Raiders very sloppy in preseason opening loss

The Raiders made sweeping changes to their defense during the offseason with hopes of improving a unit that was all too often mediocre last year. But if Friday night's preseason opener is any indication, it will take more than a just a few new faces to turn things around.

Oakland had little success against stopping a Dallas offense that was minus running back Emmitt Smith and two starting offensive linemen. Led by quarterback Quincy Carter, the Cowboys scored on their first three possessions and never looked back in easily dispatching a very sloppy Raiders team 20-6.

Carter completed 10 of 13 passes for 96 yards and one touchdown while helping stake Dallas to a 17-3 lead in the first half. Coupled with the 17 penalties called on Oakland and the Raiders' inability to get the ball into the end zone, the Cowboys easily won the game and snapped a five-game preseason losing streak to the Silver and Black.

''We still have a long way to go,'' lamented Oakland's Bill Callahan, who made his head coaching debut in the loss to Dallas. ''Offensively we had some bright spots but those penalties were drive killers. It was a total team breakdown in that one area of discipline and it's just something we have to clean up.''

Not that the Raiders have ever been a flag-free type of team. Even in Jon Gruden's finest hour leading the team, Oakland managed to rack up penalties by the boat load.

But against the Cowboys, the Raiders drew a slew of yellow flags that would make even the most mild mannered of coaches lose his cool. The 17 penalties accounted for only 107 yards but short-circuited several potential scoring drives and helped keep Oakland's offense from ever scoring a touchdown.

The Raiders' lone points came on a pair of Sebastian Janikowski field goals, who didn't exactly have the best of nights himself. Janikowski was successful from 29 and 39 yards out but he missed from 47 and 52 yards and also had one kickoff roll out of bounds.

Oakland's starters played very sparingly in the game. Quarterback Rich Gannon was 4-for-6 for 52 yard on the one and only series he played in, the drive stalling short of the goal line and ending in a short Janikowski field goal. It would be a familiar theme throughout the night for the Raiders, who put up 356 yards yet could only manage two field goals.

Meanwhile, Dallas' offense had little trouble finding the end zone. The Cowboys were particularly effective running the ball as well, grinding out 137 yards on the ground while meeting little resistance from Oakland's defense, which will feature a minimum six new starters when the regular season begins.

The Cowboys scored on a Carter one-yard pass to tight end Mike Lucky and later on a two-yard run by Troy Hambrick. Dallas also picked up a 24-yard field goal from Tim Seder and a 36-yarder by Billy Cundiff.

ROOKIES FARE WELL IN 1ST GAME

It was a pretty solid night for the Raiders newest class of rookie draft picks. Cornerback Phillip Buchanon made a big play when he leaped in front of Ken-Yon Rambo (Oakland's seventh-round pick last season) to intercept a Chad Hutchison pass. Buchanon also made a great 32-yard punt return, shedding two tacklers and coming out from underneath a pile for the big run, though it wound up being nullified by a holding penalty.

Linebacker Napoleon Harris made three tackles and would have had the night's biggest hit had it not come against teammate Ray Perryman. Perryman was trying to bring down Dallas ..... when Harris came flying in and drilled the pile. Perryman took the brunt of the blow and had to leave the game, though for a sprained ankle. Harris also made a nice play to limit a screen pass to no gain.

Defensive end Kenyon Coleman also had three tackles and made the only sack of the game for the Raiders, strengthening his position on the depth chart.

But it wasn't all roses for the rookies. Offensive lineman Langston Walker was called for three penalties, including two for illegal formation. The first of his formation infractions wiped out a pass interference call against Dallas that would have given the Raiders the ball inside the Cowboys' 5-yard line.

TUIASOSOPO SHOWS SOME PEP

Marques Tuiasosopo figures to get the most work of all Oakland's four available quarterbacks in the preseason and Friday was definitely a step in the right direction for the second-year quarterback. Though Tuiasosopo failed to get the offense into the end zone, he completed 10 of 19 passes for 123 yards.

That's a promising sign for the Raiders, who desperately need Tuiasosopo to separate himself from the rest of the quarterbacks on the roster and firmly establish himself as the back-up to Gannon.

Tuiasosopo did his best Gannon impersonation against the Cowboys. Three times when Dallas was blitzing Tuiasosopo made the correct read and got the ball away with little pressure. He also scrambled twice for 23 yards and eluded several would-be sack attempts.

By comparison, third-string quarterback Rick Mirer struggled mightily. Mirer was 10-for-20 for 78 yards and an interception. Many of Mirer's throws were wobbly and way off target.

 

 

 

 


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