It seemed like the Oakland Raiders were a foot away from victory all night against the Dallas Cowboys.
A Giorgio Tavecchio missed field goal from 39 yards out at the end of the first half proved to be the margin of victory. The kick, which sailed over the left upright, would’ve been good if it was a foot to the right.
A bizarre Dak Prescott quarterback sneak on the Cowboys final drive was given a first down on measurement via a folded piece of paper. Had the spot been placed just a little farther back, the Raiders would’ve been in excellent field position for a win.
And finally, Derek Carr‘s scramble on the team’s final drive saw him reach for the pylon but lose control of the ball due to a perfectly timed swipe from Jeff Heath, fumbling through the end-zone for a touchback and a Cowboys win. If Carr was a foot closer, it would’ve likely been the deciding touchdown for the Raiders.
Alas, the Raiders came up short, like they have all season.
The Cowboys escaped with a 20-17 win in a wild Sunday night contest. They dominated in the first half, shutting the Raiders offense down outside of the drive which ended in Tavecchio’s miss. The Silver and Black recovered after halftime but couldn’t finish their opponents off.
It’s a shame too because the defense was stellar after starting slowly in the first quarter. Prescott tossed two interceptions to Sean Smith, the second due to a great hit from Bruce Irvin. The second-year signal-caller finished with 212 yards off 18 for 27 passing. Prescott also ran 6 times for 32 yards and a score.
Alfred Morris was effective early on, but the Raiders front-seven cracked down on him afterward. He rushed 16 times for 61 yards. Rod Smith wasn’t as productive with his carries (7 for 13 yards), but he did have the Cowboys other TD.
Jason Witten led the team with 4 catches for 47 yards. Dez Bryant was blanked for the majority of the game, but he beat Smith on the final drive for a gorgeous 40-yard catch to set up the game-winning Dan Bailey chipshot. He had just 2 grabs for 59 yards.
Carr was up-and-down all game. Outside of the backbreaking fumble, he had numerous throws that could’ve been picked off, but he ultimately finished with 171 yards and 2 TDs, along with 4 scrambles for 47 yards. Both scores went to Michael Crabtree, who had 7 receptions for 39 yards. Seth Roberts chipped in with 3 catches for 52 yards.
Like Morris, Marshawn Lynch had some nice runs, but the Cowboys defense largely held him in check. He ran 16 times for 76 yards.
This game was a perfect description of the Raiders 2017 season. There were a number of promising moments undermined by inconsistency on defense, poor playcalling on offense and mental errors, all brought together by the team as a whole barely keeping playoff hopes alive and shriveling when the game really mattered.
The loss all but eliminates the 6-8 Raiders from postseason contention, completing last week’s fall from grace versus the Kansas City Chiefs. They’ll head east for a Christmas Day game with the Philadelphia Eagles. The Cowboys are still fighting at 8-6, with a huge matchup against the Seattle Seahawks on deck.