Canberra's 38-12 victory over North Queensland, inspired by a hat-trick to journeyman Michael Oldfield, has been soured by a knee injury to captain Jarrod Croker.
The Raiders blasted the Cowboys with four second-half tries in below-zero temperatures at GIO Stadium on Saturday night but they could be without Croker for the rest of the season.
The star centre dislocated his knee early in the match, attempted to play through it for about 20 minutes before going to the bench in pain just before halftime.
Croker's absence seemed to flatten the Raiders after dominant start as North Queensland recovered to close the gap to 14-12 at the break.
Canberra was forced to defend multiple attacking efforts from the Cowboys early in the second half before the floodgates opened.
Oldfield crossed for his second try in the 65th minute and did it again five minutes later by intercepting a Cowboys pass, running the length of the field to put the Raiders up 26-12 to seal their eighth win of the season.
Canberra coach Ricky Stuart was pleased with the win but was left to ponder what might have been for his team, who sit three games outside the top eight.
"It was a really strong second-half performance and if we had have a few more of those second-half performances throughout the season, we wouldn't be sitting where we are," Stuart said.
"It was disappointing losing our captain. I don't know what the extent of it is but it doesn't look good."
The Raiders opened the scoring in style through winger Jordan Rapana, who was playing his first game in three weeks after recovering from a hamstring injury.
Rapana crossed for his second late in the second-half to put the Raiders 18 points clear, while Blake Austin and Aidan Sezer, who filled in kicking duties for Croker, were also able to get among the points.
Star winger Nick Cotric filled in at fullback in the absence of suspended Jack Wighton and injured Brad Abbey.
Lachlan Coote and Gavin Cooper scored the Cowboys' tries as the pre-season premiership favourites slumped to their 13th loss of the season.
Cowboys coach Paul Green was left disappointed by how his team finished off the game.
"I thought the way we finished that (first) half we definitely got ourselves back in the game. Just the basic fundamentals about building into the game as a team, we're just not doing," Green said.
"We couldn't sustain that pressure and when we had them down their end, we would give away a stupid penalty and concede some points."