ARLINGTON, Texas — Dallas scored 24 unanswered points to rally for a Thanksgiving Day win that put the Cowboys in the drivers' seat in the NFC East.
But one of the most positive developments from the Cowboys' 31-24 win over Oakland at AT&T Stadium was that linebacker Sean Lee said he has no doubts he'll return when Dallas plays in 10 days in a Monday night showdown at Chicago.
After overcoming a 21-7 late first-half deficit, the Cowboys are two games over .500 for the first time all season. But a season-long trend underscored why the Cowboys will be severely challenged to win a playoff game this season.
If the Cowboys make the playoffs.
Dallas' defense once again made key plays to secure the win. But the Cowboys struggled to get off the field in the first half, and Dallas is on pace to allow the third-most yards in NFL history.
The most telling stat was Oakland was six-for-six on third-down chances during second-quarter 79- and 50-yard touchdown drives.
The Cowboys have lost four starters to season-ending injuries, and the strain is showing.
“It's hard to play consistently when guys are always going down,” said Lee, who has been sidelined for two games with a strained hamstring. “Now that some guys are getting healthy, and others are learning our system, that should really help us down the stretch.”
Oakland compiled only 305 total yards, but the players doing the damage were additional evidence that the Dallas defense has issues.
Raiders rookie quarterback Matt McGloin, undrafted out of Penn State, threw for 255 yards in his second career NFL start.
Oakland receiver Andre Holmes, once on the Cowboys' practice squad, entered Thursday's game with three catches all season. Against his former team, Holmes hauled in seven receptions for 136 yards.
“It's hard when you have a guy like Barry Church, a great safety, that you have to play (middle) linebacker for the first time in his life,” said Dallas defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin. “Those things are not easy to do. Those are the type of things we've been faced with a lot this season.”
Oakland and Dallas traded gift touchdowns in the first quarter. Terrance Williams fumbled the opening kickoff. Oakland's Greg Jenkins returned it 23 yards for a 7-0 lead 12 seconds into the game. A McGloin fumble set up DeMarco Murray's first TD run.
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