Cowboys edge Raiders, keep NFC playoff hopes alive - Jeremy Bergman, NFL.com
One of Bergman's post-game observations deals with the Cowboys' playoff chances.
With the close win, Dallas remains very much alive in the NFC wild-card race. At 8-6, the Cowboys are one of four teams in the conference with eight wins. If the Atlanta Falcons (8-5) somehow lose Monday night to Tampa Bay, there will be a four-way tie at 8-6 for the sixth seed between Atlanta, Dallas, Detroit and Seattle. Of those four clubs, the Cowboys and Seahawks are the only two to play each other in a Week 16 do-or-die game at AT&T Stadium.
Dallas wins by thinnest of margins - Ryan Wilson, CBSSports.com
The Cowboys move to 8-6 and are still in the playoff race with two regular-season games to go, Wilson explains in his game summary.
The Cowboys improve to 8-6 but are still the No. 9 seed in the NFC with the Falcons, Lions and Seahawks between them and the final wild-card spot. And in order to make up that ground, here's what needs to happen: Dallas has to win out against the Seahawks and Eagles, Detroit needs to lose once, and the Falcons, Panthers or Saints need to lose twice.
Here's what the Cowboys need to make the playoffs - WFAA.com Staff
The Cowboys still need to win out.
After the Cowboys' win over the Oakland Raiders Sunday night, the Cowboys had roughly an 11 percent chance of making the playoffs, according to The Upshot’s playoff predictor.
That number goes up to 75 percent should the Cowboys win out -- that, obviously, is the No. 1 thing Cowboys fans should root for. Wins over the Seahawks and Eagles in Weeks 16 and 17 would put them at 10-6 and in position to earn a playoff berth, if they get some help.
So, what do the Cowboys need?
• Wins vs. Seattle and at Philadelphia
• Falcons lose two of three: at Tampa Bay, at New Orleans or vs. Carolina
• Detroit loses one of two: at Cincinnati, vs. Green Bay
Dak Prescott, Cowboys Escape with Win vs. Raiders After Late Derek Carr Fumble - Scott Polacek, Bleacher Report
The Cowboys got the win they needed, lucky as it might have been.
Dallas still needs help to reach the postseason, but Sunday's outcome and the risks its coach was willing to take sent a statement to the rest of the NFC that it isn't going away just yet.
What's more, star running back Ezekiel Elliott is set to rejoin the team and provide a boost for the final two contests after serving his six-game suspension.
Three takeaways from Cowboys' wild win over Raiders - Joe Rodgers, Sporting News
One of the takeaways here is about how the Cowboys need to get Dez Bryant going.
Other than a 40-yard pass with three minutes remaining, Dez Bryant was quiet once again. The Raiders double-teamed Bryant for most of the night, and Dallas couldn't get him the ball until late, a common theme this season for the Cowboys' biggest playmaker.
Bryant has never played all 16 games without recording 100 yards receiving at least once. He has two games remaining to break the century mark after Sunday's two-catch, 59-yard performance. If the Cowboys are to get into the playoffs, the 2014 All-Pro needs to be the difference maker.
Refocused: Dallas Cowboys 20, Oakland Raiders 17 - Pro Football Focus
Anthony Brown had the highest grade of any Cowboys last night, Dak Prescott had the fourth-highest.
CB Anthony Brown, 92.7 overall grade
Brown played perhaps his best game as a Cowboy. He was targeted seven times and gave up three catches for 56 yards but added three pass break ups. The trio of Brown, Chidobe Awuzie, and Jourdan Lewis were targeted a combined 21 times and surrendered 12 catches for only 109 yards.
QB Dak Prescott, 85.7 overall grade
If you look a traditional stats, it may look like a mediocre night for Prescott, but that doesn’t quite tell the whole story. One of Dak’s interceptions was not his fault, as his arm was hit during his throwing motion, and he was perfectly on point on a couple deep passes that his receivers just weren’t able to haul in. He also scored a touchdown on a scramble, and had a couple other nice runs that picked up first downs or good yardage.
Raiders fumble away playoff hopes, but no, touchback rule isn't dumb - Vinny Iyer, Sporting News
A defense of the touchback rule:
While the Cowboys (8-6) got a controversial fourth-down measurement in their favor to help them drive for the tiebreaking field goal in a 20-17 victory, the Raiders (6-8) blew their final possession when a near game-winning rushing touchdown by Carr turned into a fumble out of bounds through the end zone for a game-losing touchback.
Predictably, just as NFL fans and observers couldn't believe that a game-winning TD "catch" by Steelers tight end Jesse James was neither a TD nor a catch against the Patriots a few hours earlier, the touchback rule got lambasted again in a high-profile prime-time game.
The logic goes: If Carr's fumble goes out of bounds anywhere else on the field, then the Raiders retain possession. But we should also know the goal line isn't like anywhere else on the field.
Sure, Carr made a gritty play scrambling and reaching the ball out in an attempt to break the plane, but Cowboys safety Jeff Heath made the greater play by chasing down Carr and preventing him from making it to the pylon with the ball in his hands.
Just as Pittsburgh QB Ben Roethlisberger was held accountable for making a shaky decision that led to an interception against New England, Carr should be held accountable for his mistake in the most crucial place and time on the field.
Does it stink for Raiders fans that Carr couldn't quite go all the way? Yes. But had he protected the ball and gone out of bounds instead of riskily overextending, the Raiders would have had a first-and-goal inside the Cowboys' 5-yard line with 32 seconds left plus their final timeout.
The NFL Rulebook Got Weird in Cowboys-Raiders - Danny Heifetz, The Ringer
A folded piece of paper and the worst rule in sports kept Dallas’ playoff hopes alive.
Carr invoked the worst rule in sports—the dreaded “fumble out of the end zone for a touchback.” Dallas was awarded the ball, and the game was over.
According to The New York Times’ playoff machine, the Cowboys would have had a less than 5 percent chance of making the playoffs if they lost this game and won their next two. Now they have a 53 percent chance of making the playoffs if they win their next two games, and the Raiders are almost certainly out. All because of a piece of paper and the dumbest rule in football.