OAKLAND, CA—The Oakland Raiders edged the Dallas Cowboys 19-17 in a game where turnovers and penalties popped up like zits on a teenage boy’s back.
The much anticipated debut of the Dallas Cowboys first team did not disappoint in its first 2:13 when Dallas defensive tackle Jason Hatcher sliced through Oakland’s offensive line and stripped quarterback Matt Flynn concurrent with Sean Lee’s blitz. Hatcher recovered the fumble, setting up the Cowboys’ offense at the Raiders 16.
If only the next 13:09 could be forgotten. Starting inside the red zone, the Cowboys’ first team offense could only go -4 yards in 4 plays. It look promising when runningback DeMarco Murray dashed for an 8-yard gain, but a hold by tight end Jason Witten negated the run. Then, quarterback Tony Romo’s screen pass from shotgun to Murray was batted down. On 2nd and 10, Romo had all day to throw the football and instead took a sack making it 3rd and 25. If it couldn’t get worse, the Cowboys wasted a timeout as the play clock ran to 0, an outcome Dallas has been trying to eradicate the entire off-season with Bill Callahan’s offense, wristbands, and play-calling. Finally, the play resulted in Romo hitting wide receiver Miles Austin for 11 yards, not enough to gain a first down. Cowboys kicker Dan Bailey hit the 38-yard try to give the Cowboys a 3-0 lead.
After the Raiders matched the Cowboys’ score with their own 12-play, 82-yard drive the Dallas first team offense returned to the multipurpose football/baseball field. Again, the drive was promising. Tony Romo hit nascent wide receiver Dez Bryant three times for passes of 14, 26, and 17 yards respectively during the drive. Romo also hit Miles Austin for an 11-yard slant. However, the frustrating penalties flew into reality as a sharp yellow shuttlecock. Second-year tight end James Hanna committed a false start, and then Ronald Leary committed his own. In addition to Witten’s holding penalty on the previous drive, this was the third penalty by the first team offense inside the 30 yard line. It all culminated in a 26-yard field goal that Raiders cornerback Tyvon Branch blocked. In the process, Cowboys tight end Dante Rosario rolled into Dan Bailey, knocking the wind out of the Cowboys’ clutch kicker and Cowboys fans nationwide. For all of their efforts, the first team offense had three points to show, three penalties, and a blocked kick.
The blocked kick wasn’t the only poor performance by Rich Bissacia’s special teams unit on this night. Veteran safety Eric Frampton drew a personal foul call when he interfered with a fair catch. Cowboys rookie cornerback B.W. Webb muffed a punt that gave the Raiders and easy three points, the game’s difference. The kickoff coverage unit surrendered a 52-yard kickoff return. Whether due to rookies and practice teamers or not, the Cowboys’ special teams resembled those of Joe DeCamillis and Bruce Read.
The Cowboys’ backups did put together impressive performances of their own. Rookie safety J.J. Wilcox picked off Terrelle Pryor in the end zone, aborting points for the Raiders. Second-year runningback Lance Dunbar had 3 carries for 21 yards and 3 catches for 15 yards. Kyle Orton went 6/6 for 52 yards and a touchdown for a 142.4 rating. Cole Beasley caught Orton’s 15-yard touchdown pass against former Philadelphia Eagle Joselio Hanson, and finished the night with 3 catches for 49 yards.
Joseph Randle, the Cowboys’ rookie runningback from Oklahoma State, had 8 rushes for 16 yards. Though only a 2-yard average, Randle did have the team’s lone rushing touchdown for the evening, which came on a leap over the goal line with 11:11 to play.
The Cowboys’ third-string quarterbacks had forgettable nights. Nick Stephens threw a pick into double coverage and finished the night 7/12 for 78 yards. Alex Tanney played only 70 seconds and produced 1 completion out of 6 attempts for 8 yards. For coaches needing to trim the roster, these forgettable moments may come to mind on cut day.
The Cowboys came away without any injuries. There was one other scare, aside from Dan Bailey getting his wind knocked out. After Cole Beasley caught a Nick Stephens pass for 23 yards on 3rd and 3 midway through the third quarter, the undersized second-year wide receiver hobbled to the sidelines and later to the locker room for further medical evaluation. X-Rays were negative, and Beasley stated he would, “be back in no time.”
Dallas had plenty of time to win tonight’s preseason contest and go 2-0 in the exhibition stage. Raiders backup kicker Eddy Carmona missed a 46-yard field goal off the infield dirt and gave Dallas only 34 yards and 1:48 for a decent victorious field goal attempt. Ten preseasons ago, it was in this very stadium that a second-year Tony Romo led the Cowboys to victory over the Raiders. Fans wondered if it would be the same for second-year quarterback Alex Tanney. His first pass was behind tight end Dante Rosario and fell incomplete. Second-year wide receiver Jared Green couldn’t hold on to Tanney’s 2nd down pass. Raiders cornerback Taiwan Jones batted down Tanney’s 3rd down throw to Eric Rogers near the right sideline. On 4th and 10, Tanney had all day to make a beautiful throw to Jared Green. Green dropped the pass, and so did the Cowboys to 1-1 in the preseason standings.
Unlike this week where the Cowboys had no time to prepare for this encounter with Oakland, the Cowboys have 8 days to prepare for their game against Arizona Cardinals in Glendale. The Cowboys’ first teamers should see more extended playing time, and should also see playing time from rookie wide receiver from Baylor, Terrance Williams, who has missed the last two contests with a concussion.
For more in depth statistics on tonight’s game, click here.