ARLINGTON, TX - NOVEMBER 26: Running back Felix Jones #28 of the Dallas Cowboys scores the touchdown against Chris Johnson #37 of the Oakland Raiders at Cowboys Stadium on November 26, 2009 in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
After an all-frustrating, all-unnerving two week absence, the big play returned with a vengeance to the Dallas Cowboys' offense on Thursday afternoon.
Dallas accrued 494 yards on the day, a new season-high, more than 75% of which--384, to be exact--was gained on a mere ten plays. Jason Witten and Miles Austin combined for seven receptions of 20 or more yards, while Tashard Choice, Marion Barber and Felix Jones each broke runs of over 20 yards.
Jones's went 46 yards for Dallas's first touchdown. Barber's was his first run of 20 or more yards since week two against New York, a play on which he suffered a hamstring injury. Choice's, out of the Razorback, took him 66 yards to set up a 39-yard Nick Folk field goal on the Cowboys' opening drive.
It also set a tone for the rest of the game, as Dallas consistently beat Oakland's man-coverage for devastating chunks of real estate.
"We were pretty confident in what we were doing that we would be able to take care of the big play in the run and the pass," Raiders cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha said. "They knew how to get certain guys open. They knew how to, I don't want to say exploit us, but they knew what to do."
These big-plays or "explosive plays," as Raiders coach Tom Cable words them, are a potentially damning pitfall of the man-defense, which is based on the assumption not only that the team employing it is physically more talented than the opposition, but that they can be consistent in their assignments; on Thursday, it seems, this was far from the case.
"You can stop a team eight times in a row, but if they get that ninth play that goes for 30-plus yards, then it negates all the work you did," said Raiders defensive end Jay Richardson. "That's what it comes down to, man. We'll play tight defense, play tight defense, then have a lapse. Boom."