TThe Dallas Cowboys and Las Vegas Raiders have one win between them in November and one more chance to do something about it before December playoff push time.
They happen to be playing against each other on Thanksgiving.
So forget about Dallas recipient Amari Cooper, who will play his former team for the first time on Thursday – a positive COVID-19 test and vaccination status ensured that. And interim coach Rich Bisaccia probably won’t spend much time thinking about his return to the place he left to join the Raiders three years ago.
The NFC East-leading Cowboys (7-3) are looking to recover from a poor offensive performance at home, just like they did against Atlanta a week and a half ago. The Raiders (5-5) have to end a three-game losing streak that cost them first place in AFC West.
“I don’t know how to put it right, but there is definitely a feeling of ‘enough is enough. We have to win, ”said Derek Carr, Las Vegas quarterback. “It’s a big game because it’s the next game. But what a chance for us to get back on the streets in a hostile environment against a really good football team. “
Dallas fell by 30-16 to double-digit underdogs Denver in a 30-16 loss before beating the Falcons 43-3. Now the Cowboys have a 19-9 loss to Kansas City, the No. 1 in the NFL
Offensive, with subpar appearances from quarterback Dak Prescott and the game in progress, failed to score a touchdown.
The expected return of left tackle Tyron Smith, who missed three games with an ankle injury, could be the boost the Cowboys need.
“We have to get things rolling again at the beginning of the season,” said running back Ezekiel Elliott, who shot another shot against the Chiefs on his right knee that has been bothering him for weeks. “It’s time we fire on all cylinders.”
THIRD DOWN DOLDRUMS
The common theme in the Raiders’ losing streak was their poor play in third place on either side of the ball. For the past three weeks, Las Vegas finished last in the NFL with a third-down conversion rate of 21.4 percent on the offensive and 31st on the defensive, making 53.5 percent possible. The Raiders had 14 unsuccessful third straight downs on offense in the last two games between their first attempt against Kansas City and their last against Cincinnati.
“I put everything on myself. I have to get better, ”said Carr, whose team was beaten in the defeats to the Chiefs and Bengals with 73:27 points. “When I’m better, we are all better. That way we don’t lose multiple points in the games. “
Acquired by the Raiders for a mid-season first round selection in 2018, Cooper is Dallas’ most dependable recipient but will now miss a second straight game as NFL protocols require unvaccinated players to be off for at least 10 days. Owner and general manager Jerry Jones, who described Cooper as “one of the most characterful guys you will ever have,” wasn’t pleased.
“It said it early,” Jones said on his radio show this week. “You check ‘me’ at the door on a soccer team. This has nothing to do with masking, not masking, vaccination, non-vaccination. The fact is, when you walk into the locker room, it’s a “we” thing and you count on everyone to carry their weight. “
Bisaccia, who took over when Jon Gruden stepped down after old emails surfaced with racist, misogynistic, and homophobic comments, had his second-longest NFL tenure with the Cowboys from 2013-2017. Back then, too, he led special teams. Bisaccia’s longest stint was at Tampa Bay for nine seasons (2002-10).
MEMORY OF MARKUS PAUL
Thanksgiving week was difficult for the cowboys a year ago. Strength and conditioning coach Markus Paul collapsed in the weight room and died in a hospital a day later, about 24 hours before the Cowboys 41-16 lost to Washington. Trainer Mike McCarthy had a discussion about Paul in a team meeting on Tuesday.
“From my point of view, we want to make sure his legacy continues. It’s important to all of us, ”said McCarthy. “We have 84 players in the locker room and 40 of the players weren’t here last year. Obviously I talked more to the new players just to understand who he was and what he means to us. “
After 14 false starts in the first nine games, Las Vegas was clear on the offensive against the Bengals, with the only penalty for that unit coming when Josh Jacobs was flagged for unnecessary rudeness after an interception. But the defense had three major penalties that helped lengthen the drives that resulted in scores for the Bengals, including one for pitching in the neutral zone and two personal fouls.
“They were concentration penalties, they were alignment penalties, apparently it was just a cornucopia of punishments,” said Bisaccia. “We just didn’t do a very good job.”
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