Thursday, November 26, 2009
Rapid Reaction: Cowboys 24, Raiders 7
By Dan Graziano
ARLINGTON, Texas -- The Cowboys on Thanksgiving found the perfect solution for an offensive slump: the Oakland Raiders' secondary. Contrary to what I'd been told, the Raiders' cornerbacks were no match for Cowboys wide receiver Miles Austin.
After being corralled the past three games, Austin busted out for seven catches, 145 yards and a touchdown. Austin beat Pro Bowl cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha early in the game on a slant pass -- and he continued overwhelming anyone the Raiders lined up against him. Austin actually scored twice, but one of them was overturned by the officials. He came right back and scored a couple of plays later on a short touchdown pass.
It was also a huge game for Cowboys tight end Jason Witten, who was questionable with a left foot sprain. He showed no signs of the injury in catching five passes for 107 yards. It was the first time he's surpassed the 100-yard mark this season.
Cowboys running back Felix Jones broke free for a 46-yard touchdown in the first half. He high-stepped his way out of Chris Johnson's clutches during the final 10 yards of the run. The Cowboys' defense kept Raiders quarterback Bruce Gradkowski from getting in any type of rhythm. It's the second time Gradkowski has lost on Thanksgiving to the Cowboys, with his first loss coming when he was with the Bucs.
Make no mistake: The Raiders are a bad football team, but it's still significant that the Cowboys made some big plays on offense. Austin is a threat to turn any pass into a long touchdown and that makes the Cowboys dangerous. At 8-3, Dallas now begins the month that has haunted them for years. This season will be decided in December, a time when the Cowboys normally go belly up.
They'll face a schedule that includes the Giants, Chargers and Saints in that fateful month. But they did what they had to do against the Raiders. I'll return with a game column in a couple of hours. Thanks for your participation today.