleven games.
The Raiders defense was a model of inconsistency as they would be able to make big plays, but would turn around and give up bigger plays. Even all-Pro defensive back Nnamdi Asomugha gave up a couple of big plays. The offense, on the other hand could not get out of its way during the first half, and by the time they pulled together a couple of drives in the second half it was a matter of too little too late.
For much of the first quarter, it was like a heavyweight fight with the two defenses slugging it out, and neither offense making much headway. Dallas broke out late in the first quarter when they were able to get the ball into field goal position on the strength of a 66 yard run out of their Razorback formation. After the run, the Raiders defense prohibited any more penetration, and the Cowboys had to settle for a field goal, but the flood gates were open.
The next three drives resulted in two touchdowns and a missed field goal, and the Raiders would never recover. Meanwhile, the Raiders offense had reverted to the three and out machine that it had been with JaMarcus Russell under center. In the second half, the offense rebounded, with Gradkowski getting 200 yards passing. The defense would give up one touchdown in the second half, but tighten up.
It was big plays that did the Raiders in. After the game defensive end Greg Ellis, “I couldn’t do nothing to help those big plays today. That’s my frustration. I couldn’t do nothing to, you know, I just couldn’t do nothing. That’s frustrating for me.”
Coach Tom Cable agreed that it was the explosive plays that were the problem, “The game itself, looking at it, just checking the stats out before I came in here, it’s pretty obvious that there were way too many big plays. They were so explosive offensively, we were never able to get any kind of rhythm defensively to contain it.”
On the offensive side of the ball, Bruce Gradkowski shouldered responsibility for the inconsistent play of the offense, “I am disappointed in myself that I missed a couple throws that would have given us key first downs.” He didn’t point the fingers at his teammates.
Much maligned wide receiver Darrius Heyward-Bey caught the first touchdown of his career, but was in no mood to celebrate his personal achievement after the loss, “When you lose, that is all that matters. You want to win.”
For the third time this year, the Raiders have failed to turn a win into a a streak. Asomugha summed it up best, “Trying to win two games for us has been like trying to climb Mt. Everest or something. It has been very difficult. We’re trying to get two wins at some point in the year. And it always, never happens. That is the momentum swing that we need. But we have never been able to get that; we’ve never had that momentum.” And now, it is back to square one and a trip to Pittsburgh to face the Steelers on tap.