The Dallas Cowboys and the Las Vegas Raiders are some of the most influential franchises in the NFL. Between the two clubs, they have won eight Super Bowls and appeared in 13. Cowboys Jerry Jones is the head of the richest sports franchise in the world and a marketing pioneer of the modern NFL. Meanwhile, the former owner of the Las Vegas Raiders, Al Davis, was a pioneer in his own right and led what many know as the renegade franchise of the NFL. Davis was a visionary and was integral to the merger that combined the NFL and the AFL. He was a maverick who coined many phrases, including the iconic “Just win, baby.”
The Dallas Cowboys and the Las Vegas Raiders share many similarities, and it is an underrated preseason rivalry. Here are a few key moments in that rivalry over the last 30 years.
Jason Garrett’s wild comeback win vs. the Raiders - July 27, 1996
In 1996, the Cowboys were fresh off winning the fifth Super Bowl in their franchise history. That game’s MVP, Larry Brown, was on the opposing sidelines now with the Oakland Raiders. This game was considered a run-of-the-mill preseason game between two historic NFL franchises and became a mid-summer shootout in Week 1 of the preseason.
By this time, backup quarterback Jason Garrett had developed a reputation for crunch-time heroics off the bench, famous for his performance in the 1994 Thanksgiving Day game against the Green Bay Packers.
In this exhibition game against the Raiders, Garrett did it once again. Garrett threw for two long touchdown plays in the closing minutes of the fourth quarter. His first was a 60-yard hookup with Jason Shelley. Then the second was a 59-yard touchdown to Billy Davis to take a late lead against the Raiders.
Jason Witten suffers a scary injury - August 13, 2012
The Dallas Cowboys were entering the 2012 season with high hopes. They couldn’t afford any setbacks, having missed the last two seasons’ playoffs. Cowboys Nation held their collective breaths when Jason Witten took a big hit against the then-Oakland Raiders. On a broken play with Tony Romo scrambling from a collapsing pocket, Romo throws a pass to Witten on a crossing pattern. Holding on to the pass, Witten takes a massive hit from linebacker Rolando McClain, resulting in a lacerated spleen. Following the game, Jason Garrett, the Cowboys’ head coach at the time, described it as a severe injury.
Witten was believed to be in jeopardy of missing the 2012 season opener against the New York Giants. Fortunately for Witten and the Cowboys, Witten was medically cleared to play in the opener when the odds were not in his favor. Witten went on to have one of the best seasons in the history of the Dallas Cowboys. He finished that season with 110 receptions, which was the second-most in Cowboys history, and tallied 1,039 yards in 2012. Witten had a terrific season that, at one point, was in serious doubt.
Undrafted rookie quarterback put on a clinic against the Raiders - August 26, 2017
Cooper Rush entered the NFL as an undrafted free agent in 2017 out of Central Michigan. Rush faced an uphill climb to make the team. Entering camp, he competed to be the number three quarterback on the roster. Following a superb game in the Hall of Fame game that summer, Rush was spectacular against the Raiders in 2013.
Rush completed 12 of his 13 pass attempts for 115 yards and two touchdowns, including a 44-yard touchdown connection with Lance Lenoir to end his night with a 143.1 quarterback rating. As an undrafted rookie, Rush prompted the Cowboys to release quarterback Kellen Moore long before he became the team’s offensive coordinator and promoted Rush to the backup quarterback behind Dak Prescott. Since joining the Cowboys, Rush has posted a 5-1 record in relief of Dak Prescott.