By Zach Walker
Thursday – November 28 – 3:30 PM
AT&T Stadium – Arlington
How epic was the win against the New York Giants? Was it a signature Cowboys victory? The win was, a win against a division opponent, on the road, against a team, playing for “everything”. It was satisfying to see the Cowboys, show a little backbone. After a week, where every day, another Giants’ player was saying something, and for the most part, the player on the Cowboys across from them, doing all the talking on the field. An epic forced fumble by Orlando Scandrick, on Victor Cruz, recovered by safety Jeff Heath for a touchdown and the game’s first points. A pass that went right through the mitts of Dez Bryant, and was intercepted, would fill the mistake quota for the game for Tony Romo. A defense that got to Eli Manning and made it seem like Manning wasn’t comfortable, but as this being a Cowboys-Giants game, it would be made interesting late, with a touchdown pass from Manning and a two point conversion to tie the game late, at 21 a side.
And most crucially about the game, there was a final drive put together by Tony Romo. Converting consecutive 3rd downs to Dez Bryant, who until this point in the game, really had a forgettable game with a dropped pass that was picked off and a fumble while trying to make a big play. A huge 2nd and 10 to Miles Austin for a 17 yard strike through the middle of the field. And the final nail, a 3rd and 10 from the New York 28 yard line, Romo found Cole Beasley, who had run such a crisp route, had made yards of separation for himself to make a huge catch to hand the game over to Dan Bailey, who kicked a beauty of a 35-yard field goal to complete the sweep of the Giants. So, how epic was the win? For me, it felt good. But if they overlook the Raiders, they could be right back at .500, searching for answers.
The Raiders are coming into AT&T Stadium with a rookie undrafted free agent quarterback under center. Matt McGloin isn’t just some ‘next man up scrub’; he’s put in serious work to get where he is right now. A walk-on at Penn State, where he earned in-school honors, picked up by the Raiders after the draft, beat out draft pick Tyler Wilson for the third string job, and with Matt Flynn struggling and Terrelle Pryor out with injury, McGloin got his shot against Houston, who he burned for three touchdowns, earning ‘Rookie of the Week’ honors. Last week, against the Tennessee Titans, McGloin made a beautiful NFL throw to fullback Marcel Reece to put the Raiders up late in the game. The Raiders would go on to lose the game late on a final touchdown drive by the Titans.
The Raiders are a young team, looking for leadership, and with a constant carousel at starting quarterback. The Raiders have been winning themselves farther from a sure-fire number one overall type quarterback, but that isn’t a total bad thing, because it is never a bad thing when a young team, like Oakland, can win games. They have a General Manager with a solid head on his shoulders, Reggie McKenzie, who helped build and shape the current Green Bay Packers, and with the Raiders, it always seems like they are looking forward. Rashad Jennings is a very good running back, and Rod Streater is a big, solid option on the outside, and on the inside, is Marcel Reece. Reece is a 6 foot 1 inch, 255 pound anomaly; he is a fullback by position, who often plays a tight end role. The Raiders defense features two former Cowboys, a Hall-of-Famer, and a smattering of young, skilled players. Coming after Tony Romo will be Lamarr Houston, and rookie second round pick Sio Moore, Houston is dangerous brute off the edge and Moore uses his speed to get after quarterbacks and running backs. Mike Jenkins, Tracy Porter, and Charles Woodson are some hefty names to try and disrupt the Cowboys passing attack, and personally, I really want to see their first round pick, cornerback D.J. Hayden, I want to know what made him their first pick.
For the Cowboys, running the ball isn’t going to be a given, the Raiders have the eighth best defense against the run, but if the Cowboys can stay patient and actually keep at running the ball, I believe that DeMarco Murray can do serious damage. But the way the Cowboys will win this game is through the air, the Raiders are the eighth worst in the league against the pass, and this is Romo’s stage, so expect an aerial assault from number 9. On defense, containing Jennings and they must get pressure on a young quarterback working on a short week.
Matchup of the Game
Oakland fullback Marcel Reece vs Dallas linebacker Bruce Carter: Carter has the ability to keep up with Reece in the passing game, but Reece has skills of his own. This matchup is very interesting.
Three other matchups to watch
OAK CB Mike Jenkins vs DAL WR Dez Bryant
OAK DE Lamarr Houston vs DAL LT Tyron Smith
OAK LB Nick Roach vs DAL RB DeMarco Murray
Prediction: Oakland 20 – Dallas 35: Happy Thanksgiving, hopefully standing in late night lines won’t bring thoughts of an all-out melee, like last year.