The Dallas Cowboys don’t have many answers lately.
The offense was shorthanded on Thursday and the defense has fallen into a slump. Even when Dak Prescott did a great job to get Dallas to overtime against the Las Vegas Raiders in a Thanksgiving thriller, the defense couldn’t do enough to win. A huge pass interference call on Dallas was all the Raiders needed in overtime.
After a great 6-1 start, Dallas has fallen pretty hard over the past four weeks. Dallas lost its third game in four weeks, and each loss has been disappointing in its own way. The Raiders beat Dallas 36-33 in overtime after the Cowboys’ offense went three-and-out to start overtime and the defense couldn’t get a stop. The key play in overtime came when Anthony Brown took a pass interference penalty on third-and-18, setting up a field goal. It was Brown’s fourth penalty of the game.
It was a huge win for the Raiders, who improved to 6-5 and snapped a three-game losing streak. The Cowboys’ once-promising season isn’t looking so great anymore.
Cowboys offense gets hot late
The Cowboys were far from full strength on Thursday. They were missing Amari Cooper, who is out due to COVID-19, and CeeDee Lamb, who couldn’t get cleared after a concussion on Sunday. Ezekiel Elliott seemed to be less than 100 percent due to various injuries.
The Cowboys offense got hot in the fourth quarter, but for much of the game it wasn’t as explosive as usual. Some of it is due to missing Cooper and Lamb. They’re two of the top 25 or so receivers in the game. You can’t just replace them.
That trickled down to the rest of the offense. The Raiders did a nice job shutting down the run game. That’s easier when there’s not much threat at receiver. That allowed Las Vegas to lead most of the game.
Prescott finally got hot in the fourth quarter. He hit a few big passes, throwing for more than 200 yards in the quarter, to pull the Cowboys to a tie. Dalton Schultz scored on a touchdown pass down the middle with 2:54 left. The Cowboys needed a two-point conversion to tie, and that went to Schultz too.
The Raiders answered. Derek Carr moved Las Vegas downfield. He hit DeSean Jackson, who got the Raiders going with a long early touchdown, for 30 yards. Daniel Carlson hit a career-best 56-yard field goal with 1:52 remaining to take the lead. It was a risky call to try the field goal because Dallas would have taken over near midfield. Las Vegas’ gamble was the right one.
Prescott had enough time to put together his own clutch drive.
Raiders-Cowboys goes to overtime
Needing a field goal to tie, Prescott came up big. A great third-down throw to Michael Gallup got the Cowboys a first down and about in field-goal range. The Cowboys got well within Greg Zuerlein’s range later in the drive. He hit a field goal with 19 seconds left to tie it 33-33.
Dallas won the coin toss before overtime. The Cowboys had all the momentum. But Prescott simply missed Noah Brown on a third-down pass, as he threw it well behind him. A great punt and a Raiders penalty helped Dallas, A sack seemed to put the Raiders in a hole. But Brown’s pass interference penalty changed the game. Daniel Carlson hit the field goal to win it. Prescott will regret the missed throw to Brown that would have kept the drive alive.
The Raiders needed a win. They’ve been through a lot this season and had lost three in a row, turning a 5-2 start into a .500 record. They needed something like the upset at Dallas to rekindle wild-card hopes.
A few weeks ago the Cowboys looked like a possibility for the NFC’s No. 1 seed. Given how every top team this season seems to be mired in inconsistency, four losses doesn’t eliminate the Cowboys from consideration for that all-important top seed. But it gets a lot harder. You can’t lose home games to teams like the Broncos or Raiders if you want to be taken seriously as a contender.
Dallas will still likely win the NFC East. But their ceiling looks a lot lower after the past few games.