Was the Cowboys-Raiders matchup the best matchup of the week, deserving of the Sunday Night Football slot? Probably not.
But those who stayed up to watch the Cowboys got to see one heck of a finish. The final two possessions of the game were unlike many games you’ll see.
With a few ticks more than five minutes to play, Dak Prescott kept the ball on a fourth-and-1 carry. A lengthy review came down to referee Gene Steratore placing a folded sheet of paper -- yes, you read that right -- between the ball and the first-down marker to see if the nose of the football crossed the line to gain.
That drive culminated in a Dan Bailey field goal, putting Dallas up 20-17. And it was only the beginning.
The Raiders benefited from a 55-yard pass interference penalty on 4th-and-11 that set them up deep in Cowboys territory with a minute to play. On 3rd-and-8, quarterback Derek Carr scrambled to his right and lunged for the pylon, but fumbled the ball through the corner of the endzone for a touchback, killing Oakland’s chances at a game-tying or game-winning score.
Got all that? Cool.
Raiders intercept Dak twice
It took less than three quarters for the Raiders to match their interception total from the first 13 games combined. Sean Smith intercepted Dak Prescott in the first and third quarters. Oakland was only able to turn the second into points, but the two picks give Prescott 11 on the season after throwing just four in his rookie campaign.
Another quiet night from Dez
Dez Bryant led the Cowboys in receiving -- but only had 59 yards on two catches. Those two catches were both big plays, including just his second catch of the year more than 20 yards from the line of scrimmage. Still, it was another game where Bryant’s name wasn’t called as much as it should’ve been.
Tyron Smith injury
Cowboys all-pro left tackle Tyron Smith left the game with a sprained knee in the third quarter. His return was listed as questionable, and he did not return to game action.
Owner Jerry Jones told reporters after the game that there was no update on Smith’s knee.
Here’s what the Cowboys need to make the playoffs. In short, they have a chance (and a pretty good one at that) if they win their final two games.
Cowboys fans should root for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers Monday night. Their opponent, the Atlanta Falcons, need to lose two of their three remaining games for the Cowboys to leapfrog them and get into the postseason. Atlanta holds the head-to-head tiebreaker over Dallas, so they’d get in if both teams finished 10-6.
Dallas also needs a loss from the Detroit Lions, who stand ahead of the Cowboys despite the same 8-6 record because of a tiebreaker in common games.