Murray stars as Cowboys hold off Raiders
Arlington, TX (SportsNetwork.com) - Tony Romo threw for 225 yards and a score, while DeMarco Murray joined elite company with his career-best three-touchdown performance, as Dallas took down Oakland, 31-24.
Murray joined Emmitt Smith as the only Dallas running backs to accumulate three rushing touchdowns on Thanksgiving Day, totaling 63 yards on 17 carries for the Cowboys (7-5), who moved alone into first place in the NFC East.
Romo completed 23-of-32 passes including a third-quarter TD pass to Dez Bryant, who racked up 61 yards on seven receptions. Lance Dunbar totaled 82 yards on 12 attempts before leaving the game late with a left knee sprain.
"We did start slow, but it's getting to that point where there is no panic anymore," said Cowboys cornerback Brandon Carr.
The hosts have won six of their last eight contests on this holiday, including the clubs' last meeting, a 24-7 triumph in 2009.
Matt McGloin finished 18-of-30 for 255 yards and an interception for the Raiders (4-8), who have lost four of their last five games.
Rashad Jennings gained just 35 yards on 17 carries, but scored two of Oakland's three touchdowns in the setback. Greg Jenkins returned a fumble 23 yards from the opening kickoff to account for the other score.
Andre Holmes led all receivers with 136 yards on seven grabs.
Murray racked up his third run to paydirt early in the fourth quarter, capping a 65-yard drive on its ninth play and giving the Cowboys a 28-21 edge after trailing by 14 late in the first half.
After each team punted, McGloin moved the Raiders to the red zone on the next series. His intended pass into the back of the end zone for Jacoby Ford on 3rd-and-9 from the Dallas 20 was picked off by Carr.
Dallas worked almost seven minutes off the clock on the following series, and went up by 10 after Dan Bailey's 19-yard field goal on the first snap after the two-minute warning provided a 31-21 margin.
Sebastian Janikowski booted a 45-yarder with 35 seconds showing to make it a 31-24 contest, and the onside kick didn't come close to moving 10 yards before a Cowboys player fell on the football.
Romo took a knee to melt away the final moments.
The Raiders got off to a great and unexpected start, as Kaelin Burnett stripped the ball away from returner Terrance Williams and Jenkins scooped it up and ran 23 yards for a touchdown.
Dallas finally got on track near the end of the first quarter. Oakland center Stefen Wisniewski fumbled a snap and Kyle Wilber fell on it at the Raiders' 2- yard line. Murray walked in from there on the next snap to tie the game.
The visitors took a 14-7 edge during the following possession. Facing a 2nd- and-goal from the Cowboys' 16, Holmes made a leaping grab shy of the goal line and fell into the end zone, but review determined his knee was down before the ball crossed. On the next play, Jennings hit the right pylon from one yard out.
Jennings crossed the goal line again on the Raiders' next touch to extend Oakland's edge to 14, but Dallas responded before the end of the half on Murray's second rushing score of the contest, a 4-yard run.
"The momentum changed there at the end of the first half when they were able to get down the field and get the touchdown," said Oakland head coach Dennis Allen. "The second half we wore down defensively and we couldn't stop them from running the ball."
Dunbar's 45-yard scamper to the Oakland 25-yard line set up a 4-yard TD from Romo to Bryant which evened the score with 5:26 left in the third quarter. Three plays prior, a shovel pass to Murray for a score was called back due to an offensive holding penalty.
According to Elias, the last time a touchdown was scored on a fumble return on the opening kickoff was Sept. 12, 1999 by the Saints vs. Carolina ... Dallas improved to 29-16-1 and Oakland fell to 3-4 on Thanksgiving ... The Raiders listed wideouts Denarius Moore and Brice Butler, safety Tyvon Branch, guard Lamar Mady, tackle Menelik Watson, defensive lineman Brian Sanford and defensive end Jason Hunter as inactive ... Raiders running back Darren McFadden played despite a hamstring injury, but was held to 13 yards on five carries.
11/28 23:54:55 ET