ARLINGTON, Texas – Since it's Thanksgiving, let's start with the good news: The Cowboys do not play in the AFC West. If they did, not only would they probably be in last place but earning a wild card spot would be a challenge.
So let's be thankful for that, I guess.
But other than that, there's so much to digest from this game that hopefully it doesn't ruin your appetite for your Thanksgiving meal, or a second or third helping.
And let's just get right to the story, which unfortunately doesn't begin with either the Cowboys or the Raiders.
Hey, I've played the sport in college. Even played it once with a guy who was calling the game today for CBS, and another time here recently. But today was the most-attended game of "Flag Football" that I've ever seen.
This was tackle football with pads and helmets, yet the flags were the story of the game.
And that's a shame. Just should not ever be the case. Trust me, this isn't about the final outcome. But 28 accepted penalties is absurd. And yes, both teams got 14 called each. But it was so bad that even though I'd prefer to see the Cowboys win this game, I was getting annoyed by the holding calls they were calling on the Raiders in the fourth quarter – it was just "enough is enough."
But it wasn't, even at the end of the game when the Raiders were clearly just throwing the ball up for grabs and hoping for a flag on Anthony Brown. Honestly, I give the Raiders credit for adjusting to that much more than the Cowboys. Because after the game, I kept asking players about the penalties and how you have to change your approach knowing the game is getting called that way.
Well, the Raiders found out early they could throw it deep on Brown and good things were going to happen – whether or not the ball was catchable or if the receiver even knew where the ball was. Either way, it was a good chance the flag was getting thrown.
Why didn't the Cowboys try that more as well? Yeah, they threw some down the field and a lot of them were caught. But it seems like it should've been something to try a little more after seeing the way the game was getting officiated.
Honestly, I hate to sit here and write about the flags, but what else can you talk about? Even the plays that cost this team the game came down to penalties.
Let's just go backwards. The final field goal was made a little easier for the Raiders because of a couple of offside penalties.
In overtime, of course, the third-and-18 pass interference on Brown extended the Raiders' drive to go win the game.
Before that, Dalton Schultz seemingly gets interfered with over the middle on a play that shockingly wasn't called. Even Schultz said, "It's just ball," but once again, if we're being consistent with the calls, it has to be thrown. If that was Brown, he might have been arrested and also flagged for such contact.
I could go on and on and on about the refs, but then we'd run into Christmas.
The Raiders had bad calls against them as well, but they figured out a way to win the game. Their kicker didn't miss any kicks or extra points. Their quarterback that wears No. 4 had a better game than the Cowboys' No. 4.
Not saying Derek Carr is better than Dak Prescott, but he was just a tad better on Thursday, mostly with his legs. Some of Carr's runs got his team out of trouble where Dak struggled a bit in trying to pick up yards on the run.
We can sit here and talk about what the Cowboys are missing with their receivers, but obviously the Raiders would trade situations with Dallas, or any team probably, with that specific position.
But remember this, the Raiders had 509 yards of offense. Now, yes, some of those penalties extended drives and gave them more chances to make plays, but don't forget the Cowboys were flagged for 166 yards, and none of that counts towards Las Vegas' offensive total.
The Cowboys had plenty of chances to get off the field, but just couldn't. Yes, Amari Cooper and CeeDee Lamb were missed, but it's not like Cedrick Wilson and Michael Gallup didn't go over 100 yards each. But rushing the passer was a problem for the Cowboys. Micah Parsons got a sack in overtime, but for the most part they gave Carr too much time.
So maybe getting Randy Gregory and DeMarcus Lawrence back next week will give the defense a boost, especially if it slides Parsons back towards the linebacker spot for some plays.
Earlier this week, I thought this was a "must-win" game for the Cowboys. And not a "must" to make the playoffs or even win the division. But I thought this team had to win the game to stop the bleeding, get their mojo back and become the team they want to be.
That didn't happen. Blame the injuries, blame the refs or blame the mashed potatoes if you want, but the Cowboys couldn't find a way to overcome any of it, losing their third and final game here in November. But as they turn the page to next week, they'll turn the calendar as well.
Hey, maybe that's something they can be thankful for. That and not having to face any more AFC teams this year.