After the Raiders beat the Bengals last week and the Cowboys barely escaped a loss at the hands of the Redskins, I said that this week's game could get interesting. I was wrong. The Raiders looked overmatched all game long and were beaten handly by the Cowboys 24-7. That is to say they lost by a score of 24 to 7 not that they were beaten 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Although it may have seemed more like the latter.
In previous contests, the Raiders could at least drive into the opponent's territory a few times and kick field goals. This time they could only muster up one touchdown with all other drives stalling before the Raiders could launch any kind of threat.
On offense, the Raiders couldn't keep the Cowboys pass rushers out of the backfield. On defense, the Raiders couldn't get consistent stops. As has been the case many times this season, they would look great on one or two downs and then suddenly give up a huge play that wasted their previous efforts.
It was difficult to decifer between the good and the bad because for the most part the mistakes were a team effort. A team that lacks overall discipline and direction. But I think I was able to separate those to praise and those to blame.
The Raiders came out looking like they had a solid plan and Fargas was a big part of that plan. He got the start and though McFadden was lined up in the backfield as well, he quickly split out wide and Fargas was alone in the backfield. This seemed to work pretty well too. Fargas ran two times in the first short drive for 5 yards and 4 yards. Then on the second drive he came out and ran for 21 yards and then 12 yards on the next play. A couple drives later, he had rushes of 7 yards and 4 yards consecutively. Then suddenly he stopped getting carries. The rest of the game he only got the ball a few more times. This despite gaining 49 yards on just 6 carries in the first quarter alone. He would get just 6 more carries over the final three quarters to finish with a team leading 63 yards. How much sense does it make to not hand the ball to the guy that gained almost 50 yards while averaging over 8 yards a carry? Fargas could have easily gained over 100 yards in this game and the Raiders would have been a lot better for it if he had been given the carries to accomplish it.
The Raiders are extremely thin at the linebacker position so some people may have noticed that Scott was lining up in a hybrid style DE/LB position quite often. And it seemed to work pretty well for him. He is a rangy and fast defender and that position allows him to showcase those abilities. He led the team in tackles with 5. Two of those tackles were sacks-- the only sacks the Raiders had on the day. He had a tackle after just a few yards on a punt return to pin the Cowboys deep. He also had a run stuff and read a pass in the flat to the running back and tackled him for a loss on the play. He had a shot at a couple of interceptions that didn't happen. One was in his hands so quickly and unexpectedly that he didn't see it coming and dropped it. The other he was running away from the QB and he and Tyvon Branch collided and neither could come away with it. Tyvon would likely have had the INT had Trevor not made a play on it but it is hard to fault a guy for making such an effort.
As usual, he led the team in receptions. This is really starting to sound redundant. He had 5 catches for 73 yards and they were all in the second half. In fact his first catch was the very first play of the second half. It went for 8 yards. A few plays later he had a huge 28 yard catch. Then after a penalty took the Raiders out of field goal range and made it first and 25, Zach had a beautiful 12 yard, one handed snatch out of the air on a screen pass to get the Raiders back into scoring position. Three plays later, the Raider would score their only touchdown of the day. Proving once again that when the Raiders want to score, they have to go through Zach Miller. He had his final two catches on the final drive. One went for 4 yards and the other was a short dump off that in which he broke a tackle and ran for a 19 yard gain.
Mario Henderson, Robert Gallery, Samson Satele, Cooper Carlisle, Cornell Green
Yes, the entire offensive line. And I am not just putting them together because it looks better that way or because I can't place individual blame for an overall poor performance. I listed them all because each and every one of them had a terrible game individually and each earned the dishonor of being a Buster. One needs only go through the game play by play to see it. Mario Henderson got it started off when he gave up pressure on Gradkowski causing him to rush his throw resulting in an incompletion to end the first drive. On the second drive Carlisle was called for holding which put the Raiders in a hole they couldn't dig out of, forcing another punt. On the third drive Carlisle gave up a run stuff and the drive ended on the next play. Fourth drive Satele was completely blown up by nose tackle Jay Ratliff with ONE ARM to give up a tackle for a loss and the drive ended on the next play. The fifth drive started with Satele giving up a run stuff and ended with Cornell Green giving up a sack. The sixth drive began with Satele giving up a run stuff and ended with Henderson and Green getting pushed into the backfield to close the pocket which resulted in a hurried, off-target pass. The sixth and final drive of the first half ended when Gallery gave up a hard sack and forced fumble to stifle any chance of the Raiders scoring before halftime. In the seventh drive, Henderson gave up a run stuff and two plays later Gallery was called for a chop block that negated what would have been a 24 yard Louis Murphy reception to the 1 yard line. The eighth drive saw Henderson get beaten around the edge which forced another bad throw and incompletion and the drive ended with a three and out on the next play. So as you can see, every single one of the Raiders' offensive lineman had a terrible game. The combination of DeMarcus Ware, Jay Ratliff, and Anthony Spencer exposed the Raiders' line and the Raiders don't have the weapons to make them pay for their overpursuit. The result was complete domination by the Cowboys pass rush.
Yeah, he is back to Busterville. Last week, he played quite well and earned his first Baller nod in quite a while. But this week, he was back to his old self again-- giving up huge play after backbreaking play. He was handled on the block when Felix Jones busted through and took the ball 46 yards to the house for the Cowboys' first touchdown. In the third quarter he gave up a 44 yard catch to Jason Witten-- the Cowboys would score a touchdown on the next play to put the game away. And his final mistake was when he missed the tackle on the Marion Barber 32 yard run. Each one of those plays was the longest play by that player on the day and two of them led to touchdowns. Morrison should write a book titled "Losing for dummies."
When Kirk Morrison wasn't giving up the big yardage, Sam Williams was. He was the primary linebacker on the biggest play of the game-- the 66 yard run by Tashard Choice to set up the Cowboys first score. He was blocked along with Morrison on the 45 yard touchdown by Felix Jones. He gave up the biggest play (21 yard catch) on the Cowboys' final drive before halftime that resulted in a touchdown and a 17-0 halftime score. Then on the first possession of the second half he gave up a 37 yard catch to Witten. This team continues to be in a state of emergency at the linebacker spot. The starters are not cutting it and there is no depth behind them. Why again did the Raiders wait until the fifth round to draft one (Slade Norris)only to relegate him to the practice squad? I suppose that is a discussion for another day.