The 2012 NFL Pre-Season is officially underway for the Oakland Raiders. And what better way to start football again with a Monday Night contest?
Several players were not able to suit up for the game due to injuries: WRs Duke Calhoun (knee), Eddie McGee (hamstring) and Denarius Moore (hamstring); RBs Taiwan Jones (hamstring) and Mike Goods0n (neck); OT Zach Hurd (head); TE Brandon Myers (shoulder); DT Richard Seymour (knee); LBs Aaron Curry (knee) and Mario Kurn (knee); and punter Shane Lechler (knee). Calhoun and Kurn are out for season with torn ACLs.
The Raiders got the initial possession of the game, starting with a short return by Jacoby Ford. The first drive was turning out to be a solid one, lead by good gains by Darren McFadden. But on a 1st & 10 from the Cowboys’ 48 yard line, Carson Palmer slightly overthrew Ford in double coverage and the ball was intercepted by safety Gerald Sensabaugh. The Cowboys’ first drive, starting on their 37 yard line, ended up with a punt, with the Raider defense doing a good job stuffing the run and showing blitzes to QB Tony Romo.
Darren McFadden did not return to the Raiders second offensive drive, the only starter not to do so, as the Raiders try to keep their best player as healthy as possible for the regular season. After 2 consecutive drops by Ford, and 2 pretty good punts by Marquette King that didn’t count due to Dallas’ penalties, Matt Leinart stepped onto the field (alongside with other backups), going 3 and out, including a mishandled snap with 2nd string center Alex Parsons. And there was King again, this time with an excellent punt that took a friendly roll towards the endzone, which should have been touched on the Dallas 1 yard line by Chimdi Chekwa. But the cornerback let it go into the endzone in a very poor decision.
The Raider defense, on other hand, looked like the top 5 unit that Richard Seymour was talking about recently, forcing the Cowboys’ offense to go backwards and punt after 3 snaps, including a Tommy Kelly sack. That would be the last drive by the starting defense, joining the first-team offense on the sidelines. The offense second unit, with Juron Criner and Rod Streater as the main receivers and the OL formed by Kevin Haslam, Tony Bergstrom, Alex Parsons, Lucas Nix and Joe Barksdale (from left to right), continued to struggle moving the chains. Sebastian Janikowski missed a 47-yard field goal to keep the scoreboard untouched with 12:44 to go in the first half.
Both defenses continued to dominate in the second quarter, forcing 4 consecutive punts, 2 by each team, until the Raider offense took the field with 3 minutes left and 81 yards to go. Despite two catches by rookie Rod Streater, who finished the half with 6 receptions for 66 yards, Marquette King once again had to punt the ball back to the Cowboys, with 35 seconds left on the clock. And with a interception by safety Mike Mitchell in an overthrow on quadruple coverage by QB Kyle Orton, followed by a short Lonyae Miller run, the game clock showed all zeros, as well as the scoreboard, wrapping up the first half.
The Cowboys took the field in return mode to begin the second half and after a 67-yard drive led by Orton, kicker Dan Bailey split the uprights for a 33 yard field goal, putting Dallas up ahead by three points. The Raiders next drive made the Coliseum wake up a little: Matt Leinart was done for the day and Terrelle Pryor, Al Davis’ last draft pick ever, took the field for the first time as the Raiders quarterback. And on a 3rd down for 5 yards, he heard his first cheers from the crowd, as he dropped back for a pass but decided to tuck the ball and showcase his scrambling abilities. Unfortunately, Pryor’s run fell short of the first down line and the Raiders were forced to punt.
But Pryor’s first pass attempt in the NFL only came in his second drive, after the Cowboys, now lead by QB Stephen McGee, turned the ball over on downs at the Raiders’ 40 yard-line: an incomplete one, short left to Streater. His first completion, though, came on a 3rd & 10, hitting TE David Ausberry over the middle for a new set of downs. But he was not as successfull in the next 3rd down attempt, with a failed scramble that went for minus 9 yards.
Following another forced punt by the Raider defense, Pryor once again saw himself in a 3rd down situation and threw a pass over the middle which was too low and incomplete. But due to a defensive holding penalty, the drive continued. And only two plays later, here he was facing a 3rd down again, but this time Pryor made his scramble worth it, running left for a 9-yard gain and a first down. A few plays later, the Raiders had the chance to tie the game with a 36-yard field goal attempt, but rookie kicker Eddie Carmona missed it wide right, with 6:44 to go in the fourth quarter.
The Cowboys and fourth-string QB Rudy Carpenter took the field and on their second play of the drive, rookie DT Dominique Hamilton sacked Carpenter, which was followed by a good tackle by LB Carl Ihenacho, limiting the QB to a one-yard gain and forcing another Dallas punt. And there came Pryor again, with 4:29 left in the game, trying to lead the Raider offense to its first score.
And Pryor’s last drive, highlighted by a 15 yard-pass to Brandon Carswell and a 8 yard scramble (both on 3rd downs), saw itself in a 3rd & 26 situation at the Raiders 44 yard line, after DE Baraka Atkins sacked the Raiders QB. Following pass goes incomplete and, on fourth down, Pryor takes a chance with a long pass over the middle, which gets intercepted by DB Mana Silva. With only 36 seconds left on the clock, the Cowboys choose to take a knee and the game is over. Final score: Dallas Cowboys 3 x 0 Oakland Raiders.
Rod Streater lead the receivers with 6 catches (on 7 targets) for 66 yards. Darren McFadden gained 38 yard with only 3 touches (2 carries and 1 catch). Matt Leinart lead the QBs with 98 yards in 11 completions. Terrelle Pryor finished the game with 8 completions for 50 yards and 6 rushes for 21 yards. Rookie LB Miles Burris lead the defense in tackles, with 3.
The next Raider game is on Friday, August 17th, against the Cardinals in Arizona (7 P.M., PDT).