Rapid Reaction: Oakland Raiders

ARLINGTON, Texas -- A few thoughts on the Oakland Raiders' 31-24 loss to the Dallas Cowboys:

What it means: The rebuilding project continues and, despite an impressive first 28 minutes, the Raiders simply are not ready for the bright lights. Not when the defense fell apart … again. Not when the offense stalled … again. Not when an injury here or there is too much to overcome … again. So, is it a lack of adjustments by the coaching staff, or a lack of quality depth? In any event, the Raiders, at 4-8, will not have a winning season for the 11th straight season. Oakland has now lost five extremely winnable games this season, at Indianapolis, versus Washington, at the New York Giants, against Tennessee and this one.

Stock watch: Rising -- Andre Holmes. The one-time Cowboys project receiver entered Thursday with five career catches for 76 yards. Holmes put on a first-half clinic against Dallas cornerback Orlando Scandrick, catching four passes for 56 yards after a particularly galling drop. The 6-foot-4 Holmes finished with seven catches for a game-high 136 yards. He seemed to become quarterback Matt McGloin's most dependable target and, after serving a four-game suspension to start the season, seems to be rounding into shape as McGloin's favorite target.

Going soft: Oakland dominated the first 28 minutes as the Raiders built that 21-7 lead. Then, the defense went into a zone “situational” defense that not only energized the Cowboys' offense, but seemed to sap the energy from the Raiders. Consider, during that time the Cowboys had touchdown-scoring drives of 87, 73 and 65 yards, the Raiders had just one first down.

To Ford, really? Jacoby Ford is listed generously at 5-foot-9. So it makes absolutely no sense to throw a fade/jumpball to him, does it? Yet that's exactly what McGloin did midway through the fourth quarter in the right corner of the end zone from the 20-yard line. Brandon Carr, at 6 feet, simply went up and picked off the pass. Bad decision by McGloin. Or, as Raiders radio announcer and two-time Super Bowl-winning coach Tom Flores said, “The only time you throw it like that to Jacoby Ford, you throw it long and let him run under it.” McGloin also lost a fumble inside the 5-yard line, which led to a Cowboys touchdown.

What's next: The Raiders (4-8) travel to New Jersey for the second time since Nov. 10, this time to take on the New York Jets (5-6 entering this weekend). The Raiders have not won at the Jets since 1996. Plus, the Raiders have lost 12 straight games in the Eastern time zone, dating to Dec. 6., 2009, while getting outscored by a combined 379-198. Oakland is 5-29 in games played three times zones away since Dec. 15, 2002.