Dallas 31, Oakland 24: Thanks for Waking Up, Cowboys

A few posts and articles this week suggested that the Thanksgiving Day game against the Raiders could be a trap for the Dallas Cowboys. Not many believed Dallas would lose, though.

The blue-jersey curse only affected the first half of the Cowboys' game against the Oakland Raiders.

The blue-jersey curse only affected the first half of the Cowboys’ game against the Oakland Raiders.

The Cowboys found themselves down 21-7 near the end of the first half. The offense could not move the ball, and the defense had trouble stopping a receiver who spent time on the Cowboys practice squad in 2011 and 2012.

Fortunately, the Cowboys managed a drive late in the first half that resulted in a touchdown. Dallas took the momentum from that drive and dominated Oakland in the second half. The Cowboys’ 31-24 gives the team a 7-5 record and a half-game lead over Philadelphia for the lead in the NFC East.

After 12 seconds of play on Thursday, the Raiders had a 7-0 lead thanks to a fumble on the opening kickoff by Terrance Williams. Greg Jenkins, playing in his third career game, returned the fumble for a touchdown, and suddenly Dallas fans had reason to worry.

Those concerns lessened at the end of the first quarter when Kyle Wilbur recovered an Oakland fumble at the Dallas 2. DeMarco Murray scored to tie the game at 7.

The Cowboys once had a receiver named Andre Holmes, who had a total of 2 receptions in 7 games in 2012. He was also on the Cowboys’ practice squad.

He looked more like Tim Brown against the Cowboys, though. On the Raiders’ first drive of the second quarter, his 20-yard reception allowed Oakland to convert a third-down play. He later caught a 16-yard pass that set up a one-yard plunge by Rashad Jennings.

Later in the quarter, Holmes caught another pass on third down to extend a drive, and Jennings scored another touchdown. The nightmare: Oakland 21, Dallas 7.

Even worse: Dallas had just 53 yards of offense with 1:56 left in the first half. Former Dallas corner Mike Jenkins and others in the Oakland secondary did a good job stopping Dez Bryant, and none of the other Cowboys stepped up.

With less than two minutes remaining in the first half, the Cowboys took the ball at their own 27 to try to mount a drive to end the first half. Thanks to plays by Jason Witten and DeMarco Murray, Dallas did not have to settle for a late field goal. Murray scored a touchdown with 10 seconds left in the half to cut the Oakland lead to 21-14.

Holmes was not the only player to have a career day on Thursday.

His former teammate, running back Lance Dunbar, had rushed for 75 yards in 2012 and 68 yards in 2013. He had never carried the ball more than 8 times in a game.

On the Cowboys’ first possession of the second half, Dunbar raced off left guard for 46 yards, putting the ball into Oakland territory. Six plays later, Bryant caught a touchdown pass from Tony Romo, and the Cowboys had tied the score at 21.

Dunbar wound up with 82 rushing yards, and Murray finished the game with three touchdown runs. The third of those runs came early in the fourth quarter, and the Cowboys defense forced to three-and-outs by the Raiders.

Dallas extended its lead to 31-21 later in the fourth, and though the Raiders managed a field goal with less than a minute remaining, the Cowboys recovered the Raiders’ onside attempt.

It marks the second time this season that Dallas has won back-to-back games, and the Cowboys will finish the month of November with a 3-1 record. Dallas will not play again until Monday, December 9 against Chicago.



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Wearing Blue at Home

Some discouraging news this week: Despite clear evidence that the Cowboys’ normal blue jerseys bring bad luck (and you will just have to accept my conclusory statement as truth), the Cowboys are going to wear their regular blue jerseys on Thanksgiving Day. The team is doing so because the only other option would be to wear the silver helmets with the throwback uniforms from the early 1960s.

Not sure why the team could not figure out a way to use the silver helmets with the throwbacks, but that’s a different matter.

The Cowboys wore their original blue jerseys during the first four years of the franchise’s existence from 1960 to 1963. When the team changed uniforms in 1964, the Cowboys began their tradition of wearing white at home instead of blue.

The Cowboys first wore their current throwback uniforms in 2004. The Cowboys unveiled those jerseys on Thanksgiving Day against the Bears. Chicago wore orange jerseys instead of white, so the tradition of Dallas opponents wearing something other than white remained intact.

That tradition ended the following year, when Denver wore white jerseys at Texas Stadium while the Cowboys wore their blue throwbacks.

And, of course, what happened when the Cowboys wore those blue jerseys and let the Broncos wear white at Texas Stadium?

The Cowboys lost, that’s what happened! That is why, Jerry, the Cowboys do not wear blue at home!

(Just completely disregard the fact that the Cowboys have a winning record while wearing their throwback uniforms and allowing visiting teams to wear white. Work with me on this.)

(Immediate update: okay, so it’s not true that the Broncos were the first team to wear white while visiting Dallas. The Dolphins wore white when the Cowboys wore their “other” double-star “throwbacks” in 2003. But do you remember what happened in 2003? The Cowboys LOST!)

Anyway, the Cowboys will wear their normal blue uniforms at home. Trivia question: when was the last time the Cowboys wore their regular blue uniforms (not throwback uniforms) as the home team? Here’s a puzzle to help with the answer:

Yes, that was a trick question. In Super Bowl V, the NFL designated Dallas as the home team but would not let the Cowboys wear their white uniforms. That is why Dallas wore blue and Baltimore wore white. You should note immediately that the Cowboys lost Super Bowl V, and the loss is what gave rise to the blue jersey curse. (The 1980 NFC Championship Game did not help matters, either.)

* * *

As for the last time the Cowboys wore blue in a regular season home game in Dallas/Irving/Arlington, the answer is December 8, 1963, when the Pittsburgh Steelers visited Dallas in the penultimate game of the season.

And do you know what happened? Yes, Dallas LOST. Here’s a photo:


* * *

The Cowboys opened the regular season in 1964 by hosting the St. Louis Cardinals. It marked the first time the Cowboys wore white at home in a regular season game.

Not a great photo, but here is a shot from that game:


The game marked a new era for Dallas, as the team finally rid itself of the stars on the shoulders. The team would set new standards in the years to come, all while wearing white at home.

Just never mind that the Cowboys lost the game to the Cardinals 16-6. It was not because of the white uniforms. It was because the Cowboys opened their season on a Saturday instead of a Sunday.

C’mon, work with me on this.

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