Going up against rival Dallas Cowboys with an NFC West title on the line couldn’t have worked out any better for the Oakland Raiders, who scored two quick touchdowns to avoid a Thanksgiving Day disaster at AT&T Stadium.
After missing out on last year’s post-season, the Raiders are battling for first place in their division and facing the Cowboys, second in the NFC East and a potential playoff representative. To make it even more bizarre, they are coached by the son of Dallas’s former owner.
But in a game they had their fans chanting for a 2-0 lead, their team instead fell into an 18-17 deficit as the fourth quarter wore on.
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But even though the Cowboys got on the board just three minutes into overtime, stopping a Raiders drive to force a turnover on downs and then setting up for a last-ditch drive themselves, they could not finish the job.
“I thought it was a good opportunity for us to see where we are at,” coach Jack Del Rio said. “They answered the bell and I liked our guys’ response from this game.”
Raiders quarterback Derek Carr threw for 269 yards and had a rushing touchdown, though his late interception in overtime sealed the deal for Dallas. Justin Ellis had two sacks in Oakland’s defense, and Raiders kicker Sebastian Janikowski made all five of his field goals. Dallas’s Amari Cooper scored twice on receptions to join the NFL’s 1,000-yard club.
The Cowboys jumped out to an early 11-0 lead on a pair of touchdowns by Dez Bryant. He scored on a short run that made it 18-0 before capping the scoring for the half with a 33-yard reception.
Oakland mounted a furious comeback, though, scoring three touchdowns in less than six minutes to take a 21-18 lead. Carr completed 26 of his 33 passes for 225 yards and the touchdown, and Doug Martin ran for 102 yards and a touchdown.
Dallas took advantage of a turnover deep in Oakland territory on their opening drive, with Bryant scoring on a short run. Their 17-point lead evaporated with about eight minutes left in the third quarter as Carr had a pass picked off by strong safety Nate Allen on third down.
The Cowboys had another touchdown wiped away moments later when a review reversed the outcome of a 1-yard Garrett Hartley field goal.
Dallas’s excellent day at the office by the NFL’s leading receiver took a bit of a hit when Brice Butler was ruled out with a lower-body injury. He caught six passes for 91 yards.
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“I don’t see Brice Butler as not coming back this week,” coach Sean McVay said. “I think he’s going to be a big part of our team.”
Dallas moved 24 yards in four plays for the game-tying field goal before a miscommunication between running back Ezekiel Elliott and Romo on a fourth-and-goal at the 1 ended up turning the ball over on downs.
Defensive back Byron Jones picked off a deflected pass on a desperation Romo heave in the closing seconds of regulation. The extra point bounced off the upright, leaving Oakland up 18-17. The Raiders moved the ball quickly in overtime and Romo was sacked for the fourth time by Marchand at the 13-yard line.
Romo and backup Kellen Moore then went 6 of 6 to set up Janikowski’s 20-yard field goal for the win with 2:01 left. Romo was 17 of 24 for 134 yards, but the most important throw was the last.
“Anytime I’m standing there on the sideline after the game, there’s not much I’m going to say that’s going to get on people’s nerves,” he said. “When it goes that bad you take a hard look in the mirror and you’ve got to figure out a way to get past it and get back out there and try to get us a win.”