Big plays doom Raiders again
November 27, 2009
ALAMEDA – For 46 plays, the Oakland Raiders’ defense was stingy, disciplined and shut down the Dallas Cowboys.
The problem was what happened on Dallas’ other 10 offensive plays in the 24-7 Thanksgiving victory, a recurring theme this year for a defense that has been too susceptible to allowing the big play.
The Raiders (3-8) allowed 384 yards on Dallas’ 10 longest plays, while holding the Cowboys to 110 on the other 46 snaps.
“You see a lot of high integrity defense, fitting it right, tackling it well, and then the next thing you know, bang, something comes out,” coach Tom Cable said Friday. “It’s a person letting up somewhere in there, whether it’s a lack of focus or concentration or maybe overrunning something. That’s part of it, too.”
There was a 49-yard pass from Tony Romo to Miles Austin, a 66-yard run on a direct snap to Tashard Choice, a 46-yard touchdown run by Felix Jones, a 42-yard reception by Marion Barber and a 32-yard run by Barber. Plus two more long passes from Romo to Austin and three from Romo to tight end Jason Witten.
The Cowboys capitalized on mismatches, miscommunications and blown assignments all day long in rolling to the victory Thursday.
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“More than anything, we’re a man team, play press coverage, and we didn’t really play them up real tight,” Cable said. “The runs, really, were empty gaps, people not defending the gap properly. But just too many of them. That’s really the tale of the game defensively.”
It’s been the tale of the season defensively for the Raiders, who have played top-notch defense in stretches but have rarely maintained it for an entire game.
Excluding kneel-down plays, the Raiders entered the week with the most negative rushing plays on defense, hitting backs for losses 37 times for a loss of 94 yards. But Oakland has also allowed the third-most runs of at least 10 yards this season, giving up 45, including seven that went for touchdowns.
Overall, Oakland has yielded an NFL-worst 54 plays that have gone at least 20 yards, 15 the ground and 39 through the air.
“Everyone has a job to do,” defensive lineman Richard Seymour said after the game. “That’s what it boils down to. Everyone has to take care of their responsibilities. If we don’t, this is going to be the outcome.”
Raiders Pro Bowl cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha blamed the short week of preparation for some of the miscues against the Cowboys, whose 494 yards were the most against the Raiders since Tennessee gained 527 in a 40-35 loss to Oakland on Dec. 19, 2004.
“We didn’t have our normal seven days to study the team,” Asomugha said. “That kind of stuff is going to happen. We just didn’t expect it to happen as much as it did. There were a lot of blown assignments and that was disappointing.”
The Raiders get the weekend off before preparing for the stretch run of what is heading toward another lost season. Oakland needs to win its remaining five games, starting with Dec. 6 at Pittsburgh, to avoid a seventh straight losing season.
Cable said he isn’t concerned about the team quitting in December with few tangible goals remaining.
“The character of this team is really too strong,” Cable said. “I just feel like we’ll go to work every day and put forth the right effort, put forth what it takes to succeed. It’s just a matter of being more stubborn than that negative emotion or negative feeling.”