More than any other NFL team, it seems like the Dallas Cowboys take odd pleasure in making everything difficult.
On Thursday they fumbled the opening kickoff and the Raiders returned it for a touchdown. They disappeared during the second quarter, and were stuck on zero yards for the quarter until the final two minutes. Dez Bryant had a nice 25-yard catch to set up a huge touchdown before the end of the half, but not before fumbling two plays before it. Luckily the Cowboys recovered.
Dallas finally came alive after falling behind 21-7 at home to the Raiders, who are now 4-8. That touchdown before the end of the first half was huge for momentum. A Brandon Carr interception in the end zone on a terrible decision and awful throw by Raiders rookie quarterback Matt McGloin in the fourth quarter and the long time-eating drive that followed sealed the win.
Dallas won 31-24. But, as usual, the Cowboys couldn't do it the easy way.
The Cowboys are 7-5, but it sure doesn't seem like it. Their only win against a winning team yet this season is against the 6-5 Eagles. The Dallas defense is well on its way to being the worst in the history of the franchise. Dallas is a half-game ahead of Philadelphia in the NFC East and has a good chance to host a playoff game in the first weekend of the playoffs, but do Cowboys fans trust them to win it if it happens?
What gives Dallas hope is the offense, which took a while to get going against the Raiders but eventually buried them. Tony Romo wasn't spectacular but he was efficient, completing 23-of-32 passes for 225 yards, a touchdown and no interceptions. He has been fantastic all season, and Dez Bryant provides him one of the best targets in the league.
If the Cowboys do make the playoffs – and that's no sure thing with a schedule of at Chicago, vs. Green Bay, at Washington and vs. Philadelphia remaining – the offense will be in charge of keeping them competitive in that first-round game. If Romo is on, a playoff win is possible.
We'll see if the Cowboys earn that playoff berth over the final month of the regular season. If nothing else, they'll keep it interesting.
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