Tag Archives: Dallas Cowboys vs. Oakland Raiders

RAIDERS AND BRAIDERS: Dallas Cowboys create a hair raising event on Thanksgiving Day inside AT&T Stadium

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Photos courtesy, clockwise from top left: Kirby Lee/USA TODAY Sports; John F. Rhodes/Special to the DMN; Brandon Wade/AP

Just for fun, here are some locks frozen in time by super fast shutter speeds during the annual Dallas Cowboys Thanksgiving day game. 

No words on what these players and performers were grateful for on the holiday. Good hair, I presume.

Whether blonde, brunette or somewhere in between, the Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders have hair to die for.

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Photo courtesy, Louis DeLuca | DMN | Thursday, November 28, 2013

Dallas Cowboys strong safety Danny McCray (40) and cornerback B.W. Webb (20) gave Oakland Raiders kick returner Taiwan Jones something to dread during the Dallas Cowboys victory at AT&T Stadium.


Photo courtesy: Tom Fox | DMN

Singer, actress, and Grand Prairie native Selena Gomez’ hair was kinky and her skirt was stringy as she performed for philanthropy during the Dallas Cowboys vs.Oakland Raiders halftime show at AT&T Stadium.

Special thanks: Michael Hamtil | DMN

BEATS THE BUG AND RAIDERS: Flu virus doesn’t stop Tony Romo from second-half perfection

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ARLINGTON, Texas – The roof was closed, but Tony Romo was still under the weather in Thursday’s win.

Romo still managed to put together an efficient day despite battling a virus and getting an IV before the game, going 23-of-32 for 225 yards and a touchdown without throwing a pick.

“Just whatever it is, a bug, some shape or form,” Romo said. “You know, you just kind of feel down, but it’s no different than guys playing through pain or anything. It’s just part of football.”

The virus began Wednesday night and Romo woke up feeling sick on the morning of the game. Head coach Jason Garrett said Romo had thrown up and didn’t look great physically before the Thanksgiving Day matchup began.

After a slow start, throwing for 55 yards without a touchdown in the first quarter and throwing for no yards in the second quarter until the two-minute mark, Romo got it going late in the first half. The Cowboys orchestrated an eight-play, 73-yard touchdown drive in 1:46.

BEATS THE BUG AND RAIDERS - Flu virus doesn’t stop Tony Romo from second-half perfection - Dallas Cowboys schedule 2013 2014 - Dallas Cowboys news - Romo sick

“He’s already a beast, then that beast times two comes out,” said Dez Bryant, who finished as the team’s leading receiver in the game. “That’s exactly what he showed. Whenever he’s doing things like that, like I said, it just boosts everyone in this locker room.”

Then Romo carried that to the second half, when he was a perfect 12-for-12. It’s the third time in his career that he’s completed all of his second-half passes and the first since December 2012 against the Eagles.

“We talked about the great Joe Montana story in the Cotton Bowl,” Garrett said. “We didn’t actually get him the chicken soup, but we tried to get a little drama going so maybe he would respond to it. I think as much as anything else, when he got going out there he started feeling good, particularly in that drive before the half, and I think it carried into the second half.”

Romo downplayed the significance of the virus come game time. He said he took “a bunch of stuff” from the doctors but that it was no big deal. He said with a smile that he’d try to go eat something after the Thanksgiving game.

“This is the NFL,” Romo said. “You play through everything. Guys play through a lot worse, I can promise you that.”

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COWBOYS VS. RAIDERS POSTGAME: Press conferences and NFL highlights video | Oakland Raiders at Dallas Cowboys | 2013-2014 NFL Season – Game 12 of 16

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First Take – Dallas Cowboys vs. Oakland Raiders game from AT&T Stadium  (3:25)

First impressions of the Dallas Cowboys victory over the Oakland Raiders. (Watch | Listen)

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Jason Garrett Postgame Press Conference (11:03)

Jason Garrett speaks to the media following the Dallas Cowboys victory over the Oakland Raiders at AT&T Stadium. (Watch Video | Play Audio)

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Tony Romo Postgame Press Conference (6:19)

Tony Romo speaks to the media following the Dallas Cowboys victory over the Oakland Raiders at AT&T Stadium. (Watch Video | Play Audio)

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Raiders vs. Cowboys Highlights (3:48)

Tony Romo and the Dallas Cowboys overcame an early deficit to defeat the Oakland Raiders in Week 13. Tony Romo improves to 6-1 on Thanksgiving Day. (Watch Video | No Audio)


HAPPY THANKSGIVING DAY FROM THE ROMO FAMILY - Tony Romo Candice Romo Hawkins Romo - Dallas Cowboys

Tony Romo has plenty of reasons to be thankful on Thanksgiving.

The Dallas Cowboys quarterback has a beautiful wife and son. During the game, CBS showed a Happy Thanksgiving message from the good-looking family of Tony, Hawkins and Candice.

They won’t be a threesome for long. Back in August, Romo said he had a second child on way. The couple was married in May of 2011.

2013-2014 GAME 12 RECAP: Dallas Cowboys bounce Oakland Raiders with 31-24 win

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ARLINGTON, Texas — A few thoughts on the Dallas Cowboys’ 31-24 win against the Oakland Raiders tonight.

What it means for the Cowboys: Things started poorly when Terrance Williams fumbled the opening kickoff and Greg Jenkins returned it 23 yards for a score just 12 seconds into the game.

It was the quickest touchdown given up by the Cowboys in their history, but they were able to overcome a 14-point second-quarter deficit to take sole possession of first place in the NFC East with the win.

At 7-5, the Cowboys lead the division by a half-game over the Philadelphia Eagles (6-5) and are two games over .500 for the first time this season and the first time since Week 15 last season when they moved to 8-6.

The Dallas Cowboys will enter December with control of their fate and on a little bit of a roll. Tony Romo threw a touchdown pass in the 25th straight game and improved to 6-1 on Thanksgiving for his career.

Stock watch: Lance Dunbar, rising. Needing a boost, the Cowboys found it in Dunbar, the second-year running back from North Texas. He had 78 yards rushing in the third quarter that set up touchdowns by Dez Bryant and DeMarco Murray. He finished the game with 82 yards and was knocked out of the game in the fourth quarter with a left knee injury.

Defense turns it around: Struggling is nothing new for the Cowboys’ defense, but the Raiders had their way with them in the first half. In putting up 21 points, Oakland gained 185 yards and converted on four of seven third-down opportunities.

The saving grace was a fumbled snap by Matt McGloin that Kyle Wilber recovered at the Oakland 3 that the Cowboys turned into a touchdown.

In the second half, things were much improved. The Raiders had one first down and just 25 yards to start the second half as the Cowboys tied the game in the third quarter and took the lead for good on the second play of the fourth quarter.

Cornerback Brandon Carr rebounded from a poor first half to intercept McGloin on an underthrown ball in the end zone to Jacoby Ford. The Cowboys turned that into a clinching Dan Bailey field goal with 1:56 to play.

Finding the end zone: DeMarco Murray might have been surpassed as the star of the ground game by Lance Dunbar, but he contributed the first three-touchdown game of his career.

The last Cowboys running back with three rushing touchdowns in the same game was Julius Jones, who had three in a 43-39 win against the Seattle Seahawks on Dec. 6, 2004.

The Cowboys have nine rushing touchdowns on the season. A modest total, but the most they have had since 2010 when they had 10.

What’s next: The Dallas Cowboys have a mini-bye of sorts until the play again on Dec. 9 at the Chicago Bears. While winning the NFC East is the best and easiest way to make the playoffs, if the Cowboys want to have any wild-card hopes they almost have to win this game.

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LISTEN LIVE–RIGHT NOW: Dallas Cowboys vs. Oakland Raiders postgame show | The Dallas Cowboys Radio Network

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NFL GAMEDAY RESOURCES: 2013-2014 Dallas Cowboys vs. Oakland Raiders–Thanksgiving Day 2013

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The Dallas Cowboys didn’t have much time to savor their victory over the New York Giants on Sunday. The Thanksgiving showdown with the 4-7 Raiders awaits them. Dallas has a chance to win two consecutive games for only the second time this season. And with a challenging December schedule to navigate the Cowboys know they have to finish November on a positive note. The new-look Raiders, with Matt McGloin starting at quarterback, don’t figure the Cowboys too many problems. But Dallas (6-5) has struggled to rise above .500 in recent seasons. Here is a look at how the Dallas Cowboys and Oakland Raiders match up:

When the Cowboys run

The Cowboys produced a better rushing effort against the Giants, gaining more than 100 yards in a game for only the second time this season. But Dallas’ ground attack is far from reliable and Oakland has one of the best run defenses in the NFL. The Raiders are conceding only 3.76 yards per carry and Andre Brown of the New York Giants is the only player to gain more than 100 rushing yards against them this season.

Edge: Raiders

When the Cowboys pass

Oakland spent the off-season revamping its secondary, drafting DJ Hayden and acquiring Charles Woodson, Tracy Porter as well as ex-Cowboys cornerback Mike Jenkins. But the Raiders are giving up 258.1 passing yards – the eighth-highest average in the NFL. Tony Romo, who rediscovered his connection with Dez Bryant in the victory over the New York Giants, should have no problem dissecting the Raiders’ defense.

Edge: Cowboys

When the Raiders run

The Raiders’ rushing attack changed when Oakland made a switch at quarterback. The decision to replace zone-read specialist Terrelle Pryor with dropback passer Matt McGloin earlier this month gave the offense a new look. Pryor was the second-leading rusher on a team averaging 140.6 yards on the ground – the fourth-highest average in the NFL. Still, Oakland should be able to attack a Cowboys run defense yielding 133.6 yards per game. Only two teams are giving up a higher average.

Edge: Raiders

When the Raiders pass

In his first two NFL starts, Matt McGloin has been solid but unspectacular. While he’s only completed 58 percent of his attempts, he’s avoided mistakes, throwing one interception versus four touchdown passes. McGloin doesn’t have many weapons. Oakland’s top wideout, Rod Streater, is ranked 35th in the NFL in receiving yards. The Cowboys, who have the second-worst pass defense, could author another strong performance after shutting down Eli Manning and Co. on Sunday.

Edge: Cowboys

Special teams

The absence of Dwayne Harris, who has a hamstring injury, will hurt the Cowboys’ return game. Harris, after all, was a threat any time he handled a kickoff or fielded a punt. But Dallas still has Dan Bailey, who established a club record when he made his eighth game-winning field goal in his career last Sunday against the Giants. Bailey, who has converted 90 percent of his tries this season, has the edge over Oakland counterpart Sebastian Janikowski. The veteran Janikowski has the second-lowest field-goal accuracy rate among NFL kickers.

Edge: Cowboys


A big victory over the New York Giants has given the Cowboys a much-needed boost of confidence. Dallas knows it can’t afford to lose the momentum it gained last Sunday, especially with a Monday night showdown with Chicago looming on the schedule. The Cowboys, who haven’t lost two consecutive Thanksgiving Day games since 2000 and 2001, should have the mental edge against the Raiders. Oakland, after all, is recovering from a last-minute loss to Tennessee on Sunday.

Edge: Cowboys

GAMEDAY RESOURCES: Trackers and Scoreboards

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View NFL | Dallas Cowboys game stats and scores online while you watch or listen to the game.

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GAMEDAY RESOURCES: Sounds of the game

Listen to the “Voice of the Dallas Cowboys” Brad Sham on KRLD in Dallas.

The Dallas Cowboys Radio Network - 105_3 The Fan KRLD

Click HERE. Don’t live in the Dallas area? Click HERE.

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or listen via the Dallas Cowboys Android App on your phone or tablet


To watch on network TV, tune to:

KTVT-TV/11 Dallas | KPIX-TV/5 Oakland

Out of market? Click HERE to watch online (NFL Sunday Ticket)

When: Sunday, November 10th, 2013 at 7:30 p.m. (Dallas time)

Where: AT&T Stadium | Arlington, TX

Watch on TV: Local CBS affiliate | DirecTV


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WORLDWIDE EXCLUSIVE: The Great Robbini’s predictions for Game #12 | 2013-2014 Dallas Cowboys vs. Oakland Raiders

The GREAT Robbini deep in his Crystal Ball trance - The Boys Are Back blog 2013Regular readers know that The Boys Are Back website features the ALMOST WORLD FAMOUS predictions from The GREAT Robbini. Last week, our “exalted one” predicted a big NFC East win … and was correct!

This week, The GREAT Robbini expects our weary 53 to outpace the traveling Raiders from Oakland. Personally, I think that mental state will show it’s ugly head until it becomes clear who will walk away with this win.  It should come down to the team that was best prepared in the short week and the team that had something positive to build on from the previous game. Dallas won, thereby solidifying the bye week changes. Oakland hosted and lost to a gritty Tennessee Titans team. The Raiders are coming into AT&T Stadium mentally demoralized.

The GREAT ONE was able to sit down and put a seriously powerful rub on his magic ball. I’m told it was so vigorous, that his ball actually emitted images of a very disappointed Al Davis. He got the distinct message that “It’s bad to bleed silver and black … when this is the year that the boys are back!” Obviously, he’s psyched about the Dallas Cowboys – Oakland Raiders vibe … and ready to share his prognostications that we all count on from week-to-week. Without further delay, it’s time for The GREAT Robbini’s predictions …

The GREAT Robbini’s – 2013-2014 Dallas Cowboys game #12 predictions:

Well, here’s something to be thankful for. Its only been 4 days since watching the ‘Boys take out the trash, and take back the division. Here we are again, so soon.

Well, its not going to be quite as impressive looking on either side of the ball with such a quick turnaround. At times I think the players will appear as dizzy and sluggish as most of you sat on the couch, pants unbuttoned … moaning, groaning … picking food out of your mustache. It ain’t gonna be pretty. Thankful as we are for more football, and another heavy dose of Dallas Cowboys, these teams are just waiting to get this one done and into the history books. Expect plenty of missed tackles, dropped balls, and a false start or two. These men are tired. Ready to head home, hug those loved ones and maybe get some of those cold turkey leftovers.

That being said, expect a much more raucous home crowd than last year, and an ultimately more jubilant Cowboys team here, thanks to a confidence boosting performance in New Jersey. That and the knowledge of a ten day break headed their way. Yes, The Cowboys are giving us yet another thing to be thankful for. A turkey day win in AT&T Stadium.

Predictions for the Texas 2 Defense …

  • Carter lead tackles
  • 3 takeaways
  • 4 sacks on Mclovin’
  • 2 sacks Hatcher
  • 1 sack Ware
  • Carr Interception

Oakland Raiders QB Matt McGloin McLovin will face the Dallas Cowboys on Thanksgiving Day 2013

Predictions for the offense …

  • Romo 300 yds.
  • Bryant Touchdown
  • Williams Touchdown
  • Austin Touchdown
  • Murray/Dunbar 135 all purpose yards
  • Austin 60 yards
  • Dez 80 yards
  • Williams 60 yards
  • Witten 55 yards
  • Cowboys receive second half kick


The GREAT Robbini

Remember, you read it here! The Great Robbini predictions for game #12. Feel free to leave your final score or predictions in the comment section.

Stats and predictions to be confirmed by:

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THROWBACKS THROWN BACK: Dallas Cowboys won’t be wearing throwback uniforms on Thanksgiving Day

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The Dallas Cowboys had planned to wear their throwback blue jerseys and their throwback helmets for today’s Thanksgiving Day game against the Raiders.

But that was before the NFL sent out memo in September banning throwback helmets because of safety concerns regarding concussions because may not be broken in properly.

Without the throwback helmets, the Cowboys decided against the throwback jerseys and will go with the regular blue road jerseys against the Raiders.

Vice-president Stephen Jones said it’s all about “putting player safety first and foremost.”

“I don’t know that it’s a given by moving from one helmet to another that it’s an issue but we haven’t proven that it’s not either,” Jones said. “So anytime we’re always going to err on the side of safety, so it’s going to give us a new look this year, but some times there’s nothing wrong with that either. We’ll continue to look at that. It doesn’t mean you won’t see alternative helmets in the future but we want to make sure right now we always err on the side of payer safety until we’ve really dotted our I’s and crossed our T’s.”

This will be the first time since 1964 that the Cowboys will wear their blue jersey at home and it not be a throwback.

FEAST FROM THE EAST: 2013 Thanksgiving Day Showdown – Oakland Raiders vs. Dallas Cowboys


Dallas Cowboys

Their Nemesis: DeMarcus Ware
When you have been in this league as long as guys like Tony Romo and Jason Witten, you are going to get the opportunity to be in a lot of games. DeMarcus Ware is in that same category and like Romo and Witten, he has only faced the Oakland Raiders twice in his career. In those two games, Ware has recorded a sack in each of those meetings. For Ware and his teammates, it might not be so much about rushing Matt McGloin but having to slow down Rashad Jennings and this Raiders running game. The Raiders will do their best to try and protect McGloin, the best way they can and that will be trying to run the ball. It’s a physical rushing attack and Ware will be the key at the point of attack but also on the backside when that ball goes away. What would help Ware in this game, is if the Cowboys offense can put pressure on the Raiders to have to score right along with them, thus allowing Ware more chances to rush the passer. In this matchup, Ware could be facing Jared Veldheer who will be making his first start since the last time these two teams met in the preseason. Veldheer is coming off a triceps injury and in his place, Khalif Barnes has done a nice job and will draw the assignment of handling Ware.   
Our Weapon: Tony Romo
Turn back the calendar to Thanksgiving Day 2009, when Tony Romo made his only career start against the Oakland Raiders at AT&T Stadium. For Romo, it was an efficient day throwing the ball going 18 – 29 for 309 yards and two touchdowns. For Jason Garrett and this offensive staff, they would take that exact same day from Romo when the Cowboys and Raiders again meet this Thursday. My film study leading up to the game, tells me that the Cowboys are going to have trouble running the ball and it will fall on Romo and these skilled players to have to make plays to move the ball and score points. I believe the key to this game is going to be how well the Cowboys can execute plays like they did last week against the Giants on that final drive. This offense is hard to deal with when that is the case. I believe the Raiders will come after Romo and not allow him to feel comfortable in the pocket with linebacker and secondary blitzes. Dennis Allen and Jason Tarver know that if Romo does have time and the rush does not get home, that their secondary would be under attack. The best way for Tony Romo to help his defense is to keep the pressure on this Raiders offense to have to score points. By doing this, Romo can make the Raiders one dimensional and put the pressure on Matt McGloin to have to come up with plays in the game.
Under Their Radar: Kyle Wilber
I keep talking about the Raiders and their desire to run the ball against the Cowboys on Thursday. Kyle Wilber will be making his second start at Sam linebacker, after really doing a nice job against the Giants last week. Wilber was up to the challenge on several plays when the ball came in his direction. For the Cowboys to have any success of slowing Rashad Jennings down, Wilber is going to once again have that same type of effort. For these Cowboys linebackers, it’s going to be about taking on blocks and getting to the ball. The Raiders are a physical team when it comes to running the ball and with the size of their backs plus how well their fullbacks attack the line, its going to be an all day chore. Like the Giants tight ends last week, I am not that impressed with what I have seen from these on the Raiders. Jeron Mastrud, Mychal Rivera and Nick Kasa are not great point of attack blockers and I expect Wilber to be able to control them and work to the ball. Where Wilber had his troubles when he was a defensive end was taking on offensive tackles and having to deal with that mass and power, against these tight ends, they are more of his size and it is easier for him to have to deal with them.  
Oakland Raiders
The Nemesis: Charles Woodson
When it comes to all time great players to line up and play in this league, there are none better than Charles Woodson and what he has done throughout his long NFL career. Woodson has faced the Cowboys on five different occasions with a 4 – 1 record. In those meetings, Woodson has recorded 15 tackles, two sacks and two interceptions. Woodson has returned the Raiders where he began his career after seven seasons in Green Bay. Woodson has made the transition from shut down corner to safety without any issues. He might not have the speed or quickness that he once had, in his early days with the Raiders and later with the Packers but he is still around the ball and has that ability to turn a mistake by the quarterback, into a turnover or pick up a fumble and score. Next to Rhonde Barber, he was one of the best slot blitzers that I had ever scouted. Woodson had a knack for not tipping off that he was rushing, then explode off the edge for a sack. Even at his age, he is still a physical tackler and can bring a ball carrier down in space. Where teams have had some success attacking the Raiders has been in the middle of the field but it appears that it is more about the other safeties than really his play.  
Their Weapon: Rashad Jennings

This Dallas Cowboys defense has seen it share of outstanding running backs this season and this week is no different with Rashad Jennings. When you sit down and really study Jennings, you cannot come away not impressed with how he runs the ball. There is a violence in his running style that leaves you shaking your head in his ability to punish defenders. He is a load and whether they hand him the ball straight down hill or toss it on the edge, he is running until he feels contact, then he is going to give you a lot more. There is no secret in what you are going to get from him whether there is a hole or not. He is going to put his head down and carry bodies with him until they get him on the ground. He plays with really strong leg drive. For a big man, has a really nice burst. Doesn’t have great timed speed but when you watch him play, he is plenty fast. Has soft hands and looks very comfortable catching in them. Can take simple passes and make them large gains in the open field because of his running style. If he has a weakness, for someone his size, he is a poor pass blocker. He tends to try and cut instead of staying on his feet and taking on his man sqaure. If this game is close on Thursday, it will not favor the Cowboys because the Raiders will pound them with him. Need to get bodies to him quickly.
Under The Radar: Sio Moore
If you asked me the strength of this Oakland defense, I would say that it is their linebackers. I know that Lamarr Houston can be a problem off the edge but these linebackers can make some plays. Rookie Sio Moore, plays as the Sam linebacker in this scheme and he really is a good football player. He is not the tallest guy but he plays with outstanding quickness and lateral range. He can get to full speed very quickly and when he sees the ball, he is going to make a play. Can be an explosive guy when it comes to taking on blocks and shedding them. For such a young guy, he plays with really nice instincts and awareness. It was rare to see him get fooled on a play. He showed the ability to drop or handle his man in coverage. His best trait might be his ability to blitz. In 10 games this season, he has 3.5 sacks and that is because of his quickness. Was surprised at the power he was able to show when taking on blockers. Does a really nice job with his hands and plays with really good leverage. As mentioned, plays with a solid group of guys in Nick Roach and Kevin Burnett. Has a chance to really develop and become something special for the Raiders. Cannot leave him unaccounted for or unblocked because he will make the play. Should have been higher on his college grade in my report last spring.  

NO VANILLA EXTRACTION: Now is not the time to show all of the Dallas Cowboys offensive cards

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OXNARD, Calif. – There’s vanilla.

         And then there is Dallas Cowboys double-secret ultra-vanilla.

         That’s exactly what we saw Friday night from that Cowboys offense in a 19-17 preseason game No. 2 loss to the Oakland Raiders.

         Not surprising to say the least.

         Generally, teams do not like to show much of anything they are planning new for the upcoming season in a mere preseason game, especially just the second of what will be five for the Cowboys this summer. And that’s doubly true when playing an opponent they will be facing at some time during the regular season.

         So no way was head coach Jason Garrett going to give the Oakland Raiders any hint of what might be coming down the pipe during the 2013 season from this Cowboys offense, even if the two teams won’t meet until Thanksgiving Day at AT&T Stadium, Game 12 of the regular season. Not an entirely new offense, granted, but one with two tight ends becoming the base set and now Bill Callahan calling the plays.

         And, of course, with quarterback Tony Romo having a little more say in game-planning and the implementation of some new plays he’s partial, too. Instead of the 11th-year veteran having to “draw those plays up in the dirt,” which he could have Friday night quite easily (since a good portion of the O’s field is consumed by the A’s infield).

         There likely was some great anticipation on everyone’s part to see just how all this would work with the first-team offense making its 2013 preseason debut. The first-team offensive line was allowed to work during last Sunday’s Hall of Fame game. You know, Romo and Jason Witten and Dez Bryant and Miles Austin and DeMarco Murray and them finally out there playing together.

         There would be Witten and James Hanna, maybe some Gavin Escobar and Dante Rosario, too, showcasing these two-tight sets we’ve been witnessing here during training camp practices. Then, too, some of these new pass plays that have become a staple of camp workouts. Oh boy.

         And what?

         Nothing. As vanilla as you can get.

         Oh, the Cowboys ran some two-tight sets, but for the majority of the first-team offense’s two series (and even when Kyle Orton was in there running things behind the first offensive line with backups galore at running back and wide receiver). The Cowboys, of all things for everyone anticipating a hard-charging running attack, seemed to be in three-receiver sets more than anything.

         They weren’t about to expose much of anything, and from my understanding only did so with a couple of plays just to help keep a couple of drives alive to create more reps for some of the younger guys. Secrets are secrets, and no sense putting too much on tape for the Giants to start going to school on at this early date.

         In fact, for all those readily jumping to conclusions about this perceived “new” Cowboys offensive philosophy following that first preseason game in which they ran the ball 34 times and threw it only 21 – you know, see there that Bill Callahan, he’ll emphasize the run more – well, surprise, surprise, in this game against the Raiders the Cowboys ran the ball only 20 times and threw it around 32 times – the very reason no one should draw undeniable conclusions from these practice games.

         Talk about holding the play-call sheet over your mouth to prevent lip reading.

         But having said all this, the Cowboys still piled up 171 yards of total offense in the first half with Romo and Orton totaling three series, scoring on two of them and likely would have scored on all three if not for a blocked 26-yard field-goal attempt Mr. Automatic, Dan Bailey, surely would have made.

         OK, can hear the grumbling in the background already. While that all might be true, you’re screaming, same ol’, same ol’ with the Cowboys offense, three penalties inside the Oakland 30 turned potential touchdown drives into field-goal attempts. The nerve of that Witten to get caught holding, or for potentially first-time starter Ronald Leary to false start and Hanna to do so also.

         And as Garrett said afterward, bemoaning the penalties, the blocked field goal and the game-turning fumbled punt by rookie B.W. Webb, “We’ll continue to harp on that.”

         But did you see, or you should have seen, the ease in which Romo hooked up with Bryant three times for 55 yards; with Austin on slants twice for 22 yards; Orton with Cole Beasley twice, the second for a 15-yard touchdown.

         And guess what? Of the 32 attempts, only three times were tight ends targeted, and only one of those Witten. That ain’t going to happen, Witten targeted just once in a game. Please.

           Just look at the first-half stats alone, a half the Cowboys had a 10-6 lead, for what that matters. Romo and Orton were a combined 12 of 14 for 140 yards, one touchdown, no interceptions, one sack, finishing with a QB rating of 132.1. Bryant, Austin and Beasley finished the game combining for eight catches on eight targets, totaling 126 yards and the Beasley touchdown.

         And for the most part Romo and Orton had the time of day in the pocket behind what most perceive as a worrisome offensive line. Hmmm, while the Cowboys are keeping their eyes open for fortuitous opportunities to enhance that crew, particularly at guard, maybe what you saw Friday night isn’t all that bad, from left to right Tyron Smith, Leary, Travis Frederick, Mackenzy Bernadeau and Doug Free. Especially since, unlike the other four, Bernadeau was playing for the first time after returning from injury.

         Maybe their main problem up front is really who is playing behind these guys, especially at tackle since with Jermey Parnell injured (hamstring) and veteran Demetress Bell still trying to get in shape, there isn’t much to write home about. As Jones said after the game, making a move up front “would be determined by the opportunity” available, meaning he’s not necessarily desperate to sign just anybody at this moment.

         Romo did get sacked once, but did you see how long he had in the pocket before everything collapsed? And he did have Austin wide open in the end zone, but explained later, on that particular play that Austin was his third read and by time he got there, Austin was covered and pocket time had expired.

         “I don’t want to get away from here without talking about the offensive line,” Romo said. “There were a couple of times I had all day and we had a sack, an incompletion on those two plays, so that’s going to help us a lot if we’re able to do that.

         “That’s different. I know what it’s like to play behind that, and having that ability like they did tonight would be a huge bonus for us.”

         So with three more preseason games to play, another five training camp practices this week, resuming Sunday evening, there is time to clean things up while still playing peek-a-boo with play-calls and offensive intentions.

          And oh, by the way, if now your concern is the ability to run the ball more efficiently, at the conclusion of the first half, when the first-team offensive line retired for the evening, the Cowboys had run the ball six times for 36 yards with Murray, Lance Dunbar and Phillip Tanner, a 6-yard average following last Sunday night’s 5-yard mark.

          “It was good,” Romo said of what took place in the team’s first three offensive series. “We did what we’ve been doing in training camp and moved the ball real well. We were holding back on a lot of our stuff, red zone stuff and some other things. We would have liked to have scored a touchdown, but we got hurt by penalties more than anything, and that aspect of it is just going to hurt you no matter what.

          “So we have to avoid that [and] stress that this week, and we’re going to make sure that stops.”

           But probably not the double-scoops of vanilla approach.

Courtesy: Mickey Spagnola | Columnist

Editors comments: I don’t have a problem with being vanilla with the starters on their first few series this preseason. You come out and keep it simple … basic. The same philosophy deployed with this new 4-3 scheme, also applies to the offense this early in the year. The veterans might not need that as much, sure. But these new roster additions and young rookies do! The beauty of this offensive roster is that they can afford to come out and execute basic runs and passes. See if the opposing defenses can stop that first. With so many Cowboy players wielding star power, it’s a challenge for most defenses to handle them man-for-man. You sprinkle in wrinkles, after you get the basics down … ditch the butterflies, and execute these base plays with precision.

I believe the week-one emphasis (and success) of Dallas’ running attack (in the Hall of Fame game) showed coaches what they needed to see. However, if you think back, there was very little to see (or grade) in the passing game in week 1. The coaching staff needs to grade and develop these young offensive linemen in run and passing situations. I think that’s why we saw more pass (and consequently more pass blocking) in the second preseason game. Expect more balance going forward.

The Romo and Orton led drives were successful. The running game is still on pace. Kiffin’s starters have grasped his base defense … his rookies are coming along. Callahan’s starters are showing rust, but promise. Both of these games were more about weeding out the roster, than going for the kill. I do want to see Callahan/Garrett go for the throat once the regular season starts. They have the weapons to make a statement, and they should.

Friday night, Oakland played their starters longer, and did less with them. The Cowboys will host the Raiders later on … rest assured, we’ll see the full arsenal. Garrett is baking that vanilla cake first. He’ll add the icing later.

GAMEDAY IMPRESSIONS: Dallas Cowboys vs. Oakland Raiders preseason game

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VIDEO HIGHLIGHTS - Dallas Cowboys vs. Oakland Raiders - 2013 Dallas Cowboys preseason game

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The Oakland Raiders hold off the Dallas Cowboys 19-17 in Week 1 of 2013 NFL preseason action.

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NFL PRESEASON 2013: Dallas Cowboys vs. Oakland Raiders

NFL PRESEASON 2013 - Dallas Cowboys vs. Oakland Raiders

Although this game against the Raiders marked the Dallas Cowboys’ second outing of the preseason, the matchup was actually the debut for most of the team’s starters.

Not that they had much impact on the final outcome, a 19-17 loss to Oakland. That was left to the backups, and the backups to the backups, fighting to make an impression on Jason Garrett and the coaching staff.

The first stringers saw two series of action with both sides of the ball producing mixed results. Monte Kiffin’s unit got off to a good start. Just as they did against Miami in the preseason opener, the Cowboys defense forced a fumble on the opponent’s first possession. Jason Hatcher and Sean Lee collapsed on Raiders quarterback Matt Flynn, Hatcher getting both the strip and the recovery.

“It was great to have the first defense on the field,” said Hatcher. “Unfortunately, we didn’t get a whole lot of snaps, but there is a lot of stuff that we need to work on and clean up. I was impressed with the way we came out and the showing that we gave against the run game. We were able to strip the ball away from the quarterback and get a turnover early. We just have to continue to work as a defense.”

That gave Dallas the ball at the Oakland 16-yard line, but they were unable to do much here. A holding penalty, incompletion and sack eventually forced the team to settle for a 38-yard field goal by Dan Bailey.

The score was soon tied, however, after the Raiders marched down the field on the Dallas defense. Flynn took advantage of rookie cornerback B.W. Webb in coverage while safety Barry Church, who is returning from last year’s season-ending Achilles’ injury, didn’t help things with a pair of missed tackles.

Fortunately, the defense finally held Oakland at the Cowboys’ 33, Sebastian Janikowski booting a 51-yarder to even things up.

As frustrating as the offense looked on its opening possession, Romo and Co. found a groove on their second try … or rather Romo found receiver Dez Bryant. In what Cowboys fans hope will become a common occurrence this season, the combo connected three times for 55 yards on the drive.

“To be honest, man, I am so excited,” said Bryant. “Not only me, but the rest of this team. When we came to the sideline and Coach told us we were done, me, Witten and Miles, we were just talking about how good we felt and couldn’t wait to get back out there.

“It is a great feeling and I hate the fact that we only had a couple of drives because we are really ready to go and in good shape. The little momentum that we got tonight, we are going to try to take that over to the next practice and get better and take it on to the regular season.”

After reaching the Oakland 17-yard line, Dallas failed to move the chains, hurting themselves with an offensive penalty. Bringing out Bailey for a 25-yard field goal, his attempt was blocked, the team surviving a scare when Donte Rosario was knocked into Bailey on the return, rolling into the kicker’s leg. Bailey was slow to get up but was none the worse for the wear.

And with that, the starters, aside from the offensive line, called it a night. The big boys up front, in part because so many of them are banged up, and because the coaches wanted to keep backup quarterback Kyle Orton upright, played through the end of the first half.

“I thought the starters on each of the units did a pretty good job with some positive things on defense, taking the ball away on the first drive and then making some stops down in the red zone were big for us,” said Garrett. “They were able to move the football, so we have to keep looking at that and tighten down our execution. Offensively, I thought we did a pretty good job of moving the ball, but bogged down a little bit in the red zone until that last drive right before the half.”

That drive came with Orton in relief of Romo, driving the team 80 yards to pay dirt on his first possession. He found Cole Beasley, who later left the game after a Raider defender stepped on his left foot, on a seam route, the undersized receiver doing what he always seems to do, stretching out for the 15-yard pass and the score.

This touchdown came after J.J. Wilcox did his best to singlehandedly stop the Raiders on their previous drive. Oakland was able to move from its own 10-yard line down to the Dallas 4, but the rookie safety had six tackles during the series, and then with Raiders quarterback Terrelle Pryor scrambling to his right and throwing back to the middle of the end zone, Wilcox dove in front to come up with the interception.

From there, though, Oakland rattled off 13 unanswered points to take a 16-10 lead, as Dallas could do little in the third quarter. But as the clock ticked over to the fourth, the Cowboys got back on track, rookie running back Joseph Randle slashing through the Raiders defense with quarterback Nick Stephens completing three passes for 12 yards each as well as one for 15. Randle capped off the possession with a dive over the top to regain the advantage, 17-16.  

Alas, it would be Oakland who would come out on top in the end. The rookie Webb, suffering a rough night all around, muffed a punt that led to the deciding 23-yard field goal that give the Raiders a 19-17 victory.

The Cowboys will now head back to Oxnard for their final week of training camp before starting the trek back to Texas with their next preseason game at Arizona on Aug. 17.

DALLAS COWBOYS INJURY UPDATE: Cole Beasley OK, several players expected to return next week

DALLAS COWBOYS INJURY UPDATE - Cole Beasley OK, several players expected to return next week

OAKLAND — Cowboys wide receiver Cole Beasley left tonight’s preseason game against Oakland with a left foot injury. He underwent X-rays at the stadium. The X-rays were negative and it’s not considered serious.

Beasley was hurt after catching a 23-yard reception with seven minutes to play in the third quarter.

Beasley finished the game with three catches for 49 yards and one touchdown. He caught a 15-yard pass from Kyle Orton to give the Cowboys a 10-3 lead in the second quarter.

Also, wide receiver Terrance Williams (concussion), guard Nate Livings (knee), guard Demetress Bell (conditioning test), guard Kevin Kowalski (knee), guard/center Ryan Cook (back), guard Ray Dominguez (shoulder), defensive tackle Jay Ratliff (hamstring), defensive end Anthony Spencer (knee), cornerback Morris Claiborne (knee), linebacker Alex Albright (back) and safety Matt Johnson (foot) did not play.

The Dallas Cowboys expect Claiborne, Williams and Albright to return next week at Arizona.

NFL GAMEDAY RESOURCES: Dallas Cowboys vs. Oakland Raiders | NFL Preseason 2013

GAMEDAY RESOURCES - Dallas Cowboys vs. Oakland Raiders - Preseason 2013

The Dallas Cowboys are about to play their second game in six days, but this time you can expect to see a little more from the veterans.

Tony Romo, DeMarcus Ware, Jason Witten and fellow starters will likely get a series,  maybe two. Then it’ll be back to the backups and other hopefuls trying to turn enough heads to make the team.

With a full roster of 90 players, there are plenty of guys to be watching out for.

Doug Free, RT: Free has gotten a lot of praise for his improved play during training camp, and he was on the starting offensive line that ran the ball so well Sunday against Miami. This time, he’s going to be defending Romo, and he’s probably going to be playing a little bit longer than just five or six plays. It’ll be interesting to see how he holds up with a larger sample size.

Sterling Moore, CB: Morris Claiborne looks like a scratch for this game, and the starters aren’t going to get a lot of playing time anyway. Moore has probably looked the best of the corners behind the trio of Claiborne, Brandon Carr and Orlando Scandrick. I expect he’ll see a lot of the field, and if he plays like he practices, he should do pretty well.

Dante Rosario, TE: While we’re still trying to figure out how the Cowboys are going to use these tight ends, it’s clear that some of them are getting work in the H-back role, especially with no fullback on the roster. Rosario has worked with the first-team offense around the goal-line. I’m anxious to see him in the backfield but also as a regular tight end. Witten, Hanna and Escobar all have a spot on this team it seems but I get the feeling Rosario is going to do enough where he’ll have to be included as well.

George Selvie, DE: Well someone has to say it. We probably all will be watching this guy to see if he can duplicate that stellar showing last week. And that’s really what the NFL is all about. Everyone can have a moment in the sun. But can you do it again? Another game like last Sunday for Selvie and he could easily be a guy that now fits into the rotation, perhaps even ahead of Kyle Wilber.

Lance Dunbar – The former North Texas running back got the first series in the Hall of Fame Game and not much else. It shows just how far he’s come, because he was treated like the No. 2 back and a valuable commodity behind DeMarco Murray. I expect to see more work for him this week. He’s said he sees himself as a complete back rather than a change of pace or specialty player. If he can run between the tackles for long gains and pass protect this week, he could receive a bigger workload when it matters.

Ernie Sims – With the addition of Justin Durant this year, the versatility of Alex Albright and selection of DeVonte Holloman, sometimes veteran Ernie Sims can be forgotten. He’s made sure that doesn’t happen much this camp. The 4-3 was always thought to be the better fit for Sims, and he looks quick in it during camp. He needs to have some of those types of plays translate to the game as well. I think he makes this team, but if he can stay around the ball in a game as he does in practice, it will help his cause.

Dwayne Harris – I didn’t think that Harris played all that well last week against the Dolphins overall and this surprised me because he had shown some nice things in camp before the game. The third down on the opening drive, on the slant play is a catch and conversion that he makes all day but it appeared like he stopped on the route and then tried to restart thus putting himself in a bad position for the ball. With Terrence Williams once again out for this game against Oakland, it’s another opportunity to show Derek Dooley what he can do if put in the mix. I expected a more productive and complete game from Harris this week to put pressure on Williams.

Nick Hayden – Through these last several weeks of practice and what I have observed in minicamp practices back in Dallas, that the defensive coaches have taken a likening to Hayden and his work so far this season. With Jay Ratliff out until the team returns home, Jason Hatcher has been playing the under tackle while Sean Lissemore and Hayden have been working at the nose. This week, the coaches have put Hayden with the first defense to see how he would be paired with Hatcher. The move is not because Lissemore has been terrible in anyway but more about finding rotational players inside for when Ratliff returns to the lineup. Hayden has shown plenty of ability so far in his opportunity but will he make this front office and coaching staff play him more than Lissemore? I am going to watch and find out.

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SHOWTIME IN OAKLAND: Preseason for Dallas Cowboys starters begins against the Raiders

SHOWTIME IN OAKLAND - Preseason for Dallas Cowboys starters begins against the Raiders

The unofficial preseason opener for the Dallas Cowboys will be Friday against the Oakland Raiders, per coach Jason Garrett.

Only three starters on offense and just one on defense played in Sunday’s official preseason opener against the Miami Dolphins in the Hall of Fame game.

Garrett said the decision to sit stars like quarterback Tony Romo, tight end Jason Witten, defensive end DeMarcus Ware and linebacker Sean Lee was by decision as the Cowboys took advantage of the extra preseason game to look at young players.

“You always appreciate the extra week,” Garrett said. “We made an effort as a staff to use the extra game to our benefit not to our detriment. Now we can get into the normal rhythm of the preseason starting next week. But any time you get young guys an extra chance to play in a game I think its a positive.”

Garrett said the starters will begin their normal preseason work of getting about a couple of series, maybe a quarter of work against the Raiders, then progress to playing into the second quarterback against the Cardinals in week three before the unofficial dress rehearsal of the season against the Bengals in the fourth preseason game. 

PRESEASON STUD FB/RB: Jamize Olawale emerging as a name worth remembering

Dallas Cowboys running back Jamize Olawale (49) is tackled by San Diego Chargers offensive tackle Jeromey Clary - The Boys Are Back blog

For the record, Dallas Cowboys running back Jamize Olawale (an undrafted free agent from North Texas) pronounces his name this way: juh-MAZE oh-lah-WALL-ee. It probably is a name that Cowboys’ fans should begin learning to recognize, and pronounce, as the 2012 season unfolds.

Olwawale (6-foot-1, 238 pounds) arrived in camp targeted to be a possible backup to starting fullback Lawrence Vickers. But the broken hand of Phillip Tanner, the projected No. 3 running back heading into camp, an opportunity for extra carries and Olawale has led the team in rushing in both pre-season games. He scored the team’s first touchdown in Saturday’s 28-20 loss to San Diego on a powerful, 2-yard run between the tackles.

A receiver in college, he also caught four passes for 30 yards against the Chargers and has the size and skills to be an effective blocker.

Olawale’s emergence contributed to Friday’s release of former TCU running back Ed Wesley, who had struggled in camp, before Wesley ever touched the ball in a pre-season game. Olawale’s versatility will make it hard for coaches to drop him from the team’s 53-man roster if he continues to perform the way he has in Dallas’ first two pre-season games and in training camp practices.

“He really has (stepped up) throughout training camp,” said coach Jason Garrett. “He came in more as a fullback candidate, but has also shown that he can be a big back. He’s played a lot as a halfback. He’s played in third-down situations. He’s really done some positive things running the football for us.”

“They’re giving me a fair shot,” said Olawale, who declared it “nice to get my first NFL touchdown” against the Chargers. “I feel like I was able to slow things down a little bit (in his mind). Everything’s still moving fast … I’m here to play where they want me to play. I try to be a team player and help them win however I can. Obviously, we didn’t do that (against San Diego). I fee like I failed in that aspect.”

Of course, the bottom line for pre-season games is about player evaluations more than wins and losses. And Olawale’s stock is rising with Cowboys’ coaches. Fans might want to learn to pronounce his name. Just in case.

Jimmy Burch

RELATED: Is there a role for Jamize Olawale?


Raise your hand if you had Jamize Olawale scoring the Dallas Cowboys’ first touchdown of the preseason.

Olawale probably wouldn’t raise his hand either. His last touchdown came at El Camino Junior College. His last rushing touchdown came in high school.

With 8:32 left in the second quarter, Olawale, a wide receiver at North Texas turned fullback with the Cowboys and moved to tailback because of injuries in training camp, bulled his way into the end zone from 2 yards with some serious help from the offensive line.

For a team that scored just five rushing touchdowns in 2011, it was a good thing.

At 6-foot-1, 238 pounds, Olawale is the Cowboys’ biggest runner, but there’s still a long way to go before he makes it on the final roster.

“I think they’re trying to evaluate me and see where I fit,” Olawale said. “Any place I can fit on the team, I’m going to try to give 100 percent every play. However I can help the team, I’m down to help.

He did make one mistake after he scored.

“My brother told me to keep the ball and I forgot,” Olawale said. “In the moment I don’t know what I did with the ball.”

Todd Archer | ESPN Dallas

Editors comment: TBAB is showing a little love for actor Ron Palillo, who played class clown Arnold Horshack on the 1970s television comedy "Welcome Back, Kotter". Palillo died of a heart attack in the Palm Beach Gardens, Florida on Tuesday. Source: CNN

GAME NOTES: Dallas Cowboys show improvement vs. San Diego Chargers

Dallas Cowboys running back DeMarco Murray (29) runs past San Diego Chargers defensive tackle Vaughn Martin - The Boys Are Back blog

Score the second dress rehearsal of the pre-season a significant upgrade for Dallas Cowboys’ quarterback Tony Romo and the first-team offense in Saturday’s 28-20 loss to San Diego.

Romo played the first quarter, completed 9-of-13 passes for 75 yards, and was not sacked. None of his starting receivers took a big hit, much less departed with an injury (Jason Witten, Monday in Oakland).

With Romo in the game, the Cowboys produced 102 yards, drove for a field goal and converted a fourth-and-1 situation with a 10-yard slant to Dez Bryant. It could have been better if not for two holding penalties.

By comparison, the Cowboys’ first-team offense had 14 net yards in 11 snaps in last week’s 3-0 victory over the Raiders.

“Yeah, we moved it good,” Romo said. “But we hurt ourselves with penalties and, as a football team, we need to correct that. It is very hard to score points … We have to get that (penalty issue) corrected or otherwise we have no chance.”

Penalty problems: The Cowboys were penalized nine times for 86 yards after drawing 12 flags for 91 yards against Oakland.

Olawale shines again: Jamize Olawale, an undrafted free agent from North Texas, made his presence felt as a rusher and receiver for a second consecutive game. Olawale scored a second-quarter touchdown, the Cowboys’ first of the pre-season, on a 2-yard blast. He also grabbed four passes and turned up some heat on Phillip Tanner, who is out with a broken hand, in the battle to be the team’s third running back. Olawale (10 carries, 30 yards) led the team in rushing for a second consecutive game in the pre-season.

"He really has shown that throughout training camp," said coach Jason Garrett. "He came in more as a fullback candidate. But he has also shown he can be a big back. He’s played a lot as a halfback, he’s played in third-down situations. He’s really done some positive things running the football for us."

Defensive streak ends: It will not matter in September but the Cowboys’ defense put together a scoreless streak of 94 minutes, 30 seconds to begin the pre-season. That was broken when San Diego receiver Vincent Brown grabbed an 18-yard touchdown pass with 10:30 remaining in the third quarter. Dallas led, 10-0, at the time and none of the Cowboys’ defensive starters were still in the game.

Claiborne debut: Dallas Cowboys cornerback Morris Claiborne, the team’s first-round pick, started and played the first half. He made the tackle on the first pass thrown in his area, a 5-yard receiver screen, and lined up at both cornerback spots. He had no pass breakups but neither did any other Dallas defender while Claiborne was in the game.

During the first half, Chargers’ quarterback Philip Rivers threw 15 passes and none of them hit the ground. He completed 13 and had two interceptions, both by Dallas cornerback Brandon Carr. Cowboys’ owner Jerry Jones said he liked Claiborne’s debut and envisions him following Carr’s lead in time.

“We’ve seen him do the same kind of play that we saw Carr do,” Jones said. “They are centerfielders. He can play that ball, too. You need those kind of big plays.”

Third receiver battle: Cole Beasley, an undersized free agent from SMU, grabbed nine passes for 104 yards in the contest, most of them against the Chargers’ reserves. But the best showing by someone battling to claim the third receiver spot came from veteran Kevin Ogletree (4 catches, 60 yards), whose 35-yard reception set up a touchdown.

Jerry Jones said Ogletree may be the team’s fastest receiver and projects as “the logical third guy” in the offense.

San Diego Chargers cornerback De'Andre Presley (39) and linebacker Jonas Mouton (57) hit Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Cole Beasley - The Boys Are Back blog

McGee’s mistake: Quarterback Stephen McGee threw a fourth-quarter interception into double-coverage that was returned 73 yards by Shareece Wright to set up the Chargers’ go-ahead touchdown. McGee later lost a fumble when blindsided by Wright on a corner blitz.

Murray gets wish: Cowboys running back DeMarco Murray said earlier this week that he wanted a heavier work load against San Diego than he received Monday against Oakland (2 carries, no yards). That happened by the fourth snap, with three of the Cowboys’ first four plays featuring Murray (two runs, one pass). The team’s starter handled the ball on five of the first six plays, producing 30 yards, before yielding the field to backup Felix Jones.

Sitting out: A total of 19 Cowboys missed the game because of injuries, including eight starters (WR Miles Austin, C Phil Costa, G Nate Livings, TE Jason Witten, NT Jay Ratliff, LB Anthony Spencer, LB DeMarcus Ware, DT Jason Hatcher). Also out: WR Saalim Hakim, CB Mike Jenkins, RB Lance Dunbar, RB Phillip Tanner, S Matt Johnson, LB Isiah Greenhouse, LB Kyle Wilber, LB Caleb McSurdy, C/G Kevin Kowalski, OT Jermey Parnell and WR Danny Coale.

Still perfect: Dan Bailey hit both of his field-goal attempts, from 40 and 49 yards. He is 3-for-3 in the pre-season.

SCHEDULE BLITZ: Three games in 12 days limit chances for Cowboys to prepare for Giants

Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Andre Holmes (left) almost makes a catch  again cornerback Teddy Williams (right) during Dallas Cowboys training camp Wednesday August 15, 2012 in Oxnard, California.–STAR-TELEGRAM/Ron Jenkins

Before they encountered a rash of injuries that decimated the offensive line and forced them to redraft their starting lineup, the Dallas Cowboys already knew the next two weeks would be challenging.

One look at their preseason slate was enough to make that conclusion. After all, their last three exhibition games, starting with Saturday’s meeting with San Diego, will take place in a span of 12 days.

The condensed schedule has forced Dallas into an uncomfortable arrangement. The Cowboys will have only four full practices before the end of the preseason, giving them little time to resolve large-scale problems before Week 1 rolls around and their attention completely shifts to their Sept. 5 season opener against the New York Giants.

“It’s happening fast,” coach Jason Garrett said. “We really talked to our team about that from the start of training camp, that it was really important to lay a great foundation here the first couple of weeks because then the schedule is going to get a little funny, and before you know it we are going to be on a plane, flying to New York to play the Giants.

“So, you do your best to handle the different situations that come up, individually as players and coaches, and certainly collectively. … We don’t anticipate anything on our team being ironed out before we go to the Giants. It’s an ongoing process.”

And the circumstances keep changing. On Friday, it was revealed that linebacker DeMarcus Ware won’t play against San Diego after experiencing hamstring soreness. He joins six other projected starters — tight end Jason Witten (spleen), receiver Miles Austin (hamstring), center Phil Costa (back), guard Nate Livings (hamstring) and linebacker Anthony Spencer (hamstring) — who are sidelined.

“It’s tough not to have some of your guys there that you’re going to roll in the season with,” linebacker Sean Lee said. “But that’s going to happen. … We still have some time to take advantage of and get ready for the Giants.”

Rainer Sabin

PRESEASON OFFENSE: Tony Romo not discouraged; praises Arkin’s work at center

Tony-Romo - Dallas-Cowboys offensive line - vs Oakland Raiders 2012 NFL - The Boys Are Back blog

Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo played three series against the Raiders, producing zero points and gaining 22 yards in that stretch. He took one sack, narrowly avoided another and watched the team take a false start penalty on third down.

But he said he was not discouraged by the lack of production.

“I want to see us move it up and down the field as well,” Romo said. “But we made a couple of mental errors. And when you get behind the chains, it’s very difficult to overcome that situation. Sacks and penalties, they just put you behind the 8-ball. You can’t have 2 or 3 of those in a two-or-three drive span. We’re going to look at them and we’re going to correct them.”

Romo praised the work of guard-turner-center David Arkin, who had no errant snaps in three-plus quarters of work in his first NFL action at the position. During practices, Arkin had struggled snapping the ball, especially in the shotgun.

Arkin expressed satisfaction at going glitch-free as a snapper but acknowledged he shared blame for the one sack on Romo (minus-12 yards) because of a communications error. Still, Romo praised Arkin. 

“He’s done a great job this week,” Romo said. “I just took snaps from him for the first time three days ago. He’s playing his butt off, so it’s a good sign.”

Romo suggested the Cowboys’ offense would have been better, based on what the Raiders’ showed defensively, in a regular-season setting.

“You look at the coverages they were running, we could have gotten to some thing we really like but that’s not what we do in the pre-season. And for good reason,” Romo said.

Jimmy Burch

INJURY UPDATE: Jason Witten likely done for rest of preseason

Dallas Cowboys tight end Jason Witten will likely be sidelined for the rest of the preseason after suffering abdominal injury in Monday’s night’s 3-0 opener against the Raiders, according to multiple sources.

The Cowboys are conducting more testing on Witten, who injured his spleen after taking a hit from Raiders linebacker Rolando McClain. According to a source, Witten’s spleen was not ruptured but it was bleeding.

He will not require surgery but he will be sidelined for the next three weeks, putting his availability for the Sept. 5 season opener against the Giants in doubt.

Cowboys owner Jerry Jones expressed a sigh of relief after the game that Witten didn’t appear to be hurt from the hit on the second play of the game. He told reporters that he held his breath when he saw the hit.

However, it appears Jones may have spoken to soon as Witten was indeed injured on the play.

He came back and caught a pass on the next series and then was taken out when the rest of the starters were sidelined for the game.

But the bad news came when the Cowboys returned to Oxnard to resume training camp.

The injury is potentially a huge setback as not only was Witten the Cowboys leading receiver but they have little experience and little depth at tight end behind him after Martellus Bennett bolted to the New York Giants as a free agent in the offseason.

Jason Phillips will likely start in his place until he returns. The other tights on the roster are rookie sixth-round pick James Hanna and undrafted rookie free agent Andrew Szczerba.

RELATED: Harry Flaherty signed; Bill Nagy waived

The Cowboys moved quickly to bolster the tight end position for practice, signing Harry Flaherty and waiving injured guard Bill Nagy.

Flaherty is the nephew of head coach Jason Garrett and tight ends coach John Garrett. He may not be able to help in Saturday’s preseason game against the Chargers as he will Wednesday and Thursday’s practice adhering to the NFL’s three-day waiting period.

The Cowboys will only conduct a walkthrough on Friday.

Clarence Hill

COWBOY HISTORY: Dallas Cowboys pitch third preseason shutout


The Cowboys pitched their third preseason shutout in franchise history with Monday’s 3-0 win against Oakland.

The last preseason shutout was Aug. 26, 1995, at the Alamodome when the Cowboys beat Houston, 10-0. The first preseason shutout came Sept. 8, 1977, when the Cowboys beat Pittsburgh, 30-0.

The 3-0 game was also the Cowboys’ lowest-scoring game in franchise history. The previous low was their 5-0 victory in the divisional round of the 1970 playoffs against Detroit.

“Anytime you can shut out a team, no matter what the game plan is, it’s an accomplishment,” inside linebacker Sean Lee said. “If you look at some of the second-team guys, some of the younger guys, the passion they played with was good. The first game usually there is a lot of mistakes, but you saw a lot of guys play hard. That’s why I think we were able to keep them out of the end zone.”

It also can do nothing but help the confidence of a unit that was beaten down over the final month of last season when a playoff spot slipped out of its hands.

The defenders talk about how coordinator Rob Ryan simplified the scheme and how an offseason of work helped familiarize them more with Ryan’s scheme.

“It’s big for morale,” linebacker Alex Albright said, “That’s what we strive to do. Even if it’s the preseason, it’s still something that’s tough. It’s tough to shut out teams in the NFL. I’m very proud of the defense.”

Todd Archer

OAKLAND TRIBUNE: Oakland Raiders lose 3-0 to Dallas Cowboys in exhibition opener


OAKLAND — With Jon Gruden in the broadcast booth and general manager Reggie McKenzie relighting the Al Davis torch to signify a new era, the Raiders had the scene properly set for a night of drama at O.co Coliseum.

If only exhibition football ever worked out that way.

Instead, a 3-0 loss to the Dallas Cowboys on Monday night in the debut of coach Dennis Allen will recede from memory the same way it did for Gruden and every other Raiders leader in his first game, not to mention an announced crowd of 50,403.

"I thought our first-team defense played exceptionally well," Allen said. "I was pleased with the way Darren McFadden played in the first quarter. We got a lot of young guys a lot of reps, but the execution is not where it needs to be, and we need to get better."

The only points came on a 33-yard field goal by Cowboys place-kicker Dan Bailey in the third quarter. The Raiders failed on a chance to tie with 6 minutes, 49 seconds left in the fourth quarter when Eddy Carmona pushed a field-goal attempt wide right.

Carmona, who struck the upright four times in five attempts during a recent practice, felt terrible about it. What it did accomplish was preventing overtime — something probably neither team nor a national television audience wanted to see.

McFadden got out of the blocks with a 4-yard run, an 18-yard burst with a Carson Palmer swing pass and then an 18-yard run on the first three plays from scrimmage.

"We got accomplished what we wanted to get accomplished, which was let him get a few touches early, let him get bounced around a little bit, and get him out of the game," Allen said. "We’ll evaluate next week as we go into the game and see how much we want him to play next week."

Raiders vs. Cowboys

The Raiders first-team defense was quick, aggressive and unafraid to bring pressure — just as advertised. Dallas gained only 16 yards rushing in the first half, and even when the reserves gave up some second-half gains, the Cowboys had just 2.7 yards per carry.

When it was all over, the most visibly upset player was No. 3 quarterback Terrelle Pryor, who hadn’t played in 20 months and looked that way.

Raiders vs. Cowboys

Pryor was 8 for 15 for 50 yards, had his final pass picked off by Manu Silva and saw a handful of other passes nose-dive into the turf. He also rushed for 21 yards on six carries. He looked light years away from backup Matt Leinart (11 for 16, 89 yards) and starter Carson Palmer (3 for 6, 33 yards).

"I’m angry at myself," Pryor said. " I don’t think I played well. I thought Matt played great. I thought Carson played great. I thought everybody else on the team played great."

Pryor might have had a better night than wide receiver and return specialist Jacoby Ford.

On a Palmer interception by Gerald Sensabaugh on Oakland’s opening drive, Ford had little chance to make the catch but didn’t appear to go up and fight for the ball. Later, he dropped back-to-back Palmer passes.

Ford also got penned in at the 14 on the Cowboys opening kickoff and later fumbled a punt that bounced out of bounds.

It was surprising given Ford’s generally strong performance during training camp.


Ford wasn’t the only player with a drop. Juron Criner lost a potential big gainer when he mishandled a Leinart pass on a rollout on the first series of the second quarter.

  1. Undrafted rookie free agent wide receiver Rod Streater, who had only 19 catches last year at Temple, caught six passes for 66 yards — all from Leinart.
  2. The Raiders had just five penalties for 37 yards as opposed to 12 for 91 for the Cowboys. There was only one presnap penalty, a false start on left tackle Kevin Haslam, although he wasn’t the only lineman who jumped.
  3. Dallas had just 202 yards overall as the Raiders blitzed frequently and gave a sneak previous of their new style.
  4. Cornerback DeMarcus Van Dyke was trailing his man on a few pass plays and also had a pass interference penalty after being an early training camp standout.
  5. Gruden made his way to the Black Hole and was greeted enthusiastically by early arrivals. The focus of an upcoming HBO "Real Sports" profile, Gruden was followed by cameras.
  6. Raiders who didn’t suit up included punter Shane Lechler; wide receivers Duke Calhoun, Eddie McGee and Denarius Moore; running backs Taiwan Jones and Mike Goodson; linebackers Mario Kurn and Aaron Corry; offensive tackle Zach Hurd; tight end Brandon Myers; and defensive tackle Richard Seymour.


Courtesy: Jerry McDonald | Oakland Tribune

DAN GRAZIANO VIEWPOINT: Dallas Cowboys – Oakland Raiders

Of all the football games I’ve ever watched, the Dallas Cowboys’ 3-0 preseason victory over the Oakland Raiders on Monday night was definitely … well, it was one of them. It was a sluggish, poorly played game by two teams that obviously weren’t at full strength or interested in showing a national TV audience very much of their playbooks. At the time that it ended, nine Major League Baseball teams had outscored the two NFL teams’ combined total.

But it was a game a defensive coordinator could love, and surely Dallas’ Rob Ryan will use it as a rallying point for his defense in the days and weeks to come. As we say all the time here, there is little or no predictive value in any of these games. Some teams game-plan for them, many don’t, and there’s no way to really know what you’re watching in terms of who’s trying and who’s not. But if you’re a defensive coordinator, you’d better believe you can hold up a 3-0 victory and shout at your guys about what they’re capable of if they play hard. Can’t hurt, could help, you know.

The Cowboys’ offense … won’t have as much fun watching film of this one. Let’s get to what we saw from the Cowboys in Oakland on Monday night.


1. The interior of the offensive line is not good right now, and it affects everything the offense tries to do. Tony Romo had no time to throw, DeMarco Murray had no room to run, and the No. 3 wide receiver candidates who were running with the first team had no opportunity to show what they could do. David Arkin started at center in place of the injured Phil Costa, and in the first half he got abused by Tommy Kelly for one sack and was also called for holding. The good news for Arkin is that he didn’t botch any snaps, and he did look better as he continued to play into the third quarter (and the Raiders kept taking out first-team and second-team defensive players). Mackenzy Bernadeau, who started at right guard, is likely to get snaps at center in upcoming preseason games, but since he’s coming off an injury the Cowboys are trying to work him in at guard to get him acclimated. Derrick Dockery started at left guard, and Ronald Leary struggled with the second and third teams. Now, the key things to remember are (a) this isn’t news and (b) preseason games are about figuring out what you need to improve. There’s no reason to think the Cowboys’ offensive line will look worse at any point this year than it does right now, and they’ve known for a while that they have issues there. If they can get Costa and Nate Livings and Bernadeau healthy, they’ll at least have the crew with which they planned to go into the season. I’m just not sure that’s good enough — or that they have anything behind the starters that can help in case of injury. And it’s worth mentioning that right tackle Doug Free didn’t look good either.

2. Andre Holmes had a good night. Of those No. 3 wide receiver candidates, Holmes stood out the most, with 40 yards on three catches. Holmes’ asset is his size, and he looks like he’s doing a good job of using his big body to shield the ball from defenders and make catches in traffic. Long way to go and a lot to see, but Holmes helped his case. Kevin Ogletree likely remains the favorite and got the first crack at it, starting in place of the injured Miles Austin. Ogletree caught the only ball thrown his way, for 12 yards, and had a goofy moment when he fell on his face trying to make a block and slipping on the infield dirt at the Oakland Coliseum. Expect to see more from Dwayne Harris, Tim Benford, Cole Beasley and Danny Coale in upcoming games. Beasley was the slot receiver with the first-team offense but didn’t see any action. Interesting that Dez Bryant did start in spite of his hamstring injury and made one excellent 24-yard catch before taking a seat.


3. The defense did look fired-up and kind of deep in spots. Defensive end Marcus Spears played like a man who knows he needs to win a roster spot. Safety Gerald Sensabaugh came up with an early interception on a play on which cornerback Orlando Scandrick had his man well covered. Kyle Wilber showed some ability to generate pressure on Matt Leinart on a third-down play, though he did leave the game with a broken thumb. Tyrone Crawford pushed the pocket a little bit during his time in there. And I think that inside linebacker spot is going to be a real strength, as Sean Lee and Bruce Carter both looked good. Yes, the Raiders ran the ball effectively against the first-team defense, but that first-team defense was without starting nose tackle Jay Ratliff as well as defensive end Jason Hatcher and outside linebacker Anthony Spencer. So I imagine they’ll be better once those guys are on the field.


4. Not-so-special teams. The Cowboys were called for penalties on two punts and one field-goal attempt, each time allowing the Raiders to keep the ball. That needs to be tightened up, clearly, and it’s the kind of thing that just infuriates coaches in these preseason games.

5. Miscellany: Adrian Hamilton, the undrafted linebacker who had 20.5 sacks at Prairie View last year, looked active and quick. Remains to be seen whether he has the size and speed to play against NFL offenses… Rookie tight end James Hanna showed good hands as a receiver and looked good on kick coverage… Dwayne Harris was called for holding, and yeah, that can work against a guy who’s trying to get a job as a No. 3 wide receiver… Yes, you like what you see from Victor Butler, as you always do in August. Still need to see whether and how the coaches find more ways to get him on the field once the real games begin… Seemed like punter Chris Jones was fine.

Dan Graziano | ESPN Dallas

BOX SCORE: Dallas Cowboys vs. Oakland Raiders–Preseason Opener

Dallas Cowboys (1-0-0) Oakland Raiders (0-1-0)

K. Orton 7/12 87 0 1
S. McGee 5/9 48 0 0
T. Romo 3/6 30 0 0
R. Carpenter 0/0 0 0 0
J. Olawale 12 42 0 9
J. Williams 2 7 0 7
F. Jones 2 4 0 3
R. Carpenter 2 1 0 1
D. Murray 2 0 0 0
Receiving REC YDS TD LG
A. Holmes 3 40 0 20
D. Bryant 1 24 0 24
A. Szczerba 1 20 0 20
S. Chapas 2 19 0 16
J. Hanna 2 15 0 10
D. Harris 1 13 0 13
K. Ogletree 1 12 0 12
T. Benford 1 9 0 9
J. Williams 1 7 0 7
J. Witten 2 6 0 8
R. Carpenter 1 0 0 0
J. Parnell 0 0 1 0
Kicking FG LG XP PTS
D. Bailey 1/1 33 0/0 3
Punting NO AVG I20 LG
C. Jones 4 42.3 3 56
D. Alvarado 2 35.0 0 51
Kickoff Returns NO AVG TD LG
T. Williams 1 19 0 19
Punt Returns NO AVG TD LG
C. Beasley 1 16 0 16
Defense T-A SCK INT FF
A. Albright 6-3 0.0 0 0
B. Bass 4-1 1.0 0 0
M. Spears 4-0 0.0 0 0
T. Williams 3-1 0.0 0 0
M. Butler 2-2 0.0 0 0
B. Church 2-0 0.0 0 0
L. Smith 2-0 0.0 0 0
D. Ware 2-0 0.0 0 0
E. Whitley 2-0 0.0 0 0
C. Wilson 2-0 0.0 0 0
B. Atkins 1-1 1.0 0 0
B. Carter 1-0 0.0 0 0
T. Crawford 1-0 0.0 0 0
A. Hamilton 1-1 0.0 0 0
D. McCray 1-0 0.0 0 0
C. McSurdy 1-3 0.0 0 0
A. Owusu-Ansah 1-0 0.0 0 0
O. Scandrick 1-0 0.0 0 0
G. Sensabaugh 1-0 0.0 1 0
M. Silva 1-3 0.0 1 0
V. Butler 0-3 0.0 0 0
R. Callaway 0-1 0.0 0 0
D. Connor 0-1 0.0 0 0
O. Lemon 0-2 0.0 0 0

M. Leinart 11/16 98 0 0
T. Pryor 8/15 50 0 1
C. Palmer 3/6 33 0 1
L. Miller 15 39 0 7
T. Pryor 6 21 0 9
D. McFadden 2 20 0 16
R. Jackson 3 8 0 4
C. Palmer 1 1 0 1
M. Leinart 1 0 0 0
Receiving REC YDS TD LG
R. Streater 6 66 0 18
L. Miller 3 23 0 9
B. Carswell 2 18 0 15
D. McFadden 1 18 0 18
D. Ausberry 1 11 0 11
R. Gordon 1 8 0 8
R. Jackson 2 8 0 6
D. Muhammad 1 8 0 8
O. Schmitt 1 8 0 8
D. Heyward-Bey 1 7 0 7
J. Criner 1 5 0 5
T. Session 1 5 0 5
T. Mayo 1 -4 0 -4
J. Ford 1 0 1 0
M. Leinart 1 0 1 -3
D. Muhammad 1 0 1 0
D. Hamilton 0 0 0 0
Kicking FG LG XP PTS
E. Carmona 0/1 0 0/0 0
S. Janikowski 0/1 0 0/0 0
Punting NO AVG I20 LG
M. King 5 33.0 2 60
Kickoff Returns NO AVG TD LG
J. Ford 1 4 0 4
B. McCann 1 8 0 8
Punt Returns NO AVG TD LG
J. Ford 2 3 0 6
D. Muhammad 1 0 0 0
Defense T-A SCK INT FF
M. Burris 2-1 0.0 0 0
H. Davis 2-0 0.0 0 0
D. Hamilton 2-1 1.0 0 1
C. Kilgore 2-1 0.0 0 0
M. Mitchell 2-0 0.0 1 0
D. Bryant 1-0 0.0 0 0
K. Burnett 1-2 0.0 0 0
C. Chekwa 1-1 0.0 0 0
T. Goethel 1-3 0.0 0 0
L. Houston 1-0 0.0 0 0
M. Huff 1-1 0.0 0 0
C. Ihenacho 1-2 0.0 0 0
T. Kelly 1-0 1.0 0 0
P. Lee 1-1 0.0 0 0
R. McClain 1-0 0.0 0 0
B. Underwood 1-2 0.0 0 0
D. Van Dyke 1-0 0.0 0 0
C. Bilukidi 0-2 0.0 0 0
J. Cumbie 0-4 0.0 0 0
M. Giordano 0-1 0.0 0 0
T. Lambert 0-2 0.0 0 0
B. McCann 0-1 0.0 0 0
D. Tollefson 0-1 0.0 0 0
Total First Downs 11 Total First Downs 18
By Rushing 3 By Rushing 5
By Passing 7 By Passing 9
By Penalty By Penalty
Third Down Efficiency 2/10 – 20% Third Down Efficiency 5/15 – 33%
Fourth Down Efficiency 0/1 – 0% Fourth Down Efficiency 0/1 – 0%
Total Net Yards 202 Total Net Yards 253
Total Rushing/Passing Plays (includes Sacks) 49 Total Rushing/Passing Plays (includes Sacks) 67
Average Gain per Offensive Play 4.1 Average Gain per Offensive Play 3.8
Net Yards Rushing 54 Net Yards Rushing 89
Total Rushing Plays 20 Total Rushing Plays 28
Average Gain per Rushing Play 2.7 Average Gain per Rushing Play 3.2
Tackled for a Loss (Number-Yards) 0-0 Tackled for a Loss (Number-Yards) 4–13
Net Yards Passing 148 Net Yards Passing 164
Times Sacked (Number-Yards) 2 – 17 Times Sacked (Number-Yards) 2 – 17
Gross Yards Passing 165 Gross Yards Passing 181
Pass Comp-Att-Int 15 – 27 – 1 Pass Comp-Att-Int 22 – 37 – 2
Average Gain per Passing Play (includes Sacks) 5.1 Average Gain per Passing Play (includes Sacks) 4.2
Kickoffs (Number-In End Zone-Touchbacks) 2 – 0 – 0 Kickoffs (Number-In End Zone-Touchbacks) 1 – 1 – 0
Punts (Number-Average) 6 – 41.0 Punts (Number-Average) 5 – 40.2
Blocked 0 Blocked 0
Net Punting Average 39.8 Net Punting Average 33.0
FGs Blocked – PATs Blocked 0 – 0 FGs Blocked – PATs Blocked 1 – 0
Total Return Yardage (excludes Kickoffs) 83 Total Return Yardage (excludes Kickoffs) 26
Punt Returns (Number-Yards) 1 – 16 Punt Returns (Number-Yards) 3 – 7
Kickoff Returns (Number-Yards) 1 – 19 Kickoff Returns (Number-Yards) 2 – 12
Interception Returns (Number-Yards) 2 – 67 Interception Returns (Number-Yards) 1 – 19
Penalties (Number-Yards) 12 – 91 Penalties (Number-Yards) 5 – 37
Fumbles (Number-Lost) 1 – 0 Fumbles (Number-Lost) 3 – 0
Touchdowns 0 Touchdowns 0
Rushing 0 Rushing 0
Passing 0 Passing 0
Interceptions 0 Interceptions 0
Kickoff Returns 0 Kickoff Returns 0
Fumble Returns 0 Fumble Returns 0
Punt Returns 0 Punt Returns 0
Extra Points (Made-Attempted) 0 – 0 Extra Points (Made-Attempted) 0 – 0
Kicking (Made-Attempted) 0 – 0 Kicking (Made-Attempted) 0 – 0
Two Point Conversions (Made-Attempted) 0 – 0 Two Point Conversions (Made-Attempted) 0 – 0
Field Goals (Made-Attempted) 1 – 1 Field Goals (Made-Attempted) 0 – 2
Red Zone Efficiency 0/1 – 0% Red Zone Efficiency 0/1 – 0%
Goal To Go Efficiency 0/0 – 0% Goal To Go Efficiency 0/0 – 0%
Safeties 0 Safeties 0
Final Score 3 Final Score 0
Time of Possession 26:25 Time of Possession 33:35
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