59 degrees / clear
Key Decision #1: (OAK trails 3-0 / 3rd & 3 own 32 / 4:03 Q1)
- The Raiders first possession ended in a three and out, and in this situation, needed three yards to avoid a second consecutive three and out. The play call resulted in WR Michael Crabtree coming open for a 1st down, but QB Derek Carr threw behind Carr and the Raiders had to punt. On the ensuing Dallas possession, the Cowboys scored a TD for a 10-0 lead, and while the Raiders would ultimately tie the game on two occasions, they never would lead. This play would set the tone for the rest of the game; Raider opportunities unfulfilled, not necessarily because the Cowboys played so well, but because the Raiders didn’t execute.
Key Decision #2: (DAL leads 3-0 / 1st & 10 own 48 / 1:50 Q1)
- The Cowboys came out in a 2TE set, ran play action off of it, and made a nice 31-yard completion to TE James Hanna, for his longest gain of the season. The play set up an eventual Cowboys TD and 10-0 lead.
Key Decision #3: (OAK trails 10-0 / 4th & 1 own 48 / 8:20 Q2)
- Oakland was on its best drive of the game, with the series starting on their own 10-yard line; up to this point, their offense was ineffective.
- We do not know if Raiders Head Coach Jack Del Rio considered going for the first down here; we can understand why he did not: it still was early in the game, he already was down two scores, and a 4th down failure would give the Cowboys a very short field.
- But in 2016 we saw Del Rio take numerous gambles that led to a playoff appearance, and we wonder if he did consider it here. Del Rio chose to punt, and while the Raiders had another nice drive on their next series to end the half, it ended in a missed 39-FG attempt.
Key Decision #4: (DAL tie game 10-10 / 4th & 11 own 24 / 4:45 Q3)
- Cowboys Head Coach Jason Garrett gives P Chris Jones the authority to call a fake when he sees the requisite opportunity, and that faith paid off here. Jones called his own number, ran the ball when he saw the fake opportunity, and gained the first down. The play led to an eventual TD and a 17-10 Dallas lead. This play call changed the course of the game.
Key Decision #5: (OAK tie game 17-17 / 3rd & 4 own 21 / 6:46 Q4)
- On a key 3rd down, the Cowboys made an in-game adjustment and switched to press man coverage to foil the Raiders’ 3rd down attempt. On the next series, the Cowboys scored the ultimate winning FG to lead 20-17.
Key Decision #6: (DAL tie game 17-17 / 4th & 1 own 39 / 5:06 Q4)
- Cowboys Head Coach Jason Garrett still has a slim chance to make the playoffs, and if he does, this decision may play an integral part in that. Garrett chose to go for this first down; failure would have given the Raiders a very short field. Garrett had QB Dak Prescott attempt a sneak (which was poorly executed), but it was enough for the first down. The Cowboys would ultimately make a FG.
- The Raiders appear to underachieve to their talent on offense. Their tempo is inconsistent, and the entire offense appears to be pressing. They did make a nice in-game adjustment by having QB Carr get out on the move a bit more in the 2nd half, and he seemed to get more comfortable. But the Raiders simply don’t have an identity on offense.
- The Raiders played well enough on defense to win, including holding the Cowboys to a FG on their final fourth quarter possession when Dallas had 1st and goal from the Oakland 5. They made other key stops, particularly on a Dallas possession in the fourth with the game tied 17-17. They gave their offense the ball with 8:07 left in a tie game; not much more you can than that, particularly since they had been struggling with their secondary in prior weeks. DC John Pagano did a good job taking advantage of an injury to Cowboys LT Tyron Smith.
- Cowboys OC Scott Linehan appears to get a bit too cute at times. In this game, that happened on two occasions. First, after a nice fake punt call by P Jones, Linehan tried a flea flicker on 1st & 10 from his own 48 – the ball fell incomplete. Second, on a key Q4 series, he had 2nd and goal from the Oakland 2, and he tried using a pistol formation on a run play; the play was stopped for a 1 yard gain. We believe it was the only time he went pistol in the game.