12/18 01:07 CST Cowboys edge Raiders 20-17 by slimmest of margins
Cowboys edge Raiders 20-17 by slimmest of margins
By JOSH DUBOW
AP Pro Football Writer
OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) --- Dallas kept its playoff hopes alive by the slimmest of
Dak Prescott converted a fourth-down sneak by the width of an index card to set
up Dan Bailey's go-ahead 19-yard field goal, and Derek Carr fumbled the ball
inches from the goal line with 31 seconds left to give the Cowboys a 20-17
victory over the Oakland Raiders on Sunday night.
"We know where we're at, our season is on the line as far as going to the
playoffs," tight end Jason Witten said. "It's good to just see us find a way to
get the result that we did. ... Good to get lucky and see the football gods
help you out a bit. I've certainly been on the other end of it over the course
of my years."
The first key play came when Cowboys coach Jason Garrett decided to go for it
on fourth-and-1 from his own 39 with about five minutes left in a tie game.
Prescott ran into a pile that took officials time to untangle.
Referee Gene Steratore then called for the chains to come out, but even that
wasn't clear. He then tried to slide what appeared to be an index card between
the tip of the ball and the end of the chain. When the card didn't slide
through, Steratore signaled a first down for Dallas (8-6). He said he had
decided it was a first down before the odd measurement.
"The final decision was made visually. The card was used nothing more than a
reaffirmation of what was visually done," he told a pool reporter. "My decision
was visually done based on the look from the pole."
That explanation didn't satisfy Raiders coach Jack Del Rio.
"I had a different viewpoint. I saw air," Del Rio said. "It was pretty obvious.
Again, they do the best they can with a tough job."
Prescott then hit Dez Bryant with a 40-yard pass that set up Bailey's short
kick with 1:44 to play that gave the Cowboys the lead.
But the game was far from over. The Raiders (6-8) got a gift when Jourdan Lewis
committed a 55-yard pass interference penalty on a fourth-and-10 from their own
30. Carr then scrambled on third-and-3 from the 8 and reached out for the end
zone. But the ball came loose before crossing the goal line and went out of the
end zone for a touchback that all but ended Oakland's playoff hopes. The
Raiders are tied for ninth in the AFC.
"I tried to hold onto it," Carr said. "It wasn't like I didn't try. But there's
obviously a lot of different things . throw it away, kick a field goal, run out
of bounds. OK, cool. But in that moment I was just trying to win for my
Dallas is in a three-way tie for seventh place in the NFC, a half-game behind
Atlanta for the final playoff spot. The Falcons beat the Cowboys head-to-head.
The Cowboys got their third straight win without suspended star running back
Ezekiel Elliott, who returns from a six-game suspension next week. But Dallas'
three straight losses at the start of the suspension created a hole the team is
still trying to escape.
"We continue to scratch, we continue to claw," coach Jason Garrett said. "It
wasn't our most perfect performance in any phase of our football team, but the
fight was there."
FAKE IT OUT
The Cowboys took a risk in the third quarter on a fourth-and-11 from their own
24. Punter Chris Jones kept the ball and ran 24 yards for a first down. Dallas
then drove down the field and took a 17-10 lead when Prescott ran in from 5
yards out and then was given a shower of drinks thrown by fans in the Black
Carr set up Oakland's first TD with a 32-yard scramble that was his longest run
since his rookie year. That led to a 2-yard TD to Michael Crabtree that gave
Carr 100 career touchdown passes. He joined Dan Marino, Peyton Manning, Russell
Wilson and Andrew Luck as the only players with at least 100 TD passes in their
first four years in the NFL. Carr added a second TD pass to Crabtree in the
fourth quarter that tied the game at 17.
TAKE IT AWAY
Sean Smith intercepted two passes for the Raiders, doubling the team's total
from the first 13 games. Smith got his first on the opening drive of the game
and then added another just moments after Oakland got on the board for the
first time. Bruce Irvin hit Prescott on the throw and Smith came up with the
floater . He was initially given a TD return on the play but was ruled down by
contact on replay and Oakland settled for a game-tying field goal from Giorgio
The Raiders lost LT Donald Penn (foot) and DT Treyvon Hester (ankle) to
injuries in the first half. ... Dallas LT Tyron Smith left in the second half
with a knee injury.
Cowboys: Host Seattle on Sunday.
Raiders: Visit Philadelphia on Dec. 25.
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