By Jerry McDonald - NFL Writer
Wednesday, November 27th, 2013 at 3:48 pm in Oakland Raiders.
Filed for print from Arlington, Texas . . .
A Thanksgiving Day shootout?
It is Texas, after all.
Even with their offensive limitations, the Raiders (4-7) should feel good about getting something done against the NFL’s 32nd ranked defense Thursday when they face the Dallas Cowboys (6-5) at AT&T Stadium.
The flip side is that the Raiders are four days removed from being shredded for 320 yards passing on their home turf by Ryan Fitzpatrick with much-maligned but consistently productive Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo on deck.
“Certainly we don’t want to get into a shootout, but if it does, the players are going to have to understand that we may have to match them score for score,’’ Raiders offensive coordinator Greg Olson said.
The Cowboys have broken 100 yards rushing only once all season, and given the Raiders have been stingy against the run, ranking sixth in the NFL, it could be a steady diet of Romo looking for wide receivers Dez Bryant, Miles Austin and Terrance Williams and tight end Jason Witten.
Romo, who once upon a time was an undrafted free agent like Raiders rookie starter Matt McGloin, gets most of the heat in the Dallas-Ft. Worth Metroplex for the Cowboys’ inability to make the playoffs and his five-year contract extension that tops out at $108 million.
The Raiders, however, see Romo as a quarterback who has passed for 2,931 yards with 23 touchdowns and six interceptions and has 19 games where he led Dallas to a come-from-behind victory in the fourth quarter or overtime.
No. 19 came on the road against the New York Giants to put the Cowboys above .500 and tied with the Philadelphia Eagles atop the NFC East.
Raiders cornerback Mike Jenkins called Romo “one of the best quarterbacks in the league’’ in a conference call with Cowboys media and was a Dallas teammate from 2008 through last season.
“There’s a lot of guys outside the franchise who have their own opinions and bring up interceptions or bad decisions,’’ Jenkins said. “I disagree with a lot of that stuff because I know what type of guy he is on the field.’’
Bryant, one of the NFL’s most explosive receivers, has 61 receptions for 851 yards and eight touchdowns. Witten (51 receptions, 569 yards, six touchdowns) remains a trusted target in the middle while Williams (30 receptions, 508 yards and five touchdowns) and Austin (16 receptions for 142 yards coming off injury) are formidable targets against a defense that gave up 100-yard-plus day to Tennesee second-year wide out Kendall Wright and rookie Justin Hunter.
The Cowboys are coming off one of their better defensive efforts against the Giants, but are giving up a whopping 432.2 yards per game, ranked 31st against the pass (298.5) and 30th against the run (133.6) while employing the Tampa 2 zone defense of defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin.
Dallas does have one of the NFL’s premiere defenders in defensive end DeMarcus Ware, who returned after a three-week absence with a thigh injury and estimated he was at “97 percent’’ this week. Ware has five sacks and 18 pressures and an NFL-high 116 sacks since 2008.
With that in mind, McGloin and the Raiders could get plenty of carries from Rashad Jennings, with the added bonus of Darren McFadden returning after a three-game absence from a hamstring strain against a team which has given up more than its share of big plays.
McFadden was full-go in practice before the Raiders charter departed for Dallas Wednesday.
It’s a home game of sorts for second-year Raiders coach Dennis Allen, who played at L.D. Bell High School Hurst, Tex., as well as Texas A&M.
The Raiders have yet to beat an NFC team on Allen’s watch _ they’re 0-7. The Raiders have also played seven games without beating a team with a winning record. The last time was Nov. 27, 2011 when they beat the then 7-3 Chicago Bears 25-20 under Hue Jackson.
Five of those losses came on Allen’s watch.
– The Raiders as expected activated left tackle Jared Veldheer from the injured reserve/designated return list. Quarterback Tyler Wilson was waived and will be eligible to return to the practice squad if he clears waivers.
– Safety Tyvon Branch (ankle), defensive end Jason Hunter and wide receiver Denarius Moore were ruled out and did not make the trip. Concussion victims Mychael Rivera and Jenkins were limited but expected to play, as is linebacker Kevin Burnett (quadriceps).