By Jerry McDonald - NFL Writer
Thursday, November 28th, 2013 at 10:29 pm in Oakland Raiders.
Was sure I posted this at the end of the game . . . guess not
The Raiders have been tired of losing for more than a decade.
In a 31-24 loss to the Dallas Cowboys Thursday at AT&T Stadium before 87,572 fans, the Raiders, according to coach Dennis Allen, were just tired.
The seeds of losing a 21-7 lead and ultimately the game were sewn in allowing the Cowboys to drive 73 yards inside of the final two minute of the first half.
Then the Cowboys’ previously anemic rushing attack simply flattened the Raiders and their eight-ranked rushing defense in the second half, gaining 132 of their 144 yards.
“With a short week after playing 82 plays the week before, our guys are beat up, our guys are banged up,’’ Allen said. “It wasn’t for a lack of effort. It wasn’t from a lack of planning. They blocked us, we struggled with our tackling and we weren’t able to stop them.’’
The Raiders, 4-8, are ensured their 11th consecutive non-winning season. They finish 0-4 against the NFC East with eight straight losses against teams with winning records dating back to a Nov. 27 win over the Chicago Bears in 2011.
While Dallas got 82 yards from 12 carries from undrafted free agent rookie Lance Dunbar and 17 carries for 63 yards and three touchdowns from DeMarco Murray, the Raiders fifth-ranked rushing attack managed just 50 yards on 25 carries. It was the second-lowest output on the ground this season, getting 49 yards in a Week 3 loss in Denver.
“It all starts with stopping the run, making them one-dimensional, and making plays on the outside,’’ Cowboys coach Jason Garrett said.
The Cowboys, 7-5 and a half-game up on Philadelphia in the NFC East, also got a 4-yard touchdown pass from Tony Romo to Dez Bryant and a 19-yard field goal by Dan Bailey in the fourth quarter.
The Raiders struck with a 23-yard fumble return on the opening kickoff, had a pair of 1-yard runs from Rashad Jennings in building their 21-7 lead, and managed only a too-little, too-late 45-yard field goal by Sebastian Janikowski late in the fourth quarter.
Momentum swung for good not long after the Raiders hit their high point, with Jennings scoring from the 1 following a 50-yard, 12-play drive engineered by quarterback Matt McGloin.
Previously, McGloin had taken the Raiders 79 yards in 12 plays _ also ending in a Jennings touchdown _ and in those touchdown drives was 5-for-5 for 81 yards and five first downs on third-down plays.
Romo, who completed 23 of 32 passes for 225 yards, had only 1:56 to work with but drove the Cowboys 73 yards with 10 seconds to spare, completing 5 of 7 passes for 71 yards against a defense that that had been stout up to that point.
“It’s a killer, and it’s happened to us a couple of times this year,’’ free safety Charles Woodson said. “Those are huge points. Those are momentum stoppers. And it gives them confidence going into halftime that they can move the ball on us.’’
Which is exactly what the Cowboys did, going on drives of 87 and 65 yards for touchdowns and 79 yards for a field goal, during which time the Raiders managed a single first down.
Oakland’s best chance for a second-half touchdown ended when McGloin (18 of 30 for 255 yards) threw a jump-ball to 5-foot-9 Jacoby Ford on third-and-9 from the 20 which was intercepted in the end zone by Brandon Carr.
Raiders players weren’t buying Allen’s fatigue theory.
“At this point everybody’s tired _ even Dallas, I’m sure,’’ McGloin said. “You’ve got to fight through it, you’ve got to push through it. That’s why you condition, that’s why you work all season to say in shape. That’s no excuse.’’
Said Woodson: “The opportunity was there. We’re up in that game and we didn’t find a way to finish it out. Going forward what you have to build on is being able to close games out.’’