The Dallas Cowboys can use a hearty Thanksgiving meal to recharge after running all over the Oakland Raiders.
It would be the second feast of the day for the Cowboys, as running backs DeMarco Murray and Lance Dunbar picked apart the Oakland defense en route to the 31-24 victory at AT&T Stadium:
Dunbar managed 82 yards on 12 carries, but Murray was the star of the show with his 17 carries for 63 yards and three touchdowns. The performance earned him the 2013 CBS All-Iron Award:
All in all, the Cowboys managed 352 yards of total offense, while the defense upheld its side of the deal by limiting Oakland to 305 total yards. Rookie quarterback Matt McGloin was solid for the Raiders once again, but his 255 yards (18-of-30) and an interception weren't enough.
Dallas quarterback Tony Romo had a quiet day with 225 yards (23-of-32) and a touchdown, but he needed to do little outside of direct a comeback after a miscue from the opening gun.
A fumble by Terrance Williams on the opening kickoff made things chaotic for the home team in the Thanksgiving bout. Greg Jenkins recovered for Oakland and took it back for the score:
The game briefly turned into a snoozefest with multiple punts from both sides. Late in the first quarter, McGloin fumbled a snap deep in Dallas territory:
The result? A Dallas recovery and a Murray two-yard rushing touchdown one play later. The score tied things up 7-7 with less than a minute remaining in the opening quarter.
Despite their status as a four-win team in the cellar of the AFC West entering the game, the Raiders showed resiliency on their next drive behind the arm of McGloin. The rookie threw for 78 yards in response before running back Rashad Jennings helped put the Raiders back up by seven with a short touchdown.
After yet another stagnant showing from the Dallas offense, Oakland drove down the field once more on 12 plays. Jennings once again took care of business from a yard out, making the score 21-7 with two minutes left in the half:
Dallas seemed to awake from its slumber in a race against the clock. Romo and the Cowboys needed just eight plays to go 70 yards before Murray cleaned up the short-yardage work to bring Dallas within seven just before the half.
After an Oakland punt, Dallas took the ball more than 80 yards down the field on its first drive of the second half. Romo then found star receiver Dez Bryant with a beautiful pass for a four-yard touchdown to knot things up:
McGloin and the Raiders then sputtered offensively, which allowed Dallas to take a 28-21 lead behind a seven-yard touchdown from Murray with 14:20 left in regulation.
The next drive out was a successful one for the Raiders...until they got in the red zone. Down seven points with less than 10 minutes to go, McGloin made his first mistake of the game and was intercepted by Brandon Carr in the end zone.
Dallas then capitalized with a field goal from Dan Bailey to get the two-score cushion at 31-21, milking 6:43 off the clock in the process. It was enough to give the Cowboys the win despite a late 45-yard field goal and onside kick attempt from Sebastian Janikowski and the Raiders.
Key Player Grades
Tony Romo, Dallas Cowboys: B
Romo apparently woke up with a few minutes left in the first quarter. He led the team down the field for a score and later found Bryant for a touchdown in the third.
As ESPN notes, Romo's strike to Bryant put him in the record books:
It was not a horrible day for Romo, thanks to the impressive showing from his running game. ESPN's Ed Werder has a possible explanation for Romo's quiet day:
Matt McGloin, Oakland Raiders: C
McGloin played a great game all things considered. For an undrafted free agent playing on what was quite possibly the biggest stage of his career, the former Penn State star did well.
Sure, his performance came against a miserable Dallas defense. But Oakland is a better team with him under center. Alas, he did not have enough to pull off the upset.
Mike Jenkins, Oakland Raiders: B
The No. 25 pick in the 2008 draft, Jenkins spent his first five years in the NFL with Dallas before joining Oakland last offseason via free agency.
Suffice to say, he was pumped up about playing his former team. Jenkins started off hot with a tackle in the backfield and a pretty pass breakup in the first:
His big performance was undermined in the third quarter when he allowed Bryant to haul in the aforementioned touchdown reception.
DeMarco Murray and Lance Dunbar, Dallas Cowboys: A+
Both Murray and Dunbar had major days for the Cowboys, which helped cover for a mostly shaky pass offense.
Murray was impressive with a few lengthy runs but also had a touchdown called back after a penalty on Doug Free.
While Dunbar was not as fortunate to tote the rock in easy scoring situations, he still managed to roll through the Raiders defense with ease on the way to his remarkable 6.8 YPC mark.
Andre Holmes, Oakland Raiders: A
Oh look, another former Cowboys player managed to do some damage on Thanksgiving.
Andre Holmes spent 2012 with Dallas and had five career receptions coming into the game on Thursday. Like Jenkins, Homes made the most of his opportunity against his former team, catching seven passes for 136 yards.
Dallas moves to 7-5 with sole possession of the NFC East lead, with Philadelphia set to play Sunday. The Cowboys now have a nice break before a Monday Night Football showdown with the Chicago Bears in Week 14.
The Raiders drop to 4-8 and have lost four of their last five. Oakland faces the New York Jets in Week 14.