Scary Movie Part III

The Oakland Raiders faced the Dallas Cowboys in sunny Southern California Sunday afternoon and all that kept going through my mind was B movie horror films. If the game were scripted like so much Hollywood pulp, it surely would have come from the typewriter of John Carpenter and starred Vincent Price.

The Raiders put on a first half offensive display scoring touchdowns every time they touched the ball except twice. The first when Charlie Garner couldn't find the handle on a third down pass, and then when Rich Gannon took a knee right before the half.

Spreading the Dallas defense with three and four receiver sets, Rich Gannon then spread the ball around. Like McNabb the week before, he had plenty of time to find the open man. In some cases he actually fretted over which player to throw to.

Jerry Rice and Tim Brown both caught 7 balls each attesting to the Solomon like judgment of Gannon in keeping his receivers happy.

This Sunday looked like the bye week the Raiders were previously scheduled for until Quincy Carter removed himself from the game due to a leg injury.

And the creepy organ music should have indicated to the Oakland team that something sinister was lurking just around the corner.

Reggie Swinton, the ex-NFL, ex-XFL, ex-Arena League and ex-used car salesman took a kick-off for a 51-yard jaunt setting up Dallas on the opponent's 40-yard line. The next play saw the Raiders blitzing their safeties as they had on every Dallas offensive play. But instead of the quarterback being flushed from the pocket or throwing before he was ready, Wright waited and moved and then threw a perfect strike to Joey Galloway. Joey danced into the endzone behind Charles Woodson and a Raider crowd sat stunned.

Yet they answered on the next drive to move the score to 21 to 7. At the half it appeared like Dallas struggled to make first downs and the game looked all but over.

The second half started on their own 28-yard line. Gannon and company in a workmanlike manner drove the length of the field and scored on a Tyrone Wheatley one-yard plunge. The Cowboy defense looked hapless to stop the team in black from any designs they had on the endzone and the rout seemed to be on.

Viewers were seriously contemplating turning the tube over to TBS for a replay of "Sleepless In Seattle." Which, by the way, had much more plot development and stood a better chance of keeping the audience awake.

But then Dallas rose from the dead. As in any Friday the 13th movie, starring Jason the hockey masked killer, Dallas kept making curtain calls and seemed to ignore the stake Oakland had driven through their heart.

Dallas rallied with a drive of their own after a 17-yard kick-off return by Michael Wiley. The Cowboys ended the day with 160 yards of kick and punt returns setting up the offense in positive field position most of the day.

Nine plays later Dallas faced a 4th and 5 from the Oakland 8 yard line. Tim Seder, the Cowboys kicker came out to attempt his third field goal of the afternoon. He had two blocked earlier and the tension ran high on the Dallas sideline needing a score.

The ball was snapped to Micah Knorr and he deposited it in the breadbasket of Seder who ran off tackle for the second Dallas touchdown.

The rest of the game resembled any number of zombie movies as Oakland tried vainly to kill the Dallas team only to see them returning for more.

The running game stalled and the hot hand of Gannon suddenly became as cold as the touch of Count Dracula himself and the once confident Raiders appeared to be out of solutions.

Perhaps the epitome of the game and Dallas' season came during a drive after Reggie Swinton again dashed off 50 yards on a punt return. Dallas had the ball at the Raiders 21 yard line with 14:35 left in the game. Plenty of time to score and force an Oakland team that had become complacent from earlier successes to again find the groove.

Anthony Wright rambled from the pocket for 8 yards to the 13. Emmitt ran between the tackles for 1 on second down. On third and one Troy Hambrick went off tackle for no gain. Then Dallas tried a quarterback sneak that looked by all accounts on television to be a first down. The spot was short and Oakland took over.

Again the Dallas defense held the Al Davis team and forced a punt. But the drive stalled on the Oakland 7 yard line when Dallas again couldn't convert a fourth down.

Twice the Cowboys had the ball within the shadow of the goalpost and couldn't score points. A sight that may become as familiar to the Dallas faithful as Frankenstien's monster to the villagers.

Michael Myers recovered a fumble by Rich Gannon and Anthony Wright tossed a 3-yard TD pass to Darrin Chiaverini with a little over a minute left in the contest. It caused the score to look closer than the game really was since a disinterested Oakland team took most of the second half off.

But two distinct issues came about in this week's Cowboy loss. The first is this team will not quit. A label applied liberally to the Cowboys by many after last weeks hide tanning by the Eagles.

The second factor would be the quarterback position. While Wright makes plays, there are times he just can't seem to get the ball to the receiver. The one hops and over-throws stalled more than one drive Sunday. A storyline that has played out over the last three Dallas games.

This contest scared the Raiders because of a late surge by the Cowboys. But perhaps the group that has been frightened the most is the Dallas fans that are now having a ‘Nightmare On Jerry Jones Street.'

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