NFL

Takeaways from the Cowboys' loss to the Raiders

After the Cowboys fell to the Raiders at home on Thanksgiving, they left more questions as to what happened to the team that got off to that 6-1 start.

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Takeaways from the Cowboys loss to the Raiders
Jerome Miron USA TODAY Sports

The Dallas Cowboys got off to such a good start this season. Even after one really weird loss to the Broncos, we were able to kind of brush that off as a one-off when they beat the Falcons 43-3 the next week. But since then, Dallas has lost three of their last four games, and we are not so sure of ourselves where the Cowboys concerned anymore. What happened in overtime to the Raiders was about as disappointing as the whole game was for the Cowboys. Here are a few takeaways from the Cowboys vs Raiders game.

The Dallas defense’s slow start

The Raiders only needed three plays to get into Dallas’ end zone. A similar thing happened on Sunday when the Cowboys played the Chiefs and they were able to score on their first possession (both happening right after the Cowboys went three and out on THEIR first possession). The defense got their groove back a little bit later in the game with Parsons making some important stops and a sack on Derek Carr, but if they continue to start out slow like they have been, Dallas is going to have a problem.

Referees questionable calls (and Jerry Jones calling it “throw up ball”)

The flags were just a bit ridiculous, and that goes for both sides. Combined, the refs threw 28 flags for a whopping 276 penalty yards. Not to mention, both teams were given some pretty questionable calls from those flags.

At one point in the game, Kearse forced a fumble, it was tossed back in bounds by Neal into the hands of Kearse who ran it only for it to be called an incomplete pass. Another time, the refs called a False Start on the Raiders when a player just bobbed his head, which is exactly what a player would do in order to cause a defensive player to move and thus get an Offsides. Alas, it was called on the Raiders and not the Cowboys. Cowboys owner Jerry Jones has a lovely term for what the referees were doing: “I call it ‘throw up ball, This will arguably be the most-watched game other than the Super Bowl. I hate that it got down to just throwing the ball up and getting the penalties to get you big plays.”

Jerry Jones, owner of Dallas Cowboysis displeased with the amount of flags thrown during the Cowboys Raiders game

The run game needs to improve

The Dallas ground game has been struggling to get anywhere as of late and it was even more important for them in a game in which their top two receivers were out. The Raiders defense limited the Cowboys to just 64 rushing yards on 20 attempts. Pollard and Elliott failed to combine for 100 yards for the fifth game in a row. Elliott has indeed been dealing with some ankle issues but not long enough to not wonder if there’s a bigger problem here. The Raiders had let the Bengals run all over them, so it’s surprising they were able to defend so well against Dallas’ duo. Surprising, but telling. Maybe they’re not as solid as previously thought.

The Cowboys cost themselves their own points…several times

The actually valid penalties are a big problem for the Cowboys. They may have had their reasons to complain for bad calls, but they also got lucky on some offenses NOT being noticed. The Cowboys have GOT to be more careful to play by the rules, especially in those crucial moments. A penalty on Tyron Smith took away a touchdown and gave them a field goal instead. Anthony Brown, who was thrown four penalty flags, was given a pass interference that set up the Raiders for their game-winning field goal. Not only was it penalties that the Cowboys used to shoot themselves in the foot. Mike McCarthy’s decision to go for two after they had already made a field goal rather than keep the point ended up costing them that one point. Then Zuerlein cost the Cowboys 4 points on a missed extra point and a missed field goal.