By Jerry McDonald - NFL Writer
Thursday, November 26th, 2009 at 8:10 pm in Oakland Raiders.
News, notes and quotes following the Raiders 24-7 loss to the Dallas Cowboys at Cowboys Stadium:
– “Stop, stop, boom.”
That’s how Raiders defensive tackle Tommy Kelly described an Oakland defense that spent the week working on preventing big plays, and then gave up a staggering 384 yards on 10 snaps against the Cowboys.
It all started when running back Tashard Choice, taking direct snap from center, found a hole up the middle and ran 66 yards in the first quarter.
The Cowboys had 195 yards on 25 carries with 144 of those coming on three plays _ the run by Choice, a 46-yard touchdown run by Felix Jones and a 32-yard run by Marion Barber.
In the passing game, Miles Austin caught 145 yards worth of passes on seven receptions, with a long of 49 yards. Tight end Jason Witten, playing at left than full speed with a foot sprain which nearly kept him out of the game, had five catches for 107 yards including a 44-yard reception and a 37-yard reception.
Cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha and Cowboys coach Wade Phillips seemed to be of the opinion that the Raiders man-to-man defense made things too easy for the Cowboys.
“We’ve had a few games like this year, people scheming us and finding big plays on us,” free safety Michael Huff said. “I think once one comes, we start to think more and play outside our game, and then they hit us with another one and another one. I don’t really know what it is. We’ll watch film the next day and see what happened, but as its going on, we don’t realize it.”
Said Richard Seymour, who may as well have been reading from the same script from years past as Warren Sapp, said: “I think it all starts in practice, understanding where you’re supposed to be, doing what you’re supposed to do and taking care of your job. I can’t take care of someone else’s job and someone else can’t take care of mine. Everybody has to take responsibility for their play on the field and we have to get better as a group.”
– Read why the Thanksgiving Day loss was particularly galling to Raiders owner Al Davis in my column for Bay Area News Group-East Bay.
– On offense, the Raiders too a handful of shots downfield and came up with little, with most of the damage coming underneath and on shorter patterns. Not surprising, really, because the Raiders have not been a good deep throwing team all year and it’s not what is best suited for starter Bruce Gradkowski.
“There were plays there to be made downfield and I didn’t make them,” Gradkowski said.
– The Raiders unveiled a new defensive wrinkle by starting Trevor Scott at weakside linebacker in place of Thomas Howard, although Howard played plenty as Scott played in different areas of the defense.
On some plays, Scott was designated as an “elephant” pass rusher, a term the 49ers used for Charles Haley when John Marshall was defensive coordinator with the 49ers.
Only twice, however, did Scott line up with his hand down like a defensive lineman.
“A few days ago they said they wanted me to start at (Will) this game so I was like, `all right, let’s run with it,’ ” Scott said. “If it’s an opportunity to get on the field, so be it. Some guys don’t feel comfortable in a two-point stance, so if they stick with it, great.”
Scott had five tackles, two sacks, three tackles for losses, three quarterback hurries and made a special teams tackle.
He also collided with Tyvon Branch pursing a Tony Romo deflection on a play which could have resulted in a touchdown return for Branch.
– Running back Darren McFadden had 43 yards on 14 carries and had a 16-yard catch out of the slot. It was the most snaps McFadden has seen split wide this season.
– Cornerback Chris Johnson remains a true believer.
“Once we get back to sound football and doing everything like we’re supposed to, I still stick to my guns,” Johnson said. I don’t think there’s a team that can actually beat us if we play sound football.
– The Raiders opened the game strong on the ground, with Justin Fargas gaining 52 yards on six carries in the first quarter and only “ yards on six carries afterward. Michael Bush, after last week’s fumble, was de-emphasized, with just eight yards on three carries.
– Darrius Heyward-Bey got his first touchdown on a 4-yard catch from Gradkowski, with his next step catching a deep ball. He added a 17-yard reception later in the game. He got solid reviews from his quarterback and Cable. He has nine receptions for 124 yards in 10 games.
– Punter Shane Lechler kicked nine times for a 54.8 average and 46.3 net and is currently at 51.9 for the season, ahead of Sammy Baugh’s all-time mark of 51.4 set in 1940.
– More misery on kickoff returns _ Gary Russell replaced Jonathan Holland and had 15 yards on his only attempt, essentially stopping at a wall of defenders at the 17. Tony Stewart fielded a short kick for 11 yards.
– The Raiders overcame a 15-yard chop block penalty on Robert Gallery to persevere an score on their lone scoring drive, something they almost never do.
Gradkowski hit Murphy on a 23-yard pass to the 1, with Gallery’s penalty pushing it back to the 13. Gradkowski had a 21-yard scramble which helped the Raiders make up some of the yardage.
– Defensive end Greg Ellis didn’t finish the game because of swelling in his knee. He had just two tackles in his homecoming game.
“I don’t know what happened. I just know swelling, a lot of pressure, going down my leg, going down my knee down my shin and my calf. I don’t know if I did something during the game,’’ Ellis said. “It started off swelling some but that’s to be expected coming off the scope but when we started playing, it was just killing me.
“That’s pretty much it. I don’t have a lot of answers for it. Obviously I hate it, coming back to my ext-team and can’t play the whole game. That’s not good.’’
Anthony Spencer, the player who replaced Ellis and has been under some heat because he came into the game with no sacks, had two of the Cowboys’ three against Gradkowski. DeMarcus Ware had the other against Mario Henderson.
Ware generally got the better of Henderson all day, with four quarterback hurries.
Cornerback Tyvon Branch, who came up huge last week against Cincinnati, had just two tackles and a pass defensed. He also drew a stare from Johnson, who was expecting help inside, on a 6-yard pass from Romo to Roy Williams for a touchdown.