1. Dak on the scoring drives: Dak's day was a bit of a mixed bag with some good and some bad. The good came on every drive in which we scored, including the field-goals. On those drives he was efficient in moving the ball and did just about everything he needed to move ball and get scores. This became critical in the 4th Quarter where he ultimately led to two touchdowns, a two-point conversion that tied the game and then setting up a late field-goal that retied the game. He was very good on those drives, with only one mistake in leading Gallup a bit too much in the fourth, but we at least tied the game after that point.
2. Pollard: He was the real workhorse today and the more explosive player. He was able to move quickly that could set up some big plays (if it weren't for penalties), caught a few passes that then turned into bigger plays that also helped set up some of the scoring drives, and then the biggest play of the game... the kick return for a touchdown.
3. The O-line in pass blocking: They struggled a lot last week... and while they never really got the run game going, they did largely give Dak time to throw the ball and didn't commit most of the team's penalties.
4. Parsons: About the only guy that really affected things in a positive way for the defense... he remained everywhere on the field and was at least part of the plays involved. Either he got the tackle that was needed or hurried Carr enough that the pass wouldn't be as good as it could have been. He had an off-sides penalty and technically a roughing the passer... BUT that RTP penalty was very... "technical," if I may be polite.
1. Penalties: This were killer in the game, and particularly on the defensive side and on third down. On EVERY drive the Raiders scored on, there was at least ONE defensive penalty that not only kept the Raiders offense on the field but often put the Raiders in scoring position on the penalty alone. The fact that many of these came on third down hurt especially and kept a defense that didn't play well on the field LONGER.
2. Anthony Brown: Speaking of penalties... most of them came from Anthony Brown, and that attracted more attention to him from the Raiders. And almost every time they threw Brown's way, Brown would commit pass interference. The worst part of it, is that he was never truly burned on those plays, thus the penalties probably weren't needed to prevent a score, and yet he kept playing as close and handsy as he had through the game... and that continued to all for those pass inference penalties that put the Raiders in field goal range in overtime.
3. Tackling: Adding to the penalties was a lot of sloppy tackling, which gave the Raiders additional yards after catches or in the running game and then making things harder for a unit that wasn't executing well in the game... outside of Parsons.
4. O-line in the running game: While they did reasonably well in the passing game... they were not as effective in the running game. While they weren't over powered by the Raiders defensive front, neither were they opening up holes for Zeke or Pollard. And about the one time that Pollard did get a huge run, that was cancelled because of a holding penalty.
5. Dak on the non-scoring drives: While he was great on the drives in which we scored, and was a critical part of coming back to tie the game, on every drive where we punted, Dak was often off target on his throws. To a degree he was even off in the 4th on a throw to Gallup that could have set Dallas ahead in regulation, which hurts and is only negated that the score was tied later. But that then ends with an off target throw in overtime...
6. Pass defense: There were some stops here and there... but the secondary got chewed up a lot in this game.
7. Drops: They weren't as bad as last week... but that doesn't remove them from the game. Dak was off target on some of his throws, and particularly those on the non-scoring drives, but it wasn't though these throws were so wild that a play couldn't have been made on them. And there were a few passes where the ball was well placed and was just dropped.
8. Coaching decisions: What went wrong for the Cowboys in much of the game related more to execution and not coaching decisions... but they still came into play. On play calling, there was a bit too many attempts to run long developing plays, particularly in the running game against a Raiders defense that was attacking quick and moving to attack those plays. Those long developing plays then in turn got blown up, the first two-point conversion attempt being one of them, largely because they gave the Raiders time to attack those plays.
The other one would be not challenging the fumble in the first half. That play had the potential to turn the game around earlier and making things easier for the team after falling behind 7-6. Romo and Nantz discussed it and even got confirmation that Dallas COULD have challenged the play. Now, a challenge may not have worked, and I could see wanting to save a time out because of it, but ultimately Dallas went into halftime with most of its timeouts unused. Which only raises the question, "if you're not going to use the time outs, why NOT challenge a play that could have been a turnover and given the Cowboys a shot at the lead earlier than the fourth quarter?"
9. The refs: And here they are again... It wasn't quite as bad as last week, but there were times where the refs seemed to find their ways into messing with the game. The worst of this being the roughing the passer penalty that they hit Parsons with. I can understand wanting to protect the QB, but Carr was both running and falling down at the time. Neither Parsons nor the other Dallas defender were trying to lunge or do anything to hit Carr, and ultimately Carr's fall took him into Parsons' knee. And if the refs were going to be that picky... they could have called pass interference on at least one of the late throws in the 4th on that same sort of "technicality."
Thanksgiving... I'm sure this wasn't the Thanksgiving that was wanted, as Dallas losses another game. Has its defense largely collapse and the offense be off and on through the game, but in some ways, this game was better than the other two losses we had. We were never truly in either of the games against Denver or Kansas City, and pretty much got blown out as a result. This game was ultimately close and one where one or two things going differently could have produced a win...
Though, ultimately the biggest part of the holiday should be more about being with family. In that aspect, hopefully everyone had a happy thanksgiving.