ARLINGTON, TX - NOVEMBER 26: Running back Justin Fargas #25 of the Oakland Raiders runs the ball past Keith Brooking #51 of the Dallas Cowboys at Cowboys Stadium on November 26, 2009 in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
For the most part, the Dallas Cowboys locker room was a happy place on Thursday afternoon. The offense had come alive finally, with a season-high 494 yards, and eight plays of 20 or more yards; the defense held Oakland to a single touchdown; Anthony Spencer, likely with a sigh of relief, got his first and second sacks of the year; and the team won easy over Oakland, 24-7 for a nice, convincing Thankasgiving Day win.
But somewhat surprisingly, not everyone in the locker room was all that content with the effort; the defense, though dominant through much of the game, had surrendered 124 yards rushing, 68 of which came in the first quarter alone, a stat which served as a reminder that, even on the heels of an easy victory, there is still work to be done.
"To be honest with you, we're not very happy with the way we played on defense--to be honest with you," said defensive end Marcus Spears. "Seven points, everybody looks at that and says 'yeah, you gave up less points,' but they had 130 yards rushing, almost, and if you guys know me, I take that very personally, our defense does."
Linebacker Keith Brooking, who has emerged as a veteran leader on defense, was ill-at-ease as well with Oakland's numbers on the ground.
"I was a little salty about our fist half performance in the running game," Brooking said. "They gassed us a couple of times on the run, so we've got to get that corrected."
The good news is that Dallas has now, in effect, a second bye-week, following a span of three games in 11 days; but the team will be met, when they return, with a game against the Giants--on the road--to open up that month of December, which has been so cruel to the team of recent.
"We've got to get to work, because this is a copycat league, and teams are going to try to do the same thing so we've got to get that figured out," Spears continued. "They had 82 yards in the first half. That's too much regardless of however you look at it, that's too many yards. For them to end up with 123, what's that? 40, in the second?
"At the end of the day, man, it ain't good enough."