All it took was the right foot of second-year kicker DAN BAILEY to bring the Dallas Cowboys a 3-0 victory over the Oakland Raiders in both teams’ preseason openers. This was a game that saw more than a dozen penalties combined by both teams, too many three and outs, and too many missed scoring opportunities (especially in Oakland’s case).
After a kickoff return that went nowhere, the Raiders started at their own 14 yard line. On the second play of the drive, an 18-yard screen pass from quarterback CARSON PALMER to running back DARREN MCFADDEN advanced the Raiders to their own 36-yard line. McFadden later in the drive broke loose for a 15 yard gain to the Cowboy 49-yard line. But this promising drive died when Palmer threw a pass into double coverage (the pass was intended for receiver JACOBY FORD) that was intercepted by free safety GERALD SENSABAUGH at the Cowboy 6 yard line. Sensabaugh’s 31-yard return down the right sideline set Dallas up at their own 37.
Quarterback TONY ROMO went to work as he rifled a pass near the right sideline to receiver DEZ BRYANT for a gain of 24 yards. On the play, Bryant ran his pattern, came back for the pass, then he jumped and caught the pass against late-reacting RONALD BARTELL. This drive was looking good until a false start penalty on offensive tackle JERMEY PARNELL and a failed third down incompletion from Romo to running back DEMARCO MURRAY doomed the drive.
The Raiders again were given poor field position, this time at their own 7 yard line. This drive was supposed to end on a short Palmer scramble on third down. But a roughing the punter penalty on punter MARQUETTE KING by Dallas fullback JAMIZE OLAWALE gave the Raiders new life at their own 20. But two straight dropped passes by receiver JACOBY FORD forced a fourth-and-three. King lofted another big-time punt, this time for 55 yards. But again Dallas made another special teams blunder in the form of holding and offside’s (the former penalty was declined by Oakland) that gave the Raiders another chance.
Number two quarterback MATT LEINART (11 of 16 for 98 yards) came in at around the six minute mark of the first quarter, and the Raiders started another gift drive at their own 37 yard line. Leinart did his best to try to will the Raiders to a score on this drive but a few items stood in his way. First he fumbled on second and ten, but luckily backup center ALEX PARSONS recovered for the Raiders, or it would have been Cowboys ball on the Raiders 36-yard line. Then, on the next play, a Leinart completion to rookie receiver JURON CRINER didn’t get the necessary yards for the first down.
On the Cowboys next drive, the Raiders had one of their better defensive stands of the game. Linebacker ROLANDO MCCLAIN dismissed tight end JASON WITTEN rather rudely for a 2-yard loss. Then on third down, defensive tackle TOMMY KELLY roared through untouched like a charging rhinoceros and sacked Romo for a 12-yard loss. Those plays forced a punt to Ford who tried to return the punt, but he mishandled it and then when he tried to run, he stepped out of bounds. Raiders fans booed him for that mistake.
Late in the first quarter, Leinart fired a 12-yard pass to rookie undrafted free agent receiver ROD STREATER (6 catches for 66 yards in the first half). They also got together for another completion to the Dallas 34. But this drive ended up expiring due to a KYLE WILBER pressure on Leinart that forced the latter to throw the ball into the dirt. Janikowski missed a 47-yard field on the next play which kept the game scoreless with 7:03 left in the first half.
Leinart tried again to organize a scoring drive near the end of the first half but two incomplete passes and a failed third down run doomed his plans. Dallas got the ball back and they too were turned away from a score, courtesy of strong safety MIKE MITCHELL. He brought the ball back 21 yards to the Dallas 47 yard line. The Raiders proceeded to end the first half with a short LONYAE MILLER run to the right side.
Dallas began the second half with a marathon drive that ended with Bailey’s eventual game winning field goal from 33 yards. Then number three quarterback TERRELLE PRYOR came in at the 7:53 mark of the third quarter. His first drive ended on his own 1-yard run on 3rd down and 4.
The Raiders got the ball back with 4:16 left in third quarter. On 3rd down and 10, Pryor completed a 10 yard pass to tight end DAVID AUSBERRY all the way to midfield. But Raiders’ fans hope of a score on this drive were killed when Pryor ran out of room to run and was forced out of bounds for a loss of one yard.
Pryor to his credit, brought Raider fans out of their slumber and boredom in the fourth quarter with his legs and improvisational skills. In two quarters of play he had 71 yards total offense (50 passing and 21 rushing). On two plays in the fourth quarter, he faked out two Cowboy defenders linebacker ORIE LEMON and defensive end BARAKA ATKINS and made them look bad on national television.
A pass interference call on Dallas and a missed field goal by rookie kicker EDDY CARMONA on the Raiders’ second to last drive of the game didn’t help matters. Then with around 5:05 left in the game, linebacker CARL IHENACHO and defensive tackle CHRISTO BLUKIDI combined to hold quarterback RUDY CARPENTER to a no gain run on third down.
On Oakland’s last offensive drive (started at their own 22 yard line and with 4:29 left in the game) of the game which took almost 3 minutes, they weren’t able to punch it into the end zone due to a Atkins 16 yard third down sack and a MANA SILVA interception return on 4th down and 26.
By Matthew Robinson
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