Jason Witten

Cowboys edge Raiders 20-17 by slimmest of margins

Leave a comment

OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) Dallas kept its playoff hopes alive by the slimmest of margins.

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.”

Road to Super Bowl LII: Stream, start time, highlights and more

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 43-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 teammates.”

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 Hole.

MILESTONE THROW

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 Tavecchio.

INJURIES

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.

UP NEXT

Cowboys: Host Seattle on Sunday.

Raiders: Visit Philadelphia on Dec. 25.

More AP NFL: https://pro32.ap.org and https://twitter.com/AP-NFL

Prescott throws 3 TDs as Cowboys spoil Eli’s return

Leave a comment

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — Dak Prescott threw three touchdown passes and the desperate Dallas Cowboys beat New York 30-10 Sunday to spoil Steve Spagnuolo’s debut as interim coach and the return of quarterback Eli Manning to the Giants’ starting lineup.

Prescott threw a go-ahead 20-yard score to tight end Jason Witten with 7:38 to play to break a 10-all tie.

Rod Smith scored on an 81-yard pass play with 4:08 to play and he added a 15-yard scoring run a little more than a minute later after an interception by linebacker Sean Lee.

Prescott, who was 20 of 30 for 332 yards also threw a 50-yard scoring pass to Dez Bryant as the Cowboys (7-6) stayed in the playoff hunt with three games left in the regular season. Dan Bailey added a 21-yard field goal as the Cowboys finished with 454 yards.

New York fell to 2-11.

Road to Super Bowl LII: Stream, start time, highlights and more

Manning, who got a standing ovation taking the field, threw a 1-yard TD pass to Rhett Ellison late in the second quarter that gave New York a brief 10-3 lead. Aldrick Rosas had a 39-yard field goal. Manning finished 31 of 46 for 228 yards with a touchdown and two late interceptions.

The game capped a hectic week for the Giants that started Monday with the firing of second-year coach Ben McAdoo and general manager Jerry Reese and saw Spagnuolo promoted from defensive coordinator to interim coach. He coached the St. Louis Rams from 2009-11.

The moves came with the Giants spiraling out of control in a season where much was expected following their first playoff appearance since 2011. Fans were also upset with the benching of Manning days earlier in a loss to Oakland, a decision that ended the two-time Super Bowl MVP’s streak of 210 consecutive starts.

This game was close until the final minutes. Dallas broke things open with a 54-yard catch and run by Cole Beasley on a third-and-2 from the Dallas 26. Beasley broke a tackle by Landon Collins and Collins hurt his ankle eventually making the tackle.

With the Giants safety off the field, Prescott found Witten, a longtime Giants’ nemesis, all alone on the next play.

Smith took another short pass on a long TD catch and run and then he almost walked into the end zone.

Bailey, who usually never misses a field goal against the Giants, had a 53-yarder hit the right upright in the second quarter and he was wide right from 50 in the third.

The first half ended 10-all with both teams having long opening drives that ended in field goals and then getting late touchdowns passes.

Manning found Ellison from a yard out to cap a 68-yard drive and Prescott drove the Cowboys 75 yards in four plays with Bryant breaking a tackle and scoring from 50.

UP NEXT

Cowboy: at Oakland on Sunday night.

Giants: host Philadelphia on Sunday.

For more NFL coverage: http://www.pro32.ap.org and – http://www.twitter.com/AP-NFL

Giants home underdogs hosting rival Cowboys on Sunday Night Football

Leave a comment

The Dallas Cowboys are running roughshod over the NFL, but covering against the New York Giants has been a stumbling block over the last couple of seasons.

The Cowboys are listed as the 3.5-point favorites against the Giants with 47.5-point total in the Sunday Night Football matchup, according to sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com. The Giants are responsible for the Cowboys’ only loss of the season and Dallas is 0-3-1 against the spread in their last four games against New York, according to the OddsShark NFL Database.

The Cowboys are 7-0 straight-up and 5-2 ATS in their last seven conference games, but the Giants are also a sizzling 6-1 SU and 5-2 ATS in their last seven games overall.

Dallas is 11-1 SU and 9-2-1 ATS, having won by less than the spread in each of their last two outings, against the Washington Redskins and Minnesota Vikings.

With Giants sack leader Jason Pierre-Paul (sports hernia) done for the season, QB Dak Prescott might have more opportunity to break containment and make plays on the run. Tight end Jason Witten has long been a Giants-killer and, lo and behold, covering tight ends is a weak spot in an otherwise improved New York defense (17th in yards allowed).

Prescott and RB Ezekiel Elliott were playing their first game when Dallas lost 20-19 to the Giants in Week 1. No one is a rookie after Thanksgiving.

New York is 8-4 SU and 5-5-2 ATS, but have issues that could limit Eli Manning and cohorts’ ability to break down an 18th-ranked Dallas defense. Beyond WR Odell Beckham Jr., New York is lacking for diversity in the passing game that would challenge the Cowboys’ depth in the defensive secondary.

The Giants’ offensive line is struggling at both components of their job; LT Ereck Flowers might not be able to keep DE Demarcus Lawrence from hitting Manning, while the running game is the second-worst in the entire NFL.

The form suggests a scoring battle – seven of the last eight games in the long-running NFC East rivalry have gone over – and if that’s the case, the Giants might not be able to keep up. While Beckham had a 100-yard game in his last performance, it took 16 targets to get it and he only had one reception that covered more than 20 yards.

That said, it is notable that the total has gone under on the NFL betting lines in nine of the Cowboys’ last 11 road games.