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Game Notes: Rookie Mistakes Doom Cowboys

OAKLAND, Calif. - When Cowboys head coach Bill Parcells decided to keep 10 rookies on his roster, he knew there would be some consequences -- missed assignments and the usual mistakes from inexperienced players.

But he was hoping not to see so many in one game.

Following Sunday's 19-13 loss to the Oakland Raiders here at McAfee Coliseum, Parcells was rather annoyed with several of his rookies who were responsible for busted plays throughout the game.

"Some of young players today hurt us with some mistakes," Parcells said. "We just had too many little things that stopped us."

Cowboys quarterback Drew Bledsoe was sacked four times, and when asked about the protection problems, Parcells had some quick answers.

"Some more rookies," he said. "Two or three of them. Missed assignments. That's just the way it is."

Trailing 13-6 early in the fourth, the Cowboys had third-and-eight at their 42, but gave up a 14-yard sack when Raiders safety Derrick Gibson came through untouched.

"Yeah, that was Tyson Thompson," Parcells said of the rookie back who actually rushed for 32 yards on seven carries - both career highs. "But again, that's how it goes sometimes."

But when asked if he regretted sitting veteran Anthony Thomas for the second straight game in favor of playing Thompson and rookie Marion Barber, the coach didn't waver.

"No, I don't," said Parcells, who stressed all week he was going to play both rookie backs. "I absolutely don't. But I told you what I was going to do. There are some problems involved in doing some of that. There will probably continue to be (problems)."

And it wasn't just the rookie running backs. Sixth-round pick Rob Petitti, who started his fourth game at right tackle had a few mental mistakes, as did first-round pick DeMarcus Ware, who simply had trouble staying on his side of the ball.

"Ware was off-sides three times," Parcells said. "Those are concentration things that hurt you. Just things like that. I'm not putting it on him or anything. We just did too much of that stuff today to be successful."

The Cowboys also played rookies Chris Canty, Jay Ratliff and Marcus Spears a good bit, not to mention rookie deep snapper L.P. Ladourceur.

Rotating Centers

The Cowboys have been rotating centers throughout the first four games, but Andre Gurode played considerably more Sunday against the Raiders than he did in the previous game against the 49ers.

And that's because of stout Raiders tackles Ted Washington and Warren Sapp, both going well over 300 pounds.

Al Johnson started his fourth straight game, but Parcells said the Cowboys went to Gurode in the second quarter to add some more size to the middle.

"We wanted a little bigger guy on Washington," Parcells said, going back to his rotation of the first two games.

But Gurode (6-4, 314), a tad bigger and bulkier than Johnson (6-5, 305), didn't make a huge difference. While the Cowboys did rush for a season-high 116 yards, they weren't able to sustain many drives on the ground, averaging just 3.6 yards per carry, and couldn't pick up a couple of crucial first downs in the red zone trying to run.

Sack Party

The Cowboys registered three more sacks Sunday, giving them 12 in four games. At this rate, the Cowboys are on pace for 48 sacks after recording only 33 last season.

And not only are the sacks piling up, but the Cowboys are spreading the wealth.

Against the Raiders Sunday, rookie DeMarcus Ware registered his second career sack, and second in two games. But rookie seventh-round pick Jay Ratliff and linebacker Scott Shanle teamed up for a sack, while Kenyon Coleman added his first of the season. Ratliff was active for the first time this year, and was used on the four-man front nickel defense in place of Marcus Spears, who played far more on standard downs.

Of the 12 sacks, eight different players have at least one sack, with two more each having half a sack. Greg Ellis and Ware share the team-lead with two sacks each.

Game Points

  • Randy Moss' 79-yard reception was his longest play against the Cowboys and second-longest against any team. Moss had an 82-yard touchdown reception last year against the Lions.
  • Newly-signed deep snapper L.P. Ladouceur was rather efficient in his first NFL game. After joining the team Wednesday when the Cowboys released rookie snapper Jon Condo, Ladouceur, had a few snaps sail a tad to the right, but at least kept them off the ground on punts and place kicks.
  • The Cowboys activated rookie defensive end Jay Ratliff for the first time this season. The seventh-round pick from Auburn recorded a split-sack with linebacker Scott Shanle, both dropping Kerry Collins for a loss in the second quarter. Ratliff played mostly on the nickel defense.
  • Rookie defensive end Marcus Spears lined up as a goal-line fullback for the second straight game. However, the Cowboys weren't able to score on the second-and-two play from the 3, as Julius Jones was stopped for a two-yard loss.
  • The Cowboys used rookie running back Marion Barber as the third-down back, giving him the first two carries of his career and first appearance on the offense. Barber gained one yard.
  • Middle linebacker Bradie James led the team with eight tackles, including six solo stops, easily his best outing this year. Jacques Reeves and Al Singleton were each credited with two special teams tackles.
  • Not a bad show for punter Mat McBriar, going head-to-head with Raiders punter Shane Lechler, arguably the best in the league. McBriar averaged 44.8 yards on his five punts, while Lechler averaged 45.3 on four attempts. Both players had a punt downed inside the 10-yard line.

Short Shots Wide receiver Terry Glenn finished the game with two catches for 64 yards, enough to surpass the 7,000-yard mark for his career. Glenn now has 7,060 yards and leads the Cowboys with 400 yards through four games, but had his two-game, 100-yard receiving streak snapped. . . Former Cowboys kicker Nick Novak, who spent just one game with the team during preseason before getting signed by Washington, made the game-winning field goal in overtime Sunday, helping the Redskins edge the Seahawks, 20-17 . . . The Cowboys were trying to win their third straight road game for the first time since 2003, when they beat the Giants, Jets and Lions. The previous time to that occurred in 1995, when the third straight just happened to be over the Raiders . . . The Cowboys also lost a chance to start a season 3-1 for the second time in three years.

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