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Know Your History: The Cowboys vs Raiders matchup

These teams have faced each other on Thanksgiving a few times before.

NFL: Dallas Cowboys at Oakland Raiders Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports

The Cowboys are just coming off their 12th game ever against the Kansas City Chiefs and they have a quick turnaround to face the Las Vegas Raiders at home for their annual Thanksgiving Classic. As surprising as it was to see how little the Cowboys and Chiefs have played, it may be even more surprising to know they’ve only faced the Raiders 12 times as well. Only five teams have played the Cowboys less.

It somewhat makes sense, considering the Chiefs and Raiders are both a part of the AFC and originated from the AFL before the merger took place, but the Raiders are one of the more storied franchises in football alongside the Cowboys. Both teams are crucial parts of NFL history and carry with them a ton of notoriety. And yet, very few instances of facing each other.

Interestingly, the all-time series between these two teams is tied even at 6-6, although the Cowboys are winners of their last three in a row against the Raiders. Coincidentally, two of those three games also came on Thanksgiving. The first such matchup came during the 2009 season, when Wade Phillips’ squad went 11-5 and won their first playoff game since 1996.

The Cowboys had just won a narrow game against Jim Zorn’s Washington club by a score of 7-6 to reach a record of 7-3. They then prepared for Tom Cable’s Raiders, whose win over the Bengals the prior week bumped them up to a 3-7 record. So it wasn’t much of a surprise when Dallas rolled. Tony Romo threw two touchdowns and Felix Jones ran in another to give the Cowboys a 24-7 win ahead of their Thanksgiving feast.

Their next Thanksgiving bout with the Raiders was the next time they saw each other, which came during the 2013 season. After a narrow road win over the Giants, the Cowboys traveled home on the short week with a 6-5 record and needing more wins to keep pace with Chip Kelly’s surging Eagles. That meant beating a struggling Raiders team, led by second-year head coach Dennis Allen.

The Raiders had gotten off to a promising 3-4 start led by quarterback Terrelle Pryor, but two straight losses led to Pryor being benched in favor of Matt McGloin during a win over the Texans. That gave McGloin the start the next week, which came against the Cowboys. He didn’t play well, but running back Rashad Jennings ran for two touchdowns to give Oakland a 21-14 lead at halftime.

Things took a drastic turn in the second half, though, as the Cowboys scored 17 unanswered points and shutting out the Raiders until a meaningless field goal with 35 seconds left in the game. Dallas won 31-24 to boost their divisional race, while the Raiders would go on to lose every remaining game on their schedule. Of course, the Cowboys also lost three of their remaining four to miss the postseason as well.

The Cowboys’ most recent match with the Raiders didn’t come on Thanksgiving, instead unfolding in mid-December of the 2017 season. After a dismal three-game stretch without Ezekiel Elliott, the Cowboys offense had found its groove and won two straight before traveling to Oakland to take on Jack del Rio’s Raiders. The Cowboys made it three straight wins thanks to a clutch play from the GOAT himself, Jeff Heath.

It’s time for another Thanksgiving duel between the Cowboys and the Raiders. Now in Las Vegas, the Raiders have fumbled a 3-0 start to the season with several scandals that have resulted in players and head coach Jon Gruden being let go, and are now looking to snap a three-game losing streak. They’ll run into an angry Cowboys team looking to once again bounce back after losing to the Chiefs on the road. It should make for an exciting game of football either way.