Cowboys, Raiders need short memories in short week
AP Photo ERU117, OAS120, OAS124, OAS112, ERU134, OAS122
Eds: With AP Photos.
By SCHUYLER DIXON
AP Sports Writer
ARLINGTON, Texas — The Dallas Cowboys and Oakland Raiders need the same short memory during a short week, for different reasons.
The Cowboys have to move on from a last-play win over the New York Giants to stay in position to end a three-year playoff drought. The Raiders must forget a last-minute loss to Tennessee that damaged hopes for their first postseason trip since 2002.
“Maybe being a short week you just know you can’t think about it,” said quarterback Tony Romo, who has directed winning fourth-quarter drives in the past two Dallas victories. “I mean really, this game comes so fast you’re immersed in the study and just looking at the opponent and really wearing yourself out to get all of the looks to find out what you think is the best way to attack them. And by the end of the week you feel comfortable.”
Romo won’t be the only undrafted starting quarterback Thursday. Oakland’s Matt McGloin makes his third career start on a big Thanksgiving stage two weeks after his debut in Texas with a victory over Houston.
McGloin became the fourth quarterback since the NFL merger in 1970 to throw three touchdown passes without an interception in his first start against the Texans. He then put the Raiders in position to beat the Titans with a fourth-quarter drive that Tennessee answered on a TD with 10 seconds remaining for a 23-19 win.
The rookie from Penn State got his chance after Terrelle Pryor injured a knee, and now coach Dennis Allen isn’t hesitating to call him the starter.
“It’s never been too big for Matt,” Allen said. “Last week it wasn’t always pretty early in the game, but in the second half he really got going in the passing game. Everybody’s told him he can’t do it, but he’s continued to prove people wrong and so far he’s been able to do that in the two starts he’s had.”
Five things to consider as the Cowboys meet the Raiders for a second straight time on Thanksgiving. Dallas won the last meeting 24-7 in 2009.
DUAL HOMECOMING: Allen, the youngest head coach in the league, is coming home, and so are the Cowboys. For Allen, that means coaching in front of family and friends just a few miles from where he grew up (suburb of Hurst) and played high school football (L.D. Bell). Allen also was a graduate assistant at Texas A&M, where he played safety. “It’ll be fun,” he said. “Unfortunately, we don’t get a lot of time to hang out and visit. I won’t be having Thanksgiving dinner with the family. I’ll be in, get the job done and then get back out.”
For the Cowboys, it means playing at their $1.2 billion stadium for just the second time in seven weeks. They had four road games and a bye in that span.
POSTSEASON PICTURE: The Cowboys (6-5) are tied with Philadelphia atop the NFC East lead and created some separation for the division leaders with last week’s 24-21 win over the Giants. Dallas has played winner-take-all finales against division rivals the past two seasons, and the possibility looms again with the Eagles visiting to wrap up the regular season. The Raiders (4-7) are last in the AFC West and have virtually no chance to win the division, but a wild-card berth isn’t unrealistic if they get on a roll.
WHO’S IN, WHO’S OUT: Raiders running back Darren McFadden returned to practice for the first time since injuring his hamstring Nov. 3 against Philadelphia and is expected to play. Backup Rashad Jennings leads the league with 553 yards from scrimmage the past four weeks and will also get time. “I think he’s earned the right and deserves the right to continue to get his carries,” Allen said of Jennings. Oakland tackle Jared Veldheer is on target to play for the first time since tearing his left triceps in the preseason.
For the Cowboys, linebackers Sean Lee and Justin Durant, cornerback Morris Claiborne and receiver/kick returner Dwayne Harris are out with hamstring injuries.
KICKING TRENDS: The arrow points up for Cowboys kicker Dan Bailey, who set a franchise record with his eighth winning field goal — a 35-yarder that beat the Giants on the final play. Rafael Septien had seven from 1978-86. Bailey is 18 of 20 for the year and has nine misses in three seasons for an accuracy rate just shy of 90 percent. Oakland’s Sebastian Janikowski missed twice against Tennessee, giving him multiple misses in a game for the first time since 2010. He’s 15 of 22 for the season.
RARE ROAD BLUE: The Cowboys will wear their blue road jerseys at home in a rarity that will stress out their fans. It’s happening because Dallas was again planning a throwback ensemble of white helmets with a blue star and an old-style blue jersey. After the league banned throwback helmets in September over safety concerns because the players hadn’t broken them in, Dallas decided on the same road blue uniforms they wore in San Diego. Yes, the Cowboys lost to the Chargers, something loyal followers surely will remember because they’ve always considered the road blues to be cursed. The team doesn’t track the win-loss record in blue.
AP NFL website: www.pro32.ap.org
Follow Schuyler Dixon on Twitter at https://twitter.com/apschuyler