Yes, all of this may have just saved the Cowboys‘ season, keeping their playoff hopes very much alive.
They came out on top after a thrilling second half in Oakland 20-17 on Sunday night. It began with yet another sloppy start on offense, as it was far from Dak‘s best performance. But another relatively strong showing on defense helped right the ship and was enough for the Cowboys’ to rack up one last win during Ezekiel Elliott‘s suspension. Jason Garrett also had maybe his best, and most high impact coaching game of the season too.
Here’s some quick things to consider:
Specialists are Football Players too
Cowboys punter Chris Jones sparked a touchdown drive, and kicker Dan Bailey saved a touchdown. Specialists are football players, too. Without these two, we likely would not be discussing playoff scenarios this week either.
First, Jason Garrett finally had the fan base shouting his name in celebration for a play call rather than in vain. He called a gutsy fake punt run deep in Cowboy territory on 4th and 11, resulting in a 24-yard gain for the Dallas punter. At this point in the game, it seemed like the Cowboys were collapsing, and the Raiders were about to take the game over. That fake was a true turning point in the ball game as it ignited a long drive, that resulted in a 5-yard TD run from Dak.
RT if you didn't see this fake punt coming!
Secondly, kicker Dan Bailey made a possible game, and season saving tackle on a Cordarrelle Patterson kick return in the second half. Patterson did return one for 100+ yards earlier in the game, but it was brought back on a holding call. If Bailey hadn’t of gotten a piece of him the second time around, who knows where we would be this morning.
The Index Card
You heard and saw it right. A folded piece of paper was enough evidence to convince the refs that Dak Prescott got the half yard needed on a crucial fourth and inches. Dak’s extra, second effort stretch got the job done. If this had gone the other way, it likely would have been the end for the Cowboys in 2017 as well. Another bold call from Garrett, in a spot where they needed it most. Jerry was asked too post-game if he thought the index card should make its way to Canton if the Cowboys were to make the playoffs. He responded with “That’s a great idea.”
The Unsung Hero: Jeff Heath
The now starting Cowboys’ safety has had his ups-and-down in his Cowboy career, but he was able to play the hero on defense as time wound down Sunday night. After a 55-yard pass interference call on Jourdan Lewis, it set the Raiders up comfortably in Dallas territory with about 2 minutes left needing a field goal to tie, and a touchdown to win. Madness then ensued as Derek Carr tried to run for the first down (which he easily had) and then attempted to stretch, and break the plain for a touchdown. Heath also dove and his shove to Carr’s back was just enough to make him fumble before reaching the goal line, where it then fell through the side of the end zone. Touchback. Cowboys ball. That’s football folks. You can’t predict this stuff.
Zeke is Back
As of 10:00 AM on Monday, Ezekiel Elliott officially re-joined the Dallas Cowboys roster, having fully served his 6-game suspension. He spent the majority of the suspension in Cabo Mexico doing intense training. He reportedly only left once for a couple days to spend Thanksgiving with his family, and told the team he wanted the focus on them. Not himself. He looks to be coming back in tremendous shape. Dez Bryant was asked about if the coverage against him will change now that Zeke is back. All he had to say was: “Double all you want, he’s gonna rush for 350.” With Zeke set to return next week, Christmas eve, against Seattle, he may just be the extra jolt Dallas needs to sneak into the playoffs.