Here are my 10 thoughts on the Cowboys’ 20-17 win over the Oakland Raiders.
1. Jeff Heath, maligned earlier this year, has been making plays on a regular basis for the past few games - and there were none bigger than he made at the end of the game, knocking down a pass intended for Michael Crabtree in the end zone on second down and forcing quarterback Derek Carr to fumble out of the end zone on third down.
2. Coach Jason Garrett has never been known as a riverboat gambler, but going for it on fourth-and-1 from the Dallas 40 was a huge decision because if the Cowboys don’t get it, they probably lose. But Dak Prescott’s quarterback sneak gained just enough to convert the first down on their game-winning drive.
3. Chido Awuzie continues to show up every game. He forced a fumble, he’s a physical tackler and he seems to always be around the ball. He gives every indication that he’s going to be a playmaker, but he still allowed two touchdowns and a key illegal contact penalty in the second half.
4. The Cowboys had three opportunities to get turnovers in the first half and didn’t do it. Damien Wilson and Jourdan Lewis dropped potential interceptions and Jeff Heath tried to scoop the ball instead of falling on it after Awuzie stripped Michael Crabtree. Anthony Brown dropped an interception with less than two minutes remaining that could’ve clinched the win a lot earlier.
5. Dez Bryant stopped on a slant, allowing Oakland to make an easy interception on the Cowboys’ first drive. It was only their third interception of the season.
6. The Raiders had three touchdowns negated because of penalties. They wound up with a touchdown and a field goal on those three drives.
7. Chris Jones fake punt - a 24-yard run on 4th and 11 from the Dallas 24 - will wind up being one of the plays of the year if the Cowboys make the playoffs. It was a gutsy call to get momentum back. Those plays work best when they’re totally unexpected, which it was at the point on the field.
8. Dez Bryant, silent much of the game, made two big plays in the second half. A 19-yard catch-and-run on the drive that gave Dallas a 17-10 lead and a 50-yard grab that set up the game-winning field goal.
9. Alfred Lewis had seven carries for 51 yards in the first quarter; he finished with 16 carries for 61 yards.
10. Prescott’s six-yard scramble for a touchdown ended a streak of five consecutive third quarters without scoring a point.