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Other Week 15 Game Recaps

Week 15 Game Recap: Dallas Cowboys 20, Oakland Raiders 17

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Dallas Cowboys

Dallas stayed alive in the NFC playoff race as they escaped with a road win in Oakland. The Cowboys were fortunate with a late-game Derek Carr fumble at the goal line to secure the three-point victory. Dak Prescott had an up-and-down performance as Dez Bryant provided minimal impact beyond his single reception of 40 yards. The run game was solid in the first half, but Oaklandís defense stepped up in the second half and Tyron Smith missed a chunk of this game as a foundational offensive lineman for Dallas. The left tackle spot turned into a mismatch as Oakland created pocket pressure and Dallas needed to help to that side of the formation with regularity. Ezekiel Elliott returns next week to hopefully restore consistency to an inconsistent offense since he left six weeks ago to serve his suspension.

Oakland Raiders

The Raiders offense started slowly and was shutout in the first half for the second-straight week. Derek Carr peppered Michael Crabtree with 17 targets (20 if you count targets on penalized plays). While the duo hooked up for a pair of short touchdowns and drew a key pass interference penalty, they racked up a pathetically small amount of yardage given the number of attempts. Marshawn Lynch was solid again and continues to see his share of the running back snaps and touches creep upwards. He was on the field for a season-high 76% of the snaps. Carr fumbled out of the end zone for a touchback while diving for what would have been a game-winning touchdown in the final seconds.

Dallas Cowboys

QB Dak Prescott, 65 offensive snaps, Pass: 18 - 27 - 212 - 0 TD / 2 INT, Rush: 6 - 32 - 1
Prescottís inconsistent play has become calling card of this season; especially in the six games Ezekiel Elliott has been suspended. Coming off his best game of the year, Prescott had notable missed throws which kept the game close against Oakland. Tyron Smith missed a portion of the second half and the run game wilted over the final two quarters, siphoning any balance the offense had early in the game. Smithís absence forced Dallas to help on the left side of the line as they struggled to protect Prescott. After a promising start to the opening drive, Prescott airmailed a slant to Dez Bryant in the red zone for a drive-halting interception. Prescottís other interception was a random play where his arm was hit and the ball fluttered in the air for the defense. On a deep out to Cole Beasley, Prescott should have had another turnover as he was late and threw into double coverage. While Prescott completed two gorgeous deep throws in the game, one to Dez Bryant and another to James Hanna on a corner route, Terrance Williams also dropped a perfect deep throw from Prescott for a missed opportunity. Prescott showed off his mobility this week, but more eluding pressure in the pocket than overt rushing attempts. Prescott did have a back-to-back sequence with a red option of 15+ yards into the red zone followed by a scramble for a touchdown to take the lead in the third quarter of note on the ground.

RB Alfred Morris, 27 offensive snaps, Rush: 16 - 61 - 0, Rec: 2 - 0 - 0 (2 targets)
Morris had one of his best segments of a game since Ezekiel Elliott has been suspended in the first half against Oakland. The Dallas offensive line was creating well-defined lanes for Morris and he consistently found them and gained yards after contact for five or more yards. The second half was a different story, however, as the holes disappeared and Morris struggled to shed defenders. Rod Smithís snaps increased in the second half and played more than Morris in the fourth quarter of the close game. Morris did have an opportunity for a touchdown as a red zone carry ended at the one-yard-line and he was stuffed on a third down attempt from point blank range. With Ezekiel Elliott set to return next week against Seattle, Morris will fight for snaps with Rod Smith and return to his ancillary role in the backfield rotation after seeing 16 or more carries in 4-of-6 games without Ezekiel Elliott.

RB Rod Smith, 35 offensive snaps, Rush: 7 - 13 - 1, Rec: 3 - 21 - 0 (3 targets)
Smith scored for the fourth straight week (five touchdowns total) with Ezekiel Elliott serving the last game of his six-game suspension against Oakland. Smith was the No.2 back throughout the first half, but elevated in snaps in the second half as Dallas struggled to run the ball. In the fourth quarter, Smith saw more snaps than Alfred Morris, including getting a goal line touchdown. Smith was shifty on a notable reception after the catch and has been the preferred hurry-up back for Dallas. Smith did add a holding penalty in pass protection this week. Ezekiel Elliottís return downgrades Rod Smith and Alfred Morrisí roles, but Smith has challenged Morris for snaps enough during these six games to question which is the more impactful option behind Elliott to close the season.

WR Terrance Williams, 41 offensive snaps, Rec: 3 - 19 - 0 (5 targets)
Williams was active early against Oakland, but his involvement in the offense waned as the game progressed. Williams logged an offensive pass interference penalty to wipe off a comeback route reception, plus dropped a perfectly throw deep ball by Dak Prescott on a flea flicker. Williams has still yet to find the end zone this season, spanning 47 receptions, and this week had opportunities to approach 100 yards with the two plays wiped away by a drop and penalty.

WR Dez Bryant, 58 offensive snaps, Rush: 1 - -4 - 0, Rec: 2 - 59 - 0 (4 targets)
Bryantís four targets this week marked the lowest total since Week 3 and he was fourth on the team in targets against Oakland. Bryant was impactful on his two receptions; however, has he spun away from defenders for 19 yards late in the third quarter and added a contested down-the-sideline catch for 40 yards with the game in doubt later in the half. Bryant added an end zone defensive pass interference penalty and was stuffed on a reverse, a rare rushing attempt for the veteran receiver. In what has been a lost season overall for Bryant, he has an uphill climb to hit 1,000 yards with two games remaining, has not logged 100 yards in any singular game of the season, and has been invisible within Dallasí offense for quarters at a time.

WR Cole Beasley, 41 offensive snaps, Rec: 1 - 15 - 0 (5 targets)
Beasley led Dallas with five targets, but corralled only one of the passes in an insignificant situation in front of the sticks on third-and-long. Beasley did show full extension on the play and adjust to the ball over the middle on the play of note. Beasley added an uncharacteristic drop on a short out route and his lone deeper target was one of Dak Prescottís poorly thrown passes in the game.

TE Jason Witten, 65 offensive snaps, Rec: 4 - 47 - 0 (5 targets)
Witten bounced back from back-to-back games with a single reception. Witten had two notable catches against Oakland, once coming wide open on a deep out and another on one of Dak Prescottís best throws of the game, a stick throw in coverage to convert third-and-long. On another third down catch, Witten stretched for the first down marker but it was reversed upon replay as he was short of the conversion. Wittenís deepest target of the game was tipped away down the sideline. Also, Witten had to help out with blocking at points in the second half as Tyron Smith missed time in-game and Dallas struggled to protect Dak Prescott in obvious passing situations.

Oakland Raiders

QB Derek Carr, 70 offensive snaps, Pass: 21 - 38 - 171 - 2 TD / 0 INT, Rush: 4 - 47 - 0
Carr and the offense again got off to a miserable start, doing practically nothing until putting together a solid two-minute drive before halftime. The Raiders passing game was inefficient and unable to hit big plays throughout the day. Carr very rarely looked deep and when he did it was to throw up 50-50 balls to Michael Crabtree against tight coverage. With Amari Cooper out, Carr locked onto Crabtree too much and forced the ball his way even with double-coverage should have led him to look elsewhere. The duo did show off their positive red zone chemistry with a pair of two-yard touchdowns. On the first, Carr hit Crabtree with a fade to the back corner of the end zone. The second, Carr rolled to his right and completed an easy throw after the defensive back fell down after being badly beaten to the outside. With the game on the line in the final minute, Carr threw up another 50-50 deep ball to Crabtree that drew a pass interference penalty and set the Raiders up deep in Dallas territory and positioned for a game-tying field goal. Carr used his legs to pick up key third downs multiple times throughout the game and almost won the game on a late scramble. He took off from the 8-yard line and dove to extend the ball toward the pylon for a game-winning touchdown. However, he lost control and the ball fell out of the end zone for a touchback that cost the Raiders the game and effectively knocked them out of playoff contention.

RB Marshawn Lynch, 51 offensive snaps, Rush: 16 - 76 - 0, Rec: 3 - 16 - 0 (4 targets)
Lynch played a season-high 50 snaps (76% of the offensive snaps, also a season-high) and was a big part of the game plan. He wasnít able to really get rolling because the Raiders couldnít sustain drives in the first half. Unlike some past games, Lynch wasnít consistently picking up positive gains of 3-to-6 yards on every carry. He was dropped for a loss or no gain multiple times. However, he made up for the negative carries with some chunk gains that have come with more regularity of late. He accelerated off of left tackle for a gain of 19 yards and almost bulled his way into the end zone before being brought down at the 2-yard line to set up Michael Crabtreeís first touchdown. Lynch had a tough run for 6 yards on 2nd-and-goal from the 8-yard line to setup Crabtreeís second 2-yard touchdown. The Raiders first option down around the goal line is often to go to Crabtree if heís single-covered, which limits Lynchís opportunities for goal line work.

RB DeAndre Washington, 11 offensive snaps, Rush: 2 - 3 - 0, Rec: 2 - 16 - 0 (3 targets)
Washington made the first man miss and then lowered his shoulder to pick up a first down on a 3rd-and-7 dump off. He wasnít effective on his two carries. With Lynch seeing an increased workload, Washington isnít seeing enough snaps to make any real impact.

RB Jalen Richard, 11 offensive snaps, Rec: 2 - 21 - 0 (2 targets)
Richard caught a couple short passes when split out as a receiver but isnít getting enough snaps to be fantasy relevant.

WR Michael Crabtree, 61 offensive snaps, Rec: 7 - 39 - 2 (17 targets)
With Amari Cooper out, Carr peppered Crabtree with targets all game. When including plays that didnít count due to penalties, Crabtree had a whopping 20 targets. Results were mixed. An early drive stalled when Crabtree didnít get his head around in time on a 3rd-down short crossing route. He was wide open but Carr had to get rid of the ball quickly and Crabtree wasnít ready for the pass. Crabtree fumbled his first reception but got lucky when a Dallas defender knocked it back to him after attempting to scoop and run. Another drive stalled when Crabtree brought a third down pass in along the sideline but ran the route one yard short of the sticks. While there were some struggles, Crabtree was excellent down around the goal line. He caught a pair of 2-yard touchdown passes when matched up in single coverage. The first was a simple fade route in which he won off the line and established position to the outside. The second was a smooth out-route from the slot that took advantage of a subtle push off to gain extra separation. Crabtree was able to draw a huge pass interference penalty in the final minute of the game on a 4th-down jump ball. A couple plays later, Carr tried to fit it in to Crabtree in the middle of the end zone despite double coverage but the ball was batted down. While there were a number of positive plays, it wasnít an efficient day for Crabtree and the offense wasnít productive with the passing game running almost entirely through him.

WR Cordarrelle Patterson, 45 offensive snaps, Rush: 1 - -4 - 0, Rec: 1 - 7 - 0 (2 targets)
Patterson was mostly an afterthought on offense, with just a pair of short targets. He was dropped for a loss on a reverse. Patterson had a 100-yard touchdown on a kick return called back due to holding.

TE Jared Cook, 59 offensive snaps, Rec: 2 - 17 - 0 (4 targets)
Cook had an 11-yard touchdown reception wiped off the board when he was called for offensive pass interference. He pushed off of Sean Lee before snagging the ball in the front of the end zone. The play pushed the Raiders back and helped lead to a missed field goal as time expired before halftime. Cook had a drop on a third-down out route.