ARLINGTON, Texas – Tony Romo was sick, and it wasn’t because he had just watched the Oakland Raiders return a fumble for a touchdown on the opening kickoff.
After the Dallas quarterback caught a virus the night before Thanksgiving, his top two running backs were there to help out.
DeMarco Murray ran for three touchdowns, backup Lance Dunbar led Dallas with a career-high 82 yards rushing and the Cowboys overcame the shock of Oakland’s early score to beat the Raiders 31-24 Thursday.
Romo still did his part. He was behind 7-0 before taking his first snap, and his offense didn’t have a yard in the second quarter when he took the field down 21-7 with less than 2 minutes remaining before halftime.
Five completions from Romo later, Murray scored on a 4-yard run 10 seconds before halftime and set the stage for a second-half rally that put the Cowboys (7-5) two games above .500 for the first time since late last season.
Dallas is at least temporarily ahead of Philadelphia (6-5) atop the NFC East.
“To have the opening kickoff fumbled and returned for a touchdown and then be down a couple of scores in the first half, nobody blinked,” Cowboys coach Jason Garrett said. “The momentum kind of turned and I think guys started feeling pretty good and it just continued.”
Oakland (4-8) clinched an 11th straight season without a winning record since going to the Super Bowl during the 2002 season.
Rashad Jennings rushed for 35 yards on 17 carries – a 2.1-yard average – and had both of Oakland’s offensive touchdowns. Darren McFadden carried just five times for 13 yards in his return after missing three games with a hamstring injury.
The Raiders finished with 50 yards rushing – 1 more than their season low – while the Cowboys came with the league’s 29th-ranked rushing offense and had 144 yards on the ground, their second-best total of the year.