Game Preview: Cowboys at Raiders

This is a game preview article for the upcoming game between the Dallas Cowboys and Oakland Raiders on September 2.


KICKOFF: Sunday, 4:15 ET
GAMEDATE: 10/02/05
TV: FOX, Dick Stockton, Daryl Johnston, Tony Siragusa

SERIES: 9th meeting. Oakland holds a 5-3 advantage. Oakland has won the last two meetings. The last was in 2001, 28-21 in Oakland. Oakland is one of only six teams that Dallas does not hold a series advantage over, joining Baltimore, Cleveland, Houston, Miami and San Francisco. *2005

RANKINGS: Cowboys: offense 4th (19th rush, 5th pass); defense 23rd (20th rush, 24th pass). Raiders: offense 8th (31st rush, 3rd pass); defense 29th (11th rush, 31st pass)

PREDICTION: Raiders 27-24

KEYS TO THE GAME: The Raiders haven't blitzed much on defense this season, but that could change as they sacked Cowboys QB Drew Bledsoe seven times when he was with Buffalo last season. Dallas with counter by pounding with RB Julius Jones, whose running on early downs has helped the Cowboys convert 48.8 percent of their third-down opportunities. The Cowboys have also scored touchdowns on nine of 11 red-zone possessions. The Raiders desperately want to run the ball better, but that could have to wait a week with the Cowboys struggling against the pass and the likelihood that this could turn into a shootout. QB Kerry Collins has yet to throw an interception, and WR Randy Moss has nine touchdowns and has averaged 106.3 receiving yards in four career games against Dallas -- all victories.

FAST FACTS: Cowboys: Coach Bill Parcells needs one victory to tie Bud Grant (168) for 10th place on the all-time list. ... Bledsoe needs 342 passing yards to become the eighth player with 41,000 for his career. Raiders: Are 0-3 for the sixth time in 46 years. They have never rebounded to win more than eight games.



--LB Ryan Fowler (hamstring) has been upgraded to probable for Sunday's game against the Raiders. Fowler sat out last week's game against the 49ers.

--LB Kevin Burnett has been added to the injury report with a groin injury. However, he is listed as probable for the game and is expected to play.

--C Andre Gurode should get some playing time against the Raiders in place of starter Al Johnson. Gurode is bigger than Johnson and could have more success moving Raiders nose tackle Ted Washington.

--LS L.P. Ladouceur was signed to replace released deep snapper Jon Condo. Coach Bill Parcells said he has zero tolerance at the position. Condo had to go after continued problems. Last Sunday against the 49ers a low snap caused a missed extra point. He also had several low snaps on punts.

--LB Dat Nguyen practiced without incident on Thursday after suffering a stinger in Wednesday's practice. Nguyen also suffered a stinger against the 49ers. However, he is not on the injury report and is expected to play Sunday against the Raiders.


--RB LaMont Jordan (calf) once again practiced on a limited basis Thursday, missing the last half dozen plays. Coach Norv Turner said he was not concerned that Jordan would miss Sunday's Dallas game.

--DT-DE Ed Jasper (ankle) did not practice at all Thursday and his status for the game will not be determined until Sunday shortly before kickoff.

--FB-TE John Paul Foschi (knee) did not practice Thursday and will be a game-time decision as well.

--LT Barry Sims, who faces Dallas' sack and QB pressure leader Greg Ellis Sunday, said the team's rushing problems against the Eagles had less to do with LB Jeremiah Trotter attacking the middle than with the remainder of the line's inability to generate a push elsewhere to force the Eagles to change.

--P Shane Lechler, who holds for K Sebastian Janikowski, said the 3-for-7 numbers Janikowski has posted are so far off what he has done in practice that it shouldn't be of concern. "It's just a slump, he'll kick his way out of it," Lechler said, pointing out that Janikowski not only did not miss a kick pre-game in Philadelphia before going 2-for-4, he did not miss a kick Wednesday. Janikowski is one of five Raiders who do not speak to the media.



The Cowboys have been talking since the off-season about reducing the workload of running back Julius Jones.

And it's been just that - talk.

Jones has 74 of the team's 84 carries this season. As a result he is on pace to break Emmitt Smith's team record of 377 rushes in a season, set in 1995.

"I can't complain," Jones said. "As a running back, you want the ball. I am healthy and my conditioning is right. I am good either way."

Cowboys coach Bill Parcells knows it's not good for Jones or the Cowboys for the long haul to overwork him.

Parcells said he is recommitted to lessening Jones' workload, starting Sunday against the Raiders.

Jones played 71 plays against the 49ers last week - too many for Parcells.

"It's hard to keep track of every single thing that is going on in the game," Parcells said. "(The coaches have) been talked to. They have been talked to. I think we have an understanding."

Look for the Cowboys to turn to rookies Marion Barber and Tyson Thompson as subs for Jones.

Veteran Anthony Thomas entered the season as Jones' primary backup. He has not looked good. Combine that with Thomas' inability to play special teams and Parcells' commitment to younger players, and you will see more and more of Thompson and Barber. That will be the case even if it causes some growing pains in pass blocking for quarterback Drew Bledsoe because of their inexperience.

"It is human nature for a coach to want to play a guy who sure knows exactly what to do," Parcells said. "I understand that, but that can go on forever. I'm committed to playing young players this year, this season. I am committed to it. I think it is the only way if they are going to get better, if you expose them.

"Now I don't want to lose games because of them, but that might happen somewhere along the way. I'm committed to playing them. I don't have much choice."


If the Raiders had one sparkling moment on defense in 2004, it came at the expense of Drew Bledsoe, the guy they'll see this week in a different uniform.

The Raiders were on Bledsoe like a pack of wolves in Oakland's 13-10 win over Buffalo. They sacked him seven times, which turned out to not be the harbinger they thought it would be that Rob Ryan's defense was together.

It took them six games to record another seven sacks. But at the time, the way the Raiders took advantage of Bledsoe's lack of mobility, it appeared that what had been recorded in that game was the quarterback's epitaph.

Since then, of course, Bledsoe has moved on to Dallas, where he has an old colleague, Bill Parcells, on his side.

And his career is hardly looking like it's on its last legs. He has 40,658 career passing yards and needs 342 to become the eighth NFL quarterback to reach 41,000 yards.

He's hardly more mobile than he was a year ago. He's been sacked six times in three games and currently ranks as the third-leading passer in the league with a rating of 103.7.

Not even the Raiders figure on a repeat of what happened last September.

"It's a whole new offense for him," said Raider linebacker/end Tyler Brayton. "This (Dallas) offense is so much better equipped than when we played him last year. I don't think you could take a lot from that game. It never was we were doing this or he was doing that ... it was just a combination of things that went our way that day,"

Coach Norv Turner agreed.

"I think Buffalo was in the second game of a new system," he said. "There was some uncertainty with what they were doing. We were in a new system, there was some uncertainty with what we were doing. We took advantage of those circumstances.

"Dallas has a very sound system with what they do in protection. They've been doing it for a long time. They always have somewhere quick to throw the ball and a good variety of receivers."

Because of the confusion of running his own offense and dealing with the mystery that was Oakland's defense, Bledsoe held onto the ball for extended periods in that game.

Said Parcells of Sunday's game, "It would be in his best interest not to do that."

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