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Raiders special teams come up huge in OT win over Cowboys

Updated November 25, 2021 - 9:34 pm

ARLINGTON, Texas — For three weeks now, the Raiders have been talking about playing complementary football, the lack of which had cost them three straight winnable games and sent them reeling in the standings.

They did that Thursday in a 36-33 win over the Dallas Cowboys, including an overtime sequence in which their kick coverage team pinned the Cowboys at their 6-yard-line, their defense forced a three and out, the offense marched into field goal range, and Daniel Carlson booted a game-winning, 29-yard field goal.

“You’d like to have it happen all the time,” said Raiders interim head coach Rich Bisaccia. “Especially (late) we did a good job.”

None of which happens without the special teams showing up in a major way.

Carlson was perfect on a career-high five field goals, including a 56-yard kick that helped keep the Raiders ahead late in the fourth quarter and the overtime winner. Not bad for a guy who started the week dealing with food poisoning. The thought of not playing was never a consideration.

“I told them I’ll find a way to play if I need to,” Carlson said. “Find some adult diapers, whatever. That or a trash can on the sidelines. But I was good to go.”

A.J. Cole had a 68-yard punt while also pinning the Cowboys inside their 20-yard line four times.

“A lot of people don’t realize how big that field position battle is,” Carlson said. “He’s been doing a great job for us all season, especially today. Flipping the field, pinning inside the 20 time after time after time.”

Said Bisaccia: “He’s just having one of those years. He’s really worked hard in the offseason. He’s gotten a lot stronger individually. But I can’t say enough about the protection unit in front of him.”

Also, cornerback Nate Hobbs made a crucial tackle on the opening kickoff of overtime at the Cowboys’ 13-yard-line. When an illegal block got tacked on, the Cowboys started the drive at their 7-yard line.

The original intent was for Carlson to kick it out of the end zone for a touchback, but he misfired on a kick that ended up being caught at the 2-yard line.

“But our coverage team did a great job. They’ve been busting their butt all week, all year for that,” Carlson said. “They made a great play.”

The Raiders’ defense, energized by the Cowboys’ starting point, forced a three-and-out to put the ball in the hands of Derek Carr and the offense. Carr marched the Raiders 67 yards to put Carlson in position to kick the game-winner.

On the final kick, Carlson withstood penalties on three successive plays, two by the Cowboys and one by the Raiders, that continually altered his starting point. But he never wavered while calmly staying focused to boot the Raiders to a must-have win.

“For me it’s just blocking it out, taking it one rep at a time,” Carlson said. “It felt like an eternity out there … just trying to take them one at a time and seal the deal. Great game. Great day for the Raiders.”

Including special teams, which overcame a 100-yard kickoff return for a touchdown they surrendered in the third quarter to continually make big plays.

Contact Vincent Bonsignore at vbonsignore@reviewjournal.com. Follow @VinnyBonsignore on Twitter.

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